Friday, November 15, 2013

Greater Works

John 14:12
 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father."

Perhaps you are one who have wondered, "How can anyone do greater works than Jesus?" Maybe it would help to look at it this way:

"Greater works" - not in the sense that the miracles would be more spectacular, but greater in number, greater in reach, greater in the impact on the world. Jesus' ministry was local, but with His ascension and subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church, greater works (not limited to simply miracles) have been done and continue be done in His name on a global scale. That is a greater work.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Simple Law To Live By

Love mercy
Act justly
Walk humbly
--- from  Micah 6:8

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Wilderness

The wilderness is a meeting place with God.
In the wilderness callings are confirmed and direction is received.
In the wilderness commitments are deepened and repentance sought.
In the wilderness we are molded and shaped.
In the wilderness there maybe wrestling and uncertainty, but we will find God there.
In the wilderness God is there in the quietude, hidden in plain sight.
The wilderness is God-ordained, though we often feel the source is often otherwise.
The wilderness is a sacred place, for there we find God.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Keep It Simple

The Christian life is really quite simple:
Love God,
Love people,
Walk by faith,
Live under grace,
Don't do stupid stuff.

Let's not complicate things.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Turn Our Face

Merciful stars above us,
Good earth below us,
Noontime sun and midnight moon,
Shine your light with holy praise—
And turn our face to God's embrace. --- Monte Lee Rice

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Have you forgiven?

You know that person who offended/hurt you? Pray for God's blessing on them and God's best for them. Pray daily until you really mean it. Then you will know you have truly forgiven them.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lousy Cooks

Many people have a problem with those who don't believe exactly like they do. Sure, certain doctrines are unbiblical and at times even anti-biblical, but that is no reason to reject everything they may say because of that. Often there are many wonderful ideas to be gleaned from groups, denominations, and individuals with whom we might disagree on a number of matters. With that in mind, consider the following.

Student: Teacher, I don't agree with the teacher on the other side of the river.
Teacher: Eat the meat and spit out the bones.
Student: But it is all bones.
Teacher: Boil them down and make soup.
Student: This soup tastes bad.
Teacher: Some people are just lousy cooks.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Discerning God's Voice

It is often wondered how to distinguish God's voice from one's own voice, or from an evil spirit's voice. Here's a thought:

If the voice draws you to love God more deeply, love people more sincerely, live life more humbly, it is the voice of the Spirit of God. Neither the human spirit, nor evil spirits speaks with that tone of voice.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Presence of God

Recently somebody said on a discussion page: "We don't need the presence [of God] in material objects external to us when we have the presence internally dwelling in us 24/7."

My response was as follows:
"Wow! Just, wow!

"I speak only for myself here:

"If I couldn't see/sense God's Presence beyond myself, in external things, people, situations, etc., my life would be pretty pathetic, my Christianity would be shallow, and my spirituality empty.

"I am just an insignificant, tiny vessel with an extremely limited capacity. I may be Spirit-filled, but it takes such a micro-minuscule portion of the boundless, limitless Spirit of God to fill me. There is so much more of His Presence outside of my puny life and limited understanding: a whole universe actually. A thimble full of water would be foolish to say there is no ocean beyond itself. If I can't see God's Presence in His creation, or in other people, or in external 'things,' then I am blind and need healing in so many ways.

"You may be satisfied to limit the Presence of God to the Spirit within you, I am not. I hope I never come to that point in my life."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Anointing

Someone asked, “What will the anointing look like when it's not clouded by man's opinion?" I answered, “It would appear as a perfect blending of grace and power, gentleness and strength. Clothed in humility, inspired by holiness and motivated by love, it would be Christlikeness personified."  This is what true anointing would look like.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prayer to Start My Day

Go before me and prepare my path
   that I might walk in it.
Go before me and smooth my path
   that I might not stumble.
Enlarge my path and uphold me with Your
strong right arm
   that I might not slip.
Keep me focused on Jesus
   that I wander neither to the left nor the right.
Guard my mind;
Guard my speech;
Guard my heart and guide my steps
   that I might walk before you in righteousness
      and truth, mercy, humility, and holiness.
I commit this day to you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

God's Idea

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said. "The Church is Christ existing as community." 

The Church is God's idea. It is the visible, physical representation of Christ on earth. It is not the man's creation. Oh, there are problems and concerns within the Church that were created by man, but the Church is how Jesus chooses to show Himself to the world until He returns.

Those who say they are Christians and want nothing to do with the Church, are saying, "God, I don't like Your idea! I want to say I am a part of the Body of Christ, but I choose to be amputated from it. I want a religion on MY terms, not Yours!" The isolated-by-choice Christian is in rebellion, not just to God's idea, but to God Himself. This person will see limited personal growth, minimal spiritual fruit, and will actually hinder true advancement of Kingdom of God in their own circle of friends and family. Yes! God loves the individual, but when Jesus returns, He will be coming for the Church, not for a bunch of individuals who want nothing to do with His Beloved.

