Daily Devotional

  • Relying on Christ – Experiencing the Refuge of Grace - Friday, June 22nd

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘Designate the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, that the manslayer who kills any person unintentionally, without premeditation, may flee there, and they shall become your refuge from the avenger of blood. He shall flee to one of these cities, and shall stand at the entrance of the gate of the city and state his case in the hearing of the elders of that city; and they shall take him into the city to them and give him a place, so that he may dwell among them.’” Joshua 20:1-4

    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 4:14-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life were all a part of the “exacting” mentality of Old Testament times. “Exactness” is the operational approach to life that is fostered by a culture of “law.” The cities of refuge in today’s Joshua passage helped to temper “law” with “grace.” We live in a more lenient culture but other parts of the world are steeped in the culture of “exactness.” Still, we can all relate to the drive toward “exactness” with those who have wronged us. Of course, our desire for “leniency” when the tables are reversed is undeniable. No matter what the balance is between exactness and leniency in how others treat us or how we treat them in this human world, there is a place of refuge available to us because of our “promised land” relationship with Christ.

    The promised land and all it included (even cities of refuge) was an amazing provision for Israel. Similarly, Jesus Christ is an absolutely amazing provision for us. He provides eternal salvation and a new life through his indwelling presence, but he also provides access to the throne of grace. Do we really grasp what this provision is? As Christians we are connected to both earth and heaven at all times. The throne of grace is not just a figure of speech. At any time we can journey to the throne of grace. It is real (an actual place of refuge) for all who draw near to it with confidence through the amazing experience of prayer. This we must do “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” down here on earth in the middle of what we are going through.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thanks for your provision of grace on every level. Teach me how to come to your throne of grace. Thank you Jesus that you understand all that I go through and that you are available to me with provisions of mercy and grace that I barely grasp. I come to you confidently for the help I need. Amen!

  • Relying on Christ – Walking Carefully in the Light - Thursday, June 21st

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then the sons of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me only one lot and one portion for an inheritance, since I am a numerous people whom the Lord has thus far blessed?” Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up to the forest and clear a place for yourself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” The sons of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the valley land have chariots of iron, both those who are in Beth-shean and its towns and those who are in the valley of Jezreel.” Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, saying, “You are a numerous people and have great power; you shall not have one lot only, but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall be yours; for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have chariots of iron and though they are strong.” Joshua 17:14-18

    Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord …. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as those who are unwise but as those who are wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:6-10, 15-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Earlier in the week we spoke of the Israelites need to drive out the inhabitants of the land fully and how it parallels our need for anything inhabiting our lives that doesn’t belong to be driven out. Today’s Scripture tells us the “darkness” must be dispelled and only the “light” should have a place in our lives. The inhabitants of the land back then in the promised land were the “sons of disobedience” of that day and the wrath of God had come upon them through the nation of Israel. The admonition “do not be partakers with them” from our passage today is the same admonition God had for Israel back then. However, we don’t get to go around knocking off or driving out “the sons of disobedience” of our day. God is working on us from the inside out through Christ who lives in us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

    Today’s passage warns us to be “careful how we walk,” but it also engenders in us a great confidence that we absolutely can “walk as children of light” and not in darkness like the “sons of disobedience.” Borrowing words from yesterday, “Our promised land experience with Christ will lead to our “escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust” and “becoming partakers of the divine nature.” Our walk with Christ is our walk and we must give ourselves to it fully and completely. We are so like the descendants of Joseph in today’s Joshua passage where it is strongly said to them “clear out the land” and “you will drive out the Canaanites.” The opportunity lies before us to get it right, “not as those who are unwise but as those who are wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I choose to go forward with great care for how I walk in the living out of my life. I go forward in full confidence that I will walk in light and not in darkness because I am “light in the Lord.” Because my confidence and strength are in you Lord, I give up the excuses that the darkness is “too strong” for me and the work of “clearing out” the darkness is too tough for me. I love you, I worship you, and I yield to you, Lord. Amen!

  • Relying on Christ – Participating fully in the Journey - Wednesday, June 20th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Now this was the lot for the tribe of Manasseh, for he was the firstborn of Joseph. To Machir the firstborn of Manasseh, the father of Gilead, were allotted Gilead and Bashan, because he was a man of war. So the lot was made for the rest of the sons of Manasseh according to their families: for the sons of Abiezer and for the sons of Helek and for the sons of Asriel and for the sons of Shechem and for the sons of Hepher and for the sons of Shemida; these were the male descendants of Manasseh the son of Joseph according to their families. However, Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters; and these are the names of his daughters: Mahlah and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. They came near before Eleazar the priest and before Joshua the son of Nun and before the leaders, saying, “The Lord commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brothers.” So according to the command of the Lord he gave them an inheritance among their father’s brothers. Thus there fell ten portions to Manasseh, besides the land of Gilead and Bashan, which is beyond the Jordan, because the daughters of Manasseh received an inheritance among his sons. And the land of Gilead belonged to the rest of the sons of Manasseh. Joshua 17:1-6

    Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:2-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There are so many parallels between the promised land experience of Israel long ago and our promised land experience with Christ today. The Joshua passage for today shows that the prevailing understanding of the “rules” so to speak regarding the promised land did not take into account the full provision of the actual commands that were originally given. Our Scripture for today from 2 Peter awakens us to the reality that there are “precious and magnificent promises” that were originally “granted” to us. These promises have to do with the life God intends for us today as his people. Do we have an understanding of the “Christian life” that has not taken into account the full provision of what was originally given?

