Monday, August 21, 2017

Shout for Joy and Be Glad! (Psalm 35:27)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 35:27

I’ve chosen to use the New King James Version for scriptures of joy, but as I often do, I like looking at other translations and paraphrases for emphasis or added flavor. I especially like the The Message paraphrase of today’s verse:
But those who want    the best for me,Let them have the last word—a glad shout!—    and say, over and over and over,God is great—everything works    together for good for his servant.”
Each of us has a group of people—great or small—who “want the best” for us. Those cheerleaders who have our backs. When they see God doing amazing things in our lives, they rejoice with “a glad shout!”

And we do the same for others. I know how excited I get and how blessed I am when God blesses my friends and family. I rejoice when He works in and through them. I too want to “say, over and over and over” how great He is and how wonderful are His works.

Take a moment and see what God is doing in the lives of your friends and family. And give a “great shout!”

Friday, August 18, 2017

Joy in Refining (1 Peter 1:6-9)


Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:6-9

No too long ago, we talked about how trials offer refining, just as gold is refined by fire.

The apostle Peter expands on this in today’s scripture.

Gold, when it’s first mined, is full of impurities. It takes a process, whether by fire or by chemical, to remove the impurities. The process is time-consuming and, in the case of refining by fire, quite dangerous:
Refining with flame is one of the oldest methods of refining metals. Mentioned even in the bible, refining by fire is the preferable method for larger quantities of gold. In ancient times, this form of refining involved a craftsman sitting next to a hot fire with molten gold in a crucible being stirred and skimmed to remove the impurities or dross that rose to the top of the molten metal. With flames reaching temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius, this job was definitely a dangerous occupation for the gold refiner. The tradition remains largely untouched today with the exception of a few advancements in safety and precision. (www.gold-traders.co.uk)
Fire bringing purity. Pain bringing joy. Storms bringing rainbows.

From an eternal perspective, faith is absolutely more important than gold, and if I must go through difficult times to purify my faith, then I believe it’s well worth it.

Are you in the refiner’s fire right now? Then be confident that the Refiner is stirring and skimming to remove the impurities or dross to make you the person He created you to be.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Joy Comes in the Morning (Psalm 30:5)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 30:5

Over the last few weeks, several of my friends have lost loved ones. A husband. A father. A child.

They’re in mourning … and rightfully so.

Others have experienced some godly discipline with consequences from poor choices or pain from the choices others have made.

They’ve wept … and rightfully so.

We all go through seasons of pain, of suffering, of sadness. We all experience times of godly discipline.

But we’re promised that these seasons are temporary. We don’t live in perpetual, never-ending mourning or pain.

Joy does come in the morning. It may not be today … or tomorrow … or even in the next few weeks. But each of us begins to find those splashes of joy as God offers comfort and peace.

If you’re in a night of mourning, be assured: Joy will one day come … one not-so-distant morning.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Joy in Salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3)

Today’s scripture: Isaiah 12:2-3

A couple of days ago, I wrote about making a “joyful noise” and praising God. Today’s verses give another reason for singing for joy.

God is our salvation. Salvation comes from no other. He saves us from our sins, and He saves us from harm. And even if—or should I say when—we experience trials, we can be confident that He will give us strength.

We can indeed “trust and not be afraid” no matter what comes our way because He has been so faithful in the past.

I often write about the gift of hindsight. It’s usually when we look back that we see how God worked. The more we see how He worked then, the more we can trust now … and in the future.

So sing along with the prophet: He is my salvation. He is my strength and song. I can joyfully “drink deeply from the fountain of salvation” (NLT).

Amen!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Worshipful Joy (Psalm 66:1-3)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 66:1-3

I’ve written this before, but one of my greatest joys is worshiping the Lord in song. There’s something about music that touches my soul.

That’s one of the things I love most about the psalms. So many of them are love songs to the Lord. Readers are invited to:

Make a joyful shout to God …
Sing out the honor of His name …
Make His praise glorious …
We can sing of His grace, love and, mercy. We can tell of His “awesome works.”

And hymns and contemporary praise songs remind us of His love for us. Hymns like “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “It Is well with My Soul” speak of His faithfulness and care. Favorite songs can touch our hearts with words of hope and peace.

So even if you can’t carry a tune, make a “joyful shout” or, as the King James Version says, a “joyful noise” and praise the Lord in song!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Joy of the Whole Earth (Psalm 48:1-3)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 48:1-3

When I pray, I often begin with the first sentence of today’s verses: Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.

And He is!

He is the sovereign Creator of the universe. He is the beginning and the end. He is the giver of strength, peace, and comfort. He is merciful and gracious.

He loves us everlastingly and abundantly.

He is everything!

So, how can I be anything other than joyful? I am a daughter of the Most High King! He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my Comforter, my Refuge. He is my Abba on whose lap I can crawl.

I find so much joy in knowing Him, in learning more of Him, in knowing He has a plan for my life.

Stop a moment. Think about how very blessed you are to know the Great God. Find joy and give praise to Him.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Joy in Trials (James 1:2-4)

Today’s scripture: James 1:2-4

We’ve already talked about how counter-intuitive it seems to find joy in pain or in trials.

James, the brother of Jesus, certainly knew what it meant to experience trials and suffering. Those following the new “Way” were ridiculed, arrested, beaten, and martyred for their faith. Tradition holds that James was arrested and martyred around 69 AD.

Yet, he wrote that his readers (including you and me) could find “all joy” because he knew the end result of trials was Christ-likeness.

Just like gold is made pure as it’s refined through fire, we are also refined and made “perfect and complete” through trials.

I’ve written many times of the various trial I’ve experienced throughout my life, and I know—beyond doubt—that I’m a much stronger, compassionate, and kind person than I would have been had I not gone through storms.

So, I can truly find joy in trials knowing that God continues to refine me into the woman He created me to be.

Are you going through difficult times? Ask God for strength—and joy.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Joy in Trust (Psalm 5:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 5:11

Our God is infinitely worthy of trust. He has proven Himself over and over as He provides, protects, and guides.

He loves us with an everlasting love, and His grace and mercy are superabundant.

Rejoicing in Him is the act of expressing the joy we find in knowing that the God of the universe is our Lord, Savior, Redeemer, Refuge, Strength … and so much more!

Because He is so worthy of our trust, we can “shout for joy”!

Because He loves us so much, we can “be joyful” in Him!

How often do you shout for joy, rejoicing in who God is? Take some time now, and raise the roof with those shouts!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Joy in Chastening (Hebrews 12:11)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 12:11

It’s really hard to equate joy with pain. We just aren’t wired that way.

In human minds, joy equals happiness, but as we talked about a few days ago, that’s not always true. Sometimes, we have to find joy in the pain … joy through the pain.

God sometimes uses the pain in our lives to chasten us. Chasten is synonymous with discipline, and indeed, we all have times when He needs to discipline us for wrong behavior. We need to be reminded that we’re heading the wrong direction.

And that discipline isn’t fun. Discipline rarely is.