God expects followers of Jesus to dwell in loving community, where worship, discipleship, service to others, and evangelism is evidence and testimony to the world that they are loved by their Creator. We have often heard and perhaps even said, "All you need is Jesus!" If that were true, Jesus wouldn't have established the Church. We need the Church! It is God's idea.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Symbols in Prayer and Worship

Recently I was in a discussion group and the subject of anointing oil was mentioned. What follows are some thoughts I shared in that discussion.

Oil is a symbol of healing and the Holy Spirit. Symbols in prayer and worship, when properly used, are very important and valuable. They inspire faith and encourage devotion. Sadly, many of our churches have removed nearly all use of symbols. It is becoming increasingly common to see sanctuaries without even a cross. Sigh.

Use of symbols in worship is God's idea. From the minute details of the tabernacle to the scenes of heaven in the book of Revelation symbols abound. If they do nothing for you, fine, but for others the are essential. For me, a cross on a wall is more inspiring that a blank wall.

The importance and value of symbols is not in what they are, but in what they represent.

For example, my most valuable possession in all the world is a symbol: my wedding ring. It is very simple and common and contains only about $25 worth of gold, but what it represents is priceless. For some, a wedding ring is means nothing and may not even be worn at all. But for my wife an me, our rings hold the utmost value. She has never - even for a second - had her wedding ring off since I place it on her finger nearly 38 years ago. Mine has not been off in over 36 years (my job at the time required that I remove it for safety's sake.) Mere symbols, yes, but with great value and purpose.

Friday, May 3, 2013

At Home in Grace

Thursday, May 2, 2013


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Monday, April 15, 2013

Saint Ephraim of Syria on Prayer

Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.  ~ Saint Ephraim of Syria 

Sunday, March 31, 2013


He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Matthew 28:6


The Resurrection of Jesus is God's stamp of approval that Christ's sacrifice was complete and fully accepted by God. It is the irrefutable proof that all his claims were true. It is the one thing that separates Christianity from all other religions in the world! Rejoice forevermore!



Saturday, March 30, 2013


And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Luke 23:55.56

Saturday. The Sabbath. The Day of Rest. This was unlike any other Sabbath before or since. There was no rest for those who followed Jesus. They had great expectations and plans. Jesus was the promised and long-awaited Messiah, their King who would rule a mighty kingdom, at least they thought he was. But now ... it was over. Within the hearts of Jesus' followers was only deep anguish, a tremendous sense of loss and hopelessness, and so much confusion and emptiness. He died. He was placed in the tomb. The tomb was sealed and guarded. It was over ... or so they thought.

For today's prayer, spend some time just meditating on the events of Holy Week. Let God speak into your heart through the Passion story.

Friday, March 29, 2013


After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:28-30

"It is finished!" It has been said that these are the greatest words ever uttered, by the greatest man who ever lived. These words were spoken by Jesus on the cross, just moments before he died. This was the moment for which he came. This was the moment that would atone for all sins of every person who ever lived or would ever live. This was the moment that would promise mankind's reconciliation to the God from whom they had been estranged. This was the moment that meant that we could now be forgiven and find peace with God. Nothing else had to be done. Nothing else could be added. The work of securing salvation for all who believe was complete. The job was done. The goal was achieved. The price was paid in full. The mission was accomplished. "It is finished!"

Lord Jesus, your work on the cross was complete. May we never think that we need to do something more to add to it in order to be forgiven, accepted, or saved by you. You paid it all and left us with zero balance. Give us the faith needed to simply receive what you paid for. May our whole lives humbly say, "Thank you, Lord." Amen.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:23,24

In the final hours before his sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus gathered with his disciples for one final meal. It was during this meal that the Lord introduced a very special meal in its own right. Whether you view this meal as sacramental or a simply a memorial, whether you call it the Eucharist, Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper, one thing is certain: this is something very special that the Lord wants to participate in regularly.

We do this with purpose: to remember the Lord's sacrifice on our behalf. The bread reminds us that his body was broken for us, and the wine reminds us of his blood that was shed to wash away our sins.

The annual celebration of the Jewish Passover recalls the blood that was applied to the doorposts and lintels of the homes to be spared from the judgment of death at the first Passover. In a similar way, Holy Communion reminds us that we need the blood of Jesus applied to the doorposts and lintel of our hearts to avoid God's judgment and spiritual death. The blood of Jesus is applied to our hearts when we confess our sins and turn to God by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, with grateful hearts we thank you for the gift of the Eucharist that reminds us of your sacrifice for us. May we never partake of the Lord's Supper lightheartedly or without sincerely recalling to mind and heart what you did for us on the cross. We thank you for this very real picture of you in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. We are forever thankful. Amen

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

As Holy Week (or Passion Week) nears the end, Jesus' purpose for coming into this world is about to be fulfilled. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Though he was a great teacher, he did not come to give us great volumes of profound teachings. Though he was the King of kings, his purpose was not to set up and reign in an earthly kingdom. He was born with one mission, one goal, one destination. He lived his whole life with singleness of purpose. He knew why he came; he kept that in focus. The cross. The cross was why he came. He came to pay the penalty for mankind's sins by his death on the cross. He came to seek and save the lost.

