Monday, November 30: Matthew 13- Sorting out the kingdom.

A number of the parables about the kingdom of heaven included a sorting of the good from the bad at the end that I felt compelled to think on the sorting.

Verse 30: Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.

Verse 30 explained, The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear (37-43).

Verses 47-50:  “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

There will be a sorting out by God at the end. The righteous, those who live in line with God the Father, will enjoy life with God. Those who are evil, anyone who causes sin or does evil, will be thrown into the fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whatever this punishment is, it is NOT good!

Certainly these verses are a warning to those who hear them… a warning to examine whether or not we are on the Lord’s side. Jesus spoke these words so that people would think, “Am I living the way God wants a person to live?”

Quite naturally I spent my remaining time with the Lord answering that question for myself. You would be wise to do the same…

Lord, there is no way I can ‘justify myself.’ I fall on Your mercy and grace. I love You. I do try to follow You, but I am FAR from perfect. I sin and screw up repeatedly. I beg Your forgiveness and pray for strength from You to live for You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, November 27: Matthew 11- .

When asked by John’s disciples if Jesus was the One whom God was sending, Jesus responded by citing His deeds.

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me” (4-6).

My first thought was how interesting Jesus’ response was. He didn’t cite what He taught or believed, He cited his actions! How true I thought, it is our actions that communicate what we believe. Consistent integrated people live what they believe. As the common present day proverb puts it, “Actions speak louder than words.” Jesus apparently agreed that actions do speak louder than words.

Next I went back to Jesus’ words and pondered what they might say to me about how I am to live as one who professes faith in Jesus. Even as I began to ponder I was confronted with the fact that to the best of my remembrance I have never done any of the 5 first indicators Jesus mentioned.  Does this mean that I am not a faithful Christ follower?

I don’t think so I believe God still heals today and that God uses people like me to execute His healing in our world.  But I have not had the honor to be used by God to heal a blind or lame person.

So, how do I process this? One, I am not the Messiah. I am a representative for Him and I only get to do what He asks me to do.  Two, this is not the only command Jesus gives, so I cannot reduce faithfulness to obedience to these verses only.

Still verses 4-6 challenge me. Do they challenge you?

Lord, show me Your way; how You want me to live. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, November 28: Matthew 12- Fruit.

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (33-37).

I love to eat fruit and during one time of my life I lived near an orchard. They produced award winning fruit. Their apples and peaches were sooooo good.

This family orchard worked year round to produce tremendous fruit… pruning, watering, fertilizing, even warming the trees when an early frost threatened to harm fruit still on the tree. It took a huge amount of work to produce excellent fruit. And there were plenty of handling procedures to pick and protect the fruit from bruising on the way to the shelf. Producing good fruit is a difficult and time consuming job.

Jesus reminds His listeners that the goal of life is to produce good fruit and to do so one has to produce and maintain a good tree.

The life analogy seems clear.  We, as Christ followers, have to do the work necessary to make our lives good so that we produce good fruit. It is not enough to have a ‘good’ life if we aren’t producing ‘good’ fruit.

Naturally my thoughts bounced to my life and my fruit.  Am I producing good fruit in keeping with my faith in Jesus? Are other people being touched for and drawn to Jesus? That, after all, is the best indicator of my faith in Jesus.  It is your best indicator, too.

Think about it.

Lord, show me the works I can do for You today. Show me kingdom fruit I can bear for You today. I love You. And I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Thursday, November 26: Matthew 10- Church arise.

God has a sense of humor and a sense of the moment. As I read this chapter for my daily devotions, I am getting ready for the final day of teaching at a Spiritual Warfare conference. The last 3 days have been spent with 50+ people teaching, explaining, demonstrating and practicing principles of Spiritual Warfare. And as the sun rises this morning and I am centering my heart and life in God’s Word for the day, this is the Scripture that opens my Bible reading for today!

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. … These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give (1-8).

Like I said, Jesus knows how to speak into the moment!!!