    There is true knowledge of him (genuinely knowing Jesus Christ in our actual experience) that “grants” to us everything pertaining to life and godliness. Such a promised land experience with Christ will lead to our “escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust” and “becoming partakers of the divine nature.” These two things are the measure by which we must test both our understanding of and commitment to the “promised land life in Christ” God has called us to as his people today.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:


    Lord, I believe I have been granted a full allotment in your “promised land” provision for your people today. I am not left out, disregarded, or left behind. In Christ’s indwelling and abiding presence, I have everything I need for true life and godliness. Forgive me for believing otherwise. Guard me from ever slipping back to being anything less than a full participant in the journey of becoming the “promised land” kind of person you have “granted” me to become. Amen!

  • Relying on Christ – Possessing the Complete Christian Life - Tuesday, June 19th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Joshua 14:6-13

    I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made. Philippians 3:12-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Caleb and Paul sound so much alike in tone, don’t they? They both have that approach to life that says, “The Lord is with me, (therefore) I will ….” It is so easy for us to let the past (our wounds), the present (our circumstances), or the future (our fears) dictate what we can and can’t do. For us to say, “The Lord is with me, (therefore) I can’t ….” is absurd. Of course saying, “The Lord is with me, (therefore) I won’t ….” makes sense only in regard to all that doesn’t belong in the life of one who is pressing on in a “promised land” kind of life.

    A “promised land” kind of life is one that takes full possession of the life of Christ in you so that he fully possesses you. This is the path to living fully for God and having your life become all that he has in store for you. You really “can” press on in the pursuit of becoming all that Christ calls you to become and in doing all that he has called you to do. You really “can” live fully for God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, today I press on to possess the “promised land” experience of living fully through Jesus Christ. I believe I can and I will become and do all that you have called me to become and do. I possess all of Jesus Christ who possesses me for all that he wonderfully has in store for me. Amen!

  • Relying on Christ – Receiving Rest for Your Souls - Monday, June 18th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. Numbers 33:50-55

    Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God said of the generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt under Moses and refused to enter the promised land, “They shall not enter my rest.” When the next generation of Israelites we're poised to enter God’s rest under Joshua they sought to do so in obedience to all that God called them to in regard to the promised land. They crossed the Jordan River and conquered city after city. When the conquest of Palestine was complete, they began dividing the promised land among the tribes of Israel. Then came the hard work of driving out the inhabitants that remained, occupying the land, and living according to all the instructions God gave them through Moses. As this unfolded God would bring rest to his people as they lived out the fullness of what it meant for God to be their God and for them to be His people.

    In the New Testament we move from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. The book of Hebrews speaks of God’s people still needing to enter his rest. However, instead of rest being found in the land of promise, it is found in Jesus Christ. Today’s Scripture is a direct invitation from Christ himself to come to him for rest. There was hard work involved in occupying the promised land. If the Israelites were to live fully for God they had to drive out the inhabitants of the land fully. If we are going to live fully for God today, anything inhabiting our lives that does not belong must be driven out. The book of Hebrews says that entering God’s rest means resting from our works. Are you tired and weary of trying to drive out the things that don’t belong in your life in favor of the things that do? Getting the Christian life right begins with entering into the rest that Christ offers. The Christian life is still something we put ourselves into fully, but we do so in full reliance on Christ’s indwelling presence and power.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I acknowledge that I am weary and heavy-laden. I believe that you alone can bring true rest to my soul. I confess that far too often I rely on myself for the living out of my life day by day. I choose to come to you now in a fresh and vital way. Lord, I enter your rest and gladly take on myself the yoke of living fully for you because I know we will go forward doing it together. Show me how to be with you, abide in you, and live in full reliance upon you. Amen!

  • True “Success” in Life – Claiming God’s Righteous Outcome - Saturday, June 16th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    The fear of the Lord prolongs life ….The hope of the righteous is gladness …. The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the upright …. The righteous will never be shaken ….The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom …. The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable. Proverbs 10:27A, 28A, 29A, 30A, 31A, 32A (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today we conclude our week of exploring what true “success” in life is all about from the book of Proverbs.

    The truth put before us has been very demanding and serious in its presentation. That flavor can leave us feeling a little beat up and overwhelmed with how much we need to work on and how far we have to go. So, to wrap things up we are going to put our emphasis on the positive side of things.