Lord Jesus, you came with one purpose in mind: to seek and save the lost. That is who we were: the lost. We thank you that because of your sacrifice, we who have put our trust in you can say "were lost" in the past tense. We were lost in sin, but found by you. We were separated from God, but you drew us near. We were your enemies, but you made us your friends. We are eternally grateful for what you did for us. Amen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake." Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times. John 13:37-38

We all hope we would be faithful to the Lord when faced with a decision to be otherwise. After all, we love the Lord and would never think of denying him. We know Peter believed that. He loved the Lord, and along with James and John was one of the three disciples closest to Jesus. He was bold and sure about so many things, including his faith. He was so certain of his faith, he proclaimed to Jesus that he would follow him to the death. Jesus, knowing what the next few hours would hold in store, tells Peter that he will deny him three times before sunrise.

Maybe we wonder how Peter felt when Jesus told him that. Perhaps he thought, "He must be wrong 'this' time." Jesus wasn't wrong. Peter went on to deny the Lord when confronted by a mere servant girl. He went on to deny the Lord two more times. Then ... the rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the words Jesus spoke to him. Maybe we wonder how Peter felt then. Well, maybe we don't wonder completely, for we too have denied him.

Lord Jesus, we want to be your faithful followers. But like Peter, we deny you at times. Sometimes we deny you by what we do, other times by what we don't do. Maybe it is by the things we say, or don't say. Perhaps it is just an unbecoming attitude that seems to declare to the world around us, "I don't know him!" Forgive us, Lord, for those times we have denied you. Fashion our hearts in faithfulness. May we ever be true to you, our Lord and Savior, who loved us all the way to the cross, and who continues to love us eternally. Amen.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." John 12:20-21

Everywhere we go, people want to see Jesus. Oh, they may not realize that they want to see him, but everyone has a void that only Jesus can fill. They may have seen certain aspects of the Church that haven't been, shall we say, praiseworthy. They may know people who are Christians in name only, but show no convincing evidence beyond their verbal declaration. Many who have been turned off by poor examples and outright hypocrisy might say they don't want anything to do with Jesus, but that doesn't minimize their need for him. It is up to us, who claim to be followers of Jesus, to be the best and clearest example of Jesus we can be. People wish to see and need to see Jesus. We are the only Jesus people will see. Let's represent him well.

Lord, may we always be good examples of you, the Jesus people want to see. Though we may often fall short of this goal, may it be our desire. Help us to make a conscious effort to live in a Christlike manner. May we determine that we will never be the reason people reject you, but rather the reason people want to know more about you and want to commit their lives to you. We thank you for those in our lives that reveal Jesus to us so many ways. May we be that person to someone else. Amen.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: "'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:37-40

Today is Palm Sunday. Jesus is just a few day away from his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. People have been gathering from far and near for the celebration of Passover. Many have never seen Jesus, though most have likely heard of him. The word on the street is, "This could be the promised Messiah!" They were excited! Perhaps the time had come; perhaps he would now free them from Roman oppression and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

As the people begin to shout, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" the Pharisees, the leaders of the religious elite, tell Jesus to rebuke his disciples for the commotion they are causing. But this moment was a glimpse into his glory. This was a little foretaste of eternity. The moment must have been electrifying.

Jesus' response silenced the holier-than-thous. "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out!" There are those today who might want to silence our praise and enthusiasm for the Lord. They might call us fanatical or religious nuts. I don't know about you, but I don't want some rock offering to the Lord the praise that I should be offering.

Blessed are you, Lord Jesus. We proclaim that are our King! Your name is above every name. Your worth far above all riches. We praise your for your goodness and grace. We exalt you, for you are truly worthy of all praise, glory, and honor. Hosanna in the highest! Amen.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." John 10:31-33

Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus was accused of things he didn't do, cursed for things he did do, and rejected by the very people he came to save. He said he was the Son of God and was charged with blasphemy. That would have been a legitimate charge had his claim been false. But it was true. He was the only begotten and eternal Son of God. In him was everlasting life and the only way to peace with God.

If Jesus was falsely accused and rejected, we can expect to be discredited and dismissed as well, when we speak words of truth. We must always purpose to speak the truth in love, but that is no guarantee that we, or our message, will be accepted. People may say bad and hurtful things about us, but may they never be justified in saying those things because we spoke or acted unwisely or unkindly.

