Saturday, December 30: 3John- Who do you admire?.

In this personal letter, I found myself attracted to a piece of general advice John offers to his friend. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God (11).

Its simplicity is its strength and practicality… do not imitate what is evil but what is good.

So much of learning in life is by imitation, some intentional but much is simply picked up unconsciously by watching those we admire. Many of my parenting habits were imitations of how my dad parented me, picked up by me seemingly by osmosis. I don’t recall deciding to do these things, yet they were ingrained in me by observing my dad.

Likewise imitation is both intentionally and unintentionally learned. Accepting this truth I apply it to John’s advice… do not imitate what is evil but what is good.

There is the intentional aspect. I need to be conscious of the traits I see that I want to emulate, making sure that they are honorable and God-fearing traits. But subtler is paying attention to those whom I watch with admiration. I need to beware that these people are themselves honorable and God-fearing people lest I unconsciously imitate traits of people who are evil.

Who do I watch and admire? Are they honorable and godly? These are the questions the Lord seems to be asking of me as I sit with Him today.

Lord, help me to find worthy people to emulate so that I grow in my living for You. This is my prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, December 29: 2John- Love wisely.

Love is the cornerstone of the Christian faith… Loving God and others. John has been making this abundantly clear throughout his writings. He emphasizes it again with in this brief epistle. It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love (4-6). Walking in truth is connected to loving; and loving is connected to walking in obedience.

The walking imagery reminds me that the love and obedience John writes of is active, energetic requiring effort on our part.

But as I read on the love John speaks of is not thoughtless or naïve either. …many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work (7, 9-11).

Clearly John is not advocating being mean to people who are deceiving others with false teaching but neither should we show them the same level of hospitality and love we would for a fellow believer. If this lady were to house one of these deceivers for a few nights, then she is supporting their work and ‘ministry’ in her community, which might result with people in her town or home being deceived. Naïve love like this is not warranted under the command of love because we do not want to advance deceptive and wrong teachings about God and truth.

As I ponder this, I believe John is advocating thoughtful love. Thoughtful is not a mechanism to get myself out of loving people, but rather the application of spiritual wisdom so that my love bears godly fruit.

Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, now I pray for a heart big enough to truly love others as You, Oh God, would have me love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, December 28: 1John 5- Love and obedience, two truths, two actions .

John has a way of stating the truth of God simply. Verse 2 is an example of his ability to do so. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.

There you have it, a simple ‘formula’ for faith… loving God and obedience to His commands.

Love and obedience, two truths, two actions…

Love God… echoes of the first of the two great commands ring in my head. Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul mind and strength… (Deuteronomy 6, Matthew 22, Mark 12, Luke 10). Loving God… it really says it all.

And love has certainly been an often repeated refrain of John’s in this letter and throughout his New Testament writings. And with good reason, it was Jesus’ summary of the law and the prophets.

Obedience… the beauty of this second facet is that it prevents ‘faith’ in Jesus from being reduced to postulates or sentimentality. Love in our time is often reduced to warm feelings, partly because we don’t understand the biblical definition of ‘agape’ which is the word for love that John uses. But by paring love with obedience John has underscored the active part of love that can be so easily lost by we sin-filled humans.

Again obedience is an often used refrain from the pen of John to describe faith in God.  And a significant aspect of obedience in John’s writings is loving our brothers and sisters, which he learned from Jesus. For Jesus the second half of the greatest commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves.

While it has been helpful to muse on love and obedience, I hear the inner voice of my Lord saying, “So how are you doing with love and obedience, Bill?”

Now I have to stop and still my heart before the Lord… and look inside.

Loving God… do I with all my heart and soul and mind and strength? Oh, golly, how I fall short of that. I do love the Lord. If I am honest, my love for God can be conflicted and watered down by love of self and others… My heart begins to cry for forgiveness and strength to grow and mature.

And similar things could be said about obedience. I do obey, but…

Father God, I would be lost if I didn’t have an advocate standing before You, Jesus Christ, the righteous one. (1John2:1). And I would be lost if I didn’t have an advocate teaching and reminding me of everything Jesus said –The Holy Spirit (John 14:26 and 15:26). God, Your love is so deep that You prepared for all my (our) shortcomings. I am, for the umpteenth time, blown away by Your grace, mercy and love. As I journal it is getting harder to type because my eyes are filling with tears of joy and tears of love and tears of gratitude. I do love You, Lord God –Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. And I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, December 27: 1John 4- Love, love, love.

Love, love, love. Love, love, love. All you need is love… sang the Beatles on the 27 June 1967 to a televised crowd of over 400 million people. Yes, all we need is love. And the love we need is God’s love in us so that we can give His love away to others.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.… And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister (7-12, 21).

Love is not sex. Love is not lust. Love is sacrificially giving of our selves to others. Love defined by God is Jesus dying on the cross for people, people who followed Him and people who had Him killed. This is the love God is asking of us who follow Jesus. This kind of love is the costliest gift we can give to another human being. And we can only do this when we have been filled first by God’s love for us.

Contemplating this I have to think through how I live in every interaction of life. Do I love the other person with God’s kind of love? This is the question the text is asking of me as I sit with the Lord as the sun rises outside my window.

Do I love others as God has loved me?... Do you?

Think about it…

Oh, God, I fall short of your command to love, every day… probably most of every day. I guard self. I look out for #1. I turn a blind eye rather than turning my other cheek. As I think of Jesus hanging there for me, for us, I don’t come close to that kind of love. Please fill me anew with Your love so that I can give it away. Holy Spirit, show me when I am being selfish… so that I can change my ways and live more in line with Your command to love. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, December 26: 1John 3- Love lavished on us.

With all the decorations of Christmas around me, I was attracted to verse 1. See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…

Love lavished on us, isn’t that what Christmas is truly about? God lavishing His love on us by sending Jesus to become one of us. Amazing.

The story of the Incarnation never gets old for me. That God would become human to save a sinner like me! That God would become human to invite me back into God’s family and adopt me as one of His children… even more amazing!

Today I sat and I thought about the great gifts of God that come with Jesus.

