Saturday, June 30: Daniel 8 - God is there in the confusing and perplexing times of life..

Like I said yesterday, dreams and visions and messages about the end of times are a tough read for me. They don’t answer questions I am asking and seem pretty disconnected from my life. After reading, I sat still before the text, scanning it and asking God for a kernel of truth from His heart for mine for today.

I found myself amazed at God’s grace. Here God was providing information that will be helpful for His people as the end of days grow closer. God provides. I added to this the wonder that God speaks interpretation to Daniel and us about the dream. While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, …I heard a man's voice … calling, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision" (15-16).

When Daniel was perplexed and trying to figure out what God was saying in the dream, God comes through with an answer. I cannot count the number of times God has entered my confusion and given me grace to sort things out or shown me the next step to take.

God is there in the confusing and perplexing times of life.

Often it is not until a later time, as I reflect back upon a situation, that I can clearly see the many ways God was present.

God was there and God is there… for Daniel and for me.

Here is where I sat in God’s lap this morning. Thank You, Lord.

Thank You, Lord God, for this reminder that You are present in the tough times, the foggy times, the uncertain times of life. Praise be to You, Lord Jesus, Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit. Amen.



Friday, June 29: Daniel 7 - Jesus King of kings.

I struggle with chapters like this. I am far more literal than figurative, so symbolic dreams and visions lose me. If this morning was one of study, I would dig into the four kingdoms and the various aspects of the dream through the interpretation given. But since this is a devotional reading, I sought a nugget that would stimulate my faith.

I discovered my morning nugget in verses 13-14. "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Jesus was been given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. I pondered that.

I repeated what Jesus was given: authority… glory… sovereign power… dominion… forever.

Jesus truly is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I ruminated on this truth.

Crown him with many crowns, the lamb upon his throne the Lamb upon his throne, Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee, and hail him as thy matchless King through all eternity

Mighty, invincible, majestic is Jesus. Why do I fear? He is on my side…

Praise be to You, Jesus. Praise be to You. Amen.


Thursday, June 28: Daniel 6 -The Daniel scale of character.

Every Sunday school child knows the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den. It truly is a wonderful and true story. Reading it this morning, a few verses caught my eye.

First, there was verse 4, At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. It was the last part of the last sentence in particular that arrested me. They couldn’t find any way to indict Daniel because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt or negligent. Trustworthy, and neither corrupt (stated ‘positively honest’) or negligent (again stated ‘positively diligent’); three characteristics that every employer would relish!

I wonder how I measure up compared to the ‘Daniel scale?’

After these satraps hatch a scheme to entrap Daniel and pull an end run around him, going straight to the king without his knowledge, we come to verse to10. Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Again, it was the last words that danced in my thoughts.

Anyone caught praying to a god other than the king for a month was to be fed to the lions. Did Daniel change his devotional habits after the decree to save his skin? Did he worship in secret or stop worshipping? No, he prayed in his room with the window open just as he had done before.

Integrity... Daniel was the same person in the quiet of his room as he was in public. Daniel lived his faith in the same way when it was allowed and when it was illegal. And when caught for doing what was illegal, he accepted his punishment and held on to the Lord.

And through all this is utter faithfulness to the Lord

Add integrity and faithfulness to the ‘Daniel scale’ of character.

Lord, I want to be a Daniel… a man of trustworthiness, honesty, diligence, faithfulness and integrity. And as I grow to be a Daniel, I pray that my actions will point people to You just like Daniel’s life did. Amen.


Wednesday, June 27: Daniel 5 - A roller coaster career.

Up one day and unknown the next, such is Daniel’s career.

Last Saturday (Daniel 2) we read of the meteoric rise of Daniel to ‘second-in-command’ in Nebuchadnezzar’s leadership team. Now in the regime of Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Daniel is a forgotten man. Only after all the high ranking magicians couldn’t help did someone think of Daniel and ask for his help. Apparently, Daniel had been cast aside.

We are not told how Daniel handled the demotion, but every indication from the book is that his integrity and faithfulness to God never wavered.  Apparently, too, he never burned bridges.

Daniel was a man of godly honor when he was the center of attention and when he lived in obscurity.

As that last sentence was being keyed in, the Spirit’s nudge came…

“Be a Daniel. Don’t seek personal fame or fortune. Live with integrity and faithfulness to Me every day. If you speak to paupers or kings, speak only truth, the truth I teach you. Leave your life to Me. Find your identity in Me, not your position or anything else…”

There you have it, my word from the Lord for today.

