Monday, March 31: Luke 8- Decision Time.

As I was opening my Bible this morning, I saw on another open screen the words, “Decision Time.” Those words stuck with me as I read chapter 8. I thought, when Jesus arrives on the scene it is Decision Time…

The women cured of diseases made the decision to follow and support Jesus.

To the crowds following Him, Jesus told a parable about decision. Decision isn’t merely a momentary response to Jesus, it is a lifelong pursuit and many obstacles will try to undermine the decision to follow Jesus. Only those who persist truly decided to follow!

Verse 18 says, so consider how you listen… Decision time.

And in a curious response to someone shouting your mother and brothers are here, Jesus replies, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice" (21). Decision time means putting into practice what God’s Word says.

Have you made your decision to follow Jesus, to practice what He preaches and what God’s Word says and to continue doing so, no matter how hard the road gets?

Think about it…

Lord, as the old hymn says, I have decided to follow Jesus… no turning back, no turning back. Lord, give me the strength to stay the course with You, come what may. No matter what! Amen.


Saturday, March 29: Luke 7- All eyes on him.

Chapter 7 opens with 2 miraculous healings. The second one is the only one I can think of where Jesus initiates the miracle without being asked by someone for it.

It is, however, the first healing that captivated by thoughts and meditations.

First, the father sends town elders to petition Jesus for his son’s healing in public. This father doesn’t send a servant; he has the clout to send town elders. To add more pressure on Jesus to perform when the elders arrive, the text says they plead earnestly saying, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue" (4-5). Talk about pressure to perform!

Before Jesus even gets to the house of the dying boy, a servant of the centurion-father arrives saying, ‘Just say a word and the boy will be healed. My master doesn’t deserve to have You under his roof and he understands authority. Just command and the boy will be healed.’

The boy is healed…

The pressure on Jesus, everyone was watching him. And if he didn’t heal the boy, people would have abandoned following Jesus in droves. But Jesus wasn’t fazed. He knew whoHe was and why He had come. He knew the Father’s voice, too. And this was a moment to confirm He was Who He claimed to be!

I find myself falling before Jesus. Amazed, yet again, at my Savior, the God-man; the perfect Spirit empowered One…

I worship You, Jesus, and I seek to emulate You… to grow so in tune with the Holy Spirit You have sent to be in me as a follower of You. That I, too, can do the things You ask of me, so that Your glory is displayed today as it was displayed in Your day. May You gain all glory and honor from anything done faithfully in Your name. Amen.



Friday, March 28: Luke 6- Prayer and BIG decisions.

In the middle of this incredible chapter filled with much Jesus teaching, there is a single snapshot that gives a glimpse into Jesus’ manner of living.

In verse 12 & 13 we read: One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles…

Crowds of people were considered disciples of Jesus (see verse 15) and huge numbers of people from all over came to listen to Him teach and to be healed by Him. And out of His throngs of followers, Jesus was going to appoint some to be apostles, sent ones.

Did He make lists and perform a pro vs. con analysis? I don’t know. Did He get references for the probable candidates? Probably not. In fact the only thing we do know that He did, was to pray. In fact, the text says He spent the night praying to God. Then come morning, He chose his 12 apostles.

Jesus gave significant time to prayer about His choice before He made His choice….

It seems like such a natural act for Jesus, to spend a night with his Father and to talk over the choice of the 12.

Prayer, talking with God, is a powerful connection with the Almighty.

I find myself wondering why I don’t exhibit a prayer life like Jesus did…

Lord, do I think I can make important decisions by myself? Lord, do I not understand the power and connection prayer avails? Am I too lazy to spend a night or significant time alone with You in prayer? Am I so used to constant talking and radio and music and such that I have no space for quiet conversation with You?

Lord, I don’t know the answers to my questions. But I know that I am feeling inadequate compared to the example Jesus, my Lord, set. Lord, I have so much to learn about prayer. Help me. Teach me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, March 27: Luke 5- Wonder of the word.

I love the Gospels, fast paced and action packed. It seems Jesus is always doing something astounding. Oh, those miracles… it must have been amazing to follow and watch Jesus.

Despite my natural draw to the supernatural, this morning I was drawn to the first verse and the power of the Word.

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God.

Listening to the word of God. Those words rung in my ear as I kept reading. People were drawn to the Word of God. This passage doesn’t mention anything about Jesus’ manner of teaching. And although that might have been part of it (at least it appears so from other passages, He taught as one with authority (Mt 7:29, Mark 11:22)). In this passage it is the content of the word that is the draw. [T]he people crowding around him and listening to the word of God. The attraction was the Word of God… Jesus teaching the Word of God.

