Daily Devotional

  • Everything Subject to the Master’s Authority - Experiencing the Utmost Life Under the Authority of Jesus - Friday, April 3rd

    They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Mark 11:27-33

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Over the course of the earthly ministry of Jesus he was confronted regularly by religious leaders. Notice in today’s passage those who confront Jesus: “the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.” This is a powerful set of people. In terms of available religious authority, this is the top brass (assuming the chief priests includes the high priest). So, we have the top authorities of the religious system of the day questioning the authority of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, God the Son. This is meant to be a showdown moment with Jesus that these religious authorities are seeking to orchestrate. But, Jesus isn’t biting because it is not the right moment for him and his “suffering Messiah” purposes. It won’t be long though and Jesus will stand on trial before these same men. 

    At his trial when asked directly by the high priest if he was the Messiah, Jesus said, “I AM.” The high priest seemed to grasp that the Messiah had to be the Son of God, and yet when Jesus says he is the Messiah, He is accused of blasphemy. It must be that the high priest and the others just didn’t think that Jesus was the right one. They didn’t believe that it was blasphemous for the true Messiah to claim to be the Son of God, but they did think such a claim was blasphemous for someone they believed was not the Messiah. It is ironic that in their declaring Jesus guilty and deserving of death, they put Him in perfect position for fulfilling His role as the “suffering Messiah.” 

    There is a confrontation with some of the religious leaders where Jesus does reference the source of his authority. John 5:39-47 gives to us this remarkable statement by Jesus, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

    We know that Jesus is the Son of God and the one and only Messiah. While he is rejected by the religious authorities, his disciples will eventually get to the right spot. Remember a little while back when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter gives the right answer (“the Christ” equals “the Messiah”) but then shows that he does not comprehend the true meaning of his answer. Peter rebukes Jesus when he tells them about his coming suffering. Peter and the rest of the disciples want a “conquering” Messiah and not a “suffering ” Messiah. After the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, everything changes. The Scriptures record for us some amazing words that come from the Apostle Peter.

    In Acts 3:18 Peter says, “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” The idea of a suffering Messiah which had been a foreign concept to Peter he now declares to have been announced beforehand. Peter goes on to say in Acts 3:19-21, Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ (Messiah) appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” So, He came once as the suffering Messiah, but He will return someday as the ruling Messiah when He will restore all things.

    But, in addition to him coming to sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world in the past and His coming again to rule and make all things right in the future, He comes personally to each person who repents and returns in order to wipe away their sins and refresh them from within with His healing presence. Aren’t you glad that you are on this side of the resurrection and that you are under the authority of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the one and only Messiah?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, your story is an amazing story and the detail of how it unfolds is so remarkable. Thank you for coming. Thank for standing in the face of those who opposed you. Thank you for going forward and embracing all the suffering that came to you. Thank you for doing it for me. You are my Master and have full claim on my life. I bow before you and to your full authority in my life. Amen!

  • Everything Subject to the Master’s Authority - Trusting Jesus for Fruitfulness Will Cost Everything - Thursday, April 2nd

    When evening came, they would go out of the city. As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” Mark 11:19-26

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are exploring the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of Mark this week. The events covered take place on the first couple of days of the last week of the life of Christ. This week is often called “Holy Week” or “Passion Week.” It seems that Jesus and his disciples follow a pattern for a little while of going into Jerusalem in the morning and returning to nearby Bethany for the night. We see in today’s passage that it is morning again and they are headed back to Jerusalem. On the way they pass the fig tree which Jesus had cursed the morning before on their way to Jerusalem. Now they find that the cursed fig tree has withered from the roots up.

    While the cursing of the fruitless fig tree by Jesus the day before served as an object lesson and indictment against fruitless Israel, the now completely withered fig tree serves to give Jesus an important teaching moment with his disciples. The very first thing Jesus says is, “Have faith in God.” The inference is that Israel became fruitless because they did not have faith in God. The teaching point of Jesus for his disciples is that faith in God is the key to them being spiritually fruitful for God. It will not be long before the disciples find themselves in an upper room in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover with Jesus. One of many things Jesus will say to them is this, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

    While the analogy is about grapes instead of figs, we are still dealing with spiritual fruitfulness. Jesus makes it very clear that fruitfulness comes from him. Faith is all about letting Jesus make us fruitful even to the extent of believing that through him we can “move mountains,” even the seemingly immovable mountain between us and all those that need our complete forgiveness. Jesus absolutely does not want a repeat performance of Israel for his church which he will soon launch through his disciples after his resurrection. Christian discipleship is essentially about following a course for living life that is absolutely and completely centered in and dependent upon Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that this course is extremely narrow, goes against the flow of humanity, is filled with obstacles, attracts opposition, resistance, persecution or even death, and requires great endurance.

    We are absolutely not capable of following this course apart from an abiding relationship with Christ whereby His presence, power, and provision are poured into us. Such a relationship requires humility, surrender and dependence and herein lies the greatest challenge of this course for life – our willful selves. We want to be in charge, we want to accomplish, we want the glory of a successful Christian life; but that is not Christian discipleship. In Christian discipleship we are on a course of life where we fix our eyes on Jesus, follow Him by faith wherever He leads us, rely totally on His strength, and do it completely for His honor and glory. Jesus tells all “would be” disciples to count the cost of following Him before embarking on the journey. And what is the cost of following the Lord Jesus Christ? - it will cost everything!

    Are we willing to pay the cost? Our entire self with all its time, abilities, finances and other resources must be at Christ’s disposal. Anything that gets in the way must be set aside. All personal relationships, vocations, and interests must become as nothing compared to our devotion to Christ and our commitment to His centrality in our lives. In 1 Timothy the apostle Paul says, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we should be content.” And then Paul says, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” Life indeed is the life of fruitfulness that comes from trusting Christ to do for us what we cannot do on our own.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know that following you fully means that I become a truly fruitful Christian. I also know that becoming a truly fruitful Christian means absolutely depending on you through a constantly abiding relationship with you. Help me to surrender my willful self to you and empower me to live fully for you day after day. Amen!

    This would be a great day to put together your own prayer response to the Lord.

  • Everything Subject to the Master’s Authority - Becoming Temples that are Fully Cleansed and Restored - Wednesday, April 1st

    Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching. Mark 11:15-18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We see from today’s passage that Jesus has returned to Jerusalem and entered the temple again. He had just been to the temple the day before which we saw in yesterday’s devotional. Here’s what we said about that first visit: “Jesus’ heart is filled with all that ‘his people could be’ but with his eyes he instantly and fully takes in all that ‘his people are not.’ We will see Jesus’ return to the temple in tomorrow’s Devotional and you can be sure that his ‘looking around at everything’ on his first visit has everything to do with his explosive actions on his second visit.” Today, we see his explosive actions and marvel. Yes, indeed, it is what Jesus saw on the first visit that he powerfully deals with on his second visit.