I hear loud and clear from the Lord… we have been given authority, to proclaim the message of the Kingdom of Heaven. And how is that accomplished? Jesus says, Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Church arise and embrace your calling…

God pounds this into to my heart and life…

Lord, I offer myself back to You today. Use me to demonstrate Your Kingdom, pronouncing Your kingdom and setting people free from the entanglements of the evil one. May I be a conduit of Your healing, cleansing, driving out of every demonic force to the end so that You, Jesus, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, are believed in, praised and honored by those set free. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, November 25: Matthew 9- Have I underestimated the need for the miraculous?.

I have read this account many times and my thoughts generally hear it as a call to witness, to send people out with the message of Jesus, to send people to evangelize. I have heard it used as a call to foreign missions and other direct applications.

Today I heard something slightly different…

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (35-38).

The words I bolded above seemed to be highlighted on the page. Surely advancing Jesus’ kingdom is at the heart. Workers are needed to do that (!) but like I learned in the reading yesterday, Jesus is never information only. Jesus’ Good News Ministry is information (proclaiming and teaching) along with concomitant actions, healings, miracles and the like.

Too often I miss this demonstration aspect of kingdom advance… in doing so I diminish the power and message of God.

We serve Jesus who routed the forces of the evil one during his ministry. Jesus’ ministry included information and demonstration, and too often I leave out the latter.

I believe God is asking me to be more bold in my Jesus living. To speak of Him and His teaching and His ability to touch lives and heal, even today.

I need ramped up faith to live like this…

Lord, pour more faith, more unction, more of You into my life and my living for You in my world. Through Jesus and for the glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.




Tuesday, November 24: Matthew 8- Word and deed.

Clearly Jesus has a teaching component to His ministry (chapters 5-7 are an apt example). But now with chapter 8, Matthew makes sure we see that Jesus has an action-oriented, demonstration aspect to His ministry as well!

Healing leprosy…

He healed someone outside the Jewish faith…

He heals and drives out demons from many…

Does a little teaching on the cost of following Him…

Calms a storm…

Then dramatically delivers to other men...

Quite a chapter.

What I see is that the faith of Jesus is word and deed, internal belief and external action. The faith of Jesus includes the transfer of information/truth in the mind (heart) into action of the hands and feet.

Like Jesus, I am to demonstrate my faith through my life and actions. The same goes for you, too.

Lord, over the years I have stuffed much information into my mind.  Help me to let it out in actions, speaking and acting as You would in the various situations in which I find myself.  I pray this so that Your glory will advance across the world. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, November 23: Matthew 7- Judging others.

 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (1-5).

Jesus comes down quite hard on judging other people. He pounds His point with a statement and then follows with His well known plank and speck illustration.

I started thinking about the hurt and problems that come from judging others. When I judge someone, I minimize them and I look down on them. When I judge someone rather than engaging them as human beings, I dismiss them.

Jesus’ words also remind me that it is not my place to judge. To judge is God’s prerogative. God alone can judge perfectly and with clear understanding of the heart.

Thinking about all this convicts me, because I have judged others and Jesus is so right. Many times when I judge someone for their splinter, I have a bigger one of the same variety in my own eye!

Caught by the master preacher…

O, God, please forgive me for the times I have judged others… forgive me for dehumanizing them and worse, thinking I am better than they are.. Thank You for Your grace and love, Lord.  I am so imperfect and You are so good! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, November 21: Matthew 6- Piety, living the faith we profess.

In the opening statements of this chapter Jesus tackles some of the more obvious ways Jews practice their religious faith… giving to needy, prayer and fasting. Jesus affirms those practices but dissects attitude and behavior. The BIG stumbling point can be found in this question. Are you doing these activities to be seen and gain recognition in the eyes of other people? Are you doing them with an intentionality to be seen by other people?

This sparks a thought about college campuses, which seem to be one plaque after another. So and so donated this building, this park, this sports field and so on. There is a smack to these gifts that people want to be noticed for their generosity.

Jesus’ point is that when we get earthy recognition for some spiritual activity, then that is our reward. There are no other spiritual benefits. The problem is that spiritual activity is supposed to have spiritual benefits… but when we do them for the recognition of other people we strip out the spiritual benefit component and it becomes a human endeavor.

The Jesus way is to do our spiritual activities quietly, meaning without undo fanfare. It is an activity between me or you and the Lord.

Enough hypotheticals… how does this speak into my life?

