Monday, October 31: Romans 1- We are in BIG trouble.

Where to pause and meditate? There is so much content, so much teaching, so much unveiling of God’s way…

The Gospel message; people are in BIG trouble and our only answer is faith, faith in Jesus.

There will be no excuses when we stand before God at the end of our lives. Creation declares God’s eternal power (20). But people have suppressed the truth (18); suppressed pictures pressing down an intentional denial of the truth about God.

As a result, God has given humanity over to its lusts, its desires and humanity is reaping the just desserts of our suppression of God. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy (29-31).

Turn on the news and you will see how true this statement is.

The only way out from under this load is acceptance of the Gospel of God through faith in Jesus. And the Gospel is offered to Jew and Gentile alike.

God’s remedy for our sin dilemma is Jesus and this message will unfold as we continue reading this letter.

For today I marvel at how loving God is to send Jesus to people who have suppressed His truth. Though we turned our backs God did not walk away from us but pursued us with the Love of Jesus.

Thank You, God, for not giving up on humanity. Thank You for unveiling my eyes that I might take to heart Your Gospel message and put my faith in Jesus. Use me to tell others about your great Gospel. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, October 29: Psalm 137- .

Life is full of challenges. One is how to pray when you are in pain. Another is how to pray when you have been hurt, betrayed and/or abused.

Israel is in exile because of her sin. God is punishing them. People are mocking them.

Israel had a ‘land’ theology; so to be separated from the land is to be separated from the Lord.

In their pain they remember how the Edomites did them wrong as their beloved Jerusalem was being leveled.

During the days described above today’s Psalm was written. It is a lament of the heart. It is not the last word on prayer, but maybe a first word. It is filled with pain and a desire for retribution… ugly retribution against Babylon and even her children.

I have felt that way.  There are times when I just wanted God to ‘get them.’ I have been deeply wounded and wanted the other person to pay. I wanted to get even, or get ahead, to inflict more than I received.

Honesty compels me to admit I have had thoughts like those in this Psalm.

One difference, I harbored my thoughts, I kept them in. I never verbalized them to myself much less to the Lord. The Psalmist gets them out and expresses them to the Lord. Neither of us acted… everything occurred in our thought life.

But with the Psalmist, praying his heart gave God the green light to bring change. Hearing the words of the Psalmist, realizing how honest he was with the Lord, gives me courage to voice my true concerns along with my ‘junk’. This allows the Lord to work in my situation which likely means He will change me!

My hope would be not to stay with this prayer… but to be changed until I could pray as Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for the do not know what they are doing...” (Luke 23:34).

Oh, God, teach me to be honest with myself so that I can be honest with You and open doors for the work of Your Holy Spirit to come and change me to be more like Jesus. I pray in His name. Amen.


Friday, October 28: Psalm 136- His love endures forever.

As I read this Psalm, I hear in my mind’s ear a cantor or reader loudly projecting each line and an assembly of people echoing back, His love endures forever!

I place myself in the crowd and feel my love, appreciation and faith for God elevating with each echoing refrain. Look at all God has done… “Yes, His love endures forever.”

This Psalm, this cry of God’s people, brought me back to a similar devotional place like yesterday… we praise God, and rightly so. We praise God for who He is and for what He has done and will most certainly continue to do.

In times of trouble and heartache this Psalm infuses life and love for God, Who has acted in the past and will act again in the future. During times of joy and gladness this Psalm could be a resounding crescendo during a service of praise. It would act like an exclamation mark! Yes, Yes! His love endures forever!

I cannot help but feel my gratitude for the Lord increasing as the refrain of this Psalm pounds in my heart…. His love endures forever.

A wonderful facet of this Psalm is that it need not end with the lines recounted here. Each of us could write our own lines recalling what God has done for us, for the people we know, in history… continuing from Jesus till today. And we can do this because His love endures forever and God has never stopped acting on behalf of His people.

Alleluia, His love endures forever.

O God, You are the GREAT GOD… Your love endures forever.