Lord, help us to be good examples to others. May we speak truth to others, but may we always do it in a spirit of love. When we are misunderstood or rejected, give us the grace needed to remain joyful and at peace. May things like fear, intimidation, and rejection never prevent us from proclaiming your truth to a world who needs you. Amen.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11,12

Again we are reminded of one of our Lenten themes, that of repentance. When we examine our hearts and find things that shouldn't be there, we go to God and confess our sins to him. When we do this, we can have the assurance that he hears us and forgives us. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) His forgiveness toward us is sure because of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.

Then, after being forgiven, we should ask for a clean heart, for all sin begins in a heart that is unclean. The cleaner our hearts, the fewer our sins. We often try to clean up the outside first. We don't do this, or we don't do that, which is okay if we are walking in obedience and are trying to please the Lord, but it does little to purify the heart. The Lord's way is to work from the inside out. As we submit our wills to him, he goes to work cleansing our hearts. When our hearts are clean, all that outward obedience comes so much easier and is just the natural result of staying close to the Lord. Unclean hearts prevent us from staying close to him. It is like we have been cast away from his presence and he has removed his Holy Spirit from us. That is a place we never want to be.

(Today we simply make the words of our Scripture reading our prayer.)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.   Psalm 105:4,5

When we pray, we go to the Source of our strength. God is our help, our hope, our joy, our rock, our everything. During this Lenten season I hope you have found this to be true in your life. Think back over the weeks, months, and years, and remember his marvelous works in your life and in the lives of your loved ones and friends. Maybe that marvelous work was forgiveness or reassurance of his love. Perhaps it was a healing, physical or otherwise. A new job, a restored relationship, an extra dose of grace during a difficult time, and an endless list of other things that can be called marvelous works. When we pray, we seek his strength, but we are to also seek him; we are to seek his face. If we can get just a glimpse of him, that is the most marvelous and wonderful thing of all.

Heavenly Father, we need your strength at all times. In your mercy, you grant us strength when we but humble ourselves and pray. May we never wait until we are depleted of strength before we seek you, but may we seek you always that we might remain strong. As a lamp needs a power source to shine, remind us often that you are the our source of power. Remind us that it is through prayer that we stay connected to you. We thank you for your marvelous works, your glorious wonders, and your life-changing words in our lives. Amen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-32

We often hear people say, "The truth shall make you free!" That sentiment, however, is fully true only when understood in the context that Jesus spoke it. Jesus said these words concerning those who would be his disciples.

The all important key to being made free by the truth is to abide in his word. To abide means to dwell or live there. Live where? In his word. Those who only visit on certain occasions are not abiding. To abide means you have taken up residence there; you stay there. It mean you read it, apply it, and are obedient to it, not just now and then, but constantly. When you do this, then you are called his disciples. Jesus doesn't call us to simply be believers, he calls us to be disciples. It is to his disciples, to those who have taken up residence in his word that he says, "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free." Be a disciple!

Lord, we seek to know your truth. We desire to live in your truth. We want to be free, free to do not as we want, but free to do as we ought. Set us free to love and serve you and our neighbors. May your word abide in us and may we abide in your word. May we never be content being merely believers. Draw us deeper, Lord. Give us a hungering desire to truly be your disciples, disciples who closely follow the Teacher, who abide in his very word, and are made free as a result. Amen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

The Christian life is an event. The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy, illustrates his faith by comparing it to two sporting events: boxing and running. When it comes to sports, there are a number of ways we can approach it. We might have no interest at all, we might be casual spectator, or an avid fan, or we might be an active participant. I will presume that those reading this are already participants in or on the way to becoming a participant in the Christian life. If one wants to take this seriously, discipline, training, commitment and dedication are required. Oh, anyone can goof around in the backyard for fun, no special discipline is required, and no commitment is needed. But there is no prize for that.

Get in the ring! Get in the Race! Train. Prepare. Focus. Discipline yourself. Like an Olympian training for an event, perhaps years in the future, make the Christian life your everything. Eat it. Sleep it. Breathe it. This is your life! This is what you do. This is who you are. Everything else is meaningless. You want to participate. No! You want to play to win. Anything less is unacceptable.

When it is all said and done, may we be able to say, as Paul did, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." The Lord awaits with the prize: the crown of righteousness. It is all well worth the effort.

Heavenly Father, we want to play. We want to be on your team. Give us the zeal, the passion, the focus to give it all we got. We are not satisfied being spectators or even casual players. We want to be in the big game. Discipline us, work us, use us. Help us go another round. Help us make another lap. Lord, with the prize in sight, the goal in view, motivate us, push us, drive us on! When we want to sit out or throw in the towel, wave that prize in front of us! Holy Spirit, give us that second wind when needed. Lord Jesus, run beside us! Bring us to the finish line ... victorious! Amen!

