Friday Devotionals 2023

December 22, 2023

The Wonder of Christmas In Our Wonderful Counselor

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) – For us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

There are so many things that cause me to have WOW moments during the Christmas season like driving through neighborhoods to see the light displays all around the city. I am always amazed the how perfectly these lights have been placed to achieve scenes from candy canes to mangers and angels.  

But there is something about this experience that doesn’t capture the biblical picture of ‘all is calm,’ but it certainly has the ‘all is bright’ part down. It’s overstimulating, noisy, and crowded, but we enjoy the spectacle, nonetheless. As we drive through the commentary goes something like this…

  •  “Wow!”
  • “That’s amazing!”
  • “Look at that!”
  • “That was wonderful!”

But the truth of Isaiah’s prophecy is that he had a different kind of wonderful in mind when he foretold the Messiah’s coming and of his character is that none of these meet the criteria for the wonderfulness that was the birth of Jesus Christ.

Think about it: happy gatherings are all described as “wonderful,” as well as the Child born unto us. But should we really use the same adjective to describe the Light of the World as we do the cheap LED lights that decorate our front yards? Are they both the same in their wonderfulness?

Isaiah had a different kind of wonderful mind when he foretold the Messiah’s coming and of his character.

Some translations of this Wonderful and Counselor are separated by a comma indicating that both are nouns not and that “wonderful”, indicating that wonderful isn’t just an adjective. Literally, it means he’s a “wonder of a counselor.”

The meaning of wonderful means, “full of wonder.” But we use it to mean extraordinarily good or great. But this modern definition falls short of what the ancient Hebrew one intends. This wonder is so great that it is outside of description that can be described.

David said it this way in Psalm 139:6 “when David, in awe of the Lord’s personal knowledge of man said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” 

Isaiah could only imagine who this wonder of a Child would be, but we know Him more fully. All that Jesus said and did makes him worthy of his name, Wonderful. 

“Jesus is wonderful. Everything about Him is wonderful: His birth is wonderful, His life is wonderful, His works are wonderful, His words are wonderful, His death is wonderful, his resurrection is wonderful; His ascension is wonderful; His intercession for us is wonderful; His coming again is wonderful.” 

But there is another word with this text and that is that Jesus is not only Wonderful, but He is also our Counselor. When we have need to seek wise counsel, we want the best counselors who are full of wisdom and offer insight into our lives and problems. So, who better to counsel us than the one who knows all things?

Jesus  is a Wonderful Counselor who tells us to fear not and that He is with us (Isaiah 41:10). There is a Counselor who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) and his love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). There is a Counselor who gives hope and turns the ashes of our lives into something beautiful (Isaiah 61:3). His counsel knows no limits and is perfect for every situation in life (2nd Timothy 3:16).

There are many counselors today but there is only one Wonder of a Counselor who will listen perfectly, empathize with our weaknesses, direct our steps, graciously reveal sin, and point us in the direction of healing…and that’s the one and only capital “C” Counselor, Jesus. 

In this season of Advent there are many opportunities for us to experience the wonder of Christmas. But I pray in this season that while everything around us may be light and bright, we should not let these lights cast a shadow over the blazing glory of the Wonder of a Counselor who has now come to us. 

December 15, 2023

Anticipate Christ This Christmas

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Luke 2:10-11 (NIV) – “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

How many times have you said to yourself or to someone else that “I am just not in the Christmas Spirit?” In light of the Christmas story for believers, these are words that should not be in our hearts or on our lips. We make it sound like Christmas, the birth of Christ, is something that we need to do. But Christmas has nothing to do with what we feel personally or what we do because our emotions are often controlled by our circumstances.  Christmas is a reminder of how richly we have been blessed by God and a time of hope in the second coming of Christ.

Our long-anticipated Savior entered the world more than two thousand years ago. He came without any of the celebrations that we observe to remember His birth. No Christmas lights, candlelight services, scripture readings, no music and no twinkling lights or decorated houses to recognize God’s Son coming to live among us.

This Baby would change the history of the world and also change the lives of those of us who give our lives to Him. For us who have been blessed to have the Word of God as our guide, we should overflow with anticipation of the joy of Christmas and the hopefulness of the birth and second coming of Christ. The joy of Christmas is so much more in the anticipation, the hopefulness of what is coming.

Christ’s birth was not a one-day event, but a season of hope and anticipation. As the familiar Christmas carol O Holy Night states:

O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O Holy night, O night divine!

This carol speaks to how we reverence Jesus in our hearts, not for a day, but all year long.  The Christmas is truly found in anticipating Christmas. The Christmas story is full of anticipation and the thrill of hope.

Consider these examples of Christmas anticipation from the Scriptures.

  • §  For Mary and Joseph, it was months of delighting in anticipation as Jesus grew in Mary’s womb.
  • §  For Simeon he had been anticipating that he would see the Lord’s Christ, and he saw the fulfillment of this promise of a lifetime.
  • §  For Anna in the temple, she had been anticipating the Redeemer for over 60 years.
  • §  For the people of God, it was centuries of anticipating the arrival of Messiah.
  • §  For creation, it goes back to the fall, that longing and groaning of hope and anticipation for Jesus to bring reconciliation.
  • §  In the heavenly realm, angels anticipated bringing good news and heralding the arrival of Christ the King born in Bethlehem.
  • §  For the Godhead it was anticipation of revelation of the relationship where we as His creation could know the fullness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our lives.

The anticipation of that first Christmas was a long time in the making. The first Christmas started off with great excitement, but quickly faded to a life that was hard and dangerous and uncertain. But we should be like those in scripture who when they heard the announcement were filled with the anticipation of Christ as the true spirit with us.


December 8, 2023

Come Let Us Adore Him!

Matthew 2:9-12 (GW) - After they had heard the king, they started out. The star they had seen rising led them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  They were overwhelmed with joy to see the star.  When they entered the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary. So, they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So, they left for their country by another road.

Today, we begin a new scripture theme around not letting ourselves miss the focus of Christmas and that focus is worship. One of my favorite Christmas carols is Pentatonix’s acapella version of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”  This Carol’s purpose is to call all of us to come, behold, worship, and adore He who is the King of Angels. This message is seen in the actions of the wise men who came from a great distance to do all these things before the newborn king.

I pondered over this theme and had originally thought that we should reflect on God keeping His promises in Christ as our Christmas gift. But God put it on my heart to consider the people and all the actions that surrounded the birth of our Savior and King.  That first Christmas was filled with joy, wonder, peace, praise, and worship and perhaps in looking back we can find what is missing from our Christmas today.

As we read this wonderful account of the wise men recorded by Matthew, it helps us understand exactly what Jesus wants for Christmas. What is it that the wise men gave Him? Yes, we all know about the frankincense, myrrh, and gold. But when we look closely at Matthew’s words here, we read in verse 11a that “When they entered the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary. So, they bowed down and worshipped him.” Yes, they brought tangible gifts but first and most important they worshipped and adored the newborn King. Matthew says this carefully. Why is it they came? It was to worship the King of the Jews. That’s what our Lord wants from us this Christmas—our worship. 

We are called to adore Jesus. That’s what Christmas reminds us to do every year. The wise men bowed and worshipped him, brought gifts, and rejoiced when they found him. We can learn a lot from these guys. We need to have a surrendered heart (bowing down) when we come to him. He is the king of kings. We should approach him in such a way. We also need to give him our gift of worship. That is our sacrifice to him. Worship is giving verbal worth, and Jesus deserves that. Finally, we need to have hearts filled with joy. When we surrender our hearts and give our worship to Jesus, the result is a heart that is filled with Joy. As we approach the day set aside to adore Christ, let us make this Christmas a day of worship for Him.

December 1, 2023

Abundant Strength Through Christ

Ephesians 6:10 (AMP) – “In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.”

Philippians 4:13 (AMP) – “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]”

We are all aware that our life in Christ will include harsh, gut-wrenching trials. We have all heard and know that this saying is true: “We are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or heading into a storm.” In other words, we are going to face situations that will tax our strength and leave us weak and wondering where we go next.

In these verses today, Paul has recognized that the challenges he had personally experienced—and the ability to remain in a state of peace and contentment afterward—required a level of strength that was beyond human capability. The strength needed—the power to persevere—had to come from somewhere else, Someone else and Paul says that Christ brings boundless might to those who believe in Him.

Paul says that he has learned a secret in life that we too need to learn and that is that we only are self-sufficient because Christ has strengthened us to be empowered and strengthened for everything that comes our way.

We try to maintain a lifestyle that will keep us physically strong but exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep help our strength for any given day, but only all of these steps when compared to the spiritual resources we need, will not give us the abundant strength that we need for this journey in life. The strength we really need most from God today isn’t weighed in calories or defined by sleep cycles, because the most important things He has called us to do today run deeper and higher than what we can see and feel.

The strength we need most doesn’t begin in our arms, legs, or back, but somewhere deep in our soul. The physical fatigue should remind us of how quickly our hearts are prone to wander and fail. Wisdom will ask God to strengthen faith far more often than it asks him to strengthen the body.

Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy 2:1 (AMP), “So you, my son, be strong [constantly strengthened] and empowered in the grace that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus.”

The abundant strength of God to us through Christ is not earned, achieved, or micromanaged. It is given as a gift, and to all of us undeserving sinners. We must never think we can schedule, diet, or even sleep our way to real strength; we will always lack the resources we need to glorify God. Real strength knows that apart from Christ we can do nothing.

