Wednesday, April 30: 1Samuel 10- A test of faithfulness.

Along with Samuel’s anointing as king comes a test of his faithfulness. Samuel has a number of things he must do to confirm God’s presence with him (2-8).

I found myself pondering ways to confirm faithfulness. It is easy to say, “I believe” and to make faith statements. But as they say, ‘talk is cheap.’ Our life actions confirm our beliefs.

For example, I believe planes really can fly. Every time I board a plane to travel somewhere, I confirm my belief. I believe regular doctor physicals are prudent and wise and if you were to check my personal calendar you would find an annual physical in January for decades. My actions confirm my beliefs.

God was asking the same of Saul. Did Saul truly trust the Lord and would Saul be instructed by God’s prophet, Samuel, or not? Time will tell. So far in this chapter all is going well.

Back to me.  How is it that I confirm with my life that I am a follower of Jesus?  Evaluating one’s check book and date book are two appropriate places in which to begin.

My personal challenge and my challenge to readers is to think through your date and check book.  Will they confirm your spoken faith in Jesus?

As I continued to ponder ways to confirm my faith with my actions, I thought about Jesus’ summary of the law and prophets… to love God with everything we have and to love neighbor as self. If I lay this grid on my life (and you on your life), what would it say about your faith in God?

Well, this is how I spent my time in response to reading 1Samuel 10…

Lord, I bow to praise and thank You. You are my rock, my fortress and my God. Early do I trust You and daily will I seek You.

Lord, I pray that my faith is much more than words, that my actions, tongue, and thoughts all confirm that I love you and that I will serve You all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.



Tuesday, April 29: 1Samuel 9- God in everyday life.

As far as Bible chapters go, this one has very little action. It seems to be the set up for Samuel anointing Saul to be king of Israel. I wondered, Lord, what is my meditative morsel for today?

As I was asking the Lord, the thought, ‘God in everyday life,’ came to mind. I realized, for me, this was my connection with the Lord for today.

Most of our days are filled with ordinary things. Eating, working, solving this problem, working with this person, and the like. And still God is there in the midst of regular life. Samuel’s conversation with the Lord reminds me that even in our everyday life, God is there to guide us. He is always available for conversation, something into which we need to grow more.

Saul on the other hand was problem solving, looking for a lost donkey. Even here, maybe more without his direct knowledge than with it, God was orchestrating things so he would make his destined appointment with Samuel. Again, I realized God is working His play, even in my mundane life situations.

And so I marvel… God is at work today in my life even today, an ordinary Tuesday!

How blessed I am (and you are) to be walking with God. God is available everyday to speak with us about the things of life. And this is a thought not only worth pondering but also living! Bless You Lord.

Lord, thank You for the simple, yet profound reminder, that You are always with me… that I have access to You and Your wisdom at a moment’s notice.

Lord, it is so wonderful to be walking in relationship with You. I love You, Lord.

Bless You and praise You… In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, April 28: 1Samuel 8- Rebellion within the ranks.

Rebellion can come in many forms. Israel’s rebellion today came in ‘wanting a king’. It appears that they were certainly correct in not wanting Samuel’s sons as their next human prophet/judge/leader. But asking for a king stepped over the line.

God understood it for what it was. And the LORD told [Samuel]: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king (7). Following Samuel’s rebuke we learn their desire has other roots, verses 19-20. They wanted to be like all the other nations! They wanted a king out front, a figurehead, just like everyone else. Israel’s request really was a rejection of the Lord!

It was not enough to serve the Lord who brought them out of Egypt, they wanted to be like everyone else.

As I pondered this, I see that this same attitude can creep into my life, too. I want to have a home like everyone else. I want to have cars like everyone else. Oh, the list goes on… the pressure to be like everyone else is enormous. And when this desire displaces the Lord in my life, it is just as much rebellion as Israel wanting a king.

Today’s time in the Word, opens up a number of areas I need to think much more deeply about…

Lord, help me to go to my deep places of wanting to be like everyone else… show me where sin lurks. And help me then to confess my sin to You for forgiveness. Spirit, empower me to repent of such and to turn back to You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.




Saturday, April 26: 1Samuel 7- First step, repentance.

This chapter has the flavor of Judges. For 20 years Israel is under the thumb of the Philistines. Israel mourns and seeks the Lord. Samuel, the prophet, and serving much like one of the judges, calls all Israel to “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Cleansing their life before the Lord was the first step in returning and God’s deliverance.

I thought, “Some things don’t change.” Even for me today, being honest before God, evaluating my life against God’s Word, and the confession and repentance this process generally brings is a necessary step if I want to stay connected with God.

The week after Easter is often a crash week for me. Exhaustion and fatigue dominate and I can become lazy in my walk with Jesus.

