Word for Today Archives

9/19/21 Subtle

If we say we smell a hint of unknown in a certain fragrance, that is, if we perceive some mystery scent within it, we say it’s subtle, not at all overbearing or offensive. If we become obsessed enough to determine it, we may have to smell it again and again or call the candle company. If we perceive subtleties within some passage of written word, the passage may be difficult for us to analyze; it may be hard to determine its underlying meaning; nevertheless, we are drawn to it. Subtleties. This is the go-to method of the devil. It’s his subtle ways that attract us, that cause us to wonder, to second-guess. His soft-spoken schemes cast doubt, make us question our values; Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad to go ahead and  ________.  I mean, after all, I deserve it. Remember Eve’s dilemma in the garden? Listen folks; the devil is a liar, but he’s also clever. He is highly manipulative and cunning, charming even. He knows what you like and, even more importantly, he knows what you need. He’s patient, which is why his subtle ways bear beautiful fruit. Now, subtly on its own isn’t a bad thing but when used to manipulate someone, to move them to sin, it then becomes a bad thing. If you’re the prey, before long, you’ll find yourself suffocating in the quicksand of guilt and shame. Guard your heart, people. Don’t be fooled. The devil is only out to destroy you. Period. (Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1; Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8; 

9/18/21 – Enlarge

Back in 2000, Bruce Wilkinson wrote a New York Times #1 bestseller entitled, The Prayer of Jabez. It sold more than 10 million copies, so I’m wondering how I missed it. But when I recollect the year, 2000, I wasn’t really into prayers, scripture, or anything spiritual for that matter. Since then, I’ve re-dedicated my life to the purposes God has for me; so hopefully, this book will mean something now. I’ve written about it in a blog dated, September 15, if you’d like to know more. Here though, I’ll deal with just the word, enlarge. Jabez prayed that the Lord would enlarge his coast, his circle of influence. As an introvert, I have a tad of anxiety when I imagine my talking to people about Jesus, especially to those I don’t know. Today, I will be in 2 cities that are unfamiliar to me, and I pray that somehow, my coast will be enlarged, that I can have influence there. That’s up to the Lord and then up to me to say yes(Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:10; But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8)

9/17/21 – Tolerance

Tolerance is the ability to accept someone else’s feelings, habits, or beliefs whether you agree or not. Tolerance appears to be the attribute people all over the world seem to be lacking these days. At the time of this writing, at least in the US, race relations are at an all-time low. Concerning health, maskers are intolerant of non-maskers. Pockets of vaccinated people are intolerant of the un-vaccinated; the reverse is also true. I have never experienced a more divided nation, a more divided world than I do right now. The conflict between political parties, within churches, and God-forbid, even within families, whether you agree or not, has been launched by the devil. His status as the god of this world must be ending soon because his agenda seems more desperate than ever; it is his plan to divide. I believe he initiated the divide-and-conquer principle way back in the garden and then set it up brilliantly. Unfortunately, it has been circulating among groups of people without a hitch ever since. The pages of the Bible are saturated with it, let alone the countless number of recorded historical accounts since then. These documentations prove the effectiveness of this principle, and until Jesus comes, it will continue to be the method of choice because nothing else compares to it. What do we do now? Jesus requires us to be tolerant of each other unless the principles set forth in scripture are violated. Other than that, why not agree to disagree? (He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 17:15; Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8)

9/15/21 – Wrestle

In the world of wrestling, the mental game is as important, if not more than the strength of it. If a wrestler is not mentally focused on beating his opponent, he will lose no matter how much he weighs or the amount of strength he exerts. If you’re breathing, there’s a good chance you’re competing in your own wrestling match. Maybe your opponent is some lifelong sin. Perhaps it’s a friend, family member, or co-worker that has you all wound up. What negative thoughts have you in a chokehold? News Flash: The devil is your real enemy in the ring; he wants total control of your mind, and unless you make the decision to finally wrestle these things down, to fight for your life, like the mentally unprepared wrestler, you will lose. God wants nothing more than victory for you. If you’re a true follower of Christ, you have been given the gift of His Holy Spirit’s power to overcome the devil. Are you using it? (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8; For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12)

9/15/21 – Heaven

Do you ever think about it? Do you long for it? If you live here in the US, unless you’re suffering, you probably neither think about it nor long for it. Because we enjoy the benefits a prosperous nation extends, and that’s no fault of our own, we don’t really need something better. We already have it. It’s hard for us to imagine someplace more beautiful than the earth God already created. But what about those Christians combating extreme poverty and illness in impoverished nations? They’re longing for heaven to an extreme (if that’s even possible). As a teenager, I remember saying, I hope the Lord doesn’t come back until I get married. After I was married I said, I hope the Lord doesn’t come back until after I have kids… and then grandkids. Now that I’ve experienced all of that, along with countless sorrows from the trials of life sprinkled in, I confess that He can come now. In fact, He can come quickly. I’m ready. It’s enough to make a person feel a little guilty, isn’t it? Well, don’t. Just be thankful, and get ready for the real heaven. It’s gonna knock your socks off. (But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—1 Corinthians 2:9; He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5)

9/14/21 – Advise

Today’s word is similar to yesterday’s word, advice. When I’m looking for advice, I want to get it from someone who’s first, knowledgeable about the subject of which I lack knowledge, and second, from someone who’s a natural at advising, someone who got a decent track record. If you went to college, you probably had an advisor assigned to you. This person’s job was to guide you through the class scheduling process. Advisors must know their stuff, presume your stuff and be trustworthy. Even before your initial meeting, you hope you’ll hear something like, How can I help you? Securing an appointment can be frustrating, and time with them is certainly limited (10-15 minutes max), but once you get in, the advisor’s job is to quickly knit together a top-notch schedule that seamlessly fits with your scholastic goals. I’m so glad I don’t have to make an appointment with the best advisor, the wonderful counselor, the Almighty God who knows me better than even I know me. I’m so grateful that at any time, day or night, I can meet with Him about anything and without time constraints! There’s great comfort in that. (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6; And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15)

9/13/21 – Advice

Lately, I’ve been seeking advice like a dog digging in the earth and searching for a bone. Buster knows it’s down there somewhere; he just cannot quite get to it. Have you been there? Maybe the advice I’m after can’t be acquired from a human being. Maybe it’s only something God knows, and He’s the only One to give it. Sometimes, we seek human opinions about things, which is okay. It’s just that God knows everything. Already. It’s done. It’s sealed in the pages of His word. The thing that makes sense is to go to Him. Seek Him in prayer and in His word. I mean, why would we trust in human wisdom and insight instead? A good friend emailed me her thoughts PLUS a whole chapter in Romans (she literally wrote it out) about a situation with which I’m dealing, and wow. How about wise, human counsel AND God’s holy scripture? What a combo! (Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:20-21; Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2)

9/11/21 – Memorial

This day, we remember the heroes of 9/11. Do you recall where you were and what you were doing the morning of September 11, 2001? I’m sure most people do, except for those who were perhaps too young or too old. The sacrifices made by folks aboard flight 93 are forever etched in my memory. I remember the firefighters and policemen of New York City and their great sacrifices. I remember the hundreds of people who gave their own lives to help others to safety. What a tragic day in the history of our great country. Another tragic, yet the most victorious day for every Christian was the day Jesus Christ sacrificed His own life so that we could live forever. Have you made the decision to give up your life, that is, to abandon your old life to follow Him? To turn from your way to go His? It’ll soon be too late to decide. Don’t wait, for his return is so close. (Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14; Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2)

9/10/21 – Practice

As a lifelong student of music, many of my years were spent practicing, attempting to master the piano. My past efforts have certainly paid off; as now, I am receiving rewards of all kinds. I’ll have to admit that practicing wasn’t always a joy-filled occasion. It was downright painful at times, both in learning difficult songs and in listening to my mother’s orders to play it 5 more times. I can thank her now, but back then, I wanted to throw that piano out of the window and hide in the closet. If I had thrown in the towel, I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now. Like practicing the piano, my private time with the Lord now, in the calm, is preparing me for my time with Him in the crisis. It will surely come knocking, and the amount of time spent with Him will determine what effect that crisis will have on me. (Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44; This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8)

9/9/21 – Choices

We do have them, don’t we? From simple to complex, hundreds of them compete for our mind’s attention everyday. It’s a sobering thought that our entire life is determined by the choices we make, a simple yes or no. Our choices cause the events in our lives, whether good or bad, great or small, to manifest. We are in total control of the choices we are privileged to make. Unlike a river that meanders within its banks knowing no real purpose except that which has already been determined, we have the will and ability to set our own course. The choices we make lay the foundation of the building we live in, form the path of the trail we walk, determine the course of our river. If we are walking the path that Jesus has laid out for us, the choices we make will bring peace and joy to our lives. He wants nothing more. (And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21; Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8)

9/7/21 – Before

Before, I was…now I am changed. Jesus is all about before and after. He told His disciples that if they left everything they’d known and followed Him, they would change the world. Who were they before they followed Him? The accounts of their lives are penned in the gospels of the Bible, and I encourage you to read about them. Who were you before He changed you? Like the old hymn says, I once was lost, but now, I’m found; was blind but now, I see. How lost was I? How blind was I? Very. Even though I’d been sitting under the gospel message for years, I was lost. I had no relationship with Jesus. I shudder to think that if He would’ve returned back then, He’d have said, to my face, Depart from Me. I never knew you. Do you really know Him, or is the shame you’re living in blocking you from Him? What does your before look like? Or are you still in it? (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19)

9/6/21 – Obstacle

What is that roadblock, that barrier, or even that little hiccup keeping you from your predetermined life’s work? Who or what is tampering with the tools God gave you to perform the mission to which He has called you? Besides the devil acting behind the scenes, you can probably pinpoint some ungodly activity or a perhaps it’s a person who’s running interference. Has a friend slithered in and become your idol? How about your children? Do they take precedence over God? Your mate? Is it your financial situation that has you feeling stranded? Maybe it’s your church teaching an alternate gospel message. Could it even be you who’s holding you captive? We are rarely in the dark about it; that is, we usually know exactly who or what is holding us back. Ask the Lord for supernatural strength from on high to overcome your obstacle(s). Plead with Him to help you break those heavy chains. He will, certainly, but you, my friend, must want it badly enough to finally and fully surrender. (No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13; Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.. Psalm 37:24)

9/5/21 – With

When I want someone to come with me, I want him or her to be by my side, not to dominate me, not to provide security for me, and not to help me. I want them with me so that we can experience life together, to communicate with one another, and to just be. This is what Oswald Chambers says Jesus wanted from His disciples. He wanted them to be with Him. At times of weakness, they found it difficult, as they were human and He was God. Some things He taught, they could not understand. The Bible says that their hearts were certainly willing, but their flesh was weak. My prayer today is that I can be with Jesus. I pray for that wisdom, understanding, discernment, and insight it takes to simply abide in Him. I pray that I will see when He shows me, that I will hear and understand what He is communicating to me, and that I will obey if that is what He asks of me. (Then He said to them, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” Matthew 26:38; And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Matthew 26:40)

