Wednesday, November 30: 1Corinthians 3- Behavior matters.


Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1-3).

Paul’s chapters are so rich, so many truths about our God and living as a child of God. This morning it was the sentences above that penetrated my heart.

Some people in the church seem to be more mature than others. Sometimes it is due to longevity as a Christ follower. A new follower hasn’t had time to learn and grow. Unfortunately, some long timers never seem to grow. And sometimes I get the impression that it is not ‘right’ to talk about this in church.

Paul, howeve,r states it head on, and while he doesn’t give a solution, I believe one will come to light as we move through the letter.

First, Paul confronts the Corinthians that they, in general, are not living as ‘spirit-empowered’ followers, rather they are still worldly, mere infants he calls them. His inference is that they should be far more spiritual than they are… it is as if he is saying, ‘get on with growing’!

And his indicator is behavior… not conversions or outreach, not spiritual gifts and manifestations, but behavior. Now quite possibly he could have addressed other lacks but what he was confronting was a behavior issue. And in that behavior issue he saw their ‘childishness.’

So this discussion took me to an internal place where God began probing my maturity. Am I a person of the spirit or am I still an infant in Christ? As I probed through the Spirit, God used the grid of behavior. Am I quarrelsome, need my own way, divisive, prideful, mean spirited or full of mean words… and the like?

How I behave toward and with people matters… and it matters a lot.

I have much to chew on and many places in my life where I need significant growth….

Lord, open my eyes to how I treat people. Show me, Lord, my strengths and weaknesses that I may grow in the power of the Spirit in all aspects of my life as I live for You. I pray this is Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, November 26: Psalm 145- Reflecting on parenting.

Not long ago I was asked some questions about parenting and what the Bible teaches about it. So parenting is on my mind lately, and as I was reading this Psalm verses 3-7 connected with parenting and drew me to the Lord.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works— and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

I realize that these verses were intended to speak to a wider audience than parents, but they certainly seem appropriate to parents.

As parents, if we want to pass our faith along to our children, these verses suggest a few things to do…

Praise the Lord with You own life… As parents we pass along who we are. Are you a Lord God Almighty worshipper?

Commend and speak of the Lord… bring the things of God into your life and speech. What things do your children hear you say about the Lord? Do they hear you pray? When they ask, can you give answers in their age-appropriate language? Do you share the great things God has done with your children?

Grow in your relationship with the Lord… do you meditate on what God has done and grow in Him?

Celebrate God’s goodness… are there ways you and your family celebrate the Lord? Celebration is such a good word. It can be big and planned or it can be spontaneous, singing a song with laughter and joy in thanks to the Lord.

Most of my parenting days are gone, but my adult children can still benefit from seeing these things in my life.

Bottom line, am I living faithfully with the Lord for my children and others to see?

Now here is some food to chew on throughout the day…

Lord, You are good, great in fact, and I pray that people see my love for You in how I live. I praise You and thank You for life and an opportunity to live my life in a way that is a beacon pointing to You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, November 28: 1Corinthians 1- Other people matter.

Two portions of this chapter arrested my attention. Right out of the chute verse 2 caused me to pause and ponder. To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: It struck me how Paul connected the Corinthian believers with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although I might worship with one congregation in one city, I truly am connected to all Believers everywhere. I can be so myopic, sometimes, thinking only of myself or my congregation. But Paul’s words remind me to open my eyes and see that faith in Jesus connects all who believe, women, men, young and old from every continent and context. Human divisions don’t count in Christ’s body.

I’m sitting in an airport as I meditate. The people next to me are speaking French and the array of skin hues covers the spectrum. Faith in Jesus would connect me with everyone who loves and follows Jesus. What a beautiful picture is the church of Jesus Christ.

The second latch for me came in verses 26-29: Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

So much of life is about making it, becoming successful, accepted, and respectable. And yet to build His church in Corinth, God chose mostly the down and out.  As Paul put it: God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things….

I am wondering if He still does this. Am I not a down and outer?  I am wondering if my striving to be accepted is counterproductive to building His church.  Because God worked that way in Corinth doesn’t automatically mean He does it everywhere and all the time.