As a new Lord’s Day looms tomorrow, spending time today in personal faith-evaluation seems like the perfect preparation for worship tomorrow.

Will you join me??

Lord, meet me in these moments and help me look at my life in light of Your will and way. Show me where I am off the mark and restore my life to Your rightful compass heading.

Lord, I pray, too, that You would infuse me with energy and strength. Please, Lord, help me regain my spiritual rhythm and balance after the heavy load from the last weeks. This I pray through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Friday, April 25: 1Samuel 6- God upholds His name.

The account of God taking care of His name/reputation/Ark continues with the miraculous return of the Ark to Israel. The Philistines recognize that God is at work. And everything God does confirms His work in the return of the Ark.

My heart was strangely warmed and attracted to verse 5&6. This is a portion of the words spoken to the Philistine leaders by their priests and diviners. Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?

The bolded words were particularly striking as I read them. First the Philistine priests call the people to give glory to the God of Israel. This is not a call to change gods but it is a recognition that Israel’s God does deserve glory. I thought the Lord God will make His name known throughout the earth. Not everyone will bow to Him in humble adoration, but they will know!!! This entire story is a witness to the Philistines about who the Lord God is!!!

Then I was fascinated how widely and long living the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is. Again the Philistines knew what The Lord had done for Israel! The Exodus has so many dimensions. Yes, Israel was delivered, but the exodus was also a proclamation to the ancient world that Israel’s God, the Lord God of the Bible, was a great God, not one to be toyed with!

Then a few verses later, verse 9, I found it fascinating that the Philistine priests saw the unfolding events as a test about the Lord. [We will] but keep watching it. If it [the cart with the Ark and offering] goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the LORD has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.”

The story unfolds in a way that one could only deduce that the Lord brought the disasters on the Philistines… so the Lord is God.

God upholds His name!

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I praise You as the one and only God. The Almighty God, King over all gods. And You will declare Your name to all. Praise be to You, Lord, God. Amen.


Thursday, April 24: 1Samuel 5- God protects His Name.

If you are ever looking for an excellent book on Bible study, I recommend Fee & Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for all its Worth. An excellent volume.

I have been reading it again and the authors have been reminding me to read the Bible in context, asking, ‘what did it mean?’ Even though this blog is more of a devotional read, I find their wisdom affecting what I am seeing and the questions I am asking as I read.

This chapter is all about God defending His honor. God doesn’t require us to defend Him. Oh, for sure, God wants us to stand united with Him, to profess belief in Him and as we are able, to proclaim His grace and message. But God is very capable of defending His name and honor all by Himself. And that is what God does in this chapter.

God defends His honor before Dagon and in all the other towns of the Philistines where they park the Ark!

A second key to the narrative is that the Philistines get it. They understand that it is God defending Himself! (see verse 10 in particular).

Devotionally I am thinking God can and will defend Himself. If not in our lifetime, certainly Jesus’ return and the defeat of Satan will make God’s ultimate defense of Self. My role as a Christ follower is proclamation… share, living, displaying God’s Good News in word and deed!

Today is a Thursday, a regular middle of the week day… Lord, how can I best proclaim You to my world and acquaintances this very day? This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, April 23: 1Samuel 4- Utterly sad.

What God spoke toward the end of chapter 3 comes to pass in today’s reading. God means what He says and says what He means.

Reading chapter 4, I found myself considering the Ark of the Covenant, God’s footstool among His people since Mt Sinai. There is no mistaking the narrative, when Eli hears that the Ark has been captured, he falls over and dies. The shock is too much for him.

Then through Eli’s daughter-in-law the gravity of the situation is pronounced. She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured” (21-22).

Her statement tumbled and tumbled in my thoughts… the glory has departed from Israel.

The Lord God is Israel’s glory and with the Ark captured, His glory is gone from among His people. That is Eli’s shock.

I sat in silence wondering what it would be like to have God’s presence and glory removed… to have all the forms and rituals of the faith without the presence of God?

Utterly sad. These were the only words that came to mind. Utterly sad.

Lord, God, may I never experience this.

As I am praying I thought, Oh my, is that what Jesus experienced on the cross when He cried, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).

Jesus, You willingly went to that forsaken place so that those who believe might know redemption, forgiveness, atonement, reconciliation… Oh, Jesus, I have no words.

You did that for me. You did that for us. Praise be Your name, Jesus. Praise be to You, my Lord and my God. Amen.


Tuesday, April 22: 1Samuel 3- The voice of the Lord.