You sent Jesus into the world… Your love endures forever

He taught us about You, healed the sick and raised the dead… Your love endures forever

He died for the sinful… Your love endures forever

He forgives all who believe in Him… Your love endures forever

He rose on the third day defeating death… Your love endures forever

You sent the Holy Spirit… Your love endures forever

To be You living presence in all who believe… Your love endures forever

To empower us to be Your witnesses… Your love endures forever

You sent us to the ends of the earth… Your love endures forever

Your Gospel to tell, disciples to make… Your love endures forever

Praise be to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit… Your love endures forever


Thursday, October 27: Psalm 135- I know.

As the Psalm moves from its opening into its substance, verse 5 offers the pivotal thought, I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods.

I know… those words leapt up and shouted, “consider me.”

For the Psalmist and for Israel, faith was so much more than simply following some rules and regulations that had been handed down over time.

Faith in the Lord was a deep knowing and a cognitive knowing… here are things the Lord has done. The Lord is not simple, some ‘idea’ that humanity cooked up to guide them through dark days. The Lord is real. He acted in our world. He does what pleases Him (6) because He made the world. He acts on behalf of His people, saving Israel out of Egypt.

Far more than some carving or statue, the Lord is the God over heaven and earth.

And so Israel praises the Lord and we, who follow the Lord –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit- today, follow a God who acts in history and acts on behalf of His people.

We praise God for who He is and what He has done and does today.

Praise you, Lord. Praise You, Lord God Almighty. Amen.


Wednesday, October 26: Psalm 134- loved, protected and cared for.

Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD. May the LORD bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth (Ps 134)

This simple Psalm reminds me that some days is it best to just praise the Lord. No litany of needs. No list of intercessions… just praise, adoration and love for the Lord.

Sometimes what the heart and soul need is to sit in the Lord’s lap and bask in His glory… words are optional and when I do speak it is of His wonder, His grace, His mercy, His loving-kindness.

Sometimes what a child needs is to crawl up into mommy or daddy’s lap and simply be present with them… feel safe… feel the rhythm of mom or dad’s heartbeat and be in their embrace.

That’s what this Psalm invites me and you to do.

Will you join me?

Praise You, LORD. I come to be with You… You who made the heavens and the earth. You who invite me into Your presence. Praise You, LORD.



Tuesday, October 25: Psalm 133- Unity in God's family.

How precious is unity to the Lord? It is a pretty big deal if I read Psalm 133 correctly.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore (Ps 133).

Now I admit that the image of oil running down the head to the beard isn’t exactly appealing to me. My immediate reaction is ‘Yuck, what a mess!’ But then I work to step into the word picture, it comes alive. Oil anointed Aaron when he became priest of Israel, so this is a sacred moment being described. The oil is a sign of God’s anointing so gobs of oil signals gobs of anointing. Putting these together pictures the overabundance of God’s anointing on Aaron, the priest of God among the people of God. And that is precious and wonderful.

I sit early in the morning. It has been a dry week and yet the grass is thick and wet with early morning dew. Morning dew on the ground is another precious sight. Grass frons lap it up. Small animals ingest life giving water as they scurry and taste and forage. Dew is a beautiful thing and in dryer climates it sustains life. Dew truly is a blessing bestowed from the Lord.

How important is unity?  It is a precious to the Lord as abundant anointing upon the priest. It is as precious to the Lord as dew is to life…

Now my meditations push me to consider unity in God’s family… denominationally divided, how do we exude unity?

Core beliefs... Israel had 12 tribes and yet the core beliefs are what kept them one (at least during the best of times).

The Lord God as singularly worshiped… there is no other God but the Lord revealed in the NT as Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Certainly this is a core belief so it could be implicitly included above but it is essential so it stands alone for me.

Celebrations… this causes me to appreciate in a deeper way Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday. On those days, like the great pilgrim feasts of Israel, God’s world wide body of Christ stands together and proclaims our core truths.

Unity… it is a big deal to the Lord. How am I enhancing unity? How are you???

Lord, I believe in the holy catholic universal church and the common-union of saints. I believe, no matter our human differences we are one in Your sight. Help me, Jesus, to take these beliefs and make them a practical reality of how I live. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, October 24: Psalm 132- Do you believe in Jesus?.

The word ‘covenant’ filled my thoughts as I read this Psalm. Yes, the word appears in verse 12, but its concept is woven throughout. God is faithful to the Word He spoke to David.

God is faithful to the Word He has spoken, period.