9/4/21 – End

My vacation has come to an end, as most things do. The question today is, where will you go at the very end of your life? After you’ve drawn your last breath? Will you be in the grave? In heaven? In purgatory? In hell? The Bible says that There is a time to be born and a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:2) There is an appointed time for man to die once, and after that, the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) It is your belief about the afterlife that determines where you will spend eternity. By believing that Jesus was the Son of God, confessing your sins to Him, and accepting Him as your savior, the Bible says you’ll go to Heaven where you’ll spend eternity. Why wouldn’t you want heaven to be your eternal home? Why not make that decision to accept Jesus today? Before it’s too late? What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain? Play it out. If I’m wrong, you’ve lost nothing. But what if I’m right? (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16; esus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live… John 11:25)

9/3/21 – Break

We all need a break, don’t we? Breaks of all sorts. I have had such a long one this year. Because of my schedule, the month of August is the best time to break from teaching. Previously, I took breaks from prayer and Bible reading as well during this time. Have you ever done that? News Flash: Taking a break from the Lord is never a good idea. If He is the One constant in your life, doesn’t it make sense that He remain that way? The relationship that’s keeping you centered should not go unnoticed, even for a day. In fact, when we need rest or a break, He invites us to come to Him, for He is the rest we need. (Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30; You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3)

9/2/21 – Set

To set, according to Macmillian, is to put someone or something somewhere or to make something happen. It is an action for which we are responsible. When the Bible tells us to set our affections on things above and not on things of this earth, it is something that requires action on our part. We can certainly ask for help from above, but when it is in our power to think about heavenly things, we have no excuse. Unless we have been diagnosed as having no faculty of cognition, that is, we are unable to think and make decisions on our own, we are responsible for what goes in and out of our minds. Take responsibility for your thoughts and have that peace for which you’re longing. (Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2; But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:23)

9/1/21 – Guard

It is the valuable thing that is stolen. My heart (mind, will, or inner man) is my most prized possession and can be taken from me if I’m not guarding it with all that I have. The Bible tells us to guard it because everything we do flows from it. With so many outside distractions, it’s easy to get pulled away. The devil knows that when we become sick or tired, or when we experience loss, we’re particularly vulnerable. Because it usually happens gradually, we don’t even know we’re being deceived until it’s too late. How do we guard our hearts so that we keep our peace? Paul tells us in Philippians that we should pray (beg earnestly and humbly); let our requests be made known to God, and then to give thanks. Then the peace of God, which passes all human understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Decide. Don’t wait until you’ve failed. Get ready now. (Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11)

8/31/21 – Worry

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Jesus poses this question to His disciples in Matthew 6:27. Worry is born of fear and lack of trust in the person you’re depending on, including yourself. We all do it, but why? Simply, we want to control or to manage our life so that only good things come. We arrange, organize, and plan. Those things aren’t bad to do, but the trouble comes when we add worry to them. We think we preempt disappointment by worrying, but the truth is that we can’t see into the future. Only God knows it. He says that in this world, we will have trouble. But I go back and reread the first sentence of this post. Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? The answer is, no. It doesn’t add time to your life, but it does add stress, anxiety, and in some extreme cases, hospitalization. I say, no thanks. Let your mind rest in the sovereignty of God. Take charge of it and focus on things that are lovely, pure, honest, of good report. Virtuous things. Things worthy of praise. (And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8)

8/30/21 – Long-Suffering

Why doesn’t God severely punish the evil people of this world? Why doesn’t God give up on people who deny Him? Because He is long-suffering. The Bible says that He isn’t willing that any should perish. Oh, that I would have even a small portion of it. One of the fruits of the spirit that we all need these days as Christ-followers is that of long-suffering, or what the dictionary defines as patience in spite of our troubles, especially when caused by others. Ask the Lord for an extra measure today and see if He doesn’t pour out an exorbitant amount of it onto you. (But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

8/29/21 – Replace

Replacing a filthy air filter is not an extremely pleasing activity but a necessary one if I want to breathe cleaner air. Leaving it too long will eventually clog everything, and my lungs are no exception. When we decide to follow Christ, instead of continuing on our old, sinful path, we turn and face the opposite direction, and we begin walking that way. With Bible-reading, prayer, and with the help of the Holy Spirit’s discernment, we will learn to replace our sinful habits with godly ones. Because we still have our sinful nature, we will sin, but we will be quick to repent of it and then we begin again. The point is to replace sinfulness with holiness. (You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…Ephesians 4:22; Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31)

8/27/21 – Mistake

You make them, yes, but you are not mistake. That’s where you have it all wrong. You make mistake after mistake and then you label yourself a mistake. No. God doesn’t make mistakes. He made you. You are sinful, but you are not a mistake. Focusing on your mistake is like getting your car stuck in the mud. When you focus on the mud and not the car you remain stuck. The real problem is when you continue living in the mud. If you are a true Christ-follower, you may have a slip, but as you allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide, you will eventually overcome your habitual sin. At some point, you will escape it. You will finally break free and drive on the open road. But it isn’t until you desire to stop focusing on your mistakes, purpose to avoid them and then practice doing right that living in freedom finally becomes a new way of life. (There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9)

8/26/21 – Learn

I’ve been reading about the children of Israel in Exodus these past few days, and I find myself shaking my head at their inability to learn from their mistakes. How could they so easily forget what the Lord did for them time and time again? Yet, because of their stubbornness and lack of faith in God, they experienced so much anxiety and grief. When their expectations weren’t met on their time schedule, they murmured, the Bible says. They became selfish and began to complain. I find myself asking as I’m reading about them, When will these people ever learn? Look at all God has done for them! Look at all the blessings He has poured out on them. And in a flash, God interrupts my judgment and turns it on me. What about you, He seems to ask. In my spirit, I hear him say, You do the very same things. (Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. Psalm 25:8-9; Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3;7)

8/20/21 – Purpose

What is my purpose for being here? I’ve heard this question asked by people many times in my life. Why was I born? While I have no real answer for that person specifically, I can speak for myself and hopefully, it will make sense to you. If we have made the decision to follow Christ, our purpose is to be like Him and to bring people to the knowledge of Him; that is, to spread the gospel in whatever way God has equipped us to do it. If you’re reading this post and have not made the decision to follow Christ, I am accomplishing my purpose. Some people have the gift of speaking. Some have the gift of writing. Some have other unique talents He uses, and then He does the rest. You will be placed in situations in which you will be the one, hand-picked to speak, write, or to simply be. If you’re a true Christ follower, you’ve probably heard the statement, There’s something different about you, or I want what you have. By simply being, you are Jesus’ witness. How can you be a magnet to people who don’t know the truth about Jesus? Be like Him. Be holy as He is holy. Ask Him what He would have you to do. Supernaturally, you’ll know, and then you’ll do. Don’t miss it. (But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 9:16; I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. Psalm 57:2)

8/19/21 – Anything

It’s difficult, when consumed by so many outside distractions, to focus on Christ. I just returned from a long vacation out West. Even while vacationing, I allowed myself to become consumed with the concerns of the trip, the reservations that had to be made, the hours and hours of driving to get there, and even by the beauty around me. Have you been there? I had every intention to spend quality time with the Lord, but I became distracted by these other things. I had intended to rest, but I was distracted even from that. I will try again in 2 days, as I will take my final vacation of the year. My intention is to rest. It is to focus more on the Lord; focus on who He is and what He has for me. Anything else is frivolous. Anything that comes between the Lord Jesus and me is a distraction. I am reminded of Martha in the Bible. She allowed the cares of her life to get in the way of what was truly important. I’ll let you know how I did when I return…(But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Luke 10:39-40; But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33)

8/10/21 – Trouble

Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it. We avoid it at all costs. Jesus reminded His disciples in John 16 of the Bible that in this world, we will have trouble. It’s evident throughout all of history, and we are experiencing it now. Trouble is all around us these days. You might be suffering extreme trouble as you read this post. But in your grief, know that you have control over how troubled you allow yourself to become. Remember that the way in which you respond to this trouble is the key to either your joy or your despair. Jesus also said, Let not your heart be troubled. It’s a command and something you must do. You, let not your heart be troubled. Self-pity is the gasoline on the fire. It’s okay to grieve for a while, but then it will be time to laugh. (I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4)

8/6/21 – Call

It’s mysterious, this call of God on my life. I was reading my favorite devotional, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, and he shed light on this most supernatural wonder. God, by His grace, has something for me to do. He knows what He is after. This call usually involves the breaking of the will, a humbling, or some sort of a disturbance. It’s really not until I come to the end of myself that I finally give up my will for my life and decide to trust His. The call of God is like the call of the sea. Nobody hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him-Oswald Chambers. (Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…1 Timothy 1:9)

8/4/21 Away

Sometimes it’s good to get away. We all need time to recalibrate. Our day-to-day tasks and responsibilities can become mundane if we don’t recharge. For you workaholics, there’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation, a day off, or an extra-long lunch break. Studies show that taking a much-needed recess can lower stress levels, blood pressure, and your risk of heart disease. Even Jesus had time off from His earthly ministry. He’d visit friends, take His disciples on little respites, and He spent time alone. Take time for yourself and get away if you can. It’ll do you a world of good. (And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6: 31-32; For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:11)

7/30/21 – Lie

To lie is to intentionally make a false statement. The fact that we plan to deceive shows how evil this sin really is. Lying is one of the saddest sins of all and is not only fear-based, but it’s rooted in pride. To feel we must lie, we may have behaved shamefully, whether we lied to get rich, to get a mate, or because we hurt someone. Telling the truth about it would tarnish our reputation. We deceive ourselves when we decide that shining the light on the truth isn’t worth it. We’d rather keep it hidden to avoid the consequences. We lie because the truth hurts. Rather than to harm people (ourselves included) with the truth, we lie with the What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him hogwash. News Flash: Eventually, the truth will come out. It always does. And then what? We’ve suddenly lost our credibility, we’re no longer trusted, and we’ve the lost our most prized relationships; talk about consequences…(For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17; A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin. Proverbs 26:28; Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. Psalm 120:2)

7/29/21 – Inside

A gift wrapped in glistening paper and topped with ribbons and bows of satin might produce a smile for the recipient, but it’s what’s inside that gift that matters. It’s the same with your heart. The condition of your heart is the only thing that counts in the end. But a heart, no man can see; only God sees inside and determines the motives behind every deed, whether good or bad. You can look and act as holy as Father Flanagan, but if your heart has not been truly transformed, you are nothing but a whitewashed tomb, full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean, Jesus said. A truly transformed heart produces new and improved actions. Jesus cleverly uses a tree to teach about this supernatural change of heart. He says that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. The opposite is also true; a bad tree cannot bear good fruit; therefore, Jesus said, A tree is known by the fruit it bears. Are you bearing the fruits of a spirit-filled disciple of Christ? Let’s look at the list: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. Here’s a look at the other list: Murder, sexual immorality, Idolatry, Envy, Deceit, Theft, Jealousy, Lust, Dissensions, and Anger. Whatever the condition of your heart, these fruits flow naturally out of it. Whatever is in your heart will be exposed by your actions. (The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45; As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19)

