Thursday, April 30: Acts 10- A revolution within the kingdom.

Does God love all people or just some of them? Jews of the first century were raised understanding that their God, the God of the Bible, was for them and not for others. They were the ‘holy people’ and unless you became a Jew, you couldn’t come under the blessing of God.

As the church was birthed first among Jews, this carried into the early Christ-followers. But a revolution of understanding was afoot and we read it in this chapter. The heart of the matter is confirmed by Peter’s words, I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right (34-35).

No favoritism with God based on language, culture, class, economic status, educations, gender or even religious upbringing. The God of the Scriptures is God for everyone who fears (reveres, worships, follows) him and does what is right.

Two keys are expressed here: fear –worship, follow, revere– and God and do what is right –obey Him. Reverence and obedience… two elements of a sincere and honest faith.

I began reviewing my life for indications of reverence and obedience to the Lord God.  At this point my time with the Lord turned inward…

Before I closed the Scriptures, I glanced back at verses 34-35 and another question pierced my heart, “Do I show favoritism? Do I restrict my witness to a favored ‘type’ of person or do I love all and seek all to come into God’s kingdom?”

I am pondering these things today…

Lord, obedience and reverence for You and no favoritism toward others… lessons for today. Help me to learn them, Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, April 29: Acts 9- no formula just faith.

Funny, how we create a formula for faith. Pray this prayer… Attend this class… Come down front and speak with a counselor…

And yet Paul, possibly the most dramatic conversion story in the New Testament, has none of this. The only thing Paul says in this entire account is “Who are you, Lord?” (5). There is no prayer, no verbal confession of Jesus as Lord, no speaking in tongues or ecstatic praise.

What there is, is obedient faith. After the initial encounter, Paul goes obediently into the city. When Ananias shows up, a man Paul does not know, Paul receives him and his prayer, is healed and is baptized (17-18). Then almost immediately he begins preaching and testifying that Jesus is the son of God (20).

Prayers and altar calls and classes are all good and helpful when it comes to faith. But ultimately faith is about living a new life of obedience to Jesus. It is about being obedient to Jesus’ will and way and testifying to this with our lives and our words.

Ask yourself if you were put on trial for being a Christ-follower, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Think about it…

Lord, may my life and my words testify to my faith in You. Amen


Tuesday, April 28: Acts 8- Preach wherever you go.

Sometimes it is helpful to take the extra information in sentences and paragraphs out to see the main idea. This hit me when I was reading today. Stripping the first few sentences down to their bare bones, here is what emerged. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. … Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (1,4)

Persecution led to scattering and scattering extended preaching and the preaching was extended geographically as well as in numbers of preachers. The apostles were the primary preachers in Jerusalem community, but notice that the apostles were not scattered like everyone else. So it was everyone else who preached the word wherever they went.

Following the lead of the early church, we all bear the responsibility to preach and witness to Jesus. Ask yourself, ‘How am I preaching and bearing witness with my life???’

I’m asking myself that question, too.

Lord, I offer myself to You today to be Your witness, wherever I am, whomever I meet, may Jesus shine through me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, April 27: Acts 7- The price of belief.

Tens of millions of men and women have served in the US military. Presently our standing military force is about 1.4 million strong. In all the wars from the Revolution through the present, about 1.2 million1 have died as a result of war. Many serve; much fewer give the ultimate sacrifice.

The same can be said for the Christian faith. All told there have been about 70 million Christians martyred for their faith since Stephen became the first martyr2. Again, many serve Christ, much fewer give the ultimate sacrifice.

And yet when we say ‘yes’ to Jesus, just like when we enter the military, we face the possibility that we will be asked to give our lives for Jesus.

Stephen was the first and he set the standard high. He bore witness to Jesus until his dying breath. He prayed for his captors, tormentors and persecutors. He held on to his faith tightly, despite the impending cost.

I have no fear of martyrdom, but yet, I pray that should God ask the ultimate sacrifice of me, that I could follow in Stephen’s footsteps of faith… bearing witness to and praying for my persecutors while holding on to Jesus faithfully and tenaciously.

These are not pleasant thoughts but people I know in West Africa face the likelihood of martyrdom far more than I. And their faith in Jesus sustains them daily and gives them courage to forgive and continue to witness to those who are hostile to them…

Lord, I am challenged by the deep faith of Stephen.  I am challenged by sisters and brothers around the world who face trial, persecution and martyrdom for You, Jesus. Help me to be strong for You and to give whatever You ask of me, that Your glory may be extended to every corner of this world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.