    Many of the Proverbs are a contrast between the positive (righteous) and negative (wicked) sides of things. This week we spoke about those who “get it” and those “who don’t get.” Be encouraged today. You are one who “gets it.” God is at work in your life and he is wonderfully transforming you into all he desires you to become. And the book of Proverbs has had a role in the great work he is doing in you and through you.

    So, for today we have taken Proverbs 10:27-32 and extracted the positive side of the six Proverbs the passage contains. Read through them above without thinking of them as demands. Let them be a pronouncement of who you are today as you go forward from here in becoming all that God has in mind for you. He is at work doing great things in your life and he will continue to do so in your journey of living fully for him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the help of the book of Proverbs. I choose to believe that the positive side of these Proverbs is a pronouncement of who I am because of my relationship with you. I believe in grace and the prospect of a life of becoming all that you desire for me. Lord, make me more confident than ever before that you are at work and that you will faithfully continue your transforming work throughout all the days of my life. Amen!

  • True “Success” in Life – Investing in People’s Souls - Friday, June 15th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls. Proverbs 11:30 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Yesterday we said that truly “successful” people do not “use” other people, but rather “give themselves away” for the sake of other people. Today we are going to explore further the impact a genuinely “giving” person’s life has on the people around them. Today’s Proverb will help us with this.

    The person who “gets it right” is a righteous person. The person who is righteous bears fruit. The person who bears fruit is a tree of life to other people. The person who is a tree of life to other people wins souls. And finally, the one who wins souls is wise. When we decide to be a “giving” person who lives to bless the lives of other people, we bless them in many ways. However, the greatest blessing we can be to other people is for us to be instrumental in the winning of their souls.

    Through our vertical connection with God fruit comes forth from our lives. When this happens the people around us see God at work in us and through us. As our lives bless other people in our horizontal connections with them, they are drawn to us and to God. When our vertical connection with God is what it needs to be, we will have horizontal connections with others that win them to the Lord.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want my life to bless other people. Please work in and through my life in ways that bring others to you. Show me more fully how to “give myself away” for the sake of other people. Continue to deliver me from the selfish pursuit of merely living for myself. May my transformation from “getter” to “giver” have a great impact on the people in my life that helps win them to you. Amen!

  • True “Success” in Life – Putting Others First - Thursday, June 14th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. People curse those who hoard their grain, but they bless the one who sells in time of need. Proverbs 11:24-26

    Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. Proverbs 3:9-10

    He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor .... He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker, but he who is gracious to the needy honors Him. Proverbs 14:21, 31 (NASB)

    Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. Proverbs 19:6 NASB)

    One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed. Proverbs 19:17 (NASB)

    Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. Proverbs 21:13

    Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor. Proverbs 22:9

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It was said earlier in the week that the whole dynamic of a truly successful person is that of “treatment” and not “consumption.” What does this mean? We spoke earlier about being a “steward” of life rather than a “consumer” of life. This means that we don’t go about trying to use life but rather we go about serving it. The one who is a “consumer” of life is all caught up in “using” life. It is all about “consumption.” The one who is a “steward” of life is all caught up in “serving” life. It is all about “treatment.”

    It is in our relationships with other people that these two dynamics have their greatest impact. The one who is caught up in consumption views other people either as a means to use or an obstacle to be removed. The one who is caught up in “treatment” views other people in terms of serving them, caring for them, and blessing them. So, a simple question to ask is: How do I treat other people? This leads us to another important question: Am I a “getting” or “giving” kind of person?

    Please read through the Proverbs above and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to “how we ‘Give’?”

    God is extremely generous toward us. God cares about us and treats us very well. He has blessed us with blessings untold. As recipients of God’s blessings, we are called to be agents of blessing in the lives of other people. Truly “successful” people do not “use” other people, but rather “give themselves away” for the sake of other people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, your calling in my life is a high one and surely is beyond me. I guess that is the key, “getting beyond me.” Help me forsake my selfish ways that have led to my “using” other people. Deliver me from valuing “wealth” more than my relationship with you and the people you have put in my life. I come to you in worship and surrender. Your will be done in my life. Amen!

  • True “Success” in Life – Overcoming “Wealth’s” Pitfalls - Wednesday, June 13th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Don’t rob the poor just because you can, or exploit the needy in court. For the Lord is their defender. He will ruin anyone who ruins them. Proverbs 22:22-23

    The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22

    The way of the Lord is a stronghold to those with integrity, but it destroys the wicked. Proverbs 10:29

    Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring. Proverbs 11:28

    Trouble chases sinners, while blessings reward the righteous. Proverbs 13:21

    The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the godly will flourish. Proverbs 14:11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Predominant in the criteria the world uses to measure “success” is amassing “wealth.” The book of Proverbs helps us see that this has been true throughout the ages. Wealth in and of itself is not the problem. The real problem is how important it is to us and how we go about getting it. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament made this distinction when he said, “the love of money is the root of evil (not the money itself). Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It is important that we guard our hearts and lives from the world’s view of success and the attachment to “wealth” and the wrong ways of pursuing it that go with it.