7/28/21 – Heed

Heed isn’t used much in today’s conversations. But since I’ve heard it used in church over the years, heed sparks a sort of yikes, or an uh-oh inside me. See to it. Watch out. Carefully consider. Someone who’s been around the block might say, Take it from me, or You’d better listen up. Jesus used this word, heed, when speaking. He knew what was coming, what was on the horizon and wanted his followers to know it too. Now, certainly, I’m by no means a scholar of the Greek language, but in doing a tiny bit of research, I found that the Greek word for heed is blepo and is used 159 times in the New Testament. When Jesus told his disciples: Take heed that no one deceives you in the last days, He desperately wanted them to see, to discern the signs of the times, to have the understanding by seeing with the mind’s eye, so-to-speak. If we don’t spend time getting to know Jesus, we won’t take heed. And why would we? But if we don’t, we won’t know, so consequently, we won’t understand. I don’t know about you, but I like to know what’s up, what’s going on. It’s in knowing Jesus that we learn, and then we are able to see, hear, and know what we need to know to be ready for His soon return. (But take heed: behold, I have foretold you all these things. Mark 13:23; And he said, Take heed that you are not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draws near: go not after them. Luke 21:8)

7/27/21 – Coward

Has anyone ever called you a coward, either to your face or behind your back? Do people view you as milk toast or as spineless? Are you someone who is afraid to confront, to fight back, to stand up and fight for the truth? As I sit here writing this Word for Today entry, my heart palpitates, for I have, in times past, been labeled a non-confrontational person; in more precise words, a coward. I have felt the way Moses must have felt when speaking to the children of Israel; he lacked confidence and eloquence while speaking. I can write words that cut to the quick until the cows come home, but ask me to confront privately or to speak publicly, and I become a mumbling fool. The truth is that if God wants to use me to speak up about something, His power will be behind it, not mine. For centuries, God has used the weak people of this world to confound the wise. That’s how we know it’s His work in us that makes us able to do this or that, not ours. If God is urging you to confront, and News Flash: You’ll know by the feeling in your gut, ask Him for His power to do it. Be like Nathan, whom God used to confront David’s sin. It’s a scary thing to give up your cowardice and trust God to speak through you, but if He’s leading, the confrontation will produce a positive outcome for both parties. (“As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” 2 Samuel 12:5-7; Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him…Luke 17:3)

7/25/21 – Rules

When you play the game, there must be rules. It’s not a free-for-all. Otherwise, why bother playing? What’s the point? Walking with Jesus, however, is not adhering to a set of rules to obey, contrary to popular Christian beliefs. Some have asked, What about the 10 Commandments? Aren’t they a set of rules? Yes, they are and they were given by God to serve as a guide to remind the Israelites of their sinfulness. They would still sin, but there would be forgiveness through sacrifice. Since Jesus has come and has provided a holy and perfect sacrifice through His own death on the cross, we, as true Christ-followers, now have the gift of His Holy Spirit inside us, guiding us, giving us discernment. Our desire for sin will wane. Will we still sin? Of course we will, but we will supernaturally desire to live the life the 10 Commandments speak about. As we grow in our faith and in our relationship with Him through prayer and Bible-reading, our priorities change; our thoughts and desires become more like His without the need for rules. (But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23; “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6)

7/24/21 – Intent

I love watching crime dramas on the screen. I’m not sure why; maybe because I like to observe the ins and outs of evidence-collecting and processing, but ultimately, seeing the culprit caught and given his/her due consequences is so satisfying. Someone is murdered; someone is guilty. Although in most situations, it’s not that cut and dried. It’s the intent that’s ultimately judged and not the actual crime. Intent is the focal point. It’s finding the truth behind the why of the matter that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s the reason a final verdict in a crime case can be so difficult for the jury to determine. How can we judge intent? Motive? The heart? Even in our own lives, we sometimes don’t know our own motives. The only One who fully knows every person’s intentions, sinner and saint alike, is the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are truly born again, our desires change. Our desire to manipulate and calculate diminishes. Our evil intents transform supernaturally as a result of our accepting His free gift of salvation and with it, the discernment of His Holy Spirit. (I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:25; …for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought… 1 Chronicles 28:9)

7/23/21 – Struggle

I remember my struggling to haul a 50-pound suitcase, a large carry-on bag, a camera case, and an over-sized purse down to the first floor of a swanky Hawaiian hotel from the 25th. You see; the entire island had suffered a power outage while we were killing time in the 1st floor gift shop. Because we hadn’t thought to consolidate (we were on our honeymoon), we each had 2 weeks worth of luggage. Since we were leaving by plane within the hour and hadn’t brought our luggage down with us, reality set in when the bellmen only laughed at our adverse situation. Apparently they’re bellmen who only help if they can ride the elevator. Imagine climbing 25 flights of stairs in a cramped stairwell (with lots of other people) and then struggling to get 8 heavy bags to the lobby. It was painful, but we made it. We had to. The struggle to let go of our wants and desires and surrender them to the Lord can be even more difficult. It’s saying no to ours and saying yes to His. This process of sanctification (handing ourselves completely over to God) is what He demands. He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword. If any man come to me and hate not his own life, he can’t be my disciple. He’s clear on it, struggle or not. And it’s for our benefit that we sign off on it. (We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6; Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5)

7/21/21 – Deception

The devil wants nothing more than to deceive you and me. If he can trick us into believing we are fine and are in need of nothing concerning Jesus and His work on the cross, we are in serious trouble. The devil is the god of this world and his time is running out. Don’t be deceived by anything or anyone posing as a deliverer unless it is Jesus Christ. There are all kinds of alluring old and new scientific theories that are capturing the attention of the intelligent and vulnerable. There are zillions of different religions and spiritual practices floating around seeking to win you over with magic dust and other cultish activities. They claim to know the way and the truth to God. But let me tell you something. If you’re not worshipping the Holy God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and if you’ve not accepted the only way of salvation through the sacrifice of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, and His death on the cross, you are deceived, my friend. Don’t be fooled; the devil is oh, so clever, for even your own heart will deceive you. False gods and religions might be neatly packaged and wrapped in dazzling paper, but inside, you’ll find nothing but falsity and emptiness. Come away. Leave those false gods before it’s too late. (And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. Matthew 24: 3-5; See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8)

7/20/21 – Control

Unless you have some sort of influence, an “in” with the electric company, you have virtually no control over the presence of electricity in your home or office. The frustration that comes when you flip the light switch and nothing happens is an annoyance you’d rather live without. It’s true; there are worse things than a power outage, but I can’t think of one at this powerless moment. Control is what all humans want, because to be out of it leaves us feeling fearful, angry, and vulnerable to all types of stressors. It’s a beautiful thing to be in control, isn’t it? We’re at the top of our world, in charge, and getting what we want. What’s more comfortable than that? The truth is that nobody, not the power company, not the mayor, governor, president, king, your mother, or any other human is in complete control of anything, least of all, you. News Flash: The only One calling the shots is Almighty God. It’s His hand that’s guiding the universe. It is only by His allowance that anything good or bad occurs. He knows it all and controls it all. He is never surprised. This information should provide comfort if we’re part of His family; He takes care of His own. He is the beginning and the end. He is yesterday, today, and forever. (Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21; The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…Isaiah 14:24)

7/17/21 – Motive

We cannot judge someone else’s motive because we cannot see into someone else’s heart. Only One person can do the judging of motives. He’s the One who sees our hearts, our soul; for it is He Who made us. He knows us even better than we do. He sees from the inside out. Because we don’t want to be fully known, we plan to deceive. To get what we want, we manipulate; we scheme and use artificial flavoring to season our self-centered goals. We use flattery and fakery to win people over. Why can’t we just be who we really are? Why can’t our motives simply be pure? It’s because we don’t like who we really are. We don’t feel worthy to be adored on our own true merit. Who we are isn’t enough, so we plot and plan to seduce people into believing what’s not true about us. Our motive? It all comes down to pride; it’s the agent in all of us that kills everything. It’s the root of all kinds of evil. (These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. Jude 1:6; …For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7)

7/15/21 – Express

verb – to convey (a thought or a feeling) in words or by gestures and conduct, that is to demonstrate or to show. We can express our love for someone in words, but I say the expression of our true feelings is embedded in our actions. What do we do to express our love? We tell our children we love them. We say we love our wife or our husband. We say we love Jesus, but our actions say we’d rather do what we like to do, or to do things our way. How do you express your love for someone? Words alone just don’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong; words are nice, but actions speak so much louder to my sensitive ears. Jesus said, If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments. Even Jesus demonstrated His love for His Father by obeying Him. To keep (perform) is something we do. Now, if you don’t know what Jesus’ commandments are, grab a Bible (hard copy or online), and you’ll find them in Exodus chapter 20. Check yourself: If the way you’re expressing love to Jesus is contrary to this list, your love for Him might not be true love at all. (Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. John 14:21; …”but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” John 14:31)

7/14/21 – Up

Somehow, this word brings hope to me. Up. Things are looking up. Look up, for your redemption draws near, are 2 thoughts that come to me almost immediately. At the top of the mountain, I am up. I’m viewing the world from the highest point I’ve chosen to reach. When I’m up, I can look down and see from whence I came. The journey to up is difficult, whereas the journey to down is a slow and almost unnoticeable decent. Climbing higher usually requires more exertion. There must be rests somewhere between down and up. Nevertheless, climbing higher is the goal. Whether we reach higher is up to us. We may decide to camp at the midpoint, but there’s not much to see there, for we are still in the forest, in the trees, a place we ultimately decide we cannot stay. We’ve heard the idiom; I can’t see the forest for the trees. But when we’re up above the forest, like the eagle, we can perhaps see why things happened the way they did. We learn so much during the slow and treacherous and sometimes frightening climb to up that we figure we can survive anything. The journey to up is worth knowing if we but make the decision and don’t look down. (But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31; The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:

7/13/21 – Remove

Have you yet come to a point in your life pledging full devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ? Or must He perform surgery to remove whatever is taking His place? He will, you know, so be ready. The Bible says that the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. If you are called according to His purpose, or you’re about to be, then one-by-one, He will remove the people and things that take time away from His plans for you. Things that are of more importance to you than He is will be ejected from the game. Until He gets you to the place where you are totally dependent on Him for everything, life can feel uncertain, upside-down, and sometimes, not even worth living. Experience grants me permission to say that it’s painful; no doubt about that, but after recovery, joy replaces the wounds of sadness and loneliness. Overwhelming peace replaces intense anxiety and frustration. (For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17; Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5)

7/12/21 – Measure

In our chosen social circle, we like to measure up, to be good enough or smart enough to hang with certain people, to fit in, to be one of the gang. The minute we feel we don’t click or that we are unable to track with those with whom we desired to mesh, we’re soon tiptoeing out the back. What is the measurement? Why do we choose these people in the first place? What is the standard? If we desire to measure up to any standard besides the standard of Jesus, we’re way off the mark. And to know what His mark, standard, or measurement is, we must know Him. Everything He was about is in the Bible. If we’re not reading it, we can’t know Him. It’s in the Holy Spirit-inspired words of scripture that we see for ourselves what our standard of measurement needs to be. It’s not enough to hear others talk about Him. We must seek a one-on-one relationship with Him. And after that, we must want Him and not only what He can do for us. (The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4; For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:2)