Therefore, we need to keep the words of Ephesians 6:10 (AMP) in our hearts: “Be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.”

When we experience real strength, it will not be because we finally tapped into our strength, but because we finally gave up relying on our own strength. Satan wants us to believe that we are filled with boundless potential to accomplish the impossible, but the key to achieving our purpose in Christ is the lasting realization that we will not achieve anything truly meaningful or lasting on our own. God’s will and purpose in us can only be accomplished through the abundant strength that we have received through Christ. 

November 17, 2023

Producing Abundant Fruit Through The Holy Spirit

John 15:1-5 (NLT) - “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Colossians 1:10 (NLT) – Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT) – But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

As we first look at Jesus’ words in John 15:1-5, we find Jesus sharing with His disciples and with us about the importance of bearing Fruit in Christ. For those in Christ, the purpose for which God has them here on earth is to be productive, bearing fruit. That does not happen without staying connected to the vine, Jesus Christ. That is why we see in verse two, the fruit bearing branch that God prunes is pruned so that it becomes more productive. Jesus points out to us that this bearing of fruit can only be accomplished by remaining in Him, it is only then that we can bring forth abundant fruit.

In our verse from Colossians, Paul goes on in to teach us that this fruit bearing means that God wants us to accomplish and an abundance of good works (fruit) through in the good works that He has planned for people. As we grow and come to abundantly understand God better daily, our desire will be to be increasingly pleasing to our Father.

The most important thing for us to learn in these verses today is that our Father calls us not so much to outward activity, the ministry of service. But Go calls each of us into a deeper relationship with Him. Fruitfulness can only flow from a deep and personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When we communicate with God through our prayer life, study of the Word and meditating, we should grow more in Him. We are to do God’s works. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) reminds us of this when we read: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” So, the more the Lord works in us, the more His Spirit is present, the more our works are of a divine nature and the more fruitful they are.

Paul goes on to describe for us how this the work of the Holy Spirit looks in Galatians 5:22-23 where we see the fruit of the Holy Spirit produced in produces this kind of fruit in our lives in acts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruits will not look the same in any of us but will show evidence of Godly and Christ-like character. Faithful and cheerful serving then becomes fruit. Leading others to Christ become fruit. Faithful and cheerful Christian giving is fruit bearing. Doing our work for God’s glory, even work done for a secular employer, is bearing fruit. And there are others that we must do as believers that point to the condition of our relationship with God.

Therefore, fruit in the believers life is an identifying characteristic of the one who is a follower of Christ. Fruit is how other believers know when they are seeing a true brother or sister in Christ. Fruit is how the world knows that our faith is real and not just talk. And just as healthy plants produce healthy fruit. So healthy Christians must produce abundant fruit in Christ!

November 10, 2023

An Abundant Hope

Romans 15:13 (AMP) – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.”

Throughout the Scriptures God reminds us that He provides for all that we need and that these provisions come with an abundance of good things. In Romans 15:13 the first thing that Paul tells us that we will abound in is hope.

To abound in hope, we must understand the hope that we have in Christ.  Paul wrote in this in Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV) about hope: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Hope is produced by the justification by faith that we received through grace in Christ.  Paul expresses his excitement about this abounding or abundant hope throughout the book of Romans.

Paul packed this verse with steps for us to reach this abundant hope that leads us into an overflowing confidence in God’s promises. Paul tells us that everything begins with God. Without God we have nothing. Paul prays as we should pray “May the God of hope.  That is our declaration that God is the God of hope. 

Paul goes on to emphasize that by “believing.” Paul does not say the Word of God here but in Romans 15:4 (NKJV) Paul teaches us this: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the [a]patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  We cannot, not, have hope in God when we have not taken the time to study God’s Word and then apply it to own lives.

Now this abundant hope is not coming through any power of ours but specifically this hope comes by the power of the Holy Spirit working within us so that as believers, God’s Children having been justified by Christ that we may abound in hope. Paul says that when we are hoping more in God that anything the world can offer, it is through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit.

Now, Paul says in Romans 15:13 that we must fuel our hope. Paul says abounding hope will fill us with “joy and peace.” We know that by nature we will not always be upbeat, and cheer filled.  We have to fight for joy and peace. In Romans 5:3-5, we are reminded that, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame …”

The truth is that hope is at the front end of faith, and it produces joy and peace. But when joy and peace are in abundance through the troubles of life, hope abounds increasingly because it feeds on its own fruit: joy and peace.

So, as we live out our lives the process of trials and triumphs, God is not breaking us down, but He is refining us like gold. This refinement makes the hope that was scarce during the trials abound because we see the hope of God’s joy and peace every time God see’s us through the test and God keeps repeating the process of giving Himself to us in abundance.

November 1, 2023

The God Of Abundance

John 10:10-11 (TPT) – A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. "But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!" I am the Good Shepherd who lays down my life as a sacrifice for the sheep. (“John 10:10 -”)

Well, we are now in the month of November. It is the month that ushers us into giving thanks, and the time of giving. We know that the greatest giver has been our Father in heaven. Jesus tells us here that He came to give us everything in abundance.  It seems only fitting that we use our days in November to reflect on the abundant promises of God.  We begin by asking ourselves what it means for us to be recipients of God’s abundance.

The are at least one hundred verses in the ESV Bible about God’s abundance or the abundant life. The Greek word for abound means “to exceed, excel, super-abound, to have enough and to spare, over and above, excessive, exceedingly abundantly above, beyond measure.” (“The Abundance of God’s Glory |”) Abundance in the biblical sense then means a life full of everything we need to sustain ourselves in joy and purpose.

Look at these examples of abundance.  First, Jesus said in John 10:10 that, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  Jesus paints the picture of sheep and the shepherd from Psalm 23 as He shares in John 10 that He is the Good Shepherd who has come to bring abundant life. In this passage, the sheep, representing us as God’s people, are faced with the threat of a fatal attack by the thief, our enemy. Our only hope is that we would have a Shepherd who could rescue us from the attack. But we see that Jesus goes beyond what would typically be expected of a shepherd. OUR Shepherd did not come just to watch over us so we can survive; He is truly the Good Shepherd who gave His very life so we can thrive.

Jesus knows our weaknesses, and He knows we often lose our way—just like sheep. Yet in His compassion and kindness, Jesus still chooses to pour out His love on us and bring us into the richness of His presence as we walk with Him daily. What is incredible is that our Shepherd does not just preserve our lives, He gives us abundant, prosperous lives. With Him, we have more than just enough to get by. Because He fully laid down His life for us, we can fully live in abundance with Him.

In this verse, Jesus is reminding His followers and us that He is the source of true life and that He offers a life of abundance, both now and in the life to come.

We experience abundant life when we put our faith in Jesus Christ and in the promises of God. Here are some of the promises available to us:

Scripture tells us that we who believe in Christ will have eternal life. (John 3:16). We have an abundance of forgiveness “according to the richness of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7) We also have the abundant promise of “being born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1st Peter 1:3-4) Then, there is the abundant relationship that we come to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) All these promises are part of the abundant life that comes through knowing Christ.

So, let us come to understand that the abundant life is not necessarily defined by worldly success or material prosperity, but by a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose that comes from knowing and following God.


October 27, 2023

We Must Be Devoted In Our Prayer Life

Romans 12:12 (AMP) – “constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength].”

Paul writes here in Romans that we should all be devoted to prayer. It should be our goal because this is what the Bible calls us to be “devoted.”  The text in Romans 12:12 which is part of a longer chain of exhortations says we are to be “rejoicing in hope, steadfast in distress, and devoted to prayer.

So how are we to devote ourselves to prayer? First, we must understand what the Bible says about being devoted. The Greek word for “devoted” used in the opening verse, when it is translated, means, “to be steadfastly attentive to something, to give continual or constant care to a thing.” As believers, we are to be devoted God and should therefore be committed to this time of conversing with God continually.  

We should note here that this word is used ten times in the New Testament and five of those ten uses apply to prayer.

Look here at these supporting scriptures:

  • §  Acts 1:14 (AMP) – All these with one mind and one purpose were continually devoting themselves to prayer, [waiting together] along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
  • §  2:42 (AMP) – They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers.
  • §  6:4 (AMP) – But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
  • §  Colossians 4:2 (AMP) – Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

I believe that God wants us to have a strong prayer life. We must ask ourselves, “How devoted am I to my prayer life?” Paul does not say that prayer should be the only thing that we should do each day even though he says in 1st Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.”

Paul wants us to see if there is a pattern of praying in our lives that looks like devotion to prayer. Now, this will not be the same for everyone, but it should hold a position oof significance to u daily.  But it will be something significant. God knows when we are devoted to prayer. If we only pray in a crisis, we are not devoted to prayer. If we only pray prayers of petition to get things that we want, we are not devoted to prayer. If we only pray to be seen for selfish reasons, we are not devoted to praying. God knows when we are devoted to prayer, and He will call us to account: Have we been devoted to prayer? Is there a pattern of praying in our life that can be called “being devoted to prayer”?

A devoted relationship with Jesus Christ is the Christian life. As our relationship with Him deepens, we will find ourselves longing to linger with Him in prayer and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV). This involves a perpetual awareness of Christ’s presence and bringing Him into every aspect of our lives. The depth of our devotion to Christ is evident not just from the good we do, but the time we take in genuinely coming to know Him.

Prayer is the difference between what you and I can do and what God can do. If we want to accomplish things of eternal value and live a victorious Christian life, we must be people devoted to prayer.