I can never go back in time to see Jesus when He was in Palestine, but I can attend to the same Word of God that He gave the people when He was in Palestine. And thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit, I can have the Spirit of Jesus with me as I attend to the Word of God.

Oh, what a gift these moments in the Word with Jesus are!

Lord, thank You for meeting me today and day after day. As I listen and attend to Your Word, please bring it alive in my soul as you apparently did for the men and women who heard You during Your days in Palestine. I pray in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Wednesday, March 26: Luke 4- lessons from the desert.

I found myself drawn to the opening verses.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread" (1-3).

Jesus, a Spirit-filled man, is led by the Spirit into the desert. That shouldn’t be. Right? Aren’t we supposed to have cushy lives if we are following God faithfully? This text and many others say, ‘No’. It may be a staple teaching by many a TV and Internet preacher but it isn’t Biblical. If the Spirit will lead Jesus into the desert, He may just do the same for us!

In the desert Jesus fasts for 40-days. Oh my! I have never done that. I may fast once in a while (fasting is certainly not a regular pattern of my life in Christ), but I have never gotten close to 40 days.

Then there is that slimy devil, the enemy of God and God’s people. What does he do? He slithers up to Jesus at His weakest point and attacks. 40 days of fasting, Luke records; at the end of them he was hungry. Duh! Who wouldn’t be hungry after 40 foodless days? I suspect that God inspired Luke to put in this obvious fact so that we couldn’t over spiritualize the story and make Jesus into some super-savior who fasts for 40-days but doesn’t get hungry.

When Jesus is at His lowest what does the devil do? He pounces on the weakest link! "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." What a low blow. But if I were trying to bait an opponent, this is the perfect play. Hit’em where he is weakest.

Thoughts rolled in my head. The devil is still like that. He will attack any of us at our weakest, most vulnerable point.

A warning flashed in my head. Keep up your guard. Beware, God’s enemy is looking to pounce. Stay close to the Lord. Admit to Jesus your weaknesses that He might protect you.

Back to the story, Jesus was not lured into sin. Despite human weakness, He must have drawn on His connection with the Father and the Spirit’s anointing. He fought back and over came through God’s Word.

I thought of Paul’s words, when I am weak then I am strong (2Corinthians 12:10). When we are at the end of our human strength and we are at our weakest, God by His Spirit can and will strengthen us if we turn to Him.

When we rely on God to overcome the enemy, God gets the glory.

Lord, You took me on an interesting journey today. Thank You for opening my eyes to Your Word today. Thank You for the warning about the devil and for the reminder that in Christ and filled by Your Spirit I (we) can overcome the evil one. Hallelujah.

Lord God, all glory and honor to you!!! I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, March 25: Luke 3- Let the story begin.

Coming into chapter 3, it seems we are getting to the main events of the Gospel, what Jesus said and did. But surprisingly, Luke begins with John, his message and ministry as a precursor to Jesus. As I read this, it hit me. We all build on the foundation of others who have gone before us. I sat and marveled how interconnected Jesus was with John and we are interconnected with those who have gone before us. The idea that I can truly ‘go it alone’ is fallacy.

As I meditated upon this, I found myself appreciating the interconnectedness of life and the many people known and unknown upon whom my life and legacy is built! I also saw in an expanding light, God’s Work in and through all this…

Wow, God is amazing and life is amazing!

One other element caught my attention. Subtly woven into the chapter is the all nations theme. Where did I see this? In the people listening to and trying to learn form John. Luke points out among the crowds, tax collectors and soldiers. Most tax collectors were Gentile Romans.  Matthew/Levi, who we will meet later, is an exception. He is a Jew. And soldiers… there were not many, if any, Jews in those ranks. What I saw in this was that God was drawing all people, not only Jews to John’s message. And as Luke puts it, all the people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ (15). Inferred in these words was that even Gentiles listening to John were waiting for the Messiah.

Again, wow, God is amazing! He is working in the background stirring up a longing for His  

For the next moments I found myself wondering where God is working in the background of my life, and what the Lord would have me do to fulfill His plan…

Lord, I am listening… lead me, teach me, show me what I can do to fully live into Your kingdom work going on right here where I live.   What would You have me do today to make Your story known more widely in my world and among those I know or will meet today? In Jesus’ name. Amen


Monday, March 24: Luke 2- Savior for all peoples.