Saturday, April 25: Acts 6- Keep the movement going.

Luke regularly inserts a comment about the growth of the church. In chapter 6 he writes, So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (7).

I found myself drawn to this verse and the detail that a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Why add this notation about priests, I wondered.

Priests were ‘set apart’ people. They ministered in the temple; they lived by extra devout rules. One could say they were guardians of the Hebrew faith. Priests were religious insiders and by noting that priests, a large number of priests, were coming to faith in Jesus gave Christ-followers a level of legitimacy.

Those who study mission explain that for Christianity to truly take root in a new people, group or culture, some insiders and respected people from that culture, especially leaders, need to become believers. And when these insiders/respected people come to faith, the door opens wide for others to come to faith.

This seems to be the case here. When priests come to faith, it shouts, ‘This new faith is okay’. And this is a huge event in the spread of the church.

Also, this small detail helps confirm that people of every station of life were becoming obedient to the faith….rich, poor; men, women; priests, lay; old, young… the message of Jesus was for everyone! And it still is today.

God whispered… “Keep the movement going. Tell God’s story to anyone and everyone. Invite people to faith in Jesus and rejoice when they become obedient to me.”

What an encouragement that we still have much work to do in letting the world know that Jesus is the way of salvation.

Lord,  I pray for myself that I would become better at sharing Jesus with others, people I know and people around the world to whom You send me. I pray for my church, that we would grow better at sharing Jesus with our community and world. I pray, Lord, for the entire Church, Your Church around the world, that we all would get on board with Your mandate and set our hearts on reaching the world and every people of the world with Your message… the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Lord. Amen.


Friday, April 24: Acts 5- God knows.

In the dramatic account of Ananias and Sapphira, I heard God’s reminder that God knows, God hears. The story is a frightening one and clearly from Luke’s pen, the people of the church ‘were seized with great fear’ too.

Ananias and Sapphira conspire to lie. No one else knows, or so they think. But as they execute their plan for recognition and honor, their lie is exposed publically and they drop dead.

My heart wrestles with many questions, why would God do this and so on. I leave them on the table for now as I consider more personal issues…

God hears their conversations. God understand their intentions. I am stopped in my tracks. God knows! Oh, I affirm that truth theologically in my head. God is omniscient, God knows everything. But seeing that God knows and can judge immediately if He chooses, takes a distant theological statement and makes it real and impactful.

When I consider doing ‘sin-filled’ things…when I lie, cheat or steal, God knows.  He really and honestly knows and He could choose to exact my punishment right there on the spot.

When I think about these things… my heart is seized with fear. A healthy fear that reminds me God is so much bigger and so far beyond me that I fall before God is praise and adoration.

I also realize how much grace God shows me on a regular basis. I, any of us, could be the next Ananias or Sapphira…

Lord God, questions still rumble.  Why did You treat them like this and not others… not me?  But even my questions cause me to realize that You are so much greater and Your ways so far beyond me that I fall at Your feet in worship and praise and pray…

I cry with Isaiah, ‘Your ways are higher than my ways’….

Blessed be Your name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Thursday, April 23: Acts 4- Seize the moment.

The miracle and witness to Jesus caused such a stir that the religious leaders had Peter and John jailed. Do the threats and jailing shut them up? No way.

At the first possible moment the duo continue their witness to Jesus. And in the midst of this hostile crowd they do not temper the message one bit.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (8-12)

Direct and clear, Peter does not mince words.

I pondered what allowed him to be so fearless? It is not simply that he knew facts. Knowing facts, even knowing the person Jesus, doesn’t guarantee relentless boldness and courage under fire. After all, this same man caved under the scrutiny of a maid on the night Jesus was arrested.

I could come up with only two reasons.

First, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke makes this clear. So far at each juncture where Peter witnesses to Jesus, Luke expressly says he was filled with the Spirit. And according to Jesus in Acts 1:8 the filling of the Spirit, no matter the attending manifestations, is given so that believers have power to witness. Peter is living proof of this in Acts.

Second, Peter was sold out to the mandate to tell everyone from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth the salvation message of Jesus. He wasn’t just looking for friends to tell the Jesus message. If you walked and talked and would listen, he would tell you. It didn’t matter if he knew you or didn’t. If he felt threatened or didn’t. Peter was sold out to the mandate… witness, tell the world!

