Saturday, April 30: Hebrews 3- Fix your thoughts on Jesus

Devotionally the opening sentence attached to my heart as God’s prompting for me today. Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess (1). Immediately I began to think practically about how to fix my thoughts on Jesus today.

As a Saturday I typically don’t set an alarm, but was up with the sun at 6:30 anyway and the first thing I did was my Bible reading as I ate breakfast. So that means I have all day to fix my thoughts on Jesus. I began to think through my day…

I have some errands.  How do I fix my thoughts on Jesus as I run to this store and do this and that? I often listen to the radio as I drive in the car, maybe news items that catch my fancy can be prompters for prayer? Hmmm. As I interact with folks on my errands, I can keep an ear open to ways I can express love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (the fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22-23). This would help me keep my thoughts fixed on Jesus.

Back home as I do my chores and later relax with my family, I could live these same fruits out with them. I fix my thoughts on Jesus when I bow to pray over each meal.

Since it is Sat. night, I usually do some message review for Sunday that helps me fix my thoughts on Jesus. I could pray a quiet blessing prayer for each family member as I climb into bed…

With a little thought I can remember to fix my thoughts on Jesus. If it can work for me, it can work for you. How will you fix your thoughts on Jesus today?

Thanks, Jesus, for these simple and practical thoughts about keeping my life centered in You today as I enter my day.  Now, please help me to do these things. Amen.


Friday, April 29: Hebrews 2- Listen up.

Chapter 2 blasts out of the starting gate, We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away (1).

Listen up, pay attention.  To what? The nightly news? NO. We are to pay attention to what we have heard about Jesus. Why? So we don’t drift away!

Pay attention. Listen up to what you have heard about Jesus.

Some of you have been reading the Bible with me for a couple of years now. Others may be new to reading the Bible. What I am hearing for my own life and for those who might read what I write is simple: Pay attention to what you have learned about Jesus. Don’t let thoughts and your belief about Jesus get pushed from the center of your life somewhere out toward the peripheral, where you might pay attention only once in a while. No, keep your listening to Jesus present and at the core of who you are becoming and how you live daily.

Drifting away happens and it is not good.  The way to prevent drifting away is to pay attention to Jesus!

Jesus is there to help you and me, that what verse 18 says, but if you drift away from Him how can He help you? And that’s God’s message for today.

Jesus, I need You. Like a boat or ship ties itself to a dock so it doesn’t drift away, I tie myself to You… today and every day! Amen.


Thursday, April 28: Hebrews 1- Jesus.

Hebrews begins with a glorious depiction of Jesus, the Son of God.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs (1-4, bolded text is my emphasis).

My thought immediately flashed to other New Testament writers who used different words to describe the same truth that Jesus is the Son of God.

John 1:1-4, 12-14: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. … Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And one more stop,

Colossians 1:15-23: He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

I simply pondered these words and these descriptions of who Jesus is. And I confirmed in my heart that I believe this. I invite you to do the same…

Jesus, I believe that You are fully, 100% God.  I not only believe that but I say to You that I will obey and follow You as the God of my life. Thank you for death on the cross, which reconciled me to You. I love You, I will follow You and I surrender to You. Amen.


Wednesday, April 27: Romans 16- Does your life reflect Jesus?

God where do You want to challenge me this morning? What is it You want to say to me this morning through Your Word? These are the simple prayers that I wrap around my Bible reading daily. Lord, speak to me through Your Word.

As Paul greets person after person in verses 1-16, I thought, Wow, each of these people have, in some way, served Jesus and others. Some host/run a church in their home, some have ‘worked hard’ for the Lord, one mothered people in Jesus, one had been in prison… and so on. Amazing, each in their unique way served Jesus and their lives reflected Him.

Even as I was marveling at the different ways different people lived out their faith, a question formed in me. How am I reflecting and serving Jesus?

As the question lingered within me, I knew that was the Spirit’s focus for me today. How is my life showing that I love, worship and serve Jesus? The question tumbled in different iterations:

  • What is different about my life because I love, worship and serve Jesus?
  • How have I changed over the years because I love, worship and serve Jesus?
  • What would others notice about my life that they would attribute to my loving, worshiping and serving Jesus?

