Saturday, August 29: Ephesians 6- Every structure committed to Jesus.

The end of yesterday’s reading and the opening of today’s chapter hit me. For the person in Christ, every human structure is to be lived out in a new way, a God honoring manner that reflects God’s values and design.

Marriage; the most basic of family structures find mutual support, love, caring and respect. Each party recognizing marriage is not about oneself, but mutually seeking the good of the other.

Family/children is about bringing the next generation of the human race into being and nurturing them to wholeness in life and in Christ. Human dignity and respect travels both ways appropriately. 

Work, production of goods and services for self and world; slaves made the ancient world run and God said even in that structure there is a godly way filled with honor and dignity. We no longer have slaves but a business world of owners/leaders/managers and workers we can apply similar godly ways of dignity, honor and appropriateness of resources.

As I thought about these things, it hit me that God’s ways should instruct and infect every human structure in which we find ourselves engaged.

If I carry Christ in me, then wherever I am I should bring Christ and His character with me.  Jesus should be guiding me and all believers in how to act within every structure and situation.

Following Jesus is meant to impact every aspect of life… every aspect.

I began thinking where I could bring Jesus today… to my home, work, gym, meetings, friendships… etc., etc.

Lord, may I be an apt and winsome carrier of Jesus everywhere I go today. In Jesus’ name and for the sake of You, my God –Father, Jesus Spirit. Amen.


Friday, August 28: Ephesians 5- Living God's wisdom.

Wisdom… who doesn’t want to be wise? I do and I am sure most of us want to know what to do in the various situations in which we find ourselves.

Wisdom can mean having the better answer for a problem or knowing how to act in a certain situation. Wisdom means different things in different contexts and situations.

In verse 15 Paul writes, Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise... Be careful to live wisely. And this statement comes in the middle of a section about living, as God would have us live, not like ‘unwise’ people or people who live in ‘darkness.’

How would wise people live?  Well, they would avoid behaviors like sexual immorality, impurity, greed, drunkenness and debauchery. Instead, wise people will do fruitful deeds for one another and will encourage one another with songs and words that lift the heart and bring brothers and sisters closer to Jesus.

As I mused on all this… I found myself leaning into prayer… prayer that God would grant me the wisdom I need to live rightly with and before Him.

Here is how I opened my prayer:

O, Lord, would You steady my living with Your wisdom?  I can get so caught up in my world and say and do things that reflect the people who live around me rather than reflect You and Your Spirit within me. Unclog my ears so that I hear You better. Fill my mind and thoughts with Your Word rather than human drivel. Give me Your wisdom so that Your life shines through me in every day living…

I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, August 27: Ephesians 4- Living God's new life.

How does God want me to live?   Verses 25-32 provide part of the answer I seek. I bolded the verbs because they are the action-communicators of the sentences. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (25-32).

With Paul’s writing style it was harder to pinpoint the action-words than I anticipated. Much more of the sentences ended up bolded than I anticipated. Still, this exercise helped me see the key behaviors on which God desires me to work.

Speaking truthfully and honorably builds up others with my words. (Paul mentions our words 2 or 3 times in these few sentences. Our words and how we use them on others are VERY important.)

Controlling my anger so that bursts don’t hurt people. (I think of the Fruit of the Spirit… as I ponder this see Gal 5:23).

Working honestly, not stealing, in order to be helpful for others. (Working isn’t merely for my sake, it is for the sake of others, too… very 20th and 21st Century counter-cultural).

Don’t grieve God, the Holy Spirit. (Keep my heart and ears open to the Lord at all times, following His lead all my days.)

These few sentences offer many places where I continually need to work to keep my life in line with God’s will.

I have much homework for today and the rest of my life.  How about you?

God, purge me and purify me that the dross, the sin and selfishness, of my life is burned off and what remains is only that which honors and glorifies You. Through Jesus, my Savior, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, August 26: Ephesians 3- God's marvelous plan for the Gentiles .

As soon as I opened this morning’s text, the title that the NIV editors put above chapter 3 grabbed my attention… “God’s marvelous plan for the Gentiles.”

God cared for the whole world. God cared and cares for all people. Yes, God had a special relationship with Israel for millennia; now through the Gospel, God’s special relationship is open to all. No longer is a special relationship with God built on bloodlines of human ancestry; now it is built on faith in Jesus Christ… through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (6).

