Thursday, October 31: Deuteronomy 9- Recognize who you were.

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of God’s pounding. Reminding Israel who they were, a stiff-necked rebellious people. I felt like a defendant standing before the Judge right before sentencing. “Mr. Israel you have been convicted of the following crimes.” Then the Judge begins reading the list of crimes.

It was painful as I stood and listened to God’s crime list against Israel. I knew a list could easily be drafted for me as well.

Guilty. Israel and I are guilty.

Then I remembered Israel was standing on the plains opposite the Promised Land. As guilty as they were, they were about to inherit God’s promise and march out under God’s protection.

This was not a sentencing hearing. The Judge was not going to throw the book at them. Instead this was a probate hearing and the Judge was about to award them the inheritance of a prized and loved Son!

Israel and I may be guilty but we were also loved. And love covers a multitude of sins (1Peter 4:8, see also Proverbs 10:12)!

My mind flashed through numerous NT passages where similar pictures were painted of we who are being saved.

For example, Ephesians 2:1-5 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live …. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts…. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

Recognize who you were, relish in your salvation and rejoice because in Christ you no longer have to live as you used to live! This is what I heard from the Lord in my time with Him today.

Recognize who you were, relish in your salvation and rejoice

because in Christ you no longer have to live as you used to live!

Oh, God, I sit awed at what you did for me, for all Your people. You took a broken potsherd of a person and You restored me to life full and rich with Your love, provision and care.

I pray, Lord, that my life reflects You, so that as I live people will praise You, the Creator and Restorer of lives!

To Your honor and glory, I choose to live as a response to Your amazing mercy and grace.

Through Jesus Christ, my Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, October 30: Deuteronomy 8- Grace before meals as heart protection.

Moses gives an incredible string of instruction in verses 10-18, the essence of which I have printed here. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God…. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, … then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. … You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

It is so easy to grow satisfied and to believe the comfort we have ‘earned’ is all a matter of our doing. I am quite prone to laud myself when things are going well. Moses might as well have been listening to the words of my heart, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me."

But Moses shows that it is a dangerous state when God is left out of the equation…when God’s role and God’s grace are forgotten.

In verse 10 I heard God’s remedy for a puffed up heart. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. And if I substitute the word ‘things’ for the word ‘land’ it becomes even more personal and practical for ME.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good things he has given you. This simple thought caused me to see how helpful pausing to pray a simple thanks-filled grace before meals can be.

In those 60-seconds of ‘grace’, I acknowledge God’s role in providing what I am about to eat. In those 60-seconds, my mind focuses on God who provides, not only food, but shelter, family, health, etc.… These 60-seconds put a shield of protection around my heart and mind, warding off arrogance and self-reliance, while at the same time creating space for dependence, thanks and appreciation to grow.

Who would have thought that those simple 60-seconds could be so helpful and God-life breathing?!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above you heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.



Tuesday, October 29: Deuteronomy 7- A tough word.

The unfolding work and plan of God is difficult to swallow at times. Destruction of all the peoples of the land God has given Israel. It is difficult for me to fathom this and to answer the questions of people who ask, “Is this loving?”

How does one balance love and hate; mercy and justice?

How difficult it can be to be the person who executes punishment on behalf of the Sovereign. That was Israel’s role. They were God’s sword of justice against peoples who hated Him.

How difficult that must have been.

A HUGE caution floods my heart… world history has seen many atrocities committed in God’s (god’s) name. My heart sighs, “Bill, it is not yours to judge others. Walk with the Lord and do right. Live faithfully unto Him and leave the judging to Him.”

I cannot stay with these thoughts. I look back to the chapter and focus on verse 9: Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. A positive faith-building nugget in a sea of judgment.

My heart begins to sing praises to my Lord God Almighty…

Oh, God, You are faithful! My life is a living testimony to that. You have protected, saved, inspired, encouraged and helped me at more times and in more ways that I can count. You have been faithful to Your people throughout the ages… Praise be to You, Lord God!!!

And You call me to faithfulness to You. You call me to keep Your covenant. Oh, God, please send Your Holy Spirit to flood my life so that I may have the strength, Your Spirit empowered strength, to do so. I am fully dependent on You. I apply my will to the task of following You, know that my strength will not be sufficient, I need Your power. I pray this trusting that You, who have begun a good work in me, will bring it to completion.