    In regard to the cleansing of the temple, the Gospel of John includes this, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” Yes, his Father’s house had become a “robbers’ den” and this is what Jesus is dealing with through his zealous actions of cleansing the temple. Jesus reminds those present of the true nature of the temple with these words, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?’” To understand this more completely, you have an assignment. Please take the time to read 1 Kings 8:22-61. You will see, not only why the temple was called a house of prayer, but why Jesus is so deeply disturbed by all that the temple no longer is and so passionately against all it has become.

    Of course, our passage naturally concludes with the reaction to all this by the religious establishment. Jesus further seals his destiny as the religious leaders become resolute in their intentions to destroy Jesus. His destiny is to become the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. While the cleansing of the temple by Jesus makes the powerful statement we have looked at today, his sacrifice of himself through crucifixion on the cross will make the provision of cleansing the whole world desperately needs.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your passion and compassion. I see how painful it was for you to come face to face with the “should have been stuff” that was missing and all the “shouldn’t have been stuff” that was present. Thank you for all the additional pain and suffering you endured to secure eternal salvation for all. As one of your redeemed, I pray you will powerfully continue your work of adding the “should be stuff” that has been missing and removing the “shouldn’t be stuff” that has been present. I bow in surrender to your absolute authority in my life. Amen!

  • Everything Subject to the Master’s Authority - Embracing the Necessity of a Truly Fruitful Life - Tuesday, March 31st

    Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. Mark 11:11-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Sunday before Easter has become known as Palm Sunday. It finds its roots in yesterday’s passage which gave us the account of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem which we call the “triumphal entry.” Today’s passage begins, with the simple words, “Jesus entered Jerusalem.” With the celebratory procession of the people, Jesus has already entered Jerusalem in the sense that he has arrived and passed through the entrance gate. But now with his royal welcome completed, Jesus enters Jerusalem in the sense that he goes on into the heart of the city. Jesus’ encounter with Jerusalem at this point is very brief. It consists of Jesus going into the temple, looking around at everything, and then leaving with the twelve to go back to Bethany.

    This is a powerful moment for Jesus that we must not miss. Jesus’ heart is filled with all that “his people” could be but with his eyes he instantly and fully takes in all that “his people” are not. We will see Jesus’ return to the temple in tomorrow’s Devotional and you can be sure that his “looking around at everything” on his first visit has everything to do with his explosive actions on his second visit. Today’s passage goes on to tell us about something that happens in between his two visits to the temple. Read again about Jesus cursing the fig tree in today’s passage. What at first seems obscure and strange, becomes a little clearer to us. The cursing of the fig tree is more than an object lesson, it is an indictment against “his people.” God called Israel to be his people so that they might become a spiritually fruitful people but instead they were unfruitful (See Isaiah 5:1-7 and Mark 12:1-11).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I can only imagine what it was like for you to look upon Jerusalem and the temple and see how far removed your people were from you and all the beautiful intentions you had for them. I pray for myself and for your people everywhere, that we would let you draw us close so that we would bear fruit that lasts. May the desires of your heart be fulfilled in me and your people everywhere. Amen!

  • Everything Subject to the Master’s Authority - Taking a Lowly Place Before Jesus Who Alone is in Charge - Monday, March 30th

    As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” Mark 11:1-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The serpent of old tempted Adam and Eve with the lure that they could “be like God.” This tempter was the fallen angel, Lucifer, who had attempted to make himself like the Most High. In these instances to “be like God” means to usurp Him, taking His role. How readily we want to take charge, be in control, call our own shots. Being creator-like is much more to our liking than to be creature-like. But creatures we are and there is only one Creator and to Him we must bow and yield allegiance. Our Creator became a man and dwelt among us, calling people to follow Him. He continues His call to mankind today and the question remains, “will we follow?”

    The imagery of the garments and palm branches spread before Jesus to pave His entrance into Jerusalem is compelling. We picture a king being exalted and his subjects bowed before him willing to do whatever it takes to honor him in his entrance to the royal city. And Jesus’ followers were honoring Him and His entrance into Jerusalem. It portrays them as ones who are willing to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced, even dirty for the one they have chosen to follow. What about us? Do the lives we live readily portray us in this way – ones who truly follow Jesus? True followers of Jesus take a lowly place before Him as ones who have forsaken being in charge in favor of honoring and serving their Master.

    Willing to get down and dirty is only a start. The further imagery of Jesus riding and His followers walking is instructive as well. The desire to be acknowledged and honored runs deep. What starts as an act of humility can easily turn into an occasion for pride. “Hey, look at me, I’m one of the ones who got down and dirty so Jesus could enter Jerusalem with honor. It even cost me the coat off my back and a tree from my front lawn. Jesus must continue to be exalted as we acknowledge and honor Him in an ongoing way. The imagery of Him riding and us walking helps us to keep this in mind and to be content with being a forever “follower.”

    A significant test of being a follower comes when it is time to accept and go where the one we are following wishes to lead us. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem did not immediately lead to His conquering and taking charge of the nation of Israel as its true and rightful king. Rather, it led to crucifixion on a barren hillside outside of Jerusalem. This was not the expectation of the followers who had just created a path of honor for the Messiah’s entrance into Jerusalem. Their cries of “Hosanna” were an appeal for the Messiah to manifest Himself immediately as the one who would deliver them from Roman occupation. As followers of Jesus today, we must cast our expectations on the very ground over which we will follow Him as He leads us into the fullness of His will along the path of His choosing.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I know you are working out your will in my life. What a privilege it is to be your follower and to be on the right path. Teach me more and more to want only what you want. Fill my heart and awareness with yourself. Free me from all expectations except that we will go forward together into the fullness of your will. You are my Lord and Master. I worship you with a heart of surrender and obedience. Amen!

  • "Just One" - An inspirational Poem for Sunday, March 29th

    Just One
    Unknown

    One song can spark a moment,
    One flower can wake the dream
    One tree can start a forest,
    One bird can herald spring.

    One smile begins a friendship,
    One handclasp lifts a soul.
    One star can guide a ship at sea,
    One word can frame the goal

    One vote can change a nation,
    One sunbeam lights a room
    One candle wipes out darkness,
    One laugh will conquer gloom.

    One step must start each journey.
    One word must start each prayer.
    One hope will raise our spirits,
    One touch can show you care.

    One voice can speak with wisdom,
    One heart can know what's true,

    One life can make a difference,
    You see, it's up to you!

  • "Death - What a Wonderful Way to Explain It" - An Inspirational Story for Saturday, March 28th

    DEATH~WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO EXPLAIN IT

    A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to

    Leave the examination room and said,

    'Doctor, I am afraid to die.

    Tell me what lies on the other side.'

    Very quietly, the doctor said, 'I don't know.'

    'You don't know? You, a Christian man,

    Do not know what is on the other side?'

    The doctor was holding the handle of the door;

    On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining,

    And as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room

    And leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

    Turning to the patient, the doctor said,

    Did you notice my dog?

    He's never been in this room before.

    He didn't know what was inside.

    He knew nothing except that his master was here,

    And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear.

    I know little of what is on the other side of death,

    But I do know one thing...

    I know my Master is there and that is enough.'