I leave these questions for you, as I mull them myself and then turn to pray…

Lord Jesus. since I have read this Word first thing in the morning, I pray that my life reflects You throughout the day. I pray that my attitude about others is Christ-like; that my greeting of others is Christ-like; and that the character of my life, that others see in me toda,y is filled with character traits that hone and reflect You, Jesus. In Your name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, April 26: Romans 15- Build up.

One of the marks of converted believers is a heart to build up others rather than tear them down. Easier said than done. We all like things our way… we like our seats, our music, our colors, our ‘this’ and our ‘that’.

Things flare up when couples build houses and compromises have to be made on everything from flooring, to faucet design to bathroom tile. Flare ups show up in “remote wars” as family members vie for what station is watched on the TV. I have seen it in communities over “fence rules” for the subdivision.  And the list goes on. Unfortunately it happens even in churches.

Understanding this and knowing the situation in the church in Roman, Paul writes some strong words: We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up (1-2).

Where the strong normally enforce their will, Paul presents a servant approach to conflicting issues.You who are strong, please bear with the failing of the weak and build up your neighbor! Now that’s a different approach!

I print verse 2 again: Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Well, the Holy Spirit began to burrow into my life. How do I treat others, particularly those with whom I disagree? When I feel I am right (one aspect of believing I am the ‘strong’ one) how do I treat those I feel are wrong? The last four words hit particularly hard, do I build him/her up?

We may still disagree.  We may still discuss, even argue, our points but what manner do I project as we live side by side in the church together…

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. Those are words I can put into practice today!

Lord, help me to be a builder today… a builder of lives and a builder of people. Let this thought infuse my words, my body language and my heart. Show me specific moments today when I can choose to build up rather than tear down. Help me to be a people-builder. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Monday, April 25: Romans 14- Giving Account to God

One short verse tucked into the middle of this chapter carried a wallop when I read it. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God (12).

I know that, I understand there will be a judgment day… and yet the conciseness of that sentence struck me.

I will give an account to God of how I treated brothers and sisters in Christ.

The context of this chapter is about dealing with ‘disputable matters’… nonessential matters, like the food we eat or the special days we celebrate, over which brothers and sisters in Christ might disagree. It was the context that informed me to add the words “how I treated brothers and sisters in Christ.”

God cares about how I relate to others in His family. God cares about how I treat people with whom I disagree. I’m thinking it would behoove me to inventory and consider how I treat others. This way I can amend my ways before my day of account comes…

Jesus, give me Your eyes and Your vantage point to see how I treat others… and today, particularly others, in Your body. Where I ‘judge’ them and believe myself to be superior, show me that I might take on your attitude of love and care and change my ways. I am not perfect and I do not always love as You would have me love.

And where I get it right and do treat others with dignity and respect and compassion.  Help me not to grow proud and give me strength to live like that more and more. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. 



A brief note on Romans

Romans in an incredible book filled with the riches and ways of God. Culturally the Roman church had undergone incredible upheaval in recent years. Its founding was primarily as a Jewish Church, but maybe a decade prior to the letter Jews were expelled from Rome. Thus, the Gentile members of the church had to rise up and keep the church going. So a major shift occurred in the church from one with Jewish flavor to one with Gentile flavor. Now, more recently, the emperor’s edict against Jews in Rome was lifted and Jews returned. The impact on the church was real as former members and leaders returned to a church that had changed!

On a number of occasions in this letter, Paul addresses factions, weaker and stronger brothers, and the like, arguing that they learn to live not merely for themselves but for the whole of the church. We will see this play out one more time in the reading for Tuesday…


Saturday, April 23: Romans 13- Learn to love

With April 15, ‘tax time’ just passed, the commendation to pay taxes, revenue and give honor seemed timely. Yet God’s voice spoke clearest to me with the next verse and the explanations that followed. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law (8). The debt to love one another… what an interesting turn of phrase. I understand that debt is a way of life for many but not so much for me. Debt makes me uncomfortable. I avoid it like the plague and when it is necessary, I try to pay it off early. So when I read this verse, I immediately heard God say, “Bill, treat love like you do debt! Work hard to pay it off.” In other words do everything possible to love…

Then I kept reading… and the practicalities of love unfolded: The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (9-10).

Love does no harm to its neighbor… now that’s practical, that’s a definition I can understand, albeit a definition based on the negative.