Two thoughts gripped me…

The first one is the heart of the chapter, learning to hear the Lord. In OT days to be a prophet a person needed to know the voice of the Lord. And Samuel, whom God was grooming to be His prophet, needed to learn to distinguish the Lord’s voice from other voices. In Samuel’s case, the Lord spoke with him audibly. That must have been amazing…

Samuel’s account opened up the whole topic of hearing God’s voice, which I believe is possible to this day. In fact, I think all Christ followers, since we have the Holy Spirit within, can and must learn to hear the Lord’s voice. Listening for the Lord’s leading and direction is critical for us if we are to do His will and be His people.

The chapter opens, In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions (1b). The Hebrew parallelism reminds me that the Lord speaks in many ways. He may speak directly as He did with Samuel. He may speak in visions, something we see throughout scripture. God may use dreams, or His word or a quiet nudge within a person, or…. The wonderful thing is God still speaks and leads. And according to Peter’s Acts 2 speech, quoting Joel, in this age God now speaks with all His people (see Acts 2:17-21).

What a wonder it is to learn and know the Lord’s voice…

I have never heard an audible voice from God, but I have known the leading of the Lord. Thank You, Lord.

Have you developed ears to hear what the Lord is saying to you?...

Think about it, and email me if the idea of hearing the Lord’s voice peeks your interest and you want to know more.

Just before the chapter closed I was struck by Eli’s response to Samuel when Samuel told him all that the Lord was going to do to his family. Eli said, "He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes" (18)

I was amazed by Eli’s utter faith in and trust in the Lord. What Samuel told him was a word of judgment by the Lord for allowing his sons to sin rampantly. Eli accepted his fate and God’s judgment, no questions asked. That’s faith. Eli was honest with himself and recognized the Lord as sovereign! May I be so submissive to the Lord in similar moments…

Lord, thank You for speaking. Thank You for helping me grow in listening and hearing. Lord, I still have much to learn.  Teach, show, lead and train me that I may hear and obey when You speak rightly.

And, Lord, develop in me the simple faith of Eli, who when he heard Your word, accepted it because You, and You alone, are the LORD! Amen.


Monday, April 21: 1Samuel 2- God says, "Trust me."

At times God moves His plan forward in strange and unexpected ways. Little Samuel being raised up while Eli’s sons will be brought low. All according to the work and will of God.

As I read this chapter I was reminded that the Lord rewards faithfulness and punishes wickedness. But even this does not always happen in ways we think are good and fair.

Take Hannah…. she was faithful, yet she had to endure years of ridicule and verbal abuse by the other wife before the Lord blessed her with a child. And then she willingly gave this child back to the Lord by taking him to live and serve the Lord at Shiloh. So the gift God gave her, she gave away. Yes, God blessed her with other children as well, but we never even learn their names.

Eli, by all accounts, was a faithful priest. Sadly, his sons didn’t follow his faithful path. They were wicked, despising the sacrifices and in so doing, dishonoring the Lord God. Eli rebuked them, so he didn’t sweep their insolence under the rug, but he probably didn’t discipline them as he should.

So in these three people, from the accounts so far in 1Samuel, we have quite a range. Hannah is faithful. Eli is a mixed bag, much good with some flaws. The two sons of Eli are wicked.

The chapter concludes with a pronouncement… judgment will come to the wicked sons and to Eli’s lineage and God will raise up a new priest.

We don’t know how long all of this prevailed but in the end, God judged.

I thought… God’s timing prescribes the course, not what I think or what anyone thinks. God allowed the wicked sons to prevail for a season. God allowed Hannah to endure hardship for a season. Eli apparently was given time to deal with his sons… if we stopped the film at any point before the end we could say, “Where is God? Why does He allow this?” And yet, God was working, bringing about His perfect time for His perfect plan.

To me, this morning, God says, “Wait, remain faithful no matter what happens and in the end you will see My handiwork. My plan is being worked out. Trust Me.

Lord, I trust You. You are at work in far more ways and areas than I will ever know. May I serve You faithfully all the days of my life. To You be honor and glory forever. Amen.


Saturday, April 19: 1Samuel 1- Unlikely People.

It felt a bit odd turning to the OT on this ‘rest’ day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. And yet that is where my Bible reading plan took me.

In the book of 1Samuel, we will watch as the salvation plan of God continues to unfold. Major strides in the story will be told as accounts weave their way toward the great OT king, David, from whom the lineage of the Messiah will come.

Along the way we will meet many unlikely people, used by God, to bring forth His story of redemption.

Today we meet Elkanah and Hannah, faithful people about whom we know little else. Hannah, faithful, yet barren and Elkanah loves her despite her barrenness. It is a wonderful story of love and faithfulness, even when things are difficult.

In a wonderful and miraculous way that shows God is in control. Hannah becomes pregnant and gives birth to Samuel, her son, whom she dedicates (gives back) to the Lord.

Faithfulness is a theme that runs through the account. Elkanah and Hannah’s faithfulness to God and God’s faithfulness to His people and God’s mercy on Hannah.