·         Love

·         Forgiveness

·         Redemption

·         Adoption

·         A new family

·         An inheritance that will never spoil

·         Presence

·         Peace….

The list goes on and on and I am forever grateful and filled with wonder at God’s lavish love for me, for you, for the world.

Alleluia! Christ is born today! The hymn writer sings. O, God, I am so blessed by being Your son. Thank You and bless You for Your lavish love. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.


Monday, December 25: 1John 2- Merry Christmas. obedience is God's desire.

John writes, But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did (5-6).

Obedience is so important. It is easy to say “I believe” but obedience shows we believe. Words are easy, action and follow through is much more difficult. This is true is all areas in life. Saying ‘I love you’ and living ‘I love you’ are very different. When it comes to faith, living it is called ‘obedience’. John says… obey; that is when we know God has truly transformed a person by His love.

So now I have to consider my life. What are the areas where I struggle with obedience??? Where do you struggle with obedience? Today’s time with Jesus starts by considering this question.

John follows his call to obedience with a pointed statement. Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. The image of living as Jesus did struck me. I tend to be a visual person, so I can see Jesus living. From the Gospels I can imagine how Jesus would act in many contemporary situations and that helps me think through how I should live as a follower of Jesus.

I fall so short of Jesus’ ideal, still thinking how Jesus might act in a given situation helps me see how I should live.

I am back to evaluating my life… this time based on how Jesus would live. I am reminded by the phrase, WWJD, What would Jesus do? While I cannot be absolutely certain in every situation how Jesus would act, the more I read the Gospels and the New Testament the clearer my picture of Jesus becomes.

Lord, to be like Jesus, to obey You and Your will and way. These are my goals and ideals. But Lord, I cannot do this on my own. I need the presence and coaching of the Holy Spirit within my life. Guide me Oh, Holy Spirit, that I may grow in my living like Jesus. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, December 23: 1John 1- Fellowship.

A significant word in this morning’s chapter is fellowship… We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (3).

The word fellowship appears again in verses 6-7: If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

So through faith in Jesus we have fellowship with one another and fellowship with God. Fellowship (Greek: koinonia) is a deep participation with another; it is a mutual participation with one another. John is expressing the deep living connection we have with one another and with God through our faith in Jesus. This fellowship is a ‘living bond’ between us and God and us and one another.

The kind of connection and participation that John and other biblical writers understand in the word ‘fellowship’ goes well beyond the small talk and “Hi, how are you” that characterize most polite conversations after Sunday worship. John is talking about having a real deep inner connection and participation with God and others and the others and God with us.

Even though I am struggling to put into words what John is describing, I am feeling it within my soul. And as I sit here today I am sensing the deep connection and participation with the Lord through faith in Jesus.

God is with me… I know that down to the very depths of my being. And I hope and pray you know that, too…

Oh, Lord, I am so blessed to be in You and with You. You are the joy of my life and the rock upon which I live. I praise You, Lord. And pray through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.


Friday, December 22: 1Peter 5- God's mighty hand.

I am a bit sad to see the book of 1Peter come to its conclusion. The last 4 days have been particularly rich in God’s Word, so with a twinge of sadness I pressed into chapter 5. As I read it for the 2nd time it became clear to me that verses 6-7 were my meditation spot for today.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (6-7).

Generally for me humbling myself is not easy. So words about humility don’t usually grab my attention. But the imagery of verse 6 set so easily in my heart. I think it was the phrase under God’s mighty hand. That imagery was particularly vivid for me today. God’s mighty hand… the hand that moved the stone and carried Jesus from the grave. The hand that lifted Jesus from this earth and brought him back to His seat at the right of God’s throne. The hand that parted the Red Sea and allowed Israel to pass safely through it and then pushed the waters back drowning the Egyptian army. Under that hand I have no choice but to humble myself.

That mighty hand is also the one that carried me out from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of Jesus (see Colossian 1:13-14). That mighty hand protects the church and will not allow her to be defeated by the devil. And that hand, reminds Peter, is the one that will lift us up in due time.

Oh, my, how can I not humble myself for my mighty God!

And in my humble estate, God invites me to cast all your anxiety on him. What an offer! What an invitation! I can cast ALL my anxiety on Him! I no longer have to carry those cares.

When I am bull-headed and refuse to humble myself, I have to carry all my anxiety alone. That is a burden that weighs me down and sucks the joy out of my life, but when I humble myself, God carries my anxiety for me. WHAT A GIFT!

So today as I draw to my conclusion… I bow before my Lord with the offering of anxiety for Him to carry for me…

Oh, God… I bow gratefully before You. You alone are Lord God Almighty. You alone can stop the sun, and part the sea and raise the dead! All my concerns about the future, and all my nervousness with the things of today, I offer them to You. Thank You. Bless You. Praise You, Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Thursday, December 21: 1Peter4- Pray and love .

Again there is so much here. God is so good feeding us a buffet of great spiritual food. After surveying the whole, it was verse 7 to the end of the section that drew me to closer inspection.

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen (7-11).

Pray and love, that’s how Peter begins. What a simple and helpful word. Pray and love…

Pray: remain connected to the source –Our God, Father, Jesus and the Spirit. Too often in life I operate in my own wisdom and strength. I do what I know to do rather than connecting first to the Lord and gaining His perspective and wisdom on the matter. Talk to the Lord about things.

Too often I view prayer as a formal set pattern, instead of the ebb and flow of a life in relationship and a life in conversation. As I meditate on this I am realizing that prayer as conversation and relationship is the essence of prayer. There may be formal times of conversation but also spontaneous in the moment connections and communication. The whole of this is what I believe Paul is inviting us to when he says be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray

Next up love: Love is a verb; it describes how we act and live. Love as Jesus makes clear is the primary of God’s character traits we are to emulate. Everything else Peter mentions in this paragraph could be considered a practical activity of love. Offering hospitality is a facet of love. Using our gifts is a facet of love. And one of the beauties of love is that it covers over a multitude of sins.  Love is the salve that heals and blesses the world.

And we, as Christ’s followers, get to spread the salve of love on all the people we meet in our everyday life. Just imagine if every Christian spread love in every interaction we have every day… how much better would the world be.