Worship attendance.  Do I do this to get noticed or to be part of God’s family singing God’s praise? What is both my attitude and practice?

Prayer.  Do I pray in ways that people notice ‘how much I pray’ or ‘how wonderful my prayers are?’ Or do I pray in ways that the Father and I can speak privately and intimately?

Giving.  Do I make sure others know ‘how much I give’ or ‘when I give’ or does my giving happen without calling attention to myself?

Similar questions can be asked about fasting, service, using my spiritual gifts, especially gifts that have an upfront aspect to them, and so on.

I guess the big question is… Is my service to/for God done to honor Him or call attention to me?!

Lord, You are calling me to inspect my attitudes and actions this morning. Pious activities are good and healthy and necessary for spiritual vitality. But how I do these activities is equally, possibly even more, important than the activity themselves.

I love You, Lord, and want to live in ways that express that to You. I want to live to honor You and advance Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Friday, November 20: Matthew 5- Impossibility of keeping the law.

In verse 20 Jesus says, For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Now the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were known for scrupulously keeping the law. They went so far as to create 600+ laws to put a fence around God’s law so that one wouldn’t unintentionally break God’s law.

Jesus says that a person’s righteousness has to surpass what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did in order to get into heaven. In other words, a person has to out Pharisee a Pharisee to be righteousness enough to work one’s way into heaven… in essence one has to be perfect to work their way into heaven.

To prove His case, Jesus shows how impossible keeping the law truly is. It is not just about murdering others… it is belittling them with our words (21-26). It is not just physical adultery… it is lusting in our mind and heart (27-30). Divorce isn’t about a just procedure giving a proper certificate… it is for infidelity only (31-32). And throughout the rest of the chapter Jesus lists case after case of how difficult it is to keep the law.

No one could construct enough guardrail-laws to keep the human heart within the confines of the Law. The Pharisees couldn’t do it and a person has to surpass the Pharisees to get into the kingdom of heaven that way.

The answer to the dilemma that Jesus has created isn’t answered until later in chapter 7 where he says, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (24).

And what is (are) His words we are to put into practice. Well, clearly it is what He has just taught. If we step back a bit… we see that the call He gives just before chapter 5 is to ‘come follow me’ (4:19) and this is the essence of Jesus’ call to discipleship… to follow Jesus… to emulate Jesus. This is what His disciples do.

Lord, God, I cannot work my way into Your kingdom. I would have to be perfect and that possibility ended a long, long time ago. My only hope is to follow Jesus and allow Him to lead me into Your kingdom. Today I renew my commitment to follow Jesus. Halleluiah.

Jesus, I am Yours… Amen. 


Thursday, November 19: Matthew 4- Three simple words.

Come follow me. Three words. Four syllables. A simple invitation. And with those words Simon and Andrew’s lives changed forever.

The brothers dropped their nets and followed (20). It is that simple. They left their business and followed.

This is the essence of Christian discipleship… to follow Jesus. No excuses. No deviations. No hesitation. Simply following.

In the 21st century we seem to make discipleship so complicated. ‘Come, Jesus said, follow Me’.

And that same invitation is issued to me and to everyone who reads these words.

Will you follow Jesus???

Lord, I’m in. I’m following… lead me where You want me to go. Amen.


Wednesday, November 18: Matthew 3- John's stern message.

I picture John as a fiery guy. He did not mince words. John would not be a poster child for the Dale Carnegie Class, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He drilled everyday people with their sin, calling all to repent. Repent –admit you are going in the wrong direction and living the wrong way; admit and turn around.

John was particularly hard on Jewish religious leaders calling them a “brood of vipers” (7) suggesting they were slithering snakes killing people with their words. At the same time they were hypocrites who needed to repent themselves.

John would likely not get much airtime as a preacher today and yet people came to him in droves.

Oh, how our psyches have changed. It seems people back then were willing to face their sinfulness. Today the messages that draw crowds are filled with promises of potential and success and achieving all you can be and so on.

Caught myself?!? It is easier for me to fend off John’s message if I compare it with my world (my previous sentence), rather than hearing John’s message personally and taking his words to heart regarding my life as his listeners did.

I guess I don’t like hearing John’s message very much. Question is… will I set my likes aside and pay attention to it?