  • Our Available and Helpful God – Trusting in Him Fully for the Long Haul - Friday, March 27th

    O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears …. O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him …. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:3-4, 8, 17-18

    Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Those very difficult kind of troubles that don’t go away, make one feel powerless against them, and have the ability to produce a lot of pain and suffering, can really take a toll on a person’s life. We saw this in evidence in David’s life in a Psalm from the other day where he said, “My soul is bowed down.” Very few of us are strangers to the impact of troubles that break us down, wear us out, and from time to time get us to the spot where we say, “My soul is bowed down.” However, there are some people who have experienced pain and suffering to a degree that is beyond that of the average person, so that they are almost always in a state of being “bowed down” in their souls.

    Today’s Psalm speaks of those who are “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit.” Whether you are one who is “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit” from time to time or routinely, our Psalm offers some helpful things we can do that will really make a difference in our lives. Notice the words, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” We do this on Sunday mornings when we join with others in worshiping God. But, let’s take it a step further. Find a worship buddy! On a weekly basis or more often if needed, join with another person (not connected with your own troubles) for a time of just “magnifying” and “exalting” the name of the Lord (no complaining).

    A significant factor in why our soul becomes “bowed down” is “fear.” So, every day, seek the Lord in prayer and make your requests known (in regard to your troubles). Go forward from your prayer time believing God will answer and that he will deliver you from all your fears. Until your next prayer session, dismiss all negative thoughts that would counter your faith that God is working to answer you and deliver you from all your fears. This is what taking refuge in God is all about. The more you practice these disciplines, the more you will experience (taste) God and the more you will find him to be good, and the more you know his goodness the more you will be blessed.

    It is important to remember that prayer is talking to God. It is easy to let a prayer session shift into your talking to yourself in a rehearsal of your troubles that just locks you further into the condition of your soul being bowed down. Our Psalm says, “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” In an act of faith you must openly and honestly cry out to God in full awareness that he hears. It is a full exchange between you and God and not yourself and yourself. Expect him to do something for your soul. He delights to bring you to the spot where your soul is lifted up. Perhaps, being delivered out of all your troubles is more about this than it is having the troubles removed from your life.

    “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” We began our considerations today by talking about those who are brokenhearted and crushed in Spirit. If this is you and you let God help you practice the disciplines that have been covered today, then the Lord will be “near” to you in ways you have never experienced before and will “save” you from the impact of troubles in ways that will absolutely amaze you. “Taste and see that the Lord is (indeed) good.”

    We wrap up our week with one final portion from our Luke 18 passage and story. Jesus concludes with an extremely penetrating question, “when the Son of Man comes (2nd time), will He find faith on the earth?” He will find faith in anyone who has recognized their need for him, has trusted in him for salvation, and has been seeking him persistently in prayer day by day in order to behold him, experience him, and receive his willing help with all the issues of life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    I think this would be a great occasion to write out your own prayer response to God. May God bless you richly today! Amen!

  • Our Available and Helpful God – Dwelling and Abiding in His Presence - Thursday, March 26th

    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust …. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark …. Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation. Psalm 91:1-2, 4, 14-16

    Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have another Psalm today to help us with those particularly difficult troubles in our lives that we can’t make go away, that we are powerless against, and from which we experience a lot of pain and suffering. And once again we will couple our Psalm for today with a portion from our Luke passage. Remember that both the Psalm and the Luke passage are about God making himself available to us in times of need. First, we want to look at today’s Psalm and we will do so in the light of an analogy. Picture the mom who sends her young children off to school each day. At home they are safe and secure, but out there in the world of school, they are vulnerable and susceptible to the troublesome things they come up against day after day. The mom can only hope the experience of the home will offset the experience of the world. She pictures the good atmosphere of the home (including her presence, care, and influence) carrying over into the world of school. In our relationship with God, home is the sanctuary of quiet, alone times spent in his presence. The first words of our Psalm capture it this way: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High.” We need concentrated times of being in God’s presence (dwells in the shelter).

    The atmosphere of the shelter of God’s presence (concentrated time with him) carrying over to life on the go (children at school) is captured with the next words of our Psalm: “will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Now granted when we are on the go in life, God is with us in a way that a mom cannot be with her children when they are at school. However, we need to keep in mind that our ability to be aware of God’s continued presence is limited when we are rightly concentrating on other things. It should be noted that we can develop an ability to be aware of him when we are on the go and we can stop and look to him (go home) in concentrated moments with him. But even so, the images of “dwelling in the shelter of the Most High” and “abiding in the shadow of the Almighty,” will help us remember how important it is to have a daily quiet time with God (shelter) that carries over (shadow) into our world of life on the go.

    Developing this kind of relationship with God will make all the difference in how we are impacted by the particularly troublesome things we have been talking about this week. Notice the image of the mother bird in our Psalm. Use this image in your quiet times to help you picture yourself as being sheltered under His wings. In addition, use this image when you are on the go to help you picture yourself as being under the shadow of his wings. Regularly being in the shelter and shadow of God’s presence causes us to grow in our ability to love and know God. Notice from the rest of the Psalm how growing in our ability to love and know God opens the door for him to be at work in our lives in some pretty amazing and powerful ways.

    I cannot help believe that the kind of relationship with God we have been describing in our dealing with today’s Psalm is the kind of relationship Jesus is calling his listeners to through his story. Recall the words that lead into his story, “He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” It is today’s portion of Jesus’ story that gives us the heart of the story and the truth about God that can bring us to the place where we truly can pray at all times and not to lose heart. Like the widow in our story and like the Psalmist in today’s Psalm, we want the one who has the ability to act and meet our need to do just that. The widow called on a reluctant judge over and over again and he eventually provided legal protection for her. In contrast to the judge, we have God, who is willing and waiting to take care of us. Notice these words from our story, “now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for these very special words you have spoken to me through your Word today. I know you are always at work bringing about that which is right and just in my life. Help me on a daily basis to experience being in the shelter of your presence and under the shadow of your presence. While your provision of solutions to my problems is great, change me so that I want you more than I want the solutions you provide. Right now, I choose to make loving you and knowing you the centerpiece of my life. Amen!

  • Our Available and Helpful God – Counting On His Constant Willingness to Respond - Wednesday, March 25th

    Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.  He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth his lovingkindness and His truth …. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Psalm 57:1-3, 7

    Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are looking at various Psalms this week for guidance in how to navigate those areas of life that we are powerless to change and cause us to experience significant pain and suffering.

    And once again we will couple our Psalm for today with a portion from our Luke passage. Remember that both the Psalm and the Luke passage are about God making himself available to us in times of need. The portion of Psalm 57 above was written by David, King of Israel in ancient times. Even though he was a king, David was not a stranger to hurtful, harmful things that he had no power over. Many of David’s Psalms are like condensed episodes from his life in regard to the impact of troubles, turning to God for help, and the outcome of faith and dependence.

    Make no mistake, troubles of the kind we are talking about this week (things like severe illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, disabilities, past disasters, mental illness, etc.) have a terrific impact on us. David is very candid about his own experience with the impact of troubles on his life. Elsewhere in today’s Psalm, David says, “My soul is bowed down.”

    This is where he is when the Psalm starts. The impact of the trouble he is experiencing seems to be at its pinnacle when he cries out to God, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me.”