The Angels’ song hints at it. The shepherds visit intensifies it. Simeon’s prayer confirms it. Jesus was God’s Savior for all people. All people… Jew and Gentile, important and overlooked, young, old and everywhere in between.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (14).

God’s peace is not only for Jews, which one might expect, given the Jewish context of the story. It is for all whom the Lord chooses to favor.

Shepherds, unclean by their profession though Jewish by birth, were, for all intents and purposes, barred from the Temple because of their profession. Ironic isn’t I,t that shepherds who raised the sheep for sacrifice so that ‘clean’ people could have their sacrifices, couldn’t go to the temple themselves?!?

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." (29-32).

Simeon makes it explicit… salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. Jesus came for the whole world, not part. Jew and Gentile, Jew and non-Jew. Jesus was God’s Savior for all people!

As I think about this, I think about the billions who do not yet know Jesus and who do not have a credible witness to Jesus within their culture. Those who study missions call them ‘unreached’ peoples…

Oh, God, raise up a generation who will go to the unreached peoples of our world to share Jesus. Bless ministries and missionaries who are dedicated to reaching unreached peoples around the world. Show me what my role is in advancing your Gospel to all people. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


PS: If you want to join in praying for all people to hear the message of Jesus, I commend This ministry helps people pray for the entire world and as you pray, it mentions unreached people in all the countries of the world. Check it out.


Saturday, March 22: Luke 1- Thank you Theophilus.

As I read the opening words of Luke’s gospel, I found myself thanking the Lord for Theophilus and Luke. Why you might wonder? First listen to the opening. Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (1-4).

If it wasn’t for Luke’s and Theophilus’ friendship, we wouldn’t have this amazing account of ourSsavior! Maybe Luke led Theophilus to the Lord. Maybe Luke was discipling Theophilus Maybe they were just good friends. We don’t know the extent of their relationship. But what we do know is that Luke penned his gospel in part because he wanted to give Theophilus an orderly account of Jesus’ life and ministry, so that Theophilus would have a certainty about what he had been taught as a follower of Jesus.

And Luke’s gift to Theophilus has been a gift to the church throughout the centuries!

We may never know how the seeds of faith live on after we sow them?

I can think of retreat speakers from college years and speakers at Urbana in 1976 who made a faith-deposit in my life, which is still growing today. They likely have no clue the affect they had on me.

It is amazing to me what God can do with a faith seed sown!!!

And this caused me to ponder the ways I sow faith-seeds and the people who received the faith-seeds sown.

How are you doing sowing seeds of faith in others lives? Think about it.

Lord, I trust You to take my meager offerings and bring from them fruit… fruit that will last. Lord, I pray for this blog, an offering to You. May seeds be sown for Your kingdom… seeds I may never know until I reign with You in Your kingdom.

I pray for my brothers and sisters that together we will sow seeds of faith that will bring Your name to the ends of the earth and thus fulfill Your Great Commandment. May it be so, Lord. Amen. 


Friday, March 21: Colossians 4- Praying for Advance.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (2-6).

Over the past couple of weeks we have listened as Paul prayed. Today Paul calls us to pray. The word ‘devote’ could also be translated, ‘to attend constantly.’ Work at prayer, persist in prayer, practice prayer regularly and even constantly… that’s Paul’s point.

I get the impression that Paul has a deeper understanding of the efficacy of prayer than I do. It seems that Paul understand the importance of intercessory prayer. Immediately on the heels of Paul’s imperative to pray, he invites prayer for his evangelistic work. Paul asks that his friend marshal all the prayer possible so that he might proclaim strongly and effectively the name of Jesus.

This caused me to think how the church and I should be more fervent in prayer of this kind for the missionaries we support. Prayer opens doors, prayer provides strength, and prayer delivers clarity for men and women on the front lines of reaching the world for Christ.

At this point Paul reminds all of us that we are to be about Gospel living and sharing as well. Advancing the message of Jesus is not only for the missionary and evangelist.

As my musing on the text continues, I am taken back to Paul’s prayer injunction…

Lord, increase my understanding of prayer, to the end that I pray more and more effectively. Please. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, March 20: Colossians 3- set your heart and mind on God.

As Paul generally does, he closes his letters with practical ‘how do I live out the faith’ teachings. In chapter 3 Paul opens the practical faith door with two complimentary admonitions; set your heart and set your mind. Listen to verse 1 and 2.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

·         Set your hearts on… literally ‘to seek’ = go about, desire, endeavor, enquire for…

·         Set your minds on… means to think about or exercise the mind over…

Note the parallelism. We are to set our hearts and minds on things above repeated in each sentence.