The recognition came… “Bill, that’s what I want from all My followers.”

God fills us… we offer our lives to the cause. This is the formula for the Christian faith.

Think about it…

O God, use me… embolden me… for the sake of the message. Amen.


Wednesday, April 22: Acts 3- Witness continues.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus said to the disciples, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Yesterday we read about the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples. Witnesses immediately ensued.

Today the story of the disciples witness continues. A lame beggar is healed miraculously and immediately Peter seized the opportunity to witness to Jesus.

In the book of Acts, ‘witness’ is generally public declaration of the message of Jesus.

On Solomon’s Colonnade, the porch of the Temple, Peter begins declaring the message of Jesus to all who gathered because of the miracle. The scene will continue to unfold in the next chapter.

For too many years I focused on the miracle healing. It is amazing what God can do. But if I step back and look at the arc of the story, as Luke penned it, the miracle was the crowd-gathering event that set the expectation into which Peter stepped for the main act… witnessing to Jesus and inviting others to turn from their wicked ways and follow Jesus!

Increase my boldness to seize any and every moment to witness to Jesus inviting others to turn from their wicked ways and follow Him… this is what God is speaking to me today!

How about you???

Lord, loosen my lips that I might proclaim Jesus clearly, boldly and decisively… for Your glory. Amen.


Tuesday, April 21: Acts 2- And the power comes.

Acts 2 is the fulfillment of Jesus’ final words from chapter 1. The power of the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples. Reading the opening account (1-13), I noticed a few things.

1-      All of the people in the upper room spoke in tongues. If the comment from Acts 1 still stands true, then the ‘all’ was something in the order of 120 people, who we know included men and women and likely various ages as well. What a picture of how the church should operate. All of us empowered by God leading the charge, advancing the kingdom as God empowers us!

2-      They became witnesses. The Spirit’s outpouring was for witness as Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8 declare. People from around the world heard the message for the first time.

3-      God’s miracle that day was people hearing the message of Jesus in their native or heart language. Heart language is a powerful communicator. People understand best when they hear the message in their native language. Native or heart language is the language of the heart. It can go to deeper places more quickly and more accurately than any second language. This miracle goes to show how loving God is…

I am touched this morning by the love of the Lord for people and the extremes God went to in order to reach a lost and disconnected world and bring them to Himself.  

And on a personal level, I am overcome by a deep sense that I have still so far to go in my transformation to gain a heart as compassionate and out-reaching with love as the Lord has…

Lord, release in me not only Holy Spirit power but also Holy Spirit love and Holy Spirit boldness and Holy Spirit creativity to reach out in Jesus’ name. And to touch people in their heart not just their mind for the sake of the kingdom and with the love You, God, have for them. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, April 20: Acts 1- Jesus' last words.

If someone walked up to you and asked, “What were Jesus’ last words while he was on earth?” How would you respond?

I’m pretty sure that before today I would have responded with the great commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20).

However, I realized during my reading this morning that I was wrong. The last words spoken by Jesus, before he left us and returned to heaven, are found in Acts 1:7-8: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Matthew and Acts statements are not unrelated but they are different. Jesus’ last words in Matthew’s Gospel focus on the task Jesus leaves for His followers. But Jesus’ actual last words focus on the power necessary for us to complete the task! Both are important. But Jesus’ last words tells us about the power we will need to do what He has left us to do.

We cannot complete the task of telling the world about Jesus without the power of the Holy Spirit upon us, within us and working through us! Luke uses the rest of Acts to show us how essential the Spirit is in the lives of believers.

Understanding God, the Holy Spirit, is not merely a ‘theological’ pursuit. Understanding God, the Holy Spirit, and how He works in the lives of believers is essential to completing the task Jesus has given His church. The Spirit was given so we can be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Do you know God the Holy Spirit? Are you listening for His leading as you participate in God’s commission to reach the world with the message and saving grace of Jesus?

Think about it…

O, God, the Holy Spirit, open my eyes more clearly to how You work… how You work in me so that I may be more attuned and more obedient to You… so that the world will know Jesus is Lord. Amen.


Saturday, April 18: Luke 24- He has risen.

He has risen! (6). These 3 words changed the course of human history.