Lord, it is much easier to have these thoughts than to live them. I can be seduced by power, prestige and money. I ask not only for forgiveness when it happens but for wisdom to recognize when it is happening in my life.  I ask for an open heart and ears to hear You calling me back to center in You and strength to follow Your way back to faithful living.

As the hymn writer put it, ‘I need You every hour…’ without You I stray. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Tuesday, June 26: Daniel 4 - An open hand of hope.

What a fascinating account… I saw the hand of God reaching to Nebuchadnezzar as never before.

After Daniel interprets the dream, Daniel says: O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue" (27). Daniel immediately extends to the king an opportunity to avert the disaster foretold in the dream by immediately turning to the Lord. And then God withholds the consequences in the dream for 12 months. Nebuchadnezzar had one full year to turn to the Lord. Sadly, he did not. And the account continues…

Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle.… Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled.… (29-33).

God gave King Nebuchadnezzar twelve months to repent before the Lord unleashed what He said He would do.

I pondered the many ‘judgment-words’ in Scripture and thought, “Hmm, did God place them in Scripture as a warning so that people would take them to heart and be saved by confessing the Lord to be their God? The more I thought, the more I think so…

God tells what is to come as a hand of hope extended so that people will grab hold of God and be saved.

Do I tell God’s story in ways that people feel as if they can reach out to God and be saved,  or do I tell them with harsh tones that drive people away? Such was the prick of the Holy Spirit as I meditated on this chapter.

Oh, God, may I be a Daniel… a man of faith and character; a man who when given a hard word delivers it dripping with grace and an invitation to turn to the Lord and renounce sin seeking the grace of Jesus. Amen.


Monday, June 25: Daniel 3 - Faith without demands.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are amazing men of faith. They held to their faith moorings in a pagan land while serving as officials to a pagan king. The more I think about this, the more integrity I see in these men. What they did is not easy. Somehow they were able to not allow power and prestige to  corrupt them.

This trio is severely tested when commanded by the king to worship a statue he had built for himself. Facing certain death for insolence the text explains the account this way. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up" (16-18).


This trio had complete faith in God without making any demands that God has to work in a certain way to prove He is God. Our God is able to save… but even if he does not…

We know how the story turns out. God does save them in a miraculous manner. They, however, did not know the outcome when they professed reliance upon God. Their faith in God did not waver; they left the outcome of their trial in God’s hands.

I thought of Stephen in the NT (Acts 7).  He carried similar faith. Yet in his situation, he died from stoning, the first martyr of the Christian faith.

It is the faith of these four men that inspires me.  A faith that will hold on to the Lord no matter the pressure; faith to believe God can and does do the impossible; and yet a faith that makes no demands on God, believing God knows best what will advance His kingdom. As one confession of the church puts it: in life and in death I belong to God.

Lord, may I live with the faith of Shadrach, Meshach Abednego and Stephen… full out for You, fully dependent upon You and trusting the outcome of my faith-filled decision to You. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, June 23: Daniel 2 - From nobody to the palace.

As the chapter opens Daniel is an absolute nobody. He is so low on the totem pole that when the king’s appointee comes to kill him, along with all the magicians, Daniel has no clue what is going one. This in turn means when the king initially asked the wise men to interpret his dream, Daniel didn’t get an invitation. Daniel was a mailroom clerk, not a partner or even an associate.

By the end of the chapter Daniel is in charge of the province of Babylon, overseeing all wise men.

Daniel’s meteoric rise is clearly the hand of the Lord…

But watching Daniel, I see some wonderful man-of-God characteristics on display. When Arioch, the commander of the king's guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact (14). Daniel had the ability to read a situation and react appropriately with humility, wisdom and tact.

Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come (27-28a).

Daniel is humble and God honoring. Daniel didn’t take the glory for himself, but pointed to the Lord who gave him the strength and wisdom.

Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery… (17-18a). Daniel relied on godly friends and prayer as he reached out to the Lord for help.

Daniel replied, "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come (27-28a). Daniel remains humble, gives God appropriate credit, and speaks truth with wisdom.

I have much to learn from Daniel.  What a wonderful role model Daniel is….

Lord, thank You for inspiring and raising up Daniel. As I meditate on this chapter today and read the remainder of this book, teach me what it is to be a man of God, a man who remains faithful to You as he lives through the pressures of life. And by Your grace, Lord, allow me to be an example to others, too, as Daniel is to me… For Your kingdom sake. Amen.