I pray to God I will, because being honest with myself allows me to hear Jesus’ message of grace. If I am not honest with myself then I have no need for Jesus’ grace…

So as I am thinking about this, I invite you to join me …

Lord, God, I sit before You, admitting I am filled with sin and need You…



Tuesday, November 17: Matthew 2- A great move of God.

Matthew goes out of his way to show that the birth of Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy. Birth in Bethlehem, killing of the children, escape to Egypt and then return and living in Nazareth, all point to Jesus fulfilling Old Testament words.

Add now as if as an exclamation point, Matthew’s account of Magi from the East seeing Jesus’ star and traveling to find Him. This is an amazing tale.  You don’t do a world excursion like the Magi did on a whim!

All of this points to the fact that God is doing something. His time is aligning and a great move of God is unfolding. The great move of God is Jesus…

I paused this morning in awe of God. At His appointed time God sent Jesus. This is a world altering event accompanied by prophecies filled and signs in the heavens.

Jesus’ coming is so huge in fact that the OT Scriptures point to it… calling all Jews to recognize this event. And there are astrological signs in the heavens calling Gentiles to recognize the event! God is telling everyone that He is doing something extraordinary!!!

God still wants all the world to know…

Jesus is God’s great move to invite people back into fellowship with Him.

Jesus… will you believe in Him? Will you follow Him? Will you??

Think about it.

Lord, God, reveal the truth of Jesus to everyone who reads these words. O, God, use me to show people Jesus. I pray in Your name. Amen.


Monday, November 16: Matthew 1- Displaying godly character gives room for God to work in our lives.


Genealogies are not the most stimulating reading, and yet they place events in historical context. As a Jew, Matthew begins with Abraham, the grand patriarch of the Jewish people. From Abraham, he lines out the ancestral tree of the Messiah, Jesus.

God is doing something. And whenever God enters history, He will ask people to step up and do things that require faith and trust in Him.

First up in Matthew’s Gospel is Joseph, an observant Jew who finds himself betrothed to a woman who becomes pregnant before the wedding and he is not the father. Jewish faithfulness calls him to end the relationship. As a man of grace and kindness he resolved to end things quietly. He was not going to make a big scene out of this which would have completely disgraced Mary, his betrothed.

Joseph’s kindness and grace gives God room to work.

The line I just typed hit me. When we humans display God-honoring character traits, we give God room to work in our lives.

Grace is certainly a godly character trait, as is kindness. And they provide just enough room in this complicated human situation for God to intervene.

I thought, had Joseph been harsh with Mary or been very public and self-righteousness, it would have been almost impossible for God to intervene and he would never have been written into the Messiah’s story.

Sometimes I think that living with godly character and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is merely an act of obedience. But I realized today that they are also door openers to bearing fruit and being used by God to advance His cause in the world.

Wow, this is a new way to think about things for me… a surprise by God in the midst of reading and listening to His Word.

What a glorious way to begin the day…

Lord, thank You for this touch point this morning. Help me to see you at work in my life today. Help me to display Your character and to see open doors to Your work in my corner of the world. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, November 14: Psalm 75- Praising God who reigns on high .

The psalmist sings a song in praise of the Lord. As he does he writes a stanza as if the Lord is the speaker…

You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge with equity. When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns. Do not lift your horns against heaven; do not speak so defiantly (2-5).’ ”  

This stanza reminds me that our Lord, The Lord, judges all the earth and everyone in it.

This stanza reminds me that our Lord, The Lord, holds the earth and sustains it.

This stanza reminds me that our Lord, The Lord, confronts the wicked and upholds His position and honor as the Lord of All.

Our God is mighty… our God is the only true God. I join the psalmist in praising God who reigns on high…

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of Your wonderful deeds (1).

This morning as the dark fades and light dawns, I sit before the Lord. He is awesome and mighty. He is God. His name is wonderful and I will be among those from around the world telling His mighty deeds for all to hear!

The Lord rules and reigns!

Praise You, Lord. You have carried me and the world another week. You have put Your glory in the heavens… all I see is Yours. Praise You, Lord. I will bow and surrender lovingly to You. Praise You. Praise Your name. Praise You, Almighty God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Amen.