Then I recalled some words from yesterday which described love from the positive. Love must be sincere. …Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. … Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. …Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (12:9-18).

Okay, Lord, I think it get it… learn to love. That’s what you are asking of me. Learn to love…

Lord, on the eve of Easter, with Good Friday still in my thoughts, Your desire that I learn to love seems fitting. After all that’s what Jesus did for me and the world.  He showed us what true love is. He spoke truth. He was compassionate to those in need. And He sacrificed His life so that we could be forgiven and find peace and a relationship with You, our Heavenly Father.

Now, Lord, You want me to do similarly… I get it.

But, Lord, I also know I need your help to do so. So much in me and the influences of my world pushes me to do the direct opposite. Please send Your Holy Spirit with a countering voice and strength to live as Jesus would have me life… Please… Amen.


Friday, April 22: Romans 12- Practical Christianity

If you are a person who wants to know how a Christ-follower should live, Romans 12 would be one of the chapters I’d suggest reading. It is practical Christianity with a capital “P.”

Romans 12 also happens to be a favorite chapter. Today I found myself drawn to verse 16. Honestly, I am not sure I have paid much attention to that verse before. I reads: Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. It was the second sentence that jumped out at me.

Do not be proud.  Okay, that’s a fairly common Biblical teaching. It was the continuing application that caught me off guard. In the split second that my eyes passed along the comma and but, my mind anticipated something like, ‘but be humble’. The words of the text but be willing to associate with people of low position took me by surprise.

I never thought about that… associating with people of ‘low position’ helps counter the pride that can grow in me (us). Who are people of ‘low position?’ I immediately thought of people living in lower economic situations, handicapped, aged, minorities, immigrants. I suspect that ‘people of low position’ could mean different things to each of us. In general they are people who are looked past by people in our stream of life.  They are people outside our stream of life who live on a lower wrung of the socio-economic ladder.

Now back to the main thought, Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. This Word from the Lord is forcing me to consider the people I hang around with. It is also causing me to consider how I treat people of ‘lower position’ when I cross their paths in everyday living. Think about it.

Lord, help me treat all people with the respect and dignity that is deserved because they were created by You and carry Your fingerprint… Your DNA. You created them just as You created me and because of that fact alone, they deserve my consideration.

Lord, I confess I do not always live this way. Forgive me and work on me. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, April 21: Romans 11- Avoid arrogance

It was as if the word ‘arrogant’ was highlighted as I read this chapter. The word appears only once, buried in the midst of verses 21 and 22. …But they [Jews] were broken off because of unbelief, and you [Gentiles] stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

What I heard is that we must never, I repeat, NEVER, become haughty, or proud, or stuck-up about the faith we have in Jesus. If we do, we are in the danger of thinking we earned or deserved it.  This makes our salvation about us (our goodness and/or our works) rather than about the gracious goodness of God Almighty. And this will never fly with God. The Jews became spiritually arrogant and God cut them off and He will do the same if we become arrogant.  That’s what I heard from the text in my spirit today.

And this gave me pause, as I think about sharing faith with people who are lost. I must not let myself grow arrogant as if “I have it and you don’t!” or think I am a better or more loveable person because I believe in Jesus and you don’t or any of the million other symptoms of the same root.  For the sake of effective living for Jesus and for the sake of my personal spiritual growth, I have to hold tightly to the truth that it is not me or anything I have done, but it is God alone who saves me and others…

I pray and echo Isaiah 55:9: God as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than my ways and Your thoughts than my thoughts. I praise You that You are so great Lord. Amen and Amen.


Wednesday, April 20: Romans 10- Zeal and Knowledge


Romans 10 is about Paul’s concern for the Jews because of their spiritual ‘lostness’. Interestingly, when I read verses 2 & 3, I observed that those verses can likely be applied to other religiously zealous people beyond the people of Israelites. Listen to verse 2-3: For I can testify about them that they are zealous for [g]od, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.

Many people are religious and even zealous for god (I use a lower case ‘g’ because in our world ‘god’ can mean many different things). It is not merely our zeal for ‘god’ or our ‘spirituality’ (another popular word in our culture) that finds God’s reward because zeal can be misguided. It is when our zeal is coupled with the one true God and His righteousness which comes by faith in Jesus, not by our works. It is this faith in Jesus of the Scriptures that results in true righteousness.