The words ‘in Christ’ are key, I thought. Faith in Jesus Christ is the key to the Gospel Paul and others preached.

And now we who live for Jesus today are bearers of this Gospel and we have a task to do. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (10)… We are to declare God’s Gospel to this world and to God’s enemy in the heavenly realms.

OMG, I thought. God has placed all His chips on the church –you, me, all who believe in Jesus –to fulfill God’s desire to declare His amazing Gospel to the world!

I thought and prayed…

Lord, what is my role to help advance Your Gospel? How am I to help the Gospel advance?

Give… generously to Christ’s cause world wide, particularly to His Church.

Pray… marshal the forces of heaven to God’s causes. As Paul soon breaks into prayer for the Ephesians, I am to pray for believers around the world to be filled to play their part.

Go/Do… I cannot be an armchair participant. I still have life in these legs and strength in this voice. I need to be declaring myself…

OMG… God wants me in the battle!

Lord, I am honored to hear Your call and receive Your enlistment. Lead me, train me, send me, I pray. Amen.


Monday, August 24: Ephesians 1- Loved.

I was gripped immediately by 2 words… In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… (4b-5).

Love motivated God to adopt us. Love drove Jesus to come. Love is why the Holy Spirit marks us.

In love, out of love, because of love, driven/motivated/moved by love, God acted to save us –us being all who are ‘in Christ.’ As Paul goes on to say in verse 13, you (we) were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him …

Believing in Jesus marks our journey of faith and all the fruits of salvation are given to us when we believe.  They are guaranteed by God, the Holy Spirit, who then stamps our adoption papers final and completed!

Believing is the beginning of our faith story and it guarantees our successful end as well because we are marked by God Himself.

I sat and marveled as my salvation… which God did for me IN LOVE. All I needed to do was believe…

The hymn writer wrote centuries ago, O the deep, deep love of Jesus… Yes, it is true. And what is true of Jesus is true for the Father and Spirit as well. We are loved.

Bask in that love today. Believe in God’s love today. Live because of and out of God’s love today and every day.

Think about it.

Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, because You loved me, I am able to love You and others. Because You loved me, I am adopted and bear Your name. Because You love me I have all the blessings I need to do everything You ask and require of me. Because You loved me, my faith is guaranteed by the Spirit. Because You loved me, I can live and live life to the fullest… which means I get to live it for You. Amen. Alleluia.

I want the world to know of Your Love!!! Amen and Amen.


Tuesday, August 25: Ephesians 2- wonderful truth, Jesus did it.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ (13).

Those words were spoken to me and every non-Jew in the world. The blood of Jesus, the sacrifice of Jesus, the cross of Jesus has repaired the breach sin created and enables all people a way back home into God’s family. Yeah, God! Yeah, Jesus!

Estrangement from God no longer needs to be my (our) lot in life. We can be connected and restored to the relationship we were designed to have when the world was created. We can be forgiven and set free for all bondage and sin that ensnares us. The blood of Jesus, the sacrifice of Jesus, the cross of Jesus guarantees this for every person, no matter his/her race or language or color, or nationality, gender, age, education, etcetera, etcetera. All a person needs to do is open their hearts to God’s grace (see 1-10) and believe in Jesus.

What a gift.

I am so thankful for Jesus. I hope and pray you are, too.

Thank You, Jesus, for the cross… for offering Your life, Your blood for me, to pay the penalty for my sins. I love You, Jesus. I really do. And I will serve You with all of my life and energy and intelligence and imagination and love. All glory to the Father, to You, Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.


Saturday, August 22: Psalm 57- Be exalted, O God.

I am in a good place emotionally, spiritually, physically and relationally right now. Life is good and my heart really could not connect with the cries for mercy, vindication and salvation in the early part of the Psalm. But my heart did dance when it read the close of the Psalm.

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth (7-11).

As I sit this morning, there is some intermittent rolling thunder and a steady downpour of rain outside. I imagine all of the plants dancing with joy; as this liquid gold falls from the sky and the gardens drinking in this nourishing meal. My heart felt that way as it soaked in David’s praise of the God Who watches over him.

I have experienced the watchful eye of God, caring, vindicating, and loving me.

