Sunday, December 31, 2017

Without Adversity

Without Adversity

It is amazing how much we can learn about God and people when we study the Bible. We see the character of God revealed in what He says, does and expects. We learn about human nature and human potential as we see real people resisting or trusting God as they respond to the people, power and circumstances they face.

Although we can learn a great deal by how people react to successes and failures, blessings and difficulties, abundance and deficiency, this devotion will focus on overcoming adversity. Why? Because we all have challenges. Some are relatively small, while others appear to be insurmountable. And, there are often inspiring and instructional benefits that result from stories of triumph. I believe this is particularly true with regards to what we read in the Bible. In His Word, God shows us who He is and who we can be in a loving, faithful and obedient relationship with Him.

Here are a few examples.

Noah and the Flood
Genesis Chapters 6-8
  • We see that God is just – He punishes sin. We also see how the depravity of man causes God sorrow. Yet in His love, God saved the human race because of the righteousness of one man, Noah. Noah demonstrated tremendous faith and obedience in response to God’s plans. He obeyed God even when the whole world (literally) was against him – he and his family survived a worldwide flood by the grace of God.

Rahab and Her Past
Joshua Chapters 2 & 6
  • Rahab was doomed (see the ‘New Beginnings’ devotion posted on this site on January 4, 2013). But not only had she heard of Israel’s God, she had faith in Him. She trusted the two Hebrew spies Joshua sent to scope out Jericho; she hid them and then helped them escape. God delivered Rahab and her family from destruction. Her life was transformed; she became an ancestor of King David and Jesus Christ.

Gideon and the Midianites
Judges Chapters 6-7
  • God used the Midianites to punish the Nation of Israel for their sin. But when Israel cried out to Him for help, God raised up a Judge named Gideon to save His chosen people. But despite being from the weakest clan and the least of his father’s sons, Gideon, and an army of 300, were used by God to defeat a Midianite army of 135,000.

David and Goliath
1 Samuel Chapter 17
  • David was the youngest son of Jesse. He kept his father’s sheep as his older brothers went off to war to fight the Philistines. But God had greater plans for this ‘man after His own heart’. God used this shepherd boy and his slingshot to kill the Philistine giant, Goliath. David eventually became the greatest King of Israel and royal ancestor of the Savior King, Jesus Christ. 

Peter and His Impulsiveness
Matthew 16:13-23, John Chapters 13 & 18
  • Despite his great faith in, and love for, Jesus, Peter often let his mouth and emotions get the best of him. But Jesus, God the Son, was patient and forgiving towards Peter. Peter’s confession of faith in Christ as Messiah became the rock the church of Jesus Christ is built upon. This lowly fisherman became a leader in the early church and died as a martyr for his faith in Jesus.

The Woman and Her Bleeding
Mark 5:25-34
  • A woman suffered with ongoing menstrual bleeding for twelve years. Having suffered socially (being ceremonially unclean due to her bleeding), physically (being subject to ineffective treatments by many doctors), and financially (spending all she had trying to get better), she had only gotten worse. But after hearing about Jesus, and believing in Him, she was healed after touching His garment. Jesus told her that her faith made her well. 

The Man and His Blindness
John Chapter 9
  • Jesus encountered a Jewish man who was born blind and He healed him. After ridicule and rejection by the religious leaders, this man was cast out of his synagogue because he argued with the leaders and stated that Jesus was from God. In compassion and love, Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God; and the man who had been blind professed faith in Him! This man lost his old religious life and gained eternal life through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Paul and His Sufferings
2 Corinthians 11:22-29, 12:7-10
  • After Saul the Pharisee (Jewish religious leader) became Paul the Apostle (one sent by Jesus to share the good news about salvation), he suffered greatly. But his suffering never became an excuse not to complete his mission as an evangelist. Whether being tortured by men or humbled by God, Paul’s sufferings taught him to rejoice in his weaknesses and rest in the strength of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The constant call of the Bible to all humanity is to live a life that shows your reverence for God and faith in Him. The unchanging truth of the Bible is God’s love for all people and His desire to help, protect and be reconciled to them.
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
  • James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 
  • 1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Without Adversity:
  • We would have far less understanding of, and appreciation for, the love, truth, power, engagement, sovereignty and faithfulness of God in our daily lives, and with regards to His eternal plans.
  • We would have far less opportunity to observe in others and experience within ourselves the God-honoring, life changing, morale boosting and example setting faithful obedience of God’s children.