So the writer of Hebrews is absolutely right when he says that “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present …”

So where does the joy come in? When we realize that God will use that chastening, that discipline, to “yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness …”

We become more like Christ when we rid ourselves of sin, and often, that comes through God’s discipline.

Are you feeling “chastened” right now? Ask the Lord to reveal areas of sin that need to be confessed and find joy in becoming more like Christ.

Monday, July 31, 2017

See God's Face with Joy (Job 33:26)

Today’s scripture: Job 33:26

The story of Job never fails to amaze me.

This faithful man whom God has abundantly blessed loses everything … just because Satan, the enemy of our souls, challenges God saying Job will curse God if he loses all he has, including his health.

Job receives dubious “counsel” from so-called friends, and even questions and cries out to God himself. Yet, never does he “curse God and die” as his wife claims he should (2:9).

Amazing.

Now, even though his friends’ counsel is not always helpful, one does give a splash of wisdom in today’s verse, and this wisdom is true for us as well.

When we “pray to God” with sincere and repentant hearts, God does “delight” in us. That too amazes me. The God of the universe delights in each of us! Even more, we can “see His face with joy …”

Imagine gazing into your Father’s face. Your Abba, who adores you. Imagine looking at that loving face with joy.

How can you feel anything less?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 16:11

We serve such an amazing God! I am continually in awe of how He blesses and works even through the darkest times … as long as we keep our eyes on Him and seek His will.

A favorite song of mine (one that I sing almost every time I speak) includes the lines:
Our Father knows what’s best for us, [But] His ways are not our own. So when the pathway grows dim, And you just don’t see Him, Remember, you’re never alone. © Babbie Mason
We’re on a journey—from the cradle to the grave—and as we follow that “path of life,” we can trust that God will always—always—give us “fullness of joy” when we trust Him to do His perfect will.

No, life won’t be easy; we all know that. But when we surrender our lives to Him, we can find joy … we will find joy.

We just have to ask Him.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Joyful Prayer (Philippians 1:3-6)

Today’s scripture: Philippians 1:3-6

So far this year, we’ve looked at what the Bible says about faith, peace, hope, and grace. Now we’re going to spend a few weeks looking at a word that is sometimes misinterpreted: joy.

Sometimes joy is synonymous with happiness, but I read a long time ago that happiness is dependent upon circumstances while joy is a state of mind. Therefore, we can find joy even when times are rough.

Let’s begin our journey through joy today with a prayer from one of my favorite books of the Bible. Paul wrote this prayer to the church in Philippi, and I echo its words today:

I truly thank the Lord for each and every one of you. With great joy, I pray that your faith in the gospel will grow as He continues the “good work” He is completing in you.

May you be blessed super-abundantly this day!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Prayer of Grace (2 John 1:3)

Today’s scripture: 2 John 1:3

We’ve spent a few weeks looking at the word “grace,” and as we move onto “joy” on Wednesday, I leave you with a prayer from the apostle John.

I pray that you too will find grace, mercy, and peace from the triune God.

May you experience His unmerited favor, His abundant mercy, and the peace that is far beyond your understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

May you revel in His love for you, His never-ending, abundant love.

May you seek His truth through study and meditation of His word, and grow in faith.

Amen.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Representative Grace (Esther 2:17)

Today’s scripture: Esther 2:17

All the other passages we’ve seen over the last few weeks about grace focus on God’s grace to us; however, I couldn’t help but include this one reference to grace because it is from one of my favorite stories.

I love how Esther was so faithful to the God of her people; she truly represented her God as she “obtained grace and favor” from the king.

She was in such a precarious position: a young Jewess living in the palace of her people’s enemy. Yet, she was so humble—a Christ-like quality—that she was chosen to be queen.

And when her people were threatened, she had God-given courage to approach the king even if she lost her life in doing so (Esther 4:16). She knew God would be gracious to her people, and her trust Him led to an overthrowing of the plan to annihilate her people.

May we be both humble and courageous both to represent “grace and favor” to those around us and to do what God calls us to do.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grace Abused ... (Jude 1:4)

Today’s scripture: Jude 1:4

We’ve talked about this before, how some use grace as a “get out of jail free” card. They live as they like, thinking that they’ll just ask for forgiveness whenever they feel the need.

That’s so not what grace is about.

Grace is a free gift for the one who receives … but it was very expensive gift—a priceless gift—for the Giver.

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, gave everything. Everything.

He suffered betrayal and denial, torture and ridicule … and an excruciating death. All so that we can receive forgiveness and eternal like through God’s grace.

So to take that gift, to treat grace lightly ... well, it’s like slapping Jesus in the face. It’s like saying, “I don’t really care what you did, but I’m going to take advantage that you did it.”

Oh, may this never be!

Let’s never take grace for granted. Instead, let’s fall to our knees in gratitude!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Grow in Grace (2 Peter 3:18)

Today’s scripture: 2 Peter 3:18

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a women’s conference at my church. The theme was being rooted in Christ.

The analogy is sound: When a tree is firmly rooted, it grows; it withstands strong storms; it bears fruit.

We too, when we are firmly rooted in Christ, grow, withstand storms, and bear fruit.

On the other hand, a tree with weak roots doesn’t grow. It may be pulled up when the storms hit. And it is fruitless … and it is the same with faith.

Oh, but by grace, we can grow in our “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

How? By spending time in His word, studying and meditating. By internalizing its truths. By praying and listening to God’s voice.

Only then can we be firmly rooted in Christ.

So … how strong are your roots?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Hope Upon Grace (1 Peter 1:13)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 1:13

Rest …

This seems to be a sadly-lacking commodity in our world today. Everyone is just so tired.

Physical rest. But also spiritual rest.

So many people are busy trying to find salvation or work for grace. They go, go, go and push, push, push … so much that they’re spiritually exhausted.

Salvation is not about us and what we can do. Salvation is about God and what He has already done. We are invited to “rest [our] hope fully upon … grace …”

Did you see that? “Fully on grace.”

Grace has paid the penalty. Grace has covered the sin.

Remember Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-29? He invites us all:
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. (NASB)
All you have to do is “come”; Jesus is waiting.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 4:16

When I’m feeling down, I imagine myself crawling onto my Abba’s lap. I feel His loving arms around me, and I know I’m going to make it through one more day.

Our God is the King of kings, and He sits on His throne. And yet, He also invites us to call Him Abba—Daddy. Because we are children of the King, we are princes and princesses, and we are welcome to “come boldly to the throne of grace …”

We don’t have to be shy. We don’t have to wait to be invited. We don’t have to fear.

No, we can be bold and confident.

And we can know that the King will listen to our pleas, and He will shower us with mercy through His grace.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Justified by Grace (Titus 3:7)

Today’s scripture: Titus 3:7

Seekers often comment about all the difficult terms in the Bible: salvation, redemption, sanctification, justification … And yes, it can be confusing.

Today’s verse says we’re “justified by His grace …”

Justified. Justification.