This morning my heart sings praise to the Lord alongside David and his words of praise.

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast in love for You; I will sing and praise You with my lips. My soul is awake, my heart delights in You!

As my day dawns, I praise you, Lord, Lord of heaven and earth, Lord over all the nations; I will shout Your name among the peoples of the earth. I will make Your greatness known. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Alleluia. Amen.


Friday, August 21: Psalm 56- A man after God's own heart.

This Psalm was written before David became king of Israel. I realized this as I read the Psalm setting, which noted that David wrote this Psalm when the Philistines seized him in Gath. This small tidbit told me that David had a strong connection with the Lord long before he became a famous king. As a young man, David cultivated an understanding of God’s Word –this is an amazing thought and a connection with God through prayer and Psalm writing. In verses 10-11 he sings: In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?

To become ‘a man after God’s own heart,’ as David was described (Acts 13:22) requires a lifelong pursuit of God and deep down trust in God. David had both.

I was raised in the church and while in my late teens, I grabbed hold of faith in Jesus, personally, and I have been walking with the Lord ever since. I am no David but as I continue pursuing God, studying and building my life on God’s Word, I, too, can have a relationship with God like David had.

The same is true for all of us, if we pursue God who loves us with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and truly trust God with our lives and our future.

This is what my spirit heard as I spent time in Psalm 56 today.

Lord, God, I pray that my love and trust of You grows exponentially as the number of my days increases. Here is my life, take it and use it for Your glory and honor. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 


Thursday, August 20: Psalm 55- Trust in the midst of betrayal.

As I was reading and praying along with David this morning, I found myself thinking about all the times David was in trouble. So many of his Psalms express trouble and hardship caused by an enemy. My ‘go to’ image of David is that of a great king, living in a palace, enjoying kingly things. But much of his life was touched by trouble.

It is clear in verses 13-14 that his enemy today was a former companion, someone with whom he used to enjoy sweet fellowship. Oh, how the betrayal of a friend stings. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords (20-21). How particularly hurtful it is when a trusted friend betrays us. David knew that sting and like always he turned to God in times of trouble.

And David lets his feeling rip as he prays. Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them (15).

 I step back from this prayer of David and ponder two thoughts that fly to me.

One, how honest David is with God about what he is feeling and experiencing. David bares his soul and this is something I can learn to do as well. I am often guarded in expressing myself with others and even the Lord. I can free myself from those shackles at least as it pertains to the Lord. I can, even should, be as totally honest as I can with Him when I pray. And my utter honesty with the Lord has to do with both what is going on in my life and what I hope God will do about it. The Lord is big enough to answer me appropriately. 

Secondly, the utter faith of David to trust in the Lord... the entire Psalm but particularly the closing 2 verses remind me God is faithful. And I know God’s faithfulness in my life. The Lord has never let me down. He has always been there with me, no matter the storms or the pain.

Thank You, Lord, God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Thank you for being a refuge in storms and strength when I am weak. Praise to You, Lord, God. As for me, I trust in You. Amen.


Wednesday, August 19: Psalm 54- God is with me.

One of my life phrases is ‘stuff happens.’ People hurt us and even turn against us. We get sick or in an accident. Appliances break. Cars need to be repaired. We are misunderstood in a conversation. Things go wrong. We don’t get the promotion or worse, we lose our jobs, etc. etc. etc. Stuff happens.

No matter what happens, God is with us. God is right there standing beside us. God is our ever-present help in times of trouble.

David is in one of those times when stuff is happening. What does he do? David turns to the Lord his God. David cries out to the Lord, Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might. Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth (1-2).

Those simple words, David’s honest cry, speak volumes to me about God being with us all the time. And when we need God, He is only a cry away.

We sing a simple song in worship some Sundays titled, Whisper His name. It opens like this:

Whisper His name (Jesus)

Whisper His name (Jesus)

Whisper His name (Jesus)

And He will answer you


Whisper His name

Whisper His name

Whisper His name

And He will come to you


Call out His name (Jesus)

Call out His name (Jesus)

Call out His name (Jesus)

And He will come to you


Shout out His name (Jesus)

Shout out His name (Jesus)

Shout out His name (Jesus)

And He will run to you

Hearing the entire church echo back to the worship leader the name ‘Jesus’ is a powerful moment of worship for me. And the simple truth of this song echoes the truth of this Psalm… when we whisper, call or shout out to our God –Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit –He will answer, come or run to us as the situation warrants!