Friday, November 13: Psalm 74- Half a song.

Half truth… that was my immediate impression. This song is only half of the truth.

Yes, God was mocked by the Babylonians as they defeated Israel and destroyed the temple, tearing stone from stone and mocking the Lord as they did so.

Yes, this is very true. And it was a sad day for Israel and the Lord as His name was dragged through the mud of defeat and desecration. Surely God will vindicate Himself.

The psalmist cries this out long and loud, the undertone being that Israel will be reestablished as God restores His fame.

But where is Israel’s admission of sin that led to judgment? This was not a defeat because Babylon’s gods were bigger than Israel’s God. This was judgment of Israel’s sins. God was using Babylon as His hammer of justice.

The Lord was moving toward a day when His glory would extend far beyond the borders of Israel. God was moving toward a day when His glory would cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Habakkuk 2:14). Step one in this journey was the punishment of Israel for her lack of obedience…

As I read and pondered all this, it hit me that I can easily remember half the story, too, in order to advance my cause before the Lord. I, too, can cry, “Bless me, heal me, restore me”, without asking if my actions or sins might be part of my problem in the first place.

Lord, I ask for wisdom and the ability to be honest with myself, to see my needs and failings and bring them to You honestly. Lord, I pray that Your name and fame would be spread throughout all the earth and that I do my part faithfully in spreading Your name and fame. Through Jesus, the Lord of Glory, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, November 12: Psalm 73- Nothing is worth risking eternity with the Lord.

The words of the psalmist connected immediately with me. His prayer opening could be mine.

Surely God is good to [His people],

to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;

I had nearly lost my foothold.

For I envied the arrogant

when I saw the prosperity of the wicked (1-3).

I have envied those who are rich in this world. Sometimes when the lottery announces some ridiculous 100 million jackpot I think, “Oh, I should get a ticket. Just think of all the good I could do with the money.” But then as my daydream continues, I find more of my moments dreaming are spent thinking about things I would like, rather than giving the money away. I am tempted by riches.

And when I come back to my senses, I shudder. My daydreams have been all about me and how I can be secure. My faith has to kick in, reminding me that my security is not in ME, it is in the Lord. I wonder, ‘If I had great riches would I drift away from the Lord?’ This thought scares me.

Nothing, no good thing, on this side of eternity is worth risking eternity with the Lord. Earthly riches or luxuries do not indicate spiritual blessing.

Having returned to my spiritual moorings (thank you Lord for bringing me back from my daydreams), I speak with the psalmist my trust and love for the Lord:

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds (23-28).

Lord God, You have been with me all of my days. You are with me today. Forgive my human fragilities and sins that desire more earthly things than You have given me. As David said, ‘I am sinful from birth. Forgive my wanderings and draw me closer, even closer to You today and all of my todays until I live with You and all Your saints in glory forever. Until then cause my heart to beat in rhythm with Your heart'. I pray in the name of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.


Wednesday, November 11: Psalm 72- Prayer for governmental leaders.

As soon as my eyes dropped onto the text, I thought, “What a great prayer to pray for the men and women who are in governmental authority over us.”

Scripture call us to pray for our leaders (1Tim 2:1-2) and many of the petitions of this Psalm, particularly the opening petitions, seem like a wonderful example of prayer.

I have contemporized the Psalm, inserting modern language for ‘king’. What do you think?  Is this a great prayer for our leaders or not?

Endow the [our elected officials] with your justice, O God, the [president, senators and representatives] with your righteousness. May [judges and justices] judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. May [our leaders] defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may [they] crush the oppressor. May [our government] endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. May [the president and all our elected leaders] be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. In [their administration] may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

To my thinking this is a powerful prayer.

Lord, help me to pray like this for my governmental leaders. Amen.


Tuesday, November 10: Psalm 71- Remembrances.

My heart resonated with middle portion of this Psalm, where the psalmist recounts his long walk with the Lord. As the years of my walk with the Lord grows, 40 years of personal and intentional following of Jesus plus 19 more in a family that walked with Jesus, I appreciate the length of time and the constant faithfulness of the Lord over the decades. The psalmist’s words connected with me…

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds (14-17).