Thanks be to You, Oh Lord, my God. Amen.


Monday, October 28: Deuteronomy 6- This passage makes sense.

One of the central statements in the OT is called ‘the Shema’ (the first word of verse 4 ‘listen’) and is recited by pious Jews daily. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

God is one… God is alone. God is #1. There is no other god but our God. To recite this truth everyday must leave a deep impression if it is recited with any conviction!

Believing God is One, places responsibility on our shoulders… to love this God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Loving God, adoring God, serving and following God with all of who we are… this is the response of faith and belief in this God!

And if I truly love the Lord God with heart, soul, strength then verses 6-9 make practical sense. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

I would want my children to love God as I do (6). And loving God with everything of who I am means I would likely talk about Him in the natural occurrences of life (7). And I would look for ways to place reminders in my life, so in my humanness and sin-filled prone to wander-ness, I stay connected with God’s Oneness and His directives (8-9).

Question is, do I believe God is One?  God alone is the Lord God Almighty?

Do You?...

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I believe! I believe You alone are God and You are One! I believe Your Word is perfect and all I need to live a life faithful to You. I believe You!

Alleluia. Amen.


Saturday, October 26: Deuteronomy 5- Our first-person God .

I have been slightly confused the last couple of days. Moses is speaking to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land, but he has been speaking to them as if they have all seen the wonders of God who brought Israel out of Egypt. Problem is the generation, who lived in Egypt and saw first hand all God did, died during the 40 years of the desert wanderings because of their faithlessness. How could those standing before Moses have first hand knowledge of all God did?  Thus my confusion.

As chapter 5 opened, I saw an answer to my confusion in verse 3. It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

God stands above and beyond time. God created time and although He understands time and chooses to enter time for us and for our sake God nonetheless is beyond time and not confined by time.

This allows God to be always present with those of us who are alive and also allows God’s covenants to be ever present with those who are alive.

Technically, according to calendars and clocks, God did make His covenant with Israel’s forefathers.  However, since God is beyond time, He also made that same covenant with all of His people throughout time. So as they stood on the plains overlooking the Promised Land, God could speak to them in the present tense as if they were there when the miracles and covenants were made because for God they were… It [the covenant] was … with us, with all of us who are alive here today.

This same ‘beyond time-ness’ of God is evident in the celebration of the Passover, which is always celebrated –even by Jews today- in the present tense as if the present-celebrants were liberated from Egypt.

Anyway, I am awed by God, our God, the one and only God, who is beyond time yet chooses, for our sake, to step into time to rescue and save us.

I hope you can shout ‘Amen’ to this…

Lord God Almighty, maker of time and space, I praise You. I praise You for the wonder of who You are. Beyond time, yet mindful of me (us) and that we are confined by time. You enter my time (our time) to reveal Yourself to us, to save us, to love us and to invite us into Your eternal reality through faith in Jesus Christ. [HP1] 

Alleluia. Praise be to You, Lord God Almighty! Amen



 [HP1] I figured this out, so ignore it….just make corrections in it.

Friday, October 25: Deuteronomy 4- Keep God's decrees.

Moses stood on the plain opposite the Promised Land and taught the people, one final time, the decrees of the Lord. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you (1).

Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time (40).

As I read and meditated on this chapter today, the bolded words above drew me in. It wasn’t enough for the people to hear God’s Word or even to know God’s Word (‘know’ as if it were facts to be mastered for some test). No, the point of Moses’ final words was that the people would follow them and keep them, God decrees and commands.

There is a substantive difference between knowing and following, hearing and keeping! And this is what God was impressing on my heart today!

Looking back over Moses’ words, I find it fascinating that following and keeping God’s decrees comes with a promise… living in the land of God’s promise.

During OT times, ‘land’ was a physical reality defined by the lands God was giving to His people Israel. Now in the NT times, I take ‘land’ more metaphorically, in that we are living in the realm of God’s kingdom, God’s blessing. We are living in the place of God’s care and love.

God’s call is to follow and keep His decrees and God even blesses us when we do this… my take away for today in God’s Word.