    Not only is David helpless to do anything about the trouble but for the moment he is struggling to escape its impact on his soul. When David cries out to God, “Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,” he is asking for intervention in regard to both the trouble and the impact of the trouble. When David goes on to say, “my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by,” he is not there yet in this instance of “trouble” management.

    David’s soul is bowed down and he wants to be in the refuge of God’s presence and care like he has been in the past so his soul can be lifted up, but it’s hard to get there. It is like he is reviewing what he knows is needed and is available from God. When David says, “I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me,” he is asking God to be gracious by moving him from the impact of the trouble to the impact of his presence.

    Experiencing God as a refuge and shelter is what David needs and wants. This is where he wants to be and where he wants to stay for the duration of the problem (until destruction passes by). David knows that his focus needs to be on God and not the problem. When this shift takes place through God’s gracious intervention, then he will leave the problem in God’s hands. Notice what David says next: “He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth his lovingkindness and His truth.”

    David’s prayer for God to be gracious to him is answered and he is able to say confidently and boldly, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” God has become more real to him than the trouble. No longer is his soul bowed down but lifted up. David’s experience here can be our experience. This is where the story from Luke 18 comes in. Remember, Jesus tells the story of the nasty judge and the relentless widow to show us that at all times we ought to pray and not lose heart.

    And remember, too, that the story depicts the judge as one who stands in stark contrast to God in regard to his willingness to help, while it depicts the widow as someone we should emulate in our looking to God for help. We learn from the judge what God is not like. The judge is totally reluctant to respond to the widows cry for help because he has entirely no regard for God and entirely no concern for the widows needs. As we see in today’s highlighted portion, it is only because the widow keeps coming before him for help that he is moved from being unwilling to being willing to help. The judge reveals he has had enough of being bothered by the widow and he is worried that she is going to wear him out.

    God is never bothered by us no matter how often we come before him and he is never in danger of our wearing him out. Truly, God is not reluctant but rather he is willing and always available to us for the help he provides. Like the widow, we must keep coming to the one who has the ability to take care of us in our time of need and like David, God will become more real to us than the trouble we bring before him. Our soul will no longer be bowed down but lifted up. We may have to repeat the process over and over again (persistent prayer). God does not mind. He loves to have us call on him and count on him to be a refuge and shelter to us from destructive troubles. Whatever we are facing, we really can begin with “be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me” and end up with “my heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, my prayer today is the prayer of David, “be gracious to me, be gracious to me.” I absolutely believe you are not reluctant but totally willing to respond to me and my need. Lord, help me to experience you as a refuge and shelter to such a degree that I am able to say, “my heart is steadfast, my heart is steadfast. Become more real to me than my troubles so that I can fully sing your praises day by day. Amen!

  • Our Available and Helpful God – Keeping at Coming to Him for Help - Tuesday, March 24th

    On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul …. For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; You do not forsake the works of Your hands. Psalm 138:3, 6-8

    Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We continue with our consideration of the things that cause us to experience significant pain and sorrow and are powerless to change. We turn today to another Psalm from which we will see how God makes himself available to us in times of trouble and how he ministers to our deepest needs as we face the challenges of painful experiences produced by these troubles that come into our lives. God’s grace, presence, power, and comfort make all the difference and help us live triumphantly day by day.

    God has made us in such a way that we find deep inside ourselves a desire to have it be that our lives count for something. This is true in regard to what we are able accomplish but also in regard to all we go through in the process. On the one hand we want to know if this experience is “worthwhile” and on the other hand we want to know if this experience is “worth it.” We really do want “what we do” and “what we go through” to count for something.

    Today’s Scripture gives us some insight into this. This is a Psalm of David and one of the most reoccurring words in his Psalms is the word “trouble.” Notice the words, “I walk in the midst of trouble.” This is what lies behind these helpful words of David we are looking at today. You can be sure that David wrestled with whether his experiences were “worthwhile” and “worth it.” David knew all too well about being powerless in the face of troubles that brought pain and suffering. It was David’s connection to God that made all the difference.

    Again we will couple our Psalm with a portion from our Luke passage. Just like our Psalms are about God making himself available to us in times of trouble, so our story from Jesus is about God making himself available to us as we seek him persistently through prayer. Today’s portion introduces us to a nasty judge and a relentless widow seeking legal protection from an opponent. The story depicts the judge as one who stands in stark contrast to God in regard to willingness to help, while it depicts the widow as someone we should emulate in our looking to God for help. We learn from the judge what God is not like. God is not reluctant but rather he is willing and always available to us for the help he provides. We learn from the widow to keep coming to the one who has the ability to take care of us in our time of need.

    This was truly how David approached his relationship with God. David was a man of faith and he consistently turned to God in full trust and dependence. He knew it was the key to having it be that everything would truly “count” in the end. David had developed the discipline and habit of turning to God when walking in the midst of trouble. Consider carefully what he says about this: “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.” Ongoing troubles that produce pain and suffering in our souls, can only truly be countered by God, who makes us bold with strength in our souls instead.

    What is it that really lies at the center of why we do or we don’t face the troubles in our lives the way David did? Notice what David says next: “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar.” The humble (lowly) are convinced they are powerless and all is futile unless they count on God fully. The proud (haughty) are not absolutely convinced they are powerless and helpless apart from God’s intervention. If you know you need God, he is able to come close to you with the help you need. If you don’t know for sure you need God, he can’t get very close to you with the help that is needed.

    Notice all the things the Psalm goes on to say God will do if he is able to draw near to you with his help: He will revive you; He will stretch forth his hand against the wrath of your enemies, and his right hand will save you. The Lord will accomplish what concerns you (worthwhile); His lovingkindness will last forever and He will not forsake you, the work of his hands (worth it). Certainly we ought to pray and not lose heart.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for how easily I leave you out of the equation of my life in so many ways. Even with my troubles and the pain and suffering they have produced, I go it alone far too often. I am sorry for my reluctance to faithfully seek you in prayer. Like David, I call on you right now and I believe you will answer me. Revive me, Lord, and build into me the discipline and habit of humbly turning to you in the midst of my troubles. I ask you to do a work in my heart regarding the effects pain and suffering have had on it. Bring me to the spot where I know my life is “worthwhile” and that all I have been through is “worth it.” Amen!

  • Our Available and Helpful God – Praying and Not Losing Heart - Monday, March 23rd

    The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord does valiantly. I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely, but He has not given me over to death …. You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 118:14-18, 28-29

    Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8

     Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There are things that come with living in a fallen and broken world that cause us to experience significant pain and sorrow and are powerless to change. They are things that we would rather not have in our lives. They are things that God has evidently allowed to show up and stay in our lives for the sake of the bigger scheme of things that he, and he alone has in mind.

    Each day this week we will be looking at a different Psalm from which we will see how God makes himself available to us in times of trouble. Each Psalm will be coupled with a portion from our Luke passage above. Just like our Psalms are about God making himself available to us in times of trouble, so is this story from Luke about God making himself available to us as we seek him persistently through prayer. Hence the instruction, “at all times we ought to pray and not loose heart.” We will see how he ministers to our deepest needs as we face the challenges of painful experiences produced by troubles that come into our lives. We are talking about things like severe illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, disabilities, past disasters, mental illness, etc. Even though such things are constant and long-term, God’s grace, presence, power, and comfort make all the difference and help us live triumphantly day by day.