Oh, God, may it be so with me… may I spread the salve of love one interaction at a time with every person I meet. Forgive me, Lord, when I slip from this ideal and let sin win, through a comment I make or a vibe I give off or a thought I entertain. Forgive me, Lord, and please correct me so that I may again begin spreading the salve of love as I live my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, December 20: 1Peter 3- Living a life that is worthy.

It is pretty clear by day three in 1Peter that Peter is all about encouraging his people to live a life worthy of the grace and salvation they have received from God through faith in Jesus Christ. For the second time (see 2:11) Peter enjoins the people to live rightly even if they are punished for it. In verse 17 Peter writes, For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. Even when we live according to God’s way, people may still persecute us. Living according to God’s way is not an exemption from problems or persecution. In fact as the world turns it back on the Lord, living as God would have us live might invite persecution.

This is not a fact I have to face living in my country, but things could change. But for people I know around the world, and many more I only read and hear about, this is true. Persecution for one’s faith in Jesus is real throughout our world.

Despite that possibility or maybe more appropriately in the face of persecution as a possibility we are to live for Jesus. And this means adopting Jesus’ manner of living. For example, following the way of Jesus affects how we treat our spouse (1-7) as well as our personal character. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (8-9).

These attributes take on even more significance if I overlay them with the idea of being persecuted for the faith…

Be sympathetic… how might that be lived out during persecution? Be sympathetic toward my persecutors, be sympathetic toward people who are suffering persecution… a ‘persecution’ overlay deepens the lifestyle Jesus is calling us to live

Likewise love one another, be compassionate and humble… have more drastic application when I think of times of persecution.

And then there is Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult… this seems to be directly aimed at how I (we) are to interact with and treat our persecutors. I am not to retaliate, taking on the persona of my persecutors, but rather maintain a Christ-like attitude.

Oh, my… God is calling me (us) to a much higher way of living.

I need to pray that I am up to God’s calling… 

Oh, Holy Spirit, come and fill me. I cannot do this on my own or in my own human strength. I am not up to this calling on my own. I need You and Your constant filling to live above the fray of human fragility and live as Jesus, my Lord, would have me live. Come and fill me to live for Jesus today and every day, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, December 19: 1Peter 2- choose the way of Jesus .

Again my heart melted as I read the words of this chapter… melted into the Lord and His goodness and His call for me and all who believe and obey Jesus. The deepest parts of me are at rest in my Lord. I am awed that the Lord would reveal Himself to me.

His Word challenged and comforted me this morning. And I didn’t need to read far into the chapter to find the verses for me to meditate upon.

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good (1-3).

God’s call and desire is that we grow up in our salvation. We own the responsibility to do this. It really isn’t optional, but God will not force us. In chapter 1Peter opened with our destiny to be obedient to God through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We don’t simply call out to Jesus to be Lord and then stop growing. We are called to follow Him, and that means learn from, emulate and become like Jesus. In other words, it means to grow up in our salvation.

Too many believers seem to stop growing. It is as if they gain a sense of their salvation and become satisfied. They forget there is a task for us to do and an enemy who is constantly trying to disrupt us by having us fall back into pre-Jesus behaviors.

Peter reminds us of this as he pens verse 1. Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk… This takes effort on my part.

I have choices every day… more like every moment of every day... to live more like Jesus would have me live or to live more like the unconverted people around me live. Peter says choose Jesus, which means ridding myself of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, etc., things that resemble the fallen selfish world from which I was redeemed and saved.

Today God is reminding me to choose the way of Jesus, in my dealings, behaviors, thoughts and desires…

This is a good reminder for every day…

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, I delight in Your presence in my life and in Your Word. I bless You for the reminder. It is so easy to get caught up in my life that I miss and forget I represent You in everything I say, do and think. I pray that I honor You today. That glory comes to You because of things I say and do today. To You be the glory and the honor and the praise… forever and ever, Halleluiah. Amen.


Monday, December 18: 1Peter 1- Our guaranteed inheritance.

After slogging through Song of Songs, 1Peter felt like a cool shower after a hard days work. It was refreshing simply to soak in the richness of the Gospel. Virtually every verse offered a truth worth meditating upon. In this vast sea of riches it was difficult to choose a verse or two for contemplation.

I decided to reread the chapter to bask one more time in it and to see if the Spirit brought any particular words to mind. He did, our inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (4). God had secured for us an inheritance that will be unmatched and unrivaled by any worldly inheritance we could ever receive or even imagine.

Our inheritance being stored or kept for us in heaven is guaranteed by Christ’s work on the cross and the Spirit’s sanctifying work in all those who believe and are obedient to Jesus (see verse 2). Gift, wonderful gift from God.

And no matter what we might be going through here in this life, hardship or troubles of any kind (7) it cannot dim the wonderful inheritance that is ours. Alleluia!

I found myself being amazed and awed as I considered my (our) guaranteed inheritance.

I am traveling as I write and meditate this morning. Out my hotel window the city of Incheon has been coming into view as the morning dawns. With each passing moment the city becomes more and more clear… as if a Polaroid picture is developing in front of my eyes.

So, too, our inheritance guaranteed for us by the Lord... as I meditate upon it the gift and wonder and grandeur of our inheritance grows clearer and clearer. What a gift God has secured for us. In a world with few guarantees… except maybe death and taxes J… we, who are obedient to Jesus, have a secured inheritance that will last an eternity.

Oh, Lord God, I am feeling so blessed and so secure in You. Today’s meditation gives me renewed vigor to live obediently and faithfully for Jesus. I pray, Lord, for the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit that I might have the strength, power and wisdom to do so. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, December 16: Song of Songs 8- The love of God.

Again I struggled with connecting this chapter with the Lord. Much of my time in this book has been a devotional struggle.

I decided to read another translation, the Message, and verse 7 reached out to me. Flood waters can't drown love, torrents of rain can't put it out. Love can't be bought, love can't be sold— it's not to be found in the marketplace (MSG).

True love is a gift…and it cannot be bartered for or purchased. True love, real love, God’s love cannot be drowned out either.