God, I need to begin with following and keeping. I admit I do this inconsistently. I still give into sin and stray from Your way. Forgive me and give me strength to stay strong with You.

Holy Spirit, lead me. I recommit my surrender to You and my desire to listen for Your voice in order to follow it… Praise be to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.



Thursday, October 24: Deuteronomy 3- Remember.

Standing on the plains across from the Promised Land, Moses reminds the people of the mighty acts and deeds of the Lord.

It is good to remember and to be reminded of what God has done in our lives and in the lives of His people throughout the generations. So many of the Psalms recount the exploits of the Lord.

It is good to remember… and it is good to be reminded of what God has done. Recalling God’s faithfulness in the past gives us strength to trust God for the future…

Before praying and closing down my time with the Lord, I took some time to

·         Remember God’s many deeds in my life.

·         Recall God’s saving acts, particularly Jesus’ work during the incarnation.

·         Remind myself of the many ways God showed Himself to be faithful and mighty throughout the centuries from the time of Acts to the present.

Lord, You have been there for Your people throughout the ages. … a mere thank You seems so insignificant compared to the wonder of Your love and faithfulness.

Praise be to You, Lord God. …



Wednesday, October 23: Deuteronomy 2- God is a keeper of His word.

As I have read and written on the scriptures over the years, I have noted often how God keeps His Word. God is a keeper of His Word. God made promises to Israel and He kept them. Eventually these promises found their fulfillment in Jesus and the Gospel message of redemption and abundant life for all who believe in Jesus.

What I noticed this morning, which I don’t believe I have seen before, is that God kept His word to Esau and Lot as well. When it comes to the Land, I usually think only of God giving the Land to His people Israel. But today I noticed that God gave land to Lot and Esau as well. And Israel was to be careful not to encroach on their lands.

Give the people these orders: 'You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own (4-5).

So we went on past our brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. … and traveled along the desert road of Moab. Then the LORD said to me, "Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession" (8-9).

God keeps His promises… ALL of them. This is precisely where it paused and pondered today.

Oh Mighty Promise Keeper, I rest in Your promises given in Your Word, and more importantly, given in Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Lord, Savior and God.

I would be lost in my sins and sin-filled-ness. I would not know Your way of life and living. I would be a citizen of the kingdom of darkness… were it not for Your promises, actions and Wword.

Praise and thank You, Lord God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Eternal God. Amen.


Tuesday, October 22: Deuteronomy 1-Remembering our story.


As I read Moses’ recounting of Israel’s early days in the desert, the thought came to me about how helpful it is for us to remember where we came from. Remembering our story, our past, our ups and downs, our faithless and faithful times, this is healthy. It grounds me in reality. It helps me see God’s hand in my life.

I don’t know how long you have been walking with the Lord, only a few weeks or many decades, but it has been almost 40 years for me. I don’t have the greatest memory, but as I recall those years, God’s hand of leading and protection are obvious. I feel a thankfulness welling up inside of me for His providential hand guiding me. I feel praise building as I recall the many ‘God-incidents’ that have shaped my life, led me to be the person I am and have the life I have had. I also feel a weightiness and sorrow for times I have not been faithful, for times I slipped and fell and disappointed my Lord.

Such has been my journey remembering my story. In recalling my story I see God’s story being played out in and through my life. And to be part of God’s story… that is gift; that is amazing; that drives me to prayer…

O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder consider all Your hands have done… I see Your protection, I feel your ever-presences, I hear Your voice guiding me a right…

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art.

You are great and Your blessings and leadings and directions and Word are a gift. Thank You, Lord, for Your presence in my life. Through my Savior, Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Monday, October 21: 2Thessalonians 3- Giving every ounce.

Verse 5 seems to be highlighted in yellow as I read, so after finishing I went back and pondered this one sentence. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

My first meditation went down this line. Wow, now that’s a way to pray for others. Most of the time my prayers for other people, and myself for that matter, have to do with God meeting some need. I pray for a job or some healing or for this or for that. Paul prays that the Thessalonians will grow closer to the Lord God. As I think about the difference in Paul and my prayers, isn’t Paul’s the more basic and more important prayer?  I need to chew on this some more.