Friday, June 22: Daniel 1 - A willingness to be different yet measure up.

The story of Daniel inspires. Young men ripped from family and homeland ordered into service of the king who just destroyed their homeland. How would they act? What would they do?

On many levels they surprise me.

The common thread seen by most is that they do not abandon their heritage and ask for food that will not cause them to break the dietary laws of their Israelite upbringing. This shows amazing strength of character. Additionally, they do so in a manner that is not overly confrontational, which displays intelligence and ‘street savvy’ beyond their years. Remember, they might only be teens.

Another dimension I observed today, as I read, was their willingness to serve this foreign king. They were not spies in the king’s court looking for a way to subvert the king. They were not resistance fighters supplying key intelligence to their people as David’s friend Hushai (see 2Samuel 15:32-17:16) did when David fled from Absalom. No, they entered this foreign king’s service, benefiting this pagan king.

We know none of their reasoning.  We can only watch their actions and listen for the whispers of the Spirit. And the Spirit’s whisper to me this morning I placed in the heading. These young men displayed a willingness to be different (they held onto their faith moorings in a pagan culture) yet they measured up and served the regime of the king and excelled in their service.

I have some wrestling to do with the second half of what I see in the text because there are certainly times when serving a pagan regime could be contrary to one’s faith in the Lord. Then again as I ponder more, Esther kept her heritage from the king and his eunuch until God’s time was right.

Wow, I guess it is time to pray…

Lord, lead me in right living. Show me how to stay true to You as I live in a world that seems to drift further and further from the safe moorings of Your Word. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, June 21: 2Thessalonians 3 - In and out and who's who .

In our world where church people seem to believe anything and everything, I sometimes wonder when/if I am supposed to draw a line.  Today’s time in The Word didn’t answer my questions, but made me think…

Verse 6: In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

I found myself noodling on this verse. Keep away from every brother who does not live according to Paul’s teaching. Okay, the person is a ‘brother’ and yet he/she is not living up to the Word of God. So many questions… many of which are variations on this one.  How can she/he be a brother and not follow God’s Word???

Like I said, this isn’t answering my dilemma, but challenging me to go deeper and look at it from varying angles.

Next comes verses 14-15: If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Again, you have someone who doesn’t obey -dare I say, intentionally disobeys- the instructions of God’s Word. Again, they are not to associate with him, apparently, so that he will feel ashamed and come to his senses, I suppose. But he is not an enemy but a brother in need of warning…

Processing all this it seems that when people are not living up to or are denying instructions of God’s Word, Paul counsels what I think of as ‘remedial disassociation’… disassociation in the hopes of winning back. Yet they are still considered or treated as brothers in the kingdom.

I continue to wrestle with how to appropriately apply this in our day. God surely has me thinking!

Lord, there is great challenge living in our 21st century, pluralistic world and maintaining the integrity of Your Word in my life. I pray for wisdom so that I live in a way that makes You proud and draws people to Your saving grace. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, June 20: 2Thessalonians 2 - seeing us through to the end.

Eschatology has never gripped me. In my simple faith, I know Jesus will return. When He does, He will defeat evil and save all those who are His. If this happens during my lifetime, great, if not, I will go to be with the Lord when I die. Either way, because Jesus is my Lord, I am saved.

I also believe that should the great deceiver come during my earthly life, staying in God’s Word and cultivating my relationship with God –Father, Son and Holy Spirit- will be my best defense against being deceived. Those same ‘faith-n-life’ characteristics will help me weather any storm in life, so I try to build them into my life anyway…

The closing words of the chapter walked me into my daily meditations… May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word (16-17).

I pondered the Father and Son encouraging me.  Is that not a wonderful reversal of the way things so often work in the world? The greatest One, encouraging a ‘nobody’, but that is the way of God. God loves me, knows me and encourages me (and you) so that we stay the course and find ourselves strengthened for whatever the day brings. It is Romans 8 in action… God will see us through to the end and even more so, God will encourage us and strengthen us so that we make it to the end…

Now that is a thought worth dwelling upon this and every day. Amen!

Lord, God, I look again at some of the words of that sentence… You love us, Your grace eternally encourages us, You pour hope into us… Wow what a blessed person I am!  What a blessed people Your people are! Alleluia, our God reigns! And our God guarantees our inheritance.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord, most high… Amen.