7/11/21 – Worship

Worship the One Who is worthy to be praised! Thank you, Father, for all You’ve done in my life. There have been many good things that have come my way and many bad things as well, but I praise You Lord, that You work all things, ALL things, both good things AND bad things, together for GOOD to those who are called according to His purpose. I know this. Take a minute to imagine the worst event to take place in your life. God promises to turn it around for good! The debilitating illness with which you’ve been plagued. Those divorce papers that were served to you. The death of someone you dearly love. I could go on and on. The Lord is near to those whose hearts are broken. He knows and he will work it out for good. How? We cannot imagine how anything good could possibly come in the midst of our grief. But it’s a guarantee that it will. It’s a promise. Worship the Lord in your grief. Good will come. Look forward to it. One of these days. (And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5; The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18)

7/10/21 – Uncertainty

There is something disappointing about uncertainty, especially when we’re suddenly awakened to new information that changes the whole game, a sort of wide-eyed, Huh? Our initial feeling is that we can’t change our game, and that it’s too late. We were just fine believing what we had staked our whole life upon. Now, it’s as if we have been sucker-punched and are left grieving a disillusion. But before throwing in the towel, before surrendering to something we’re still very uncertain about, we must calm down. Gather all the evidence. There are so many end-time theories floating around out there; are we, as Christ-followers, granted entrance to heaven before the great tribulation starts, do we get out of here midway, or must we endure the whole thing? When we are unsure of our future, we must study what the scriptures say and then pray with gusto for Holy Spirit discernment. Lots of it. Talk about a game-changer…(But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Daniel 12:24; For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Matthew 24:21-22)

7/9/21 – Reliable

In their absence, parents rely on the babysitter to adequately care for their children. When we purchase a new car, we rely on it to take us from here to there without incident. If there’s one thing I want people to believe about me, it’s that I’m reliable. If I say I will do thus-and-such, I do it. Unless some unforeseen circumstance beyond my control puts a wrench in the plan, I will be there on your doorstep with a meal. I will serve in church. I will help my mom clean her deck. Saying I’ll do something for someone is quite different than actually doing it. Do I always succeed? No. And I can say from experience that my selfishness is usually somewhere behind the scenes of my unreliability. In truth, people cannot trust unreliable people. Jesus is the epitome of reliability. If we would copy Him, the One who always does what He says He’ll do and on time, we would be at peace with ourselves. We will have accomplished something. Go ahead. See it through. Be reliable and feel the goodness of it. (One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. Luke 16:10; You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3)

7/8/21 Storm

By definition, a storm is a violent disturbance of the atmosphere, or it is also defined as a tumultuous reaction, uproar. Either way, a storm is a disruption to our general way of living, and its severity usually dictates our reaction to it. Sometimes we’re warned of its approach and sometimes we’re not. This depends entirely on who’s privy to the information and how quickly they can get it out. Ages ago, Noah was that man. He received the shocking information that the world would be destroyed. He listened to God’s instructions, he warned the people, and then he prepared for it by building an ark. After nearly 70 years of construction, Noah’s work was finished, and indeed, the storm came as God had promised. It destroyed every living thing that had not come into the ark. Fast-forward about 4,000 years and we see Jesus speaking to His disciples concerning a different type of storm that would come, the time of the end. He used a parable about the fig tree (Israel) that provided some answers: When a fig tree’s twigs become tender and when its leaves come out, we know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Matthew 24:32-33. Folks, a storm is coming. We don’t know the exact time of the end, but we know the season. He told us to watch and to be ready. Are you prepared? Have you repented of your sins? Have you committed your life to Jesus Christ? 

7/7/21 – Instant

When we don’t have much time in our day to cook, it’s nice to pop a package of instant oatmeal into a bowl, microwave it, and then sit down to a hot breakfast after having to wait only a minute or 2. But this option, while labeled instant, isn’t really, is it? There are things we must do beforehand, thus we know when we will eat. Granted, it’s faster than the traditional way we cook oatmeal, but it’s certainly not instant. Rather, things that happen instantaneously are usually beyond our control, like power-outages or a lightening strike. There are no warnings, except for perhaps a snippet from the weatherman cautioning us to take cover. The rapture of the church is a phenomenon that will happen suddenly. Many people will be erased from this earth in the twinkling of an eye. There will be no warning, except for that which we already know from the Bible. It will happen; however, the day or the hour we don’t know. The point is that we have been told to get ready for it. If you are reading this, be sure you are prepared. Be sure you have chosen Jesus Christ to be your savior before it’s too late. And at some point, it will be. (Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. Mark 13:32-33)

7/6/21 – Obstinacy

Obstinacy is never the will of God when it comes to your obedience to His Holy Spirit and to His word; however sometimes it’s fitting to be stubborn (obstinate) in positive ways (oxymoron), like refusing to act immorally or to talk profanely. He is pleased when you are obstinate in these ways. It’s saying no to the world in all its perversity. Be obstinate about that. Be bull-headed when someone pressures you to implement new-age ideas into your daily routine. Reject the devil and his vile temptations. Refuse to be lumped in with those who say they’re believers but are living in disobedience to God and His word. Remember; bad company corrupts good character. Push against anyone who’s pressuring you to live contrary to that which God has called you. Go ahead. Be gutsy about it. Be obstinate about it. And don’t just talk about it; do it! (Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7; Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. Proverbs 25:26)

7/5/21 – Shepherd

There are conflicting views about the intellectual capabilities of sheep. Whether you think they’re dumb or smart is up to you, but one statement is common among sheep farmers. Sheep need a shepherd. Sheep are completely unable to stay within their boundaries without the help of the shepherd. The Bible says that We, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. Jesus compares us to sheep time and time again in scripture. This should confirm that we need Him. We think we can do it on our own, but leaning on our very limited and finite understanding can be lethal. Before we know it, we’re lost, caught in a trap, or we’ve been eaten by the enemy. Consider allowing the all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe to lead you, to guide you in this alluringly wicked and sinful world. (The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23: 1-2; I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10-11)

7/4/21 – Ego

All human beings have an ego, or some amount of pride, but trouble enters the picture when it becomes exaggerated. A grandiose sense of ego, a state of mind where one thinks he is better than someone else, smarter or more good-looking than someone else, and/or deserving of preferential treatment is detrimental both to him and his peers. An unchecked ego can lead that person down a crooked path of manipulation and coercion and can literally distort that person’s perspective. Before he is even aware, his values have become convoluted. Jesus Christ was the greatest example of a Man who didn’t let His supreme power go to his head. Even after all the miracles He performed and all the lives He changed by His unselfish and perfect ideal, His ego was never in question. He didn’t need His own parking spot. Because of His selfless servitude, humility, genuine love for others, and implacable commitment to His Father’s plan, His ego was protected from the snares of manipulation, corruption, and insularity. Was He tempted to use His power in a negative way? Of course, but because of the absence of pride, He overcame every time. Matthew 4:1-11 gives the entire account. (The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. Proverbs 8:13; Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16)

7/3/21 – Yield

If I’m driving and encounter a yield sign, (meaning to pause the car to let others have the right-of-way), the completing of my agenda slows down. It’s particularly bad when a whole slew of cars have the right-of-way, and I’m not only required to yield, but I now have to completely stop and let them all pass by. I yield only because I don’t want to get into an accident and not because I’m considerate. If you haven’t guessed, I’m an impatient driver. I have no time for slowpokes. Now, I’m not rude to them, and I don’t give dirty looks, but inside, I’m seething. You see, I drive to get somewhere. I’m not a Let’s take a Sunday drive-type person. If there’s no real reason to drive, I’m out. It can be quite the same when the Holy Spirit is directing me, controlling me, nudging me to change a behavior. He is gently asking me to yield to Him, to become selfless, to change my desires to become more like Christ. Do you feel this nudging too? It often takes me some time to obey the Spirit. I have to settle things in my mind first, especially when I don’t understand, or if I don’t want to yield. When I have it straight, THEN I’ll yield. Maybe. I can get into all kinds of trouble when I refuse to yield at the time of the call. My pride says, I’ve got this, when truthfully, I don’t have it at all. To yield is to give up my agenda, my will, and my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Ignoring the Holy Spirit can cost you more than you’d be willing to pay. Yield to Him. If He is nudging you about something, there’s a really good reason. (Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5; Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…I Corinthians 6:19)

7/2/21 – Devotion

I always know when someone is devoted to somebody else, to some cause, or to some principles or beliefs. How do I know? By his or her actions. We know if someone is devoted to us. They don’t simply say it; they show it. If someone believes in a cause, you’ll see him on the front lines fighting for it. You’ll see exactly what principles or beliefs someone upholds by observing the ways in which they live. To whom or what are you devoted? If you say you’re devoted to Jesus Christ but do not live like He did, your claim will be a hard pill to swallow. Don’t be surprised if, on that day, which is coming soon, Jesus says to you, Depart from me; I never knew you. In other words, your claims of love for Him and full devotion to Him will hold no weight. Why? Because there are no visible signs proving your argument. Look: He’s really not asking that much. He doesn’t ask for money, and He doesn’t ask for service. All He asks of us is to be surrendered to Him. Devoted to Him. As Oswald Chambers said, We may admire Jesus; we may respect and reverence Him, but we do not love Him. And from Colossians 1:10 we read, …so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

7/1/21 – Willing

That’s the great thing about the Lord. If we’re willing, He promises to change us. But it’s up to us to decide. He isn’t pushy or manipulative. He isn’t a co-dependent or a tyrant who makes demands on us. He only draws us to Himself by way of His Holy Spirit. Once we make the decision to follow Him, He then wants us to recognize our utmost need for Him. He’ll do whatever is necessary to bring us to that point. Sure, we all have human wants and needs, but are we willing to give them up? Are we willing to surrender them to the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves? It’s our worldly self that is at war with our spiritual self. I love how Oswald Chambers says it.. There is no heaven with a little corner of hell in it. Here’s what the Lord has to say about it. (…choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2)

6/30/21 – Good

Having grown up in a strong, Bible-believing, Baptist church, I memorized verses on a weekly basis. When I was successful, I received a tiny Baptist pin. (Collect all 12 and receive a bigger pin) What benefit the pins were, I have no idea. Fortunately, scripture memorization posed little problems for me, as I could retain it quite easily. It might not have been the thing kids wanted to do, necessarily, but boy has it valuable in adulthood. You can recall it, as it strangely comes right back to you. This is good. So good. One verse that I treasure in particular is Romans 8:28 when the apostle Paul records how suffering for the cause of Christ was good because it eventually brought him joy. He said, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Imagine good things and bad things working together to bring forth good things! I’ve recalled that verse hundreds of times since then, and it has brought me so much comfort. Try memorizing this verse. It’ll do the same for you, I promise.