My second meditation traveled the roadway of the prayer foci of this sentence… God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  How often is love the intended outcome of God’s will? When asked to sum up the law and prophets, Jesus said, ‘Love God and love others’. So a prayer to grow into God’s love seemed normal. It was the second half, Christ’s perseverance, that caught me off guard. Perseverance… ‘stick-to-it-ness’, pushing on, keeping going, despite the hardships, obstacles or persecution. Perseverance is a powerful attribute, but when coupled with Christ it becomes even more so. Jesus persevered unto the cross. He gave every ounce of His life to the mission of God, redeeming lost people. It seems this prayer is aimed so that we do the same. So that we give every once of our lives to the mission of God, spreading God’s Gospel across the face of this earth. And, yes, I have more to chew on here as well.

Lord, may these phrases and Paul’s prayer stick with me. May You direct my heart into God's love and Christ's perseverance. Amen.


Saturday, October 19: 2Thessalonians 2- The battle that is no battle at all.

I am not one to dwell on Jesus’ return and the final battle between Jesus and the forces of evil prior to Jesus’ ultimate victory. God says we will not know the day or time, so for me all the speculation is a waste of time.

One thing I do believe is that Jesus wins, God wins and of this, I have no doubt!

Another thing I believe is that the final battle will not be a ‘battle’ at all. At the word of Jesus, He wins. The enemy might think it will be a battle and he has a chance to win but he doesn’t.  Verse 8 reads, And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. Jesus’ mere coming upon the scene -His second and final coming- is all that He needs. The breath of His mouth will destroy the enemy. (Revelation 19, around verse 20 paints a similar picture of the final battle which really isn’t a battle at all, but that is for another morning of meditation).

And where does all this lead me? I follow the text. Verse 15, So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

I stand confident in Jesus that the assignments He gives me I can execute in His name with His authority and power for His glory alone!

Alleluia, Jesus wins! God wins! All in God through faith in Jesus win!

Lord, what wonderful thoughts to enjoy on this eve of weekly worship. Carry me through my day that I might praise You with all my heart and soul and mind and strength and voice in worship today as I live.  And tomorrow as I gather with others who worship You and praise You, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In Your mighty name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Friday, October 18: 2Thessalonians 1- Pay back.

It seems that God makes many promises to protect us, care for us, and repay those who are evil towards us because of our faith. But I don’t honestly see a lot of this: God stepping in and vindicating His people in the face of persecution. What gives? Can God be taken at His Word?

Today’s reading was tremendously helpful for me at this very point. I will include verses 6-10, but verses 6-7 are to my main point.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He 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. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Yes, God promises punishment to those who persecute His family and do not believe in Jesus, but this happens when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven, when Jesus returns.

As one who would like to have God roar and give relief today, I still take heart that God keeps His Word and He will vindicate His people… just not today. And God is withholding His vengeance, (read that latter portion of the verses for today), so that as many as will believe have time to believe. In other words, God is withholding His punishment so people have more time to be saved.

“Bill,” God’s voice whispers, “get out there and let people know about Me so that they can believe!”

Lord, You are so gracious. Sitting this morning I am realizing all the more how gracious You are. You will keep Your Word, and yet You are holding back so that as many as will come to You will come. What incredible displays of love on both sides of that last thought.

Blessed be the name of the Lord…

Blessed be the name of the Lord…

Blessed be the name of the Lord, my God… Amen.


Thursday, October 17: 1Thessalonians 5- 14 pithy, practical faith practices .

In rapid succession, Paul fires a series of “be’s and do’s.” Fourteen pithy, practical faith practices. Verses 14-22:

Warn those who are idle,

Encourage the timid,

Help the weak,

Be patient with everyone.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong,

but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Be joyful always;

Pray continually;

Give thanks in all circumstances, …

Do not put out the Spirit's fire;

do not treat prophecies with contempt.

Test everything.

Hold on to the good.

Avoid every kind of evil.

Want to show God you are listening? Want to live faithfully? Here are 14 faith practices you can hone in your life.

Are you ever tempted to think that faith in Jesus is only ‘pie-in-the-sky’ stuff, ethereal and mystical? If so, take a good look at this list of practical ‘bes and dos’.

God, sometimes I make following Jesus complicated and I forget the basic commands… to love You with heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others as I love myself. Paul’s words today remind me just how practical and down to earth loving You and loving others can be.