October 13, 2023

Prayer Keeps Us In Sync With God

John 16:13 (NIV) – “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (“John 16:13 NIV - Bible Gateway”)

Psalm 119:133 (NIV) – “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

When we read today’s verses, we should ask ourselves if our prayers are steering us in the direction that God wants us to take? Corrie Ten Boom who along with her family helped many Jews escape Nazis during World War II was a Christian writer and speaker. She has been credited with two thought provoking quotes about God’s guidance that are appropriate for us to consider when thinking about the steering of the Holy Spirit in our prayers. First, she said: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Then she is credited with asking this question: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”

We have so many gadgets and devices designed to get us from point A to point B as we journey from one destination to the next. Well, prayer is like that for all of us who believe that the Holy Spirit guides us to God’s truth as we pray. Prayer is like power steering for a believer. Prayer acts pumps power into the steering and navigation of our lives. Without it, life will be filled with winding roads, dead ends, and detours that we will not be able to maneuver without divine guidance.  Have you ever gotten off track and your navigation system have to recalculate and recalculate and recalculate? When this happens, we waste valuable time and resources that God has given us by starting over instead of making progress along the way.  Prayer makes “driving” this life manageable.

The Bible makes the connection for us to pray in the Spirit. Praying coordinated with God’s Holy Spirit means that we pray in harmony with the will of God. Being God Himself, the Spirit knows and can interpret our prayers.  Look at Romans 8:27 (NIV) where Paul clarifies praying in the Spirit of God. Paul writes that, “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”  God has sent us the Holy Spirit to give and to guide us in new direction and to calm our fears along the way. us How often has God desired to steer any one of us in a new direction but we have ignored the work of the Spirit and spent time going around in circles.

No wonder Paul can say that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 28). What the Holy Spirit prays always agrees with God’s will. His requests for us are never refused.

So, use the power steering of the Holy Spirit to keep your path in sync with the path that God has for you!

October 6, 2023

Make Prayer a Priority

Colossians 4:2-6 (NIV) – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (“Colossians 4:2-6 (NIV)”)

We have come to a new month and a new devotional theme for October.  During this month, we will consider all a few important points that the Bible teaches us our prayer life in God. The Apostle Paul gives us this command from God here in Colossians 4:2-6 to “devote” ourselves to prayer.  But how is it possible to be devoted to prayer when we often struggle to make prayer a priority in our lives?  Our lives are filled with work, family, relationships, ministry, the distractions of technology and all of the demands the compete for our attention in our daily lives.  But as Christians we cannot ignore the call of our God to faithfully devote ourselves to prayer.

So, we focus today on prioritizing prayer over busyness.  1st Thessalonians 5:15-16 in the New International Version, calls us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Well God’s word says that none of us should be okay with busyness that pushes out prayer, rest, and abiding in Christ. I do not know who made this statement, but it is a great reminder to start our devotional month on prayer: "If Satan can't make you bad, he'll make you busy."

Our busyness makes us miss some of the joy of fellowship with God, the stillness of being in His presence and the strength that comes from abiding in Him. Instead of making busyness our banner, we should let busyness cause us to bend our knees and bow our heads in prayer.

Why should we trade bustling days for this devotional time in prayer with God? Prayer helps us to know that we are not God, and that God is always in control. Think about this: we have an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God. Because of our sovereign God, we have a source of endless grace, endless mercy, and endless wisdom that we can tap into when we pray. This should reassure us in our human state because we are not all knowing, all powerful and all present. This should remind us that we should stop frequently throughout our days to approach “the throne of grace” where the author of Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) says, “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Too often we feel inadequate in our prayer lives.  But the book of Psalms makes an excellent book of prayers. Psalms could be called God’s inspired book of prayers. Reading the words of the psalmists, have often helped to revitalize my own prayers when readding the words of others who God has protected and rescued.

In devoting ourselves to prayer, we do not want to forget the value of praying with others. Gathering with other believers for prayer and fellowship is a wonderful way to build one another up and grow closer together in the Lord.

God is pleased with every ­effort we make to devote ourselves to prayer. The creator of the universe wants to spend time with us, and He loves to hear from us. That thought alone should inspire us to make prayer a greater priority!


September 30, 2023

God’s Voice Calls Us To Relationship With Him

John 8:47 (AMP) – “Whoever is of God and belongs to Him hears [the truth of] God’s words; for this reason, you do not hear them: because you are not of God, and you are not in fellowship with Him.”

Here again in the book of John, Jesus tells us that all who hear and listen to God’s voice, His words, are in relationship and because we are in relationship, we are privileged to fellowship with God both now and in the coming kingdom.

We know that God created for a purpose and that purpose is to glorify Him. But God also created us for a purpose that is beyond glorifying the Triune God and that is to have a relationship with Him.  After the sin of Adam and Eve, we lost this fellowship. Bus as God called His prophets, and inspired them and the Apostles to record His spoken Word, His voice positions us to be aligned to His purpose and in the relationship of Father and children. Everything word voiced by God moves us toward connection with us, not separation. God’s voice calls us to come to him and to repent so that we can draw near to him and live in intimate relationship.

Let us look at God’s call to us from the book of James, chapter four, verse eight which says: “Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people]. (James 4:8 -AMP – 

Then we read in Revelation chapter three, verse twenty that, “Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 (AMP) – BibleGateway)

John 8:47; James 4:8; and Revelation 3:20, all tell us something particularly important about the relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have read Revelation like Jesus is standing outside trying to come into the life of the unbeliever. Butt, the truth here is this: these verses are not a picture of Jesus asking to come into the life of an unbeliever. It is about how believers can become lukewarm and by doing so we push Jesus out and leave Him standing on the outside of the door. That is the picture here about God’s voice calling us into a relationship and fellowship with Him.  

We must daily, while it is still day in our lives, answer the voice of Jesus calling us into a totally committed relationship by His act of restoration of our relationship with God the Father.  We must pray that the Holy Spirit keeps our hearts and ears tuned to hear the Voice of God every day!

I will be traveling for a few days and will not have a new devotional until next Wednesday. I pray that each of you have a wonderful weekend in the presence of God.   

September 22, 2023

Silence Helps Us To Hear the Voice of God

Job 33:15 (AMP) - “For God speaks once, And even twice, yet no one notices it [including you, Job].
“In a dream, a vision of the night [one may hear God’s voice], When deep sleep falls on men
While slumbering upon the bed, Then He opens the ears of men And seals their instruction,  
That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep him from pride; He holds back his soul from the pit [of destruction], And his life from passing over into Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead).

Habakkuk 2:20 (AMP) - “But the Lord is in His holy temple. "Let all the earth hush and be silent before Him.”" (“Habakkuk 2:20 -”)

Have you ever noticed that we are often uncomfortable with silence? We will enter a room and turn on a TV that we have no intention of watching and proclaim that, “I just needed some noise.” Why is silence so uncomfortable for us? There are times that all of us are frightened by total silence and darkness together. Our culture has programmed us to want a constant source of stimulation.  I am not talking about maintaining healthy brain activity, but I am talking about a never-ending stream of noise.  

When we let our drive to bombard our ears with constant noise, we run the risk of missing the most important voice speaking into our lives and that is the voice of God. As a believer in Christ, we are no longer in spiritual darkness, and we have the light of the Holy Spirit living in us. So, how do we hear God’s voice in all the noise?  The Word of God in Habakkuk 2:20 offers some wisdom on hearing the voice of God and that wisdom is listening in silence for God’s Voice.  

In the book of Habakkuk, the people were complaining (loudly) that God had not spoken to them in this time of suffering and exile. But in response to all of the people’s complaints about God’s silence there is a call here in Habakkuk 2:20 for those then and now to be silent and not to just be silent but to come before God in silence. 

There are times when we turn up the volume instead of tuning out the world to help us prepare our heart and mind to hear the Voice of God. 

Think about the perspective that the prophet gives here.  He is saying that when God is still, when we cannot hear God that it does not mean that God has stopped being God. God is still God whether He is still or not. God is still the ultimate authority everywhere and when we cannot actively hear Him.  Here, God says for us to hush and be silent, and listen for His voice.  

Look at God’s word of warning in Job. To paraphrase, God tells Job when we get so caught up in our own noise, that God will give assistance to His wayward kids. God says that after speaking to us repeatedly, He has to use other means of speaking to us so that we hear Him.  Note that, we do not discern God’s voice during the day, because we are letting other things drown out His voice. But God still wants to help us. God speaks and Job in 33:14-18 that He uses our dreams and speaks to our subconscious minds while we are asleep and cannot tune him out.  God’s voice speaks into our silence even in times when we are not actively listening.  God wants us to hear His voice so much that He does not give up despite us.

We have all said at one time or another that, “I need to sleep on it.” You see, when we do have that change of heart that saved us from taking the wrong path, it was God’s voice speaking during our sleep to our hears to change our minds and to focus on the right path and not the path to disaster.

So, today, we can help spend more time in silence, by reading His Word, by praying and tuning out the world, so that we might hear God’s voice clearly during the silence.  In these times of silence, we need to examine our purpose and our direction and let God’s voice guide. Learn to speak   Let us closely examine our purpose and direction, and change them if necessary. Let God know that we will use our day’s and our nights to hear Him clearly as we learn to use our silence to sharpen our hearing and our desire to trust and obey.

We must embrace the truth that God does listen and care for us, saying with Habakkuk, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me…” (Hab. 2:1).