Embrace Adversity
as an opportunity to:

See God Work in your life!

Glorify God by your life!

As we contemplate 2018, rather than seeking a year free from adversity, let’s ask the Lord God Almighty to give us the faith and obedience to honor Him in our responses to adversity.


Father, forgive our propensity to avoid adversity. Help us see the beauty of Your plans, the perfection of Your ways and the completeness of Your love. What a joy to see You work in the midst of adversity to do what is eternally best for those who love You. What a privilege to be Your servant and to grow in faith as You sovereignly rule over all creation. Please give us the faith and obedience to honor You in our responses to adversity. I humbly ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift

For those who believe what the Bible teaches, have trusted Jesus as Savior and Lord, and follow Christ daily in faith, love and obedience, Christmas is meant to be a celebration of His birth. But honestly, the importance of commemorating, contemplating, centering our lives on, and conversing about Jesus is often misunderstood, seriously neglected or completely forgotten due to the time, energy and attention spent decorating, sending cards, shopping for/making gifts, ‘holiday’ parties, traveling, family gatherings, gift exchanges, cooking, overeating and whatever else this season brings for you, your family and your friends.

This loss of focus on the birth of Jesus is not just sad, it’s tragic. Christ’s nativity was the means by which the long-awaited Savior King, the very human incarnation of God, was brought into the world. And this truth, as miraculous as it is, is just one part of a much greater story, the story of God’s love for every person.

Here is a selection of verses from the Bible that provide a small glimpse into the vast and eternal truths about Jesus, and how God, through His unending mercy and grace, has demonstrated His perfect love for all mankind.
  • John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
    • A cornerstone of the Christian faith is the deity of Christ (‘the Word’). We believe in one God who exists and is revealed as the Holy Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
  • Philippians 2:6-7 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
    • God humbled Himself and came to earth as a baby named Jesus, the long-awaited Savior King.
  • 1 Peter 2:22-23 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
    • Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life. He came to fulfill the Law given by God – something sinful man could never do.
  • Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’
    • As the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus could be offered as the once-for-all final sacrifice to secure the only way for a restored relationship between sinful man and our holy God.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
    • Jesus was sacrificed – He was crucified and died for our sins on a Roman cross, was buried in a tomb, and three days later rose from the dead. His resurrection proves His deity and guarantees eternal life to all those who trust in Him for salvation.
  • John 14:2-3 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
    • One way God expresses His love is to patiently wait for people to be reconciled to Him through a relationship with Jesus Christ. He does this despite the evil and wickedness that prevails in our world. But one day Jesus will return to earth and claim His bride (those who love and obey Him). His second coming will mark the starting point of God’s plan for final reconciliation of all things to Himself.
  • Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    • God the Father has exalted God the Son. Eventually, all creation will bow before Jesus and proclaim that He is Lord, whereby Father God is glorified! The saved will glorify Him for all eternity in heaven. The lost will take the truth about Christ, and their missed opportunity in Him, into their eternal separation from God in hell.

The good news about Jesus Christ
is the greatest gift God has given mankind.

Jesus is the perfect
revelation of God’s love!

If you are a Christian, pray for opportunities to share this precious gift with those who haven’t yet received it.
  • Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
    • The message of the Bible is meant for every single person (see 2 Peter 3:9).

If you do not know or follow Jesus, pray that God will draw you to salvation in Christ by revealing His truth to you.
  • John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
    • Eternal life through Christ is not based on our character, earned by our works, a product of our intellect, or a result of our will. It is a work of God and a gift we don’t deserve (see Ephesians 2:4-5).