    Today’s verses indicate that the Psalmist was in the middle of something that produced severe suffering and pain. We are told that it was a severe discipline in his life that didn’t kill him. The fact that the Psalmist is one who is properly aligned with God through faith is seen in his words, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” The focus of the Psalmist is relying on the Lord. However, his reliance is more about the Lord sustaining him in the middle of his troubles than it is about the Lord delivering him from his troubles.

    The Psalmist speaks of the righteous (others who are properly aligned with God) and their example of relying on the Lord. The homes of the righteous are filled with joy. They readily proclaim that the right hand of the Lord is exalted and does valiantly. This is a great image and helps the Psalmist with his own personal reliance on the Lord. The image of the right hand of the Lord depicts the ongoing ability of the Lord to sustain the Psalmist in the midst of his troubles and ultimately to deliver him from them. It depicts the Lord being at the Psalmist side with total availability of his strong right arm for sustenance and deliverance.

    The reassurance and encouragement the Psalmist experiences, lead him to say, “I will not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord.” His response to God is, “You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I bring to you the relentless troubles that have brought sorrow and pain into my life. I want to be one who seeks you persistently in prayer at all times and does not lose heart. I join the Psalmist in saying that you are my strength, my song, and my salvation. I rely upon you with your strong right arm that sustains and delivers. Thank you for being by my side. Help me to trust you and rely upon you more fully. Help me to “live” fully and readily tell of your works. You are my God, and I give thanks, I extol you, for you are good and your lovingkindness is everlasting. Amen!

  • "Little Bird" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, March 22nd

    Little Bird 
    By Marsha C Wohlhieter

    There's a little bird that perches
    On my front porch near my door
    He sings to me a sweet song
    Of the days that came before.

    He brings to mind our childhood
    And the games we used to play
    How we thought we'd live forever
    And that things would never change.

    He sings of friends and family
    Of good times and of bad
    He sings of joy and sorrow
    And the triumphs that we've had.

    There's a little bird that perches
    On my front porch near my door
    He sings to me a sad song
    Of the days to be no more

    He sings to me of special times
    When some we will not see.
    And the plans we made together
    That simply said were not to be.

    There's a little bird that perches
    On my front porch near my door.
    He sings to me memories
    Made so recent ...
    And then wait there is more!

    This little bird that perches
    On my front porch near my door
    He sings to me a promise
    of days that are yet to come.

    He sings to me of joy
    And the things I've left undone
    He reminds me I must keep going
    Until my work is done.

    He tells me not to worry
    That I do not walk alone
    To stop and smell the roses
    Each one a scent of it's own.

    He tells me to remember
    The details of each day.
    To share the stories and memories
    As I go along the way.

    For when my time is finished
    These times that we've been through
    Will serve to guide and comfort
    Maybe one or two.

    So little bird that perches
    On my front porch near my door.
    Sing to me your sweet songs
    And stay here evermore.

  • "It Takes Courage" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, March 21st

    It Takes Courage

    By Gene Bedley

    It takes Courage to care about each member of the family and the struggles they face!

    It takes Courage to care about friends and the daily test they encounter. To let them know you will stand by them through each struggle.

    It takes Courage to complete each commitment you make toward others.

    It takes Courage to confront the weaknesses in your life and be willing to address needed changes

    It takes Courage to confess your thoughtless words or neglectful actions toward a person you love.

    It takes Courage to proclaim your faith and convictions to people who are judgmental.

    It takes Courage to live each day with Integrity.

    It takes Courage to respect others when others show little or no respect for you!

    It takes Courage to focus on what remains rather than what you've lost

    It takes Courage once you recognize that life is a test and your willing to accept the everyday challenges.

  • The Servanthood of Christ – The Builder of an Army of True Neighbors - Friday, March 20th

    Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” Luke 10:36-37

    Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the LORD endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We concluded Monday’s devotional with the following prayer response: Lord, thank you for surrendering to your Father’s will and sacrificing yourself on the cross for me. Thank you for redeeming me from sin and self. Thank you for teaching me the truth that through the forgiveness of sins you have come to live in me through the Holy spirit so that I might embrace and live out a life of servanthood through your empowering presence. I give you the center place in my life so that as your servant I can lovingly live my life in the service of others. Amen! The title of this week’s Devotionals is “The Servanthood of Christ” which was selected to remind us of his servanthood when he was here on earth and our servanthood which he came to make possible. Monday’s prayer response puts this together in a way that helps us readily see how it is that a person can fulfill Jesus’ instruction in today’s passage, “Go and do the same.”

    Truly we are called to love God and our neighbor consistently and thoroughly throughout our lifetime. Through the story of the “Good Samaritan” Jesus helps us see that who he is and what he has to offer will bring a way of living and relating that is like the Samaritan and not like those who just adhere to living within their own little religious system like the lawyer who came before Jesus to test him. It is only by God’s mercy that we are saved and it is only by His mercy that we surrender. Through surrender God is able to take up His rightful place at the center of our lives and there He fills us up with His love which transforms us and then overflows into the lives of those around us. Since this is all God’s doing, it is only by His mercy that it happens. And if it is only by His mercy that it happens then there is no room for boasting. And if there is no room for boasting there is no room for anything but genuine love, acceptance and service of others. This is what proving to be a “neighbor” is all about!

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I see the kind of difference you came to make and long to make in our lives today. I come before you in a spirit of worship and surrender and ask you to actually make this kind of difference in my life. I ask the same for your people everywhere. I am so sorry for the little religious systems we get caught up in that cause us to circumvent you and look down our noses at others. I choose to live fully by loving you with all my heart and my neighbor likewise through the power of your indwelling presence. Amen!

  • The Servanthood of Christ – The Producer of Right Living and Relating - Thursday, March 19th

    But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you. Luke 10:33-35

    But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    If the half dead man along the side of the road had been a Samaritan, the priest and Levite who passed him by would likely have been glad that he had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. Jews and Samaritans typically hated each other and had no dealings with each other. The priest and Levite passing by anyone in this man’s condition is despicable let alone a fellow Jewish countryman. The contrast of the traveling Samaritan stopping to help his hated enemy, a Jew, makes his actions quite remarkable. What is Jesus trying to do with this contrast in the story he tells in response to the lawyer who is testing him? Jesus is contrasting himself and the religious system of the day. Jesus is seeking to help everyone see that who he is and what he has to offer will bring a way of living and relating that is like the Samaritan and not like those who adhere to the religious system of the day.