I found myself pondering God’s ‘agape’ love. How deep and wide and long it is.  Romans 8 came to mind.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

Such is the love of Jesus, the Father and the Spirit. It is a love that gives and gives, and will not be broken.

What joy fills my heart; I ponder the deep, deep love of God for me.

Oh. Lord, I am so blessed by Your unconditional love… Your love that is a free gift. I don’t have to buy it or earn it. It is just given by You. I am overwhelmed by Your incredible love… which comes to me through faith in Jesus. Praise to You, Lord God…

I pray through Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, December 15: Song of Songs 7- Oh Lord what a blessing you are.

I struggled to find a God-oriented devotional moment in this chapter. Love words between a lover and his beloved didn’t draw me. So I sat and waited for the nudge of the Lord and His beckoning voice.

Thoughts and love for my wife began to bubble in my thoughts. She is such a gift from the Lord and from this my thoughts bounced to the Lord. Oh, Lord, what a blessing You are. You are the giver of such good gifts. You are the Lover of my soul. You watch over me and care for me.

So as I sat, I thought about the Lord, His love speaking over me…

Lord God, how blessed I am to be your child. You love with a love that is beyond any human love. You love unconditionally, not because I look appealing; You love because You are love. I am so grateful, Lord, to have had my eyes open to Your love. I praise and bless You, Lord. Thank You for this time in Your presence. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, December 14: Song of Songs 6- How do I speak about my spouse in public?.

The woman says in this chapter, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine… (3a).

Security… she feels secure in her lover’s love.

Immediately after this he speaks forth his delight and love for her, he praises her in front of his friends (verses 4-9).

I began to replay conversations among friends, listening in my mind’s ear to how people speak about their spouse or significant other. It is not always pleasant. The more I think about this often it is not pleasant. How sad.

I am stopped in my tracks… How do I speak about my wife, and if I extend this thought a bit to add my children… how do I speak about them in front of other people, particularly when my spouse (or child) is present? Such is the situation in chapter 6.

I push the envelope even further… Is my natural reaction and speech to honor, bless and delight in them in conversation?  How would a transcript of my talk among friends about my wife read?

I hope, I pray, it would be honoring and positive, rather than cranky and complaining….

How about you?

Oh, Lord God, use my mouth and my words to bless my wife and children at all times but particularly when I am speaking about them in a public way and in quiet conversations with my closest friends. Lord, increase my love for my wife and give me practical ways to express my love for her to her. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, December 13: Song of Songs 5- Am I my wife's friend? .

Yesterday the heart of the lover for his bride filled the pages. Today the tables have turned; it is the beloved thoughts on her lover. My eyes filled with thoughts as I read the concluding sentence.

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem (16).

“Am I?” I wondered. Am I my wife’s friend?

It is one thing to be her husband and her lover. But am I her friend? Do we relate on friendship levels? Do we enjoy each other’s company? Do we enter each other’s world? Do we simply like being together?

Friendship with one’s spouse is such a gift. Sadly it is too often overlooked. Rarely is spousal friendship portrayed on TV or in the movies. Watching a TV show with Susan yesterday she commented, “It seems like everyone on this show is married 2 or 3 times.” How sad that is.

I am blessed to be married only once and to my best friend at that. It is a gift I wish for every couple I know.

Thank You, Lord God, for this word about marital friendship… Your Word is spurring me on to treasuring this gift and causing me to make sure I do not take that gift for granted. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, December 12: Song of Songs 4- How well do you love your spouse?.

As I read this chapter my heart goes to my wife. At first I thought this wasn’t ‘devotional’ enough. Where are my meditations on God, Jesus and the Spirit? I wondered if my thoughts of my wife were carnal, but then I realized what a gift my wife is… a gift from the Lord and I am led to probe my own life making sure that I treasure her –a gift from the Lord –as He would treasure her.

Am I loving my wife as Jesus Christ loves his church?  Jesus laid down his life for the church. Am I expressing that kind of love for my wife?

I realize that God is speaking to me after all. The Lord is probing my in most being, discovering if it is aligning with His will for human marital life. And like every probe from the Lord, He reveals places I need to grow to be more like Him…

Thoughts of Galatians 5, the Fruit of the Spirit, pierce my heart… am I loving, joyful, peacemaking, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and filled with self-control in my exchanges and thoughts about my wife –my lover –my gift from the Lord?

If you are reading this and you are married, you might probe some of these same areas regarding your spouse.

If you are not married I am not sure where you might go… I believe the Lord will direct you as you ponder His Word.

Thank You Lord for the recognition that my wife is a gift from You and I must, repeat must treat her with the respect and love that Jesus shows His church. Please empower me to do so Lord, as I live to honor You. Through Jesus I pray. Amen.


Monday, December 11: Song of Songs 3- Love is not lust.

The world I live in is over sexed. Madison Avenue sells by sex. TV and movies are laced with sex and lots of it. Checkout counter magazines are filled with sex. Porn rules the Internet. Sex is everywhere. And the effect on our society is obvious.

The Beloved gives an apt piece of advice in today’s reading. In fact this is the second time she has offered this advice:

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires (5).

How true this is, but how hard it is to live by in our world. Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. All the images, stories, ads using it can’t help up awaken love… or at least the desire for love (sex, lust) in our world.

Younger and younger people are engaged in sex and as a result teen pregnancy is toooo high.

I don’t know what to do about this…

I am beyond the age where this advice is relevant. My love has been awakened and the Lord has grace me with a wife of decades who continues to be the love of my life!

I weep for young people who are caught in the grip of love (lust, sex) awakened too early. My hope is that the church will love them to wholeness, forgiving mistakes and helping them navigate life until they find true love and the love of Jesus.

Oh, Lord, help me be an example of faithfulness in love to a generation that doesn’t see enough examples of love Your way. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Saturday, December 9: Song of Songs 2- His banner of love.

When I was in college we sang a song based on verse 4. If my memory is correct it went like this: “He calls me to the banqueting table; his banner over me is love.”

That is a pretty accurate translation of verse 4, which in the NIV reads: Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.

I found myself contemplating his banner of love…

Taken at face value, how does a lover spread his banner of love over his beloved? Hmmm… by creating a safe space, a relationship of warmth, care, concern. These are the kinds of things that spring to mind when I try to visualize a ‘banner of love.’