    Please read through the Proverbs above and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to “how we ‘Get’ wealth?”

    Whatever degree of wealth is in the mix for how we prosper or succeed in life, recognizing it as coming from the Lord and receiving it as his blessing is crucial. It is when God is left out of the equation that we slip into being unduly attached to wealth and going about amassing it in ways that are contrary to God’s righteous desires for us and what is truly good for us in the long run. Untold sorrow and suffering come from “not getting it right” in regard to the place “wealth” was intended to have in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts: 

    Lord, I express to you that the proper role of “wealth” in my life doesn’t come easy. I can’t live without it and it’s really tough living with it in ways that are truly righteous. I ask for your intervention in my life to help me become one who puts you totally in the equation regarding “wealth” in my life. Here I am before you, Lord. Thank you for your blessing and provision in my life. I surrender to you. Amen!

  • True “Success” in Life – Keeping Eternity in View - Tuesday, June 12th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverb 16:3

    Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. Proverbs 16:8

    We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

    Better to have little, with fear for the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Proverbs 15:16

    Better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud. Proverbs 16:19

    True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. Proverbs 22:4

    If you are slack, in the day of distress, your strength is limited. Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? and does He not know it who keeps your soul? and will He not render to man according to his work? My son, eat honey, for it is good, yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste; know that wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find it, then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:10-14 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    How we engage with what is here in the middle of what we call life on planet earth makes all the difference in regard to whether we are truly “successful” or not. There are “those who don’t get it” and there are “those who do get it.” For “those who don’t get it,” engaging with what is here on planet earth is all about how to get life to serve them and how they can use it. For “those who do get it,” engaging with what is here on planet earth is not about trying to use life but serving it. They are ones who are focused on being a steward of life and not a consumer of life. Herein lies the true “measure” of success.

    Please read through the Proverbs above and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to how to measure success?

    For those who keep God out of the equation and don’t take into account what happens next after this life, maximum consumption of what this life has to offer becomes the end result they pursue. The path they take, the process the go through, and the means they use are all justifiable for achieving the end result they are after. In the end they will find out that they were wrong about “success” in life. Like those in our Proverb 24 passage, they will say, “we did not know this.” Oh, that somewhere along the way they had come to realize that “God weighs the hearts,” “he keeps your soul,” and “he will render to man according to his work.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I thank you that you are accomplishing the great work of delivering me from myself and living merely for myself. Thank you for the perspective of eternity. I ask that you continue to bring to me wisdom for my soul so that as I continue to walk with you it will come about more than ever before that the living I do will truly line up with how you measure “success.” Amen!

  • True “Success” in Life – Becoming a Steward of Life - Monday, June 11th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last. Godly people find life; evil people find death. The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity. Proverbs 11:18-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In Our Devotionals for this week we are going to explore what true “success” in life is all about and we are going to use the book of Proverbs to help us do that. Today’s passage contrasts evil people and godly people. Let’s separate out what the verses says about each. This will give us a clear look at God’s take on what “success” in life is and what it is not.

    “Evil people get rich for the moment - evil people find death - the Lord detests people with crooked hearts.”

    When life is about the moment, what you can get from it is all important. When a person’s focus is entirely on how to get life to serve them and how they can use it, they find death. God detests this. The one who approaches life in this way will be a person with a crooked heart and will be one whom God finds detestable. This is what “failure” in life is all about.

    “The reward of the godly will last - Godly people find life - he delights in those with integrity.”

    For reward that lasts you have to look beyond our time here. This changes how we engage with what is here. When we are not trying to use life but serve it, we find life. The one who approaches life in this way will be a person of integrity and will be one in whom God is delighted. This is what “success” in life is all about.

    The truly successful person is a steward of life and not a consumer of life. The whole dynamic of a truly successful person is that of “treatment” and not “consumption.” As we go forward in our week we will look at all this in more detail as we explore more fully God’s take on “success” through the wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, as I live my life here in this world, I confess that I have allowed the conventional wisdom of the world to have far too great an impact on my life. I really do want to experience transformation in a full and complete way. So, here I am before you, asking that you fill my life with your presence, your purposes, and your power. Amen!

  • A Course for Life – Fulfilling God’s Call to Redemptive Living - Saturday, June 9th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:4-8 (NIV)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    This week we have taken the time to develop a full and accurate picture of God's purpose for the world. We began with the broad idea of the whole earth being filled with his glory and then moved to the specifics of God's purpose for the world. The glory of God refers to the splendor of who he is and the marvelous impact he has on his creation when he is allowed to govern it, care for it, and make it flourish. We saw that the rebellion of mankind (known as the "Fall of Mankind" in the book of Genesis and carried forward by everyone, generation after generation throughout history) is really all about removing God from the equation in regard to living life here on earth. God's purpose of filling the earth with his glory has become a work of putting himself back into the equation by redeeming people and filling them with his glory one person at a time. This is what the Gospel and the task of spreading the Gospel are all about. God's provision of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ, is an amazing demonstration of the love he has for a lost and rebellious world.