Monday, March 18, 2013


Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" ... Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear ... He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." ... Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst ... He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:3-11 (selected)

I've always thought this was a total set up and all the accusers were guilty of the same sin as the woman. Oh, she was guilty and she was, indeed, a sinner. She knew it. Her guilt constantly reminded her of that. What could she do now? She could never change what she had done. She was condemned, condemned by her family, by society and by herself. Now, she is brought before the purest, truly the holiest man she had ever met. Her guilt just intensified. Her tears flowed out of deep shame. This went far beyond any level of embarrassment or any sense of conscience. She was unclean; Jesus was holy. She was darkness; Jesus was pure light. She was condemned; Jesus was the Judge.

But then she heard something she never expected to hear. "Neither do I condemn you..." She heard a voice of compassion granting forgiveness, cleansing, and mercy. Jesus is about forgiveness. The cross is about forgiveness. Easter is about forgiveness. Jesus didn't overlook or excuse her sin, he canceled her debt of sin. But then she hear Jesus speak something else, "Go and sin no more." It is out of his grace Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven," but out of his holiness he commands, "Go and sin no more." Jesus speaks those same words to us.

Lord, we are so thankful for your forgiveness. May we never take it for granted or presume upon it. Help us to never cast stones of condemnation, instead may we be forgiving, as you are forgiving. May we be willing to protect those who are in the line of fire of those who want to throw stones of judgment. May we be ready to always offer your grace to those who so desperately need it. And may your Holy Spirit help us who have been forgiven, to "go and sin no more." Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:24-26

Two weeks from today we celebrate the most amazing and unparalleled event in history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Today's scripture reading is taken from the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus' raising of Lazarus acted as a prophetic miracle that anticipated and pointed to his own resurrection.

Martha, the sister of Lazarus, meets Jesus along the way as he draws close to the burial place of Lazarus. They talk about her brother's death, which Martha believed could have been avoided if only Jesus had arrived sooner. The subject matter soon turns to the resurrection at the last day. That day was Martha's last hope for her brother. A day ... sometime in the future. But Jesus quickly shifts the focus away from the resurrection being a day, to the resurrection being a person: himself. He proclaims, "I am the resurrection and the life!" The hope of resurrection is not so much a day in the future, not so much an event that we all look forward to some day. The hope of the resurrection is Jesus himself!

When death stares us in the face, when death reminds of loved ones who have gone on before, when that glorious day of resurrection seems like a distant, uncertain illusion, remember that Jesus, the resurrected, exalted, ever reigning Jesus, is our sure hope. He is our resurrection!

Lord Jesus, you are our hope. You are our resurrection. You are our life. Though our days may uncertain, our futures unpredictable, our lives a mere breath away from eternity, you are sure, you are certain. You are our rock, our fortress, our strong tower. Our confidence is in you, in you alone. Help us to trust you more each day. Amen.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke: 6:36,37

It is so easy to make judgments about people without knowing all the facts. Oh, we need to judge the right from wrong, good behaviors from bad behaviors, sinful actions from those that are not, and whether words are damaging or constructive, etc. If we don't make those kind of "judgments" we might end up approving what God disapproves and then doing those very things ourselves. Those things we judge, but only God is the Judge of people. Of course, I'm not talking about civil judgments, which are necessary for society to run run smoothly and to keep its citizens safe. I'm talking about judging people whether or not we have all the facts, that's God's job. He does have all the facts. When we judge people it puts up a wall that prevents us from loving them as Christ commands us to do. Instead, we are to be merciful, just as the Father is merciful. Always let mercy triumph over judgment.

Lord, may we never seek to justify ourselves by judging others. The world desperately needs to see your mercy. If we, your children, don't reveal it, we conceal it. Forgive us, Lord, for failing to love and serve those you have put in our paths while we were too busy judging them. Have mercy on us; may we have mercy on others. Root out any tendency we might have to be critical or judgmental. In its place sow seeds of forgiveness, understanding and mercy. Amen.

Friday, March 15, 2013


He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him ... "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:4-5, 14-15

Foot washing was a common practice in Jesus' day. Tired, dusty and achy feet of guests would be washed by a servant as they entered the home of the host. It not only brought a refreshing to the guest, but was an expression of the hospitality of the host. But in our Scripture reading, it is the Master washing the feet. The Master takes on one of the lowliest, most humiliating roles. Then he says, "I have set you an example..." By "you" he means YOU; by "you" he means ME. The example Jesus set for us was that of servanthood. While others may tout that they are destined for greatness, we must remember that Jesus said, "... whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant."