    Notice Jesus’ words in the Luke 6 passage above: “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Jesus offers those who follow him instead of the religious system of the day, the opportunity to enter into this kind of way of living and relating. To all who choose to follow Jesus, this way of living and relating will come to them after they receive the gift of redemption he provides on the cross and he comes to reside in them through the indwelling Holy Spirit. With Jesus residing within us, he will produce in us His own life and righteousness and it will be a way of living and relating that always compels us to stop and attend to those hurting people he wants to help through us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be compassionate like you are compassionate and I want to be merciful like you are merciful. Forgive me for my lack of compassion and mercy. I know I need you to deliver me from wrong ways of living and relating and I know I need you to produce in me and through me the right ways of living and relating. Draw me close, Lord, so that through the intimacy of your transforming presence I am changed to lovingly live my life in the service of others. Amen!

  • The Servanthood of Christ – The Lover of People Empowering Us to Help - Wednesday, March 18th

    Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. Luke 10:30-32

    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another …. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 John 4:7-11; 20-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We often create standards for ourselves to which we think we measure up. This is particularly true when it comes to love and hate. We are able to justify our attitudes and behaviors towards others by adjusting what passes for love and what passes for not being hate. I am not sure the priest and the Levite in our story considered passing by the half dead man on the side of the road as an act of hatred, but it certainly was not an act of love. Perhaps when we fail to do the loving thing, we are guilty of a form of hatred. There really is no middle ground. The priest and the Levite most certainly felt justified in regard to their attitude and behavior toward the half dead man, but I am sure God saw it differently.

    Perhaps our reasonings need to be questioned as well. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He also said, “Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” God’s standards are very high and that is why we need a Savior – to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves. He gives to us the gift of forgiveness and the gift of Himself – so that He might reside in us and produce in us His own life and righteousness. Jesus would not have passed by the half dead man and he most certainly will empower us from within not to pass by those hurting people he wants to help through us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know there a lot of hurting people out there that I am not called to help. However, there are those you put in my path for whom you intend to provide help through me. Reveal to me the kind of unloving attitudes and behaviors that I am blind to and I am guilty of that keep me from loving others and acting on their behalf in truly helpful ways. I surrender myself to you, your ways, and your specific intentions for me. Amen!

  • The Servanthood of Christ – The Deliverer from Foolish Religious Substitutes - Tuesday, March 17th

    And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:25-29

    For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7B

    Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father …. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:17; 23-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    For the rest of the week we will be looking at the passage that contains the story of the good Samaritan. Today’s Scripture is the portion that leads up to Jesus telling the story. It is an exchange between a lawyer and Jesus. Notice these words, “a lawyer stood up and put him to the test.” The test was in the question he asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer doesn’t really want to know how to inherit eternal life. It is just a pretext for finding something in Jesus’ answer that would discredit him as a reputable teacher. This lawyer is a part of the leadership of the religious establishment that would like nothing more than to take Jesus down. Jesus is all about substance and they are all about appearance. Jesus is about true righteousness and they are about self-righteousness. Jesus is all about serving others and they are about serving themselves.

    The lawyer and the other religious leaders know that somehow or another they are being exposed for the frauds they really are through the teaching ministry of Jesus. They were all set before Jesus arrived on the scene. They had their religious system within which they touted themselves as being at the head of the class and from their superior position they looked down their noses at everyone else. Their religious practice was not about loving God and others. It was about loving themselves as they circumvented God and despised others. And all the while they really believed they were right with God and actually living for him. Christians do precisely the same thing today with their Christian faith.

    We need to let God check our hearts to see if we have fallen into this trap. How easy it is for us to get so terribly skewed in our approach to the Christian life that we appear to be lovingly serving God and others, while in reality we are just living within our own little religious system where we actually circumvent God and despise others. Spiritual superiority is a terrible thing. Jesus came to provide himself as an alternative to religious foolery. Jesus and the spiritual life he provides lifts us above appearance to substance, above self-righteousness to true righteousness, and above serving self to serving others. This is exactly what he does when we truly give him the center place in our lives. It is then that we will have a life that is truly lived in the name of the Lord Jesus.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, lift me above myself and deliver me from religious foolery. I want everything I am and everything I do to be about you and for you. Thank you for my salvation and the gift of eternal life that is my inheritance as your true follower. I choose the life that you intend to be the outworking of my salvation. I choose heartily and lovingly to serve you and others throughout all my days here on earth. Amen!

  • The Servanthood of Christ – The Head of the Body Calling His Church to Serve - Monday, March 16th

    And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:22-23

    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:15-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In our relationship with God, if he is truly allowed to be first, then we are not. This arrangement can also be described as God being at the center of our lives. If he is not in the center then it means that we are treating him as if he exists for us rather than us existing for Him. God is in our lives, but we are still at the center and he is just one more component of our lives that needs to take its place in orbit around our self-occupied center along with all the other orbiting components of our lives. Jesus came to deliver us from this reversal. When he was here, this is how he lived (submitted the Father), this is what he taught, and this is what he died for. The Lord saves us and brings us into relationship with himself for the very purpose of being at the center of our lives. Salvation without this kind of surrender is a real dilemma. God calls us to love him, but we will not be able to love him truly if we are not surrendered. And if we do not love him, we will not fulfill his desire for us to love others. When through our surrender, God is allowed to take his place in the center of our lives, we will lovingly live our lives in the service of others.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for surrendering to your Father’s will and sacrificing yourself on the cross for me. Thank you for redeeming me from sin and self. Thank you for teaching me the truth that through the forgiveness of sins you have come to live in me through the Holy spirit so that I might embrace and live out a life of servanthood through your empowering presence. I give you the center place in my life so that as your servant I can lovingly live my life in the service of others. Amen!

  • "The Lighthouse" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, March 15th

    The Lighthouse

    There was in a certain city a harbor where ships from all over the world would come and dock. However, the harbor was in between a treacherous and rocky shore. During stormy nights, ships would see the city lights off in the distance and head toward the lights hoping to find refuge from the pounding surf.

    The ships would struggle against the storm as they made their way to the safety of the harbor. As they drew near, seeing the dangerous rocks, the captain of the ship would try to turn and avoid striking the rocks but it was to late. Many ships were destroyed and hundreds of sailors lost their lives because they did not know of the danger. You see, the people of the city did not feel that it was necessary to build a lighthouse. Besides, it would cost too much money to build a lighthouse they reasoned. So year after year and storm after storm ships would be ship wrecked and many lives lost.

    There was a man in that city that saw the need. He felt grief and heartache because the people of the city were content to let the ships be destroyed and were not willing to rescue the drowning sailors. So he took it upon himself to do something about it. He tried to recruit volunteers to help him but no one wanted to. He persisted, looking for someone to help him, but they all just laughed at him and said that he was crazy to risk his life to try to save strangers and people who looked different.

    Determined to make a difference, he sold everything that he had and bought a piece of land close to the shore and built his house there. It was a lighthouse.

    So during stormy nights, the man would make sure that the light from the lighthouse was shining as bright as it could so the ships could be warned of the dangerous rocks. His lighthouse saved hundreds of lives and ships from being ship wrecked that year. But it wasn’t enough because even with the lighthouse some of the storms were so powerful that the ships struggling to come into the harbor were tossed about by the wind and the waves that they would get smashed against the rocks.

    Being a compassionate man, he would run to the roaring sea at the risk of his own life to rescue as many sailors as he could. Then he would bring them into the warmth and safety of the lighthouse. Once there he would heal their wounds and feed them until they were able to sail again.