    In talking about God's purpose concerning the world, we have addressed the ramifications it has for us. The ramifications God's purpose have for us were clearly depicted for us in the story of the "Good Samaritan." Through the story, Jesus taught us that our neighbor is the one who needs us to be a neighbor to them no matter who they are. Being a neighbor to those who need a neighbor is at the heart of the ramifications God's purpose have for us. This stands in stark contrast to how people caught up religious systems relate to and treat others in the world around them. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    Being a full recipient of God's redemptive work should readily lead us to being agents of God's redemptive work. This connection is wonderfully expressed in Today's passage of Scripture. What a beautiful and detailed description of God's loving and compassionate provision of redemption that has come to us. Then we have these vital words, "Stress these things, so that who have trusted in God (recipients of God's redemptive mission) may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good (agents of God's redemptive mission).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be a channel through which you bring your redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world. Show me the way and increasingly make it so, as I go forward walking with you and living out the love relationship I have with you. Thank you for bestowing your redemptive kindness and love on me and pouring out your transforming Spirit upon my life. Amen!

  • A Course for Life – Manifesting God’s Presence to the World - Friday, June 8th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    We saw yesterday, through the story of the "Good Samaritan," the answer Jesus gave to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" In essence, we are told that our neighbor is the one who "needs" us to be a neighbor to them no matter who they are. Being a neighbor to those who need a neighbor is what God's purpose is all about. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    It is crucial that we become convinced that we cannot bring to the world the love and compassion it needs to receive from us if we are not receiving and experiencing it ourselves in our relationship with God. In today's passage Jesus says, "You shall be My witnesses." A witness in a court of law is able to be a witness there only because they were a witness beforehand to whatever happened to necessitate the trial. Because we are witnesses of Christ (we are ones who behold the reality of who he is and the redemption he has accomplished), we shall be witnesses of Christ before a waiting and watching world.

    The impact that beholding Christ (on an ongoing basis) has on our lives is seen by the world (we witness by showing) and leads to opportunities to proclaim the gospel to the world (we witness by telling). But again it is only because we are witnesses (beholding Christ) that we are able to show and proclaim Christ to the world (you shall be my witnesses). There is nothing said here about "witnessing." We are Christ's witnesses. It bears repeating that when we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world. This is what it means to be a neighbor and this is what God's mission is all about.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I understand that the more I know and experience you, the more you will transform my life and the more my life will impact my world. Fill me with your Spirit and give me a love and compassion for others that translates into them seeing the reality of your presence in my life and hearing from me how they can embrace you for themselves as well. Amen!

  • A Course for Life – Being a True Neighbor to All - Thursday, June 7th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ "Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We saw yesterday that those who allow religious practice to become their primary focus instead of a relationship of love and compassion with God, have little love and compassion for others. This is because the compassion with which God relates to us becomes the compassion with which we relate to others. Those who are caught up in a system of religious practice that is all about performance, following the rules, measuring up by being good enough, self-righteousness and pride, etc., miss God's love and compassion and become ones who look down their "religious" noses at others.

    This is very much what is dealt with in today's passage as well. Jesus shares the story of the Good Samaritan in response to the question, "Who is my neighbor," which a leader of the religious system had asked him. Through the story Jesus answers the question by saying that your neighbor is the one who needs you to be a neighbor to them no matter who they are. Being a neighbor to those who need a neighbor is what God's mission is all about. When we relate to others with a compassion and love that comes out of the compassion and love we are experiencing from God, we become channels through which God brings his redemptive love and provision to a battered and hurting world.

    Religion is a pseudo-response to God. It is a game of making it look like God is back in the equation. Religion is the product of sinful, twisted hearts that circumvent God's work of redemption. It is religious flesh exalting itself in substitution for God, while all the while (deceptively) proclaiming all is for the glory of God. The collective impact of "religious" people is a world of people who turn their backs on God because they assume God is as much without compassion as those who claim to love and serve him but turn their backs on the world. Religious people turn their backs on the world because they have (often unwittingly) turned their backs on God in favor of their system of religious practice.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I ask for a work of grace in my life that helps me die to sinful self, more than ever and makes me wonderfully alive to you and the fullness of your love and compassion. As both recipient and agent of your love and compassion make me a true neighbor to those who need a neighbor. Deliver me and your people everywhere from all religious substitutes and perversions that nullify the redemptive work you are seeking to accomplish with the world. Amen!

  • A Course for Life – Overcoming Religious Ambition and Pride - Wednesday, June 6th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have been talking about God's purpose concerning the world and the ramifications it has for us. We saw that the rebellion of mankind is really all about removing God from the equation in regard to living life here on earth. God's purpose of filling the earth with his glory has become a work of putting himself back into the equation by redeeming people and filling them with his glory one person at a time. We saw yesterday that God's provision of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ, is an amazing demonstration of the love he has for a lost and rebellious world.