Lord Jesus, help us to humble our hearts that we might better follow your example of servanthood. To be a servant we need patience that is often lacking, kindness that often falls short and tenderness that reflects your grace. May we see your lowly example as our highest calling. May we always look upon service to others as a privilege and never and as a burden. As we help others, may we serve, not only out of obedience to you, but also as an act of worship to you. Amen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:26,27

The Church is called the body of Christ in the New Testament. Just as the human body is made up of many different parts, each with its own function, so it is with the Church. When all parts of the body (whether the human body or the Church body) are healthy, it works well and accomplishes what it is supposed to. Problems arise in the Church body when one part thinks it doesn't need the other parts, or thinks it is better than the other parts. We must realize that we are in this together. Though there are certain differences, in love we must move forward with a unity of purpose, that being to bring glory to God in all things. Jesus said that it is by our unity that the world will know that he was sent by the Father. Each of must see to it that we are doing our part to keep or bring about that unity.

Lord, though there are divisions in the Church, perhaps even within our own local churches, may we never be the cause of that division. Use us as instruments of your love to bring unity and keep unity. May we more clearly see the necessity of those who might not be from our particular group. If ever we begin to think that we are better or more important to your kingdom than another, remind us that there is none elite nor exclusive. Remind us that we are in this together and that there is only one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of us all. For your glory. Amen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4

One of our main emphases during the Lenten season is that of prayer. The word "prayer" means different things to different people and different things at different times. Usually, we think of prayer as talking to God. One of our goals of prayer, perhaps the deepest desire in praying should be to simply be in the presence of the Almighty. Here, we are not talking to God, but rather, silently waiting, eagerly beholding, listening with expectation and just being consciously aware of being in His presence. It is through this type of prayer that God molds us and shapes us. It is in this place our roots grow deep and our fruit develops in great abundance.

Lord, give us the sincere desire to spend time in your presence, not asking for anything, but simply basking in your everything. Amen.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?" The sick man answered Him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool ... " John 5:5-7a

Like this man, lying at the Pool of Bethesda day after day, there are many who wish for a miracle, but have no one to put them into the pool where they might be healed. As you go throughout out your day, be attentive to those around you. Lend a smile, offer a helping hand, perform a random act of kindness. It might just be what someone needs to make it through another day; it might just bring about the miracle they are seeking. The hand you extend might be the hope that brings life and healing to another person.

Lord, at times we can be so self-focused; sometimes we seem to be the center of our own little universe. We miss what's going on around us simply because we don't want to look beyond ourselves. Lord, turn our attention outward. Grant us a greater sensitivity to the needs of those around us. Though we might not have all the answers, we may see that we just might be the one answer someone else needs for a miracle. Help us, Lord, to help others. Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013


For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10

Every Christian has a past. That past is described in today's reading as "darkness." That was then, this is now. Now we are different. The difference is like night and day, or at least it should be. We should have a desire to walk in the light as a result of our new life in Christ. Find out what pleases the Lord by prayerfully searching the Scriptures, and then walk in that light you discover. Goodness, righteousness and truth are just some of the fruits you will find along your journey.

Father, by bringing us out of darkness into your marvelous light, you have made us to be your children. Help us, Lord, to live our lives in such a way as to please you in all things, as kids who always want to please their Father. When we walk in your light we see things more clearly, we see ourselves more clearly, for your light shines truth on all things. Only in your truth we are truly free. Thank you for bringing us out of darkness. Please bless the path ahead and may we bring your light wherever we go. Amen.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013


And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" Luke 18:13

Humility in prayer catches God's ear quicker than great volume in prayer. No, there is nothing wrong with praying loudly, but God is not deaf. He hears the heart's silent cry whether it is vocalized or not. Recognizing that prayers are answered because of his mercy and not because of our goodness is a mark of humility that attracts God's attention. We don't need a certain formula or a special wording for our prayers. But we do need the humble recognition that we are dependent on his mercy when we pray.

Merciful Father, we ask that you would grant us a spirit of humility. When we approach your throne, may we never draw near with a sense of entitlement nor with prayers that sound more like demands rather than requests. May we always be mindful that it is only because of your mercy and never because of our merits that you hear us when we pray. As your servants we ask this. Amen.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good ..." Genesis 50:20

Things happen. Some of those things we interpret as "bad things." We often pin the blame on the devil and complain that we are "under attack." Whether or not that is the case, we must not lose sight of the fact that, whatever it is, God means it for our good. God has a way of turning our loss into gain, tragedy into triumph, defeat into victory, mourning into dancing. He is not taken by surprise when something doesn't go as we planned or expected. He doesn't wring his hands wondering, "What are we going to do now?" He is working all things together for our good.

Difficulties many come our way;
Trials and tears beset our day.
Frustrations, fears, or come what may.
Trusting Him is where we'll stay.

