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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hold it together

Romans 1:20  (ESV)
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Have you ever seen workers build a brick building? They don’t just stack the bricks on top of each other. They need some sort of glue to hold all those bricks together. The glue for bricks is called mortar.

In the same way, your body is made up of 37.2 trillion little bricks called cells. And like a building, those cells need some sort of glue to hold them all together. The glue for cells is called laminin.

Laminin holds your body together.Why is that important? Because it’s another reminder that we are God’s own creation. You see, God left His fingerprints all throughout His creation. The Bible tells us that even though we can’t see the invisible qualities of God—like His awesome power and His holiness—we can see His creation and know He is real. Jesus was with God at creation, and “in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. . . . In him all things hold together”.

Laminin is a picture of what Jesus tells us in His Word—He is the glue that holds our bodies, our souls, and everything—together. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed and having the absolute worst day ever, think about laminin—and remember that Jesus holds you—and all things—together.

Dear Lord, when we start to worry about all the things happening in our life and around us, help us to stop and remember You are Lord of all—and You hold everything, together including us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Sound of silence

Luke 5:16 (ESV)
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Did you know that you could be right next to someone in space, shouting at the top of your lungs, and that person wouldn’t hear a thing? That’s not because those space helmets get in the way. It’s because voices travel as sound waves, and sound waves need something to travel on—like the atmosphere on Earth. Since there’s no atmosphere in space, sound waves have nothing to travel on. So astronauts have to talk to each other using a different kind of wave: radio waves, which don’t need atmosphere to carry them.

But God doesn’t need sound waves or even radio waves to hear us. That’s because prayers carry our voices to God. So if the God who created the entire universe is ready to listen to whatever we have to say—why don’t we pray more?

At least part of the answer is that we get distracted and busy. The busyness of school, job, church, sports, family, friends, and a zillion other things gets in the way. Then there’s texting and video games and TV shows and movies and computer work. On average, we spend almost eight hours a day staring at some sort of screen, like a TV, computer, or phone—that’s almost sixty hours every week!

In the middle of all of these fun, cool, and exciting things, God calls us to “be still” and pray to Him. Praying is when we praise God for who He is, thank Him for all He’s given us, and ask Him for what we need.

Try it today. Find a special place where you can be alone with God. In a treehouse, in a corner of your room, in your chicken coop or even in a bubble bath. Be still, talk to God, and listen for Him to answer. And, remember, God usually speaks with a still, small voice—so be sure to listen closely.

Dear Lord, thank You for wanting to spend time with us. Thank You for always listening to us and answering our prayers. In the Name of Jesus.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Perfect mistakes

Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

There was a carpenter building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to orphanages in China. On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what had happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for China!

The Great Depression was at its height and Grandpahe had six children. He had spent $20 for those glasses that very morning. He was really upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. "It's not fair," he told God as he drove home in frustration. "I've been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this."

Months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States. He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at the man’s small church in Chicago.

The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage. "But most of all," he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses wedged between two blankets.

The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: "Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that."

The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas. But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.

There are times we want to blame God instead of thanking Him! Perhaps it is something we ought to try more often, "Thank you, God, for not allowing my car to start this morning." He may have been saving your life from a car accident. "Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me lose my glasses; I'm sure they'll be put to good use or there is a lesson to be learned."

Always look for the "perfect mistakes."

Dear Lord, help us to look at the good in things. Help us to learn the lessons we can learn from the things that happen to us in life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Thank you all that gave for our freedom.

John 15:13 (ESV)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Imagine taking a walk from New York City to Chicago. That’s about an 800-mile trek, and it would take about two weeks of non-stop walking to complete it – a lot longer if you stopped to rest.

Now, imagine that all throughout your walk there were a continuous line of people standing shoulder to shoulder, one after another through the streets of New York City, into the back roads of New Jersey, over each rolling hill in Pennsylvania – people as far as the eye can see. It continues through Ohio and Indiana into Illinois. Finally, you arrive in Chicago after having walked past 1,321,612 people.

That’s a LOT of people. It also happens to be the same number of people who have died in combat while serving this country.

It’s sobering to think of all those faces. Each face has a story – a soldier whose life was cut down in its prime and likely left behind a spouse or a child or both. Most (625,000) died during the bloody, gruesome close quarter combat of the Civil War. Another 405,399 died in World War II, and 116,516 died in World War I. There have been many different wars, and they’ve stretched across many different eras, but one thing has remained constant: The amazing courage and willingness of the American soldier to lay down his or her own life for the cause of liberty.