Now, Lord, help me to LOVE… in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen


Wednesday, October 16: 1Thessalonians 4- Teach me to live as a Christ Follower.

In a few brief verses, Paul sums up for the Thessalonians his teachings about how to live as a Christ follower. This gave me plenty to chew on…

Verses 1-2: Never become complacent and satisfied; continually strive to grow in maturity and holiness.

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…

Verses 3-8: Live sexually pure lives, not as the world but as God instructs in Scripture

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; … For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

Verses 9-10: Love one another and grow in this…

Now about brotherly love … to do so more and more.

Verses 11-12: Lead respectable lives, win the respect of others and work hard to care for yourselves.

… lead a quiet life, … work with your hands, … so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Lots to meditate upon…

Lord, there is so much here… bring it to mind over and over today so that I marinate my life in it today. For Your Kingdom sake. Amen.


Tuesday, October 15: 1Thessalonians 3- Paul's Prayers.

Paul’s prayers encourage and inspire me. His prayers seem to transcend the present needs that so often fill my prayers. He prays for things of substance, faith, love, endurance, holiness and things like this.

Today’s chapter closes with one of Paul’s prayers. 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).

Lord, teach me to pray prayers of substance, prayers of depth, prayers that transcend the ordinary and the selfish. Lord, teach me to pray prayers that will change people for the good, that will bring people to Your kingdom and give You glory.

Lord, teach me to pray as Paul and Jesus prayed! Amen.



Monday, October 14: 1Thessalonians 2- The word of God from God.

For me, truths of God spoken subtlety often are the most powerful. There are many arguments in Scripture for it being from God not merely words of men. This morning verse 13 provided one of those subtle yet powerful reminders. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

Notice the bolded words.

Paul believed and the Thessalonians believed that the Word of God was actually words from God.

There are days that pop up in my life when I wonder if the Bible is really true. Is this faith in Jesus really true, or am I nuts to believe it? These thoughts don’t generally last long, but they do occur. And when they do, verses like verse 13 fill my mind and heart and soul reminding me that I am not the first to believe nor will I be the last. With faith comes the wonder of God working in me. And one of those works of God in me is giving me the faith to believe that the Word of God is truly and honestly Words of God from God!

Faith rejuvenated, my walk with the Lord deepens!

Lord God almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank You for making Your Word known to me, us. Thank You for sharing actual words, teachings, thoughts with me, us.

Yes, I believe… in You and in Your Word as truth, as life, as the way to life eternal here and life immortal with You in eternity.

May the wonder of Your Word continue to breath life in me so that I may be able to give Your life away to others. I pray this through Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord. Amen.


Saturday, October 12: 1Thessalonians 1- Faith that works.

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (3).

This line caused me to probe my own life.  Would anyone say of me or you what Paul said of the Thessalonians??… your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lord, God, may this word be true of me. Help me Lord, help me to work, labor and endure for You, Jesus. Amen.


Friday, October 11: 2Corinthians 13- God's word, plumb line of faith.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves… (5). I love the way Paul puts the onus on us to test our own faith. Over and over as I read the Bible this year, God continues to remind me that I need to be monitoring my own faith. I need to be plumbing my faith to the line of Scripture. I need to take responsibility for my faith.

I also hear in these words that I have to be careful not to simply justify myself, but to honestly test myself and examine myself, not against others but against the pure Word of God.

Then as the letter draws to a close, Paul offers another great line. Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection… (11a).

Aim for perfection… don’t settle for good enough. Keep working. Keep maturing. Keep growing.  Keep seeking God and God’s life and character in my (your) life!

If I think of faith as drawing closer to God, then what I am hearing God say is, to keep drawing closer and closer to the Lord. Keep checking your GPS (God’s Word) to make sure you are on the way that leads to God.

Lord, help me to stay sharp in my self-examination. Keep me in tune with You so that I grow closer to You, more in love with You and more like You every day of my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen


Thursday, October 10: 2Corinthians 12- A lesson learned.

As I read Paul’s statements in verses 7-10, I found myself focusing on verse 10 bolded below.