Lord, God, I am so blessed to serve and be loved by such a caring, protecting, loving God. Thank You, Father! Thank You, Jesus! Thank You, Holy Spirit, for always being there… in good times or bad ,You are there with me.

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


Tuesday, August 18: 2Thessalonians 3- It is good to work.

Paul makes an interesting comment to Thessalonians who will not work. He writes, In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. I suspect this is the origin of the phrase I heard growing up, ‘Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.’

Paul continues,  For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (6-10).

I don’t know what was going on in Thessalonica but apparently some were not working and were freeloading off the community, expecting that the communities ‘love’ would feed and care for them. I started thinking, “What crooked thinking would lead to this behavior?  However, I quickly checked myself and started thinking what these words teach and say to me

·         To the best of my ability I should provide for myself and my family even as I serve the Lord.

·         Don’t be an undue burden to others whenever possible.

·         Work was a pre-fall task of humanity; it continues to be a task today.

·         When I have ‘free’ time, use it wisely, use it for the Lord; don’t stir up trouble for others.

These are some of my thoughts as I start my day.

Lord, as I set off for work today, I pray that the labor of my hands glorifies You and provides for my family. To Your name, may I be true. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Monday, August 17: 2Thessalonians 2- Stand firm, tough days are ahead.

Troubled by false reports, the Thessalonians are upset. Paul sets them straight, explaining that tough days are ahead, days when God’s enemy will rule here on earth. The enemy will seek to dupe people into following him through signs and wonders. He will work to get all religions to recognize that he is supreme.

I can only image that will be one interesting time. It sounds like it might be a time of surface unity as people fall in step with the deceiver who ‘wows’ them with miracles and talk. With mass media today it is easy to gain a world-hearing.

To the nervous church in Thessalonica Paul says. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (15).

Paul’s word to them works well as a word to me (to us). Stand firm and hold fast to God’s teachings, for us today, God’s teachings are the words of Scripture.

My safety from false religious thoughts and ideas, from imposters, from all manner of misguided ‘truth proclaimers’ is a solid personal footing in God’s Word. The better I know what God has actually said, the stronger I will be in Christ as false ideas spread.

Signs and wonders coveted by so many in the Christian faith can be counterfeited. (This is a lesson seen way back in Moses day when Pharaoh’s magicians could perform some of Moses’ signs from God.) What offers me (and you) lasting security is God’s Word. God’s Word will stand the test of time and is the firm faith foundation.

Thank You, Lord God, for Your Word. It is one thing to have it in my possession (i.e. own a bible). It is another to take God’s Word into my life through reading, study, meditation and prayer. Lord, I dedicate myself to do just that… read, study, meditate on and pray Your Word. Thanks and bless You, Lord, for giving us Your forever true Word. Amen.


Saturday, August 15: 2Thessalonians 1- I marveled.

To a church enduring suffering, Paul says God will make all things right when He judges the world at His return. As Paul is concluding this teaching, he makes a statement in verse 10 that caught my eye and heart.

They [those who do not know God] will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you (9-10).

When Jesus returns, which is what Paul is referring to, we, who love and follow God, will glorify and marvel at Jesus. The thought of marveling at Jesus hit me.

I try to know God. I spend time in the Word. I spend time with believers in life and in worship. I try to live for Jesus in this world. And, yet, when He comes, when I see Him face to face, I will marvel. And the same is true for all believers. We will all marvel when Jesus returns.

No matter who we are, no matter how well we get to know Jesus this side of eternity, when Jesus returns, we will marvel. We will be in awe. Jesus is so much ‘bigger’, more awesome and beyond what I can even imagine, that I will marvel when I see him.  Jesus is fully God and will no longer be confined to the earthly body He possessed during the 33 years He tabernacle among us (John 1:14).

Even though I know, I cannot truly understand.  I tried to imagined what Jesus will be like on that day He returns, when Jesus, my God and the Lord of all things, returns in all His eternal glory and splendor. Wow, what a day that will be!

What a wonderful day that will be for all who believe in Jesus. Do you believe in Jesus???

Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou has for me.

Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine.