Tuesday, June 19: 2Thessalonians 1 - Punishment.

I don’t normally find myself dwelling on God’s eternal judgment, but I found the description of judgment in verse 9 worthy of contemplation.

[God] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed (8-10a).

Everlasting destruction… it is amazing how descriptive two words can be. Everlasting… a Thesaurus gives these synonyms: eternal, endless, ceaseless, never-ending perpetual, unending forever…

Shut out from the presence of the Lord… this phrase drove most of my meditation. I wondered what it would be like to be shut out of God’s presence. No grace, no mercy, no godly intervention and no hope for any of these. And this, too, would be forever.

Together these paint a sad picture for those who not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Suddenly my devotion took a sharp turn. I found myself being ‘oh so thankful’ for Jesus and my salvation. How about you?

Lord, thank You for saving me. I don’t know why I am so blessed, but I am thankful I am. Praise You, Lord… Amen.

Monday, June 18: 1Thessalonians 5 - Avoid evil.


These five words stuck to me as I walked by them in my reading. Avoid every kind of evil (22).

My mind spun… this touched every aspect of life, like: words spoken, thought life, clothing choices, attitudes, investments, hiring practices, etc. I could spend the morning listing more and more arenas of life.

Avoid every kind of evil.

Be a good person. Stay away from shady dealings. Avoid habits that can lead to shadowy destinations. Be good. Do good. Love good…

Avoid every kind of evil.

My hope is that it sticks to me throughout the day and can be a plumb line for the choices I make today and all my todays.

Avoid every kind of evil.

Only by Your strength and the following of Your voice can I hope to live up to this admonition. Help me, Father. Help me, Jesus. Help me, Holy Spirit to avoid every kind of evil. Amen.



Saturday, June 16: 1Thessalonians 4 - Do this more and more.

Never arriving, always growing…

I was struck by the twice used “do this more and more” phrase.

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.  And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

There are always areas of our Christ-life in which we can and should grow. Even though the Thessalonians are growing, Paul points out new areas…

I paused to think what areas God is leading me to further growth. Where is God leading you to grow?

We never arrive.  We can always be growing.

Lord, show me areas where I need to apply myself to deepen my faith and improve my living, so that my life and reflects You, Jesus, better and better. In Your name, I pray. Amen.



Friday, June 15: 1Thessalonians 3 - Faith and love.

Faith and love were two words that kept appearing in this brief chapter. After having spent only a short time in Thessalonica, Paul left and now he was fearful for the faith of the church people who remained in the city. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless (5). Were they standing strong in the face of opposition and persecution? So Paul prayed for them. Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith (10).

His prayer was that they would flourish in love and be built up in faith. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones (12-13).

But Paul was equally concerned that love was flourishing among them as he was that their faith was continuing through the persecutions.

Faith and love. Love and faith. They go hand in hand. Faith… our following of God; what we believe; the truths we hold; and the religious actions we do; is balanced and made visible in the practical love we extend to others –both friends and foes.

Faith and love…

I laid that template on my life. Faith and love… am I growing in both? Would people see my faith in the way I love others? Do I love others as faith in Jesus demands?

How about you?

I took Paul’s prayer and prayed it for me. It is quite a powerful prayer. Consider praying it earnestly for yourself as well.

Lord, may You make Your love in me increase and overflow for others –friends and foes alike. May You strengthen my heart so that I will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. Amen.


Thursday, June 14: 1Thessalonians 2 - Truth spoken in love.

We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts…. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else (4, 6a).

I admire and am challenged by these words. For me, anyway, it is not easy to live this way. I much prefer when people like me. I am sure this leaks into my heart and mind impacting the way I speak to people and the words I choose.

Am I absolutely faithful to God in my words? Possibly not… probably not.

I sit here hoping, praying, that I have not greatly disappointed my Lord and that I have not mutilated the Gospel because of my preference to be liked.

I sit here asking God for more steel in my backbone, while at the same time, more seasoning in my tongue, so that when I need to be straight with people I can do so in ways that are not unnecessarily hurtful or caustic. Paul uses double descriptors in Ephesians suggesting that we “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Herein lies the Spirit’s nudge this morning… to have me grow in speaking the truth in love.

Oh, Lord, the longer I live with and follow You, the more and more I need You. The longer I live with and follow You, the more gaps I see in my life that need the repair work of Your Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit, come and remodel my life so that it is a fit residence and worthy monument to Jesus, my Savior, to my Almighty Father and to You, Oh Spirit, my Comforter and Counselor. Amen.