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The fact that Paul delighted in weakness is what amazes me. God taught Paul a lesson that would be difficult for me and likely most of us to learn yet Paul gets it. In fact, Paul didn’t just get it, his life-pattern changed to embrace what God had taught him. Paul wrote that he delighted in weakness.

God’s challenge slipped into my thinking. Do I embrace what God teaches? Do I internalize the lessons God sends my way?

In my life there is a gap between what I know from God’s Word and how well I live what I know. Paul’s life seems to have a much smaller gap…

Today’s time with God is challenging me to narrow my gap!

Lord, I am marveling at Paul. He seems so willing to live and change and You desire. Change (growth) is more of a struggle for me. There are fits and starts. Old voices I thought were silenced, speak up at surprising moments. The other day I got angry at things not happening. As I was trying to complete a banking service, I was directed to the Internet. Thoughts and words erupted that surprised me. They did not honor You.

What dark place do these come from?

I pray for diligence to keep on persevering, that I might delight in the things that delight You. Through Jesus, my Savior, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, October 9: 2Corinthians 11- Measuring faithfulness.

How far we have come??? Paul defends himself from so called ‘super apostles,’ slick talking possibly even wonder-working preachers, who were distorting the Gospel. And what is his defense? How rich he is? No. How big his church or car or house is? No. His prosperity? His amazing feat, visions, dreams, etc.? No, no, no!

Paul’s defense is the number of times he has been beaten and humiliated and left for dead for the sake of the Gospel.

Sacrifice for Christ was Paul’s hallmark of faithful service…

It used to be that people of the church honored sacrifice. Just read the lives of faith heroes, how much they gave –willingly gave, lovingly gave- for their Lord and the cause of Jesus.

Sadly, in our world now, a new breed of ‘super preachers’ are preaching that prosperity, wealth and worldly gain is the measure of God-blessed, God-honored lives. I see it in my culture but also in my travels throughout Africa.

Paul’s words here and in the chapter to come seems to cut the root of this Gospel distortion…

Wow, this passage lit a fire in me.

Eventually as the fire in me lowered to a simmer, I heard God whisper some pointed questions:

·         Bill, check yourself, see places where the seduction of ‘me-first’ is robbing you of a truly servant heart.

·         Remember Bill, remove the log before you attempt to remove the splinter.

·         Bill, would you sacrifice for me like Paul did? Would you? Would you have wanted to become part of My family if Paul’s fate was to be yours as well?

God drove home to me that as distorted as the modern day prosperity super-preachers may be, God’s care for me necessitated that I cooperate with Him walking His path, the narrow path. And that to do this faithfully meant that I have to take a hard and honest look at my life regularly, making sure I live faithfully to the Scriptures and obediently with Him.

And this is my prayer, Oh Lord, that I live faithfully to Your Scriptures and obediently to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one and only God.

I recommit and surrender again to You, Oh Lord. Use my life as You will for the advancement of Your Gospel near and far… and I will praise You still, no matter what my future brings. I pray this believing Your grace and Power will see me through to the end and not my own will power or strength. Halleluiah! Amen. Yeah! Romans 8:28-39!



Tuesday, October 8: 2Corinthians 10- The language of war.

I found myself considering the ‘war’ language that Paul uses to make his point in verses 3-6. War is fighting, combat, a life and death struggle for the soldier and even more so for the town, nations, or ethnic groups who are at war with each other. War is serious business; no one laughs about war. Paul, therefore, must be making some significant comments because he is using dramatic language.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (3-6).

The battle inferred is that of the world verses God’s Kingdom. Paul notes that we use weapons the world does not have. The world kills, maims, persecutes, destroys, imprisons. The world still uses these weapons. Every year brothers and sisters are martyred for their faith.

Christ-followers on the other hand use different weapons. I found myself making a list. We use:

The authority of Christ,

Gifts of the Spirit,

Love in the face of evil,


We bind and loose in Jesus’ name,

And so my list grew.

The enemy cannot access these weapons because the enemy is not connected to Jesus. These weapons are reserved for Jesus and His army.

With these we demolish arguments and every pretension … against the knowledge of God. I find it intriguing that our battle isn’t against people, but the forces that motivate the people against the ways of God. I remember a visiting missionary to Muslims, who lived in a land where Muslims perpetrate violence against Christians, saying, “We do not hate nor are we against Muslims. Our battle is against the evil one who has blinded their eyes and is causing them to do these evil things.” Well said. That I sense is Paul’s understanding, too!