Jesus is alive and the chasm between God and humanity has been bridged. Jesus, himself, explained it well. As the chapter winds down Jesus says to this disciples, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (46-49).

Repentance and forgiveness is available in Jesus and this is a message that the world needs to know. From the least to the greatest of every tribe and language, people need an opportunity to put their faith in Jesus. But we can’t tell the world on our own and in our own power. We need to be clothed from on high; we need the Holy Spirit.

I stop… there is so much here in this one chapter and in these few verses. Grace in salvation and power for witness and mission.

My heart slows as questions erupt in my thoughts. Am I fully engaged in Jesus’ mission? Am I giving all to the one who offered me forgiveness and repentance? Am I all in with Jesus???

Are you?

Think about it. 

Lord, God, what a story.  You have been working a plan since the garden to save humanity. And the keynote of Your plan is Jesus’ death and resurrection… for me and for the world!.

We have got to tell somebody… we have to tell everybody…

O God, pour out Your Spirit so I (we) have Your power to do Your bidding! Amen.


Friday, April 17: Luke 23- Good Friday revisited.

I hate this chapter… I love this chapter.

Reading about Jesus’ death always hits me hard. Listening to people reject Him in favor of a criminal. This never ceases to stun me.

The fact that Herod and Pilate both acquitted Him and yet, Pilate has Him executed just to appease the Jews, continues to boggle my mind.

Our modern day justice system is far from perfect but, oh my, it is light-years ahead of the capricious and seeming arbitrary way justice was handed out by Pilate.

Another thing that gets me is the lack of value of a human life. I am so glad that I live in the 21st century as opposed to the 1st.

Back to Jesus… He went through all of this for you and for me… I am continually amazed by this.

Two weeks ago we celebrated Good Friday and now here I am reading the account again. I cannot read it too often. None of us can.

Thank You ,Jesus… for going through all this for me. Thank You, Jesus, for offering me grace while You took my shame and my sin and nailed it to the cross. Thank You for all You did so that I, and everyone who confesses You Lord of their lives, can be saved and called to join You in sharing Your good news with our world. Thank You, Jesus, for the cross… Amen.



Thursday, April 16: Luke 22- Jesus true to himself.

This chapter contains so much I had to read it slowly and deliberately.  And still there were so many movements and scenes. I am a bit overwhelmed by all that is happening.

My heart wondered where should I sit with my Lord today.  Should I look at my need to be great and important (24ff)? Should I examine when I deny Jesus in my life (31-34 & 54-62)? Should I just watch Jesus’ ultimate calm amidst the storm?

Even with all this, I found myself considering a brief incident during the arrest (50-51). One of the disciples wields his sword during the may lay of Jesus’ arrest and cuts off a man’s ear. Immediately Jesus shouts to His followers stop and sheath their swords. Then he heals the man’s ear on the spot. Did people not notice this miraculous act of kindness in the chaos of the moment? Did the arresters simply not care? How could there be no pause, no double take, no rethinking what was happening???

I tried to imagine what the healed man went through and thought during and after that evening. Searing pain and then instant miraculous healing. How does one process that?

And then there is Jesus, Who in one of the tightest, most chaotic moments of His life never ceased to be Himself, the almighty and gracious Son of God. He stayed true to His calling and His mission.  He is living out and preaching the kingdom of God and providing the atonement humanity needed to return to God.

Jesus’ example challenges me. How easily I can get side tracked.  How easily I can and often do worry about self rather than displaying God’s character and love. Not so Jesus who stayed true to Himself.

Lord, Jesus, thank You for this simple act of love during a tumultuous moment. I am the beneficiary of many of Your acts of love. Help me, Lord, to be as free to give away love as I am to receive it. I pray this in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Wednesday, April 15: Luke 21- The wonder of Jesus' teaching.

The chapter closes with these words, Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple (37-38).

I sat and wondered what it would have been like to go and hear Jesus teach? It sounds like people came everyday to listen to Jesus teach. Were they the people of the city? Were they people who came to Jerusalem for the Passover feast? Did they not have jobs they needed to go to? Was it a regular occurrence to go and hear a rabbi teach or was the reputation of Jesus and all the chatter about Jesus that drew people to hear him?

I went back and looked.  Jesus shows up in Jerusalem, at the end of chapter 19, arriving with His triumphal entry, so expectation was high that God was on the move. And the city was swelling with Passover pilgrims. I wondered what else Jesus taught. We have only a few accounts of His temple preaching here.