In the end, silence is about listening. Silence is how we listen to God.  Silence is essential to our relationship with God, with ourselves and within God’s ministry of service to others.  Let us embrace the uncomfortable silences in life and allow the Comforter’s Voice to speak to us in our sacred silence. 

September 8, 2023

God’s Voice Is Authoritative

Job 37:5 (NCB) - “At God’s command marvels come to pass; he performs wonders beyond our ability to comprehend.”

Job 37:5 (NIV) – “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”

As we turn the calendar from August to September, we begin a new devotional theme focused on the Voice of God.  I have heard many believers say that they have not yet heard God speak directly into their life. But we need to learn how to recognize how God speaks to us because from time to time, we will hear God “speaking to us.” It is as if the Almighty actually verbalizes His unique direction and special insights right into our eardrums. The Bible is clear that Christ is living and active among His people and He has commanded the churches in Revelations chapters two and three to “hear what the Spirit is saying.” So, as we approach the end of this third quarter of 2023, I would like to look at the characteristics of God’s voice and all the ways that He, (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speak into the lives of His children.

We begin with the what I consider to be the first characteristic of God’s voice and that is that God’s voice is AUTHORATATIVE! Look how Job describes the Voice of God.  He says that it is like the power of thunder and lightning and when He speaks the things that He commands to happen are far above our limited understanding.

No voice speaks with such authority — or anywhere even remotely close to such authority — as the voice of the living God. God’s voice has authority over everything on earth and in the heavens. He is not limited to an area of expertise because He knows everything and nothing is hidden from God.  God’s voice of authority is extended over all things and there is never an exception to the powerful voice of God.

God’s voice is divine and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speak with such authority that they are effective in accomplishing every purpose that the Godhead intends. The word of God in Isaiah 55:11 says this of God’s Word: “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.”

Consider this: Like no other being in the universe, God has the ability to do exactly what He says: Genesis 1:3 says, “Then God said, “Let there be light and there was light.” In Hebrews 1:3 (GW), we read of the authority of God’s voice in sustaining the world: “His Son is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of God’s being. He holds everything together through his powerful words.” 

God is the supreme creator, the Almighty who commands creation with just the sheer power of His voice. He speaks and it is done. Over and over again in the gospels we are told that the crowds were amazed at Jesus. Hi voice is described in Luke 4:32 (NIV) that, “They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. There is a settled finality to the voice of God.

This is a brief look at God’s authoritative voice! God’s word was powerful throughout the Old and the New Testament and we must not fail to grasp that God’s voice is equally powerful today. We have His written word, and we have the account of the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ who affirmed the power of the Godhead to create and recreate and speak directly into our lives today and through all eternity.

September 1, 2023

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Isaiah 9:2 - The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.

Sometimes our world can become so dark that it feels like we do not even have a pin point of light to on which to focus our eyes. We might need to ask ourselves if we need a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.  Isaiah promises that even in darkness, even in death itself, there is good ground for hope.

Are you in need of a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel?  We can be in the dark so long that we want to find a pinpoint of light at the end of our darkest times. No matter how beautiful the inside of a tunnel is, its most beautiful place is where the exit is, and the light is seen! (“Tunnel Quotes (42 quotes) - Goodreads”)  Isaiah promises that even in darkness, even in death itself, we always should be grounded by our hope in the Lord.  The power of God is able to restore life to His people even when they appear already dead!

We know that this great light that Isaiah writes about is the great light of Jesus. Christ’s fulfilled this prophesy coming (Matt. 4:16).  The light of Christ brought the promise of deliverance for Israel.  A new day had come!

The Savior is a great light in the darkness to us as well.  You live in the darkness of divorce or in the shadow of death.  Some of you may be watching a loved one slowly disintegrate before your eyes.  You have given up seeing any light in a dark family or church situation.  Others, in seemingly perfect circumstances, live in the deepest darkness of all – depression that nothing seems to penetrate!  Listen to the Good News!  There’s light at the end of the tunnel – look up and see Jesus standing there!  Hear what he says: “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

The Word of God penetrates the darkness of our soul.  It is as if God penetrates the darkness with His inescapable light.  Ask God to penetrate your tunnel of darkness with His glorious light.


August 25, 2023

God Is The Faithful Provider of Light

Psalm 18:28 (NIV) – “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Understanding our theme for this month, "God is Light" does more than just deepen our appreciation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the light in every aspect of our lives.  It can be a life-changing revelation of who God is, how He works in our lives, and what He calls us to be. So, as we continue to journey through the scriptures to discover how God's light can overcome our darkness, guide our steps, and transform us into beacons of hope for the world, we look at God’s faithfulness in providing our light in the darkness.

God's first recorded words in the Bible are a proclamation of light, and this is not by chance. Light is a natural source given to us by God at creation that has the power to drive out darkness and bring light into our lives. Throughout the scriptures, God identifies Himself as light, Jesus announces Himself as the light of the world, and the Word of God is depicted as a light to our paths. Moreover, those who put their faith in Jesus are called out of darkness into His marvelous light.

While today we are focusing only on verse twenty-eight of Psalm 18, But this Psalm eighteen which was written by King David is a celebration of God’s faithfulness.  David begins by declaring that, “I love you, Lord, my strength. Then David begins to count how God has repeatedly rescued him from every darkness that tried to invade his life. So, here David sings praise to God, who consistently comes to his rescue.

The message for us here from God is for us to trust God when the world seems dark and dreary, we can look to God for illumination. He will keep a lamp lit for us, to remedy discouragement and darkness around us, and illuminate our path. Christ and the light of His countenance will enlighten us, leading us out of the darkness and into the light. He will transmit His light to us, imparting understanding, love, and peace.

I am reminded of my youngest grandson here how God turns on our light.  Michael’s dad was working very intently with only the light from his dual monitors giving a small amount of light. As Michael watched for a minute, he proceeded to turn on the lights.  He then asked his dad, “now isn’t that better?”  This is what David is saying that this is what God does for us. When He sees His children sitting in the dark, He turns on the light for us and keeps them burning bright.

This scripture also reminded me of the Motel 6 commercial tagline: “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Through Christ, we have this same promise that He will keep the Light of the World burning bright for us.  We find light always by looking to God like David.  We too have to be like David and see that God never extinguishes His light.  God is in the business of sustaining us when the going gets tough.   

So, when the world seems dark and dreary, we can look to God for illumination. He has kept a light ready for us, to remedy discouragement and darkness around us, and illuminate our path. Christ and the light of His countenance will enlighten us, leading us out of the darkness and into the light. He will transmit His light to us, imparting understanding, love, and peace and all that we need to do is focus on Him and trust the light that will never leave us in the dark because God is an everlasting light source.  

August 18, 2023

God Is The Faithful Provider of Light

Psalm 18:28 (NIV) – “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

Understanding our theme for this month, "God is Light" does more than just deepen our appreciation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the light in every aspect of our lives.  It can be a life-changing revelation of who God is, how He works in our lives, and what He calls us to be. So, as we continue to journey through the scriptures to discover how God's light can overcome our darkness, guide our steps, and transform us into beacons of hope for the world, we look at God’s faithfulness in providing our light in the darkness.

God's first recorded words in the Bible are a proclamation of light, and this is not by chance. Light is a natural source given to us by God at creation that has the power to drive out darkness and bring light into our lives. Throughout the scriptures, God identifies Himself as light, Jesus announces Himself as the light of the world, and the Word of God is depicted as a light to our paths. Moreover, those who put their faith in Jesus are called out of darkness into His marvelous light.

While today we are focusing only on verse twenty-eight of Psalm 18, But this Psalm eighteen which was written by King David is a celebration of God’s faithfulness.  David begins by declaring that, “I love you, Lord, my strength. Then David begins to count how God has repeatedly rescued him from every darkness that tried to invade his life. So, here David sings praise to God, who consistently comes to his rescue.

The message for us here from God is for us to trust God when the world seems dark and dreary, we can look to God for illumination. He will keep a lamp lit for us, to remedy discouragement and darkness around us, and illuminate our path. Christ and the light of His countenance will enlighten us, leading us out of the darkness and into the light. He will transmit His light to us, imparting understanding, love, and peace.

I am reminded of my youngest grandson here how God turns on our light.  Michael’s dad was working very intently with only the light from his dual monitors giving a small amount of light. As Michael watched for a minute, he proceeded to turn on the lights.  He then asked his dad, “now isn’t that better?”  This is what David is saying that this is what God does for us. When He sees His children sitting in the dark, He turns on the light for us and keeps them burning bright.

This scripture also reminded me of the Motel 6 commercial tagline: “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Through Christ, we have this same promise that He will keep the Light of the World burning bright for us.  We find light always by looking to God like David.  We too have to be like David and see that God never extinguishes His light.  God is in the business of sustaining us when the going gets tough.   

So, when the world seems dark and dreary, we can look to God for illumination. He has kept a light ready for us, to remedy discouragement and darkness around us, and illuminate our path. Christ and the light of His countenance will enlighten us, leading us out of the darkness and into the light. He will transmit His light to us, imparting understanding, love, and peace and all that we need to do is focus on Him and trust the light that will never leave us in the dark because God is an everlasting light source.  

August 11, 2023

Reflecting Jesus’ Light

Exodus 34:29 (AMP) – “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of the Testimony in his hand, he did not know that the skin of his face shone and sent forth beams by reason of his speaking with the Lord.”

John 1:6-8 (AMP) – “There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him.  John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light.”