We do not yet know how critical this story is to the unfolding redemption plan of God.

I found myself thinking… God continues to use unlikely people, regular faithful people, to advance His plan to make His name know to the ends of the earth.

I began to think, I am and you are unlikely people, hopefully faithful people and God has a role for us to play in advancing His kingdom.

I don’t know specifically what role God will have me play. However, I do know that the road to knowing is the same for me as Elkanah and Hannah, living faithfully day upon day, praising God for things done. Praying to God about the pains and heartaches of life. And following through obediently and dedicating the fruit of my life back to the Lord...

A thought to carry me today.

Lord, I give You today. Use my hours, thoughts, interactions with people, the work I do to bring honor and glory to You. May my life advance Your kingdom. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Good Friday, April 18: Luke 24- The critical event.

The entire message of Jesus hinges on the Resurrection. Without Jesus’ rising from the dead, His message would have faded into oblivion. The empty tomb makes all the difference.

Was Jesus a good, even great, teacher?  Probably. But would His Words have been recorded and preserved for millennia if He had simply died on the cross like the other two criminals? Probably not.

The empty tomb makes all the difference.

Today is Good Friday. Today we remember that Jesus died for our sins, God’s perfect atonement for sinful humanity. Thank You, Jesus! But we celebrate Good Friday, knowing the end of the story, knowing Sunday morning we celebrate the empty tomb and risen Savior.

Today my heart is full with thanks to God for His immeasurable riches bestowed on us through Christ Jesus, the Lord… crucified, buried and raised on the third day.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation…

All Hail the power of Jesus name, let angels prostrate fall…

O Sacred Head now wounded, with griefs and scorn to bear…

Christ the Lord is risen today, Allelu’ Alleluia..


Thursday, April 17: Luke 23- Three words by a dying man.

Today Luke takes us through the trial and execution of Jesus. I was fascinated by and found myself considering the three times Jesus spoke as He hung dying on the cross. I wondered about the kind of words I would speak if I knew I was dying.

First a word of forgiveness. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (34). Jesus forgave those who were unjustly crucifying Him, the soldiers gambling for his clothes, the Jews who lied and protested to see Jesus die. He forgave. What a powerful picture. I’ve stood by many graves, I’ve sat with many families Guilt is a common visitor in those days. People wishing they would have lived or behaved differently. Survivors feeling guilty for this and that. Jesus grants forgiveness to those who truly harmed him. He released them. He died in peace and plowed the way for them to seek the Father and find peace as well.

Second word, acceptance. "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (43). A dirty rotten scoundrel, dying for heinous crimes, turns to Jesus in repentance and Jesus promises welcome into His kingdom, Paradise. Amazing. I thought, first Jesus is full of forgiveness and now love. Dying as He was, Jesus was able to look beyond Himself and see the need of this other man and grant it. Acceptance, love, care and concerns are all words that fill my thoughts as I ponder this Word.

Three, surrender. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (46). Jesus rests His head on the bosom of the Father and dies with peace-filled words of trust vibrating on His lips. The Father was in control. Jesus’ death, horrible as it was, was part of God’s perfect plan and Jesus trusted the Father. He loved the Father. He was at peace in the Father’s Will despite His personal agony. The picture I have comes from early parenthood. There was a time when one of my young children was in pain. Nothing we could do seemed to help. With my wife exhausted from a long day of caring for three kids, one who was sick and in pain, I was in charge… rocking, holding and praying,  Eventually we lay together on the floor. I was out of ideas. His breathing began to slow, his writhing with pain lessoned and as I held him close, he finally slept with my arms wrapped around him. I picture the Father with His arms wrapped around Jesus, as Jesus breathes His last. “Father I am yours” Jesus, in essence, says as He dies.

Three words from death’s door.

May I be so gracious when my day comes…

Thank You, Jesus… for Your life, teachings and atoning grace-filled death. Amen

Wednesday, April 16: Luke 22- Betray, Deny, Desert.

You choose Twelve people to pour your life into. You teach and train. You travel and laugh. You expend countless hours with them over three years. They are with you and see you in everyday situations and in extraordinary times. Our world doesn’t really have a name for this. They are much more than associates or apprentices or mentees. There is an element of friendship in addition to the teaching training element. You called them disciples and apostles.

In today’s life chapter we get a glimpse into the hearts of Your Twelve. The human heart is not a pretty organ.

One of the Twelve betrays You. This man for whatever reason barters Your life for money (1-6). He goes to Your enemies and offers to hand You over in exchange for money! And then he goes through with his plan.

I know I am stretching the situation, but I wonder if I (we) ever look at following Jesus as a money making proposition? Health and wealth gospel, name it and claim it gospel boarders on this in some ways.