Heavenly Father, help us to see that you are always at work in our lives. Help us to see that the roadblocks and detours along the way are just you redirecting our lives. When things come our way that we don't understand, may we never cease to trust you. Though we may not know where the next step will take us, may we, in faith, hold your hand in the confidence that you know where we are going. Amen.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-30

We tend to complicate the Christian life at times. Sure, certain rules must be in place to help us stay on the right path. Certain polices must be adopted for a church to run with some sense of order. But when we forget (in the words of Stephen Covey) that the main thing is to keep the Main Thing the main thing, we are missing the real heartbeat of the Christian life. What is the main thing? Or, as the scribe asked Jesus, "What is the first (or, main) commandment?" To put Jesus' answer is the simplest terms, it is to simply "love God and love people." If we can do that, all the complexities of the Christian life seem to fall somewhere near the bottom of the priority list and life, in general, makes more sense.

Lord, you made it so simple. But why does it have to be so hard? Loving you should be the easiest thing in the world and love for others should just flow freely from that love for you. But when we seek our wills before yours, things get out of focus, we get distracted, we wander from the main road. Bring us back, Lord, to where we should be ... loving you and loving others. Amen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks. Action words for sure, but take it even deeper and think of these as "attitude words." May these outward actions flow from an attitude within. May we rejoice because we are filled with sincere joy. May we always be aware of God's presence in a way that enables our hearts to be continually prayerful, even though the responsibilities and routines of life prevents us from verbalizing those prayers. May we truly have hearts that are so thankful that our gratitude is expressed in our countenance and evident to those we meet. Don't think of these as merely nice sentiments, but as "the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Heavenly Father, may these be our attitudes within. The world around us needs to see joyful, prayerful, thankful Christians. Fill us with your joy, give us a constant, prayerful awareness of your presence, and make us truly grateful. This is your will for your children in Christ. May we never seek to find contentment in anything less. With joy-filled hearts we ask this. Amen.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


"Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21,22

Forgive? 490 times? Lord, isn't that a bit unreasonable?

Forgiveness is not always easy. Sure, it is easier for some than others, and some offenses are, understandably, easier to forgive than others. But that doesn't nullify the necessity for us to forgive. Forgiveness doesn't minimize or excuse the wrongdoing, but it frees us from any sense of retaliation and releases the wrongdoer from our hearts and minds so we don't become angry and bitter. When we get to that point, it affects all those around us, not just the one who wronged us. In fact, very often the offender is not even aware there was ever a problem. When we fail or even refuse to forgive, we are the ones who suffer the most. Not only does it continually eat at us, but it jeopardizes our relationship with the Lord.

God has forgiven us much. Wrongs committed against us, regardless of how serious, are minimal in comparison to our sins against a holy God. As a forgiven people, we should be a forgiving people.

Oh, and that 490 times? We get to start all over again tomorrow.

Father, you have been so forgiving of us. We often offend your holiness and fall short of what you've called us to be and do, and yet you forgive us time and time again. Grant us forgiving hearts toward those who have sinned against us. Remind us, Lord, that we who have been freely forgiven at the expense of your Son, are to freely dispense the forgiveness we have received from you. Lord, though this is difficult, with you all things are possible. With gratefully forgiven hearts we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" Psalm 42:1,2

A cold drink of water on a hot, dry summer's day refreshes us, energizes us and replenishes the much needed fluids in our bodies. If we don't keep ourselves hydrated we will die. This is not simply a desire, but an absolute necessity. Our need for the Lord's refreshing is an even greater necessity.

The Psalmist paints a beautiful picture for us of a thirsty deer drinking from a fresh, flowing stream. Imagine that for a moment. Think of a majestic mountain in the background, the cool water trickling over smooth stones in the stream bed, a gentle breeze blowing through the leaves of nearby trees. There the thirsty deer finds refreshment for its weary self.

Then the Psalmist, from the depths of his being, cries out to the Lord, "So pants my soul for You, O God." Within his soul was a deep longing, an inner thirst, that he recognized could only be satisfied by God. He goes on to ask, "When shall I come and appear before God [that this thirst might be quenched]?" Perhaps you ask that same question - "When?" Well, how about now?

Lord, at those times when our souls and minds have that inner longing, may we not seek to find refreshment at the stagnant and toxic pool of sin. So many voices compel us toward their inferior and disappointing pools. Draw us to you, as the sound of a flowing stream might draw a thirty deer to refreshment. Quench our thirst, Lord. Satisfy our longings. Fulfill, as only you can, the deepest desires of our hearts. Amen

Monday, March 4, 2013


"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:5

Jesus is the Light that came into the world that was darkened by sin. Where there is his light there is life. But now that he is no longer in the world, where is the light? In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to those would be his followers, he said to us, "You are the light of the world."