So now I have to ponder how good a job I do spreading a banner of love over my wife and family? Do I create a safe space for them to flourish? Do I set an attitude of warmth, care, concern for my family?

The Lord cares how I husband and father my family…

When we sang that song back in the day, we were singing about the Lord spreading His banner of love over us. I switch gears and ponder God’s love over me… I believe God creates a safe space, a relationship of warmth, care, concern. And I am so grateful to the Lord because He really does love me and cover me in His banner of love…

So I spend time this morning leaning into God’s love…

O Lord thank You for your love which bathes me daily. And Lord please help me to translate Your love into practical love for my family and others in my life. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Friday, December 8: Song of Songs 1- Appearance and self-worth.

The Song of Songs is, for most of us, a strange book in the Bible. It is a romantic love story between a woman and the prince, Solomon. Is it meant to be an allegory of God’s love with His people? Is it a love story reminding us that love is God’s creation? There are many thoughts on this. I tend to read it for face value as a love story between a woman and her man.

I was struck by how sensitive the woman is to her features and particularly her skin color? Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon. Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun. My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect (5-6).

It struck me how large a role appearance plays in her self-worth. And if I am honest it is true for me and most of us as well. Add to the general situation that her appearance issue was being dark skinned. It surprised me that skin color was an issue in that ancient day, but apparently it was. In some naïve way I thought that my country’s struggles with a person’s skin color was an aberration on the landscape of humanity. But the more I consider this the more wrong I believe my thoughts are on the topic of skin color.  A friend of mine who is black grew up in Nigeria and never paid attention to what shade of black a person was. But when she traveled to South Africa, her shade of black was very important. She being a dark black felt discriminated against by lighter blacks… 

I wonder why this is? Is it as simple as skin color is obvious to everyone and cannot be easily masked??

How we treat people based on external factors saddens me. It is yet another case of the deep depravity of the human heart.

O God, this whole line of thinking exposes my deep sinfulness. If it is not skin color, it is height or weight or some other human trait. How easily sin-filled thoughts about others can erupt within me over the smallest distinctions and differences. O God, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me for the ways I discriminate and segregation people. It is a breach of Your will for us Lord and a break in Your trust of me as You son. I pray this through Jesus my savior. Amen.


Thursday, December 7: Ecclesiastes 12- Fear God and keep his commandments .

And so with this chapter the book of Ecclesiastes closes. The writer gives us his final wisdom. I love the connection between the first and last words of this chapter.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” (1).

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (13-14).

‘Youth years’ are notorious for years of wandering and exploration. Unfortunately this often means wandering from the Lord and exploring life outside faith in Jesus. In light of present life, I find the writers words spot on…  Remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Honing and hardening and strengthening ones faith during youth years can guide a youth through those tumultuous years and place them on the solid foundation of faith in Jesus for all their years to come.  Reaching youngsters and youth with the gospel will reap lifelong benefits for them and for the world in which they live.

For the writer when all is said and done and all his exploration is completed the anchor of life can be simply put Fear God and keep his commandments.

I find these powerful in their simplicity… a great personal mission statement.

Are you looking for a life verse? These words would work well.

Fear God and keep his commandments… yes that about covers it.

Lord, Thank You for this simple truth, words to live by… I am a sinner who cannot live these words without the constant work of Your Holy Spirit within. Come Holy Spirit energize and empower me to live as the writer commends, fearing God and keeping Your commandments. I pray this through my savior Jesus name. Amen. 


Wednesday, December 6: Ecclesiastes 11- Success or faithfulness.

Another proverb-esk chapter; practical wisdom for living. The opening half of the chapter spoke about personal industry and a diversity of work since no one knows which ventures will work.

From this section I felt drawn to verse 6: Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. The writer advocates for industry. Day and night do your work.

There is certainly truth in this; hard work is the best route to satisfying ones need for daily bread. But there are no guarantees. This is not an absolute formula for success.

The word success, which I just typed is troubling me. Success is a word frequently used in our modern western world. Success is a cultural word; it is a human desire… at least it is for me. But I am wondering if it has become tainted. In my world success means money, security, a ‘well-healed’ life. My trouble is that success as we often define it was not the life Jesus lived, nor his apostles. Neither was it his or their goal in life. Theirs was to spread the gospel no matter the cost to themselves. Certainly by our 21st century standard neither Jesus nor his disciples were success-full. And yet in God’s eyes they did all the Father asked and they were greeted by him upon their death with the welcome, “well done good and faithful servants.”

They sought faithfulness rather than success.

I am troubled by how much my culture taints my thinking…

Also I suspect we can push personal ‘industry’ too far as well. Certainly idleness can be a problem. But over-work can be one too. For God’s word also says, In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves (Psalm 127:2). So I am reminded that we must take into account the full revelation of scripture and not run with a lone verse that may not represent the whole of God’s teaching on a situation.

I circle back to the way my cultural upbringing influence my thoughts and I feel the need to ask the Lord purge those things that are not of Him from my life… many of which come from my culture, which is self-focused and prosperity-oriented.

O God help me to see the chains of my culture which have me bound. Show me so that I might return to You to have them cut off that I might be set free. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


Tuesday, December 5: Ecclesiastes 10- A strong warning comes my way .

In another proverb-like chapter, offering thoughts on a wise range of topics, I read and wonder where to meditate. Eventually I settle on verse 1:

As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

Consistency, steadiness, staying the path, watching your step, these are only a sampling of phrases that flooded my thoughts as I began to consider this word.

How many lives are ruined by one bad mistake? A bad choice here, a poor decision there, every one of us is capable of these at any time. Cut a corner ‘just this once’ cause nothing will happen, who will find out… or so we think.

A poster child for this proverb could be ‘Joe Pa’ from Penn State. I don’t know if we know all the facts, but his decision to wash his hands of a colleague’s inappropriate actions rather than pursue it destroyed his decades-long legacy.

A strong warning comes my way through this word.

Hold the line. Stay vigilant. Live honorably all the time…

O Lord, give me strength to continue… wisdom and discernment in measureless quantities so that above all, I will honor You all the days of my life. I know I am a sinner, Lord. Help me to keep short accounts with You and by Your grace to avoid folly and the sullying of Your name. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.