It seems to me that Paul is echoing Proverbs 19:2: It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way and applying it to religious observance. Zeal is great when it is coupled with knowledge…

These thoughts create a ripple effect in my inner being. Do I possess both knowledge of God’s truth and zeal to follow it??? This calls for some introspection.

Another ripple travels like this. Can I grow in heart and skill so as to be able to help those with misguided zeal to find true righteousness in Jesus?

Lord, Your Word is bursting inside of me… increase my zeal, increase my knowledge that I might live for the praise of Your glory. In and through Jesus… Amen. 


Tuesday, April 19: Romans 9- God chooses

I found myself reading over and thinking about this chapter more than once. Its message is strong and argument clear. God chooses. The section title in my NIV Bible captures the theme well, God’s Sovereign Choice.

I am well aware of the consternation that this chapter will bring many, so be it. I cannot change the Word, mine is to learn from it and accept it as God’s Word and Truth.

So I (we) sit today, marveling at and wrestling with the Word…

Personally, I take comfort in God’s sovereign choice. I don’t know why God chose to reveal Himself to me. But neither can I say it has anything to do with inherent goodness or my desire to seek Him.  What I learn, again, is that it is all about God and for that I MUST praise and thank Him…

Romans 9:16: It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

Romans 9:19-21 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Lord, I sit here four days from Easter, realizing again that I am utterly and totally dependent upon You and Your grace for my salvation… Praise the name of Jesus… Praise the Father and the Spirit, too.  Alleluia. Amen.


Monday, April 18: Romans 8- Too much truth.

There is simply too much wonderful truth in this chapter to absorb in one reading. This chapter overflows with one-liners and life-giving words from God. I could have paused after almost every verse to meditate on the wonder of life in Jesus.

The verse that seemed to resonate a little brighter than the others for me this morning was verse 15, a magnificent verse of heritage… For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

When by faith we confess Jesus as Lord, God plants the Holy Spirit with in us as the guarantor of our inheritance (Eph 1:14). Paul magnifies that truth reminding us that the Spirit not only guarantees our inheritance, He also executes an adoption whereby we become God’s child, God’s son. The importance of our ‘sonship’ was that in the culture of the day sons received the family name, inheritance, prestige and honor. We are adopted into God’s family and we are given His name with all the rights and privileges thereof.

Among our privileges, we can now call God, ‘Abba’ which means Father, Daddy…

Father, Daddy, O how my heart wells with warmth at the thought that You are my Father. That I can come to You at any time and You, my heavenly Daddy, will embrace me and love me and that You have gladly given me Your name… I am overwhelmed by all You have given me in Jesus… Thank You and bless You… Amen.


Saturday, April 16: Romans 7- We will always need Jesus

Chapter Seven closes with Paul sharing his struggles with sin. Commentators and theologians of much greater knowledge and stature that I vigorously debate whether this is a vignette from Paul’s pre-conversion days or post-conversion days. I have my opinions as well…

But a new thought occurred to me as I sat with the Lord and this text today. What occurred to me is that, either way, this passage emphasizes a similar point; we will always need Jesus. Verses 24-25 says this, What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

What I noticed is that Jesus is the One Who rescues us from our sin-filled nature and since we will never achieve perfection in this life, we always need Jesus. Before conversion we need Jesus and His redemption, justification and forgiveness. After our spiritual rescue through Jesus, we continue to need Jesus’ forgiveness for those times we lapse back into our sinful ways. And in eternity, Jesus and the Godhead will be center of all life and the light of the new world… so we will need Him throughout all eternity.

We always need Jesus and the best part is He will always there for us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you… (multiple scriptures: Deut 31:6,8; Josh 5:1; Hebrews 13:5, see also Matthew 28:20)

Take a moment before you close your Bible and move onto other things to reach out to Jesus. He is there for you.

O, Lord Jesus, I do reach to You. Forgive me and guide me today that I might reflect You to others as I live today. Amen.


Friday, April 15: Romans 6- Take a look at your life.

As I ponder this chapter I realize that Paul, remember he is speaking for God, has one aim… to have ‘Jesus-following people’ stop sinning and live righteously. That’s the point.

His basic message goes like this.  Now that you have been raised to life with Christ, you have the ability and Christ’s resurrection power to choose not to sin, and therefore to choose to live rightly.