Oh, God, keep me from this… using Jesus for personal gain… betraying Jesus for the sake of personal gain.

Another of Your Twelve, one of your best students and closest companions and part of Your inner circle of most trusted disciples. And he denies knowing You multiple times in a moment of testing (54-60). Certainly not a premeditated action, yet in the heat of a moment, he caves. You certainly hoped for more, but You saw it coming (34). Despite knowing in Your heart this would happen, it certainly hurt to hear Your most promising disciple deny You.

Oh, God, Peter’s story has been my story. I have caved, I have folded, I have acted this way. I know You forgave and restored Peter. Thank You for forgiving and restoring me as well. To You be the honor and glory.

Now fill me with strength and Your Holy Spirit, that like Peter, I will serve You with everything I have, even unto death if that serves You and Your kingdom plan. Amen.

Though not specifically mentioned in this Gospel, other Gospel writers note that the remaining ten scatter at Your arrest. They race for their lives and rush back likely to the upper room to cower in fear.

Lord, I, too, have scattered, disappeared when I should have been bolder and stood for You and Your cause. They did in heart what Peter did with his mouth. In the heat of the moment they shrunk away for personal safety.

Jesus, I, too, have shrunk away as the wrong moments. Again, thank You for forgiving me and restoring me. And like the others, You restored and You filled them with the Holy Spirit and they turned the world upside down with Your name. May I do that, too, Lord. Filled with the Holy Spirit… may I stand proclaiming to the world Your Name, Your Lordship… Amen.


Tuesday, April 15: Luke 21- Two warnings.

The people of God have puzzled over Jesus’ Words about ‘the end’ for centuries. It seems no one is quite sure what it all means. Often times with Jesus’ teachings and parables there is a punch line that is not hard to understand. So it is with this morning’s chapter.

Verses 34-36 are Jesus’ punch line. I spent my meditative time with these words. "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

Two warnings:

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down… Whatever the end may be, whenever the end may be, there is the potential for being weighed down. Maybe things will get so difficult for Christ followers that many will be tempted to throw in the towel and give up. Maybe in times of pain some will be tempted to find escape in the bottle or be so consumed with worry and anxiety that they loose heart. Jesus warns us to guard our hearts, remain steady and steadfast. Hang in there, Jesus warns. Whatever we are forced to endure, enduring till the end is far better than giving up midstream.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape… As you wait and long for Jesus’ return keep your eyes open. Pay attention to the things around you and the signs in the heavens. Watch, listen and PRAY. Pray that you will be able to escape what will happen, that you will endure whatever will happen, that you will stand firm till the end so that you can stand before the Son of Man.

Guard your heart…

Keep watch…

Pray for escape…

I don’t have to wait until things get really bad to do these things. Jesus is saying, ‘Start now’. Develop a life pattern of guarding heart, keeping watch, praying for escape…

Lord, thank You for these very clear, very practical faith actions. May I heed Your Word. May I listen to Your call. Amen.


Monday, April 14: Luke 20- Taxes.

I think because tomorrow is Tax Day, I decided to ponder Jesus’ Words about paying taxes. Keeping a close watch on him [Jesus], they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

He saw through their duplicity and said to them,

"Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?"

"Caesar's," they replied. He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent (20-26).

Before I even got to the issue of taxes, I wondered what it was like to be Jesus and to be under the incredible scrutiny that He was under constantly. For Jesus it was more than scrutiny, things grew to the point that the religious leaders were trying to trap Him. In our world we have laws against entrapment.

From a human point of view, Jesus had to be on His guard constantly. Certainly for those of us who are Christians in countries like the US, we do not feel this kind of pressure. We aren’t under the intensity of scrutiny that Jesus faced. But sisters and brothers in some closed or hostile-to-Christianity countries, probably relate with Jesus at this point far more than I do.

This reminds me to pray for my persecuted and harassed sisters and brothers. The daily prayer guide provided by Operation World ( is a tremendous resource for praying for the Church across the globe.

Back to Jesus story… I looked at US money. The name of our country is boldly printed on each bill. If Jesus were making His same point to people in my country, He probably would have said, Then give to the US what is the US’, and to God what is God's."

What do I owe the US? Taxes and voting come swiftly to mind. I may not like every policy out of Washington, I’m sure the Jews didn’t like everything from Rome and/or the Roman authority in Jerusalem, but according to Jesus they still should pay their taxes. The same is true for me as a citizen of the US. I think voting is a fair application as well.

Now to God… what is God’s? My very life belongs to God. And how do I give my life back to God? The great command… ‘to love God with heart, soul mind and strength and to love neighbor as self’ is a good starting point.

So on the eve of Tax Day, have I paid my taxes? Have you?