    In today's passage Jesus says, "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus came to redeem sinners and we are all sinners in absolute need of redemption. Redemption is a gift of compassion that God gives to a lost and rebellious world. The compassion with which God relates to us becomes the compassion with which we relate to others. But "sacrifice" gets in the way of "compassion." When Jesus speaks of "sacrifice," he is speaking of the religious system of the day. It is a system of religious practice that is all about performance, following the rules, measuring up by being good enough, self-righteousness and pride, etc.

    When religious practice becomes our primary focus instead of the relationship of love and compassion we have with God, we will have little love and compassion for others. In a very real sense a "sacrifice" approach negates what God has done to put himself back into the equation of our lives. When we do this we nullify the redemptive work of God in our own lives, both in terms of the impact of his love and compassion on us and the impact it has on others through us. We become ones who look down our "religious" noses at others. Instead of loving the world, we hate it and fight against it. We see clearly in today's passage that this is not what Jesus did and we must not either if we are truly going to join him in his redemptive work of reaching the world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, deliver me and protect me from self-righteousness. I want you fully in the equation of my life. Please, help me to see always that anything and everything that is good and right in my life, is your doing. Remove religious ambition and pride far from me and fill me with love and compassion for any and all people. Amen!

  • A Course for Life – Overflowing with God’s Transforming Love - Tuesday, June 5th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    The man answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    We saw yesterday that God's purpose for this world is that "the whole earth be filled with His glory." In the beginning everything was under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways. However, mankind rebelled and a course for life on earth that excludes God was adopted. God's purpose of filling the earth with his glory begins with his work of redeeming people and filling them with his glory. Today's passage describes the life of a person who is under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways. Such a person loves God fully and other people fully. A world under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways is a world that is filled with his glory. It is a world where love connects everyone with God and each other in the beauty of relationships as they were meant to be.

    Because of our sin and rebellion, we have been rendered incapable of loving God and other people fully. This is why God's purpose for this world is first and foremost a work of Redemption. God's work of redemption is a labor of love for a lost and rebellious world. We are told that "God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." We will never be ones who love God and others fully, until we respond to God's love and his provision of redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your love and thank you for the gift of redemption. I pray that I will so know your love in my life that I will love you and others more fully than ever before. Take away my love for anything and everything that hinders you from filling my life with your glory and displaying it to the world around me. Amen!

  • A Course for Life – Aligning with God’s Ultimate Purpose - Monday, June 4th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. Psalm 72:18-19 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Every once in a while we need to stop and consider this big, old world we live in. Everyday multitudes of us take life at face value and go about business as usual. What is it really all about though? What is the purpose of this world and all it holds? Notice these words from today's passage: "May the whole earth be filled with His glory." This is about the most broad based statement of purpose for this world we can find in Scripture. We are talking about God, the creator of all things, filling this world with his glory. Sounds like a very lofty and significant purpose for planet earth, doesn't it?

    This is truly God's ultimate purpose. But, what does it mean and what are the ramifications for us? We want to develop a full and accurate picture of God's purpose for the world over the next few days. So, we will begin with the broad idea of the whole earth being filled with his glory and move to the specifics of God's purpose for the world which he has developed and unfolded over the course of time.

    Since God made the world, it would seem that the world would automatically be filled with his glory. In the beginning everything was under God's authority and in perfect harmony with God and his ways. However, mankind rebelled and a course for life on earth that excludes God was adopted. The glory of God refers to the splendor of who he is and the marvelous impact he has on his creation when he is allowed to govern it, care for it, and make it flourish. So, filling the earth with his glory is the process of God putting himself back into the equation in order for the earth to become the amazing place it was meant to be.

    When we use words like redemption, salvation, restoration, etc. we are talking about God's work of putting himself back into the equation. This is what the Gospel and the task of spreading the Gospel are all about. God puts himself back into the equation one person at a time through the redemptive work of his Son, Jesus Christ. The work of making the world into the amazing place it was meant to be is secondary to the work of making people into the amazing people they were meant to be. When the fullness of God's work of redeeming people and filling them with his glory is complete, he will then completely fulfill all the amazing purposes he has for mankind on planet earth and the world will be totally filled with his glory.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I join the Psalmist in saying that you alone work wonders. Only you can work the wonder of your purpose of filling the earth with your glory. I bless you Lord. I bless your name forever. I give myself to you afresh and say to you, here I am, fill me with your glory. Fulfill in me all you have in mind for me as one who has received the gift of redemption through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen!

  • Maximum Love – A Motivation to Humble Service - Friday, June 1st

    Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Philippians 2:1-2

    Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is not a shred of evidence in our story that would suggest there was anything self-serving in what the four men were doing for their friend. It is clear that the pure and simple motive of love and compassion for their friend was the sole basis for their actions in the story. It is our love for God that should motivate us to serve Him and it is our love for others that should motivate us to serve them. Here is another co-reality: the more we love and serve God, the more we will love and serve others. The more we love and serve others, the more we will love and serve God. Our love all the way around must be genuine and full. Maximum love through a life of service is what it’s all about. There is no room for hypocrisy in the work of God’s kingdom.