He reminds us that now that we are in Christ, we are dead to sin and alive to Christ (11). He teaches that we are no longer under the law but under grace (15) which means we are no longer slaves to sin but rather slaves to righteousness (15-17). To which he concludes You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness (18).

Such is the message of Chapter Six… then the Spirit gave me nudge saying, “move the teaching from head to will.” Are there facets of my life that I allow to still be controlled by sin? Are there portions of my life where I live to sin rather than for Jesus? These are not simple questions to answer. They take contemplation and introspections and possibly the voice of a friend speaking into my life. Remember, too, Jesus called you ‘friend’. Invite him to speak into your life today. As Lent heads into its final week, consider asking Jesus for one area of life, one habit, one sin-pattern that you still maintain and need to change…

Jesus, Your death brought me life. I want to live for You. I DO NOT want to life for sin any longer. Help me make right choices. May my ears be more and more attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and may my will be surrendered more and more to Your will, my Master. Amen.



Thursday, April 14: Romans 5- Peace with God.

There are so many one-liners in Romans that teach me and lift me and inspire my faith. Chapter 5 opens with yet another one-liner: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (1-2).

Peace with God… no more being God’s enemy, no more needing to run from God or hide my head from God in shame. As I was writing this, I thought of Adam and Eve. After their sin of eating the forbidden fruit, they were ashamed to have God see them.   Their peace with God was broken.  Shame and hiding and blaming now marked their relationship with God. What they lost has been restored… we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!

The possessive ‘our’ shouldn’t be lost in the phrase above.  When Jesus becomes a person’s Lord, peace arrives. Not everyone enjoys this peace, only those who follow Jesus as Lord.

A second facet of our new relationship is that we stand on ‘grace’ not ‘works’.… Grace emphasizes the gift-factor of this new standing and new relationship with God. God does it for us when we believe. We don’t earn our new standing with God, it is a ‘grace-gift’. These are the aspects of our faith that turned and churned in my thoughts as I read and pondered Chapter Five.

God is sooooo good! My heart simply soars in praise!

Praise the name of Jesus, praise the name of Jesus.  He’s my rock. He’s my fortress. He’s my deliverer, in Him do I stand…

Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above You heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost… Amen.


Wednesday, April 13: Romans 4- It was credited.

The chapter closes with a wonderful summary of the gospel message. Check it out: … The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him [Abraham] alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness--for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (23-25, NIV).

Let me give that to you in a few translations so you can enjoy the full flavor of its truth.

(NRSV): Now the words, "it was reckoned to him," were written not for his [Abraham’s] sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.

(International Children’s Bible): Those words ("God accepted Abraham's faith") were written not only for Abraham. They were written also for us. God will accept us also because we believe. We believe in the One who raised Jesus our Lord from death. Jesus was given to die for our sins. And he was raised from death to make us right with God.

I just keep reading and reading these words. Over and over they turn.  What great news! God will accept us also because we believe. We believe in the One who raised Jesus our Lord from death. Jesus was given to die for our sins. And he was raised from death to make us right with God.

Friends, have you believed in God who raised Jesus from the dead? I mean really believed… the kind of belief that you build a life upon. I hope so. The gifts that come with belief are extraordinary… forgiveness of all our sins and being made right with God. Yahoo!  Now that’s the ‘good life.’ I hope you know it…

O, God, I do believe… thank You so, so much. Amen.


Tuesday, April 12: Romans 3- The Word of God as gift.


My heart soars reading Romans.  The wonder and truth of God’s salvation plan refreshes me. My eyes lit on the opening two verses and my thoughts gave them a little twist. Let me explain. The text reads: What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. I then substituted ‘church’ for ‘Jews’ and adapted the verses this way: What advantage, then, is there in being a church-goer, or what value is there in doing the things of church? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very Words of God.

Okay, agreed.  I thought, it is not being a church-goer or being a Jew that saves a person, it is a righteousness from God through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe that brings salvation (22). But there is an advantage to being a Jew or a church-goer… both have been entrusted with the very words of God. What a gift! What a blessing!

Through the Word of God, we learn that every person is a sinner (verses 9-18 and all of these are in the Old Testament).   Now, through the New Testament, we learn about the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, the one prophesied throughout the OT.