6/29/21 – Conviction

The type of conviction I will address today is the feeling of guilt before an admission of truth. If you’re feeling any conviction today, that’s a good thing, as conviction informs you that your conscience is working properly. On the flipside, if you feel no conviction when your moral compass has been compromised, you’ve got a hardened or seared conscience that isn’t working, and that’s where all the trouble begins. Contrary to what atheists and agnostics believe, God designed a perfectly working conscience and put it inside every human being at the point of conception. The conviction of moral compromise is produced in the conscience. Some people confess that they have no conscience, but in truth, they do; only it has been hardened and lies dormant for whatever reason. Rejoice, my friend, if you feel bad after doing something that is in direct compromise to what the Bible says, for it is the basis for all truth. Confess it as soon as possible, lest a hardness of heart begins to form around yours. (But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Luke 5:8; As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief…For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

6/25/21 – Sorrow

There’s not one of us who hasn’t experienced it. Not one. Even Jesus felt the most extreme sorrow while he was near death. (“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” He knew he was going to die a horrible death and instead of supporting Him, His friends fell asleep! Granted, there are differing degrees of sorrow, but eventually, we all will deal with it until we leave this earth. From the loss of a pet to the loss of a friend, spouse, or parent, the sorrow you feel can be excruciating. At the time, you feel you can’t go on, that you’ll never get over it, and that your dark cloud will hover forever. But as time passes, you will move forward. With less frequency, the dark cloud will come, and then it will go. One thing we cannot allow is for sorrow to control us to the point that we cease to live our daily lives. We must get up and get moving. One step at a time. Because our sorrow is so great, we can learn to use it to our advantage. Supporting others in their sorrow is an excellent way to help you with yours. (The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one. Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face. Psalm 34:18-19)

6/24/21 – Recognize

To recognize is to acknowledge that something exists. Regarding the subject of sin, we must recognize that it is our nature to sin; it is not only present, but it dominates. Failing to recognize it, we will compromise ourselves when sin comes knocking, and it will. Recognizing sin’s potential can be viewed as a preventative, much like attaching license tags on my dog’s collar or covering my plants at night in early spring. If I recognize there’s even a possibility that I might sin, then I have a better chance of escape. I’ve made a plan in advance. If I’m invited to attend an event where I know sin abounds, there’s a good chance I’ll compromise unless I recognize the potential beforehand. Wearing a bulletproof vest won’t be enough. (The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. I Corinthians 2:14; If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. I John 1:8; Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.  I Corinthians 15:33;)

6/23/21 – Horizon

I haven’t seen the sun come up, as I’m not much of an early riser but a sunset on the coast? Heavenly. It’s not the daylight fading into darkness that makes me smile, but it’s that magnificent line at which heaven and earth appear to touch that’s so appealing to my eye, so soothing, so mesmerizing. The Lord was speaking to me this morning, telling me that, like the surety of a sunset, something good is coming on my horizon. I must be patient, as it, like the sunset is a slow process. Are you awaiting something good too? While everything seems different in our world, while there are mounds of uncertainty everywhere I turn, one thing is sure. Jesus is coming. Get ready, my friend. More wonderful than any sunset, He will come for His true followers in all His glory and we will finally see Him face-to-face. Hallelujah! (And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. …Genesis 1:4-5; After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:17-18)

6/22/21 – Value

It doesn’t take much effort for another person to look at your life and determine who and what is valuable to you. If you’re a collector of cars, for instance, others in your circle will know it, for there will likely be many cars around your property. It will be no secret if it’s beach vacations that you adore. If you value your phone, people will see it glued to your hand. People know how significant they are. Telling them isn’t necessary, for the evidence will be astounding. People who are truly loved and cared for know it and will never have to question it. If you’re the one not feeling valued, it may be because you aren’t. But take heart, my friend. There is one who values you more than anyone ever could, and He proved it by dying a horrible death. By shedding His blood on a cross, He showed you how much he loves and values you. He sacrificed Himself so that you could spend eternity in heaven with Him. Jesus Christ values you and loves you like no human being could ever understand. If you don’t know Him, you absolutely must! He will change your life forever. (Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13; For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. John 3:16)

6/21/21 – Intuition

The ability to know something without data or evidence is the basic definition of intuition. We substitute the word, intuition, for gut as in, I have no idea why, but my gut is telling me we shouldn’t go. Experts say that the woman’s intuition is superior to that of a man’s, thus the term, woman’s intuition. I will not argue the truth or misconception about it here, but whether you are a man or a woman, we all have a sort of intuition, a gut feeling, or an internal compass. When we become Christ-followers, our internal guide or our Holy Spirit discernment should be the voice we listen to above all others. If we have a check in our spirit, something that makes us say hmm, it has been put there for a reason. There’s a good chance that God is up to something. If we’re in tune with the Holy Spirit and are walking in obedience to His word, we will know which direction to take as we journey on our God-given path. (When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13; Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. Proverbs 4:23-28)

6/20/21 – Celebrate

Since my earthly father passed many years ago, I celebrate God, my Heavenly Father, on Father’s Day. What an example for me to follow. The Great Forgiver. Forever compassionate. Utterly gracious. Merciful. My Strength. Just. My Deliverer. Beautiful. My Mighty Counselor. Holy King. Completely trustworthy. Worthy to receive all honor, praise, and glory. Thank you, my wonderful Heavenly Father, for all You’ve done for me, for all that You are to me, and for my heavenly home that You are preparing for me. Serving You and living in obedience to You is all that I desire while I live here on this earth. I am so unworthy, but I thank you for receiving me as Your own. I eagerly await Your soon return. (The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26; So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31)

6/19/21 – Natural

Natural, derived from the word, nature is something innate, not man-made or artificial. When something grows naturally, there is no need for cultivation. Berries grow on the vine because that’s what they were created to do. In the beginning, man was created as sinless, perfect, and made in the image of God. But then, man chose to disobey. As a result, man now sins as naturally as those berries grow on the vine. Man sins, and berries grow. Naturally. It’s not until man is reborn by the blood of Jesus Christ that he is transformed. Changed. Not sinless, but lives, not according to human wisdom, but according to the Spirit of God. Until a man receives the Spirit of God, all manner of spiritual things is foolishness to him. He cannot discern spiritual things. He cannot see nor can he hear. He is like a deaf man attempting to enjoy a musical concert or a blind man trying to appreciate the works of art in a museum. He can appreciate the Bible for what it is but lacks the spiritual discernment to glean and apply the truths in it. When we receive the Spirit of God, we naturally obey it. A weed (sin) may appear now and then, but we pull it out by the root and it’s no more. Obedience to the Spirit of God is not something we must cultivate. (The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them…1 Corinthians 2:14; They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. Ephesians 4:18)

6/18/21 – Realize

To finally realize. To have an aha moment. The light is now turned on. These often come late for me; for my hindsight is 20/20. What does that mean, exactly? I see a problem and its effects perfectly when looking back than when I’m knee-deep in it. If I would’ve known then what I know now…Oh, to realize before I make that call. To understand before I chewed them out. To realize truth before a situation gets out of hand, before something goes too far. It takes Holy Spirit discernment to perceive things rightly and on time. If I am born-again, a follower of Christ, I can trust that I have this gift. There will be no need for second-guessing. If I am tuned in, I will know. On time. I can trust that. I now realize that to get tuned in and to stay tuned in takes the disciplines of daily Bible study and prayer. (But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2)

6/17/21 Criticize

A few thoughts taken from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest…If we see or hear of a person doing something that is contrary to scripture, it’s easy to criticize. As human beings, Jesus knows us. He spoke very openly about criticizing or judging others. It’s important for people to know the truth about the way in which to live, but there is also a fine line in the way in which to deliver it. Jesus reminds me that if I see a speck in someone’s eye, it means that I probably have a log in mine. When I point out a wrong in your life, God will always point out mine. I must remember that I don’t always have all the information when I go about judging other people. The Bible says that every time I judge someone, I also condemn myself. It is when I truly see who I am apart from the grace of God that I decide leave the criticizing to Him, since He is the only One worthy enough to do it. (Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. Romans 2:1; For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:2)

6/16/21 – Loyal

If I want one thing to be said about me is that I am loyal, a faithful, devoted, and true-blue friend. It’s not the choosing with whom we want to invest that’s the hard part. It’s not deciding with whom to be in relationship that’s difficult; it’s that next part, the work of it. The daily dedication to it is where you’ll find all the blood, sweat, and tears. When we first meet Christ as our savior, it’s easy in that highly emotional moment to say, yes, Jesus, I’ll follow you. But the actual following is where you’ll do the real work. It’ll be about making those hard calls. It’ll be about needing to say no to outside distractions when perhaps wanting to say, yes. Will you be loyal to the One who saved you? Will you walk in complete obedience to Him and His call on your life? Will you be loyal to Him above all else? Remember that loyalty, like love, is not a feeling. When you don’t feel like being loyal to Him, be loyal anyway. That’s how He is with you. (A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24; Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13)

6/15/21 – Habit

Good or bad, habits are regular practices or tendencies in our behavior. They become so much a part of what we do and say that they are mostly involuntary. Oswald Chambers reminds me today that I am not born with good character; I have to develop it along with good habits. The old, “I can’t help it; it’s just the way I am,” excuse won’t hold up with God any more than it will hold up in a court of law. Now that I am made new in Jesus Christ, my bad habits must go and be exchanged for good ones. Yes, I was immediately made new through the atoning work of Jesus Christ when I chose His free gift of salvation, but my old habits still reside within. Since they have become a part of me and don’t just up and leave on their own, I must do the evicting. Developing God-honoring habits does not happen immediately but is a process that takes practice and determination. It is a becoming. Kick those old, destructive habits to the curb. Make the act of obedience to Jesus Christ your first good habit and go after it with all your heart. (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5)

6/14/21 – Abide

Abide isn’t an extremely popular word. Words like obey and follow are more widely used today. In either case, they all mean the same thing. Jesus uses the word abide in the New Testament of the Bible. What He means when He says, “Abide in me, and I in you,” is that if you obey Him, if you follow His teachings, if you remain in Him, you will bear much fruit. He compares Himself to a vine. He says that He is the vine and we, as His followers, are the branches. No branch can bear any fruit if it is cut off from the vine. That’s Gardening 101. When we pray to Him asking for help to abide, to remain, when it’s really up to us to do the abiding, the remaining, we err. If we are cut from the vine, it is because we did the cutting. Abide is the thing we must do. Because Jesus loves us, He gives us the choice to come and to go, to leave Him or to stay with Him. Let abiding in Him grow into so natural a thing that it becomes like breathing. (Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who abides in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.…John 15:4-5)

6/13/21 – Unconscious

When I hear this word, I immediately picture someone who has been in some sort of tragic accident that has left him unconscious. He is completely motionless and unable to use any of his 5 senses. I assume the worst. In fact, seeing him lying there in an unresponsive state, I ask that dreaded question. Is he dead? It isn’t until I place my fingertip on his neck or wrist and discover life, that I rejoice. It is only after that discovery that I do whatever I can to save him. Some of those closest to us are in a spiritually unconscious condition. They’ve fallen into a spiritual coma, and we’ll soon be at a code red status if we don’t hurry and do everything we possibly can to bring them to Jesus. We can’t give up! If there’s a pulse, it’s not too late. Not with God. If you’ve said all you can say and have done all you can do and find it a humanly impossible situation, call on the God of the impossible. (Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26; “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me? Jeremiah 32:27)