I pondered and tried to picture what it would be like back then. I wondered if I would have gone to see Jesus or if I would have lived life as usual? I am not one to go and see these big name preachers (although I have gone to see Billy Graham twice in my life).

My ponderings morphed. I wondered how people could be drawn to him one day and could have cared less or even shouted, “crucify him” only a few days later.

I paused to thank God that I have a Bible and can read it anytime I want. The Bible, God’s Word, is filled with the wonder of Jesus’ teachings and the story of God’s amazing love right here in my hand and on my screens, available in almost 1100 translations and 780 languages at for free. Praise God I can hear Jesus’ teaching any time I want simply by opening my Bible.

Lord, I pray that Your Word goes forth mightily through every means possible. I pray for Your Word and teaching that travels by paper in books, Bibles, magazines and letters. I pray for Your Word which travels the airwaves on radio, shortwave radio and TV. I pray for Your Word which travels on and through the internet in all of its’ forms. And I pray for Your Word which travels by word of mouth, person to person, in casual and spontaneous conversations and in intentional outreach efforts by neighbors, friends, family members, preachers, teachers, missionaries and evangelists.

I pray for the spread of Your Word and Your message near and far. And I pray that its spread increases its rate so that in my lifetime every nation, language and tongue will have access and an indigenous congregation in its midst.

Lord, I pray that I am a faithful and helpful agent in the spread of Your Word and Your message to all nations. I pray this in Jesus’ name and for the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Tuesday, April 14: Luke 20- Thoughts on heaven.

I am planted squarely on this side of eternity. I don’t think about heaven and what life will be like after the resurrection very often. And yet I hold to the belief that someday I, and everyone who believes in Jesus, will live throughout eternity with God in heaven.

Many people have their visions and ideas about heaven. Dog people can’t wait to be reunited with pets. Loved ones dream of the day they will be reunited with husbands, wives, children, parents.  Some dream of endless play, beautiful golf courses, perfect surfing waves, or receiving angel’s wings.

I don’t know about all of this…the few glimpses of heaven in Scripture don’t necessarily click with these ideas. But I don’t think about this much.

However, today’s ‘Jesus teaching’ causes me to ponder heaven. Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.

But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (34-38).

If I read this correctly, all those nice thoughts about being reunited with loved ones in heaven as if they were still our beloved spouses (or by analogy, siblings, relatives, etc.) isn’t quite accurate. Yes, all who believe in Jesus will be together with the Lord, but it seems that our earthly relationships will be transformed even as our earthly bodies will be transformed. I’m not going to get dogmatic about this but it seems life in heaven is going to be quite different than life as we know it now.

There will be no death or mourning or crying or pain in heaven (Rev 21:4). That’s good. No longer any curse! (Rev 22:3). That’s really good. And God will be there in the midst of things… the center and light of all things (Rev 22:5). Extraordinary! Those in heaven will be in the actual presence of God and to gaze upon His wonder and beauty. WOW!

Heaven will be wonderful and probably more wonderful than I can truly imagine, but it seems like it will be very different than life as we know it now.

In heaven and throughout all eternity we will be with Almighty God… and that alone makes all the difference... at least it does for me.  

Lord, I cannot truly fathom what eternity with You in heaven –the new Jerusalem- will be like. But it will be wonderful… and until then I seek to serve You with all of my heart and mind and soul and strength. Amen and Amen.


Monday, April 13: Luke 19- My duty is to serve.

Reading this chapter I noticed a detail in the parable of the ten minas (verses 11-26) I don’t recall noticing previously. In this story the man going away is hated by some of his subjects and they even try to undermine his becoming king. (Matthew’s better known version of this parable doesn’t include this feature).

We know the servants who receive the minas are not part of the coup, but this detail underscores how hard a master this man was. Any likelihood of using the money wisely out of love or even like for the master is non-existent in Luke’s account of the parable. These servants are simply expected to do what servants do… serve.

I love images and concepts of God as loving and kind, the type of person people would die for because they are deeply loved. And there are plenty of these images in the scriptures. But this parable reminds me that I owe my service to God not because I feel like it or because God is good to me. No, I owe my service to God because I am a servant and servants serve. Serving is what I am supposed to do!

Today’s reading reminds me that God is God.  He calls the shots. I am only a lowly servant and my duty is to serve... to know His desires, commands, bidding and do it.