Week after week, season after season, Jews and church-goers get to hear the Word of God… words that can and will breathe life, when they are believed. And that truly is a gift and a blessing…

Take a moment and ask yourselves, “Do you believe the Word? Do you allow it to wash over you and inform your thinking and living or do you treat it like the useless drone of music in the malls… life’s background noise and no more important than that…???”

Thank You, God for Your Word… the teachings, the stories, the accounts of the heroes of the faith… Your story of redemption and rescue. Every time we humans turned from You and went out own way, You sent word to call us back. You are a pursuing God.  You are a loving, righteous and just God.  You have given us Your very Words! Teach me to pay attention to Your word, to value Your word and to build my life upon Your very Word… Amen and Amen.


Monday, April 11: Romans 2- Sin reaps its own reward.

Romans is so rich, I could almost read one verse a day and be wonderfully blessed by the Word of the Lord. I found myself pausing a number of times and thinking I could go deeper here. In the end, it was verses 11-16 that caused my lingering meditation… 

For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. … This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

How I live matters. Being from the bloodline of Abraham does not provide a person with a “get out of jail free” card when it comes to how we live our lives. God’s grace in Jesus Christ does not provide a person with a “get out of jail free” card when it comes to how we live our lives. Being rich or being poor does not provide a person with a “get out of jail free” card when it comes to how we live our lives.

How we live matters. The sin found in a Jew, in a Gentile, in a rich or poor or any other classification of person, will be judged on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ.

Thank God there is forgiveness for sins available in Jesus Christ! If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9). Thank God that He gave the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus so that the Spirit can teach us all truth (check out John 14:15-26, and 16:5-16). And thank God for Jesus’ death on the cross where He took our sin and gave us His righteousness…

O, Dear Lord, my sin cost You so much. O, Jesus, thank You for taking my sin to the cross and for giving me Your right standing before the Father.

Forgive my sins. I own them, I committed them, I deserve the punishment of forever separation from You for them.    Words do not serve me well in thanking You and praising You for the gift of salvation that Jesus gives to all who believe…

Help me to be a man after Your own heart.   O, Holy Spirit, strengthen me for living for Jesus all of my days… In the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, April 9: Romans 1- Straight forward word

Accepting my own challenge from Wednesday, wow, this chapter says a lot! It says we need Jesus and without Him as Lord of our lives we are in trouble. A couple of excerpts that struck me:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (16).

Jesus is THE way of salvation for everyone.  Apparently not all ‘religions’ lead to salvation. Faith in Jesus does.

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (20-21).

Some choose not to follow God to faith in Jesus and as the remainder of the chapter discusses, pay the consequences of their non-belief.

In our world of many religions and idealization of pluralism, this chapter teaches me that not all religions lead back to God. I realize that a statement like that isn’t ‘PC’ but it is faithful to the Bible. Learning to say this honestly, but without an edge of personal superiority or I am better than you, is my learning curve. Letting the implications of this truth seep into my soul and affect my actions is another learning curve.

… Growing in utter thankfulness that I have come to believe the Gospel and find God’s way of salvation in Jesus, and

… Understanding that people need Jesus and orienting my life to share that with them. These are some additional learning curves for me.

Lord Jesus, drive these learnings into the fiber of my being. Be relentless with this, Jesus. I pray in Your name and to Your glory. Amen.


Friday, April 8: 2Chronicles 36- The End

All the sin, all the rebellion, all the turning from God and running after other gods, all the unfaithfulness… culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the of God’s people to Babylon.

Consequences, sin has consequences. Some consequences are immediate, some come later, others at/after death but all sin is judged. The seeds of this chapter’s judgments were planted back when Solomon first strayed from the Lord. And by the time of this chapter, even the priests are faithless; Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the LORD, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem (14).

Sin, the text reminds me, has consequences!

O, God, forgive me for taking sin lightly and for taking grace lightly. O, God, give me a clearer understanding of Your absolute holiness and my utter sin-filledness. Show me the disparity between You and me so that I might fall on my face in adoration and love before You. Praise be Your Holy Name/ Praise be salvation in Your name… Amen.