6/11/21 – Thirsty

After a year of dating, my boyfriend in college (*spoiler alert: I didn’t end up marrying him) had suggested that we memorize scripture together. Since I didn’t really have anything else to do (insert much sarcasm here), scads of exams to prepare for, boatloads of homework to complete, and thousands of hours of piano practicing to be done before my lesson, I decided to go with it. Luckily, I had fairly good recall. Memorizing very lengthy piano solos came easily for me, so really, how hard could it be? I didn’t want to lose this spiritual relationship, so I agreed. I was dedicated, not to God but to this fine Christian gentleman. Whatever I had to do to make him see that I was the girl of his dreams, I did. The first chapter we agreed to memorize was Isaiah 55. I didn’t know it then, but Isaiah 55 would be the chapter that would provide healing for me during a very difficult time. May I challenge you to memorize some scripture? Funny how it all comes back to you when you really need it, and it could be the thing that ultimately saves your life. (Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9)

6/10/21 Humble

Low. Meek. Submissive. Humble. These seemingly negative descriptive words are like poison to those who are haughty, conceited, proud, and overbearing. Jesus said that when we lower ourselves and submit to Him, if we live in total obedience to Him, He would actually lift us up. He said that those who are meek would be blessed. How can you humble yourself if you don’t really know how? Quoting C.S. Lewis, It’s not thinking less of yourself, but it’s really thinking of yourself less. Begin by confessing your sins to God. All of them. Confess your weaknesses to other people you trust. Submit to authority, whether good or bad. Gladly receive correction from other people. Let others be recognized instead of you. Serve other people. Forgive people. Be grateful for what you have. Build people up. Die daily to your selfish wants, and lay down your pride. Try any one of these and see if you don’t feel a little lift. (God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6; Take my yoke upon you, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29)

6/9/21 – Sing

Every one of my closest friends is an awesome singer. I mean, they are all gifted vocalists. Me? No. I don’t really sing that well, but I do it. I sing, certainly not because I want to hear myself and not because I feel pressured. I sing because the Lord of heaven and earth deserves my praise. He is worthy of it. He wants us all to praise Him with our voices. Some people choose not to sing when they’re in church. They stand and listen. They consume. But I ask, what can you give to the Lord? Confession: I used to be that person. I was silent in church. I couldn’t sing to the Lord because I wasn’t close to Him. I didn’t really know Him. If I had, I wouldn’t have been able to keep my mouth shut! Praise Him wherever you are, at home, at work, or in your car! Don’t worry if you can’t belt it out like Carrie Underwood or Danny Gokey. It doesn’t matter. God wants your praise regardless of the quality of your voice. If you praise the Lord with your voice, if you worship Him by singing, not only does He receive, but you’ll receive too. Comfort, hope, joy, and peace. Sing to the Lord and see what happens! (Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2; My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23)

6/8/21 – Incentive

The incentive for the fish in the stream is the dangling worm on the hook. They know that if they grab it, they’ll receive nourishment. Fish have little to no capacity to contemplate the effects of their actions before they act. All they know is that they are hungry. They know that the worm will satisfy their hunger, but in reality, they’re literally dead meat. If they only knew what was just beyond that plump and juicy worm. Do incentives work on you? Free internet for a year if you…a chance for a million dollars if you…a night of ecstasy if you…most incentives do not pan out for your good. Incentives are quite plainly, bait; they’re introduced to you to get you to behave a certain way. The devil is a genius at offering incentives, isn’t he? Unless our core values and boundaries are solid and unless we’re walking close to the Lord, we will be caught, just like the fish grabbing onto that worm. The devil is working against you at warp-speed to do whatever he can to take you down. If he’s not offering incentives to you, there’s a reason. (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8; For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23)

6/7/21 – Slack

Don’t slack off. I heard this sigh-producing phrase from my mother, my boss, and of course my pastors over the course of my life. I’m a slacker by nature, so to hear it is one thing, but to have it penetrate my mind and travel all the way to my soul is another story. The fact that someone feels compelled to speak those words to me is a tell-all. It’s so easy to slack off, isn’t it? We’re gung-ho to start a big project. We’re off to the races, but then we get tired when we reach lap 9 of an 18-lap run. And it’s mostly when we don’t see the light at the end that we become discouraged, disinterested, or just plain tired. I’ve been praying for people for a while now and have seen little to no movement. But Oswald Chambers reminds me today of what the Lord is trying to teach me: If you abide in Me…that is continue to act and think and work from that center...you ask what you will and it will be done for you. He says that if we are abiding in Jesus, we are the will of God. All I have to do is abide in Him. If Jesus is not dominating every interest of mine, it is inevitable. I will slack off. Now that I’ve surrendered my entire life to Him, I cannot do my own thing anymore. Confession: But I am distracted by so many outside stimuli. I am pulled this way and that, and if I’m not careful, my full devotion will be three quarters. Not long after that, it will be empty. I cannot allow that to happen, for I’ve come so far…(For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10; And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6)

6/6/21 – Worth

How much will it cost? What is its value? These are the questions we ask when we contemplate a pricy purchase. We look it over. We do the math. We read the reviews. We compare it to others like it. We get the opinions of the people who know us, people we trust. After all that, we can finally answer the question: Is this purchase really worth it? We size people up in the same way, don’t we? People have sized me up, I know. They’ve asked themselves, is she really worth all it will cost me? Some have said, yes, and some have said no. Either way, I’ve come to believe something about myself after all these years. I am worth it. I am worth all that it would cost someone to have me because Jesus says so. I know who I am in Him, and that’s all that matters. My confidence has grown because I know Him, and I know what He thinks about me. I am chosen. I am forgiven. I am free. I am a child of the Almighty God. Until you believe that about yourself, you will continue walking around in your chains, bound and enslaved. You are worth it. Every part of you. (For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14; …for the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. I Samuel 16:7)

6/5/21 – Season

To everything, there is a season. I love this scripture. Solomon’s wise words have stood the test of time, as they are so true for today. As you read these verses taken from Ecclesiastics 3: 1-8 (this was copied from the NKJV of the Bible), reflect on them, will you? To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to break down and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain and a time to lose; A time to keep and a time to throw away; A time to tear and a time to sew; A time to keep silence and a time to speak; A time to love and a time to hate; A time of war and a time of peace. In which season of life do you find yourself? It’s best if you walk through them, both the difficult and the easy, embracing God’s wisdom. He will guide you if you’ll let Him. 

6/4/21 – Forsake

I’m glad God is not like me. I’m glad He will be here with me in the good and bad, in the wonderful and in the woeful. He will never leave me or forsake me. Never. I can count on Him. As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, I can be confident in this. Before I am overcome with anxiety and sorrow, I must remember it. For my own sanity, I must remember that specific promise He gives all through scripture. He is my help. He will never leave me. I want to be so dependent on these promises that when some disaster meets me, I am able to rest instead of despair. I pray I will be able to say, God in His sovereignty knew this all along and He will help me through it. He will be my comfort. He will be my help. He will be sitting right here sorrowing with me. (Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10; …for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5)

6/3/21 – Will

If we are walking close to the Lord, we should never have to ask what His will is for us. We will already be in it. It’s by listening to Him (reading His word), discerning the promptings from His Holy Spirit (feeling that gentle nudge), and talking with Him (prayers) that we really get to know Him and what He wants for us. We are so connected to Him that there should be no doubt that we are where we should be and are doing what we should be doing. We are communing with the right people, and we are doing and saying the things we ought. We will talk about His goodness, and we’ll be quick to share His offer of salvation. Will we get it wrong? Of course we will, as the evil one seeks to devour us and we are still operating in our sinful nature. We confess it to the Lord and we carry on. There’s never cause for worry whether or not you’re doing the will of God for your life if you are living in obedience and complete surrender to Him. But the key word here is if(You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2)

6/2/21 – Balm

A good friend of mine recently gave me some of the herbs she grows in her garden. Three, I have already tried, but lemon balm seemed particularly interesting because I’ve heard that it can fight against sleepless nights. Just the word balm sold me. By definition, balm is a fragrant ointment used to heal or sooth the skin. In Biblical times, the land of Gilead was a fertile, mountainous region east of the Jordan River in the Middle East and is known for its healing balm, liquid rosin that dripped from certain trees such as pine, cedar, cypress, or terebinth. Because of the easy access to this medicinal balm, many doctors lived in or near Gilead. Although the balm from Gilead could provide physical healing, it could not provide for the Israelites the spiritual healing that comes only from obedience to God. We too have plenty of balm to cure most physical ailments today but neglect to ask our Heavenly Father to cure our spiritual ones. The Bible (and the old hymn I sang as a little girl) refers to Jesus as the true balm of Gilead and that only He can heal our sin-sick souls. Please, Lord. Heal our deep, spiritual wounds that cannot be healed any other way. (Go up to Gilead, and take balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt! In vain you have used many medicines; there is no healing for you. Jeremiah 8:22; And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick…Luke 5:31:32)

6/1/21 – Lose

It’s often while trying to hang onto something so tightly we lose our grip. Our hands become too slippery or too weak to hold on for another minute. That happened to me over and over out on the lake while learning to water-ski. Standing up, I could finally do, but holding on to the rope after that for more than 2 seconds was impossible. I’m sure my lack of upper body strength had a lot to do with it. Sometimes, it’s just better to let go and face the music. I am not meant to water-ski. Sometimes losing is winning in the end. That’s what Jesus taught. If we try to hang on to our lives, always grabbing on to life-giving things and experiences, we will lose them, He said. If we give up our own selfish desires, positions, achievements, and possessions for His sake, we will have life as it was meant to be. The opposite leads to death. (And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. Luke 9:23-24; But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33)

5/31/21 Fallen

Today we remember the fallen. The brave men and women who fought for our freedoms and lost their lives in the midst deserve so much more than we can give. If you can, find some time today to remember their sacrifice. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our eternal freedom in His death on the cross. Find some time today to praise Him. To thank Him. To remember His sacrifice. Because of Him and His free gift to us, we will live forever with Him in paradise. Accept that gift today if you haven’t already. (Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8, For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13)

5/30/21 – Prosper

I don’t tend to be the woe-is-me type person. I don’t often wish I had what someone else has. But when I drive by those beautiful mansions on the shore of Lake Michigan, I might feel envious. The funny thing is though, that after I have driven by and I get back on the road to reality, that envy disappears like a vapor. If you’ve got a small living space like I do, it’s normal to want a larger one at times. It’s normal to want to be as beautiful as someone else. To have a nice car like someone else. But when the wicked and evil people of this world actually prosper, that’s when I, like Jeremiah in the Bible, wonder why. News Flash: This world or anything in it, is not my home. And it isn’t yours either whether you’re prosperous or not. It will be destroyed, so it’s in our best interests as Christ-followers to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where nothing bad can happen to them. What are those treasures? Eternal life. Seeing God face-to-face. A crown of righteousness. Meeting Jesus and being made like Him. Fullness of joy. Pleasures evermore. When I think about this kind of prosperity, earthly prosperity seems like mere pennies in comparison. (Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? Jeremiah 12:1; Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19-20)