Paul then gives a positive and a negative. What is above? God, His realm, and His throne where Christ is seated. We are to think about the things of God, what God desires and longs for, the ways and principles of God’s Kingdom. Then Paul names what we are NOT to set our heart/mind on, namely earthly things. God is telling us to put our affections and our mental powers upon Christ, His kingdom and His Way rather than on earthy things, like fame or riches or comfort or wealth or ….

Now, this is a thought I can chew on throughout the day. And this is a challenge, one I fail to meet regularly.

Lord, help me!

Lord, give me glimpses of You on Your throne. Captivate me with Your Glory and Your Wonder. Fill me with awe for You, such that I no longer long for earthly things but truly desire heavenly things where You are seated.

I pray for an unleashing of the Spirit in my life to captivate me with You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 19: Colossians 2- Lord, change my heart.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence (20-23).

I was attracted to those last words, which I underlined. Laws, rules, regulations do set boundaries but Paul is absolutely right. They do not restrain the human heart. When God says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (see Jeremiah 17:9) God is telling the truth. Laws might curb some behavior but they do not curb the heart.

Paul is pushing this truth to a new place in Christian living. I don’t think Paul’s point is that we should not have restraint. We do need restraint, but restraint is best when it grows from a changed heart and only God can change a heart.

This brought me to the need of prayer… Oh, how I need God to change my heart… and for that I must petition the Lord.

Pray with me if you, too, need the Lord to change your heart.

Oh, Lord God, help me. My heart is deceitful above all things. I need Your Holy Spirit to come, Father, and work His wonder and life change in me. I cannot change by myself. I desperately need You, Lord, to work in me. Come Father, Son and Holy Spirit, change my heart to be more and more like You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, March 18: Colossians 1-. Another Prayer by Paul .

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (9-14).

Some day I will have to study all of Paul’s prayers, rather than looking at them one by one.

Again Paul prays for his friends to be filled, filled by God with knowledge. Filled with knowledge so that they can life a life worthy of being a child of God. A life worthy is a life that bears fruit and a life that grows more and more in the knowledge of God. This, in turn, means that we have patience and endurance to keep on living for Jesus, no matter what comes our way!

Listening to Paul’s prayers suggests that his great desire for friends and people of his church is that they grow more faithful to God –Father, Son and Holy Spirit- constantly.

This challenges me. All too often my general thoughts, hopes, dreams and therefore my prayers for others is that life goes smoothly and well. I have been so inculcated by the “good life” that that is what I hope and dream for people. And that is also what most people (myself included) ask for when asked, “How can I pray for you.”

As I said a moment ago… this is challenging my prayers and my prayer requests…

Lord, as I read and ponder this passage, my immaturity, my desire for life to be comfortable and easy and ‘good’ glares at me. My life is stark and shriveled compared to the way Paul truly sold out to You.

Lord, I am not even sure what to pray… until I thought, just pray Paul’s prayer for myself…

Lord God, I pray to be filled with the knowledge of Your Will. I pray for the spiritual wisdom and understanding needed to be filled with Your Will. I ask this, Lord, so that I may live a life worthy of You and may please You in every way… in thought, word and deed. I pray that I will bear fruit in every good work. I pray that I will grow in the knowledge of You and that being strengthened with all power I will exhibit great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to You in all things! Lord God, You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into Jesus’ Kingdom where I have found redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Because of all You have done, Lord, I offer my life to You as a living sacrifice. All my days, all my relationships, all my stuff is Yours, Oh, Lord. I live for Your honor and glory… in Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, March 17: Philippians 4- When interpersonal problems arise.

Do fellow believers always get along?

My experience is ‘no’. Sometimes it is me, sometimes it is the other person, most times it is both of us that create the problem. Stuff happens. Just because ‘stuff happening’ is natural, does not mean it is good. So what do we do when interpersonal stuff happens?

Deal with it.

Paul, the writer of Philippians 4, offers great advice in Romans 12:18. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. So practical, do what you can to live peaceably with others. The ‘between the lines’ understanding is that it will not always be possible all by yourself to live peaceably. Like I said, stuff happens.

Here in chapter 4 we see an example of one of these situations between Euodia and Syntyche, both women of tremendous faith and service. Whatever the feud might be, Paul writes the church to see if they can intervene to bring reconciliation.  I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life (2-3).