Monday, December 4: Ecclesiastes 9- Sin destroys, that is what it does.

Sometimes this book seems so fatalistic and then there are words that spawn thought. Today’s reading is a classic example of both aspects; the words that spawned thought came at the very end for me.

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good (17-18).

Reading these words, I feel like I am reading the pages of the news.

There is so much shouting in Washington (my country’s capital) these days but nothing happens. I regularly wonder where are wise who can actually govern, who can see a problem and actually work to solve it. Instead today all I hear are different people yelling at each other and calling each other names. It is a disgrace, if you ask me.

And wisdom is better than weapons of war… With the destructive firepower countries now have in their arsenals –especially when you add in nuclear weapons –it becomes a bit more frightening when leaders rattle their sabers. One wrong move could destroy soooo many lives!

Lord where are the wise people who can sit in back rooms and ease tensions? Oh Lord, please send them!

Maybe these people are around, but the news looking for sound bites picks up on the boisterous saber rattling? 

Lord, please let cooler heads prevail…

And this brings me to the final words of verse 18, but one sinner destroys much good. How true this is. My mind calls up all the lone gun-men and terrorist-truck-drivers we have seen lately. How much evil and how much good they destroy. They destroy people’s lives leaving a wake of dead and hurt. They create fear… fear in everyday life, like riding in a city bike lane or attending a concert. They cause us to judge whole people groups rather than realize that bad people come in all shapes and sizes and don’t represent the whole.

And I have seen this on smaller scales too, where a sinner destroys a marriage and family. A broken trust destroys a family, friendship or business.

Sin destroys, that is what it does…

O God, every one of us sins. Some sins destroy much more than others. Yes I pray for forgiveness for my own sins, but I also pray for the strength of Your Holy Spirit to avoid sin, especially the sins that destroy in a flash so much. Oh God, I don’t want to be the sinner who destroys much good. Cleanse me Lord, cleanse me… I pray in Jesus name. Amen.


Saturday, December 2: Ecclesiastes 8- Honoring God in how I live is always the right way to live .

I don’t live in a monarchy, but I kept coming back to verses 2&3. How do they apply to me? What wisdom and inspiration do they offer someone from a democracy in 2017?

So I pondered…

Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases.

As a citizen I have an implicit oath to my country, so I should obey the ‘law of the land’ and honor my oath before God. This, I believe, remains true. Now if a law of the land is opposed to God’s law then and only then I should follow my conscience and obey God’s law. As Peter says in Acts 5:29, We must obey God rather than men. In this situation, like Peter and John we will likely face institutional correction under the law of the land. In that case our suffering under the law is part of our obedience to the Lord.

The second thought-prompter comes from the last statement, Do not stand up for a bad cause…

I take this to mean, do not stand up for a dishonorable cause. This takes more thought. If I believe my governmental officials to be wrong I can ‘dishonor’ them by opposing them and calling them to honesty, truth and rightfulness. But as I listen to this verse I should do this in the most personally honorable way possible.

Life is so very different today than back when a king ruled supremely. But today or back then, honoring God in how I live, is always the right way to live. And this is a morsel I can chew on and contemplate…

Lord, I desire to honor YOU! Help me live well in Your eyes, no matter my earthly consequences. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, December 1: Ecclesiastes 7- Skimming the system.

This chapter reads like Proverbs, one wise ditty after another. It was good to soak in the whole of it, allowing various words speak and guide me. After soaking in the whole, I turned back to verse 7 for some deeper thought.

Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart.

I don’t think about extortion or bribery very much. I guess that is good. However, as I do this morning, I am realizing how often the news is filled with kickbacks, bribery and ‘special gifts’ given to politicians and decision makers.

A friend of mine who was in international business decades ago, told me how little business ever got done without a palm greased here and there. I have also heard stories of international adoptions that proceeded in large measure as additional ‘payments’ were made. So there is much more of bribery or extortion around than I’d like to admit.

Can it happen in my simple life? I probably shouldn’t be so naïve as to say ‘no’ or’ never’.

Extortion and bribery undercuts truth and honesty. Anything that can steer the heart toward deceit is dangerous… dangerous to the soul is what I am pondering right now. Like a heart attack, deceit kills part of the heart muscle and renders it less functional and weaker.

Closer scrutiny of life is warranted as I consider the twin issues of extortion and bribery.

I wonder, is payment under the table any different… really? Isn’t it a way to skim, cheat or bypass the system? Hmmm… the truth of this Proverb has tentacles into other areas of life.

Lord, help me to live honestly and above board in all my endeavors. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Thursday, November 30: Ecclesiastes 6- Searching for the elusive 'something more'.

This chapter strikes me as a bit depressing. But then again it may be very real. How many people enjoy the life they have? How many people trudge through day after day with little or no enthusiasm for living?

Verse 9 provided my words of contemplation. Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

What I understand the writer to mean is that life is better content with what one can achieve rather than constantly chasing after things you will never have.

The lure of more can make me restless. I see a new this or that and I find I do not appreciate what I do have or realistically could have. This is obvious for me in my shop. My hobby is woodworking. There is something satisfying about creating things out of wood for me. As I thumb through magazines and watch ‘do-it-yourself’ videos on ‘youtube’ invariably a new tool pops up… ahhhh, just what I need. That thought hits me like a thunderbolt. I never knew this tool existed. I was getting along fine without it but now that I know it exists “I need it.”

It is scary. How much of my accumulated stuff is in this category. Isn’t this, in part, what the writer warns us about… the roving of the appetite?

I don’t want to be a miser who cannot appreciate and enjoy the life I have been graced to live, but neither do I want to be always searching for that elusive ‘something more.’

Oh, God, help me strike a balance to enjoy the life You have given while cultivating generosity and a caring soul for people I can help. Lord, continue to send Your Spirit, reminding me life is not about me but about living for You and serving others in Your name. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, November 29: Ecclesiastes 5- A money pitfall.

So many good places to pause and ponder. For me chapter 5 was rich with wisdom from the Lord. It was verse 10 that drew me to write my ponderings.