5/29/21 – Crowd

I have an artist friend who paints lovely landscapes and sells them at art fairs across the country. While there are likely thousands of landscape painters selling their work in various shows, my friend stands out among others. He not only sells his work there in his booth but paints as well. He really draws a crowd. People like to see how it’s done. Soon more people gather to see what all the fuss is about and before he knows it, he has sold 4 paintings. We humans follow the crowd don’t we? We must see what’s going on. We are a nosey species and tend to do what everyone else is doing. Most of us follow the trends when it comes to fashion, business, and of course, social media. When Jesus came, He literally changed history. Because He had a different approach, a new way, people naturally followed Him. Because of His genuine love for them, He was always challenging them to be better, to love others more than themselves, to serve rather than be served, to be humble so they’d be lifted up. There are only 2 crowds, really, the crowd led by the evil one or the one led by Jesus. Look at your life. You’re in one or the other. (I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. John 12:46; And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:17)

5/28/21 – Yoke

And I’m not talking about the yellow goop in the middle of an egg (yolk). Yoke: verb – to join with the same. If a yoke joins 2 oxen together, then the oxen should be similar in height and weight. When working together to farm the land, tilling it will be easier. When things don’t work out with our relationships, it could be because we’re yoked with people who have a different spirit inside them. Light cannot be joined to the darkness and continue to be light. The opposite is also true; darkness cannot be joined to the light and remain dark. There will be trouble, yes, but people who have a similar set of values, are of the same mindset, and have the same vision will be less likely to butt heads. Un-yoke yourself with people who will tempt you to abandon your vision, your holy calling. How will you know whom to let loose? Oh, you’ll know. (Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Corinthians 15:33; Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14)

5/27/21 – Boundary

I used to think boundaries were selfish. I mean, think about it. We have property lines where we live. We don’t cut each other’s grass beyond the boundary. It’s just a given unless an agreement is made between neighbors. As kids we even threatened people we deemed as unsafe by saying, Don’t step one foot on my property. It was a proud demonstration of ownership. In our lives, we need similar boundaries with our spouses, friends, and family as well. These are your lines in the sand or non-negotiables you regard as necessary to remain safe in your environment. The problem isn’t having boundaries, but it is your implementation of them. It’s a vulnerable affair that informs people they should not call after 10pm, for example, or that you will not support a particular charity that doesn’t reflect your values. The important thing is to say it, to let the other person know what the boundary is, otherwise, you’ll be the one who’s out of sorts. It makes no difference whether or not they agree, as it’s your boundary. Boundaries are not selfish or rude, and having them is essential for your peace and growth. I’ll bet that people will respect you more (after they get over the shock) once the boundary is known and that you actually adhere to it. (For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6)

5/26/21 – Always

We, as Christ-followers, should always be praying. It shouldn’t be something we pause to do. If we are living in obedience to the Lord, praying should be like breathing. We are always doing it without being conscious of it. It happens. Like the blood that flows through our veins naturally, prayer should be in our minds continually. Our prayers are always answered. It’s a promise from Jesus. Everybody that asks receives. We might not receive it in the time frame we want or in the way we want, but what Jesus said is true. We, if we are obeying Him, will always receive His best. We can trust in that. Now, if we’re not living a Christ-honoring life, that’s another story altogether. (If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7; Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3; Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…Ephesians 6:18)

5/25/21 – Choose

When certain of my friends want to get together for a meal, they always ask, Where do you want to go? I usually never know the answer. There are so many great restaurants in our community, making it hard to decide. And this is just one pea-sized example. The elephant-sized decisions don’t come around as often, but they come, don’t they? And they’re often riddled with so much anxiety and confusion, especially when the final choice affects other people. Unless I’m constantly walking and talking with the Lord, that is, praying for wisdom and discernment, and studying His word, I may as well grab my mask, get on a plane, and head to Jamaica. But before I pack my bags, I need think about this: The choice still has to be made, regardless of my whereabouts. News Flash: Since I follow Christ’s teachings, I have basically given up my right to choose. Since He is perfect, wouldn’t it make more sense to let Him choose for me? If I’m walking with Him, I will naturally do what He wants me to do. I will hear what He says. I will see what He does. Think about Joseph in the Bible. He had every right to abuse his brothers for what they did to him. But he waived that right and he let God deal with it. If only we would choose like that. (Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20; …choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15)

5/24/21 Ashes

When you go through something traumatic and everything that was beautiful in your life is now a big, ugly mess, where do you turn? What do you do? Sometimes you run to the nearest bar, neighbor, or pharmacy. These things, while promising to be there for you, are not the answer. While the hurt might continue for quite some time, Jesus promises to be there for you. In this world, you’re going to have trouble, He said. We often stop reading there, don’t we? In our pain and agony, we put the Bible down on the table, but if we would just read a little further, He also says that He has overcome the world. It may seem that you cannot go on living for one more minute, but I tell you from experience that you can. He will make something beautiful from the ashes of your life. It’s a promise in His word. His promises are true. They’re everlasting. Claim this one today. I have. (“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33; To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3)

5/22/21 – Independent

When we fought for our independence back in the late 1700’s, we were said to have been in rebellion against the Brits. And it’s true. We were tired of their continued attempts to impose control over us. We wanted to make our own rules and live by our own laws. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I believe that a rebellious spirit remains in America and is more evident now than at any other time in our history. We, as Christ followers, even find ourselves fighting for our independence from the Lord. Because of our rebellious nature, we think we deserve to do whatever we want, to do whatever feels good. We often find it difficult to obey the commands God has set forth in His word because we think they’re too binding. Too strict. Too smothering. In reality, however, these commandments are only for our good. He knows the implications of disobedience because He’s God, the One Who created us. The ramifications of disobedience are everywhere in scripture. It’s only when we realize that God’s ways are better and higher, and when we finally surrender ourselves to His plan for us, we loose the chains that bind us. It’s in obeying that we are free. (For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts Isaiah 55:8-9; For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11)

5/21/21 – Encouragement

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, a good dose of encouragement is like a downpour during a drought. I have a few good friends who are gifted to offer encouragement like that. What’s so amazing is that the Lord knows what kind I need and when I need it, so he sends that specific gift of encouragement to me at just the right time. What about you? Do you have that gift? I don’t think I do, so I have to be deliberate about it. For me, the work isn’t in speaking it but is being sensitive to the needs of others. It’s noticing, discerning, or being aware that someone needs a You go, girl! or a Hang in there! from me. Even reminding someone that he or she is worth it coupled with reasons to support it will be like a cup of cold water on a hot, dry day. Jesus encouraged Peter by giving him a new name and by telling him he was a rock on which the entire church would be built! (And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18) 

5/20/21 – Ought

I always wonder if I’m doing as I ought to do. Saying what I ought to say. Loving as I ought to love. I’m quite sure I don’t do as I ought more than I do what I ought. Knowing what I ought to do and not doing it leaves me feeling empty, less than, unfulfilled. The oughts Christ lays out in His word for all of us are for our good and are non-negotiable. The oughts I struggle with are these: praying (And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. Luke 18:1) trusting (You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 24:3-4  discernment (The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14; honesty (Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices. Colossians 3:9; generosity (In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35)

5/19/21 – Continue

It’s often difficult to continue that exercise program, to cut those calories, to dump money into the stock market, or to pray for someone day after day without seeing results. To continue, to stay the course, to keep on keeping on is the hardest thing to do when you can’t see any evidence that things are improving. We often grow weary and begin to think there’s no use. We say, Why bother? or This isn’t working, so I quit. And I get it. I’ve been there so many times, and I find myself there now. Nothing seems to be moving forward. But the key words here are seems, see, and evidenceFrequently (and I’m preaching to myself here, folks), we can’t see the good that is coming. Because it is stepping very lightly, cautiously in the darkness, there is no outward evidence that a change is on the horizon. We can’t see that the scale is about to tip in our favor, so in our frustration, we eat a banana split. We can’t see that the price on that stock is about to soar, so we listen to the rumors and we sell prematurely. We can’t see that the friend or family member we’ve been agonizing over is about to surrender his or her life to the Lord, so we stop praying for a change of heart. Feeling the urge to give up? Take a few moments and read the amazing account of a man named Joseph in Genesis chapters 37-50 of the Bible. 

5/18/21 – Friend

A friend is defined in the Oxford dictionary as a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. If we are longing for a friend, we seek him out, as we choose certain people according to our needs. We can determine fairly quickly who our closest friends will be according to what we can receive from them. Upon a first meeting, there is a click, a chemistry that ignites something in us. We say, yes. We can hang with this person. There is a commonality, whether it be in personality, goals, or needs. Since the fall, each of us has a bent or pull toward the things of this world. Let’s face it; the world has a lot to offer. We naturally click with it now. If we are worldly-minded, the things of this world are beautiful to us. They’re enticing. But they are fleeting. If we, however, are spiritually minded, the things of this world won’t matter. You cannot love the world and love God at the same time. Will we ever get there? Will there ever be a time when our friendship with the world will be completely over and without any chance of reconciliation? Let go of the empty and temporary pleasures this world offers as they only lead to misery and heartache. This world is going to die. Don’t let it take you with it! (You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4; Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. I John 2:15)

5/17/21 – Darkness

Darkness is the absence of light. Light and darkness cannot be joined. When one is present, the other is absent. There is so much darkness today in our world; demonic activity is all around us. In our neighborhoods, in our families, and even in our churches, the devil is roaming around like a lion seeking those whom he may devour. He is the god of the darkness and he knows his time is running out. Don’t be one of his many victims. If you’re living contrary to the light, come out before it’s too late. The Lord is calling you out of this present darkness into His marvelous light. Don’t ignore His call. Put to death your sin and come into the light. (The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. Isaiah 9:2; Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12; The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 

5/16/21 – Power

We often feel powerless when we find ourselves stuck, whether we are having car trouble out in the wilderness or when we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation in our relationships with other people. We are not powerless. If we as Christ-followers are preparing ourselves for these times, we will find that the struggle isn’t as bad as all that. God has given us, not only the tools, but He has made His power available to us for every circumstance. Imagine having God’s power behind everything you’re thinking, saying, and doing. All you have to do is ask for it. Pray and ask God to pour out the power of His Holy Spirit on you today. It’s a real thing. (For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7; Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Ephesians 6:10)

5/15/21 – Mind

Here is where it all takes place. Everything. Your mind is home to all your thoughts. Thoughts about the future, thoughts about your relationships, thoughts about God, thoughts about right and wrong; all these thoughts live in your mind. This is where the action is. This is where the battles are fought. If you could just understand that your thoughts control everything, whether you win or lose. Nobody but you can control what you think about. If you’re happy, it’s because you’re thinking happy thoughts. If you’re sad or discouraged, it’s because you’re thinking about sad and discouraging things. God, in His love, has given you, whether you’re saved or lost, the freedom to think about whatever you want. Consequently, what you allow to enter into your mind has a profound effect on the decisions you make and then on what actions you take. (Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2; Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8)