What does it all mean? From my meager understanding (and as I’ve said before, I am not a theologian), justification means that God declares us as righteous and holy. Only He can justify. When we accept the gift of salvation through belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, we are redeemed and justified.

These are one-time events. Sanctification is an on-going process by which we become more and more like Christ Himself.

And it all comes through the incredible grace given by our Lord God.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Sufficient Grace (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:9

I love today’s verse. And I think that those of us who deal with chronic health issues find hope in it.

In context, Paul was writing about a “thorn” that he suffered with. He’d asked the Lord to remove the thorn, but He, in His infinite wisdom, chose not to. Paul realized that this thorn was meant to bring him closer to God and to know where true strength comes from.

Being physically weak makes me spiritually strong. What? you ask. That seems counter-intuitive.

I know. But it’s true.

I wake up every morning in pain. Some days are better than others, but pain just the same. And I wake up every morning and seek God’s strength without which I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain.

In His grace, I find strength.

But why doesn’t He just take away the pain? you ask.

I’m honestly not sure. He certainly could heal me completely. But since I’ve dealt with chronic health issues for almost 40 years, I don’t think He will.

What I do know is that my pain brings me closer to Him. I’m confident He has a purpose for the pain, and I know He gives me strength to deal with it.

His “grace is sufficient.”

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Exceedingly Abundant Grace (1 Timothy 1:14)

Today’s scripture: 1 Timothy 1:14

I went through a Bible study a couple of years ago, and the author of the study wrote about “superabundant grace.” Not just abundant. Superabundant.

That’s what this verse says: “the grace of our Lord [is] exceedingly abundant.”

His grace is so far beyond what we can imagine. It is so far beyond what we deserve.

We’ve talked about this a lot over the last few weeks: We do not deserve grace. We just don’t. We are sinful, willful, prideful; we are flawed and broken. And we deserve eternal separation from God.

Yet, God loves us so very much that He offers grace. It would be enough if He offered just enough grace for salvation. But He lavishes grace upon us. He showers us with superabundant grace. Exceedingly abundant grace.

Think about it: How are you blessed? What has God given you?

A home? A family? Friends? A job? Food? All of the above?

Those are just the tangible things. What about forgiveness? Mercy? Comfort? Everlasting love? His never-leaving presence?

Exceedingly abundant grace.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Hope by Grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16)

Today’s scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2:16

I’ve written before how grace and hope and faith and peace all seem to go together. Today’s verse focuses on how Jesus Christ’s love for us brings “everlasting consolation and good hope by grace.”

Good hope …

Hope is an anticipation of good things to come. We hope for good weather. We hope for a good job. We hope for a good vacation.

We hope for the best outcome to any situation.

This verse, though, mentions another “hope” Jesus brings: “everlasting consolation …”

Consolation is comforting someone who is dealing with sorrow, pain, or loneliness. And we’ve all been there.

We’ve all suffered loss. We’ve all experienced pain. We’ve all been lonely.

And we’ve all sought comfort … or consolation.

The only real source of true comfort is the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can sooth a wounded soul. Only He can cover the pain and give strength when we have none of our own. Only He can offer a port in the storm.

Are you sad? Hurting? Lonely? Go to the Comforter. Let Him console you … wherever you are and whatever you’re experiencing.

Find hope in Him.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fruit-Bearing Grace (Colossians 1:6)

Today’s scripture: Colossians 1:6

When we commit our lives to God, when we accept the truth of the gospel, God uses us to bear fruit.

As we’ve talked about many times, true followers of Christ have been given spiritual gifts: preaching, teaching, helping, giving, and encouraging—to name but a few. When we use those gifts to serve God and others, we bear fruit. Lives are touched. Lives are changed.

Let’s be clear: God doesn’t need us or our gifts. But, in His grace, He chooses to allow us to participate in the building of His Kingdom. He uses us to bless others and glorify Himself.

It’s an honor and a blessing to know that God uses me with all my flaws and foibles to serve others. He uses my gifts—such as they are—to touch lives.

Do you know your spiritual gifts? Is God using you to “bring forth fruit”? If not, take some time to discover how He can and will use you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

His Rich Grace (Ephesians 1:7)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians1:7

A few days ago, we looked at a new definition of riches. Today’s verse talks about how “the riches of His grace” brings some amazing gifts: redemption and forgiveness.

One definition of redeemed is “gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.” Another is “to make (something that is bad, unpleasant, etc.) better or more acceptable.”

A biblical definition is a bit more complex:

Finding its context in the social, legal, and religious customs of the ancient world, the metaphor of redemption includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, exchanging something in one’s possession for something possessed by another, and ransoming (Bible Study Tools).
When I think of what Jesus did for me to redeem me, to take formerly “bad and unpleasant” me and “setting [me] free from the captivity” of sin, I’m humbled. Through God’s grace, Jesus paid my penalty. He gave His life to save mine.

I am redeemed. I am forgiven.

I have received the riches of God’s grace. And if you have surrendered your life to Him? You have too.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Grace in One Gospel (Galatians 1:6)

Today’s scripture: Galatians 1:6

We live in a world of spiritual “buffets.” Take a bit of this, a little of that. Put it all together and create what works for you.

Even those who call themselves Christians say that the Bible isn’t God’s inherent word or there is more than one road to salvation.

They don’t want truth because it doesn’t line up with what they want to hear. Paul warned of this very thing: “The time is coming when people won’t listen to good teaching. Instead, they will look for teachers who will please them by telling them only what they are itching to hear” (CEV, 2 Tim. 4:3).

The Bible makes it very clear: There is one gospel, one faith, one way of salvation. (See Eph. 4:4-6; John 14:6).

Follow the Bible or don’t. It’s your choice. But if you choose to follow the Bible, then know that there is one gospel, one way of salvation.

One gift of grace.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Gift of Grace (Romans 5:15, 17)

Today’s scripture: Romans 5:15,17

We’ve said this before: Grace is unmerited favor; it’s getting what we do NOT deserve.

Sin entered the world through “one man’s offense.” When Adam chose to go his own way and rebel against God, we all “died” spiritually.

Because of this, we all deserve punishment and eternal separation from God.

But we are so very loved—and I hope you know how loved you are. God, in His infinite grace, through one Man offers salvation and a renewed relationship with Him.

One man brought death; one Man brings life.

That’s what grace is all about.

That’s how loved you are.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:9

If you are reading this devotional, you have some sort of electronic device, which means you have adequate funds to afford it … which means you’re likely wealthier than most of the population of this earth.

But what is true wealth? Money? Things?

Today’s verse talks about Jesus’ being “rich.” I’m relatively certain Jesus has no use for money, so how was He rich, and what did He give up to become “poor”?

He gave up so much more than mere money. He gave up heaven. Heaven! He chose to become human. To feel pain, betrayal, denial, and death.

For us.

And because He was willing to give up His riches to become poor, we, who are spiritually poor, can become rich—in those things that really matter.

We become rich in grace and faith … and we become rich knowing that we’ll spend eternity with Jesus.