God’s Word is sure. It is a foundation upon which one can stake her or his life. The Lord is a God of covenant, promise, oath…

As pilgrims marched toward Zion, Jerusalem, they sang of God’s faithfulness. As I live today I will sing of God’s faithfulness. God has been there all my days. God was there in the past, God is present in my today and I know God will be there in the days to come

The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever” (11-12).

The Lord has sworn to us that all who believe in Jesus will be saved (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9). I believe. Do you believe?

Lord, give me strategies to spread Your name and Your fame throughout all the earth, so that every tribe and nation and tongue will know You.

As the ancient temple stood as a beacon of hope pointing to the one true God, may Your church today stand tall and true to You declaring You the one true God. Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit to You and for Your glory I pray. Amen.


Saturday, October 22: Psalm 131- In loving arms.

This Psalm provides a different feel than many of the Psalms of ascent. I picture groups of people walking to Jerusalem singing the Psalms of ascent. When they get to this one, stillness falls over the group. A stillness ushered in by a calm assurance of being cared for and loved. A stillness built on relationship and trust. A stillness growing from contentment in God’s care.

The second verse, the heart of the Psalm sets my heart to rest. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Images fill my thoughts. My own young children nestled in their mother’s arms, safe and secure. Mama singing to them or reading to them. Maybe they drift to sleep. Maybe they are laughing, Whatever the activity, it is a safe place. A place of affirmation and unconditional love.

I realize that the images of my thoughts have become my experience. I am sitting with my God and God is to me what the mama in my thoughts was to the child. I am safe. I am secure. I am loved. I linger in this place. I am with the Lord and the Lord is with me

Gently I am reminded that not everyone knows about this safe place with Jesus and I am God’s herald sent to tell people about this God I know and worship.

Have you stepped into intimacy with the Lord today? I pray so…

Lord, I am blessed to have had this time with You. I am rejuvenated and motivated to live today to honor You. Grant me the wisdom and strength to be a godly difference maker in my world today. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Friday, October 21: Psalm 130- A gift of forgiveness.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning (3-6).

My heart melted as I read these words. The calluses caused by life felt as if they peeled off. My heart breathed in the truth of the Psalmists’ words.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? Certainly I could not stand… sin besets me constantly. Thoughts, actions, motivations, inconsistencies each are constant reminders that I am full of sin. I certainly could not stand before the Lord apart from the blood of Jesus Christ covering my sins

But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. By God’s love and grace my sin is not the end of the story… God’s forgiveness floods my life. I don’t deserve this. Thanks be to the Spirit!  I open my arms and receive it. Forgiveness... what a gift, like a refreshing shower after a hard day of life. Forgiveness washes my heart and mind and soul. Refreshed I have energy to serve my great and loving King.

I look back at the verse… reverence jumps off the page. I serve with utter reverence for the One who washes me clean, for the one who is greater than all others.

I wait… Oh, I wait for the presence of the Lord confirming the truth of what I have just experienced. The Lord is the difference in life…  He has refreshed my life, drawn me close, forgiven me and loved me.

Is there a better way to begin my day?  I don’t think so.

Thank You, Oh Lord, for this time with You. Thank You for cleaning the scum of sin from my life. Thank You for restoring my soul.

Cleansed, redeemed, forgiven and restored, I pledge to serve You reverently this and every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Thursday, October 20: Mark 16- With first century eyes.

Chapter 16 feels like an epilogue or a brief footnote explaining the third day. It is anything but a dramatic conclusion. In fact it ends with a whimper… women trembling (frightened) and bewildered (8).

The morning after, the Sabbath begins in an inauspicious manner. When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body (1). These women are expecting to find a dead body that needs to be wrapped in spices. This has probably happened before. A person dies shortly before the Sabbath, so they are hastily bury the body and will be tended to it more fully when the Sabbath concludes. Along the way the women remember Jesus is buried in a fancy tomb with a rolling stone as a doorway. “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb?” they wonder (3).

The situation goes from normal to strange when they see the tomb open and some man in white they do not know sitting beside the tomb. This man has a message… things are getting more strange but the moment! “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you’ ” (6-7).

What in the world does ‘risen’ mean? We read this passage today with 2000 years of Christian history and teaching in our minds, but for these women this is a strange and unexpected development. No wonder they were trembling and bewildered!