It’s hard to put into words just how incredible a sacrifice that is. Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Think about that for a second – no greater love. If you have lost a loved one in battle, you can rest a little easier knowing the life was not lost in vain. They may have left it all on the battle field, but these men and women have given the greatest gift a human can possibly give – their life – so we may live.

From the tattered, starving patriots who met their end battling the British during the American Revolution to the highly trained modern day soldiers who succumbed to barbaric terrorists in the Middle East, each and every fallen American soldier will forever share this incredible distinction and hold a special place of honor among all people who have benefited from their service.

Today ion this Memorial Day let’s honor the fallen with hearts of gratitude and a spirit of awe, for they gave us the gift to which there is none greater. There’s no possible way to repay them or their families – but each and every one of us can do the next best thing: Dedicate our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to preserving the freedom so many died to keep alive.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the many that have given their all so that we may enjoy our freedoms. We pray for the families that have lost their loved ones. We pray for their comfort. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dinner with your enemies

Luke 5:27-32 (ESV)
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

If you decided to have dinner with a loan shark, how would your friends and family react?

In Jesus’ time, tax collectors were viewed in the same way our present-day society disdains businesses that prey on the poor. Tax collectors were Jews who were taking advantage of their own people by collecting Rome’s taxes plus a surcharge to line their own pockets (Luke 19:8). They were considered outsiders—enemies on the same level as the Romans.

Levi was a tax collector. And yet Jesus sought him with one purpose in mind: to join his table.

“Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector's booth. ‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him” (Luke 5:27). Jesus wanted this man—this enemy of the people—to be saved. By accepting the invitation, Levi became one of Jesus’ disciples. You know him as Matthew, who wrote the first Gospel of the New Testament.

Before we came to Christ, each of us was an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10). But God loved us so much that He not only wanted to make us friends—He also wanted to make us family (Eph. 1:5). Look around you for those who’ve never known or have become estranged from their Creator, especially those who’ve been vilified as enemies. Look at their potential in Jesus and invite them to come home.

Do you know any “enemies” that need to hear about Jesus through you?

Ask God to give you the courage to reach out to someone that society has rejected.

Dear Lord, help us to love our enemies. Help us to reach out to someone today that needs Your love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

What about you?

Philippians 1:21 (ESV)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

A teacher asks her second-grade class to draw a picture of the happiest day of their lives. After they turn in their assignments, she straightens them into a pile and begins to scan through them. She pauses at one picture. The picture is of a funeral. She looks for the name at the top and calls the student up to her desk. When she asks him to explain, he tells her the happiest day of his life will be his funeral. The happiest day because he will go to heaven.

When the Paul wrote “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he was expressing the heart of being a Christian.

From the Bible, Christians understand and believe that they are full of sin. They see the selfishness inside themselves. They see how much they resent God commanding them to do things they don’t want to do. They realize how they really have nothing to offer God for him to look on them with favor.

They also understand and believe how much God loves them. Jesus lived a completely innocent and sin-free life. He then covered himself with all the garbage of our sin and guilt. Jesus took all the blame and all the shame we deserve. He stood still under the crushing justice of God’s anger over our sin. His sacrifice guaranteed no Christian will ever experience even an ounce of God’s justice.

Christians understand and believe that heaven is waiting for them. When they die, Jesus will welcome them into that place filled with joy and peace, where there is no sadness, and sorrows no longer exist. It’s no wonder Christians look forward to the day when they leave their pains, their aches, and their struggles behind to gain the perfect happiness of living with Jesus forever!

The same love from Jesus that fills Christians with hope also fills them with purpose. Jesus’ love leads believers to want to serve Jesus in any way and in every way they can. They live to give glory to Jesus.

I’m looking forward to my funeral. In the meantime, I thank Christ he’s given me another day to serve him.

What about you?

Dear Lord, thanks for giving us heaven. We can’t wait to be there with You and the ones that went before us! In the meantime, help us to live for You, serving You with our whole life.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2018

If only

Genesis 2:7 (ESV)

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

“If only… I had more money.”

“If only… I had a better relationship with my family.”

“If only… I could just find the right job.

It’s not only greed. It’s not only a desire for more. It’s a complete lack of faith in God to provide all that’s good. Adam and Eve fell into that trap.

“If only… we could have our eyes opened and be like God. If only we could know evil, as well as good. If only we could enjoy something more than what God has already given.”