True riches!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Grace Through Faith (Romans 5:2)

Today’s scripture: Romans 5:2

This year, we’ve looked at verses about hope, peace, faith, and grace … and it often seems like these words are found together. And this makes sense.

Grace and faith go hand in hand. We have faith in God, and we receive salvation through His grace.

Knowing that we have been saved through grace brings peace.

Even more, as we reflect upon grace, we find great hope in God’s glory. Hope in His everlasting presence and abundant love. Hope in eternity with Him.

Oh, we are so very blessed.

Peace and hope through faith and grace.

What a great God we serve! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Grace in Vain? (2 Corinthians 6:1)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1

It breaks my heart when I hear people say something like, “Well, I can live however I want as long as I ask for forgiveness.” They really don’t understand what grace is. And what Jesus did for us to receive grace.

They “receive the grace of God in vain.”

For us to have grace—unmerited favor—Jesus died. He died. He gave everything so that we could have everything: salvation, justification, eternal life.

When we think of all He did, we should want to live differently so that He is pleased, so that He receives glory and honor.

Grace isn’t a “get out of jail free” card to be used over and over. It’s a gift, an amazing gift from the sovereign God of the universe.

Be grateful … and don’t take it in vain.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Mystery of Grace (Hebrews 2:9)

Today’s scripture: Hebrews 2:9

I’ll never completely understand this side of heaven why God’s plan for salvation included Jesus Christ’s having to die for us.

Jesus, the Son of God, and in truth, God Himself, came to earth, took on flesh, was betrayed and denied, was beaten and bruised, and died a horrible death.

According to God’s grace.

This is the mystery: God took grace away from a very part of Himself and gave grace to us. Jesus did not deserve death; we do not deserve grace. Yet, He died so we could live.

It is a mystery, but it is the greatest truth! We are saved, redeemed, and justified through the undeserved death of Jesus … God Himself.

Amazing …

Monday, June 12, 2017

Grace and Wisdom (2 Corinthians 1:12)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:12

“Fleshly wisdom” is very, very different than godly wisdom.

The flesh says, “I can do what I want … as long as I don’t get caught.” Godly wisdom says, “I must do what God has called me to do.”

The flesh says, “It’s just a little white lie; no one will know.” Godly wisdom says, “God sees the heart.”

The flesh says, “No one cares what I do.” Godly wisdom says, “God, who knows the number of hairs on my head, wants me to serve Him and others.”

When we live “in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity,” we represent the One who created us and the One who saved us. We honor Him and shine the light of Jesus.

Fleshly wisdom may seem great for today ... but it’s foolish for eternity.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Imparting Grace (Ephesians 4:29)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians 4:29

I find it rather tragic when I hear a follower of Christ use vulgar words or gossip maliciously … from that same mouth that praises God on Sunday morning.

What must nonbelievers think when they hear Christians speak this way? How are we any different? More importantly, how are we examples of Christ?

Before I recommitted my life to the Lord, I had quite a mouth on me. Four-letter words were not uncommon. But when I surrendered my life to Him, I prayed that I would speak words of encouragement and, as today’s verse says, edification. I wanted—and I want still—to speak words that lift people up, words that please my heavenly Father.

Think about what you say and how you say it? Are you representing Jesus with your words?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Building on Grace (1 Corinthians 3:10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:10

Fifteen years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to watch our then-home be built from the ground up. It was fun watching it grow from a bare plot of land to a foundation. Then framing. Then a roof. Then doors and windows.

And finally … a completed house.

We too can lay foundations of faith—or build on foundations others have laid. By His grace, God has given each of us gifts and talents to be representatives of Him and to share the good news of salvation.

Some are pastors and teachers, and many learn of salvation through their teaching. Others are encouragers or have the gift of hospitality, and they represent Jesus in the flesh. Still others are prayer warriors who lift up many who have needs.

Each of us who follows Christ have a part in building His church.

Are you doing your part?

Monday, June 05, 2017

By Grace Given ... (Romans 12:3)

Today’s scripture: Romans 12:3

A few days ago, we looked at how grace should make us humble. Today’s verses share similar theme.

By grace, we are saved.

By grace, we are children of God.

By grace, we are given gifts to serve God and others.

Everything we are, everything we have, everything we can do … these are all gifts of grace.

So why do we think that we are so important? That we accumulated all we have? That we can do what we do?

We are nothing without God. We have nothing without God. We can do nothing without God.

It is only by God’s abundant grace and overwhelming love—both so underserved—that we experience the amazing blessings we do.

To think “more highly” of ourselves than we should is basically saying that grace is meaningless.

How tragic …

Friday, June 02, 2017

Sin Under Grace? Never! (Romans 6:14-15)

Today’s scripture: Romans 6:14-15

When a person sincerely accepts the gift of grace—salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection—she is changed. She is a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). She is different. She becomes more and more like Christ.

Or at least she should.

Those who follow Christ have been given an incredible gift—that grace we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. And it is an incredible gift.

So why would someone continue in sin? I have to wonder …

I know we are not to judge others, but I have to wonder if someone who continues to live in habitual sin really knows God. Does she really understand grace?

Grace should make her want to serve God, to strive to be more like Christ, to manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Grace should never be thought of a license to sin.

Never.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Grace for the Humble (Proverbs 3:34)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 3:34

Ah humility. Not a word that many of us like.

For some of us, humility speaks of weakness, of being a doormat, of being a pushover. And this is something few of us want to be.

But humility has a different connotation in God’s economy.

When one is humble, he considers others and their needs. Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi that they—and we—should not “be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than [ourselves. We should] care about them as much as [we] care about” ourselves (CEV, Philippians 2:3-4).

And our greatest example of humility is our Lord Himself: “Christ was truly God. But he did not choose to remain equal with God. Instead, he gave up everything and became a slave, when he became one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross” (6-7).

Being humble means to care for others. To serve them. To look out for them.

And when we are humble in this way, God gives us grace.

How can you be humble to another today? How can you show Christ-like humility?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Justified Freely by His Grace (Romans 3:23-24)

Today’s scripture: Romans 3:23-24

It continually amazes me that grace is a free gift … a free gift. Even though, as Paul wrote, “all have sinned” (and that does mean all, by the way), every single person can be “justified freely by His grace.”

Later in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death [what we do deserve], but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord [what we do not deserve]” (NASB, 6:23).

That’s grace.

We are “freely justified,” which means we are righteous in God’s eyes. Once we accept forgiveness of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, He no longer sees our sins. Jesus has paid our “wages,” and we are gifted with eternal life with our Lord and Savior.

How amazing is that?  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Encouraging Grace (Acts 11:23)

Today’s scripture: Acts 11:23

You’d think I’d be tired of writing about grace … but you’d be wrong!

I’m continually awed by the thought that our all-powerful, all-loving God loves us so much that He offers grace. Grace for salvation. Grace for daily life.

Today’s verse comes just after Peter spoke about God’s grace to the Gentiles and those in the early church heard of how a “great number believed and turned to the Lord” in Antioch. Barnabas went to Antioch, and he saw the “grace of God.”