And am I loving God with everything I have and am I caring for my neighbors with the same care I would show myself? Are you?

Following and obeying Jesus isn’t easy…

I only have a few words to pray today, God.

Help me, Lord! Help me. Amen


Saturday, April 12: Luke 19- Love and wrath.


A number of details in the account of the Parable of the Ten Minas intrigued me.

First owner of the estate was traveling to another place so that he could be made king of his home area. He is a powerful and well-connected man. He may be a strong man, ruthless maybe? Ruthless may be too strong, but his kingship is opposed by his subjects who send a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king' (14). This element of the story says something.

The man becomes king and returns and the bulk of the parable is about the three servants he left in charge. Apparently the king dealt with his servants publicly since people were shocked when the king took the mina from the last servant and gave it to the one with 10.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The story concludes with the king ‘establishing’ his kingdom, But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me'" (27).

What does this say about Jesus when He comes to establish His kingdom?

With the Zacchaeus story, we see God’s kindness, seeking and saving the lost. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost (10). Now in the next story we see that when God comes He will judge those who oppose Him.

I don’t know that I have ever seen God’s love and wrath juxtaposed like this here in chapter 19 before. It caused me to think about when Jesus returns. That will be a great day for those who believe, but a frightening day for those who don’t…

Hmmm… I invite you to think about this. I know I am…

Lord, I am thankful that You revealed Yourself to me and gave me the grace to believe and trust. I pray for those who do not yet believe. Help me to live in a winsome way so that they come to faith in You. Lord, may I take up the message of Jesus to Zacchaeus and seek and save the lost, and leave the judging to You. However, give me an urgency about sharing the Gospel, because I don’t know when You –Jesus, the King, will return. In Your name, I pray. Amen.


Friday, April 11: Luke 18- People are important.

Reading chapter 18 with all its vignettes, I found myself thinking about all the different kinds of people who pressed into Jesus’ life constantly. Some like His disciples (1) were constant companions. Then there were the Twelve (31) whom Jesus had chosen. These were people Jesus chose to pour his life into.

But then I found myself thinking about all the others. Luke gives some interesting descriptions. There were those who were confident in their righteousness (9) and an important man who wanted to know how to guarantee his salvation (18). Interesting, isn’t it, that these self-confident folk would seek out Jesus? Did they want this important rabbi to affirm them in their righteousness?? If so, Jesus didn’t comply.

Also, there were the people with needs, like the people bringing their babies to Jesus for a blessing (15). In our world, with excellent prenatal care, infant mortality is pretty low. I dare say few of us worry about our infants. But in 3rd world countries today and in Jesus’ day, infant mortality was much more significant. I imagine taking your baby to an important miracle worker and rabbi was a big deal. And that Jesus allowed them access speaks volumes. Jesus was there for people… people He knew and people He didn’t!

Then there was the blind beggar (35) who was desperate for healing and help. Jesus paused on His journey to Jerusalem. Remember He set his face to Jerusalem a few chapters ago, so this wasn’t a leisure trip but a high priority one. Even still, Jesus took the time to hear the man and then heal him.

What I thought about was, how important people were to Jesus. He honored them with time, advice, help and healing.

As Christ-followers, I’m thinking we should do the same…

Jesus, there are so many ways that You model living a God-honoring life. Today I watched how You treated people with respect and kindness and that opened the door to sharing truth or offering healing. You truly loved people. You even dealt with the Rich Young Ruler with honor and grace even though he didn’t accept what You said.

I have so much to learn from You. Help me, Lord. Send Your Holy Spirit to teach me.

Thank You, Jesus, for being my Lord. Forgive me for being wishy washy sometimes. Give me strength to listen and obey.

To You, Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, April 10: Luke 17- Faith, God's gift that enables us to live God's way..

This is one of those chapters I could have stopped and pondered at many places. After a slow thoughtful read, I returned to the opening story… particularly the verses about forgiveness.

Jesus said to his disciples: …

"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"

He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you (1, 3-6).

Forgiving is hard. Repenting of sin is hard. Walking in the kingdom of Jesus is hard work. (If you don’t think so, re-read the next verse, 7-10!)

Back to forgiveness, Jesus says if a brother sins against you seven times a day and comes back repenting, we are to forgive. My heart wants to scream, “What are you kidding, Jesus?!” Pictures of abusive relationships flash in my thoughts.

I think this is why the apostles’ response so resonated with me, "Increase [my] faith!"

There is no way I could live that way without faith and increased faith at that!!!

Then in a blink of an eye, Jesus turns things upside down again. Only the smallest faith is needed (6). Wow, through faith we have access to the power of God. We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us thanks to being ‘in Christ.’

Faith isn’t a magic potion that gets us anything we want. Faith is God’s gift that enables us to live God’s way.