From my vantage point, as one steeped in Christianity from my earliest remembrances, the women’s reaction seems to be a surprise and a bit faithless. And yet from the historical vantage point of the women it makes much more sense. Who rises from the dead? Who has a sentinel in white at an empty tomb with a message that a dead person you saw die and be buried has risen and is waiting to meet his disciples? I mean, this is strange!

As I considered this scenario, it occurred to me that true non-believers, people who don’t know the story of Jesus, might react in similar ways. They may not be frightened and trembling, but they could certainly be bewildered. Why would Jesus die on Friday only to be raised on Sunday? Until a person understands the significance of all this it is bewildering.

Maybe, just maybe, Mark’s conclusion is meant to connect with those for whom the Christian faith is new.

Stepping into the account in this way certainly helps me sense the gravity of the empty tomb in a new and fresh manner.

Jesus, thank You for rising from the dead for me and all who believe. Holy Spirit, thank You for inspiring Mark to tell the story in stark detail. Mark’s words help me experience the empty tomb in a fresh way. Thank You, Father God, for Your way of salvation.

You alone I worship and adore… Praise be the name of the Lord, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Amen.


Wednesday, October 19: Mark 15- Jesus Son of God.

Mark’s Gospel climaxes with the declaration of the centurion, who cried out when Jesus died, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (39).

There we have it, the second half of the declaration of who Jesus is. In Mark 8:29 Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah. And now He is declared to be the Son of God. With this, Mark has fulfilled his opening statement, The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God (Mark 1:1).

To acknowledge Jesus is anything short of being God’s Son is to miss the message of the Gospel. Is Jesus a great teacher and rabbi? Yes! Was Jesus a revolutionary? Yes! Was Jesus a prophet and healer? Yes and Yes!

But our declaration of Jesus cannot stop with Him being some great human. He is the Son of God!  This makes all the difference. As John put it in his Gospel, ‘Jesus is God, who became human and dwelt among us’.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1, 14).

Many people think of Jesus or even revere Him as a great man, even a prophet of God, but Christians believe Jesus is God’s one and only Son.

Today I remind myself that the core of my faith is Jesus… God in human flesh who gave His life to pay the penalty for my sins and the sins of everyone who believes in Him and confesses Him to be Lord of their lives.

Thank You, Father, for showing me the way of Jesus and for sending Your Holy Spirit who guided me to believe. Jesus, I believe You are Lord and God and I will follow Your way and live for You all the days of my life. In Your name Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, October 18: Mark 14- .

Smack in the middle of the Garden of Gethsemane story there was a line that hit me. Jesus speaking to Peter who was asked to stand watch over Jesus fell asleep. Upon his return Jesus confronts Peter and concludes with these words:  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (38).

This honest assessment burrowed deeply into me this morning.

What particularly hit me was the weakness of the flesh. How often I want to do this or that good thing, but when it comes around I just don’t have the willpower or drive to do it.

Serving the poor is a good thing to do. However, when asked to give up a weekend or a part of vacation, saying ‘yes’ is much more difficult and may not happen.

Giving a tithe to the church and offerings to other Christian ministries is great, but becomes much tougher when I have to write the check.

Witnessing to Jesus is an admonition throughout the NT, but working faith into conversations can be more difficult

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak

Lord, give me the strength and boldness to follow through with all those behaviors I know would honor you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Monday, October 17: Mark 13- Watch.

The teaching of the chapter makes it clear that Jesus will return and gather His elect from every nation (26-27). The end is coming. But when? Only the Father knows.

So what do people do in the interim? Do we stop what we are doing and run to the hills? Do we tremble in fear? What? What is to be the posture of people waiting for Jesus?

The answer comes in verse 37. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” 

Watch; watch for signs from God that the end is near…

Watch; watch your life so that you are found being active in God’s kingdom business…

Watch; watch your character so that you are growing into Christ likeness…

Don’t check out of life. Don't fear Jesus’ return. Watch, be alert, be attentive to the things of God’s kingdom and watch.

Hmmm… there is a lot in that one simple word, ‘watch’.

Think about it… I know I am.

I pray, Lord, that You find me diligent and living as You would have me live… In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, October 15: Mark 12- A call to self-examination.