Wednesday, June 13: 1Thessalonians 1 - The mysterious work of God.

I wish I could understand and predict how and when God will work. A great move of God occurred in Thessalonica bringing to faith a number of people despite severe suffering (6). No one would expect that, and yet that is exactly what Paul describes. And even more so, the power of God rang out from Thessalonica to neighboring countries (8).

I wish I could bottle whatever it was that happened there. I wish I could turn it into an equation…X and Y and God will move dramatically. But it doesn’t work that way…

I pondered the moving of God.

Despite no precise formula, faith and obedience (by Paul Silas and Timothy); the gospel put into words; the power of God; and the working of the Holy Spirit (5)’ were all factors in the conversion of the Thessalonians from belief in idols to belief in the living and true God (9).

My thoughts slide to today. I cannot control the move of the Holy Spirit. Rather I need to be obedient to His promptings and direction, which requires faith on my part. I can prepare myself so that I can explain simply and accurately the Gospel. I can also learn be open to the power of God using me and others in dramatic ways as He chooses. So even though I cannot predict or orchestrate a move of God, I can be prepared so when it comes I can be used of God to usher people to the Lord as the Spirit prompts and directs…

Hmmmm, much to think about, and much work to do to prepare…

Lord, make a channel of Your love. Unclog my ears so that I may hear You clearly. Strengthen my heart so that upon hearing I will have faith to follow You obediently. Expand my mind and dismantle any misconceptions I have of You that limits how You can work in and through me, so that I believe You move mightily and in power… I pray all this so Your kingdom advances and people come to know and follow Jesus as Lord. Amen.


Tuesday, June 12: James 5 - A life well rooted in God.

There were so many verses that touched my life, any number of them were worthy of meditation. James is so practical and so real.

Ultimately, I lingered on these words. Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord (13-14). It was the ‘whole of life planted in God’ that caught my attention. No matter the circumstances of life there is an appropriate response to the Lord.

Trouble… pray

Happy… praise

Sick… church body praying for healing

No matter what is going on, lean on the Lord.

The Lord is part of the equation for every part, every circumstance, and every season of life. To know God in this way, with this fullness, that is my desire. Expressing this desire leads directly into prayer.

Oh, Lord, my God, I long to be so connected with You that every aspect of life connects me more and more closely with You. The writer of Ecclesiastes says when times are good be happy, when time are bad consider (xx).  This morning James filled that thought out, showing me that in all times and seasons there is a way to be connected with You.

Lord,may I learn that way. May I live that way. Lord, it will only happen by Your grace and the leading of Your Holy Spirit, moment by moment in my life. Through Jesus, I utter this prayer to You, my God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Monday, June 11: James 4 - Struggles within self.

Today's chapter caused me to reflect on the battle within myself, selfishness versus godliness.

Written to believers, this chapter shows how easily anyone can be lured back into selfish thinking, which can cause quarrels with others and even hatred towards God (4). A major culprit in all this is pride.

Verse 8 gives a basic formula for dealing with pride and developing humility. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

The journey away from pride begins with the willingness to draw close again to God… not easy(!). Next comes confession, admission that I am full of sin and need to be washed clean. Finally, asking God to deal with those places in my heart that are not surrendered to the Lord, hence 'double-minded.' (Oh, I remember how being double-minded undercuts the gaining of wisdom, too…see 1:4).

God's, not so faint, whisper to me this morning… “Beware pride and embrace humility.” This is not easy for me. I need much continued reflection and prayer.

Oh, God, come help me to grow in Christ likeness. Help me, Lord, to forsake pride which puffs me up.  Help me, instead, to embrace the humility that Jesus embraced walking to the cross for my sins and the sins of every other sin-filled human being. The Perfect One taking on my sins, that is humility. Lord, God, may I strive to be like Jesus. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, June 9: James 3 - Taming the tongue.

Ugh, why today… the tongue?! Before my eyes even focused on God’s Word, the section title pierced me, “Taming the tongue.” As a person whose life is to speak, teach, pray, lead my words mound up. This chapter humbles me.

It beings with the first note, Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly (1). Talk about humbling!!! And it builds from there. We all stumble in many ways. (2a)… no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be (8-10).

I am undone.