Although the Bible doesn’t explicitly say this, I imagine Barnabas was greatly encouraged by the number of new believers. It does say, however, that he “was glad, and encouraged them all with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”

This is how the church (i.e., the body of Christ) should be today. We should be “glad” when we meet new believers; we should rejoice with new members of the “family.”

And we who have been following the Lord for a while should encourage them in their faith. We should teach and disciple them. We should pray for them and with them.

We should celebrate the grace of God.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amazing, Abounding Grace (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 9:8


“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.”

I love that old hymn. Perhaps, you do too.

Grace is such an amazing gift … that our God would give us what we don’t deserve … amazing.

And grace continues to abound throughout the life of a Christ-follower. When a person surrenders her life to God and accepts the gift of salvation, she will be used by Him to do “good work.”

Each follower of Christ is given at least one spiritual gift. Teaching or hospitality. Giving or mercy.

I’m blessed with the gifts of encouragement and teaching. I love seeing others grow in faith and learn more about the Lord God Almighty. It brings me such joy.

Because of the weakness of my body, however, I don’t always feel “sufficient” to do what God’s called me to do. But, praise Him, I don’t have to be sufficient … He is sufficient, and, through His abundance grace, I’m able to do those “good works.”

Amazing grace, indeed!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Full of Grace and Truth (John 1:14)

Today’s scripture: John 1:14

It’s a mystery beyond human comprehension. God, who created the universe with a word, chose to come to earth and take human form.

He chose to walk among those He Himself created.

He chose to experience what we do: weariness, pain … betrayal and rejection.

He knew He would … and He did it anyway.

For flawed, fleshly us. For those who accept Him … and for those who don’t.

I don’t understand it. I honestly don’t. If I were Him (and we can all be really happy I’m not!), I would have had a much different plan. Certainly, not one where I’d sacrifice myself for … well, for someone like me.

But that’s grace. That’s how much He loves us. Even knowing who we’d be, our God—“full of grace and truth”—came to earth … for us.

It’s a mystery …

Friday, May 19, 2017

Grace and Glory (Psalm 84:11)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 84:11

Today’s scripture reminded me of a play I was in last year called Grace and Glorie. I played a character called Gloria (aka Glorie), a New York professional reluctantly transplanted in rural West Virginia. She becomes the care-taker of a crotchety 90-year-old hospice patient.

By the end, these two completely different women become friends—even family. The play is about the love that grows between them. It’s about the grace they offer to each other.

In a much bigger way, our Father loves to lavish grace upon His children. He finds joy in our joy.

He sees beyond our barriers, our fears, our pain, and He loves us unconditionally. He provides for our needs. He protects us from danger—or carries us through.

Today’s verse says He withholds “no good thing.” And He doesn’t. We may not get everything we ask for, but we do get good things. And the greatest is grace.

Grace for His glory.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Perfected Grace (1 Peter 5:10)

Today’s scripture: 1 Peter 5:10

Oh that word … “perfect.”

We all know—or we should know—that we are not perfect. Far from it. Only one Person who walked this earth was perfect: Jesus Christ. And He is God, so of course He’s perfect.

So how can we be “perfected”?

We become “perfected” here on earth by becoming more and more like Christ as we grow in Him. God—the “God of all grace”—is working in and through all of us who call ourselves by the name of His Son.

He molds us, refines us, encourages us, and guides us, and as we become more like Christ, we are “perfected.”

While we will never reach perfection this side of heaven, we can be “perfected.” We just need to devote our lives to the “God of all grace.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grace for Grace (John 1:16)

Today’s scripture: John 1:16

Before I delve into today’s scripture, I wanted to let you know that I’m adjusting the frequency of these devotionals. I began this devotional blog 11 years ago as a resource for my speaking my ministry. As I transition into a new season and speak less often, I still feel led to write, but not quite as often. So, I’ll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the immediate future. Please feel free to review past posts, and I look forward to “meeting” with you three days each week.

Now … onto today’s devotional:

 “… we have all received … grace for grace.”

While I have my “go to” translations of the Bible (usually New American Standard Bible, New King James Version, or New International Version), I often like how some of the paraphrases (like The Message, the Contemporary English Version, or the New Living Translation) render God’s words.

For example, “grace for grace” is:

“undeserved kindness and truth” (CEV)

“unfailing love and faithfulness” (NLT)

These are all gifts by grace.

We are loved by our Savior who gives us kindness and everlasting love, who is faithful, and who blesses us with His truth.

Grace for grace … or, as I would paraphrase, grace upon grace.

Revel in the grace you’re so freely offered … today and every day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Testify to the Gospel of Grace (Acts 20:24)

Today’s scripture: Acts 20:24

I’ve probably written about this before, but if you had the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you go to everyone who needed this cure? Wouldn’t you share this “good news” everywhere and anywhere?

Grace is the cure for sin. It is the ultimate good news!

So why do we hoard this truth? Why do we keep it to ourselves? Why do we fail to share it with those who need it (which, by the way, is everyone!)?

Grace is … well, amazing! Grace offers salvation and ensures eternity with God. Grace assures us of daily strength and provision. Grace showers us with blessings.

Those of us who have been super-abundantly blessed by grace should be eager to “testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Joyfully, we should share the truth of salvation.

With whom can you “testify to the gospel of the grace of God”? Who needs to hear that “good news”?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Saving Grace (Acts 15:11)

Today’s scripture: Acts 15:11

We are unworthy of grace. We really are.

We are born sinful, and, without grace, we deserve to die in our sins.

But again, grace isn’t about what we deserve. It’s about what our loving God chooses to do in spite of our unworthiness. It’s about how the Creator of all things, Sovereign God, looks upon His created beings and says, “I want to be in relationship with you; I want to be in fellowship with you.”

And even though we really don’t deserve it, that’s exactly what we can have when we ask for forgiveness and surrender our lives to Jesus Christ.

We are saved through grace, and we—the created—are in relationship with God—the Creator.

It’s mind-blowing and awe-inspiring that we are loved that much.

Are you in awe of what the Creator has done for you? Sit in silence for a moment and just meditate on grace. God’s grace for you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grace in God's Sight (Exodus 33:12-13)

Today’s scripture: Exodus 33:12-13

We who follow Christ today are so blessed! As we just discussed, grace is unmerited favor, and God loves to shower His children with abundant, amazing grace.

In Moses’ time, “grace” was something to be regularly sought. Covering of sin came through sacrifice … and it was only temporary.

Today, we can be assured of salvation, once and for all! Grace is given to us … once and for all. When God looks at those of us who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, He doesn’t see the flaws or foibles; rather, He sees purity. He sees dearly-loved children.

We can be assured that, once we have accepted the gift of salvation through acceptance of and belief in the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will find grace in God’s sight.

Once and for all!

Today, thank God for His grace that is yours. Thank Jesus Christ for His gift of salvation through grace.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Saved By Grace (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians 2:8-9 

So far this year, we’ve looked at verses about peace … and hope … and faith … and now, we’re going to spend a few weeks on another of my favorite words: Grace.