PS.  I noticed that even in telling the story of the devastation and destruction of Jerusalem, God slipped in a word of redemption. The last two verses speak of Israel’s return from exile and of God’s faithfulness to His covenant even when the people were unfaithful…

I am reminded that Chronicles was written during/after the return, as a summary for the people of God’s story and promises.   I am also reminded that though God will judge all sin, Jesus came to redeem us from our sin and bring us into the joy of a relationship with God that we could never have discovered on our own…


Thursday, April 7: 2Chronicles 35- Immediate Faithfulness

Priests found the book of the law during Josiah’s eighteenth year.  He read it and immediately began complying with it. The account of the Passover, which had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah (18), shows the incredible faithfulness of Josiah.

He read it and he did it…

What an example Josiah leaves for me and you and all believers.

Quietly the Spirit nudges… Bill, how about you? Are you faithful like Josiah to read and then do My Word?

I am left sitting with the Lord and the only prayer that forms in my heart…

Lord, forgive me.



Wednesday, April 6: 2Chronicles 34- Taking the Word at face value.

Imagine not having the Bible. In the days of this chapter no one has read the word of God in 20, 40, 100 years. Everything they know about God comes from what others have told them.  Now remember they haven’t read the actual Word of God.   What they know comes from the corporate memory of people who have instructed them and the people who have instructed them… and so on back 2, 3, possibly 4 generations. What would that be like?

That was Josiah’s world until the day Hilkiah found the Book of the Law…

The text reads, When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes (20). He then asked the priests to speak with God, ‘What should we do?’ And the Lord responded, they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book (21)."

As I was reading this, a thought experiment came to my mind. What if we read the Bible from today forward as if it were both the first time we read it and it was the ABSOLUTE Word of God which we sought to obey faithfully and to the letter? How would our lives change?

It occurred to me that we can have the word of God all around us, yet live as if it has no impact at all in our lives. A favorite professor of mine likened the Gospel to a vaccine saying, “We can have just enough of the Gospel to keep us from getting the real Gospel.”

If I might adapt it to my thought experiment, I wonder if we can have just enough of the Bible laying around that it has lost its impact on our lives? I hope not, but I wonder.

After all this thinking, I found a challenge welling up inside of me. How about reading the Bible and accepting the plain meaning of what the words say. What a great challenge and one I will start Saturday when we begin reading Romans…!

Lord, thank You for this wake up call, this reminder to listen to Your Word and accepting the plain meaning of the text. Help me. Lord, to do this, not just for a while but for the remainder of my days this side of eternity.

I wonder, Lord, how my life will change… I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Tuesday, April 5: 2Chronicles 33- A mid-life crisis

Manasseh started off on the wrong foot, worshipping other gods and undoing the reforms of his father. In fact he sped in a godless direction. Did God abandon him? Absolutely not. The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon (10-11).

Like his father before him, Manasseh was willing to change. He had a mid-life crisis where he turned TO God not away from Him. In his distress he sought the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the LORD was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD is God (12-13).

Statistically it’s true that most people become a follower of Jesus before they turn 18. The percentage is staggering, something in the range of 64%* but we cannot minimize the remaining one-third. God is calling men and women of all ages to Him.  Are they listening? Are you listening?

I know a growing number of people read these short devotional posts. Take a moment today to listen and assess. Where is your life headed? Are you moving toward or away from the Lord? If you are moving away from God it is never too late to change direction. Manasseh did and so can you.

Put your faith in Jesus, ask Him to transform your life and lead you in His direction. Humble yourself and pray to Jesus, read His Word, gather with other Jesus-followers in a church that honors and teaches His Word…

Lord, I pray for people to come home to You today… Amen.





Monday, April 4: 2Chronicles 32- Resilience. Yes or No?!

Hezekiah was a faithful and great king. When Sennacherib, King of Assyria, was crusading throughout the land Hezekiah he remained faithful to the Lord.  He used his wisdom to engineer strong defenses and a fresh supply of water for the eventual siege of Jerusalem. During the siege Hezekiah stood on the Lord, continued to encourage the people, and prayed with the prophet Isaiah for God’s deliverance. God came through by saving Israel. It is a great story of faithfulness.

But even great men stumble. Hezekiah grew proud. In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the LORD, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. (24-25). And for a brief time he did not live faithfully.

But that’s not the end of the account, my heart warmed when I read verse 26, Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD's wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.

Hezekiah repented! A great man by all earthly standards repented. He humbled himself before the Lord and repented!