My mind begins to weigh the difference between taming and harnessing.  Prayer bursts forth from within me…

Oh, God, help me to harness my tongue, to place the bridle of Your Word on my life and the bit of truthfulness in my mouth that my words might not sin against You or lead myself and others astray.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14). Amen.


Friday, June 8: James 2 - Don't show favoritism.

Ouch… three words exposed me. Don't show favoritism (1).

Reading those words, I was cut to the heart. In an instant I saw in myself all manner of favoritism. I make instant judgments about people, by their race, accent, clothes, education, appearance, smile or lack there of, and any number of other factors.

I don’t want to but I do. Often times it just happens.

As I sit here confronted with my own favoritisms, I begin to ask myself how can I keep in check those instant judgments so that I don’t act on them, so that I allow love to determine my actions not my instant impressions…

Then I thought if I can foster Christ’s love rather than my instant reactions maybe over time Christ’s love will overcome my natural tendency to make instant judgments based on superficial stuff .  That way I will grow to see people with Jesus’ eyes…

Oh, Lord, forgive me for the many pockets of favoritism that live within me. Even more, Lord, help me to gain victory over the very fleshly part of my old nature that still resides in me.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, June 7: James 1 - The joy of trials.

A little over a month ago, my church, which was in the midst of wrestling with a difficult issue, was at a critical juncture of decision. During that time, James 1:2-8 became particularly helpful for me. As I sought the Lord, I even used it one day as a prayer guide for our church as we gathered to pray about the important decision we had to make. James instructed the church:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Some things I pondered, then and again this morning, went like this…

Even thought I dislike trials and heartache, it is precisely those times that shape me and give me depth of character and the perseverance I need to lead a life that honors Jesus. Sadly, trials can produce strength of character and bitterness in my character.  Questions I needed to ask myself were about which was forming in me and I needed to pray that Christ-like character and perseverance were being formed in me.

I don’t have all wisdom.   I desperately need God’s help and wisdom to sift through the options and come to the place God wants me to be. What a gift God offers to me when He offers wisdom. [I am not sure I understand it, but the line about giving wisdom without finding fault… intrigues me and demands considerable thought.]

Another element was ‘not being double-minded’  When I believe I have heard and received wisdom from God, I need to stand on that. Waffling is something I distain in politicians. Tell me what you believe, I can agree or disagree. Either way I will honor the person for his/her convictions, just don’t be a spineless jellyfish who seems to believe what appears most prudent in the present moment. I hear echoes of this same sentiment in James’ admonition to not be double-minded. And this convicts me because I know too well how I can and do waffle…

This morning these thoughts drive me to prayer…

Oh, God, form Your character in me. As I go through trials, please chip off my rough ungod-like characteristics and form in me, You character. Lord, please don’t let the furnace of trials and temptations to harden me in ways that You do not like, but use the trials to teach me Your way, Your character, Your life… through Jesus, who endured more than I can imagine to save me, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, June 6: Ezekiel 48 - THE LORD IS THERE .

Four words… THE LORD IS THERE (35).

Those words grabbed me. My desire, my hope, my longing is that those words would describe my church, my family, my life.  That others would see and say of me, my family, the church… THE LORD IS THERE.

Oh, my Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus, my Comforter and Counselor, Holy Spirit, that I would surrender so totally to You that others would see and say, THE LORD IS THERE in that life.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that my family would surrender so totally to You that others would see and say THE LORD IS THERE in that family.

Holy Trinity, God Three yet One, that my entire church would surrender so totally to You that others would see and say, THE LORD IS THERE in that church.

Almighty God, that all who follow you would surrender so totally to You that others would see and say of Your people, wherever they gather, THE LORD IS THERE. Amen.


Tuesday, June 5: Ezekiel 47 - The River of Life.

As I read about the river I immediately remembered another river in Revelation 22. The two visions are very similar.

Ezekiel 47:1,12: The man brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. … Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.

Revelation 22:1-2: Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

The river waters life.  The river waters the trees which constantly bear fruit and their leaves are for healing.

I saw in these visions how God’s grace flows from His throne in never ending supply. God’s grace feeds and nourishes. Water is essential for humans and to sustain that which we need. God is supplying it with abundance. And the trees God has planted along the river provide food and healing.  The trees sustain and maintain life. Grace sustains and maintains life.

And so I pondered and meditated upon GRACE, the ever-present abundant-flow of grace, which comes from God.

What a wonderful morning immersing myself in the flow of God Grace…

Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin.