What more could God have given them? What more could God give us? We have from him all that we need and so much more.

Yet we are not content with him. “If only …”

If only there was a way out of this trap we have fallen into. If only God would take pity on us and forgive us for wanting more than him. If only there was a Rescuer to set us free from our foolish sin and greed and mistrust of God. If only there was a way to escape the curse of death that we have brought on ourselves.

It’s more than “if only”–it’s a rock-solid, gospel-truth promise of God: the “offspring of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) has crushed the serpent’s head for us. His name is Jesus. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We don’t need “if onlys”. We have a gracious, forgiving Savior who is our all in all.

Dear Lord, forgive us for wanting more and failing to trust You for all. Thank You for forgiving us and saving us through Jesus, your Son. In Him, we have all we could ever want.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Jesus is the glue

Colossians 1:13-20 (ESV)
13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Our body is made up of 100 trillion microscopic things called “cells.” Cells are the basic unit of life, the foundation of every living thing. And the glue that literally holds those 100 trillion cells together is called laminin. Laminins are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of your body to the next cell. Without laminins, you would literally fall apart. The coolest thing about laminins is what they look like. The glue that holds you together, the foundation upon which your body is built, comes in the shape of a cross.

In speaking about Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul had this to say: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Cross-shaped laminins literally hold your body together, and the eternal life that Jesus Christ purchased for you when he died on the cross in your place is the foundation of your faith, the glue that holds your entire life together. No longer do you need to worry about where you will spend eternity—Jesus has made things peaceful between you and God now and forever. Jesus has freed you from being a slave to sin and now empowers you to say “no” to its temptations. And when we fail to say “no” to sin, Jesus is ready with his forgiveness to lift us back up and empower us to live as his children.

There is no need to worry about your life now or ever because Jesus, both true God and true man, is not only your Savior, but also your King. He is in control of your life. He is going to hold you together in every way.

Dear Lord, we know You will never let us down. You will hold our life together in every way. When we forget about that, forgive us. Help us to remember the promises of your Word and trust that you are holding us together. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

God’s words matter most

Exodus 20:1-17  (ESV)
1  And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”

Whose words matter most? The government’s? The scientists’? The experts’? Your loved ones’?
What about your words? Some would say that your words matter most. “Find your voice.” “Speak out.” “It will empower you.”

However, God’s words matter most. Society can say that morality evolves over time. We can tell ourselves that right and wrong are determined by our own feelings in the moment. But God’s words matter most.

God spoke these words: I am the only God. Worship me alone. Trust and honor my name alone. Give credence to my word above all other words. Honor the earthly authorities I have set up, at home, in church, and in government. Respect and preserve the gift of life, regardless of its “quality”. Respect and keep pure the gifts of marriage and sexuality. Respect the possessions God gave others and practice wise stewardship of what God gives you. Keep the good name of others intact. Guard even your thoughts, lest they dishonor God or display lovelessness for others. These are God’s Ten Commandments.

Those are God’s words. They matter most. They determine what is right and wrong, for everyone, no matter what our feelings.

When God speaks, we are silent. We recognize our sin. We admit our faults. We confess that God is right and we are in the wrong.

But God isn’t done speaking. He also speaks his love. His Word became flesh. His Son was born for us. God spoke that we are forgiven when Jesus died in our place. God spoke that we are justified, not guilty, by his Son’s resurrection from death. God speaks to you: I love you. I forgive you. Do not be afraid. I hold you in my hand. By faith in my Son, Jesus, heaven is yours. You are mine.

God’s words about right and wrong, and above all, his words about his love and forgiveness in Jesus, matter most. We would be wise to listen and adhere to them.

Dear Lord, our sinful nature wants to speak up. But we want to hear You speak. When you speak, we know Your love and forgiveness in Christ. Let your words dwell in our hearts. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Keep your eyes on Jesus

Numbers 21:8-9 (ESV)
8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

The last time you were traveling down the road and a sign read, “Detour Ahead,” did you say, “Wonderful! I love detours”? I am sure you didn’t react that way and neither did the Israelites in the account recorded in Numbers chapter 21. Their already long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan was about to get longer. As a result, they impatiently grumbled against God.

God dealt with the people by sending venomous snakes among them. The snakes bit and many people died. The Israelites went to Moses and said, “We sinned. Pray that God will take the snakes away.” So Moses prayed and God instructed him to make a bronze snake, put it up on a pole, and tell the people that anyone bitten could look at that bronze snake and live.