Faith will enable us to forgive or to repent, depending upon the particulars of the event. Even faith as small as a mustard seed… because faith opens the door to God empowered possibilities, including forgiveness and/or repentance!

Wow, Lord, this is amazing… the gifts You give when You enter a life! Faith to believe, faith to forgive, faith to repent, faith to live for You, faith to touch people in Jesus’ name…

Faith, faith as small as a mustard seed opens the door to all this and so much more… Alleluia! Amen!

Alleluia! Amen!


Wednesday, April 9: Luke 16- Wealth blessing and curse.

The opening parable always troubles me, so I spent some time looking into its background for better understanding. I will not reproduce my study here.  Instead, as usual, I will share my thoughts and musings as I talk with the Lord about His Word and what He might speak to me about through it.

I did find this background information helpful; it is from the IVP New Testament Commentary Series on Luke.

The use of wealth is the major topic of Luke 16. Wealth can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether it is used as a means to exercise power, a tool of self-indulgence or a resource to serve others. Wealth's danger is that it can turn our focus toward our own enjoyment, as the rich fool showed in Luke 12:13-21 and as the rich man of Luke 16:19-31 will show. Money is a tool. It is an excellent resource when put to the right use. It can help to build many things of use to others. But to possess money is also to hold a sacred stewardship. Our resources are not to be privately held and consumed but are to be used as a means of generosity, as a way of showing care for our neighbor, as the good Samaritan showed in Luke 10:25-37 and as a restored Zacchaeus will show in Luke 19:1-10.

Two parables unique to Luke make this twofold point about wealth. Between the two parables comes a short description of the two periods in God's plan, with Jesus' declaration that the new era demands faithfulness in our commitment to others, just like the commitment a spouse makes in marriage.

Seen through the eyes of faith, wealth brings with it a blessing and a curse. Handled correctly, wealth can be a great gift to one’s faith. Trusting God for provision and then using what God gives to forward His kingdom is a tremendous blessing. Whether a person supports her/his local church, which nurtures the faith-life of many, or supports missionaries laboring for God’s kingdom around the world, or provides for various ministries that help the poor in Jesus name or reach out to kids… it is such a blessing to know that you are making a difference that can affect a person’s eternity.

But wealth carries inherent concerns, too. A person can put his/her trust in the wealth rather than in God. Also, it is easy to become corrupted by ones wealth and use it merely for self and self indulgence. The second parable shines God’s disgust on this option. This is the curse of wealth that the rich man faces upon death.

I find myself wondering about my use of the wealth God has given me…

Lord, do I steward what You have given me wisely or do I waste it? Lord, what do You have to say to me on this matter of use of wealth?...


Tuesday, April 8: Luke 15- Lost and found.


It doesn’t take much insight to realize that this chapter is all about lost things being found. The lost thing has value, so when it is found there is great rejoicing. And particularly in the case of the lost sheep and coin, the finder embarks on a diligent search in order to find what was lost.

In the parable of the lost son, the father has no way of knowing where the son went, yet day after day he climbs the stairs and looks for his son, so the father is the first to see the lost son returning and then he rushes to him.

A lost sheep, a lost coin, then a lost son, the intensity of the message grows with each parable.

Following on the heels of the last chapter, which as I noted yesterday was Luke’s great commission, this chapter reinforces Luke’s message that we are to seek the lost, that they may be found by God!!!

God’s message rings louder and louder. Do I show the diligence of the shepherd and woman who seek that which is lost? Do I display the love of the Father who looked and prayed and then, at the first instance of returning home, races to his lost son?

Do I?

Do you?

Once we were lost. Then some agent of God came to us with the message of God and now we are among the found.  To whom can we be agents of God helping them find their way home to God?

Think about it…

Lord, help me find the right words to salt my conversations so that I might share You with others. Help me grow in winsomeness and conversationality that I might bring you into conversations in an inviting and connecting manner. This is pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, April 7: Luke 14-.Go. Invite.

In the middle of this chapter Jesus tells a parable about God’s wedding feast in the kingdom of God. Thus the setting is about when Jesus returns and sets up God’s kingdom, sometimes referred to as ‘the wedding feast of the Lamb’.

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."

Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'

"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'

"Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'

"Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'

"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

"'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'

"Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet'" (15-24).

The initial invitees have excuses and don’t come… a probable reference to the Jews who are rejecting the message of Jesus. So the Master (God, the Father) sends servants to scour streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.

Jesus’ message… His servants will scour the area for those who will come. These people were bypassed and rejected by the initial invitees. Luke names these new invitees; the poor, crippled, blind and lame. (Luke’s Gospel champions the underdogs of society.)

Even when these people come, there is still room. Wanting the banquet to be full, the master sends them out again to the roads and country lanes to compel people to come in.