Yes, Lord, give me glimpses of You that will carry me faithfully through this life until I see You face to face. Alleluia. Amen.


Friday, August 14: 1Thessalonians 5- A word to live by.

A golden nugget for today and all my todays. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (16-18).

Rejoice always… God is at work. Not everything that happens is good but generally somewhere in all things is a God touch.   When that cannot be found, we know that God will judge all wrongs on the last day. Rejoice, it is a life posture rather than isolated events.

Pray continually… pray, talk with God, praise, thank, intercede, lament. Do all of the above. Keep the lines of communication open with the Lord continually. Don’t push your relationship with the Lord into a box and close the lid.   Keep communication going…

Give thanks in all circumstances… Thank God for life and breath, for the joy of living another day, for family, friends, work and play.  Thank Him for knowing Jesus and being able to live with Jesus and for Jesus in this world and the next. Thank God for God’s small and big blessings, for His correction and challenge, for opportunities to love Him through service to others. Thank God for the beauty of nature and the wonder of living. In ups and downs, thank God that He will never let you Go, NEVER!

Not only is this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus; it is also a great way to live!

Two words circled in my head from the Lord, “Do it.”

Will you join me?...

Lord, simple words easily understood. I pray for grace to live this way… rejoicing, praying, thanking You all my days. Amen. May I live this way and may others see my life and praise You, too. Amen.


Thursday, August 13: 1Thessalonians 4- Pure living.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before (3-6).

God’s Word has a great deal to say about how we are to live and particularly the sexual ethic we are to follow as Christ-followers.

One word that could suffice is ‘purity’, but even that word needs to be set in the context of all God has spoken, regarding sexual ethic already in His Word. Avoiding sexual immorality, in the context of God’s Word, means keeping sex within the marriage covenant of one man and one woman.

The world of Paul’s day had a wild sexual ethic, much like the Las Vegas stereotype. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas where anything goes. Paul’s world was filled with consorts and sex-partners, hetero and homosexuality, temple prostitution (sex with religious overtones), especially for the male. It was legal and pretty much people paid ‘no never-mind’ about sexual activity.

God’s people were to maintain a different standard. Holiness; they were to avoid sexual immorality, unlike non-Christians who do not have God’s Word, and they should not wrong anyone sexually either. It is hard for me to imagine what that might be beyond what has already been instructed. Whether it means more than this, I do not know but it is certainly an exclamation mark on the avoiding sexual immorality phrase.

My world is changing rapidly regarding what is culturally acceptable sexually. Marriage has been legally redefined to mean any two persons whether homo or heterosexual. That may reflect law of the land, but it is not God’s way. God still calls me and all of His children to live pure and holy lives, controlling our passionate urges and drives, and to never take advantage of a brother or sister.

As a follower of Jesus this remains my ethic… no matter what my world says is okay.

God help me to live for You in the sexual ethic area and in all matters. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, August 12: 1Thessalonians 3- As I live so I pray you live.

Remembering yesterday’s devotion, I was struck by the final verse of the chapter. As Paul lived so he prayed for the Thessalonians to live.

Paul wrote that his life was marked by holiness, righteousness and blamelessness (see 2:10). Now he is praying that their lives be marked by the same qualities and characteristics. May he [that is their God and Father] strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones (13).

Paul truly believes that a life like this honors God, his Father, so it is quite natural that he wants the same God honoring life for his children in the faith.

This thought spoke to me. This thought spoke to me about integrity, consistency and lack of hypocrisy.

Integrity… seeking these qualities grows from a life in love with God, not for any selfish motives.

Consistency… what is good and right for Paul to do is good and right for any (every) Christ-follower to do.

Lack of hypocrisy… truth is truth, right is right, living for God is living for God; it is not a play acting game done for show or only when in public.

So my time in the word reinforces what I heard yesterday; a life of holiness, blamelessness, righteousness is a life that honors God. And that is how God would have us live.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me again today that my life is a statement of whom I serve. Lord, help me to live for and honor You in all I do. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Tuesday, August 11: 1Thessalonians 2- Our Example.

For some reason as I was reading this chapter, I found myself musing about how people, and particularly church leaders, live their lives. It is sad when ‘well known’ church leaders fall. All too often it is something egregious… sex, money, lying and even power.