In scripture we read of Moses’ face being so bright that it shone after being in the presence of God. The in our next scripture we read about John the Baptist in the gospel of John that he was not the light come into the world but the one commissioned to testify, point others and to reflect the light of Christ.  As followers of Jesus, we too have been commissioned to reflect the light that we have now received.

The Oxford Dictionary defines reflection as, “The throwing back of a body or surface of light, heat or sound, without absorbing it.” Let us think about this for a moment.  This is exactly what God has called us to do with the light that we have received from Jesus.

God does not ask us to present ourselves to others as THE LIGHT because we have never been and never will be that LIGHT. Jesus will always BE the light source. He is the one who was present with the Father in Genesis 1:3 (KJV) which tells us that God spoke, “And God saidLet there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” So, we see that the being the Light is God’s job. But we know that God wants us to reflect His Light.

Our obedience in reflecting God’s glorious light is meant to be evidence that “it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 (AMP).  When we act in obedience to God, Paul writes this encouragement to us in Philippians 2:15(AMP): “So that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness].”

We need to ask ourselves how it looks to the world when we reflect the light of Christ.  As light reflection we do not get to choose who receives this reflection. As followers of Christ, our role and desire in this life is to reflect Jesus to every person we come in contact with. This would include the person who sped past you for going too slow and flipped you the birdie, and the line cutter at the grocery.  

You see Paul wrote a letter that speaks to us about what it looks like when we reflect the light. Paul says check your light of ways to reflect the light of Jesus by doing these things. In Galatians 5:22-25(AMP) we read this: “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the [a]sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]”

So, when life is continually giving you lemons, we need to reflect Christ showing Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, even though we may not receive it in return. It can be hard. By showing love, letting others see your joy even in tough times, and being a gentle spirit when persecuted, we reflect the light of Jesus to a hurting world. 

We reflect Jesus’ light to the world by using every opportunity that He gives us to glorify Him.  

August 4, 2023

God’s Light Highlights Our Next Step

Psalm 119:129-136 (MSG) – “Every word you give me is a miracle word— how could I help but obey? Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning. Mouth open and panting, I wanted your commands more than anything. Turn my way, look kindly on me, as you always do to those who personally love you. Steady my steps with your Word of promise so nothing malign gets the better of me. Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women so I can live life your way. Smile on me, your servant; teach me the right way to live. I cry rivers of tears because nobody’s living by your book!”

As we begin August, we begin a new focus, and that focus is on the light of the world.  We know that we need light to exist, to move, to work, to play and to highlight the dangers ahead.  Remember God created light and deliberately separated light from darkness.  We have learned how to generate light in our environment by cultivating resources that give us light in all the places that we go.

But this is the light in the natural world, but there is also a light that comes to us from the spiritual realm. We know that God sent His only begotten Son to bring His light into a dark and dying world. In the same way that natural light reveals what is in front of us, God’s word reveals to us the next step that He has planned for us. Without His Word and the light that God wants to give to every person, we cannot light our minds up with the truth of who God is and what His will is for us.

This light as the Word of God tells us that comes to us from the Word of God. Psalm 199:129-136 in the Message Version tells us to “Break Open: the Word of God because study and meditating on the God’s Word is the switch that turns on this light. In order to receive this light, we must be willing to saturate ourselves in the biblical truth of God’s Word. The writer of Psalm 119 says it is only then that we receive the and can then share the light. The Word not only brings us light but also gives light to those around us.

Look at what verse 119:105 tells us in the Message, “By your words I can see where I am going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.  I have committed myself and I will never turn back from living by your righteous order. When we study, pray, and meditate on God’s Word, He shines His crystal-clear light on the path that we should take.

In the NIV version of Psalm 119:105 we see this word lamp. In the Psalmist’s times the “lamp” was a candle in a lamp that people would carry around. Today, it would be a flashlight. If you hold a flashlight and you want more light down your path, you have to take the next step. Many times, I have been stuck and looking for a light from God for my whole path. God’s light does not always shine like sunlight, but we can expect that He gives us sufficient light for all of our next steps. 

One of the best ways to turn on the light of God’s Word is to pray God’s Word, like Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (NIV). You want to see wonderful things from God’s Word, right? Ask God to open your eyes to what he wants to do through your life.

God’s light is there but it is up to us to turn our minds on to the light of His great Word.

July 28, 2023

Pause To Praise

Psalm 34:2 (CEV) - With all my heart, I will praise the Lord. Let all who are helpless listen and be glad.

Putting a praise pause, a Selah, moment in each and every day of our Christian walk is something we must learn to do in every situation in our lives. Pausing to pray must not be based on whether we are happy about something or sad and confused. It is all about pausing to consider everything that God is and what He has done for us. Look at David’s words here, “with all my heart.” Setting aside that time to step away from everything will allow us to solely focus on God. 

Ephesians is a beautiful place in the Bible to teach about the purpose and practice of praise. In Ephesians 1:3 (CEV), it says, "Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual blessings that Christ has brought us from heaven!" He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that we could have, and it is our responsibility to live those blessings out in our lives. Praising is more than a thank you but a way to show our Lord that we know in our spirit that what we have comes from our Heavenly Father and only He can fulfill those promises.

This is the reason that being consumed with being busy and worldly living makes us fail to give God sincere praise and thanks to God. This pause is not a Sunday morning worship thing, but it is all about daily living for God and it is not to be offered only when something good happens to us. Remember that the Word of God tells us that we were created to praise. Look at the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 43:21 (CEV) that says: I made them my own nation, so they would praise me. We were not created for ourselves but to give God praise, to learn Who He is and to give Him glory for Who He Is and What He has done. We should daily recognize all that God has done that no other force in the universe could do except for Him.

The Psalms are filled with the experiences of its writers recognizing all that God did for them which not be able to withhold praise for God.  Here is a perfect example found in Psalm 102:18 CEV) which says, “Future generations must also praise the Lord, so write this for them:” this is the reason that the book with the most chapters spends so much of it is writing on singing songs of praise.

So, let us ask ourselves this question: When is the last time you paused to praise God? No matter what is going on in your life, good or bad, there is a reason to praise Him. Take some time now to do just that. Reflect on how God has strengthened you, rescued you, reversed circumstances in your life, and reminded you that He is in control. Be specific and thank Him for all that He has done. It is time to pause and praise Him!

July 21, 2023

Pause before Adding To More to Your Plate

Proverbs 20:25 (CEV) – Do not fall into the trap of making promises to God before you think!

What tidbit of wisdom does God want us to receive here through Solomon. King Solomon tells as children of God; we need to pause promising or making empty commitments to God. Before the promise comes a time of pondering over our decisions. 

This is reason that we read in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, In Ephesians 5:15-16 Paul relates to us that we need to do some pausing and praying before adding to your schedule. Too often we are quick with the Baptist cliché that I am praying about it. When we consider our commitments to being prayerful and careful with all of the activity that we commit to in a week, we find that we have not wisely used our time to pause and consider what is important to God.

Here is the reality of the pause here: when we pause it keeps us from saying yes to everyone and everything else, so that we become weighed down in situations that God never intended for us to be in, in the first place.  When we ask in God’s purpose, God reminds us that there are many good things on our plate, but it is not the good thing that God has in-store for us.  The disadvantage of adding to our plate over time is that we crowd out God’s perfect purpose and often stunt the growth of others because commitments to your schedule without eliminating other things. Every time you add a recent activity to our calendar, we need to take something else off.

Scripture shows us since the beginning of time that we have needed our respites. Even the Jesus as we have said previously needed respite as we read that He was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1), and He “went out to a desolate place” (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42), and “went up on the mountain by himself to pray . . . alone” (Matthew 14:23). For the work and the will of the Father, there were times that Jesus had to give up things that were on His plate.

We are all in need of getting out from our busy schedule. This is especially true in our modern lives.  Things are more crowded, and noisier, than they have ever been. I compare our lives to being in line at the buffet.  As you fill your plate with great food, we all run the risk of having room for the best part of the meal because we did not consider that there may have been favorites at the end of the buffet when our plates no longer have room to pile anything else on it.

When we recognize our state of not having the space to do all that we juggle, we find the important essential ingredient missing in most of our relationships — one that is definitely required if we wish to continue in our own development and help others to do the same. What is this powerful catalyst that only we can provide for each other? Room in which to grow and that room comes from not adding any more things to our plate before pausing to also cut down on what is already there.

Remember this: “Jesus pauses.”  This is not actually a Bible verse, but it is something Jesus does.  He pauses.  Jesus moves with intention.  His actions have a purpose and, it appears, he always has a plan.  Sometimes though, Jesus changed up the play book and pivoted off the page and out of the plan.  Sometimes, Jesus delays his movement.  He pauses because we need him to pause.  Whenever we see Jesus do something to help people, something spontaneous, we ought to know He is in the act of showing what God does and rearranging His time to help us see His Power and Mercy. We too must be prepared to take others under our wing by allowing ourselves and those around us the space to develop and grow. God gives us more and more grace for the race, but it is up to us to keep emptying the plate so that it can be refilled at God’s Buffet.


July 7, 2023

The Importance Of The Pause

Habakkuk 3:3 (AMP) - God [approaching from Sinai] comes from Teman (Edom), And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah (pause, and calmly think of that). His splendor and majesty cover the heavens
And the earth is full of His praise.

Habakkuk 3:9 (AMP) - Your bow was made bare; The rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah (pause, calmly think of that). You split the earth with rivers [bringing waters to dry places].

Habakkuk 3:13 (AMP) - You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation and rescue of Your anointed [people Israel]. You struck the head from the house of the wicked To lay him open from the thigh to the neck. Selah (pause, and calmly think of that).