These words certainly make me realize that in the church we must open our arms wide and accept anyone and everyone God brings our way, no matter if they are ‘well healed’ or not. God is not a respecter of status or class, God looks at the heart… and so should I.

Well, these words to the Corinthians are giving me lots to chew on… I hope the same is true for you.

Lord, thank you for your family, Your ‘world wide’ family. Help me to grow to appreciate the whole of Your Church, the gifts, abilities and specialties of your church.  Along with this, Lord, help me to not judge people by their ‘human worth’ but by the spirit within them… Your spirit within them. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Tuesday, November 29: 1Corinthians 2- Christ Crucified.

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (2).

Powerful words… to know nothing… except Jesus Christ and him crucified. The heart of the Gospel… knowing Christ crucified.

That God would come and die for us, for me…overwhelming… really and truly overwhelming. Let’s face it, who am I; who are you that God would give His life payment for our sins?!!!

As a preacher, as an apostle, and I suspect, as a son of God, Paul strove to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Here is the core of the faith and the essential element that separates Christianity from all other religions.

Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, died carrying the weight and guilt of sin for everyone who believes and follows Him!

I am rejoicing and delighting, and at the same time, staggered by the wonder of this truth. My heart is exploding with thanks and praise to Jesus…

Words cannot carry the praise of my heart… Oh, Jesus, Lord and Savior, I bow to You along with the Father and the Spirit. Thank You, Praise You… glory to You, Lord God. Amen and amen.


Friday, November 25: Psalm 144- Loved.

David sees the Lord as active and integral in every part of his life. Warrior David sees the Lord in the strength of His hands the blows of his sword (see verse 1-2). Do I, do you, see Him integral to our lives? If I am a lawyer, do I see the Lord integral to my understanding the legal code, to my ability to defend, prosecute or mediate?

If I am an accountant do I see the Lord as integral to my ability to decipher ledgers and manage the complex markets of today?

As a doctor, teacher, mother, father, carpenter, business owner, cook and so on, do I see the Lord as integral to my work skills and work successes?

Then David muses in verses 3-4: LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.

What a thought… Why God? Why? Why do You trifle with us, mere humans? Why do you give us a second thought?

Other people may be able to go deeper into these verses than I can, but as I ponder these words I land on love. Lord God, You love us and so You care for us. And this is one amazing realization. I am loved by the infinite ,all-wise, all-powerful, creator God. This realization simply blows me away!!!

I am overwhelmed this morning by this realization.  I mean, I am having a visceral reaction.  I am overwhelmed and bathed in God’s love.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. He looks down from His perch in Heaven’s glory and cares for me and you and us. Oh my. The Great and Powerful Lord of ALL cares for me…

I bow to You, Lord. What can I do but surrender to Your gaze and Your love?  Through Jesus Christ I pray. Amen


Thursday, November 24: Psalm 143- In dark days remember what God has done .


This Psalm grows out of love and devotion to the Lord. David’s lifelong connection with the Lord continues to bare spiritual fruit in his life.

He is troubled, beset by enemies and he cries out in prayer. In the center of this Psalm David works himself off the ledge by pressing into his faith in the Lord.

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land (4-6).

Even as he wearies and grows faint David falls back on the faithfulness of the Lord throughout the years. He remembers what God has done over the years and then he cries out for the Lord… he thirsts and presses into the Lord.

Such wisdom…

In dark days remember what God has done. And remembering, give thanks to the Lord and nestle into Him. I’ve been thirsty, not to the extreme David pictures, but I have been thirsty. You can’t get it out of your mind. You long for even a sip of water.  Spiritually David is parched and he thirsts for the Lord.  ‘Lord, send me just a sip of Your presence’ is David’s cry.

Here’s the sequence… trouble, remember and nestle in.

When you meet with people filled with spiritual life wisdom, you cannot help but grow and learn. David, the wise man of faith, taught me today.

When life is hard remember what God has done in days past. Recall them, ‘relive’ them mentally, and then respond to God’s love by nestling into the Lord. There, right by his heart, rest, ask, rejoice, live and let the life of God fill you again.

A pretty good life lesson if you ask me…

Lord, thank You for the wise heart and faith-filled living of David, a man after Your own heart. As he lived with You he has mentored me. I praise You for the saints of old and the faith mentors you have put in my path throughout life. Thank You and bless You, Lord. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, November 23: Psalm 142- Connection and intimacy are the soil of truest prayer .