Paul’s Spirit-inspired suggestion:

First: To each woman… get over it. See if you can lay your grievances down. This is a helpful word to me. When I get in a roe with someone, can I lay aside my ‘issue’ for the sake of peace and harmony?

Second: to wise and respected others… help these women lay down their grievances. If you are connected, can you help? I don’t think Paul or the Spirit is directing us to be nubby and enter situations where our presence does not belong. But as in this case, which is obviously affecting the larger church… leader/respected person, do something. Try to help them resolve it.

It seems that the Word is reminding us that divisions in the community, even if they are only between two people, hurt the entire community.

God’s not so subtle whisper to me, ‘try to repair your interpersonal breaks’.

Are you (am I) in a situation with someone? Do what you can to repair it. The sooner the better and generally easier it is.

Lord, show me people with whom I need to make amends. And Lord, please give me the humility, strength and unction to do so. In Jesus’ name and for the sake of His body, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, March 15: Philippians 3-.

What does it mean to follow Jesus? Paul offers one-sentence that could be considered an answer to that question.

Verse 8, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

Here is what I hear from Paul. Following Jesus means letting go of everything I have, have earned, or hold dear, considering them lost to me. In exchange, I gain Christ and the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.

This is much easier to type onto my computer document then it is for me to live out.

There are many things I hold dear; family tops my list. There are many things I have earned; my education/degrees rise immediately to the top. I worked hard for them. They open doors. Not to mention they offer prestige, when I want to take advantage of them. Then there are the things I have, possessions, health, etc.

Paul says he counts his ‘everything-lis’t a loss. The snippets I see of his life in the NT confirm his statement.

I don’t think my life would confirm similarly. Unexpectedly, God is holding up a mirror. A mirror, which reveals I have much growing in Jesus that is still needed.

Lord, I confess I am not as sold out to You as I often like to believe I am. Forgive me for fooling myself and short changing You.

Lord, show me what and how I can (must) do to follow You more deeply and honestly.

Jesus, to advance Your name and Gospel around the world is Your commission. Strengthen and empower me to do Your bidding with my surrendered life. For Your glory and in Your name, I pray. Amen.


Friday, March 14: Philippians 2- Any.

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose (1-2).

In an encouraging, inviting way, Paul calls all Christ-followers to the way of Jesus. Who of us has not found ANY:

·         encouragement from bring united with Christ,

·         comfort from his love,

·         fellowship with the Spirit

·         tenderness and compassion

I cannot imagine spending any time in the family of God and not having ANY of these. My experience is that I have received a bit of all of these!

Praise You, Lord God Almighty, because You give encouragement, You show comfort, You provide fellowship and You grace me regularly with all of the above, plus tenderness and compassion. Thank You, Lord. Thank You! Amen.


Thursday, March 13: Philippians 1- Paul prays.

I am attracted to Paul’s prayers, so verses 9-11 tapped right into my heart. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.

Paul prays for love abounding in knowledge. That touches me. In my world, love by itself can be perverted into many aberrations… lust/sex or a mushy ‘allow anything to go’, to name two possibilities. But love abounding in knowledge (especially when knowledge is assumed to be knowledge of God and God’s Word) gives balance and stability. Knowledge of God gives a firm footing that will not fail and will not be drawn askew.

And Paul’s actual prayer is to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. It is the constant growing in knowledge that Paul prays for. His prayer is that we never stop growing in knowledge.

And why does Paul pray this way? He has an end game. He desires that his friends in Philippi may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. Paul prays that we live rightly (before God) and discerning what is best is the roadway to living rightly.

As I consider Paul’s prayer, he is constantly praying that his friends grow in God, deepen in the faith, move closer to Jesus in thought, word and living. It is not that Paul doesn’t pray for the worldly needs of others, I am sure he does. But Paul also seems to understand that there may be bigger issues to pray for… the growth, maturity, deepening of the faith of his friends.

I have much to learn about prayer… content, passion and persistence of prayer.

Lord, continue to teach me to pray… teach me to pray with depth for my friends and Lord, if I may dare ask, to pray this way for myself.

I love You, Lord, and way to serve You with all my heart and life. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 12: Ephesians 6- In God my everything.

Verse 10 pulled me in. As I read and then pondered the whole of the chapter, asking God to speak to me, verse 10 kept pulling on me. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Our strength is in the Lord; any power we might have is his mighty power.