Lord, today my meditations are tough… my thoughts remind me that You are absolute Lord and Your Word is final.  I serve and follow You, period. I don’t get to negotiate what directives I want to follow and the ones I can let slide.  Lord, thank You for this reminder to utter obedience and service. I pray this in the name of Jesus, Your son and my Lord. Amen.


Saturday, April 11: Luke 18- A sinner in need of grace.

The Jesus teaching that connected with me this morning was in verses 9-14. I bolded the intro because that is what caught my attention.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

One of the conundrums of faith is that the longer I walk with Jesus the deeper my faith in Him grows and the deeper my confidence in God’s salvation grows. And this is good. Very good!

However there are times when my confidence in Jesus morphs just enough to become confidence in my “own” righteousness. After all God is chipping away sin in my life and I am growing more faithful and ‘more good’, displaying more fruit of the Holy Spirit and the like.

Now the moment I take my eyes off Jesus and what He, the Father and the Spirit are doing in me and for me, I can become self-righteous and fall into the trap Jesus addresses above.

Jesus’ teaching is a stark reminder that my righteousness is always in Him and through Him and is never my own. And even more, I must never look down on others who have not yet started the journey of faith or who are at different stages on the journey of faith because every person is a sinner in need of mercy and recognizing this is God’s doorway to faith and mercy and grace…

God, have mercy on me, a sinner…  Amen.


Friday, April 10: Luke 17- Jesus is Lord!.

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’ ” (7-10).

This is one strong statement by Jesus!

I know Jesus is Lord but I don’t often think about what that means, particularly in the first century context. I also like to think that God is love… and Jesus’ statement in John 15 where He calls us ‘friends’. All of this tends to mute the drastic statement that He is LORD!

Verses 7-10 challenge me and force me to deal with the first century context of calling Jesus Lord. To call someone Lord was total allegiance, a willingness to serve them with all that we have. That is the lot of a servant… service.

I reread Jesus’ Words, the punch line is stark: when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ When we have done our duty… loved God with heart, mind, soul and strength, loved neighbor as self, given our tithe, cared for the poor, oppressed and needy, disciple all nations, and so on… when we have done everything we were told to do, we have only done our duty. We have only done what is expected of us and thought more.

I think of great saints of the church -Peter and Paul, Luther, Calvin, Francis of Assisi, Stephen, mother Teresa, Billy Graham, John Wesley and others- some martyred, some living in poverty so they can give all to Jesus, each one of them sacrificing so much to be devoted servants of Jesus. And yet, they have only done their duty, nothing more.

We consider them ‘Greats’ and yet they did nothing more than their duty.

As I write this I feel so short, so small,l because I don’t even come close to measuring up to them and all they did was their duty. They have simply done what, as servants, they were supposed to do!

My lack stares back at me from this text…

O God, forgive me… forgive me for being lazy.  Amen.


Thursday, April 9: Luke 16- Jesus the great divide.

Luke 16: 16 grabbed hold of my thoughts as I read it. So upon completing the chapter, I returned to ponder it some more. What thoughts strike you as you read it again?

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.

Jesus is the great divide… Law and the Prophets before Jesus; Good news of the kingdom after Jesus!

I remember driving across the United States.  When we came to the Rocky Mountains, I recall reading a sign saying we had just crossed the Continental Divide. On the east side of the Divide all the rain and water flows to the Atlantic; on the west side of the Divide the water flows to the Pacific.

Jesus is God’s Great Truth Divide. Prior to Jesus, the Law and the Prophets encapsulated God’s covenant stipulations with His people. With Jesus, God’s new covenant came to be and its stipulations are summed up in the Good News of Jesus. Jesus came to complete the Law and Prophets.

Recently we read Hebrews together… Jesus is the priest of God’s new and forever covenant! And it is a covenant of Good News.

I marveled at how simply Luke stated this in this one sentence.

Yesterday we read how the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering to hear Jesus (15:1) They were ‘forcing’ their way in… excluded by the previous covenant, they hungered for the Good News of the kingdom and they gathered and hung on Jesus’ every Word.

Do I, do you, hang on Jesus’ every Word… His Words bring life!

Think about it…

Lord, thank You for the new covenant in Jesus. Thank You for grace and love and the Holy Spirit who brings Your love and Your power into my (our) lives. Praise to You, Lord God, for the new way in Jesus. Amen.