As a religious leader, verses 38-40 directly connect to my life and occupation. Jesus spoke forcefully to His followers. As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

His message is pretty clear.  Religious leaders, beware power, prestige, being placed on a pedestal, and honor. And do not take advantage of your position for personal gain.

When you help people, when you teach as one teaching on behalf of God, it is not for show or personal gain. By implication it is for the Lord. Personal gain is not to be part of your equation.

It is all too easy for revered or talented clergy to begin to be seduce by their own ‘press notices’ and the accolades of the people.

The role of the religious leader is to listen to the Lord and act accordingly. This will not always play well with the masses.

John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve were all persecuted for things that they said and did… things that honored God but angered people.

The second to last sentences is a sad commentary on religious leaders and it should not be. Jesus’ final comment is a dire warning to religious leaders who are in it for personal gain or fame!

As a religious leader I sit up and take notice… Jesus expects His followers to guard their hearts and see that their actions and their character honors Jesus, the Father and the Spirit.

This calls me to examine my life, actions and motives…

Search me, Oh God, and see if there is any wicked way in me. And where you find some, purge them and clean them from me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Friday, October 14: Mark 11- Authority we have in Christ.

I was fascinated by Jesus’ exchange with the authorities regarding authority.

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ ...” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (27-33).

On the surface Jesus gives a cleaver response without divulging the authority He has. But my thoughts went beyond the conversation to thoughts about authority.

Clearly the issue of Jesus’ authority was important to the Jewish leaders. However, I am wondering what kind of response the Jewish leaders were anticipating?

Their actions to date would suggest that if Jesus told them His authority was from God, the Father, they would not have believed Him. I am assuming that if the Jewish ruling council gave Jesus His authority, they would know that. So were they thinking He might say the Roman governor was His authority? Was the question purely a ruse? I just don’t know.

Whether the Jewish leaders understood it or not, authority is an important concern in the spiritual world. In Matthew 28 Jesus says that he has “all authority.” And as Jesus’ disciples, understanding our authority in Jesus is an important concept in the Christian faith.

Knowing our authority in Christ allows us to prevail when the forces of evil assail us.

Do you understand the authority Jesus has imparted to us? If so, are you living into it? If not drop me an email and I can help you.

Lord, thank you for the authority Jesus has given us as His followers. Help me to live into my authority so that Your kingdom can advance and people will know that Jesus is Lord! Amen.


Thursday, October 13: Mark 10- Humbled by Jesus sacrifice.

For the third time Jesus tells his disciples what fate awaits him in Jerusalem. Verses 32-34: They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

With astonishing detail Jesus explains His impending death. I realize that Jesus was simply trying to prepare His disciples for the events to come, to give them heart amidst the emotional upheaval that they would certainly encounter.

But where my thoughts went was to Jesus who had lived with the vivid understanding of what will happen to Him in the days to come.

How horrible and difficult that must have been to know the gruesome ordeal that He had to endure. The events of His execution are horrific enough, but to know them in detail before they happen make them even worse in my book.

Knowing what was coming, Jesus still continued to live for other people, to tell the way of salvation, to heal and help the hurting and sick. Knowing the horrific future never disrupted his day to day work and care for people.

I am more humbled by Jesus’ sacrifice, having considered these words. He knew and still He gave. He knew and still He marched on to His death so that all who believe could live.

O what a savior! O what a Lord!

O sacred head now wounded with grief and scorn to bear… mine, mine was the transgression and yours the grief and pain.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for going through with the cross, dying so that I might live.

I thank You. I live for You. Halleluiah, what a Savior. Halleluiah, what a Lord!!!


Wednesday, October 12: Mark 9- .

I found myself mulling over and chewing on verse 1. And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

This is a curious statement.

It certainly is not referring to Jesus’ second coming at the end of days, since that has not happened and the time line for this word is over.

It could refer to the transfiguration which is the next story, but it would be a curious introduction to an event about to happen.

Some have suggest it refers to Pentecost but if so, this verse is the only allusion to Pentecost in Mark’s Gospel, so this feels unlikely.

It could refer to Jesus’ death on the cross when He defeats Satan inaugurating God’s new work and kingdom. This seems more plausible since the account before is about Jesus’ death and a bit later in this chapter Jesus again teaches about His death.