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.

Money and riches can be an absorbing bedfellow. The more you have, the more you want. Paul writes in the NT, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1Timothy 6:10). This seems to repeat what the writer of Ecclesiastes is saying.

When money become our aim, it swallows us… we are never satisfied with what we have and this can easily lead to all kinds of evil.

How many news headlines boil down to a desire for more money? When prosecuting a case, the DA looks for motive and money is a most common motive!

The antidote I suspect is contentment, being content with what we have. As Paul says a few sentences before his love of money quote: But godliness with contentment is great gain (1Timothy 6:6).

So if you or I want to avoid love of money troubles… seeking contentment is our best corrective…

Lord, I pray for contentment and seeing the blessing in what You have provided rather than routinely seeking more, more, more… I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, November 28: Ecclesiastes 4- The oppressed have no comforter.

The first verse grabbed me as soon as I began reading. So immediate and tight was the grab that I had to force myself to continue reading the entire chapter. In doing so, I saw so much more. So many stopping and pondering points in today’s chapter. And yet at the end I returned to the first words that grabbed me.

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed— and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter (1).

I am sure the tenacious hold of these words is due in large part to the time of year. It has been a number of years now that my wife and a growing number of women in my church have participated in Dressember (, where women where only dresses throughout the month of December. Dressember is a fundraising and awareness campaign for the plight of the 36 million people, mostly women and children, who are enslaved around the world. Women where dresses to show off the dignity of women and to produce conversations about the plight of theses modern day slaves. Money raised is given to International Justice Mission ( and other organizations who are working to end today’s slavery horror.

Men are joining this cause, some wear bow ties, I have chosen to wear a vest –Vestember –every time I leave my home to show solidarity for this cause.

The writer’s words struck me as I opened my Bible… Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed— and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors— and they have no comforter.

Oppression has been around as long as people… it goes back to Cain verse Abel. We are a cockeyed species, we human beings!

I just finished reading T.H. White’s Once and Future King. This Arthurian Legend makes a point that we humans are the only animal species to war among ourselves. Oppression comes in many shapes and sizes.

Oppressed people have no comforter… the writer is correct and by God’s grace I am hoping my small gesture wearing a vest will bring some comfort and possibly help raise awareness for the need of a comforter… maybe you can be a comforter too?

O God, help me grow a heart for the oppressed, down trodden, and looked passed. I can’t eradicate sin –the source of our oppressing –only You Lord Jesus can do that. But I can be a human agent used by You to speak and help people who are oppressed. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.


Monday, November 27: Ecclesiastes 3- How well am I using each season of life?.

I love the rhythm of the poem on time. Whenever I read it, the poem causes me to ponder time and life. The rhythms, the changes, and the seasons we all go through. Rich or poor, male or female, no matter what continent we live upon or what century we are from we, all humans, experience similar seasons and rhythms. With respect to time, life is quite universal. Different for each person to be sure but yet universal as well. Every person I have met can relate to this poem.

Time is gift.

I wonder how much time I use well and how much I squander. I also wonder if that matters, or is use of time another ebb and flow toggling back and forth between the two.

Then later in the chapter the writer profoundly realizes… “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed” (17).

This causes me to think, maybe I have wondered about the wrong aspect of time. Maybe the idea of squandering time is the wrong question. It seems the question should be how righteously, morally and God-honoring have I acted during each season I have been given? God will judge how I have lived… it would be wise for me to keep that in mind as I ebb and flow from season to season in my life.

Hmmm… something to think about today as I live.

Oh, Lord, you are the provider of the gift of time, of the ebb and flow of seasons. In each season help me to seek and find You and to live with and for You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


Saturday, November 25: Ecclesiastes 2- What am I chasing?.

To be so wealthy and important that whatever you want to do you can do is a life beyond me. I cannot fathom living like that. Yet, that was the life of the writer of Ecclesiastes. In his exploration of meaning he tried pouring himself into everything he could think of … great building, great fun, deep thinking. Nothing satisfied the deep itch within.

We haven’t changed much as humans in the millenniums since his writing. What do people continue to pour their lives into… building personal ‘empires’, having all the fun they can imagine, thinking and study. Oh, maybe people cannot do it to the degree the writer did, but it is focus rather than amplitude that matters to life. Whether our ‘empire’ is a simple house and a comfortable life or the empire of a one-percent-er it doesn’t really matter because the focus for both is me, myself and I.

The writer is wise enough to pause and ponder meaning. He discovers, A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (24-25).

Though his quest isn’t over, he is beginning to see the light. Without God in our lives and providing focus for our lives we accumulate things, material goods, wisdom or experiences only to hand what we have accumulated off to someone else when we die. And they may or may not treasure what we give them; they certainly didn’t earn what we give them. This all seems quite meaningless. We strive only to leave all our accumulated striving to another. Meanwhile we miss out on finding deep satisfaction in life.

The deep satisfaction, according to the writer comes from God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?

Now is the time for me to pause… to ponder what am I about in life? What is my focus? What drives me forward? Is God my drive?  For only then will it satisfy?

More to ponder and consider…

Lord, on this eve of worship, may I probe my life to make sure You are central to what I do but, even more importantly, who I am. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, November 24: Ecclesiastes 1- What is the meaning of life?.

Ecclesiastes is quite a switch from Revelation!

What is the meaning of life? The writer is wondering; most of us wonder about this from time to time. What is the meaning of life?

Is it to grab as many new and fresh experiences that one can? Is it a quest for knowledge or sensual pleasure?

So much of life is a never-ending circle of this, that or another thing. The writer puts it far more eloquently: Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again (4-7).

Where do I find meaning?

Where do you find meaning? This will be the great question of this book. Ask it! Wonder, think, question, probe your heart and your mind. What makes you tick. What keeps you going? What fills your life and empowers you to live?

Lord, I have found my answer in You… Amen.


Thursday, November 23: Revelation 22- Worship God alone!.

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (8-9).

John’s reaction of falling before the angel in worship seems like such a natural reaction. This angel of God gives you a tour of heaven and what is to come… speaking for God, showing what God will do and leading you to the wonder of God. Worship and praise seems like an innocent reaction, but John is met with an instant and stinging rebuke.

“Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”

It hit me, how easily and innocently we can make the same mistake, worshipping –and if that word seems too strong, adoring –the messenger rather than God who sent him.

As I consider this scenario, I see dangers on both sides of the action.

For the ‘adorer’ we set our eyes on the wrong target. God himself fades into the background as the messenger takes center stage. This is idolatry no matter how ‘innocent’ it might be. When anyone or anything displaces God from the center, sin has crept in and taken hold!

For the messenger to receive the adoration of another that is rightly due only to for the Lord is blasphemy… taking the place of God when you are not God.  The angel in the book of Revelation understood that and immediately rebuked the wrong and spoke truth. How often, sadly do preachers and teachers and leaders in similar situations revel in the praise rather than giving due honor to the Lord. Many a pastor has fallen into this sin, I fear. Herod, in Acts 12:23 was struck down by God because he accepted praise reserved only for God.

I need to examine my heart…

·         Have I misplaced my praise in any area no matter how seemingly small, placing it on men rather than God?

·         Have I accepted inappropriate praise or adoration from someone instead of deflecting it to the rightful one, the Lord God almighty?

Oh, God, penetrate my heart, show me if I have sinned or am sinning in either of these ways. Show me, Lord, that I might repent before You, my Savior and my God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, November 22: Revelation 21- The glorious reward.

Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children (7). Finally, John paints pictures of the glorious reward for all the saints. God gives us a glimpse of eternity for those who love Jesus and live honoring the Lord.

My heart sighs in relief… everything in the book and in life led to this… the wonder, the beauty, the serenity, the perfect of life eternal. I re-read the chapter just to lap up the imagery. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (3-4).

Joy fills my heart… stay faithful. Stay true to the Lord and this is God’s reward.

Day by day, Lord, I pray for strength to live for You, to honor You, to serve You and to be a tool in Your hands. Amen and amen.


Tuesday, November 21: Revelation 20- The only escape is faith in God -Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit .

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. … The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (10, 13-15).

Finally judgment has come. God’s verdict is issued and the sentence is executed; God’s enemies are thrown into the lake of fire where [t]hey will be tormented day and night forever and ever. The imagery is horrible. It is difficult for me to imagine eternal torment. I honestly don’t want to imagine it. It is frightening,

And yet, this destiny is established and set for anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life. The only escape is faith in God -Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I am humbled. I am grateful. I have few words…

Thank You, Oh, God. But for Your grace there go I… Amen.


Monday, November 20: Revelation 19- Worship is central to our relationship with the Lord.

With the great prostitute defeated, the beast’s power is gone and the Lord wins the decisive battle with ease. Halleluiah! Cut off the head and the snake dies! Halleluiah.

From the victory my thoughts traveled to worship. How often heaven erupts in praise to the Lord. Halleluiahs ring out over and over again to the Lord throughout this book.

A friend has said that worship here on earth is rehearsal for worship in heaven. Seeing all the time worship breaks out in the book of Revelation makes me think we need more practice!

Worship is central to our relationship with the Lord. God is worthy… oh, so worthy. God is worthy now and He is worthy forever. So we should be lauding and praising and worshipping and singing to the Lord regularly.

Jesus Christ has conquered the grave and defeated the powers and principalities. Jesus has redeemed us and brought us into His kingdom… each of these and so much more God has already done for us. Yes, God is worthy of praise, indeed…

And our worship and praise is always GOD focused and GOD centered. We worship God because of who He is and what the Lord has done…


Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of creation. Oh, my soul praise Him for He is our help and salvation! All you who hear now to His temple drawer near….

Halleluiah. Halleluiah. Amen.


Saturday, November 18: Revelation 18- God's enemy vanquished, defeated and judged .

The theme continues… the end for the enemies of God and all who side with her is sure. While the world and all who made their living supporting Babylon the Great receive their God-ordained punishment, the people of God are called out of Babylon to safety. They rejoice… For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you (20c).

Like watching war criminals get their just punishment, the people of God see God’s enemy vanquished, defeated and judged.

These are not pretty days. Judgment never is. However, when judgment is just and true they are good days…

Come, Lord Jesus. Come. Vanquish Your enemy. Establish Your throne in fullness and splendor. Come, Lord Jesus. Come!


Friday, November 17: Revelation 17- God's words will be fulfilled .

Through my window I watch the small wildlife in my yard scurry around. Chipmunks galore rarely rest. They scurry here and there, looking under leaves for morsels to eat or stash away as fall moves along and winter looms.

I felt a little like a chipmunk looking here and there in this chapter, turning phrases over in my head as I look for God’s morsel today.

I am not good at deciphering fantasy language so beasts and the like are a struggle for me. So devotionally I looked for kernels of truth to cling to. And God provides…

Verse 1: “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters… The Lord God is in control. I may not understand everything and how it all works out, but the Lord does. This is what matters to me. The God I love, honor and serve is in control and John is given a glimpse of God’s just retribution on His enemy.

Verse 6: I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus… Following Jesus is not necessarily an easy road. Many will pay dearly for their faith in Jesus. This causes me to ‘buck up’ to be ready and prepared for persecution, which could come. I haven’t faced anything of this sort but I could and I need to be prepared… to continually bear testimony to Jesus through the way I live.

Verse 8b: The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished… A book of life with names written or not written from the creation of the world.  The theological word ‘predestination’ comes to mind. Predestination is a concept I do not fully understand, but it lives in the pages of Scripture. The words of the Prophet Isaiah come to mind: As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). I don’t understand why some have their names written in the book of life from eternity and others don’t. But putting my trust in the Lord’s will rather than my own gives me comfort, because He is just and I am sin-filled and frail. I can rest in the will of my God, even though I do not fully understand.

Verse 17: For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. I am back where I started. God is in control. God is even able to have His enemy do His bidding and in the end God’s Words will be fulfilled. I have staked my eternity on this!

Have you? Think about it…

Oh, Lord, You met me today in Your Word. You fed me with truth and beauty. Your Spirit encouraged me and provided for me yet again. I am blessed. I am humbled. I am Yours. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.