Wednesday, April 8: Luke 15- Welcoming others.

The opening to this well-read chapter grabs me. Luke is masterful in setting the stage for these 3 parables with two simple sentences.  Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Is it any wonder that tax collectors and sinners gathered to Jesus? He actually went to them and He told them stories of grace. I’m sure they got it.  They were the lost and Jesus was searching for them. Jesus would even leave the 99 to venture out to find them.

Now listen to the Pharisees complaint about Jesus, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Yes, Jesus cared for the lost and yes, He ate with them.  How else could He get to know them? How else could He share the Good News with them? How else could He invite them to repentance and return???

In these two short sentences, we see the embodiment of love and we see an example of how we –followers of Jesus –should also live!

At this point my thoughts burrow inward. How am I doing in these matters? Am I accepting and loving? Can I get past behaviors that God would not like to see in the people He loves… and am I willing to love them, too. Am I willing to befriend them so that I can be God’s incarnational presence to them, hopefully gaining a chance to share Jesus’ story with them? Am I willing?

If I were to be honest about my circle of relationships, the answer is basically ‘no’ because I don’t have many friends or associates who might fit in this category…

Lord, what do You want me to do about this??? Speak, Lord, I am listening… Amen.


Tuesday, April 7: Luke 14- this guy has chutzpah!.

I was intrigued by Jesus who ventured right into the ‘lion’s den’ and lived faithfully. Look at where Jesus is in verse 1, One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. Jesus was eating in the house of a prominent Pharisee!

I was thinking, this guy has chutzpah!

He knows he is being scrutinized by the Pharisees and religious leaders. He has already been making trouble for them (see 13:17) and yet, here He is accepting an invitation and showing up in one of their homes.

Not only that, Jesus seizes some teachable moments speaking about healing on the Sabbath, taking the honor seat, and care for poor. Amazing.

I sat amazed at Jesus. Who does this kind of stuff?!

And yet, here Jesus is, using every possible means to get is message out. And it is working because someone at this meal remembers the incident and tells Luke!

Jesus’ boldness amazes me and challenges me… why am I so much more intimidated or reserved in public, especially when I might be among those who don’t believe as I believe???

Lord, I am praying for the boldness of Jesus, to speak Your truth to those who need it no matter the setting. I pray, Lord, for ears to hear You clearly prompting me to speak,  I am also praying for the grace and wisdom to know how to speak so that Your truth gets out. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen


Monday, April 6: Luke 13- Strong words.REPENT.

Jesus’ ministry is filled with grace and truth. Today’s words that I focused on from chapter 13 fall into the truth category.

Verses 1-5: 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.”

The repeated But unless you repent, you too will all perish is the hammer blow of Jesus’ teaching. This is God’s Word to everyone, Jew or Gentile, old or young, male or female, rich or poor… everyone, Unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Jesus certainly isn’t beating around the bush. He is telling it straight.

REPENT, turn your life around, travel in a God-honoring direction. In order to repent I have to be honest with myself about how I am living and then place it against the way God wants people to live as explained in the Bible. I admit where I am off track and I return to God. I put my faith and trust in God -Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit.

Jesus is calling all people to follow Him.

Will you join the parade of faithful who have sworn allegiance to Jesus, who name him Lord and Savior of their lives who believe in the one God revealed in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible?

I faced this reality 35+ years ago and I said ‘Yes’ to Jesus. I hope you have, too.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your honest words. I, did back then and I do today, swear allegiance to You as my only Lord, Savior and God. Praise be to You, Lord Jesu,s along with the Father and the Spirit. Three in one. Alleluia. Amen.


Saturday, April 4: Luke 12- The power of eternity.

This chapter covers a number of the topics Matthew includes in the famous Sermon on the Mount. After reading through the chapter I found myself returning to verses 4 and 5. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. I have always gotten the teaching that we are not to fear humans who can kill the body but cannot do anything spiritual beyond that. However for years I misunderstood whom we should fear. I thought Jesus was teaching that we should fear the devil… I think the comment about hell confused me.

Only in more recent years have I realized that like humans, all the devil can do is kill the body. He has no authority to send people to hell or anywhere once they die. That judgment belongs solely to God. God has the power of life and death. God determines a person’s eternity. We are to fear God, Who alone has the power to throw someone in to hell.