The setting of this Psalm struck me, When in a cave… David is alone. Oh, there may be some supporters surrounding him, but he is likely on the run, hiding out. Maybe it is early in his life when he is fleeing Saul. Maybe it is later when he is fleeing Absalom, we do not know. But he is surely hiding, fleeing, alone, emotionally, if not personally.

I don’t know if I have ever been that alone and isolated. But I can project….

Questions, wonderings… what did I do wrong? Why is God out for me? Why are these people against me, hunting me… why, what, and more whys…

Amidst his wondering David opens his heart to pray. I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.

First I wondered how I would pray in a moment of isolation and fear Would I pray or would I wallow in self-pity?

David prayed. Despite his circumstances David reached out to the Lord. He may have even been angry with the Lord but he still reached out to the Lord.

This is powerful and something I, and all of us, should remember.

Then he was honest… crying for mercy and pouring out complaints. I wonder, was he complaining about the others in his life or about God Himself???

Listening to David and praying these Psalms, prayer is reshaping within me from words spoken to God to words from my heart to God’s heart as I live with Him.

Connection and intimacy are the soil of truest prayer…

Oh, God, I long to live my day and days with You, to know You and be known by You. This is both frightening and invigorating for me. True intimacy does not come easily to me. But I am taking steps to trust You and step into Your open arms.

Through Jesus, my Lord, I step forward to You and utter these words. Amen and amen.



Tuesday, November 22: Psalm 141- Deliver us from evil.

Yesterday I noticed linkages between David’s psalm and the Lord ’s Prayer. Today I noticed another linkage. Verses 3-4 Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.

Immediately I heard in my head, And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil…

David knows his heart. David knows his propensities. David knows himself and so he prays ‘Protect me, Lord, guard my lips… watch over my heart.’

I am afraid I do not pray this pray often enough…

Lord, guard my heart, put a gate around my lips… lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. This is my morning prayer today, Lord. This is my morning prayer. Amen.


Monday, November 21: Psalm 140- Reflections on the Lord's Prayer.

As I read David’s words, a number of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer came to mind…

Deliver me from evil (or evil one), was the first to. How deeply in this Psalm David prays for protection and rescue from evildoers.

Then there was all the naming and ‘hallowing of the Lord’ and the idea of the righteous praising the Lord… hallowed be thy name bounced around my thoughts.

In the affirmation of God securing the protection of the poor, I heard the basis for our plea for daily bread and God’s will being done on earth as in heaven

Although very different this Psalm reminds me that the prayer Jesus taught is the ‘perfect’ prayer as a prayer itself and a model of key elements in most everyone’s prayers.

And so I prayed:

Our Father who art in Heaven,

             Hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,

         On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

And forgive us our debts,

         as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

    But deliver us from evil,

For thine is the kingdom, and the power

and the glory forever.  Amen.


Saturday, November 19: Psalm 139- Known.

As my eyes settled on this Psalm, and particularly the first verses, one word streamed wonderfully into my thoughts… KNOWN. I am known by the Lord.

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Along with the word ‘known’ came the words of the Tommy Walker song, “He knows my name.” The lyrics go like this:

I have a Maker

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in his hands


I have a Father

He calls me His own

He'll never leave me

No matter where I go


He knows my name

He knows my every thought

He sees each tear that falls

And He hears me when I call

This song touches my heart and certainly its sentiment grows from this Psalm and other places in Scripture. (You can listen to the song on YouTube:)

Oh, to be known by the Lord. Maybe for some people this is not a comforting thought but for me it is sooooo good. It gives me peace and comfort. To be known is to be loved. God knows me and He still loves me… AMAZING.

So here I am today, basking in being known… being known by God and being loved by God.

Thank you, Lord God. I feel so special and loved knowing that You know me intimately. You know my coming and going… You know my words before I even form them. What a gift, what a wonder… to be loved by the Lord.

Praise You and bless You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Friday, November 18: Psalm 138- Praising God before other gods.


The first words off the page grabbed me, so after I finished reading the Psalm, I returned to verse 1. I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

I find myself convicted by this Psalmists’ praise.