There are so many things in our lives that we never notice until we have really taken the time to pause. Because so many of us, both young, old, and in between live lives that are in an excessive state of activity. The Word of God tells us that we need a time to reflect, respond and then react to all that God has for us.  This cannot be done until we discipline ourselves to press the pause button in our lives. So, in this month of July, we will be turning to God’s Word for us on the Need For A Pause.

In the Bible we come across this word “Selah.” In fact, this word appears some seventy-one times in different translations of the book of Psalms. In the Amplified Bible, the Hebrew word, ‘selah’ that as a song there should be a musical intermission or as it sounds here that we are instructed to pause and ponder what is being sung so that we do not miss the importance and the meaning of the moment that God is revealing through His prophet.

To add to our understanding of this pause in the Bible, we read of multiple times where Jesus withdraw to a quiet, solitary place to pray. Christ shows us that we need to be intentional in order to make room for “pause” and be still before our God.

Despite the call and the example of “pause moments,” too often these opportunities  may slip by us in our hurried and stressful lives when we are preoccupied with life’s demands and gripped by concerns and anxiety. We may especially feel this way as we adjust to post-pandemic living where the pace of school, work and life in general has returned to pre-pandemic highs.

So we are going to focus on verses like today’s throughout this month as we look at successfully creating selah moments” in our lives as we connect with God to maintain our spiritual, mental, and emotional health. I have found that “selah moments” can help us to enjoy the our God created purpose in Him.

So let us begin to look for pauses that put us in a position to hear God’s voice and be in His presence as we engage with Him, His Word and His Spirit on a deeper and more personal level.

Let us live intentionally by creating “selah moments” when we pause and ponder in a manner that refreshes us and reflects our set-apart identity as God’s children.


June 30, 2023

Belonging To God Requires Us To Confidently Trust God

Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP) - Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. (“Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP - <p - Bible Gateway”)

1st John 5:14 (AMP) These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life. "This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us." (“1 John 5:14 - Bible Hub”)

We know that a part of our responsibility in belonging to God, means placing our hope and trust in Jesus by surrendering to His lordship in every area of your life. In Christ Jesus, we have received eternal life and now have an on-going hope in Him. Here in 1st John 5:14 he writes to remind us of another responsibility that we have in belonging to God and that is to believe, be sure of, and being confident that God hears and listens to our prayers. Our responsibility is to pray confidently to be in the will of God.   

The Word of God tells us specifically that these things are written to those who “believe in Jesus and know that we who believe have eternal life. God wants us to have confidence in Him, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. God created us to believe Him first and God created us to believe Him last. Confidence in God is the way that we receive eternal life and confidence in Him is how we receive abundant life in Christ. Him first is how we receive eternal life.

As believers who are a part of God’s family it is our responsibility to walk by faith not relying on what is visible as we put our faith in the invisible God. It is our responsibility to pray with all confidence to God and it is our responsibility to maintain an unshakeable trust in God and His inspired Word.

This is the reason that we need to trust God.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says that as God’s children we are to trust God in everything with all of our hearts. It is not enough to trust God for salvation but not with our family, trials, relationships, and every decision that we have to make.  Every move and every decision we make needs to be under the watchful eye of our Father in Heaven.  So, we make our requests known to God in the confidence that He listens attentively and answers us according to His plans for us.

All who belong to God need to remain in fellowship with our heavenly Father, by confessing our sin before His heavenly throne, and we are to abide in Christ in humility of heart and in willing obedience to His Word by maintaining a day-by-day trust in the Lord. A solid faith in God’s unchanging Word makes it possible for the saved saint to please our heavenly Father.

Belonging to God should encourage us to be obedient in prayer. Remember we can approach God with confidence when we pray. We should not doubt whether He will hear us or not. He loves us and will always listen to our requests. God may not answer our prayers in the way we want, but He will answer them according to His will. God’s ways are good and perfect. We might think we know what is best for us, but our God knows best. May we trust Him when we pray, because He knows us even better than we know ourselves.

God requires confident prayer (conversation with Him) and complete trust from those who belong to Him. 

June 23, 2023

Belonging To God Requires Us To Have Godly Friendships

Daniel 2:17-18 (NLT) – Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened.  He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon.

Matthew 18:20 (TLB) – “For where two or three gather together because they are mine, I will be right there among them.” (“Bible Gateway passage: Matthew 18:20 - Living Bible”)

As we continue to see that belonging to God calls for us to be responsible to God. One of the responsibilities that we read about in scripture is that of having godly friends. 

Many of us are familiar with the story of Daniel. Briefly, Daniel and his friends refused to defile themselves with King Nebuchadnezzar’s wine and food because it went against God’s laws. Because God was with Daniel and his friends, He blessed them physically, mentally, and spiritually, and they excelled in wisdom above the servants of the king. Later, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that troubled him. He ordered all the wise men in Babylon to be killed unless they could reveal the dream and its meaning. The Lord revealed to Daniel the dream and the interpretation of it. But the lesson for us was that Daniel gathered his godly friends together to pray for God’s revelation so that their lives could be spared.  The fact that these men who belonged to God prayed together, brought God right in the middle of their circumstances. 

Godly friends are in a steady relationship with Jesus and Scripture. Jesus told His disciples that they were no longer His servants because they observed all the things that He had taught them about His Father. (John 15:15) It is important that the people we choose to be friends with make Jesus their first priority. We know that belonging to God means our focus is God. So, it is understood that as those who belong to God, that it is our responsibility to maintain this kind of godly friendship with others who also belong to Christ. 

These are the friends who build up their relationship with Jesus by reading the Bible, so that they are in tune with His life. Godly friends pray often, and they listen and follow godly instruction and wisdom.  They make every effort to be a part of a healthy community in Christ by surrounding themselves with other people of faith, and living a life that demonstrates it. The Book of Proverbs tells us "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). The Bible also tells us "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Are you willing to lay down your life, as Jesus did, for the people you call friends? Your friendships should make your heart glad.

We need friends who have a strong witness, and we should have that same strength to our witness.  When we encounter those, who do not take in the Word of God and follow it, we may really have to consider that these cannot be our priority people. The people that you choose to be related to should help you grow in your relationship with Jesus.

One final thing about godly friends today is that you do not have to go in search for them.  Jesus encountered everyone of His disciples as He was going about His Father’s business. Godly friendships are usually a result of God placing them in your path. This is a part of the blessing of belonging to God. Our responsibility is to let God bring us the people that we need in our lives just the way that He did for His Son. We need to pray on this God. God knows our every need.

Remember that godly friendship is not only a gift, but also a blessing and a responsibility. When we enter these kinds of relationships, we will grow in ways that we would not have otherwise. As we have someone else by our side walking with us towards the cross, our faith and relationship with God will transform. What is more, we can rejoice that God by belonging to God, He graciously calls us His friends! 

At the end of his life, Jesus called his disciples “friends” because he had made known to them everything that he could.  He had given his all.  Left it all on the field.  Held nothing back.  He had made a total commitment.

What Jesus asks in return of those who follow Him is that we do the same.  That we take responsibility for our spiritual lives, for our church, for our world and for each other, as friends. 

 June 16, 2023

The Peace Of Belonging to Christ

Isaiah 43:1 (CEV) – Descendants of Jacob, I, the Lord, created you and formed your nation. Israel don't be afraid. I have rescued you. "I have called you by name; now you belong to me." (“Isaiah 43:1 Parallel: But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O ...”)

Romans 5:1 (NLV) – Now that we have been made right with God by putting our trust in Him, we have peace with Him. It is because of what our Lord Jesus Christ did for us.

As we continue to look at what the Bible tells us about belonging to God, we will find that so much about our life in Christ is understanding the way that God has made us members of His family. Here in Isaiah God speaks to us that He wants us to rest in the rescue that He accomplished for us.

In order for us to be at rest and peace with God, to enjoy and to cherish it, we must come to God through the salvation offered by His Son Jesus alone through faith, belief, and repentance.

Belonging to God, should change the way we view belonging to God. We are all looking for a place to belong, for a people group or tribe who will rally around us, telling us that we matter and have worth. But there will always be disappointment because we cannot expect flesh and blood to provide what our divine Father will do.

God tells us repeatedly in His Word that He desires a relationship with us because of His love for us.  We have all the support we need to want a relationship with God. Not only should we desire God, but we should continuously seek to get closer to Him each day.

Then we look at Romans 12:1, Paul writes to those who belong to God as having been made right with God also having peace in God.  The kind of peace Paul describes is different from a sense of calm that we might experience, like a person whose is sat peace with their circumstances. The peace that Paul describes here in Romans 5:1 is a peace that guards us regardless of our circumstances. Paul reminds us that this is a peace that does not make sense to the world but does make sense to all who belong to God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Paul is describing the peace that comes from God and that guards troubled hearts. The word translated as “guard” here is a strong military term. It refers to the close supervision a Roman soldier would have over someone entrusted to his care. In fact, in Paul’s times prisoners were often chained to the Roman guards assigned to watch over them.

The picture in these verses is compelling. The best inner peace is the kind that God that comes from belonging to God through salvation and faith in Jesus Christ.

If we find belonging in the One who holds eternity and our lives together, I think we can face much suffering (which is a natural part of human life) without falling apart entirely. When we know that God still wants us, even when we feel most unlovable, we can face discouraging trials and can do so with unfaltering hope.  