The message it seems is that we, servants of God, are to go far and wide bringing all who come into God’s banquet, God’s kingdom.

This is Luke’s great commission story. Go invite people to come to God. Go near, go far. Invite all, make no distinctions. Invite, invite, invite. If people reject the invitation, move on. Go. Invite…

It is our task to Go and to Invite…

The whisper of God came, “Bill, are you doing this enough? Go, invite, be about filling my kingdom.”

God, I am far more timid that this Jesus teaching suggests. Help me to overcome my fears, inhibitions, what have you and get to Your work. Amen


Saturday, April 5: Luke 13-Repent or perish.

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish" (1-5).

The repetition of the sentence, But unless you repent, you too will all perish, caught my eye. When a teacher repeats something in dramatic fashion like this, pay attention. So I did.

Don’t compare… repent. Don’t assume… repent.

Don’t compare yourself with others… repent. Don’t assume you are better than others… repent.

We humans have this incredible ability to rationalize and see ourselves as better than other people. The result is that we generally think we are ‘better than others’ and we will make it. We will be saved, others may not but we will be.

The Jews following Jesus were apparently thinking, those Galileans most have been really bad people because of the way they died. Did you hear the subtly of it? They are bad, therefore, I am good or at least good-er! (Forgive my improper English, used for effect.)

Jesus’ point… everyone must repent. Everyone.

Don’t compare… just repent. Don’t assume… just repent.

So where do you stand on this ‘repent point’? Have you repented and fallen on the mercy of God? Or are you still fooling yourself into thinking you are good enough to make it into Jesus’ Kingdom?

Think about it…

Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, I repent. I acknowledge that I will not and would not make it on my own. I am a sinner in need of Your grace and mercy. Please forgive me of my sins. I acknowledge them and I turn from them.

Holy Spirit, I ask for Your strength to win the battle in my life over sin that besets me. I pray this in Jesus’ name and that the Glory of the Father may be known throughout the earth. Amen.


Friday, April 4: Luke 12- Rich toward God.

So much Jesus teaching! This chapter touches on so many areas of life. My walk with Jesus would be enriched no matter where I stopped to meditate.

I felt a nudge to ponder on verses 13-21, the challenge of riches, because I live with an abundance of riches…

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."' 

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

The context of the story is dividing an inheritance. An unnamed person is upset about the amount his brother received compared to what he received, so this person came to Jesus hoping Jesus would help him get more of the inheritance. Jesus tells a parable as He seizes a teaching moment. The parable leads to the punch line, verse 21: "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Don’t become consumed with wealth and riches. Don’t horde your riches for personal gain alone; use what God has given to be rich toward God.

I spent the rest of my morning thinking about what it means to be rich toward God. Does God need anything? NO, God already owns everything. Being rich toward God likely means living out God’s agenda.

·         Showing justice and mercy… (Micah 6:8)

·         Spreading the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth… (Matthew 14, 28)

·         Caring for parents… (James 2)

·         And for the poor and those who lack… (James 3)

·         Praising and worshipping the Lord God faithfully (see Matthew & Mark, love the Lord your God with all…)

The parable suggests that if we are not living this way then we risk God’s judgment.


Lord, help me to be honest with and about me… Am I honestly living a life that is rich toward You?

Speak, Lord. Correct, affirm, realign… as You know best. Amen.


Thursday, April 3: Luke 11- Majoring in the minutia yet missing the big stuff.

After reading this chapter I found myself contemplating verse 42, one of the ‘woes’ Jesus pronounces on the Jewish leadership. "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

Majoring in the minutia yet missing the big stuff, that was my first thought.

The Pharisees were scrupulous in their observance of the tithe. They even tithed from their herb garden! But they missed the big things of God… like love and justice. Certainly they knew how important love and justice were. They could have quoted Micah 6:8. Yet somehow they let love and justice slip.

For every one of us there will be aspects of Jesus’ way of living that seem relatively easy. Maybe it is giving, or prayer, or sabbathing. But there will be other aspects of Jesus’ living that we find difficult, even uncomfortable. We may be tempted to avoid these tougher or weightier parts even as we follow through with those things that seem to come more naturally to us.

Jesus’ woe should press us to keep working on ALL aspects of Jesus living, particularly the parts we find difficult. Jesus’ final words in verse 42 are telling. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Keep doing what you know is right and comes easy even while you work at developing those areas of righteousness that are difficult.

Where do I need to work? What must I stop avoiding? Where do I need to grow? These and follow up questions spun as my devotional time wound down today…

Lord I don’t want to face one of Your woes Lord, I want to grow to maturity. Help me give over to You those weak areas of my spiritual life, that I might grow in honoring and living for You, and for justice and love.

This I pray in Your name. Amen.