What first popped into my mind were times that I didn’t stand and praise God in the presence of other ‘gods’. And this was not as if Baal or some other false religious god was being lifted higher than the Lord. No, what came to mind were times when cultural ‘gods’ were being extoled and I didn’t speak of the Lord and the counter-truths He decrees.

After the guilt subsided, and frankly some of it was false guilt because I had confessed these moments of weakness, I found my spirit soaring as this verse called me to higher places. I found myself saying, ‘Yes, I can be like the Psalmist. I can stand for the Lord before gods of this world.

My culture says personhood doesn’t begin until the moment of physical birth, so a person can legally get an abortion up to the moment before birth. UUUggghhh. I am not a ‘stand outside abortion providers and shout ugly epithets at people’ kind of person. But the next time abortion comes up in a conversation I can clearly articulate my position and stand on the side of life. That also means caring for women who find themselves in the vulnerable position of pregnancy without support and caring for women and children in difficult situations after the child is born.

My culture is also torn by race and ethnicity issues. Will I stand with the Lord and on behalf of care and dignity for all people no matter the race or nationality? I can.

I am reminded of two faith heroes, William Wilberforce and Mother Teresa. Both of these people stood with the Lord against gods of their day. Wilberforce stood and labored against the slave trade and Mother Teresa stood with the dying and discarded of Calcutta.

Sometimes praising the Lord in the face of other gods means standing against (Wilberforce) and sometimes it means standing with (Mother Teresa)…

Oh, Lord, I pray for strength to praise you in the face of false gods and that I know when praising You calls me to stand against and when it calls me to stand with.

Teach me Your ways, Oh Lord, my God. In the name of the one Lord of earth and sky, Jesus. Amen.



Thursday, November 17: Romans 16- A people builder or people destroyer.

This is one of my favorite chapters. I know that its’ content isn’t stimulating nor does it contain some great Christian Truth. What I love is the list of people. I listen to these names and what Paul recalls about them and I smile. I can make a difference. I can be a friend, a ‘father’ in the faith, a co-laborer, a deacon and so on.

These were everyday people and they all figured prominently in Paul’s life and ministry.

I can do that… I can figure in other people’s lives and faith! I can make a difference in at least one other life… and maybe more.

I just love the power of people together. It can be so much more effective than individuals.

Reading this chapter today, I noticed from verse 17 that we also have the power to harm as well as help. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them (17).

Divisiveness hurts people and God’s family…

As encouraged as I am that I can make a difference in peoples’ lives and can encourage them in the Lord, I am also feeling warned that stoking petty or chronic divisiveness is a horror in God’s eyes…

I am asking myself… “What kind of person am I? A people builder or people destroyer?”

How about you, what kind of person are you?

Lord, I seek to be a people builder… please correct me when and where I fail and equip and mature me to be a better and better people builder as I grow in and with You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, November 16: Romans 15- Endurance and encouragement.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1-6).

The life of faith is a marathon. Although certain aspects of faith may grow easier or more ‘natural’ as we mature in our walk with Jesus, walking with Jesus is always countercultural. The life view of people without the spark of Jesus within them is always at odds with people following Jesus... thus Paul’s call to endurance.

Endurance, keeping at it, never giving up or giving in, standing our ground… the word pictures and descriptors are endless. Do I, do you, have the metal to stand with Jesus all the days of our life… no matter what life brings our way?

Jesus is both the model of endurance and the Giver of strength to endure…

There is a second prominent ‘E’ in today’s reading… encouragement.

Returning to my marathon example… imagine completing a marathon without hearing one word of encouragement. As difficult as a marathon is, not hearing one cheering fan, one positive word from a coach, a friend, a family member; not seeing one smiling face. Imagine running a marathon on a deserted course all by yourself.  Oh, my, how much more difficult that would be!

Paul says, Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. That encouragement. And again, May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other…

The encouragement of others keeps us going when we are lacking the same strength within ourselves… And the point, help others endure.

As I consider this ‘E’ word, I am wondering who might I encourage today… How about you? Who might you encourage to keep on with Jesus?

Lord use my words, my smile, my ‘atta boy’ to help someone toward the finish life of faith, walking and enduring with You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, November 15: Romans 14- Disputable Matters of faith.