Grace, grace God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and forgive…


Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see…


Thank You for Your grace, Lord. Grace that flows freely and abundantly from Your hand. Grace that waters life, nourishes life and provides all I need. Grace that refreshes and bathes. Thank You for all Your grace and all it does… Thank You. Amen.



Monday, June 4: Ezekiel 46 - Accommodating His people.

An interesting feature of this temple was the additional kitchens for the people described at the end of the chapter. Solomon’s temple had the inner altar where the priest offered the daily and yearly sacrifices, but this temple has a place for the people to come and eat their offering before the Lord. Verses 22-24: In the four corners of the outer court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty cubits wide; each of the courts in the four corners was the same size. Around the inside of each of the four courts was a ledge of stone, with places for fire built all around under the ledge. He said to me, "These are the kitchens where those who minister at the temple will cook the sacrifices of the people." It seems to me that God was going the extra measure to provide space so His people could be with Him.

My heart latched on to that last line I wrote. God has done that most excellently with Jesus and the NT. No longer do we need a temple, no longer do we need intermediary priests. Jesus is now ‘The Way, Truth and The Life’ (John 14:6), and everyone who calls on Him will be saved (Acts 2:21 & Romans 10;13) and is ushered into a living relationship with God.

What a gift Jesus is W,hat a gift from God…

Lord God, thank You that You always seem to go the extra mile to connect with us. You designed these special kitchens for the sacrifices of the people in Ezekiel’s vision. You sent Jesus, eliminating the sacrificial system of temple. You truly are the prodigal Father of the parable in Luke 15, the Father who runs to the son at the first sign of turning home.

Blessed be the name of the Lord who loves and saves… Alleluia!  Amen.


Saturday, June 2: - Ezekiel 45 - All things new.

For seventy years Israel lived in exile. Its heart and soul, temple worship, was ripped from it. No sacrifices meant no atonement and no connection with the Lord Almighty through fellowship and other offerings. In these closing chapters of Ezekiel, Israel receives word, “God is reviving His people. The Lord is reestablishing the connection between Israel and Himself. They are not abandoned forever. God remembers His covenant.”

What may seem laborious for me, all the temple detail and priestly detail, were the brush strokes of Almighty God bringing His people back from exile.

The tunnel of death, exile, is ending. The light at the end of the tunnel, now visible, is growing larger with each chapter.

The discipline of God is a fearful thing but the restoration by God is a more beautiful thing. And God restores His people.

I sat and thought of people I know and friends of people I know who were not presently walking faithfully with the Lord. And I thought the discipline of God is a fearful thing… but restoration by God is a most beautiful thing. And so I pray…

Lord, recapture the hearts of those who have wandered from You. Don’t leave them in exile forever. Restore them, Lord. Reestablish Your connection with them, Lord. I pray this is Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, June 1: -Ezekiel 44 - Inheritance.

After reading the Bible daily for decades now, I still marvel at the ‘still small voice’ which ‘speaks’ every time I read. I wonder why this verse or that verse will jump off the page and connect with my heart. I have learned to leave that with God, instead my task is to follow His nudges and the texts He seems to highlight. I need to daily place my life in God’s hands… listening to Him so that I might follow Him more and more faithfully as the years go by.

Thinking about it, if I could sum up my hope, desire and prayer for my family, for the people of the churches God graciously allows me to pastor, and for those who read scripture with me, it would be the same.  It would be that God would take us into His life and Word.  And that from His Word He would speak to each and everyone personally and individually so that as you listen, you might follow the Lord more and more faithfully as the years go by…

This morning verse 28 stepped off the page into my life. I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession. My hunch is that there were times when Israel’s priests longed for some land… something they could touch and feel; something with value they could build upon. But God said I have reserved something special for you… You, unlike all the others, have Me. I will be your only inheritance.

Some times what is precious and special to God, doesn’t fit our categories. The peace that passes all understanding, for example, cannot be measured through a bank account. But it is real. I have experienced it in times of trouble and hardship where it makes no sense, yet at the same time makes an incredible difference.

In the NT we are called ‘royal priests’ (1Peter 2:9)… God is our possession.

Oh, Lord, that I would long for You. Sometimes, Lord, I get my priorities all messed up. I want physical inheritance of money and things, missing the truth that You are the greatest inheritance anyone could have.

Straighten out my priorities so that I may see the wonder of Your love and the gift You have given me by giving Yourself to me as my possession, my inheritance.

I pray through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.