Jesus has proven how much He values us in that He was willing to die for us to be with Him. He has called us by name, adopted us, brought us into His family and called us His children. We belong to Him. We belong. No more searching wondering who could want us in the state we find ourselves. 

God says no matter how we get it wrong in our lives, we always have a place with Him. Thee great news is that God tells us in Roman 8:39 that, “No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. God will continue to pursue us down every path, waiting for us to turn and find true love in His eyes. 

Know today that you have been rescued and now have a place of peace to land in Christ. Jesus wants us, chooses us, and loves us. That is the peace of belonging to Him. 

June 9, 2023

There is Victory in Belonging to God

1st John 4:4-5 (NLT) - But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.  Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. (“1 John 4 NLT - Discerning False Prophets - Dear - Bible Gateway”)

John offers us some of the greatest comfort for those of us who belong to God. Because of the work of Christ, we have been reborn, and we now live in light and are no longer controlled by the darkness of a life of sin.  1st   Corinthians 5:21 in the GNT tells us that Jesus, our advocate, always lives to intercede on our behalf. We read that, “Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.” In accepting Christ, we leave the evil one his influence wo that we can become an eternally adopted child of God and joint heirs with Christ.

So, in 1st John 4, he writes in verses 1 through 3, John offers reassurance of our adoption into the family of God. John goes further here because he offers us great comfort that comes to those who belong to God.

First, John encourages us with the words, "you belong to God." In other words, John saw those who embrace the teaching s of Jesus as true believers in whom God lived.

Next, John adds that we who belong to God have "overcome" or have already “won a victory” over those who do not belong to God. This concept of overcoming or being victorious occurs five other times in John’s letters to believers. John wanted us to fully accept his message that believers have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13, 14) and have overcome the world (1 John 5:4–5).

Finally, John reminds those who are studying God’s Word that the power of Christ, who lives in the believer, is greater than the power of the world. The Holy Spirit living in the Christian is far stronger than any attack by the Devil. This encouragement should empower believers not to fear Satan, but rather trust the Lord and obey His commands. By doing so, we can overcome the powers of darkness and walk with boldness in this life. This is aa part of what God has in store for those who belong to Him.

This victory that John writes about not describing to a temporary victory but this gift comes from the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit of Christ. Satan has been wiped out and crushed. The Holy Spirit has permanently put the evil one under our feet.  At the Cross of Calvary, Jesus victoriously and irreversibly pronounced, "it is finished!"  Because we belong to God, we now have a secure future with him and our victory on God’s enemy and ours is fully assured.  Satan is and will continue to be a defeated enemy.

It was Christ's triumph at the Cross that enabled John to proclaim to all who believe, " But you belong to God, my dear children. Never forget that that a member of God’s family, the evil one has no power. God is greater that the enemy of God can even think or imagine.  Every time he encounters The Holy Spirit, he encounters the sovereign God whose power is   Greater in might, majesty, dominion, and power, who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient and who lives in us.  Now, praise God not only for our belonging to Him but praise Him for our victory in Christ as well! 

June 2, 2023

Knowing That We Belong To God

1st Corinthians 6:19-20 (GW) – Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves.  You were bought for a price. So, bring glory to God in the way you use your body.

Today we begin a new devotional theme: Belonging to God and what it means for those who have come into God’s family through His Son. God’s ownership of His saints is one of the most beautiful truths about our relationship with Him. This one truth alone should continually keep us humble before God because God has placed us under His loving care.  

We know from the time of God’s creative work that God created in each of us an inborn need to belong. We have a need to be the to be the object of someone’s love and affection. We have that need existing in us to experience being known and accepted, to be known and accepted as a member of a place or a group. This has been God’s plan for us to find an experience what it is to truly belong to God Himself. This was present at creation but because off sin, we tend to seek belonging to everything but God. Many of us may feel more strongly about belonging to our families, our social circle, racial or ethnic group, or other groups than we do about belonging to God.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 in strong words that we belong to God. Jesus gave His life so we will be united with Him forever. So, Paul says here that it is our responsibility as those who belong to God to “glorify Him with our bodies.”

Jesus bought our body with a price. Earlier in 1st Corinthians 6:15, Paul says this: Don’t you realize that your bodies are parts of Christ’s body?”  This is the point for all who believe.  Our body is united with Christ. He is in us, and His spirit is living in us. We have been bought with a price because Jesus loved us. We are filled with him, and that is the whole point before this. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Because we belong to God, because God’s Spirit is in us help us to glorify God with our bodies, our thoughts, our actions, our desires, our relationships, our times with others and our times alone.

The important truth is that we do not belong to ourselves or even to the places or people we identify with. We belong to God. In Ephesians 2:10 (GW) Paul writes, “God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.”  There it is: we are His, created in Him, and created for His purpose.

This should dramatically change our sense of belonging. We must understand we are God’s. Therefore, we are cared for, known, loved, and deeply accepted. And as His creation, He gets the ultimate say in who we are and what we do with the things He has given us. This means everything in our lives must first submit to the One who gave us life to begin with. May our lives reflect that we belong to God, and we are His treasured possession.

If you are ever uncertain, remember, that in times of spiritual uncertainty, God’s Word offers this gentle reminder in Psalm 100:3 ((GW): “Realize that the Lord alone is God. He made us, and we are his.
We are his people and the sheep in his care.”

May 26, 2023

God Is the source of Complete Joy.

John 15:11 (NIV) “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

There is so much for us to learn about God’s Joy.  It is our human nature to get discouraged, distressed, and disillusioned when we are faced with tough times. When we hear the word joy, we associate our state of joy with our circumstances. But as Christians, it is important for us to understand the concept of joy so that we can experience the complete joy that Jesus teaches inn John 15:11. We need to know what is necessary for us to experience complete joy. As Christians, we must first understand that our joy is not found in our possessions or accomplishments; rather, it is found in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 16:11 (NIV) David wrote this about the work of God in his life: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Jesus’ presence in our lives and He is the source of all joy.

Because joy is not circumstantial, it cannot be easily shaken as we see with happiness. In fact, joy is about how we choose to respond and the attitude we have about the presence of God and our relationship with Him daily. Joy is about making choices daily about our life in Christ. Are we living in the assurance, full trust, and without doubt that God is the ultimate authority in our lives and then make the choice that no matter my trust will not be shaken by what I see but about my faith in Good.

I love Habakkuk 3:19-19 (NLT) where the prophet declares: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!  The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

Habakkuk learned to rely on his faith in God and tells the people that even in the worst of times, they, and us, should be able to praise God wholeheartedly for the wonderful things that He is doing (past, present, and future. God never takes a vacation and is always working on our behalf.

So where do we find our joy? We can find complete joy only in God. In many instances, the Scriptures direct us to find joy in our hope in God. For example, Psalm 16:8 (NIV) says: I keep my eyes always on the Lord. "With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (“Psalm 16:8 - Bible Hub”) Then in Philippians 4 Paul instructs us to rejoice in the Lord, and not just when times are good because he writes in Philippians 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Another example comes from our target verse here John 15:11, where Jesus tells us that He gives His complete joy to us.

We are given the task by Christ and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to cultivate joy in our lives, even when we are not feeling happy. This does not mean we should fake or hide our emotions. Instead, it means that we can chose to pursue Jesus and the joy we can find in Him in all of our circumstances.  

May 19, 2023

Joy in the Face of Suffering

James 1:2-4 (NIV) – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (“James 1:4 NIV - Let perseverance finish its work so - Bible Gateway”)

The month of May has not unfolded in the way that I had hoped or thought that it would go.  I needed to take time to grieve the loss of my godson, and my preaching and teaching friend at my church.  It is never easy when someone who we love dearly passes away suddenly.  I will admit that I did not want to obedient and study these scriptures on joy that God had previously placed on my heart.

We may expect to suffer as believers but as believers many of us may mistakenly believe that the Christian life is free from suffering. But no seasoned Christian will tell you that is true. Trials are a part of everyone’s experience in this fallen world. Though we experience trials, we can still choose joy because we are being made more like Jesus every day. We also have the everlasting joy of heaven promised to us, and we can look toward it with great hope.

But as I revisit James 1:2-4 here, I know that God knew what was in the future and He had beforehand taken this opportunity to specifically use the difficulties and chal­lenges of daily life, not to cause pain but to work to increase our faith.  Despite beginning our devotions for the month so much later than usual, God has sent us the word that he inspired in the Apostle James to encourage us to see the particularly hard and intense challenges in our lives as “the testing of [our] faith.” James encourages us to “consider it pure joy” when we face ­trials and struggles in our lives. For all who walk by faith, this is certainly one of the most challenging commands in the Bible. It has and continues to be a challenging command to me. But James explains that trials and sufferings in the lives of believers produce a stronger and more robust faith. As 1st Peter puts it in chapter 1, verse seven in the New Living Translation as we read: “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the entire world.  Peter says there is nothing that is not useful for God’s use in our suffering, because we are being refined and made more valuable than gold.

When we see our struggles from this perspective, we can also begin to understand why Paul calls them light and temporary in 2nd Corinthians chapter 4 and verse seventeen and Paul goes further in Romans 8:18 to tell us that this suffering is “not worth comparing with the glory” that awaits us.”

Endurance is a part of godly character and spiritual maturity. We cannot develop endurance without suffering. Endurance also affirms the hope we have in salvation and our relationship with God. As we endure suffering while choosing joy, God will develop deeper character in you.


Suffering can feel senseless, especially if we do not know why it is happening to us. But we do not need to suffer without cause. When we choose to have the right mindset through Christ, we can rise above our suffering and focus on the joy that is possible for us in Christ Jesus.