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters (1).  After starting the thought with this bold statement, Paul goes on to talk about food and special days for worship.

Disputable matters of faith… these are issues and concerns that do not relate to salvation per se. Paul reminds us that it doesn’t matter what we eat; if for conscience sake someone you know doesn’t eat some particular food what’s the big deal? Really.

Don’t make it an issue, Paul says.

There are things of substance, and there are things that are not substance; major in substance not the minor disputable matters.

Paul is clear in verse 14 that all foods are clean, but to make an issue and hurt someone else’s faith (weaker though it might be because they don’t eat something) is wrong.

As I thought about this, I realized there are places to draw the faith-line, but many issues that divide believers are disputable matters. I thought about the various denominations and worship traditions, most differences are honestly disputable issues:

Choir, organ, band or worship team… does it really matter? No, it is a preference.

60 minute, 90 minute or 2 hour service… does it really matter? No, it is a matter of preference and one person is not more spiritual than the other!

Liturgy or free worship… again, Scripture doesn’t make a singular case.

I could continue the list… but this is Paul’s point, which is the message of the Holy Spirit.

God is convicting me about pride and self-righteousness. I have my views on certain disputable matters, which grow from my study of Scripture. But other people have differing views built on Scripture,

DON'T MAKE A BIG DEAL, God is saying to me. Don’t belittle others on disputable matters.

A second thought I have from this passage is to be convinced in my faith. Study, learn, grow and know what I believe and why… Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind (5). God has given us the gift of His Word. The Lord has given me a mind to think and process, I should be using all my faculties to the best of my ability to apprehend and comprehend my faith. And this is true for each of us…

Be convinced of your faith…

Lord, help me never to settle but to study to show myself approved… Help me to work at my faith, to study Your Word… to know what I believe and why I built on YOUR Word and Your Word alone. Lead me and teach me, I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, November 14: Romans 13- .

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God (1).

This verse touched me viscerally.

I write these blogs a few weeks ahead of the date to provide me with a little cushion in case something comes up at the last minute. This means I am writing this shortly before the general and presidential elections in the US. I do not know if Hillary or Donald will be elected President for the next 4 years. I struggle with both as the next leader and figurehead of my country. And then I read verse one and the first section of this chapter. My heart has palpitations…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities [of Donald or Hilary], for there is no authority except that which God has established. [Their Administration has] been established by God. This is so difficult for me to understand.

This is a case of Scripture I have to submit out of loyalty and trust in God not because there is some reason intrinsically in me that says “Oh, this makes sense.”

As I open my thoughts to the world I can, in measure, feel the plight of sisters and brothers throughout the ages and the continents who have lived and are living under regimes far worse than I will face. They, too, had to make sense of this word from the Lord.

I have much to learn about ‘being subject to governing authorities’…

Oh, God, help me live faithfully to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, November 12: Romans 12- Continually.

I feel excited as I open today and see that Romans 12 is today’s reading. For me this is one of the great chapters of the entire Bible.

In view of everything God has done for you, live like this… (my paraphrase of how the chapter opens).

Now that I have anticipated the chapter, I will read it and see what verse the Lord signals for me to meditate upon today.

Reading this chapter produced greater delight than I anticipated. God’s Word is deeper, richer, and more wonder-full than ever imagined.

It seems today God had me hover at the 10,000-foot level seeing larger themes rather than individual concerns.

In view of everything God has done for you, live like this…

·         Continually grow by feeding your mind the things of God not human philosophies

·         Don’t be an arrogant I-am-better-than-others individual, be part of God’s body and play your part, whatever that is, vibrantly.

·         Love, do not hate; give the Lord room to have the final word.

What an incredible Word. Compact, straightforward, challenging…

My thoughts slip to how and what… how do I do this, what are the things I need to do today to fulfill this admonition?

Regarding the ‘how’… bullet-point 1 seems to be the target, “continually to fill my life with God’s voice”. This is the only way I can counteract the constant bombardment of human philosophies that come to me in every imaginable way. I have to continually pump God’s will, way and Word into my life.

Then the ‘what’ begins to become apparent…  live as if other people matter as much or more than myself and use my abilities to make things better for everyone. And this is done by LOVE never hate.