    The man labored by himself for years rescuing sailors and caring for their needs. Each person that he saved was so grateful to him that they couldn’t thank him enough for rescuing them from certain death. But all the man could feel was sadness because many more sailors died in the sea than he could save. “If only I had help,” he would say. “If only someone would see the need as I do and come and help. Lord please send someone to help, I can’t do it all by myself,” he prayed.

    Then one day it happened, his prayers were answered. His generosity became well known in the land. People in the city began to volunteer to come and help the man keep vigil during stormy nights. Men began to take shifts keeping watch and helping rescue sailors. Then women started cooking and preparing bandages for the wounded sailors. The children did whatever they could to help lift the spirits of the sick.

    Ships still wreck along the treacherous shoreline, but now because there are so many people there to help the man, many more lives are saved than are lost. Together Everyone Accomplished Much. Together they made a difference.

    – by Danny Lizarraga

  • "The Fabric of Life" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, March 14th

    The Fabric of Life

    My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and me
    I may not choose the colors
    He knows what they should be
    For He can view the pattern
    From the upper side
    While I can see it only
    On this the under side

    Sometimes He weaved sorrow
    Which seemed strange to me
    But I will trust His judgement
    And work on faithfully
    It’s He who fills the shuttle
    He knows what is best
    So I shall weave in earnest
    And leave with Him the rest

    At last when life is ended
    With Him I shall abide
    Then I may view the pattern
    Upon the upper side
    Then I shall know the reason
    Why pain with joy entwined
    Was woven in the fabric
    Of life that God designed

  • Embracing God’s Supreme Agenda – Steadfast and Protected - Friday, March 13th

    Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me …. My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Psalm 57:1-3A, 7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    So, whatever adversity we find ourselves facing and contending with, God awaits to be a gracious covering to us until it passes by. God is the One Who accomplishes all things for us as he guards us through his protecting presence from alternative worldly agendas. Our lives will become what they were meant to be as He is free to pour out His love into our hearts and He is given free reign to provide for us and do His work on our behalf. This will necessitate that we choose the supreme agenda God has for us over the agenda we think will make for a good and successful life. However, it will take the power of heaven for this to happen. Once we make this choice through God’s enabling power, he will make our life here on earth a true success. As God’s power works for us in this way we will, like David, proclaim, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for protecting me from myself and my propensity to rely upon alternative ways of managing my life in the middle of the onslaught of the world. I fully embrace you and your supreme agenda and know it begins with my prayer life where I consistently come before you and commune with you intimately. I seek you in this way now, Lord, knowing that everything you have in mind for my life today will wonderfully flow from my intimate connection with you. I choose to go forward steadfastly on this promised land path valuing it more than anything and everything the world has to offer. Amen!

  • Embracing God’s Supreme Agenda – Resting and Partaking - Thursday, March 12th

    Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.” But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them. Exodus 16:19-20

    Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief …. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience …. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 3:13-16, 4:9-11, 14-16

    Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father …. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:17, 23-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The generation of Israel we have been looking at spent 40 years in the wilderness and died there never having entered the promised land of Israel. This land was God’s provision of rest for His people but they were not able to enter because of unbelief. If they had believed and God’s placing them in the land had taken place in the way He had outlined for them, they would have found rest from contending with enemies, rest from the difficult labor of gaining food, shelter, and other physical provision, rest from conflict among themselves, rest from contending with the evil ways of other nations, rest within their minds and hearts because of God’s presence in their midst as the people of God under His loving and watchful care. 

    God’s people today need to make certain that they enter God’s rest. How do we do that today? We have been delivered from the penalty of sin through Christ (extracting). On this basis Christ comes to live in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. By partaking of Christ (personal communion and intimacy) and giving Him full operation within us and through us, we are on a promised land path (placing) whereby we rest from our works in favor of letting Him accomplish them for us. This is how God produces for Himself a people who truly live for Him and His kingdom. There is nothing this world has to offer that is more satisfying and fulfilling than a life so lived.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I get it but it’s hard to get there. I have so much more to learn about resting in you and letting you live in me and through me. Show me how to prayerfully come before you and commune with you intimately. I know that everything you have in mind for my life will wonderfully flow from this kind of relationship with you. Surely this is the promised land path you have for your people. How could I have ever valued anything life has to offer more than this. Amen!

  • Embracing God’s Supreme Agenda – Peaceful and Trusting - Wednesday, March 11th

    So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Exodus 16:17-18

    And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:29-34

    The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock. Isaiah 26:3-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Fear is a powerful force and it can affect us to the core of our being. Israel was afraid of dying in the wilderness and focused on the one place where they could at least survive, Egypt. This kept them from focusing on God and who He really was and the fact that He could take care of them no matter what. God’s provision of food in the wilderness was inescapable, so they did what they were told and partook of what He had provided. But they did not grasp within their minds and hearts a sense of context for what God had done for them. The severity of the wilderness and their perceived plight was more brutal to them than the sufferings of Egypt. They did not seem to have any sense of reality for the promised land of Canaan or God’s ability to get them there. God always takes care of His people and we must always live in the reality of who He is. When we do, He gives us perfect peace and we are able to walk in the fullness of His kingdom. With a deep “knowing” that God and whatever He provides is enough, success for us is now found in the quality of our walk with Him and how free He is to accomplish His purposes in us and through us. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to be steadfastly focused on you. I see that the more I closely walk with you and stay focused on you, the more I will remain solid in my belief that you will take care of me no matter what. I also see that the more I focus on my agenda, my circumstances, and my sense of the things I need in life, the more that peace and trust will elude me. I trust you, Lord, and thank you for your amazing peace. I am free. Amen!

  • Embracing God’s Supreme Agenda – Still and Focused - Tuesday, March 10th

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints.” Now tell them, “In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was. And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.” Exodus 16:11-16

    So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. Exodus 16:35

    For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:1-14

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …. Cease striving (Be still) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:1-2A, 10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Our propensity for craving evil things is a bigger problem than we realize and often we do so unaware that we are deceived as we go about pursuing what we think is merely the meeting of legitimate needs. Our drive to succeed so that we have everything we believe we need, desire, and have a right to accomplish or gain is an extremely powerful dynamic in our lives. If we are thwarted in our efforts to succeed, have become miserable, and are grumbling and complaining, it is usually because we are not on track with God, His ways, or His purposes for us. The people of Israel got manna in the wilderness for 40 years. He provided this in response to their complaint, but could it be that if they had been on track with God, He would have quickly ushered them into the promised land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. Choosing a promised land flowing with milk and honey over 40 years of manna in the wilderness seems like a no-brainer, but what lesser provision are we settling for in our lives because we are not on track with God, His ways, and His purposes.