My many years with the Lord serve to give me volumes of remembrances that I can share with others. God has been there since the beginning and God is still there. And the Lord will always be there… such is His ways.

God had things for me to do and say and God still has things for me to do. And He will have things for me to do until He calls me home to be with Him.

Lord, as my walk with You lengthens, my appreciation for You and love for You increases. Your faithfulness is unfailing and Your call is irrevocable. What would You have for me to do for You today?  What can I speak, what can I do to share my love for You with the world?  I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, November 9: Psalm 70- God hears us when we call.

Sometimes prayers have breadth and width. Sometimes they are a simple straightforward cry. Today’s Psalm is a cry. Verse 1 or verse 5 says it all:

Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, LORD, to help me (1).

But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay (5).

How often in life this is the prayer I need to pray. No frills. No buttering up God. No long diatribe. Simply, help! Come quickly, save me, O God.

The Lord hears us when we pray.

What a fitting lesson from the Lord for today. God hears me when I call out to Him!

God hears you, too…

Lord, You are my help and my deliverer. No one or no thing can save me. You are the one and only, Lord God Almighty. I call to You in and through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.



Saturday, November 7: Psalm 69- Connection with God NO matter what.

The thought of drowning frightens me. Something about sinking into the deep, exhausted and gurgling for breath causes me to tremble inside. Mine is a visceral reaction. So when I read this Psalm, terror overtakes me.

David’s words grip me. He is in trouble. People are coming at him from every side. David is in trouble and he calls out to the Lord (14-19).

How much do I rely on the Lord?

When I am in trouble, when life closes in on me, do I try to solve it myself or do I lean on the Lord like David does?

Do I have the connection and relationship with Jesus where I feel safe and comfortable talking with Him like David talks to the Lord… honestly, passionately, desperately?

So many of David’s songs are songs of desperation… his life was anything but gilded. And yet, despite the pain, trouble and heartache –some self-inflicted, much undeserved –David was passionate about his Lord. There was an intimacy, a connection, a relationship that bonded David to the Lord, NO MATTER WHAT.

Lord, I seek that same connection with You….an intimate, passionate, ‘I am Yours no matter what comes my way’ bonding. Through Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I pray. Amen.


Friday, November 6: Psalm 68- A father to the fatherless.

There are many descriptions of God in the Scriptures. Some are direct statements; God is love (John 4:8 & 16), for an example. Often, however, descriptions of God come in the form of word pictures. This Psalm has a wonderful word picture in verses 5 and 6.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I sat with those words before me and listened, imagined and pondered… what this tells me about God.

God cares for the powerless. God defends those who have no earthly defender. God steps in to help where we humans step upon to hurt.

As I considered this characteristic of God I thought, as his people we are to manifest godly characteristics in our lives. We –people who follow Jesus –are to care for the powerless. We are to defend those who others seek to put down. We are to step in and help when other people seek to step on those who have no defender.

Well, it is much easier to observe this and to write about this than it is to live this…

God is challenging me to up my behavior and my dedication to Him and those He loves…

Father, I need help, and lots of it, because defending the down and out, the stepped upon or the over-looked does not come easily to me. I need an infusion of Your Holy Spirit to build Your character in me. Lord, I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, November 5: 2Timothy 4- Real people.

Sometimes I forget that the people on the pages of the Bible are real people. Sometimes they seem to be mythical people who live lives above those of us who are mere humans.

Reading Paul’s autobiographical closing to his letter was a helpful reminder that the apostle Paul was a real person who lived a real life.

At a trying time Paul needed friends near him. Being unmarried Paul didn’t have family so friends were his closest relations and he needed them and their support as his trials were proceeding.

Paul was alone in part because he sent some associates on missions here and there. But then others deserted him in his hour of need. Paul graciously holds no ill will toward them.

We know, too, that Paul was significantly harmed by Alexander. Details aren’t given, but Paul warns his friend Timothy to beware of this man.

It seems that Paul didn’t own much but apparently he left, either intentionally or forgot, his cloak and some books in Troas. He asks Timothy to bring them to him.

As I thought about these details, Paul the person came alive to me. He was a man on a mission and even when he was in trouble he sent associates to continue the mission rather than to remain and attend to him. Paul knew the sting of being abandoned and the pain of direct attacks of those who opposed his message.