Somehow the ‘what do I do’ of God comes down to LOVE… always LOVE

Ok Lord, show me how and where I can love today… love those I naturally love and those I naturally don’t. Love those I know and the stranger…  LOVE.

Lord, I cannot do this on my own I need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Friday, November 11: Romans 11- To finish well.

Oh the mysteries of God… that the disobedience and faithlessness of the Jews would lead to Gentiles (me) getting a shot at faith in God and salvation in Jesus!

God’s ways are certainly beyond my ways. I do not comprehend in fullness God’s plan. But what I do know is that through Jesus both Jews and Gentiles have access to faith, salvation and life in God’s kingdom.

One piece that hit me in this chapter was not to get cocky in my new faith. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off (22).

That word ‘continue’ always gets me. It reminds me to finish strong in my faith in Jesus. Finish strong, finish well… continue in Him!

I spend time at the gym 3-4 days a week, not because I have any delusion about some body-builder type body, but because God has given me one body. And I want to take care of it doing what I can to maintain health so my body functions the best it can particularly as I age. The same is true with my faith; I want to do what I can to maintain my faith so that my faith grows throughout my entire life, for as many years as God gives me this side of eternity.

So I read, study and meditate on the Word, pray, worship, and serve, pour into others and allow them to pour into me. I do this so that my faith stays strong for the long haul.

How about you? What are you doing to continue in His kindness?

Just asking, think about it…

God give me joy in serving You and perseverance to continue in You even when the going is tough and tiring. I love You, Lord. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Thursday, November 10: Romans 10- Go and tell that others may declare and believe.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to madisonthem? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (9-15).

Declare and Believe… and you will be saved. Acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus and follow the teachings of and about Jesus… and you will be saved. Such is the essence of the gospel message. This simple ‘formula’ is for everyone. No favorites, no special cases. It is the simple truth for everyone.

But for people to take advantage of the gospel message people have to tell others so that they can believe. And for this to happen people have to go to others to tell them…

One aspect of the miracle of the gospel is that God uses regular people like you and me. We need to go and tell others so they can declare and believe.


“Go and tell that others may declare and believe”.

I don’t know if the core of the Christian faith can be expressed more simply.

Question is, how are we doing in living out the core?

Four verbs pose the Spirit’s inquiry to me this morning…

·         Declare; Have I, have you, declared, acknowledged, told people that Jesus is Lord of your life

·         Believe; Do you, do I, believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus?… that He died and was raised again, He is God’s one and only Son, etc.…

·         Go; Have you walked across the room or the world to tell people about Jesus?

·         Tell; Can you explain the gospel is simple terms that others might believe?

Such is the essence of the faith…

Think about it.

Lord God, I have those aspects of the above that I am decent at and some parts not so good. Help me to grow my weak areas so that my overall effectiveness in sharing Your gospel will grow. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, November 9: Romans 9- Thanks to Jesus.

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal (30-31).

I can read these verses as if it were a theological statement (which it is) or I can hear them as a statement declaring how I benefited from God’s grace (which I did).

Today in the quietness of personal time with the Lord I choose the latter. I choose to listen to these verses as they speak to me about the salvation and faith I have in thanks to Jesus Christ. I have my faith because of God’s mercy (see verse 16). God looked down and chose to have mercy on me. I don’t know why. I merited nothing but wrath because of my sin. But God doled out mercy…

I wonder why I am so blessed? I have no answer.

All I know is that I have this faith and it is my job to treasure, to hold on to it, and to do all I can to nurture and grow it. But even as I nurture it, I know that God’s ongoing grace is a bigger component of my faith than I will ever know this side of eternity.

As Paul put it in verse 16: It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

And as my devotion time winds down, I am moved back to a state of awe, appreciation and praise of God for everything He has done so that I might have faith…

Lord God I continue in awe… You deserve all glory and honor and praise. May my lips never fail to sing Your praise… In Jesus name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, November 8: Romans 8- No words for God's goodness.

I am virtually wordless as I conclude this chapter. The grand scope of God’s work overwhelmed me… from no condemnation to the Spirit’s presence in our lives to Sonship and on to nothing can separate us from the love of God. I am soaring with God and because of God alone.