The only way to walk in a season of grief, hardship, and loss is to understand that like James, Paul, and Peter, we must look to God’s unchanging character to anchor us in our darkest times. When we draw close to Christ in our time of suffering, we can choose joy even within our pain and even be the example that lead others to God through our refining process.

Let this verse from Nehemiah 8:10b be your prayer in every trial:  Today is a holy day for the Lord. Do not be sad because the joy you have in the Lord is your strength.”

April 28, 2023

Been There, Done That? Then Be A Comfort

2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 (TLB) – “What a wonderful God we have—he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does he do this? "So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us." (“2 Corinthians 1:4 - Bible Gateway”) 5 You can be sure that the more we undergo sufferings for Christ, the more he will shower us with his comfort and encouragement.  We are in deep trouble for bringing you God’s comfort and salvation. But in our trouble God has comforted us—and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure.” (“Bible Gateway passage: 2 Corinthians 1:7-9 - Living Bible”)

We know that the places where we serve in our churches and communities has come from our own seasons of brokenness and our desire to help others move forward in the same way that Christ Himself has moved us forward. Maturing in the Word of God contributes to our understanding that our greatest ministries have not come out of our greatest strengths, gifts, or wisdom.  But it comes out of our greatest weaknesses: the things that humble us to our core do not make sense considering the world’s value and will be misunderstood by them.

So, Paul tells us that God gave us our Lord Jesus Christ “who wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our every hardship and trial. Then Paul goes on to explain to the people in the church at Corinth why God has done all of this.  Verse four states that this is so that others in the need of the same comforting that we have now received in Christ can also receive this same comfort from Christ through us.

It seems highly impractical but when we think of organizations like Compassionate Friends, we see the comfort that has come forth from someone else’s devastating circumstances to empathize with others and walk alongside them as they take the same journey that we have also been through.

Paul tells us that when we offer up our brokenness to God, God takes it and turns our weakness into an eternally precious treasure.  He explains that there can be a higher purpose in our suffering: we can pass along to others the comfort we have received from God. In a world where the focus is increasingly on our individual needs, God’s plan is that we would have compassion for one another. God wants us to look beyond ourselves to the needs of the people around us, being like Jesus to them. This is why our ministries are all about furthering the kingdom work of God.     

April 21, 2023

Take Comfort Because Christ Is Our Sustainer

Isaiah 46:4 (NIV) – “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Hebrews 1:3 (NIV) – “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”

It would be so wonderful if we could hold our lives together like the actors do with gorilla glue or duct tape. The truth is that there is a time when everything we know and see will fade away but here again in our words of comfort from God’s Word, God promises that He will always sustain us. What does this mean for us?

For us it means that even in those moments in life when we feel weak, during those moments when we feel fragile, those moments when people have hurt us to the core, during those moments when people run away from us, during those moments when people are talking about us, during those moments when we feel like we have no friends because everyone we thought was our friend disappeared, during those moments when we feel lonely, during those moments when people turn against us, during those moments when things seem to be going all wrong, during those moments when we face loss, during those moments when people laugh at us, during those moments when we lose our jobs, during those moments when relationships fail, during those moments when our health is not good, during those moments when most people seem to be against us or dislike us or even hate us, during all life’s storms; during times like these, we as believers come to know God’s sustaining grace.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God tells us that this sustaining power is continuous. God’s prophet says that whether we are young or old, God will carry us through the storm. This reminds me “Footprints” God promised His people that even when they were in exile that He would carry and sustain them and us.

Look at Hebrews. Jesus, who is God came to purify us and sustain us by the powerful word of the Gospel truth.  Whenever life is going out of control, we have this assurance that God is holding everything together. Find rest and peace in knowing that Christ is “sustaining all things by his powerful Word.”

Isaiah says this about our spirit being renewed in us in Isaiah 57:13 (NIV) says that “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. When we have confessed our sins with a contrite spirit, God revives us! We become God’s dwelling place.

Isaiah goes on to write these words in Isaiah 66: 2 (NIV) - “For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,’ declares the Lord, ‘But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word.”

Now this is our comfort in every situation. Jesus is enough, Jesus sustains us, Jesus is with us even when everyone around us seems to be against us. May we learn to worship God regardless of our circumstances. We are to stand on the promises of God; He does what He says He will do. All we need to do is to bring Him our broken spirit, our broken and contrite heart and He will sustain us in the comfort of His joy. 

April 14, 2023

Take Comfort in God’s Presence

Deuteronomy 31:8 (AMP) – It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (“Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD Himself goes before you; He will ... - Bible Hub”) 

Joshua 1:9 (AMP) – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We all understand in this life that trials, hurt, grief and uncertainty trouble our sense of security and peace. But as believers, we should also know that God has prepared a Word of encouragement for every circumstance that we may encounter. With this in mind, we should ask ourselves what is my go-to scripture to find comfort in God’s Word?

As we look at a theme for April’s devotional thoughts, we will take our time to look at verses that always comfort our heart.  Hopefully, we will come to have a deeper understanding of what God wants us to let go of what we want so that we can let Him manage things for us. 

When we look at the reassurance from God to the Israelites, I can only imagine what is in the people’s hearts. God is taking Moses off the scene. The people had relied solely on Moses to hear God’s voice and then to speak God plan to them. The people trusted Moses and relied on him and now they must face an overwhelming change because now Joshua will play this role in the lives of the people.  

God is reassuring the Israelites that all will be well.  He was removing Moses, not only as their leader, but from their midst and He knew the turmoil they were feeling.  This was a monumental change for these people who had relied on Moses for so long.  His voice was God’s voice; They knew and trusted that voice.  God was giving Moses much needed eternal rest and although He had appointed Joshua as Moses’ successor, God would rule and reign through this next leader as He did with Moses.  

So, here in Deuteronomy and in Joshua, God speaks to us today, just like the Israelites that when we face life altering changes in our life these same words that were once spoken to comfort a people struggling with the changes they were facing: the Lord goes before you; He will be with you and not abandon you or forsake you. God goes on to be strong and courageous because He will always be wherever we are.  It is God’s attention to stay right beside us when we walk in His peace and when we walk in Him.

Take comfort because these verses speak volumes about God’s heart for us and His determination to help us see Him as He really is.   Not only is He always ahead of us carving out a path we are to travel on, but He is able to walk with us as we go through our intimate trials.  He is telling us that there is no reason to be afraid or discouraged because He is not going to abandon us.  He has everything under control and all that is going to happen will happen under His caring and watchful eyes.

Let us look at our situations through God’s Word.  The Lord has promised to go before US, just as He promised Israel. He has promised to be with us always - even to the end of age. What better comfort is there than knowing that God will never fail us nor forsake us. 

Whatever storms God is using in our life, it is for a reason. God will use these situations to strengthen us or change us.  Regardless of the reason for the time of suffering, His promise is that He will go through it with us, and He will be with us in any and every circumstance; whether hard or easy.  That is guaranteed to comfort our hearts. 

Good Friday

April 7, 2023

This Your Identity In Christ!

In this last devotional for March, I would like to look back at what our identity in Christ means for all who have called on the name of Jesus for salvation.  I will not begin new post until after Resurrection Sunday so this really seemed like a good time to remind ourselves of what it should mean to us to be identified in God’s Holy Word by all the love, grace, and mercy that Christ gave to us by His death and glorious Resurrection from the grave.   

We know that God’s enemy wants us to believe that God identifies us by our mistakes, struggles, and every negative thought that reminds us of our shortcomings, but God is infallible and His Word is the same.  He does not lie and every Word that He inspired to be written is the absolute truth.

So, remember that in Christ:

  • §  We are deeply loved. (Romans 8:38-39) 
  • §  We are a child of God.  (Galatians 3:26)
  • §  We are Spiritually Blessed. (2nd Corinthians 9:8)
  • §  We are Precious to God. (Isaiah 43:4)
  • §  We are made alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:4-6)
  • §  We are made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27)
  • §  We are the Ambassadors of Christ. (2nd Corinthians 5:18-20)
  • §  We are friends by Christ. (John 15:12-17)
  • §  We are content in Christ because of Christ. (Philippians 4:13)
  • §  We are God’s Special Possession in Christ. (1st Peter 2:9)
  • §  We are a new creation in Christ. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
  • §  We are God inheritance in Christ. (Deuteronomy 4:20)
  • §  We are protected in Christ. (John 10:27-28)
  • §  We are blameless in Christ. (1st Corinthians 1:8-9)
  • §  We are forgiven in Christ. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
  • §  We are called saints in Christ. (1st Corinthians 1:2)
  • §  We are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:13)
  • §  We who are in Christ, are in Christ’s prayers. (John 17:20-21)
  • §  We have true and complete joy in Christ. (John 15:9-17)
  • §  We are fearfully and wonderfully made in Christ. (Psalm 139:14)
  • §  We are set apart in and by Christ. Jeremiah 1:5; Hebrews 10:10)
  • §  We are the salt and light of the earth in Christ. (Matthew 5:13-16)
  • §  We are made complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:9-10)
  • §   We are more that conquerors in Christ! (Romans 8:37)

Let every part of your identity in Christ become part of your relationship with Him, how you function for Him. No longer should we let Satan makes us think that we are less that we are walk in the identity that has been given to each of us from God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Be blessed as you celebrate all that Christ did for us from the cross to the grave to His Resurrection and the promise that He is coming back for us.