    Seeing ourselves accurately is no small task. It is hard to really see what makes us tick; what it is that really prevails in our lives. It is not a matter of what we think should prevail or what we want to prevail, but what does prevail. If we are truly putting God’s kingdom first then our love for Him and our love for others is prevailing in our lives. A commitment to humbly serving God and others with genuine love is the call of the moment and we must respond.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to see accurately what it is that makes me tick. I really do want the central motivation of my life to be the pursuit of loving you and other people through serving. Move in me by your Spirit so that I am able to face and embrace whatever changes you reveal that need to be made. Empower me to become one in whom your love is truly maximized. I want to be the real deal for your honor and glory. Amen!

  • Maximum Love – A Desire for Christ to be Exalted - Thursday, May 31st

    “So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” Mark 2:10-12

    For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 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. Colossians 1:13-18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Ministry is all about serving others and being used to help them connect with Jesus who meets their needs. It is not about us; it is about them and Jesus and the wonders that result. We might be used to meet intermediate needs, but the goal is always for others to connect directly with Jesus. Whatever intermediate need we meet, it is simply a cup of water given in Jesus’ name. We need to be like John the Baptist who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Once the mat was lowered, all eyes were on Jesus. It would be a stretch to think that after Jesus forgave the paralyzed man’s sins and healed him, there was any bravado coming from his four friends about them having been the ones who “lowered the mat.” They acted in humility and willing stood back and watched Jesus do His wonders.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the wonders you have done in my life. I stand amazed before you and offer you my fullest praise. It is hard to fathom, that same touch of restoration you extended to the man on the mat, you extend to me. I give you first place in my life. Do with me whatever you will. I chose to exalt you as the supreme Lord of life. I pray that people everywhere will exalt you, know your restoring touch, and give you first place. Amen!

  • Maximum Love – A Bridge to Faith in Christ - Wednesday, May 30th

    Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8

    But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7

    Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus said, “all men would know that we are His disciples if we would have love for one another.” That the friends of the paralyzed man loved him is obvious. No so obvious, is that their love is wonderfully connected to their faith. Why did they bring their friend to Jesus? Because of love and faith. Love – because they wanted healing for him. Faith – because they believed Jesus could do it. Jesus sees their faith and forgives the friend’s sins and then heals him. Our love for our friends must always be connected to our faith in Jesus. Our love for them will always be an expression of our desire for them to be touched spiritually by Jesus who we truly believe will do just that in wonderful and complete ways. Others around will be touched by the ministry of Christian community being lived out in this way and our “faith” will be a bridge that will lead them to Christ and the community of His people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, please build into me the perfect blend of love and faith. A love for you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and the world. A faith that claims your amazing work of grace in full for myself, your people everywhere, and a world of people yet to be reached. It’s all about love becoming a bridge to faith and I ask that you would grant that to be what my life is all about. Amen!

  • Maximum Love – A Focus on Spiritual Wholeness - Tuesday, May 29th

    But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

    But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:9-12

    Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The four friends of the man on the mat were not easily dissuaded from their objective of bringing their friend before Jesus. The hole in the roof can remain as an image in our minds to help us persevere and not give up at being ones who help others come to Jesus for the touch from Him that is needed. How readily we are diverted by other concerns that consume our lives. God has called us to live in community and to help each other get close to Jesus and stay close to Him. The believers in the book of Hebrews needed to be reminded to stay committed to all that God had called them to in this regard. Like them we are encouraged to stick with it and not let anything get in the way of helping others come before Jesus.

    As Jesus dealt with the paralyzed man no one in that house other than Jesus had anything but physical healing in their minds as they considered what might happen next. Like these folks we are so oriented to the physical issues of life. In community we must care about the needs of earthly existence that we all have and serve each other accordingly, but central to all we do must be our looking to Christ together for His spiritual touch upon our lives. Christian community is all about bringing people to forgiveness and spiritual wholeness in a context of loving concern and help for the physical issues of life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, please lead me into an awareness of your presence on a more consistent and fuller basis. But also, help me to experience Christian community where together with others there is a special awareness of your presence on a regular basis. May we grow up into all aspects into you, the real and living head of the body of Christ. May the loving, forgiving, and healing touch of our presence bring the spiritual wholeness we all need and long for. Amen!

  • Maximum Love – A Call to Christian Community - Monday, May, 28th

    This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:12-17

    When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Mark 2:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus concludes the John passage above by saying that He has chosen us to be ones who would go and bear lasting fruit. He clearly connects our bearing lasting fruit with loving one another. Jesus begins the passage by declaring that we are to love each other in the way He has loved us. When we love each other the way Jesus loves us it will involve sacrifice and friendship. We might say that as fellow Christians we are a community of friends who serve each other sacrificially. This is wonderfully depicted for us in the story from Mark 2. When we see this kind of community in the context of the impact such community life has on those who observe it in action, we have something very special.