There is not any hint of my goodness in this text, but the goodness of God to do all of this radiates from every paragraph. And I marvel at all God has given. I return to the progression of this chapter beginning with no condemnation and rifling on to the Spirit’s presence in our lives and Sonship and on to nothing can separate us from the love of God.

The majesty of God, the goodness of God, the love of God…

I find myself sitting quietly… marveling

There are no words…

O God, Father Jesus Spirit… praise be to You. Amen.


Monday, November 7: Romans 7- The wretch that I am.


On so many levels I connect with this chapter. Particularly with the closing thought…  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (24-25a).

I can and do play favorites. I think unkind thoughts about others, even strangers. I make unfounded judgments based on facial expressions, appearance, and speech patterns. I am generous with some and not others and I take pride at times in my generosity. Need I go on…

I look in the mirror and see someone who never did, would or could ever measure up to God’s standard.

Paul’s words fit my life. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?

And like Paul I cry, Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Without the grace and love of the Father, the sacrifice of Jesus the son and the work of the Holy Spirit opening me up to God’s gospel I would be lost. I was lost.

But Christ found me… Why me? I will never know, at least this side of eternity. But He did and I am forever grateful.

Today I sit… marveling in my God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God, the miracle of the Trinity.

I marvel and praise the God who saves and who saved me. I continue to be imperfect, but I long to know God more and more, to grow more like Him in character, behavior and spirit.

Praise be to You Lord God. Praise be to You. Amen.


Saturday, November 5: Romans 6- Vigilence.


What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! (1-2a, 15)

One of the battles I face emerged in chapter 6. It is the battle to be vigilant against sin in my life. I can grow liaise faire regarding sin. “Oh, it doesn't really matter, it is only a small thing and God will forgive me.” I am not proud but I sometimes have this kind of an attitude.

Paul drives home that we not continue sinning. I realize I will never be perfect, sin does creep into my life, and sometimes it is more like a full-on assault rather than a ‘creep.’

What my heart hears God, the Holy Spirit, saying is that I MUST never become comfortable with sin or justify my sin. Sin is always abhorrent to God. And even though God in His grace saves us while we are yet sinners, we must not ever allow ourselves to justify any personal sin. Instead, we should seek God and offer ourselves to Him for doing good.

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness (13).

A question on the positive side of these thoughts emerges, “How am I offering myself to God as an instrument of righteousness?”

How are you?

Think about it…

Here I am, Lord, use me. Use me to bring peace to someone troubled, truth to someone confused, love to someone who feels unlovable. I offer myself to You. Use me for Your good. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



Friday, November 4: Romans 5- At just the right time.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly (6).

How often in my life does God show up at just the right time?! Over and over again God does this…

Paul reminds us that at just the right time Jesus died for you and me. My thoughts fixated on the phrase at just the right time… That’s the Lord for you. Showing up just when I need him.

And as I sit with this verse it reminds me that God shows up at just the right time not because I deserve it, or I am so special that God is somehow compelled to show up. No, God showed up at just the right time for people who were powerless. We had no options unto ourselves. We were in a frightful state… powerless is the way Paul described it. But then God showed up. Christ died for us… ‘the ungodly.’

A few weeks ago I looked out at my pool and a leaf seemed to be spinning in circles. As I looked closer it wasn’t a leaf… I went out to the pool and saw it was a frightened, soaked, chipmunk swimming in circles, no way of escape. I have no idea how much longer it could have held out. I grabbed my leaf-skimmer on a long pole and scooped him up and put him on the safety of dry ground.

At just the right time God plucked me out of my sin predicament and brought me to Himself, forgiven and justified (yesterday’s lesson).

What God did for me and millions of others He will do for you… call out to Jesus and He will save you.

What a great God we have!!!

Thank you for your gift of salvation, Lord! Thank You for coming to my aid when I wasn’t even looking for You. I praise You and thank You for Your wonderful, unearned salvation. Great are You, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Thursday, November 3: Romans 4- The wonder of Jesus' gift.

Paul concludes this chapter, He [Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (25).

What a gift God has given to humanity in Jesus. Faith in Jesus opens the gift and here is what we find… a two-dimensional gift.