Thank You, Father, for the birth of Jesus – a moment in history worthy of celebration every single day of the year. But without the context of Biblical scripture, knowledge of His birth alone is insufficient for salvation. Please Father, in Your love, grace and mercy, use the truth of Your Word about sin, hell, death, love, peace and eternal life to draw many to Yourself for permanent and perfect reconciliation. Thanks for all You are and all You do. I pray these things in the name above every name, Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

At What Cost

At What Cost

I am on a mission. I have been sent by the Highest Authority, and I am charged with delivering the most important message you will ever hear. I have been empowered, equipped and endorsed to successfully complete my mission. I have everything I need to be successful. And yet I hesitate to tell you what you need to hear. Instead of trusting the One who sent me, instead of focusing on your need, I writhe and wallow in a pool of doubt, fear and self-preservation.

As I walk alongside you, or when I bump into you unexpectedly, or when I meet you for the first (perhaps only) time, I ask myself:
  • At what cost will I stay in my comfort zone?
  • At what cost will I blend in with the crowd?
  • At what cost will I avoid offending you?
  • At what cost will I evade persecution?
  • At what cost will I refuse to love you?

And no matter how many times or how many ways I ask these questions, I always come up with the same answer – the cost is your soul! Because the real question is:
  • At what cost will I will I not share with you what the Bible teaches about Jesus?

The truth of the matter is, if you come to my church (my safe zone), I will tell you about Jesus all day long. Or even better, if you just straight up ask me about Jesus, I will be happy to share anything and everything I know about Him. Outside of that, your odds of hearing the truth from me aren’t always that great. But no matter how many times I fail to complete my mission, I am never stripped of my commission. My Lord and Savior wipes away the tears, brushes me off, reminds me of His undying love for me and sends me right back to the frontline.

Why? Because He loves me, and because He loves you! And in His perfect wisdom, He has chosen to use His people to share His truth. He doesn’t need me to tell you about His love for you, but He trusts and expects me to do it. He has also given me His Spirit and His Word to ensure the message you hear about Him is just what you need to hear.

Open your heart to the absolute truth and eternal power of His Word.
  • Mark 8:34-37 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
  • Luke 12:16-21 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
  • Romans 6:20-23 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Even though you may not always be able to count on me to hear the truth about salvation in Jesus Christ, you can always count on the Word of God.
  • Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
  • Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

My heart breaks for the souls of the lost.
Still sometimes I  retreat when  duty calls.
Don’t judge God based on my disobedience!

Now you have heard the truth about Jesus.
Will  you  respond   to  His  message of  love?
Don’t reject God based on your presumptions!


Father, You know every one of my failures and shortcomings – yet You love me perfectly and permanently. Thank You for this method and opportunity to share and/or remind others of Your truth – the good news about salvation in and through Jesus Christ. Please soften the hardened hearts, mend the broken hearts and open every heart to what Your Word has to say. I love You. Thanks for all You are and all You do. I praise You and pray to You in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

What stands between you and the perfect peace you desire for your life? Is it a specific problem, or is it your situation in general? Is it a particular person, or is it the lack of care, concern and courtesy you see in people? Is it an unanswered question about good and evil, or is it your firsthand knowledge of, or experience with, indifference and maliciousness?  For each of us, it is a unique combination of issues and circumstances that result in the real or perceived personal sense of unmet needs and/or unfulfilled desires. 

However, the Bible teaches that genuine peace is found only in a reconciled relationship with Father God through Jesus Christ.
  • Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

As a result of peace with God, the ‘fruit’ of peace is manifested in the lives of those who love and trust Him. Fruit in the life of a Christian is characterized by desires, attitudes, motives, actions, words, works and their impact on the world that honor God, emulate Jesus and demonstrate the God-glorifying life of a person completely surrendered and obedient to Christ and His teachings.
  • Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
    • Because the Holy Spirit of God lives in followers of Jesus Christ, they will bear fruit that brings honor and glory to God. One of the elements of spiritual fruit is peace.
  • James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
    • The wisdom of God, as contained in His Word and obtained through the indwelling presence of His Spirit, leads to peace.