Now that I am in Christ, part of God’s family by faith, the Lord is my everything. I live and breathe and find my being and strength in Him. I bring nothing of myself to the table. Anything I do bring is a gift from Him in the first place.

First, as I pondered this, a deep sense of awe and humility settled over me. The Lord God is my everything. I need Him in every conceivable way. I am utterly dependent upon Him.

As these thoughts steeped in my soul, a second sense began to well up. Growing out of the awe and humility came a strength and power to do and accomplish things of the Lord. God has things He wants me to do to advance His kingdom and agenda and He has granted me His strength and mighty power to do so. I don’t need to balk or worry, where God has called, God has equipped. How can I be so certain? Because I am in Christ and God has blessed me with all spiritual blessings in Christ (1:3).

Lord, I step out today as Your ambassador. Speak with me that I may do Your bidding, all You have for me to do today. I bring all Your strength and all Your mighty power with me wherever I go to do whatever You ask because I live and breath and find my being in You and in You alone. Amen.


Tuesday, March 11: Ephesians 5- Don't be this, be this.

I found myself stuck on verse 3, chewing, thinking, digesting this straightforward word from the Lord. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.

How much stronger could Paul put it, there must not be even a hint

·         Of sexual immorality

·         Impurity

·         Greed (covetousness).

How basic is this. And yet what are three of the prevailing problems in most cultures: sexual immorality, impurity (physical or moral uncleanness) and greed –not simply for money but also power and just about anything a person could want more of.

I found myself thinking about opposite attributes that we would display if we didn’t have those bad traits named.

God wants us to always be sexually pure, one , one woman in marriage for life. And if I take Jesus at His Word, this means sexually pure in thought as well as body.

God wants us to be pure… of heart, mind, motive and action. Imagine what the world or even the church would be like if we all were truly pure of heart, mind, motive and action. Nice…

God wants us to be content with what we have and if I push this a bit, generous toward those in need with what we have.

Lord, I am a long way from this command. Oh, how I need Your power. Help me, Lord… Amen.


Monday, March 10: Ephesians 4- Bathing in the wonder of God.

As I read chapter 4 it became apparent that Paul turned a corner in his letter. Paul changed from teaching the message/content of the faith to instructing us on how we are to live in light of the faith he has taught. Chapter 4 is all about who we are to be and how we should live as followers of Jesus Christ.

Despite the ‘be and do’ aspect of the chapter, it was a description of God that caught my heart and drew me into meditation. Verse 6: one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

All the ‘alls’ caught my attention. God is Father of all… He is over all, through all and in all. The thought that came to mind is sovereign. God is sovereign.

Father of all… God is the great and only Creator. God is the one who brought into being everything we know, see and discover. Father is also a relational term. God has relationship with all as Father.

God is over, through and in all. WOW. ‘Over all’ speaks to being sovereign. Paul is affirming and confirming that God is sovereign. The ‘through and in all’ caused me to ponder. Seems that Paul was saying God’s presence permeates all of creation. The ‘all’ suggests more than simply humans, but should probably be all of the world, thus all creation. One writer said this, He is transcendent, pervasive and immanent. … Nothing takes place in isolation from him.* That brought from me another, WOW. Nothing exists apart from God. Nothing.

I found myself bathing in the wonder of God. God is truly more that I can even imagine!

Lord, God, thank You for this invitation to think on You, Your greatness, wonder, transcendence, importance. I am humbled that You chose to reveal Yourself to me and that You gave Your written word to the world. Through Your Word I can be drawn into knowing You, worshipping Your and loving You. Praise be to You Lord, God. Amen


* From The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Ephesians.


Saturday, March 8: Ephesians 3- Praying for others.

This is the second time Paul has written a prayer in this letter. Listening to others pray is one way we learn to pray. Paul prayed:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (14-19).

Paul prayed to the Father, and first lauded Him.

Paul prayed that his friends would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and that this Holy Spirit strengthening would bring Christ to the forefront of their heart.

Paul’s prayer is Trinitarian; Father, Spirit and Jesus Christ all are named.

Paul prays that love will grow… that his friends would grasp (what a great word) Christ’s love for them in increasing measure.

Paul prays that understanding this love would fill them with the fullness of God. Remember God is love (1John 4:16)

There are times to pray for specific issues in a person’s life, a health need, a situation, etc. But what I hear in Paul is to never loose sight of the bigger picture.  The person, that grows in Christ, in love and that God in his fullness –Father, Son and Holy Spirit- is actively working and maturing our pray-ee in love and fullness.