Imagine how they might have wanted to react to God’s instruction. “What? How is looking at a bronze snake going to help us?” But that was the point. This wasn’t a lesson in logic or on how to properly treat a snakebite; this was a lesson in trust. The Lord promised to save the people from death when they trusted his word and looked at the snake he commanded Moses to display. And true to his word, when those bitten looked at the bronze snake, God saved them from death. He rescued the people from the judgment of death that they deserved for their sins.

The wages of sin is death for all of us. But God comes to rescue us. However, instead of directing our sinful hearts to a snake on a pole, God directs our hearts to a Savior on the cross. Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Jesus rescued us from the sting of sin and the fear of death, when he took our sin to the cross and paid for it in full by his death.

Are you feeling down today? Then look up to Jesus and his great love for you on the cross! Tired of life and its detours? Find rest in Jesus! Wounded by sin? Find healing in his wounds! Look to Jesus. He is your Savior from sin and death.

Dear Lord, helps us to lift our eyes and heart to trust in You and Your great love for us.  Help us to not get lost in the detours of life. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
As you read this, some of you have joints that are screaming from rheumatoid arthritis. Some of you are miserable from chemotherapy. Some of you have back pain so severe you can only stand, sit, or sleep for short periods of time. Some of you get frequent headaches so massive that any kind of light or sound is a torture. Some of you are reeling from multiple surgeries, barely recovering from one when doctors tell you to get ready for another. And some of you possess one of a thousand other maladies—physical or emotional. What they all have in common is that they all define what it is to suffer.

It’s often when our suffering is at its worst that the devil walks in, ready to attack our faith. Many times his weapon of choice is the comparison. He points out other people similar to us in age and circumstance. He comments that they don’t seem to have anything near the suffering and pain that we have. And with that, he lets our sinful nature do the rest. He lets our sinful nature drag us away into the dungeon of self-pity.

But the Lord of your life has something to say about this. He speaks though the apostle Paul. Paul, as you may know, is someone who knew all about severe suffering. He grappled with a terrible problem that appeared to plague him until he died. Instead of comparing himself to others who did not have to suffer as he did, Paul made the comparison that really matters. He said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

What is the specific reason why the Lord is allowing us to suffer? That is not for us to say. Perhaps it is to nurture within us our faith. Perhaps it is to give others around us a living, breathing sermon on Christian courage. Perhaps it is to bring us into contact with a lost soul the Lord will save through our witness. Perhaps it’s for an entirely different reason.

Never forget, however, the comparison that matters. Your temporary suffering is a droplet in comparison to the oceans of joy that await you in heaven. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why he suffered and died for your sins. That’s why he rose. That’s why he lives!

Dear Lord, stand beside us in our suffering. Strengthen us by your Spirit. Remind us that the pain is temporary and that the joy of heaven is eternal. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Lessons from an Apple Orchard

1 Corinthians 15:20  (ESV)
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

It’s difficult to put into words how it feels for the owners of an apple orchard when a bumper crop of apples is just beginning to ripen. You could ask the owners, of course. But even they would find it difficult to come up with what to say. What they feel in their veins is a strange brew of adrenalin, purpose, anticipation, and joy. And that indescribable sensation begins every time they spot those first few ripened apples on those first few trees. The core of such a thrill is in knowing that this beautiful, ripened fruit is only the first of many and many more to come.

Keep that in mind the next time you are in a funeral procession. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself accompanying the remains of a Christian to the cemetery.

As you stand at the gravesite, look at the casket or the urn. Then look at the row upon row of tombstones around you. Think of all the Christians whose bodies quietly rest beneath the green lawn on which you stand. Even though, in that moment, you are looking at that place through the eyes of grief, remember how your God sees it. For those who die in the Lord, a cemetery is not a final resting place. Not at all.

Rather, a cemetery for the Christian is more like an orchard. Not only is it like an orchard, it is like an orchard poised and pulsating with anticipation and joy. For the reality is that Jesus Christ, has already risen from the grave, His body glorious and perfect.

Because He has already conquered sin and death through His own death on the cross, we know that His resurrection is only the first of many and many more to come.

And so, do we grieve when death comes? Of course. But never forget that underneath even our grief there is that wonderful pulse of anticipation and joy.

It is there because Jesus lives!