This is an incredibly strong statement about fearing God…

I often, we often, fear the wrong beings. We fear man and the ridicule and even death that men can inflict. And we allow this fear to stop us from following the Lord.

Similarly we fear Satan; he, too, can make life miserable. But the one we should fear and reverence is the Lord God because He alone has the power of eternity.

Think about this as you prepare to celebrate Easter tomorrow…

Lord, I bow to You… my Lord and my God. Amen.


Friday, April 3: Luke 11- Is God's light filling my life.

I was intrigued by verse 34. Luke connected some saying of Jesus on the theme of light and this is the middle one of three. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.

It doesn’t seem that Jesus is speaking about the physical health of our eyes, as much as what we are focusing our gaze upon. What are we looking at? What are we taking into our mind and soul? What is the focus of our lives? Because where we focus that is where we will place our energies.

Questions erupted in my thoughts… what do I dwell upon? What do I look at and dream about? What kind of commercials catch my attention? Where do I put my energies?

From here the spiritual dimension of the above questions began to develop like an old Polaroid picture. Are my dreams and hopes all about me? Am I my focus? Where is the Lord in ‘my picture’? Is God on the periphery or nearer the center? Is the Lord totally out of the picture of my life? Obviously, these are gradations of the same question. Is God’s light filling my life or is what I take in all darkness… the absence of light because God is absent from my thoughts, dreams and hopes?

Now there is the crux of the matter.

I repeat it for my sake and yours. Is God’s light filling my life or is what I take in all darkness… the absence of light because God is absent from my thoughts, dreams and hopes?

I need to meditate on this more.  Will you join me in pondering this today?

Lord, how much of my life is centered on You? Such is the essence of my devotion today. Help me to be honest with me. And help me to learn to love You more and more as I live life and grow in age. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, April 2: Luke 10- Something to rejoice about.

So many great lessons from Jesus today. Luke pens yet another rich and full chapter.

The 72 being sent out to the various towns ahead of Jesus struck me. The miracles, the healings, the demons defeated… amazing. Oh, so amazing! And yet upon their return, as the stories of great and godly deeds are told, Jesus breaks in with a profound teaching. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven (20).

I admit I would have likely been telling great tales of the miracles and God’s power released through me. It is pretty easy to fall into the trap of telling stories that make me look good. It is not that Jesus rebukes them as much as He refocuses them. If you want to rejoice do so for the right reasons… rejoice that God has saved you, that your name is written in the book of life! Rejoice in God’s work… God’s work in you.

The greatest miracle remains the salvation of a human being. This is the only miracle that will last for eternity, and that is something to rejoice about.

O, Lord, thank You for saving me. You took a dead enemy and made me alive for You. Thank You, Lord. I praise You Lord. Glory to You, O Lord. Amen!!! And Amen!!!


Wednesday, April 1: Luke 9- Following Jesus, God's messiah.

I was overwhelmed by the breadth of content in this chapter. Where do I pause? Where do I stop and ponder? Where do I bask in the glory that is my God and His Word?

As I pondered these and sat listening, my attention was drawn to verse 20, which seems to be the emotional center. Who do you say I am? Jesus asks. To which Peter replies, God’s Messiah.

If a person takes the Bible at face value, then Jesus’ question is THE critical question people must face. It is the dividing line of faith. Although there are many nuanced answers, He is a prophet, He is a great man and teacher, He is a revolutionary and so on; there is, in the reality of the Scriptures, only 2 options. Jesus is God’s Messiah as Peter blurts out or He is not.

Believing Jesus is anything short of God’s Messiah, God Himself in human flesh is the entrance ticket into the new life God offers through faith in Jesus Christ.

It was way back in 1975 that I took the step of faith and put my faith, my belief, in Jesus as God’s Messiah. And the door to new life swung wide open. The 40 years since then have been quite a ride. God has reveals so much about Himself. God has shown me areas that were WAY out of line with His will and way and also showed me smaller deviances from His will. It has been a learning and growing period with many ups and downs, twists and turns, opportunities I would never have imagined and failures that still sting.

All this said, I am so glad I walked through the door of faith into the adventure of following Jesus, God’s Messiah.

I hope and pray you take the journey of faith with Jesus,, too…

Lord, Jesus, thank You for confronting me with the question, ‘Who do I say You are’? And thank You for planting the seed of faith in me so that I could cry with Peter and disciples from all ages and cultures. I believe You are God’s Messiah. Amen.