Hmmm, as I continue to pray daily for family, friends and the world, using Operation World (, it seems this would be a tremendous posture to adopt amidst my intercessions as I pray. Maybe I should commit this prayer to memory along with the Lord’s Prayer and others, so that I can pray it intentionally as I pray…

Teach me, Oh, Lord, to pray. Show me how to grow in prayer. Amen.


Friday, March 7: Ephesians 2- Jesus is everything.

Ephesians continues to be very rich. Verse upon verse is laden with food for my heart, mind and soul.

I found myself dwelling upon the final 3 sentences of the chapter. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (19-22).

Fellow citizens and members… God has placed us in His family. Think of those phrases as metaphors. I have friends who have come to the US from other countries and have become naturalized citizens. It is quite a process, including a certain amount of time lived in the US, various background checks, and multiple trips to immigration, taking and passing of tests and then a swearing in. In Paul’s day, if you weren’t a citizen there was a considerable payment to become a citizen. Yet in Christ, God ‘does the work for us.’ Through faith in Christ, God grants us citizenship based on Jesus’ work on the cross. What a gift. A gift not to be taken lightly.

Membership, whether a club, or society, church or team has various requirements, too. Again, God pays all the dues, whatever they might be, to guarantee our entrance.

Jesus is the glue that holds everything together and He is the foundation upon which people of God are built. Jesus is everything. Jesus accomplished everything regarding our salvation.

We have a song in worship we sometimes sing, which is basically a lyrical reciting of the name  “Jesus.” I have heard comments that it is too simple or too repetitive. But you know, it is true. Jesus is everything!

Lord, Jesus, You are my Hope, my Deliverance and Deliverer, my Savior, my Lord, my Redeemer, my Payment, my Sovereign, my Anchor in storms. Jesus, you are my Everything.

I surrender to You.

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


Thursday, March 6: Ephesians 1- Overwhelmed.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (3).

We have so much to praise God for! He has blessed us in incredible ways.

This chapter is so rich, I could pause at virtually any point and have so much to meditate upon.

So many blessings are touched on in today’s Word. God truly has blessed us with so much.

The first paragraph speaks of our being chosen, our redemption, adoption and forgiveness. Oh, yes, God’s grace as well.

The next paragraph mentions that we are secure, our inheritance is guaranteed by the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.

Then comes an incredible prayer. A prayer to know God better… to have our eyes enlightened so that we might know the great inheritance that God has guaranteed for us.

I sit here overwhelmed

We really do have so much to praise God for!!!

Oh, God, my mouth sings Your praise… Praise You. Thank You. Bless You. You have given so much and give so much. I am overwhelmed by Your grace, Your giving. You lavish upon me (upon us) so much, all of it underserved. Yet, here I sit pressed sown by the weight of your grace and wonder and blessings and all I can utter is Thank You. Bless You. Praise You –Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Praise You. Amen.


Wednesday, March 5: Galatians 6- New creation living.

Paul concludes his letter with an interesting statement. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation (15). When, by faith, we accept the Gospel message and are adopted into God’s family, we become a new creation. A newness of life flows into us by the Spirit and we begin to live differently. We live with love for God and others.

Another aspect of the Gospel message is this new life we begin to live.

Earlier in chapter 6, growing out of the reference to love and the Fruit of the Spirit in the end of chapter 5, Paul gives a practical picture of new creation living.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (1-10).

Some bullet highlights

·         Restore those who have fallen

·         Carry one another’s burdens

·         Test our own actions and don’t compare yourself with someone else.

·         Carry your own load

·         We reap what we sow

Paul puts on a capstone with this final word. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

New creation living in a sentence; as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

There is a principle I can work on…

Lord, a straightforward word, but one I need help living up to. Oh, Holy Spirit, give me the impulses to live up to this word. When I slip back into my self-centeredness, convict me that I might grow in my love for You and service for others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, March 4: Galatians 5- More about the gospel.

As this chapter unfolds, two more facets of the Gospel are uncovered.

One is hinted at in verse 2, Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. The Gospel message cannot be mixed with other modes of salvation. With faith, one cannot hedge one’s bets by human works. It is one or the other. Thus Paul says that if you go the ‘circumcision route’, then Christ –the Gospel message of faith in Jesus Christ, is of no value. A person can travel only one road at a time.