Dear Lord, the next time the death of a dear Christian brings us grief, remind us that underneath our grief there lies the vibrant joy of what soon will come. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Powerful Declaration

Romans 1:4 (ESV)
And was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you were asked to identify a “powerful” speech, you might list Dr Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Lou Gehrig’s “Farewell to Baseball” address, Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech, or many of the other inspiring examples recorded on the pages of history. Powerful speeches are those that have proven to inspire not only the audience at the time it was given, but also future audiences for many generations. They are powerful declarations given by individuals determined to make a difference.

The most powerful declaration of all, however, is unlikely to show up on anyone’s list of most powerful speeches. That is because the most powerful declaration of all was made without a single word. It was made on Easter morning when Jesus rose to life—three days after he died. By his rising from the dead, God declared that you no longer need to fear death, sin, or Satan.

That is significant because each of those make declarations as well. Death declares that you have an expiration date, and that your life will likely end with a whimper and a moan. Sin declares that you are too weak to expect that God could ever love someone like you. Satan declares that you should feel constant guilt over all the ways you have proven to fall short of what God demands.

But all those declarations, though they can scream so loudly and powerfully in our hearts and minds so regularly, were silenced when Jesus came out of the grave on Easter morning. With one inhale of His lungs, He was declared to be more powerful than all our enemies. So listen to His powerful Word which declares that all who believe in Him will live forever in heaven that all your guilt is erased and your sins are forgiven. Be inspired by the declaration that was made on Easter morning, and let that lead the way in how you live each day.

Dear Lord, thank You for the powerful declaration that was made on Easter morning; that Jesus Christ is Lord over all, and that his work truly does silence the shouts of death, sin, and Satan. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2018

WANTED: Dead and Alive

Romans 6:4  (ESV)
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

You have probably seen it in old Western movies. The bandit robs a train and gets away with a bag full of gold. But his portrait ends up on a poster with the words, “WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE!” You wouldn’t want your image on a poster like that.

However, God has a poster in mind with you on it. The caption reads, “WANTED: DEAD AND ALIVE!” God wants you dead to sin and living for Christ. Rather than a bounty hunter, God sends out his Holy Spirit. And rather than a revolver.

The Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus Christ and gives us a share in his saving work. Our sin makes us deserving of death, but Jesus took our place. The life he lived, he gives to us. The death he died, he died for us. When He was crucified, we were crucified. When He died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried. Our sinful nature is crucified, died, and was buried with Christ. We are free from all our spiritual debts.

This doesn’t give us an excuse, though, to go on a sinning spree. Why would we want to go back into debt?  Dead AND Alive. That’s what God has made us. Dead to sin and alive to walk the way of Christ.

Dear Lord, thank You the because of You we are a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come. Help us to die each day to sin and revive us to do what pleases you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


1 Peter 1:18-19  (ESV)
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

“There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s MasterCard.” That popular ad of some years ago suggested that the credit card would help us get the things that make life better—things money can buy.

When one stops to think about it, though, there are quite a few things money can’t buy. While it can buy exotic and luxurious vacations, it can’t really make a marriage better or improve a relationship with your kids. It can pay for surgeries and medicines, but there are some illnesses that surgery and medicine can’t heal. It can make you very popular, but it can’t buy you true friendship.

Money also can’t buy a clear conscience and provide peace with God. It cannot purchase the certainty of life in heaven after you die. No, all the riches in the world can’t buy us one ounce of freedom from a guilty conscience or from the fear of dying.

For these crucial things that money can’t buy, there is Jesus. His blood was the full payment for our freedom from guilt, fear, and death. The Bible teaches: “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…, but with the precious blood of Christ.”

Imagine you are about to be executed—deservedly so—for crimes you have committed. Imagine being locked in a prison cell, waiting for the end. Then your brother walks into that prison and takes your place. He dies and you go free because your sentence is carried out on your innocent brother. He purchased (redeemed) your life with his.

Come back to reality. All people are sinners and deserved to die eternally. But Jesus, the perfect Son of God, came from heaven to take our place. He bore the punishment our sins had earned so that we could be free from the prison of eternal death. When the debt of our sin was far beyond our ability to pay, in love he paid that debt with his own blood at Calvary’s cross.

Money’s great. But there are some things money can’t buy, such as a relationship with God. This is a free gift of God’s love, paid for with the precious blood of Jesus.

Dear Lord, Joy, hope and comfort are ours. Knowing that our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God is restored by the blood that you shed on the cross. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

You are a Child of God, Right Now!