For me tying this to the resurrection seems most likely, but I don’t know that anyone can be definitive about the precise connection.

What is clear is that God’s kingdom has come in power, not necessarily in fullness, but the kingdom has come in power. And this communicated a great deal to me. Living in a time after the death of Jesus’ contemporaries, it means that I live in a time when Jesus’ kingdom is here with power.

Power to do what? Defeat Satan and all the enemies of God. Save sinners. Bring justice to broken systems. Heal the sick and hurting. Connect people with their God and Creator. Announce the day of the Lord and good news to all.

We, who are alive, live in that day! God’s kingdom may not yet have come in fullness, but it is breaking into our dark and hurting world. And we are God’s messengers announcing God’s good news and as we stay connected to Jesus we can announce it with the power of God.

How can I live into this today? How can you? It is our calling and our opportunity… let’s seize the day and bring glory to our God!

Send me out today to announce Your Kingdom. Send me out to witness in word and deed that Your kingdom is present with power. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen


Tuesday, October 11: Mark 8- Jesus a man who cares.

Devotionally I was drawn to the opening verses of this chapter and the person of Jesus displayed in its words. During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance” (1-3).

I tried to step into this account. Here is Jesus, a folk hero for the people. They hang on His every word and hope for a miracle. A huge crowd has gathered to see Jesus, 4000 men, easily 12,000 men, women and children. Most people lived hand to mouth, so missing a meal was significant.

Even though Jesus could easily have slipped into celebrity mode, distant and removed from the people and their plight, He doesn’t. Jesus stays connected to the people. So as the daily meal is approaching, Jesus worries not about himself but for the people. His heart breaks and compassion flows out. “What will the people eat?”

I cannot image one celebrity today having this kind of compassion. Performers don’t care what sacrifices people have made to be at a concert. No athlete cares about the sacrifices people make to attend their games. And the same could be said for politicians as they look out at their rallies.

Jesus is different than the celebs of today.

Jesus cares… He really and truly cares for the regular person.

This warms my heart…Jesus cares. God cares about the mundane issues of life, about the mundane issues of my life.

What a gift, to be reminded how much the Lord cares.

He cared for the crowd back then and He cares for us today.

Dear God, thank You for this glimpse into Your personality. You care. Jesus cares. The Holy Spirit cares. I am cared for!

I bask in this moment and thought.

Lord, grace me with Your heart. Teach me to care for the everyday person around me. I pray this in Jesus’ name and for His honor. Amen.


Monday, October 10: Mark 7- Majoring in the minors.

The Pharisees in the first story of the chapter major in the minors. They get all uptight about eating without washing hands yet gloss over the withholding of money needed to care for their parents. Jesus takes them to task for their behavior.

I wondered about my life.  Are there times when I major in the minors? Are there times when I focus on the less significant, even insignificant, issues of faith and life while at the same time missing the call to love others near to the heart of God issues? Only through honest self-examination can I hope to discover if I am acting like a Pharisee.

“Keep short accounts,” God whispers into my thoughts. “Check in regularly with Me, that way correction will be simpler and sin-filled patterns will not have time to become engrained in your life,” continues the Spirit of God.

Lord, I still need to grow in the practice of self-examination. Help me, Jesus, to grow in this practice so that my life will reflect more and more clearly Your life, Jesus, my Lord. This I pray in Your name. Amen.


Saturday, October 8: Mark 6- Can Jesus be seen in me?.

I found myself wondering about Jesus’ birth family. Mary we know about and we know she was part of the early Church. James and Judas (Jude) wrote letters included in the NT. But what about Joseph and Simon? Today’s chapter and its parallel in Matthew 13 are the only places that these two brothers are mentioned. And sisters only get generically named.

What I was really wondering was if these two brothers and sisters of Jesus became followers of Jesus or not. The clearest answer is that we do not know. James and Jude, as I noted above, not only were believers but were contributors to the NT. But there is not information about Joseph and Simon. Acts 1:14 says, They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. But this reference could only refer to Jude and James, so it is really no help. And his sisters are not mentioned in connection with the early church at all.

So I wondered…

Maybe ‘yes’ and maybe ‘no’.