This underscores the nature of faith, which is total belief in Jesus Christ, period. End of discussion. No hedging bets or mixing in any other religious route. For first century Jews, the pull of another religious route was to go back to their roots of following the Law. For 21st century people like ourselves, the pull might be

·         eastern philosophies and new age principles, or

·         horoscopes, fortune-telling and other forms of divination, or even

·         following the human made religious rules of various Christian denominations

rather than faith in Jesus alone.

There is plenty to chew on here… and some may stop and linger here in prayer.


The second aspect of the Gospel message that I saw came toward the end of the chapter beginning in verse 13, You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

As humans we can easily pervert the idea of faith in Jesus as opposed to the works or religion and tease ourselves into believing that faith puts no requirements on us. “Since I have faith in Jesus I can do anything I want.” No, Paul reminds us. By faith we are set free from the tedious following of human religious rules and we are set free to serve one another in love. Paul builds on this foundation to explain faith’s new way of living, living that blossoms with the fruit of the Spirit… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (23-24).

Again there is plenty to chew on here… and I am sensing the call to pray.

Lord, I bless You for the Gospel. I confess that it is oh so very easy to find myself mixing in elements of works and trusting in what I have done, rather than what You have done in Jesus. Please forgive me.

And, Lord, forgive me, too, when I allow my faith to become ‘a do nothing faith’, a selfish, loveless faith which looks out for me and cares not for others. Forgive me, Lord. Oh, how I need this forgiveness.

I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Monday, March 3: Galatians 4- Relationship with God.

Sometimes when describing the Gospel, I (and others) say things ‘like have faith in Jesus and believe in Jesus’ The Bible uses these terms. My thoughts on the last two chapters have been filled with that language because Galatians uses that language.

Other times I use the language of having a ‘relationship’ with God.  The different ways to communicate the Gospel is an attempt to reach the most people with the wonderful message of Jesus Christ. Each language set connects with a different facet of the Gospel message.

Verses 4-7 provide a wonderful understanding of the relational aspect of the gospel. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

The Gospel proclaims to the world that through faith in Jesus Christ a person is brought into a son*/child/heir relationship with God as Father. We can now call the God of the universe, Abba, Father! Just think about that for a moment. Abba is Aramaic for Father, but with the loving filial overtones of what is meant by ‘Daddy.’ Those who walk with Jesus can call God, the Father, ‘Daddy.’ What could speak more clearly of the relationship God grants us than this?!?!

At this point, I push back from the text and keyboard and simply think, ponder and delight in the gift of being in such close relationship with God that I can (and do) call God ‘Daddy.’ Wow, I invite you to do the same.

Oh, God, what a delight!! You invite me to crawl up onto Your lap, squeeze into Your arms and be with You, speak to You, to simply feel the security and delight of Your presence holding me, protecting me and watching out for me. I am safe with You, Lord, God. I am safe in Your everlasting arms.

Thank You for calling me into this relationship with You. Thank You for offering me (us) sonship and a place with You as Your beloved.

Thank You, Daddy. Thank You, Father. I love You. Amen.


*I hope the sonship language isn’t a barrier for you to hear the wonderful message of God’s Love. The NT writers use ‘son’ language because in their day the son inherited property of the father. And the son bore the father’s name. Using ‘son’ language was the obvious way to communicate the incredibly close connection God brings a person into when any person puts her or his faith in Jesus Christ. What the laws and culture of the day didn’t generally allow for, God saw to, that every person irrespective of gender is brought in a full, life-long, legacy and inheritance producing relationship once they put their faith in Jesus. As Paul wrote in the last chapter, in Christ There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (3:28)


Saturday, March 1: Galatians 3- The Gospel comes through faith in Christ.

Paul hammers the faith (believing) aspect of the Gospel home in this chapter. He hammers it not once, or twice but continually throughout chapter 3.

·         I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (2-5)

·         Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. …  So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (6-7,9)

·         Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (13-14)

·         But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. …  So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.  (22,24-25)

·         You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  (26-28)

Reading back over these key verses, which amount to virtually the entire chapter, it seems like Paul uses a rapid-fire pneumatic nailer to secure his premise that the Gospel comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is gift, not a human effort or work; it is by faith in Jesus! And it is for everybody, Jew & Gentile, slave & free, male & female.

So if you have faith in Jesus, thank God for His gift and the Gospel. If you do not feel as if you have faith in Jesus Christ, why don’t you reach out to Him and grab hold of the gift of faith God is holding out to you right now.

Thank You, Lord, God,  for the Gospel, for the message that a person can be restored into connection and relationship with You, Lord, God by simple and honest faith in Jesus Christ.

Alleluia. Amen.