1 John 3:1-2 (ESV)
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Can you picture yourself enjoying heaven right now? Can you picture yourself forever free from all sadness, grief, sickness, or pain? Looking into God’s eyes and seeing your Savior face-to-face? Serving God perfectly, with no more sin ever getting in the way? And can you picture yourself as a perfect child of God, standing before your perfect Father in his perfect heaven, experiencing nothing but joy, gladness, happiness, and peace that will never end?

Maybe you can’t picture all that because right now is filled with so much that is confusing, jumbled up, and messy. Maybe you can’t because right now is clouded by turmoil, pain, fears, doubts, questions, and worries. It seems like everything you see and experience is about as far away from a perfect life, in a perfect heaven as you can possibly imagine.

In a sinful world, it is easy for children of God to feel like that, and even feel like they aren’t children of God at all. That is why the words of the apostle John are so comforting. He reminds us that our status before God doesn’t depend on how we are feeling or how things are going in life right now—good or bad. Instead, our status before God depends solely on what God has declared us to be.

So, what has God declared us to be? “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” God has declared us to be his children through the forgiving work of Jesus, his Son. Not might be, could be, or will be someday. God says, “That is what we are!”

Thanks to the saving work of Jesus, we are children of God right now. We already experience so many of the blessings that come along with being his children—the strength and desire to say “No” to sin, the peace of sins forgiven, the joy of our salvation, and the certain hope of eternal life.

All these blessings, and so many more, are already ours right now, even in the midst of turmoil, pain, fears, doubts, questions, and worries that cloud this sinful life. God’s blessings will continue to be ours right up until the day our perfect heavenly Father takes us to join him as his perfect children in his perfect heaven.

Dear Lord, there is no greater status we could enjoy than to be Your very own children. Thank you for making us Your children through the work of Your Son. Grant us the joy of living as Your children until the day You bring us to be with You in heaven. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I'm just fine.

2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Pearl was one of the most enthusiastic Christians, even though she suffered through the pain of polio and all of its complications for many years. When people would greet her and inquire, “How are you today?” she would cheerfully answer, “Just fine!” Those who knew what Pearl went through in life—difficulties including being confined to a wheelchair and losing her fiancĂ©e because of the polio—sometimes questioned her sincerity. “How can you say you’re fine when you are suffering so much?” Pearl’s sincere response was: “How I feel has very little to do with how I am. You see, the part of me that hurts is just a shell, not the real me, and the real me is just fine!”

What Pearl called a shell, the apostle Paul calls an “earthly tent” (2 Corinthians 5:1). And the “real me” that Pearl referred to, the apostle calls the inward being (4:16). Although Pearl’s earthly tent was painful and perishing, she realized that it was, after all, just temporary housing for her inward being. She trusted the promise of her living Lord that one day her temporary housing would be exchanged for a permanent home waiting for her in heaven. That was the reason for her confidence. But until that point, the “inward” Pearl was conscious of being renewed daily by the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life through her Savior Jesus.

How are you today? Is your earthly tent drooping? Remember, Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord, and because of that a perfect body awaits you one day. But until then, no matter what’s on the outside, on the inside you can say, “I’m just fine!”

Dear Lord, thank You for the perfect body that awaits us in heaven. Until the day we reach our true home always keep our eyes focused on You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Not our home

1 Peter 1:17 (ESV)
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.

It’s said that, many years ago, in England, there was a circus elephant by the name of Bozo. Bozo was gentle and friendly. Children and their families would come from all around so they could feed him peanuts, admire his size, and enjoy his personality. One day, however, something changed in Bozo. He was not himself. An examination revealed that there did not appear to be anything wrong with him physically. He was neither injured nor sick. Nevertheless, it was clear that something was wrong.

It was then that a small man stepped out of the crowd. He told the manager that he thought he knew what the problem was. With the manager’s permission, the man stepped right up to the elephant and began speaking to him in very soft tones. Almost immediately, Bozo returned to his old, happy self. He wagged his massive head in delight. He even wrapped his trunk around the small man’s waist.

The manager, of course, could not wait to find out what had just happened. As the small man walked away from the elephant, he explained to the manager what he had done. “This elephant is from India,” he said, “and none of you spoke his language.” And there it was. The elephant was homesick. All he needed was to hear the sounds of the language of home.