There are no guarantees. Even in the most faithful of families there is no guarantee that all the family will believe in Jesus. Each person has free will and only by the sovereign work of God in a person’s life does faith blossom.

We can share, we can witness, we can live congruent and faith-filled lives that point others to Jesus, but there are no guarantees.

Is it futile to witness then? Absolutely not. As we witness in word and deed we glorify our Father in heaven and it is often our moments of witness that the Holy Spirit uses to introduce people to Jesus.

So I thought… Lord, am I living my life in ways that others see You through my living?

I pray so… how about you? Is your life pointing others to Jesus?

Lord, may my life point others to You. This is my simple pray, prayed in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, October 7: Mark 5- We still need Jesus.

How many people come to Jesus because of need? In this chapter alone we have the synagogue leader and the woman. Need causes us to do good things and bad.

The poor person who is trying to feed a family might steal to get food. The synagogue leader goes to this traveling rabbi and miracle worker named Jesus.  Need drives us…

I started thinking about the upper-middle class lifestyle in the USA. We are working so very hard to eliminate need.  Much of this is so very good, creating lives where food, shelter, healthcare, education are a given, but, and so often there is a ‘but,’ as we create these comfortable lives we are lessening the need for God. Human advance provides what former generation sought from God.

In my 21st century life neither Jairus nor the woman with bleeding would have needed Jesus; they would likely have gone to a doctor.

We humans will never be able to eliminate need so the door will always be open to people to look to Jesus.

In my world of plenty, I am wondering how I should live in order to make people, with plenty of material blessings, aware they still have need for Jesus…

Oh, Lord, help me. I am not very successful in showing people who do not yet believe in You, the great joy, blessing and value I have found in serving and following You.. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.



Thursday, October 6: Mark 4- Is Jesus changing me?.

I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the disciples to learn who Jesus truly was. They sit at His feet all day and hear Him teach like no one has ever taught. The parables were confusing at first but then Jesus explains them. In yesterday’s chapter Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, which he knew would spark a flashback by the religious leaders. And then to top it off, today's chapter ends with a spectacular storm calming miracle! Their heads must have been spinning.

I sit and read these events but they don't hit me as if I witnessed them first hand. I have 2000+ years of church teaching that prepare me to read the stories of Jesus.  Lately I have been reading books about World War 2. I am fascinated and really enjoy these books. But no story, however well told, can be the same as the men who lived it firsthand... men who heard the speeches and fought the battles.

Jesus is doing all these things that disciples have never seen or heard about. It had to be blowing their minds. No wonder it took them a long time to truly believe… their entire world view was being reshaped!

I may not have lived back then, but I have to allow the Lord to reshape my life daily as He forms me into the person who emulates Him in my world.

The thought penetrates.  Am I emulating Jesus? Am I allowing His life, love and desires invade my life and change me?

What a great question to mull over during this day…

Oh, Jesus, help me to read Your Gospels with such intensity that they shock me and rearrange my world view and my life. I pray this in Your name, Jesus.  Amen.



Wednesday, October 5: Mark 3- Am I blinded?.

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (4-6).

I am struck by how caustic the Pharisees can be. This poor deformed man is healed on a Sabbath and the Pharisees go ballistic.  So ballistic, in fact, that they conspire with hated enemies –the Herodians- on plans to kill Jesus!

What a reflection of human nature those Pharisees are… they provide a window into the darker places of the human soul.

The Pharisees were so locked into their human traditions that they are willing to break God’s law in order to keep their human laws (which they believed honored God’s law). How confused is that?

In order to keep their understanding of Sabbath, they were willing to conspire to kill someone which is a direct break of the 10 Commandments. That's how far off track we humans can become.

I began to wonder if there were places I, too, am so blind? I wondered if there are places where I confuse my human understanding or the way my society understands things that it causes me to break the clear meaning of God’s Word?  The contextually honest and historically faithful understanding of God’s Word must be the bedrock of my life.  I must constantly be holding myself up to its standard NOT making my life the standard for God’s Word.

In my society hate speech is becoming the norm. Differences in religion, race and nationality are open game for hate speech. Yes, I may disagree with various political views or religious beliefs, but to speak hatefully about them or toward them is a breach of God’s Word to not let unwholesome talk come out of my mouth and Jesus’ admonition in Mathew 5 about calling someone ‘raca’, you fool.