I don’t know if it was these thoughts that prompted me to contemplate verse 10 or whether verse 10 put these thoughts in my head. Either way, here is the verse that drew me in today. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

Holy, righteous, blameless… that is how Paul described his behavior and character during his time among the Thessalonians. What an example of Christ.

If Christians, and especially Christian leaders, lived that way, then sex, money, lying and power would have no hold on them. If I live that way then sex, money, lying and power, etc. will have no hold on me.

I heard God’s exclamation mark as I typed in that last sentence.

God, help me to live as Paul lived… holy, righteous, and blameless. I pray this, Lord, not so that I can earn my way to You but so that my life will not impugn You, my God, in any way.

All to You I surrender… I surrender all!!! Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.



Monday, August 10: 1Thessalonians 1- Is every god or higher power equal? .

My thoughts were drawn to the final sentences of the chapter. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath (7-10).

Is every god or higher power equal? Does it matter what ‘faith’ you follow or does a person just need to be spiritual? In the end does it matter at all if you had any spiritual faith or does everyone receive the same fate simply by virtue of being human? These and similar questions erupted as I read and re-read the 4 sentences above and particularly the last sentence.

They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

As I stare at this sentence I begin to answer the questions that erupted. No, not every ‘god’ or higher power is equal. Yes, it matters what faith someone follows; being spiritual (whatever that means) is not enough. Again, YES, it matters… a person’s fate hangs on whether they turn from idols or ‘gods’ to the Living and True God, who is known through faith in Jesus Christ, who rescues those who believe in Him from the coming wrath.

What a person believes and who a person believes in, MATTERS. Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus to those in Macedonia and Achaia and the Thessalonians received it, believed it and spread it.

Will you receive, entertain and consider the Gospel message of Jesus… that He came to rescue you from your sins?

Will you believe it?  Will you truly and honestly put your faith in Jesus? Will you follow Him as a disciple and live for Him because he is Lord and God of your life? This also means you have to forsake any other gods you ever believed in.

Will you live in such a way that your faith becomes known everywhere and as a result other people are drawn to faith in Jesus?

Think about it…

O, God, thank You for making Yourself known and for inviting me and others to put our faith in You… Thank You for rescuing us from the wrath we deserve through faith in Jesus. Help me, Lord, to live for You so that others see You in me and come to faith in You, Jesus. In Your name, I pray. Amen.



Saturday, August 8: Galatians 6- Keep on doing good.

Paul ends his letter with a knock out punch. Verse 12-15 sums up his letter’s main point. What counts is not circumcision and following the Law but being a new creation… through faith in the cross of Christ. This is a great truth to hold onto!

And yet, it was verses 9-10 where my heart was drawn by the Spirit to meditate and ponder. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Being a new creation in Christ impacts and affects how I am to live and verse 9 gives me a plumb line for living… do good for others. Don't give up, do good! Think about others, look out for others, whether believers or non-believers… look to build them up.

As I walk around today, I want my thoughts to be “God, how might I do good to and for the people around me?…”

Lord, Jesus, help me to reflect You as I live today… in the deeds that I do and words that I say. In Your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Friday, August 7: Galatians 5- Faith expressed in love.

God’s Word in Galatians 5 is wonderfully rich in meaning and meditation points. Although I paused to praise God at a number of places in my reading, it was verse 6 which drew me to ponder God, my Savior.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Circumcision, the sign of the first covenant, is of no value. In fact non-circumcision is of no value as well. Paul is speaking of spiritual value. Neither action nor the birthright/nationality generally associated with circumcision is of any spiritual value. Paul puts it plainly. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. The only act of spiritual value is faith (in Jesus, that is) expressed in love… love for God and others.

I stared at the word only. No mixing of various religious acts… no circumcision, no lighting of this or that incense, no special prayers or meditation ‘oms’ is of spiritual value. None of this can earn a person a closer more connected relationship with the God of creation. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Only faith in Christ… the ‘in Christ’ is not in the sentence above but is clearly present from the context of the paragraph. It has been from the beginning and will be to the end all about Jesus. Jesus is the source and supply of our faith, nothing else is required and nothing more is to be added.