As Christians, you and I stay in this fallen world for just a little while, and then we go home. When we forget that however—when we instead get caught up in all the distractions of this temporary journey—then it’s easy to lose sight of who we are. Then it’s easy to lose sight of why we are here and where we are going.

When that happens, it’s time for you and me to hear the language of home.

The language of home is the voice of Jesus. The language of home is the Word of God. It cleanses our hearts in the blood of Calvary. It embraces us in the Lord’s forgiveness. It gives us peace of mind and heart. It empowers us to remember the joy of what we have and the joy of who we are. That is what the language of home does for us.

Dear Lord, at those times when we drift in the details of this temporary world, speak to us in the language of home. Speak to us in Your Word. In the Name of Jesus,  Amen.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day 2018

Proverbs 31:28 (ESV)
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her.

Mothers are a gift from God, and every last person has one. So Mother's Day is really a holiday for everyone, a day for thanking God for his goodness in giving us mothers, and an occasion for letting that gratitude play itself out in tangible expressions of special honor.

One of my earliest memories of my mom is her serving at our church teaching the 4 and 5 year olds. One of her teaching aids was Cubby the bear. If we visited with Cubby today he might explain Mother’s Day like this.

Hi! My name is Cubby Bear. I'm a little Koala Bear. Did you know that today is Mother's Day?

One lazy Friday afternoon, Cubby Bear, Huggy Lamb and Kippy Kangaroo were having lunch. Just as Cubby Bear took a bite into his peanut butter sandwich, he had a thought: "Hey, guys, what are you gonna do for Mother's Day? Are you going to buy your mom a card, or do something nice for her?"

Kippy Kangaroo piped right up, "My mom's the Best! I want to do something really special for her!"
"Why is she the best?, asked Huggy Lamb.

Kippy Kangaroo got very quiet. "Well"....he said, "Uh....well, I don't really have a mom. You see. I live in the children's home. Shelly is my mom there. She is the mom for all of us there. She is really special. She is so-o-o kind and generous. She plans all kinds of neat activities for us to do. And, she takes really good care of me too."

Cubby Bear asked Huggy Lamb, "What's your mom like, Huggy Lamb?"

Huggy Lamb brightened up with a big smile as answered, "She is a lot of fun to be with. She has lots of good ideas of fun things to do. She stays inside and plays with me on rainy days. She is very patient and is always there to help me when I have a problem. She teaches me all kinds of neat things at home school too!"

"Wow! It sounds like your mom is a great mom too!" said Cubby Bear.

"Yep, she is!" replied Huggy Lamb. "What's your mom like, Cubby Bear?"

"Let's see...said Cubby Bear. "Well, my mom is a really good nurse when I'm sick." He thought some more. "And she's a really good cook too...Besides that, she's really smart. She knows how to buy all this great stuff at the best prices. She's a good listener too. And she always answers the questions I have about the Bible, or about God."

"Wow! That's really nice of her to take the time to answer your questions. Yeah, mom's are pretty cool, alright, agreed Huggy Lamb. "Hey, since the Bible says to praise our moms and honor them, let's show them how they special are to us...especially today on Mother's Day. Let's show our moms how much we love them.

Dear Lord, thank You for our mothers. We pray that You would protect them today and everyday as they take care of us in the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

More than just head knowledge

Acts 4:32-33 (ESV)
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

The purpose of Christianity is not just learning Bible trivia. It’s not about knowing all the right answers to every theological question. God is not primarily interested in growing your head but moving your heart to action.

That’s what we see in the early Christian church. After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Christians regularly gathered to learn the teachings of Jesus. But they didn’t stop there. The good news about Jesus moved them to action. The message of Jesus filled them with such spiritual riches that they were moved by God’s love to share all their physical possessions with others.

Certainly, God was doing something special in the early Christian church. But I wonder, is there something we are missing? Why don’t we see more examples of such dedication among us today?

Maybe we have forgotten how good the good news really is. Maybe we have reduced the resurrection of Jesus to just theological facts. Maybe we have been too concerned about growing our heads, that we have neglected our hearts.

Let the word of Christ dwell deep in your heart. Let the love of God melt away all your guilt and shame. Let the power of Jesus’ resurrection lead you to live a new life today. Let the facts of Jesus be so heavy in your life that they drop from your head down to your heart, so God’s grace might powerfully work in us all.

Dear Lord, renew our hearts and kindle in us the fire of Your love. Help us to not only fill our heads with Your knowledge but let it go to our hearts so that we may share it with others. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.