And we’re starting with one of my very favorite verses about grace.

Grace means “unmerited favor.”  It’s not getting what we do deserve.

What do we deserve? Death. Judgment. Eternal separation from God.

We are sinful, flawed, and unworthy. However, because of grace, God sees us as clean, flawless, and worthy.

All because of grace.

There is nothing we can do to be saved. No works. No efforts. No service. No penance.

Nothing.

Well, I take that back. There a few things we can do:

Accept the gift of grace. Surrender to Him. Live to bring glory to the Lord.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Where Are the Faithful? (Luke 18:7-8)

Today’s scripture: Luke 18:7-8

Centuries ago, one of the fathers of our faith asked God if He would spare a city if there were a certain number of faithful. You may know the story. Abraham wanted to save Sodom, so he asked God if He would spare it for 50 faithful. Then for 45. Then for 40 … and finally, for 10.

Well, if you know the story, there weren’t even 10 faithful, and God destroyed the city because of the rampant sin of its citizens.

Fast forward to a question Jesus asked: “… when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

If God decided to destroy a sinful city today (and it could be just about any city in the world), would He find enough faithful to stay His hand?

While we can’t guarantee a number of faithful, we can be counted among those who have faith on earth. We can be the faithful that Jesus will find when He returns.

May those of us who follow Christ be faithful to live God-honoring lives until He returns.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Full of Faith (Acts 6:5)

Today’s scripture: Acts 6:5

It may sound morbid, but have you ever thought about what your gravestone will say? Will it be poignant? Or pithy? Or downright funny? You may have heard about the woman who put “See! I told you I was sick” on hers.

I’d like to see something that speaks of my faith … something like the words used to describe Stephen. Today’s verse deals with a time when a group of men in the early church were chosen to fulfill a specific need.

One of those chosen was Stephen. How was he described? As “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit …”

A man full of faith …

I pray I would be described similarly … now and when I’m gone from this earth.

How would you like to be described? What can you do to be called a man or woman full of faith?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Strengthened in Faith (Acts 16:5)

Today’s scripture: Acts 16:5

I read verses like today’s, and I have to ask myself: Is the church of Christ, the formal church, being “strengthened in the faith”? Is it “increas[ing] in number daily”?

Think of your own church. Would you be able to answer “yes” to these questions?

If so, then your church is doing something right … and praise God it is.

But how many churches these days are stagnant? Content with the status quo? Okay with seeing growth—if any—through “church swapping”?

Preachers are giving “feel good” messages rather than digging deeply into God’s word and asking hard questions. Church members come to enjoy social interaction rather than studying the Bible. Outsiders don’t feel welcome because the “cliques” are already established.

Brick and mortar churches can help seekers find truth, and we who make up those churches must be healthy and strong. We must study and meditate on God’s word. We must pray to be the representatives of Jesus to a lost world.

Is it time for a check-up for your church? How healthy and strong is it? Even more, how healthy and strong—spiritually, that is—are you?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20)

Today’s scripture: Galatians 2:20

When a person chooses to surrender her life to Jesus Christ, accepting and believing in His sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, then she becomes what the Bible says a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). She is brand new. No matter her past. No matter her sin. No matter …

Not only is she a new creation, she is now the temple of Christ. He actually lives in her.

The same is true for you, if you’ve done the same.

Christ lives in you. You live by faith in the Son of God, the One who “love[s you] and gave Himself for [you].”

Let that thought permeate your heart and soul. You are loved so very much that God the Son died for you. For you.

And He lives in you. In you.

Take a moment or two and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for what He did for you … and for being in you.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

No Distinctions in Faith (Acts 15:8-9)

Today’s scripture: Acts 15:8-9

I’ve written this before, but I’m so grateful that the Lord had a plan to save all people. All people. 

God “made no distinction between us and them …”

The “us” here is the people of Israel. The “them” is the rest of us. Even though God chose the Israelites as His special people, He desires that none "should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). When Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He covered the sin of all people, “purifying their hearts by faith.”

When anyone—Jew or Gentile—accepts the gift of grace by believing in and accepting the sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then she is saved. She is redeemed.

She is purified.

No matter your background, not matter your heritage, you can be saved by faith. You can be pure in the Father’s eyes. Have you accepted that gift of grace?

Monday, May 01, 2017

Faith ... Through the Whole World (Romans 1:8)

Today’s scripture: Romans 1:8

Having one’s “faith … spoken of throughout the whole world” is a daunting thought. How can my faith impact the entire world? In the same way a dropped pebble ripples through the entire pond.

As I write these words, I’m sitting on a balcony overlooking a quiet lake. There’s a slight breeze, but the water is mostly calm. Every so often, though, a bird alights, and its landing produces tiny waves that push toward shore.

I may not be able to speak to the whole world, but I pray for missionaries and support them. I serve in my church. I lead a Bible study. And each person I touch touches another … and another.

Who’s to say that this simple devotional isn’t sending ripples … ripples that touch the entire world.

You have the same opportunity. You may serve in a small community, but you touch lives … and they touch lives … and they touch lives … until the whole world has been impacted by your faith. Your faith.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Walk By Faith (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Today’s scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:7

Earlier this week, we talked about how faith is sometimes difficult. It really is hard to belief in something that we can’t touch or see. In fact, this inability to touch or see is what keeps many people from taking a step of faith.

But that step of faith is critical. It is, indeed, a non-negotiable.

God has given us so much that proves His existence. Creation. Miracles. Changed lives. But the moment comes when one must take what is evident and step—in faith—toward what cannot be touched or seen.

We truly do “walk by faith, not by sight.” We live each day, trusting the One who has proven Himself to be faithful. We take what we can see, what we can touch, and then we step out in faith, and we follow Him.

Do you know God, really know Him? Have you taken that step of faith, believing in what you cannot see or touch?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Continue in Faith (Acts 14:21-22)

Today’s scripture: Acts 14:21-22

This world is a very hard place … a very hard place.

We see so much pain and suffering, tragedy and catastrophe. Sometimes, it’s difficult just putting one foot in front of the other … It’s enough to shake the faith of even the strongest believer.

The early church certainly had its share of “tribulations.” The martyrdom of Stephen. The persecution initiated by Saul. Yet during the darkest moments, faith “continued.” It grew. And the church flourished.

Our faith can continue as well. It can grow. It can flourish.

Even through the pain, the suffering … the tribulations.

If your faith is shaken, lay it all at the feet of Jesus. Seek the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen and “continue” your faith.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Faith in the Power of God (1 Corinthians 2:4-6)

Today’s scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:4-6

Every time I peruse the Internet, I’m amazed at how many “experts” are out there … Just search on “how to lose weight.” Everyone and his brother—or sister—seems to know exactly what you need to do to get thin.

Eat more carbs … no, eat less carbs. Go vegan … no, add more meat. Eat this combination of foods … no, eat this combination.

Experts all.