The goal is to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. I generally personalize this, and I am sure that I am to make everyone of my thoughts captive to Christ.  However, in this context, Paul seems to be saying that we are to take everyone of these ‘anti-kingdom of God’ thoughts that are motivating people to battle against God and take them captive so that the people will be freed from the tyranny of these lies! Again, we are in a battle for the salvation of lives in Jesus’ name!

God is reminding me this morning that advancing the kingdom of God involves a battle. Good verses Evil. The Word of God verses the lies of the enemy. And I better be prepared with the armor and armaments of God if I am going to step into the fray and fight alongside my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Lord God –Father, Son and Holy Spirit- as I start today, I don Your armor (Eph 6) and I check my weapons to make sure I have maintained them in good working order.  Am I living obediently and listening to Your instructions so that I have access to Your authority when needed? Am I open to the voice of the Spirit that I might have His gifts in the moment of need and necessity? Do I love others, including my enemies, like Christ loved? Are my channels of communication (prayer) open and am I ready to answer when You call? This is even more important than having You on ‘speed dial’ when I am in need! Do I understand the power of Your authority and trust Your authority when I am engaged with the enemy?

Lord, I pray so… I pray so. Amen.


Monday, October 7: 2Corinthians 9- Generosity.

Having read today’s chapter, the word ‘generosity’ spins in my meditations, tumbling over and over. Generosity toward God… Generosity toward brothers and sisters in need… Generosity toward God through generosity toward others in need…

One big stumbling block keeping me from living generously toward God and others, is me, my lifestyle, my spending habits, my sense of what I need, I want, I deserve. When I don’t have cash flow, I cannot be generous.

As I mine this thought, another stumbling block is unearthed, ‘desire’. I don’t know how it has been bred in me, but my initial response with respect to my money and resources is, that it is MINE! Obviously it is mine, but it is the impulse to keep it for me and guard it for me. That is troubling me this early morning. I am not referring to irresponsibility, but the all too natural and immediate impulse to respond to a need observed, with some selfish thought like, “I worked hard for this why should I give it away?” (as if the person in need didn’t work hard).

Another instant internal response I often have is, “I might need this some day or gee, I want that extra whatever, so I better not give this away.” I am a master at rationalizing myself away from generosity.

As I probe deeper, a third response surfaces, keeping face without being generous. It hurts acknowledging this one. It happens when I give a minimal amount (to keep face or assuage my hyper-active guilt) that doesn’t come close to truly being generous.

God is pounding me with my lack of generosity…

Lord, enough please. Today has been painful, but full of truth. I constantly ask You to be honest and to probe me. It hurts sometimes…

Thank You for being faithful, for answering my prayers, examining my life and heart, for exposing darkness that still lives in me. Continue to shine Your light, that I may grow to be more like You; loving, kind, faithful, compassionate, and generous.

Lord, thank You for teaching me Your ways.

I love You, Lord. Be with me today. I pray, that my life might reflect Your character and point others to You. Amen.


Saturday, October 5: 2Corinthians 8- Follow through.

And here is my advice…. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means (10-11).

Now finish the work… how often do I start something, but run out of gas before I finish?  I have watched some golf lately. The golfer’s follow-through is critical. And so is ours, particularly when it comes to keeping our word or pledge to the Lord.

The Lord’s clear Word to me is ‘finish well’. Follow through. Complete what you started.

I made a commitment to read the entire Bible this year… keep reading!

I made a commitment to pray for the world using Operation World’s daily prayer guide… keep at it, today and every day, pray for that one country (check our if you would like to pray for the world).

I made a commitment to love my wife… do it today and every today!

Paul writes, Now finish the work… Something I must do, too.

Lord, I give You today and each today… I give You each promise I have made and I give it to You by completing it today.

I pray for strength and mental toughness to do today and each today those things I have committed to do.  Lord, I pray that I will finish well and in so doing honor You. In Jesus’ name and for His Kingdom’s sake, I pray. Amen.


Friday, October 4: 2Corinthians 7- 1-part work of God; 1-part work of individual.