    The four men in our story bringing their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing conjures up all kinds of good images in our minds of friendship, brotherhood, community, love, sacrifice, devotion, etc. These are the kinds of qualities that should flood the body of Christ in the world today. How often our participation in church life is rooted in obligation or a sense of duty. Those who live fully for God have a growing sense of genuine community in a fellowship of friends. As we walk with God and are filled to overflowing with His unconditional love it will spill over into each other’s lives. While our experience won’t be looking up at the ceiling like those who sat in the crowd and saw five friends living out community, we will be in the middle of our own setting experiencing genuine Christian community as we look together to Jesus with a set of loving friends He has called us to share life with.l

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the loving Christian friends you have placed in my life. Help all of us to become more intimately connected with you and each other. Wherever I need to become more of a truly loving friend, help me to change. Wherever I need something more from others, please provide it, whether it means changing them, removing them, or providing new ones. I pray for maximum love among your people everywhere so the world will be touched by and reached through the reality of genuine Christian community. Amen!

  • The Tale of the Soul – Radically Set Free to Serve Christ - Friday, May 25th

    Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what he has done for my soul. Psalm 66:16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    This whole business of brokenness, surrender, dependency, intimacy, etc. may sound scary but oh, how liberating and truly fulfilling it is to be brought there. When the Psalmist talks about what God has done for His soul, you can be sure there is no smack of personal interest or concern involved. The Psalmist is talking about the profound and deep work of God in his inner being that has rescued him from himself with all its selfishness and self-centeredness. This is what needs to be seen by those we live our lives before and it is this that they will want to hear about from us. This is why Christ sacrificed Himself for us. We are the redeemed and the transformed and the light of the world. May God grant that we become more like the Psalmist than ever before so that when we tell others what God has done for our souls we are telling them not what we managed to get Him to do on our behalf but about the radical work He has been free to do in us and through us. Amen 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, when all is said and done, I don’t want the tale of my soul to be that I was captured by "self" and lived for myself, for pleasure, for comfort, and for the things of this world. I want the tale of my soul to be the tale of a soul set free to live fully for you. I want it to be a tale of surrender, dependence, and intimacy in my relationship with you. I want it to be a tale of a life lived selflessly, sacrificially, and devotedly for your mission of redemption. It is all about you, Lord, and what you have done for my soul. So, here I am ready to serve, shine, and bless like never before. Amen!

  • The Tale of the Soul – Totally at Christ’s Disposal - Thursday, May 24th

    Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; but even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit that which increases to your account. Philippians 4:14-17

    Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of you righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:10-15

    Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 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. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In consideration of the level of surrender, dependence, and intimacy in our relationship with Christ we have been talking about, the availability and use of our money and other material resources becomes a moot point. If we are having trouble in this area it is because we have not been broken deeply and profoundly. And of course that is where the work needs to be done. We will understand little of the focus of all these Scriptures, particularly the ones from Philippians. As a matter of fact the promises contained in them are routinely seen throughout the greater Christian Community through the lens of personal concern and interest rather than the mission of the Gospel. When God does His work in the depths of our being and He moves us beyond personal concern and interest, He will not only have our money and our material resources, but He will have us and will freely be able to call us to whatever “mission” business he has in mind for us. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you gave it all and so will I. Everything I am and have is yours to use in whatever way you choose. Forgive me for thinking that what I have is mine for whatever use I see fit. I want to live sacrificially for your mission of redemption. Show me exactly how you want to use me and my material resources. Continue to increase my level of surrender, dependence, and intimacy in my relationship with you. Amen!

  • The Tale of the Soul – Revolutionized to the Core - Wednesday, May 23rd

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:6-13 

    Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.’ For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:1-6

     Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:4-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Letting our light shine before men is all we are called to do, but it must be Christ shining out from within us. I like to say it this way: In an intimate love relationship with Christ, He fills us up with Himself and transforms our very being. With lives that are constantly being transformed as a result of our ongoing love relationship with Him, we daily join Him in the adventurous mission of letting our lives touch the world around us with His light. When we shine in this way frustration and weariness are minimized and Christ has little difficulty orchestrating where and before what people He wants our light to shine. Recognizing and embracing the reality that the life we live must be the result of Christ’s presence allows Him to become the means for God’s redemptive mission being properly carried out in our lives. This requires a great work of God in our inner person, whereby we are broken deeply and profoundly. Only in this way will we have the level of surrender and dependence needed for experiencing Christ as the true means of our mission. The passages above are filled with expressions of being done with ourselves and alive to Christ and a world of “others” that need Him desperately. When “others” see that we are ones who live our lives desperately in need of Christ and are intimately involved with Him, our light will truly be shining before men in the most effective way possible. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, open the eyes of my heart so fully that I see my desperate need for you. Help me genuinely to hunger and thirst for you to such an extent that I seek you relentlessly. Help me to know you intimately. So revolutionize the core of my being that I am changed forever. May there be no explanation for the life I live but you. I want to shine, shine, shine as you burn brightly in the depths of my being. Hallelujah! Amen!

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