And we buy into it all. We seek the wisdom of man. In fact, we put our faith in that wisdom.

That’s not very … well, wise.

People can let us down; indeed, they do time and time again. Relying on the wisdom of others, those we know and those we access via the Internet, can be a slippery slope.

So whom can we trust? Whose wisdom will never steer us wrong?

Faith in God and His power is always wise; trusting His goodness, His word, His grace will never let us down.

Have you put your faith in the world’s wisdom? Keep your faith in the One who loves you and whose power will carry you.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Faith by Hearing (Romans 10:17)

Today’s scripture: Romans 10:17

Faith can be tough. Believing in something—or Someone—whom you cannot touch with your hands or see with your eyes is difficult and defies logic.

So, how can you find faith?

We are incredibly blessed that God gave us His very words so we can know Him. We learn of Him through the stories of the history of the nation of Israel, through the words of wisdom in Proverbs, through the songs of praise in Psalms … all the way through the gospels and the epistles.

The Bible illuminates the One who created the heavens and the earth. It points to His incredible love for His children. It describes His super-abundant grace.

It is, indeed, an incredible gift.

Our faith is not blind. It is not wishful thinking. It is not ignorant. No, our faith is built on truth that is made evident through God’s word to us.

In order to really know God, you must study and “hear” His word. As I’ve encouraged over and over, spend time with the Lord today.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Faithful in Obedience (Romans 1:5)

Today’s scripture: Romans 1:5

We serve the one and only God. He is the Creator of the universe, the Sovereign God. He is all-knowing, all-loving, every-present.

And He wants to be in relationship with each and every one of His created children. That includes you!

He sent part of His triune self, God the Son, to earth to pay the penalty for our sins in order to bridge the gap that sin created.

He did that for you … and me.

And He asks one thing in return: Obedience. He desires—and deserves—complete surrender to His will. He expects total obedience to the faith which He has given us.

It’s really not too much to ask when we consider how much He’s done for us.

How “obedient to the faith” are you? Do you struggle with following His commandments? Ask for His help today.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Faithful in Much (Luke 16:10-11)

Today’s scripture: Luke 16:10-11

Some of us have been incredibly blessed. We have plenty of food. We live in lovely homes. We drive nice cars.

We have been given much.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: Are we faithful in our “much”?

Do we live only to enjoy our “much”? Or are we aware of the needs around us, sharing our “much” with those who struggle? Do we give to charities that support the homeless? Do we offer help to the “least of these”? (Matthew 25:31-46).

It’s so easy to become complacent, satisfied with our stuff, with our money … with our “much” and yet not be faithful with that “much.”

What can you do to be faithful with your “much.” Ask the Lord to reveal ways to serve and support others.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Faithful Servant (Matthew 25:21)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 25:21

I don’t know about you, but my greatest hope is to stand before the Lord one day and hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I want so much to know that I have served Him well here on earth.

You probably want the same.

How do we know if we’ve served Him well?

Honestly, we really won’t know this side of heaven how we’ve served Him. What we can do is be available for whatever He calls us to do.

I try, each and every day, to surrender myself to Him … if only for that day. Sometimes, though, I’m guilty of releasing my day to Him … and then snatching it back. Sound familiar?

Even though I know beyond doubt that He loves me and has a perfect plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), I still want to have some control.

But the longer I walk with Him, the more I’m able to surrender to His will, His purpose, His plan. And the more I surrender, the more He uses me. And the more He uses me, the more I feel His pleasure.

If you want to hear “well done,” be willing to do as the Lord calls; surrender each day and serve Him … and Him alone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Faithful Witness (Proverbs 14:5)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 14:5

A year or so ago, I had the privilege of playing Juror #4 in Twelve Angry Jurors. It’s a powerful drama about a group jurors deliberating in a murder case. (If you haven’t seen it, watch the 1975 film version Twelve Angry Men with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobbs.)

One idea that permeates the play (and movie) is whether the witnesses have been faithful to their testimony. Did they really hear what they said they heard? Did they really see what they said they saw?

In a court of law, being a faithful witness can mean the difference between freedom and incarceration … sometimes, even life or death.

We too need to be faithful witnesses as we go about in the world. We need to speak truth to our friends and family. We need to be trustworthy.

We especially need to be faithful witnesses when we talk about the truth of our faith. We can’t allow the world’s lies to cloud our own convictions.


Have you been less than a faithful witness? Do those around you know you are a child of the One True God? How can you be Jesus to others today?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sanctified by Faith (Acts 26:17-18)

Today’s scripture: Acts 26:17-18

We talked about sanctification a couple of weeks ago. Today’s verses focus on turning others from “darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness …”

Sanctification is indeed a process that begins at salvation. We should so desire those around us to know our God and to live in light instead of darkness that we should do everything we can to help them find truth.

Our world is blind and is under the power of the enemy, but he is not the ultimate victor. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said it best, “I have already overcome the world” (John16:33, emphasis mine).

As we go out in to the world every day, we need to pray that Jesus will shine His light through us. That others will see Him and His truth. That they will come to salvation.

That they will be sanctified by faith.

Whom do you know who needs Jesus? Share His light and truth today.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mustard Seed Faith (Matthew 17:20)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 17:20

You’ve probably heard the term: mustard seed faith. You know, the kind of faith that moves mountains.

Yet, how many times have you felt your faith is strong, but the mountains remain unmoved? Is your faith just not strong enough?

I think there’s more than meets the eye. In the words of the great theologian Spurgeon:

The eye cannot see itself. Did you ever see your own eye? In a mirror you may have done so, but that was only a reflection of it. And you may, in like manner, see the evidence of your faith, but you cannot look at the faith itself. Faith looks away to itself to the object of faith, even to Christ.
The object of our faith.

These are key words. In whom do we place our faith? In ourselves? In others? In society? In science?

Everyone has faith in something … or someone.

When we have faith in the One True God, we can ask for anything within His will (1 John 5:14). And if it is within His will, mountains will move.

Take a measure of your faith. If it’s mustard-seed small, is it still planted in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Little Faith (Matthew 8:26)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 8:26

I read these words of Jesus, and I think, “How often do I have ‘little faith’?”

Too often, I’m afraid.

It’s easy to point fingers at the disciples and say, “How can they not have faith? They saw Jesus work miracles with their own eyes!”

But, haven’t we done the same? Haven’t we seen how He’s healed? Or provided? Or protected?

We’ve seen Him work in our lives and in the lives of others.

Yet, when the rubber meets the road, we doubt. We ask why? We take our eyes off of Jesus and look at the storm.

We too have “little faith.”

What a blessing to remember that, just as Jesus calmed the storm surrounding the disciples despite their “little faith,” He will do the same for us.

When your faith is “little,” take your eyes off the storm and focus instead on the One who calms it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Faithful Friend (Proverbs 11:13)

Today’s scripture: Proverbs 11:13

Most of what we’ve seen about faith so far is our being faithful to God or His being faithful to us.

But faithfulness also speaks to our relationships with others. Those with our family or our friends.