    What promised land experiences are we missing because of a lack of faith, surrender, and dependence on our part that keeps us from co-operating with God and hinders His full blessing on our lives. If His people would cease striving (Be still) and know and experience Him for the God He is, He would freely exalt Himself among the nations and throughout the earth. How is God being exalted among the nations and throughout the earth linked to his people ceasing to strive and truly experiencing him for the God he is? When God’s people have this kind of relationship with Him, they will have amazing lives. And because the only explanation now for their amazing lives is God, the waiting and watching world is moved and one by one want and embrace the God who can make such an amazing difference in a person’s life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want you to make the difference that you alone can make in my life. Teach me to be still and focused so that I truly know you. Do it for your glory, the sake of the world, and of course for my good. Forgive me for all the ways I have pursued my own ends, in my own strength, and all for so much less than you are waiting to bestow upon me. I do want the only explanation for my life to be you so that you are fully exalted. Here I am Lord, abandoned to and your supreme agenda. Amen!

  • Embracing God’s Supreme Agenda – Extracted and Placed - Monday, March 9th

    And the Israelites were sighing and groaning because of the bondage. They kept crying, and their cry because of slavery ascended to God. And God heard their sighing and groaning and earnestly remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the Israelites and took knowledge of them and concerned Himself about them. Exodus 2:23B-25

    Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin, between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Exodus 16:1-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Over 400 years earlier Jacob and his clan of about 70 people were the start of this vast community of Israel that complained against Moses, Aaron, and God in the wilderness. Initially, Egypt was God’s provision to preserve Israel from destruction by famine and then it became His means of building them into a great nation numerically. Finally, a king had arisen who did not remember Joseph. And so with all the benefits of that connection having become history and their size and power having made them an overwhelming threat, Israel became severely mistreated slaves in the land of Egypt. With great concern for the plight of His people, with great regard for His promises to them in the past, and with zealous intent for carrying out His purposes for them at this juncture in history, God set in motion a plan for extracting them from Egypt and placing them in the promised land of Canaan. God extracting Israel from Egypt has been accomplished but it seems Egypt has not been extracted from their minds and hearts. 

    Thus, God placing His people in the promised land of Canaan becomes rather difficult because it requires a co-operation on their part that flows out of faith, surrender, and dependence. Instead, His people are a miserable, grumbling, complaining lot. Down through the ages God continues to be at work establishing for Himself a people who are distinctly His and it always involves extracting them from a path of living for themselves and placing them on a path of living for God. As His people today we often thwart what God is doing in our lives because like Israel of old, we lose our focus when facing adversity. We fall into the trap of longing for that from which God has extracted us in the past, doubting God’s provision in the present, and forgetting about the glorious outcome He has in mind for us in the future. How often we choose the agenda we think will make for a good and successful life over the supreme agenda God has for us. This problem and the solution for it are the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I see how I am so like Israel of old. I also know how quickly being able to see myself rightly slips away and makes it difficult for me to escape my living for myself and embrace my living for you. I really do want your supreme addenda for my life and not my own. Please make me into one who is distinctly yours by completely extracting me from the path of living for myself and completely placing me on the path of living fully for you. Amen!

  • "I'm Learning" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, March 8th

    I'm Learning

    By Greta Zwaan

    When you see me don't be alarmed, I'm not a finished project;
    A work in making, just begun, no longer known as reject.
    Many changes must be made, many plans to alter
    Efforts to reclaim the mold, are bound to often falter.

    Restoration will take time, the work God's undertaken,
    The mighty Master of the clay will not leave me forsaken.
    I'm pliable and need to learn, my spirit must be willing,
    God will not force His choice on me, He's lovingly instilling,
    New thoughts to form within my heart, ideas that will inspire,
    To make me more like His dear Son and give me that desire.

    That all my plans fit to His will as each day dawns before me,
    I find the guidance in His Word in case sin should allure me.
    My safety lies within His love, my heart within His will;
    I need to listen to His voice, He's whispering, "Peace, be still".

  • "Kind Words" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, March 7th

    Kind Words

    By Daniel Clement Colesworthy

    A little word in kindness spoken,
    A motion or a tear,
    Has often healed the heart that's broken,
    And made a friend sincere.

    A word - a look - has crushed to earth
    Full many a budding flower,
    Which, had a smile but owned its birth,
    Would bless life's darkest hour.

    Then deem it not an idle thing,
    A pleasant word to speak;
    The face you wear, the thoughts you bring,
    A heart may heal or break.

  • The Living and Transforming Word of God – Unleashed in Us through Humility - Friday, March 6th

    Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, “working in us” that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Humility is all about embracing completely the reality that we don’t have what it takes on our own, but that we do when it is God “working in us.” That is what the new covenant is all about – God coming to dwell in us by His Spirit on the basis of our being cleansed through the blood of Christ so that He does in us and through us that which pleases Him and which we on our own could not otherwise bring about. Is it not high time that we move from the place of denial of our true condition to the place of full acceptance of and participation in God’s complete provision for genuine transformation of life?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I thank you that your living and transforming Word has been unleashed within me. Help me continually bow before you in full awareness of my forever need to surrender to you and depend on you for the righteous life you have called me to. I am so blessed to have you “working in me” that which is pleasing in your sight and for your glory forever and ever. Amen!

  • The Living and Transforming Word of God – Stymied by Lip-Service - Thursday, March 5th

    But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:25-27

    Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?’ For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,” and, “He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.” But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God, he is not to honor his father or his mother.” And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Matthew 15:1-9

    But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” Then they themselves also will answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” Then He will answer them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is a truly detrimental thing that happens when we as Bible believing people become entrenched in the mire of being merely hearers of the word and not doers of the word; we lose our ability to hear the word fully and accurately. This really makes sense when we think about it and helps us grasp the folly of giving lip-service to God and his Word. If our goal is to feel good about ourselves and how we are doing with our “Christian” life and we repeatedly don’t do what we have heard the “word” to say, we will become selective to what we pay attention from the word and twist what it says to fit who we are. In this we create our own little religious system that we can manage to our own satisfaction. Trapped in our own self-righteousness, we deceive ourselves into thinking we are all set with God, righteousness, and spirituality. The outcome of this is devastating to the personal life of the believer and inflicts unbelievable harm to the cause of Christ everywhere.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be the real deal for your glory, the sake of your kingdom, and my ultimate good. Reveal to me the religious deceptions in my life. Strip them away and build true righteous into my life through the transforming power of your Word. Make me spiritually alive through a vital relationship with you and your living Word. I bow before you in worship and surrender. Amen!

  • The Living and Transforming Word of God – Reaching Our Entire Being - Wednesday, March 4th

    Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:22-24

    Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16

    Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. Matthew 7:24-27

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    One of the greatest obstacles to realizing the kind of transformation that moves us from worldliness to godliness, is our academic approach to Scripture. Being scholarly is not necessarily the problem here, but rather, approaching the Bible and its truths as primarily matters for the mind. When we do this, and we do, we become adept at talking the talk, but not walking the walk. We convince ourselves that we are changed people simply because we have embraced new understandings while releasing old understandings and have aligned ourselves with others who have done the same. But the changes that God is committed to involve body, mind, and spirit in everyday practical living. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I really do want to experience true and lasting change in my life. Minister your Word to every part of my being and help me to respond fully and completely. Deliver me from being involved with your Word merely on a knowledge level. I know when I let this happen, it short circuits your life transforming work in my life. I love you, worship you, and yield to you, Lord. Amen!

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