Only faith in Christ expressed in love… want to do something to strengthen your faith? Put your faith in Jesus to work in acts of love for God –Father, Son and Spirit– or put your faith in Jesus to work in acts of love for others. Love is the natural response to God who rescued us through Jesus’ death on the cross. God put love into action and so should we…

And so my thoughts went to how can I love today… love God and others.

I can talk with God, I can speak of God as my conversations allow. I can look for ways to let the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in verses 22-23 become realities in my life. Any and all of these will put my faith into action in love.

What a delightful day in God’s lap this morning… J

Lord, thank You for the delight of my time with You in world and meditation. You are so good. Your love for me never ceases to astound me. I am blessed to be Your child. Walk with me today, Lord. Be in my conversations and my thoughts. Help me to open my life to others and in so doing, express the love You have placed in me to the others I meet today. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, August 6: Galatians 4- Rules or faith?.

Paul’s elaborate argument is becoming clear. Some Galatians are returning to the ‘law.’ In other words, one must become a Jew and practice the entire law in order to follow Jesus. Paul’s word… you cannot have it both ways. If you are under the Law then you are not under faith in Jesus. The Law never could save. The Law never gave the Holy Spirit and the Law won’t do that now. But faith in Jesus can save, will save, and did give the Holy Spirit.

I am not tempted to ‘return’ to Judaism.  I never was a Jew. But sometimes the subtle temptation to earn my way into God’s good graces or perform particular religious rituals to help ensure my salvation, does creep into my thinking and living. This letter of Galatians reminds me it is faith in Jesus… and only faith in Jesus that opens the floodgates of God’s blessings of being part of God’s faith family.

The simplicity of the Gospel is sometimes a bit scary, because it is so simple. I am reminded of Naaman in the Old Testament. He traveled to Israel to be healed of leprosy but when Elijah told him all he had to do was bathe in the Jordan he was angry. “I could have bathed in the river back home. Had he asked me to do some thing great I would have done it…(2Kings 5)” And he left angrily. Fortunately he came to his senses and returned to the prophet and did the simple thing he was told and was healed. What I see in this story is that sometimes we are willing to do that which is great or hard to receive our reward.  However, when we are asked only to do something simple we think, It can’t be, I didn’t do enough’.

We are odd sometimes….

All God asks of us is to believe in Jesus and live from that posture of belief. God’s reward for faith in Jesus… we are heirs, children of God.

Lord, I am praising You for Your gift of grace!!! What a gift. What love. Praise be to You. Amen!!!


Wednesday, August 5: Galatians 3- Good News.

Galatians is a strong and powerful letter. Faith in God comes through faith in Jesus Christ. It cannot be earned or merited. It comes as fulfillment of a promise, the promise given to Abraham and fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

This chapter concludes with a stirring declaration: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (26-29).

After inserting these verses, I found myself staring at them. The centrality of Jesus Christ radiated out. Five references to Christ or Christ Jesus in three sentences. And they are not passing references; they are core to the understanding of the sentences.

·         Paul begins, So in Christ… and continues

·         Baptized into Christ

·         Clothed … with Christ

·         All are one in Christ Jesus

·         Belong to Christ

Each one of these phrases describes a person connected to Jesus Christ. Being ‘in Christ’ and ‘belonging to Christ,’ is the defining connection that makes a person a child of God and heir of the promise given to Abraham. These are astounding words spoken by a Jew who before his encounter with Jesus would have claimed that his bloodline as a Jew made him an heir of Abraham and therefore a child of God.

When Jesus came, a new way to be connected with God was established… the way of belonging to Christ, being baptized into Christ. And this way is established through a promise God made rather than a set of laws we must keep! GOSPEL… GOOD NEWS!

I sit this morning, early light creating a vast array of dancing colors outside in the yard. Crisp wisps of morning air tickle my cheeks as thoughts of my Lord Jesus settle upon me. God has lifted the burden of earning my status as His child and granted it to me and to anyone and everyone who would belong to Christ Jesus. This thought, this truth, is so freeing and so life giving. My heart is set free to love God –the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit- to love with my whole heart as a response to God’s love and promise.

No need to earn or work for God’s love… God granted it through His promise and now I can live into it and love Him and others because my life is filled with His presence.