Most of us have friends the Bible describes as being closer than brothers. And if we have one or two of those faithful friends, we are blessed … truly blessed.

... because many of us have experienced the pain that comes from friends who are not faithful.

Have you had such a so-called friend? One whom you trusted and who let you down?

Few things can devastate a heart than being betrayed by a friend.

What can you do when a friend lets you down?

First, forgive … if only to take the burden off your own shoulders.

Second, reconcile … If there is a chance to salvage the relationship, do so.

Finally, move on … If reconciliation isn’t possible, and it often isn’t, then recognize that friendship is over. And find a friend who will be faithful.

Do you have a faithful friend? Take a moment and give her a call. Send him a text. And thank God you have such a friend!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

God's Eyes Are on the Faithful (Psalm 101:6)

Today’s scripture: Today’s scripture: Psalm 101:6

I’ve always love Psalm 139 where the psalmist states that God is aware of everything about us … and has been since before our births.

I love the confidence that comes knowing God sees me … at all times. I’m never alone. Never forgotten. Never forsaken.

God sees me in my pain and in my rejoicing. He carries me through the hard times and dances with me through the times of celebration. He sometimes weeps with me … and often laughs with joy.

His eyes are always on me.

Now, some may find this disconcerting … or downright frightening.

But, if we are faithful to Him and seek His will, we need not fear His ever-presence. No, we can find true assurance and joy knowing we are in His sight at all times.

How does knowing God’s eyes are on you make you feel? If you are anything other than joyful at this thought, go to Him now and confess anything that keeps you from that joy.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Faith and Peace (Romans 5:1-2)

Today’s scripture: Romans 5:1-2

If you started reading this devotional in 2017, you know that we began the year talking about peace, one of my favorite topics.

In the Bible, peace and faith often go hand-in-hand.

When we have faith in God and trust Him to complete His will according to His love for us, we often find peace despite our circumstances.

It’s almost a mathematical hypothesis: If we have faith in God, then we are justified. If we are justified by faith, then we have peace.

I’ve said it before—and I’ll say it again—true peace is found only through faith in God. We stand firm on His grace and unmerited favor and experience His mercy.

We see His hand at work in all things, and we know He has a perfect plan, one of peace and not disaster as one version of Jeremiah 29:11 states.

Are you feeling peace-less? Then put your faith in God. Accept His peace promised through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Healing by Faith (Matthew 9:20-22)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 9:20-22

I love this story. It’s been a favorite example of faith of mine for a very long time.

I can picture this woman vividly. She has been suffering from a “flow of blood” for over a decade. This means that, not only has she been physically ill, but she has also been shunned by society according to Levitical law.

She is in pain … physically, emotionally, and, likely, spiritually.

One day, we’re not told how, she learns of Jesus and His healing hand. And she takes a risk—a huge risk. She ventures out into the very society that called for her separation, and she slinks up to Jesus.

“If I just touch the hem of His robe,” she thinks, “then I will be healed.”

And that’s exactly what happens. She touches Jesus’ robe, and she is immediately healed.

And even more, she hears the most precious words from Jesus Himself: “Be of good cheer, daughter.”

Daughter!

Can you imagine the joy she now feels? She is not only healed, but she is called the daughter of the Healer!

Sometimes, the Healer heals the body. Sometimes, He heals the heart.

If you are hurting today, go to the Healer. While He may not heal your body, He will heal your heart.

Friday, April 07, 2017

A Great Faith (Matthew 8:5-13)

Today’s scripture: Matthew 8:5-13

The story is fascinating …

A centurion, a non-Jew, comes to Jesus looking for healing for his servant.

He certainly isn’t the first to seek healing. Many have come to Jesus requesting healing for themselves or for friends.

Some want to see. Others want to hear. Still others want to walk.

Most of those who seek healing are Jesus’ own people, and one would expect Him to take care of them.

But today, here comes a centurion, a leader of the Romans, who wants his servant healed. Jesus offers to come to the centurion’s home.

This is where the story shifts.

“No,” the centurion says, “You don’t have to come. All you have to do is say the word. I know my servant will be healed” (my paraphrase).

Just say the word.

And Jesus is impressed. In fact, he “marvels.” He is amazed.

And then He says these incredible words: “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.”

Not such great faith.

Isn’t that what you want? Great faith? Faith that trusts in Jesus’ power and strength? It takes knowing Him. And trusting Him. And asking Him for what you need.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Preserved by Faith (Psalm 31:23)

Today’s scripture: Psalm 31:23

Do you ever have those days when you feel … just out of it? Just messy or lost or frustrated … or defeated?

Sometimes, I feel all of the above. I feel unworthy and flawed and … well, in keeping with today’s verse, unpreserved …

To preserve, according to one on-line dictionary, means “to keep safe from injury, harm, or destruction.”

And on those days, I need a reminder that God preserves me. He protects and guides me. He covers me and holds my hand.

He does, however, ask me for something. He asks me to be faithful and to love Him. He asks me to trust in His sovereign, loving control.

He asks me to humbly seek Him in all things.

Then He promises to preserve me, to keep me safe.

Are you feeling a bit unpreserved today? Go to the faithful One who promises to preserve you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Sanctified by Faith (Acts 26:18)

Today’s scripture: Acts 26:18

Sanctification.

It’s a big word. Perhaps even a confusing word. Simply put, sanctification means to be made holy.

Oh … okay. To be made holy.

But, as Shakespeare wrote, there’s the rub.

No one is holy. Not one single person. Each of us is sinful. Flawed. Unworthy.

In fact … we’re unholy.

So how are we sanctified by faith? How can we be made holy?

We are made holy by the One who is holy. The Lord God is holy, perfect, righteous. And when we come to Him in confession and accept the gift of grace through acceptance of and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we become righteous in His eyes.

We are holy and pure and perfect.

But we are also human, and sometimes our humanity comes to the front … and we sin again.

Then we confess our sin, and we are again clean.

And holy.

Sanctification is an ongoing, until-we-get-to-heaven process. And our Lord is with us through that process.

Do you sometimes feel like you are an unholy mess? Confess your sin and let the God of grace sanctify you. Today and every day.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

One Faith (Ephesians 4:4-6)

Today’s scripture: Ephesians 4:4-6

Faith. It can be quite a controversial topic.

Many say there are countless ways to faith or salvation or heaven or the god of their choosing.

It doesn’t matter what you believe. Not really. In fact, some say you can believe in a little of this, a little of that. A pinch of Christianity. A spoonful of Islam. Throw in a touch of Buddhism for good measure.

Do more good than bad, and you’re in. Follow the Golden Rule, and you’re good to go.

The Bible, God’s inspired word, doesn’t give us this “out.” It is very, very clear:

One Lord. One Faith. One God and Father.

Just one.

Either you believe in the One True God, or you don’t. It’s your choice.

And you must choose.

The God of the Bible or not. But you can’t choose a bit of this or a little of that.

Have you chosen the One True God? The One True Faith? Choose today.