The world is still dark and still in need of the light of Jesus. We must be reflectors of his light, as the moon reflects the light of the sun. He is the source of light, we are to live lives that reflect his light. Lights are lit for the purpose of dispelling darkness. To do that, the light must not be hidden nor obscured by dust or dirt. A clean reflector shines the brightest.

Lord Jesus, we thank you that you have shown your light to us and that your light shines in us. Cleanse us from anything that would prevent people from seeing your light shining through us. May we bring your light everywhere we go and to everyone we meet. For your glory. Amen.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


"Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'" John 4:34

Jesus came into this world on purpose, for a purpose and by God's purpose. That purpose was: to redeem mankind from sin. Jesus knew his purpose. He was focused on it. That purpose was like nourishment to him. Knowing his divine purpose was his inspiration and encouragement day after day. He fed off it.

What's your divine purpose. Oh, maybe you don't know your long term or ultimate purpose like Jesus did. Perhaps you don't sense a special calling to a specific task or ministry or vocation. But what about today? What is your divine purpose for today? What does God expect from you today? It is not complicated. Simplified down to four words it is this: love God, love people. That is God's will for you today and every day. Make that a part of your regular diet.

Lord, we want to do you will. Whether it be a clear and specific call to a special assignment, or the more general call to simply love you and to love others, may thy will be done in us and through us. May we find strength and inspiration from feasting on your will for our lives. Be glorified in us, O Lord. Amen

Saturday, March 2, 2013


"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18-19

The emphasis on repentance during Lent usually focuses on our part of the process: self-examination, confession and turning from our sin. We often miss the best part - God's part: forgiveness. John the Apostle tells us in 1 John 1:9 that "if we confess our sins (our part) He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (God's part)."

The prophet Micah says that God will "hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Sins cast into a stream or other shallow body of water might be retrieved, but sins hurled into the depths of the sea will be remembered no more. Then, as Corrie Ten Boom once said, after God casts our sins into the depths of the sea, he places a sign that reads, "NO FISHING ALLOWED!"

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your forgiveness and your forgetfulness when it comes to our sins. We thank you that you don't care to dig up our past and hold it over us. Help us, Lord, to forgive ourselves of those things that you have already forgiven. Remind us that your mercy is always greater than our sin. Grant us humble and truly contrite hearts that our times of confession might never become routine and insincere. Amen.

Friday, March 1, 2013


"Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'" Matthew 21:42

As we journey along our Lenten path toward Easter, we pause for a moment for a reminder of the rejection of Jesus. Jesus told his disciples that he would be rejected, be killed and be raised from the dead. They didn't quite understand what he was talking about until it actually happened as he said it would.

The stone that was cast aside by the people he came to save, became the chief cornerstone of the foundation upon which the Church would be built. This was the Lord's doing. That same cornerstone, that one who would be rejected, is also the foundation for our lives. Are we truly building our lives on the foundation of Jesus?

Lord, you are our rock, you are our firm foundation. Keep us from building our lives on ground that is not stable, ground that is not sure, ground that will wash away when the floods of life rush our way. May we not forget that your rejection, became the means of our acceptance by the Father. For this we are eternally grateful. Amen.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1,2

The way we live our life is often referred to as a "walk." When we tell people we are Christians, they don't want to hear us simply "talk the talk," they want us to prove it by "walking the walk." Another way you might hear it put is, "Don't sing it, bring it!" This is nothing different than the Lord expects of us.

If we want to live out the life we profess, we must avoid ungodly counsel and philosophies that are contrary to God's ways as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. We determine to live a life of holiness and find delight in obedience to the Lord. When we do this, we discover that our walk lines up with our talk, and our lifestyle doesn't conflict with our profession. As a result, our lives are fruitful and prosperous to the glory of God.

Lord, we want our lives to be fruitful in a way that brings glory to you. Keep us from places we shouldn't go - in our minds as well as in our persons, from submitting to ideas that conflict with yours, and from the negativity that seems to assault our faith from so many directions. In your Word we find life and refreshing; cause us to not only go there often, but to bring it with us in our hearts and in our minds. Lord, we long to be fruitful, we desire to be blessed by you. Amen.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


"...whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave." Matthew 20:26-27

Servant? Slave? Those words are not often associated with what we would call greatness in our society. Who's in control? Who's on top of the heap? Who's at the front of the line? Who has the most stuff? These are things we often attribute to great people. But Jesus sees things differently. Often a church is considered great if it has hundreds or thousands of people in attendance, Jesus might judge by a different standard: How many people are being served. Lent is a great time to humble ourselves and remind ourselves that "it is not about me" and to reach out to others.

Lord, you told your disciples, you told us, that you did not come to be served, but to serve. You have put before us the challenge to follow your example. You have called us unto greatness, but may we never forget that the path to Kingdom-greatness is marked by humility, acts of kindness and deeds of service to others. Create within us servant's hearts that we might truly extend servant's hands. Amen.