I belong to Christ Jesus.   Do you? Oh my, it is so freeing and life giving…

Thanks and praise to God for His incredible promise of life and invitation into His family through belonging to Jesus. Lord God, words escape me… my spirit sings but my lips are still, as joy fills me, as I bask in being Your child… Thank You, Lord God for this gift… Amen.


Tuesday, August 4: Galatians 2- Christ alone.

Now the true colors of Galatians comes out. Must a person who is a non-Jew become a Jew in order to follow Jesus and be saved?  Must a Jew who wants to follow Jesus continue to keep the Jewish Law? Answer to both. NO

Faith in Jesus –the Gospel message we saw in summary in Chapter 1 verse 3-5 –is all that is needed to be a Christ-follower and be rescued and redeemed. Paul was so adamant about this that he opposed Peter in public when he observed Peter showing the slightest deviance from this truth.

My thoughts and conversations with the Lord traveled in 2 directions as I pondered this truth.

First, I wondered and considered if there were areas in my life where I am trusting in something I had done or do rather than trust in Christ alone. Is my faith in the fact that I worship weekly, I take communion regularly, I was baptized, etc.? I thought about my daily times with the Lord. Do I trust in “my consistent devotions” or in Jesus?

I examined and probed my life… God’s way is Christ alone. Although there are activities I do that strengthen my faith (worship, giving, daily times of prayer and scripture, sacraments, etc.) these do not earn me brownie points or ‘salvation’ points. My rescue is solely dependent on Jesus’ love and gift. Nothing else.

After some time I found myself examining to see if I put certain people at arms length because of things they believe or how they were raised or their nationality or culture. Isn’t that what Peter began to do when he would no longer eat with Gentiles? If Paul or God were to look at my life would I need to be called out like Peter was called out?

This was harder for me to do. Everywhere I look I see a polarized world. The likelihood is that I polarize, too, but I do not even see it. I sat quietly bringing myself into the light of Christ. It is the best I could do this morning…

O, Jesus, Spirit, Father show me where I have polarizing lenses on and do not see people as You see them. Show me where I treat people differently and inappropriately because of my prejudices and judgments.

Lord, that I might reflect You more clearly and accurately, I pray. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, August 3: Galatians 1- No other gospel.

Paul is adamant that there is no other gospel other than what he preached and anyone who preachers/teaches another gospel, another way to God, should be eternally condemned. Those are strong words. Paul has not yet explained the Gospel he preached compared to those perverting the gospel but it occurred to me that Paul gave a strong hint with his grace and peace statement in verses 3-5. He writes, Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel he received via revelation directly from God, centers on Jesus who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.

Jesus is God’s way of salvation. Jesus rescued those who believed in Him from the present evil age. This was God, the Father’s will, way and plan. And this is the heart of the Gospel. We cannot earn our way to God. We cannot atone for our sins by ourselves. We cannot be rescued by any human plan, ingenuity, dedication or hard work. NO sacrifice or ritual performed by human beings can rescue a single person. Only Jesus who gave himself for our sins can rescue us.

This is the Gospel… this is grace… this is God’s way. Period. There is no other way.

I marveled at the Gospel and at all Jesus did for me… for us… for all who believe. My heart warmed and prayers began to well up in me… Prayers of thanks and wonder.

O, God, I praise You and I bless You and I thank You. Jesus did for me what I never could have done for myself. Jesus rescued me by giving His life a ransom for mine. Jesus paid the penalty my sins deserved. He forgave and took my penalty. I am blessed and redeemed because of Jesus. Praise You Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen and Amen.


Saturday, August 1: Psalm 53- Do you believe in God?.

Really, do you believe in God?

If you do, where do you get your information and what do you do about your belief in God?

If you don’t believe in God, where do you get that information and how does it impact your living?

The psalmist opens with a bold statement: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good (1).

Hmmm… belief in God will impact how I live.

What the psalmist sees is that those who don’t believe in God live for themselves.  Who cares how it will affect others?

I really didn’t want to ponder evil in our world so I flipped the statement on its head: The wise person says in their heart, “There is God.” They are honorable, and their ways are admirable; they do good.

As one who does believe in God, this is a great way to live… in fact it is the way I should live.

Do I?  Now my real probing and musings begin. Will you join me???

Lord, I pray to You each morning. I believe in You. Show me how You want me to live. For Your name and sake, I pray. To Your name and glory, I pledge my life. Amen.