Christians are called to a life of peace.
  • Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
    • Be intentional about how and where your spend your time. Strive for peace in prayer and in practice.
  • Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
    • Let your passion for genuine peace be one of the reasons people recognize your love for and obedience to the Lord.
  • Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
    • Never be the reason for a lack of peace.  Sometimes peace can only be achieved through separating from those who won’t make peace.

During the Christmas season,
as we celebrate the birth of Jesus,
Who is the only way to genuine peace,
let’s experience, embrace and exemplify
the fruit of God-given peace found only in Him!

Then, in loving submission and obedience to Jesus Christ,
let’s pursue peace with all people and in all situations,
every day and every way for as long as we live!

Jesus is the Prince of Peace
  • Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus is the only way to Peace on Earth
  • Luke 2:11-14 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The perfect peace of God is not always accompanied by nice feelings or comfortable circumstances.  God-given peace is an internal reality based on His character and promises.
  • Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
  • Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


God of love, giver of peace, I pray, Holy Father, that the peace You give will be experienced and shared through Your children. I pray that others will be drawn to You for salvation in Christ and Your perfect peace. I pray for Peace on Earth! I pray these things in the name above every name, Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sing to the LORD

Sing to the LORD

Do you sing to the LORD? I mean really sing – from your heart, from your soul, with passion and conviction!

Many people think of the Book of Psalms when it comes to singing in the Bible.
  • Psalm 59:16-17 But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. 17 To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.
  • Psalm 66:4 All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.” Selah
  • Psalm 92:1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
But there is so much more! Heartfelt singing is a vital part of a healthy relationship with God.

In the Bible, we see:

Various People Who Sing to the LORD

Moses’ song of praise after Israel crossed the Red Sea
  • Exodus 15:1-2 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! 2 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
Miriam and the women of Israel echoing part of Moses’ song
  • Exodus 15:20-21 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”
Isaiah sang to God of His provision for Israel, their failings and His judgment
  • Isaiah 5:1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill.
Habakkuk’s hymn of faith and rejoicing when facing disaster
  • Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn after celebrating the Passover meal together
  • Matthew 26:28-30 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison after being beaten
  • Acts 16:25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Significant Provisions in Support of Those Who
Sing to the LORD

  • 1 Chronicles 15:16 Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers accompanied by instruments of music, stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.
  • 1 Kings 10:12 And the king made steps of the almug wood for the house of the Lord and for the king’s house, also harps and stringed instruments for singers. There never again came such almug wood, nor has the like been seen to this day.
  • Nehemiah 12:31 So I brought the leaders of Judah up on the wall, and appointed two large thanksgiving choirs. One went to the right hand on the wall toward the Refuse Gate.

Numerous Proclamations for Us to Sing to the LORD

  • Psalm 98:1 Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
  • Psalm 98:4 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
  • Isaiah 12:5 Sing to the LORD, For He has done excellent things; This is known in all the earth.
  • Ephesians 5:18-19 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
  • Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  • James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

Sincere expressions of worship, confession, regret, joy, desperation, lament, thanksgiving, requests, and so much more are found throughout the Word of God. However, singing to the LORD in response to these profound experiences, emotions and environments encountered in life may not come naturally to all who love Him. But as with so many areas of our walk with Him, we must rely on His Spirit to enable, empower and encourage us to glorify our God and King.

Honesty, I struggle with this greatly. Although I love to sing, sometimes my singing isn't coming from my heart. Instead of responding to Him, praising Him, crying out to Him, confessing to Him, relying on Him, etc., I am just enjoying the act of singing, the music and/or hearing others sing.

Oh, how I long to sincerely sing to the LORD!


Gracious Father, how I appreciate your patience with me and tolerance of me. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will work in me to enable, empower and encourage me to glorify You in songs of worship, brokenness, need and whatever else You desire. I pray for Your loving work in the lives of all those who love You. I beg You to save those who have not surrendered to Your truth and Your love. I pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.