First, we find forgiveness for our sins. Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins. Jesus paid the penalty that our sins earned us. It is as if I am sentenced to death row for some crime and Jesus steps up to the Judge and says that He will take my punishment for me. I go free and Jesus goes to death row and the cross in my place. I mean this is amazing, who does that for someone else? And yet that is what Jesus did… such love and sacrifice!

After receiving and opening this gift we learn there is a second dimension to it. In the above scenario I am still a convicted criminal. I was found guilty; it was just that someone else paid my penalty. Here is where Jesus’ gift goes from good to greatest ever, Paul continues and [he, Jesus] was raised to life for our justification.

Justification and the verb justified are legal terms from the ancient world. An easy way to catch the essence…justified is this word play; justified… ‘just as if I’d’ never sinned. Not only does Jesus take on our sin for us and nails it to the cross, He also bequeaths to us His righteousness and this is sealed at the resurrection.

Paul sums it up in his one sentence He [Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.  What a gift! What an incredible gift!!!

Father God, I do not deserve to have any connection with You. I forfeited that when I sinned, and sinned and sinned. And yet for me, a sinner, You send Jesus. Thank You.

Jesus, you became a human to save me and people like me, people wallowing in sin unable to do anything about our own sin problem. Oh, Jesus, how can I truly say ‘thank You’ sufficiently or adequately?

Holy Spirit, You opened my heart to Jesus. Because of Your work in my life I opened my cell doors to Jesus and invited Him into my life. Thank You, God, the Holy Spirit.

I praise You Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. I praise You as the only great God. Alleluia. Amen.


Wednesday, November 2: Romans 3- Jesus the way of salvation.


After reading about how much trouble we are in, Romans 3 begins to provide God’s answer to our dilemma… faith in Jesus Christ.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (21-24).

Righteousness here means ‘right standing’… it means one lives in connection with God not separated from God.

Reading the righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe warms my heart. The Gospel is a message of hope for ALL. Unfortunately, we humans want to carve up humanity, Jew/Gentile, Old/Young, Male/Female, Rich/Poor, Educated/Uneducated, Skin Color, Voting Preference, Continent or Nationality of Origin. No matter how we carve up humanity, Jesus is the answer for everyone... through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  Only faith in Jesus Christ brings God’s righteousness.

Jesus provides the way of salvation... faith in Jesus puts a person on the way...

Thank You, Lord Jesus... You saved me. Alleluia. Amen.



Tuesday, November 1: Romans 2- Not a pretty picture.


Paul continues the sad tale of humanity. We are in trouble. Verse 12 sums it up: All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law (12). The scary word for me is ‘all.’ Whether under the law or not all who sin, which is everybody, will perish. Like I said this is not a pretty picture. Humanity is in trouble.

But thinking in terms of ‘humanity,’ buffers the blow of this verse. Humanity is a sea of people, a nameless glob of people. Humanity is not personal.  It is a statistic that doesn’t connect with real life or my life.

I read about an advertising study. Advertisers raised more money for a cause when they told the story of one person in need than when they talked about the thousands or millions who were in the particular predicament. The inference of the study is that we cannot or do not relate with large numbers. However, give us one situation and ask us to donate and hearts are penetrated and funds come in.

Sensing the truth of this study, I moved from considering humanity to considering one life, my life. I am not a Jew so I do not live under the law. But verse 12 says of my situation All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law… That’s me. I have sinned and do sin ‘apart from the law’ so I will perish apart from the law. That is my fate; that is your fate.

Everybody will perish for the sins we have committed.

I am in dire straits… and this is where the story ends in chapter 2.

Fortunately, I have read Romans before. I know this is not the last word. And I know that the last word is Jesus, faith in Jesus to be more precise. While I was a sinner Jesus died for me (Romans 5:8). But this is getting ahead of the story.

I return to the predicament… I am in trouble. My sin will cause me to perish and there is nothing I can do because I have already committed my sins. I am doomed. No amount of being good or even perfect from this day forward will help because the sin I have already committed is enough for me to perish as a punishment for my sins.

I am so thankful that Romans doesn’t end here…

I can’t help it, as my time with Jesus closes, I thank Him for the message of Romans and all He did to save me while I was a sinner with my back turned on Him.

Thank You, Jesus. Thank You. Amen