Last night I cooked dinner as my wife took our son for a vaccination. When you follow a recipe, you add ingredients in the correct proportions, 2 cups diced chicken, 2 Tbs oil, fry in the wok. When chicken is cooked, add 1 cup celery and red peppers (diced) and sauté adding some water. Next add one bunch of scallions diced and pea pods… etc.

As I read verse 1, I heard the basic recipe for Christian living… 1 measure of God’s Grace and 1 measure of human effort leads to a life of improving holiness. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

Since we have these promises… the promises of God.  That’s what God has already done for us in Christ, by giving the Holy Spirit and grace and mercy and… God’s part always comes first. It might be described in different ways, highlighting different aspects of God’s incredible gifts to us in Christ. But the recipe is always the same and it always begins with God!

Let us purify ourselves from everything… to what God has done for us, we add our effort. Our effort to resist the devil, to resist sin which still lives in us, to avoid those things which drag us from God and to do those things that honor and draw us to God.

This recipe is repeated many times in the NT… check out Ephesians 2:1-10 and Romans 12:1-2, for starters.

Thinking about this ‘recipe,’ I can affect the second half of the equation.  How much effort am I am going to put into growing in my faith?

My musing on the text stopped abruptly at this point, as the Spirit led me to examine my life and my effort to grow in Jesus. Am I all in? What areas of my life should I concentrate on during this season of life?  And questions like this.




Thursday, October 3: 2Corinthians 6- A look within.

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain…. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation (1,2b).

How can we receive God’s grace in vain? Why would Paul be urging ‘God’s fellow workers’ that now is the day of salvation?

Paul seems concerned that the Corinthians are slipping back into their former way of life… not living for the Lord but rather living for the world. The next paragraphs bear this out, particularly the second paragraph where Paul instructs the Corinthians not to be yoked with unbelievers.

Paul’s message- we enter salvation now, which means a new way of living, God’s way of living. Why continue to dabble in or court the former way of life???

The Spirit turns the table and begins to have me probe my life, to recognize places in my life where I am still dabbling in or courting my former way, the way of the world.

Self-examination never comes easily for me. And yet the Lord calls me (us) to it regularly. And although I often resist, it always turns out to be for my good in the end. I need to remind myself of this today, because in myself, I am not up for self-examination today. …

Lord, help me. Help me to put down my defenses and trust You. Help me to honestly look within and face what is there. Help me to stop playing games with myself, justifying myself and so continuing to leave unattended areas that need growth and maturation in my walk with You.

Lord, I break off areas where I may still be yoked to the world and ask You, Oh Holy Spirit, to yoke me to Jesus. I pray this in His name. Amen.


Wednesday, October 2: 2Corinthians 5- Would your actions convict you?.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (10).

How’s that for a verse upon which to meditate? 

What will God see in my life? What good, what bad?

I believe it was Lloyd Ogilvie who once asked, of the congregation he pastored, “If you were placed on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Hmmm, food for thought for today…

Lord, am I doing enough for You? Not to earn my salvation, I could never do that. But am I doing enough to make good use of the gifts You have given me to serve You alone, who is Lord and God? Am I serving You well? This is my prayer this morning. Please speak… Your servant is listening. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, October 1: 2Corinthians 4- When hard times come.

Life can be difficult. Whoever says that if Christians we are faithful they are supposed to have the ‘good life’ is peddling a version of the Christian faith that doesn’t match with Scripture.

Today in verses 7-11 Paul gives a picture of his life. If any human being was faithful it was Paul, yet for Paul hardship abounded. Listen… But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.

Troubles of this world come and they can come in bunches, but these troubles are not the end of Paul nor are they the end of us… hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned… Note all of the ‘but nots.’ Stuff happens but God is there buoying us amidst the storm. These words are so true. I have witnessed this in my life and the lives of countless saints in my decades with Jesus!

So what should be our response to hard times when they come? So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (18). Fix our eyes on Jesus, the Father and the Spirit!

Lord, when the road gets difficult and life is painful and hard and when holding to our faith costs, help me to stare at You, to look to You. And Lord, when during these times I am tempted to look away from You, please remind me of this Scripture and today’s prayer and direct me to gaze at You. I pray in Your name. Amen.