On the human side Paul either generously left his books and cloak as a temporary help for others or to lighten his load while traveling or he had a forgetful streak. Whatever the reason, who of us haven’t done something like this?

What gets me is that God used real people like Paul to advance His kingdom. And if God used real people in the past then God can use a real person like me (and you) to do the same today. I don’t have to be some superhero Christian to be used by God. All I need to do is avail myself to the Lord to be used by Him…

What a great thought to start a Thursday.

Lord, Here I am… use me for Your will today. If You need me to speak, my mind and mouth are Yours to use. If service is needed, I offer you my hands and feet. Use me, Lord, as You will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, November 4: 2Timothy 3- Knowing Scripture is the Answer.

With a broad brush Paul paints a picture of life without God, although these people are pretending to be friends and teachers of God. In contras,t Paul mentions his way of life and he charges Timothy to recognize the difference, to live honorably himself and to the way of God clearly.

At the core the difference between imposters and real Christ-followers is Scripture. The Holy Scriptures will lead us toward God and will expose imposters.

Understanding and living according to the Holy Scripture is a believer’s surest defense against false teaching and faithless living.

It is wonderful to have faith-filled teachers, but questions that pound in my heart and mind this morning go like this

·         How well do I know the Holy Scriptures?

·         How diligently am I growing in Scripture based living?

·         Can I detect false teaching when I hear it?

God has given us a gift in His written word. We know it is true because it is God-breathed. God gave it to us for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (16-17).

The words thoroughly equipped speak to me. When we know the Scriptures we have a sure and certain defense. We aren’t somewhat equipped or partially equipped, we are thoroughly equipped. We are prepared for any and every situation or false teaching/teacher who comes along.

Today God reminds me to be in His Word… regularly and deeply. Because it gives me everything I need to live faithfully and productively for God’s kingdom.

Halleluiah… Amen.

Thank You, Lord God Almighty for Your Word. It has everything I need to live faithfully for You!!! Thank You, Lord. Amen.


Tuesday, November 3: 2Timothy 2- Stay the course.

Throughout this chapter Paul challenges Timothy to stay the course, to keep strong in the Lord and to concentrate on the work before him. One summary verse catches Paul’s flavor, at least for me, this morning.

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: … “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (19).

The Lord is our firm foundation. When the world and circumstances quake around us, God remains solid and the closer I am to the Lord, the more stable life will be in shifting times.

To stay close to the Lord I have decisions to make and character traits to develop. A start is to turn away from wickedness.

Some see God’s instructions to turn away from wickedness as burdensome rules. I like to think of them as guardrails on the side of a road. They separate me from danger and disaster. I don’t always honor the guardrails, but when I do, the way of life seems smoother, even when the circumstances of life are hard.

Today the word is a reminder to me… turn away from wickedness, watch my life and my living. Beware of danger. Live God’s way.

Lord, what I know I should do, I do not always do. I am a mixed bag of obedience and disobedience. Walk with me. Help me. Guide me. And Lord, the many times I stra,y forgive me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, November 2: 2Timothy 1- Continue in God's work.

Paul writes another letter to his protégé Timothy, spurring him on to continue in the faith and in the work Paul and the Lord have set before him. I hear the Lord spurring me on to continue in the faith and in the work He has set before me…

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace (8-9a).

Don't be ashamed. As our world changes and becomes more and more pluralistic and politically correct, I find myself tempted to become quieter about my faith.

Is this being ashamed? I don’t know. It may, it may not be.

The effect, however, is the same as if I were ashamed… the advance of the Gospel is stilled. This morning’s Word reminds me that without conversation and, of course action, the Gospel will not advance. Paul adds to this thought as he continues… God has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

God saved me (and us) for His purpose, which is to advance His name and fame throughout the earth. I cannot do that if I am quiet and inactive in my faith…

So God lands a combination punch this morning… 

Lord, bring to my mind grace-filled words about You and Your Gospel.  Unhinge my lips to speak of You in appropriate ways and so enter Your service and do Your bidding that Your purposes might be advanced through me today. All to Your glory. Amen and Amen.