That is a powerful word to me today. Hezekiah tripped up.  We all stumble and fall in our faithfulness to God but it is what we do after we fall that matters. Hezekiah repented. He turned back to the Lord. So many of the kings before him let pride get in the way of their walk with God and lived out their final days estranged from God. Not Hezekiah.

The word that comes to my mind is resilience. Hezekiah’s faith was resilient. When he fell he didn’t stay down and he didn’t turn from God, he turned TO God… that is faithful resilience. And that is a word I need to hear…

O, God, I pray for faith-filled resilience. I will fall, I know it but Lord, when I fall pick me up and forgive my sins and bring me back to You. Like Hezekiah I long for faith-filled resilience… to keep walking with You, no matter what. To keep walking with You when enemies attack… and to return to You through repentance when I stumble and fall into sin. To live for Jesus, this is what I long in life … Amen.



Saturday, April 2: 2Chronicles 31- Revival

The Passover celebration we read about yesterday sparked a revival, a deepening and re-kindling on the peoples’ faith like nothing seen in Jerusalem since the days ‘The Ark of the Covenant’ arrived.

The Passover was not a one (or two) week wonder.  Following the Passover, Hezekiah launched a reinstitution of Temple worship, complete with daily offering and the singing of the Lord’s praises. Even in time of faithfulness there has been no record of this depth of obedience and worship in Judah since David and early Solomonic days. Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions--each of them according to their duties as priests or Levites--to offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, to minister, to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD's dwelling.

The king personally contributed from his own possessions for the morning and evening burnt offerings and for the burnt offerings on the Sabbaths, New Moons and appointed feasts as written in the Law of the LORD (3). His heart was truly touched, along with his peoples’ hearts. According to verses 4-7 the people began bringing their tithes and offerings, so great was their generosity that storehouses had to be erected to hold the pile upon piles of food and produce.

God was praised in word and DEED… that’s revival!

O, God, I pray for an outbreak of revival here in my day and in my town. Lord God, pour out Your Spirit and transform my heart and the hearts of Your people in and throughout my community. And then, Lord, may the praises and deeds of those of us touched by Your revival spill out over our neighbors, coworkers, and community, calling them to faith in Jesus in droves… not ones or tens but by the hundreds and thousands. May the harvest be great, O, Lord.

And, Lord, show me (us) what You would have us do to cooperate with Your Great Holy Spirit Revival outpouring. Hezekiah gave freely of his wealth.  He employed his organizing and administrative talents, too. People worshiped and praised and gave generously.  Show me, Lord, what I should do to cooperate with You so that revival would come to my town. Amen.


Friday, April 1: 2Chronicles 30

This is one of the few OT accounts where we see the people of God reaching out to draw others into the faith. Admittedly, it is only a half-step as Hezekiah reaches out to disenfranchised Israelites of the northern kingdom who haven’t worshiped the Lord in generations. They may have Jewish blood in their veins but that’s as far as it goes. They haven’t worshiped the Lord since the Jeroboam split about 200 years ago.

Hezekiah took quite a risk, verse 1, Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel.

And disenfranchised brothers responded to the invitation, which created a bit of a problem since the invitee didn’t know God’s Law and therefore didn’t know, or know how, to purify themselves for the Passover.… Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God--the LORD, the God of his fathers--even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary." And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people (18-20). Even here God provides a way through the problem as He ‘woos’ the disenfranchised back to Him.

I saw a number of parallels to my own faith journey at the present time.

This week I am attending a conference at my church to learn how to better reach out to people disenfranchised from God.  There are inherent risks in reaching out…. personal rejection, anger, misunderstanding, botching up the invitation, not knowing what to say, and the list goes on. However, the only way to get more people to the banquet is to invite them.  Their response is their responsibility.

Second, when people who don’t know God respond, they will arrive with all kinds of baggage. I cannot expect that they know God or know how to live lives that honor Him. I have to remember that God has that under control and I have to expect that there will be some messy lives and situations that will need care. God has a plan to draw them all the way home. I have to follow His lead.

Lord, thanks for this wonderful word of encouragement as I learn to be better at inviting people toYour banquet.  I pray that I experience the joy Hezekiah experienced as many accept invitations to come to You. For Jesus’ Kingdom’s sake, I pray. Amen.