So as I watch and listen to the Pharisees, the Lord pierces my soul causing me to look at my own life…

How about you?

Oh, Lord, we can be so caustic as humans… Give me strength to live for You and according to Your ways, not by my human instincts which are corrupted by sin.  I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, October 4: Mark 2- Jesus makes house calls.

The saying of Jesus, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (17) caught my attention.

Jesus, in these parallel statements, equates healthy with righteous and sick with sinners. The suggestion is that if we think we are righteous we don’t need Jesus. But if we recognize that we are sinners Jesus is there to help us. The story which provides the context for this saying is the calling of Levi, a tax collector, and a party at his house where he introduces Jesus to his tax collector friends. Jesus is willing to spend time with these folks because He knows that many recognize that they have need of Him.

To this day Jesus remains a doctor to souls... and anyone who recognizes that they need a Savior (a doctor) will find Jesus willing to make a house call.

If you recognize a spiritual need... reach out to Jesus. I am certain that He will come to you as He came to me years ago.

Oh, Lord, show us how much we need You and how willing You are to come and save us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Monday, October 3: Mark 1- Simply because you are you.


I never noticed this before. In Mark’s Gospel the very first time we meet Jesus, the Father is affirming Him as His beloved son. Verses 9-11: At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

At this point in the Gospel Jesus has not done a thing... and yet the Father speaks of how pleased He is with Jesus. You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.

We live in a performance culture. When we perform well, people praise us. Affirmations in our world are usually based on performance. And yet, the Father affirms Jesus before He has done a thing.

Jesus is affirmed by the Father for being, not for doing.

That strikes right to my heart. While I know my parents loved me as unconditionally as humans can, it was always performance that drew praise and affirmation. I cannot think of one time I was affirmed simply for being...

How refreshing it is to listen to the Father bless His son for simply being His son. And I have the distinct impression that our Father God does that for all His children!

God loves me (and you) for being me (and you). Warts and all, God is pleased that I am (and you are) His child.

My heart is melting under the love of the Father.

Oh, Lord, what a wonderful time in Your Word. I am wordless and blessed because I am loved by You and I don’t have to perform for Your love. You love me for me, with all my imperfections.  You still love me!!!

Love for You, Oh Lord, is welling up inside of me... I am Yours and I have this growing desire to live for You. Oh, God, I pray that my life brings You honor... through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, October 1: Psalm 129- Victory in Jesus.

 “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me (1-2).

I was touched by the final clause of verse 2: but they have not gained the victory over me.

Marching to Jerusalem the pilgrims sing this Psalm. Among the praise and adulation of the Lord, this Psalm rings a different tune.

Life doesn’t always go the way we hope. Some people seem to think that the blessing of God means a cushy life. This Psalm sings of God’s blessing during the tough times of life. Whether brought on by our own sin or the sin or others or some combination of the two, ‘stuff happens’. And the pilgrims marching to Jerusalem were not afraid to sing so. But this song is anything but defeatist. ‘Stuff happens’ but the stuff doesn’t have to define us or derail us. Oh, the ‘stuff’, it might change the direction or trajectory of our life, but ‘stuff’ doesn’t have to ruin our lives.

Again the pilgrims sing, but they have not gained the victory over me!  Halleluiah!!

Corrie Ten Boom, Joni Eareckson Tada, Chuck Colson, endured and suffered much, but they lived on into the victory of Jesus. The 12 apostles all faced trials and even execution, but they live on into the victory of Jesus.

Walking with Jesus means holding on during the tough days and finding victory, thanks be to Jesus.

I sat and thought about the tough days the Lord has brought me through. Truth is I am a more mature Christ-follower because God showed Himself faithful during those tough times and I am forever grateful to the Lord.

As I live today, the day before the Lord’s Day and worship with the saints tomorrow, I am filling my thoughts with reminders that God has always been there and any victory I have gained is thanks to God and God alone.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit… thank You for carrying me when I am tired, weak and hurting. Thank You for consoling me when I am broken. Thank You for breathing life into me when I felt dead inside. Thank You for always being there with and for me. I don’t deserve this wonder and love and yet You lavish it upon me. Praise be to You, Lord God. Amen and Amen.