5/14/21 – Love

Maybe you’re a person who naturally loves others. It’s as easy as brushing your teeth. Your parents loved you unconditionally and modeled it. You always knew they loved you no matter what you did. What is love anyway? To the best of my knowledge (and that’s not a lot), it’s an attachment, a bonding; it’s a commitment to someone or something. It’s not really a feeling because feelings go away. So if you’re not feeling the love, don’t panic. Remember the commitment you made and forge ahead. It takes a lot of guts to first, make a commitment (to love someone) and then to stick with it. I think of the commitment I’ve made to the Lord. I’ve chosen to give my life to Him. I’ve committed to love Him and to serve Him until He comes for me. Sometimes I don’t feel like it, but because of my commitment to Him and the trust I have in Him, I will forge ahead. Just recently, I’ve asked Him to help me to love people the way He does. To commit to love someone else the way I love myself. Imagine if we loved other people like that. Here’s what the Bible says real love is…(Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends… I Corinthians 13: 4-8)

5/13/21 – Time

I am aware of the time. If I’m required to be somewhere at 2pm, I’m there at 2pm, maybe even a tad earlier. If I’m late, there’s a good reason. People in relationship with me can count on that. In fact, I become anxious when there is the slightest chance I’ll be late. I don’t know if that’s inborn, or if over time, I’ve developed that characteristic of being prompt. But what if don’t know the time of an event? What if I can’t know it? What do I do then? Take the up and coming rapture of the church. It’s coming, folks. I don’t know when, but I know, according to scripture and according to the signs of the times that it’s near. It’s at the door. Are you ready? Do you know for sure that you are going when that time finally comes? You can know. You can prepare for it. Trust me; you don’t want to be left here. Go to the What Does God Say? page of my blog and read ABC’s by JD Farag. Pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to know, and then read the entire book of Revelation. Hurry, because it’s about to get crazy… (Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Matthew 24:33)

5/12/21 – Lust

Most people think lust has only to do with sexual immorality, but in reality, lust is any distraction that pulls us away from God. The Bible speaks of it as the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh; really, any desire of your sinful nature is a qualifier. Food is one. Money and sex are others. Certainly, these are good things, but when consumed through lust and not love, good becomes bad rather quickly. Lust (the opposite of love) is the epitome of selfishness. We need to do everything we can to run (not walk) from these things which cause the lust in our hearts to rule over us, to enslave us. But it’s something we have to do. We say we pray for help in this area and God doesn’t hear us. We say we can’t stop, but God says that He has already given us an escape route. We, however, in our selfishness, choose to take a different and more exciting one, and consequently, we end up in a dark alley somewhere fighting for our lives. Exercise some self-control. You do it. God won’t do for you what He gave you the power to do for yourself. (No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13; So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17)

5/11/21 – Release

Sometimes I feel like a dog refusing to give up a bone that still has a little meat on it. I tried that once, to get a pork chop bone out of Daisy’s mouth, and she all but bit off my hand. Pork bones are too soft for dogs and could ultimately be a choking hazard. Because they don’t know that, and they couldn’t care less, they’ll hold onto that bone until their death. Why? Because it tastes good. That’s how it can be with me. I have clung to certain people and to things (idols) as if they could bring me happiness when in reality, they have only brought me heartache. The difference between Daisy and me is that I know these idols will destroy me. If I will only let go; if I will only release them to Him, He’ll take these battles I’ve been fighting with myself and fight them for me. And while He’s at it, He promises to heal me. It’s really all up to me. (Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:6-7; The righteous shall move onward and forward; those with pure hearts shall become stronger and stronger. Job 17:9)

5/10/21 – Honest

Tell me what you want. Be honest, people will say to me. If I’m honest, this word still brings me anxiety at times. In the past, being honest meant that someone could get hurt (me included) or could become angry with me. So, I learned to lie at a young age because I figured if I could control other people’s feelings about me, they would like me. That’s why I said things like, It doesn’t matter to me, and Whatever you want. Sometimes it was true, but sometimes it wasn’t. Because the risk was too great, integrity wasn’t something I cared about preserving or even acquiring. These days, I’ve learned that if I really love and care for someone, it’s ALWAYS best to speak the truth in love, even if it hurts. I’ve learned that if I’m honest and if my heart is in right relationship with the Lord, my sincerity will sow a seed that will one day benefit the other person. Lord, help me to be honest with myself and with others today, no matter the cost. (Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. Proverbs 12:22; Jesus said in John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”)

5/9/21 – Pure

When we buy certain spices, extracts, or oils, we want them to be pure. If, for example, when we buy pure vanilla extract, we don’t expect that any other ingredients have been added to it. Those highly desirable pure items (without any additives) take much longer to process making them harder to come by and can be quite expensive. It’s that way when we decide to purify our hearts. The process can be long and full of distractions (additives) and more times than not, we abandon the idea if we’re not completely committed to it. If we desire the pure heart that Jesus talks about in Matthew 5:8, we need to be obsessed with having it. Find the pure vanilla, not the imitation. Now, it doesn’t mean the heart won’t be spotless, but it can be pure in its pursuit of God. We need to get rid of the obstacles that keep us acquiring it. When our hearts are in turmoil, it’s because our sin is fighting against our desire for purity. Our souls are at war with our sin. Be single-minded. Go all-out for that one thing, that pearl of great price, the pursuit of purity, and the ultimate blessing of seeing God is yours. (“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8; Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10)

5/8/21 – Eyes

Think about your eyes for a moment. No camera ever made or that will ever be made could compare to the human eye. Our eyes can focus on 50 different objects every second. They can distinguish approximately 10 million different colors. Since 80% of all learning comes through the eyes, why do we allow them to look on things that will destroy us? We have control of everything we see. If we don’t WANT to see it, we close our eyes. Open them only to the Word of Truth. (I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Psalm 101:3; The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. Matthew 6:22; For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. I John 2:16)

5/7/21 – Venture

To venture out into the unknown is risky. I think of the time I went to Hawaii with some friends; 3 things were must-sees for me: to swim under a waterfall, to visit Pearl Harbor, and to swim in the Pacific. One was not risky at all, but the other 2 could’ve killed me, and that last one almost did. I was coerced into an afternoon of skydiving a few years ago and prayed to God that my parachute would open. We are venturing on with God, we who are Christ-followers. We never know what a day will bring forth. But we don’t have to be afraid. We don’t just hope, we know that God is in control of every activity in which we are involved. If we are fully surrendered to Him, He will take us on an exciting and amazing venture. We can face anything if He is leading, guiding, and protecting. (O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me…Psalm 139)

5/6/21 – Jealous

Unfortunately, this word describes a lot of people, as we are generally jealous or envious of another person’s beauty, talent, social status, financial status, marital status, or health status. The jealousy I’m talking about here is the kind that produces envy. We want what the other person has. We desire it so desperately that we become angry with that person. We can even develop hatred for that person whom we say we love. This jealousy then can, in the worst cases, even lead to murder. 

Fact:  Nothing can satisfy the jealous person. Even if the jealous person finally acquires what the other person has, they’ll find something else for which to be jealous. It’s an issue of the heart within the jealous person. Until this person repents for this killer sin, and until he asks God to heal whatever is broken within him, the jealousy will fester and could eventually lead to disastrous actions. If you have a few minutes, read the account of one brother jealous of another in Genesis chapter 4 of the Bible. (You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:2-3)

5/5/21 – Left

I was reading in Matthew chapter 5 this morning, not really expecting to glean anything new as I’ve read it many times. Jesus had taken His disciples up to the mountain and taught them to crave the opposite of what they desired. But before reading verses 3-12 again, I thought of these 12 guys He chose to become His followers. They must have received a ton of backlash from friends and family members for abandoning everything to follow a random teacher from Nazareth. I mean, they left EVERYTHING without knowing anything about Him. The sheer power of persuasion Jesus had is astounding. The Bible doesn’t go into great detail, but it does say that Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee and saw some fisherman casting their nets into the water. It wasn’t considered to be a glamorous job at all but, I’m sure, provided a decent living at that time. Jesus walked up to them and said, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. The Bible says they immediately left their nets and followed Him. Just like that. They dropped their nets and left their boat. Imagine their family’s reaction when they returned home to say goodbye. After all, these brothers were, no doubt, providing much of the income. The point here is that all 12 men abandoned everything they knew and went with this Jesus of Nazareth. People probably thought they were nuts! Do you ever wonder what you’d have done had He called you? (And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19; After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. Luke 5:27-28)

5/4/21 – Stubborn

People who are in relationship with me know that I’m, for the most part, a go-with-the-flow type person. I mean, I don’t need to be in charge, decide where we go for dinner…you get the picture. However, I’ve been characterized by certain people as stubborn, but mostly because I refused to do what they wanted me to do without good reason. Stubbornness is when a person’s mind is made up, even when there are good reasons to change it. If I’m given a good reason, I will change my mind and move to the opposing side. But stubbornness, where God is concerned, is just plain stupid. I don’t always know His reasons for asking me to do something out of my comfort zone, but they’re always for my good. Always. But because of my stupidity and pride, the root of this characteristic, there have been times that He has asked me to do things and I have either ignored Him completely or I’ve said, Hang on a minuteGive me some time to figure this out. Not good. If we’re not careful, our stubbornness can lead us right into Hell, either here on earth or to the real one. (But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5; But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Psalm 81:11-12)

5/3/21 – Old

A good friend of mine recently spoke of a portion of the Bible when Jesus was teaching about patching a new piece of fabric to a tear on an old garment and also about putting new wine into old wineskins. Neither technique works because when you wash the garment, the new fabric will begin pulling away from the old garment making its tear worse over time. The same holds true for wine. The new wine, when poured into old wineskins will cause the wineskins to burst, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. (Matthew 9) The point of Jesus’ lesson to His disciples here is that He wanted to do something new. He wanted to give them new garments but they want to patch up the old ones. He wants to pour out new wine to them but they have old wineskins, which can’t hold the new wine. I believe, like my friend, that Jesus has a new plan for us, but we want the old one for whatever reasons. He wants to do a new thing, but we are caught up in what was and cannot receive what new thing Jesus wants to give to us. Spending our time talking and listening to Him is the only way to prepare us for what new thing He is about to pour out. (Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19)

5/2/21 Focus

I can always tell when my focus is off. I begin thinking about things that don’t matter, things that I can’t change. It’s an uneasy feeling, a sort of restlessness or even powerlessness. This is where the devil plays. He plays in my uneasiness, my impatience. He likes to camp out there and torment me. This campground is a dangerous place, so I ask the Lord to intervene. But He won’t do for me what I can do for myself. I have the power to tell the devil to leave. I have the power to focus on the Lord and on the job He has for me to do. These things I can do. And the undone? I’ll leave that to the Lord, who can do what He wants with those whom He loves. (Jesus answered him, “What I’m doing you don’t understand now, but afterward you will know. John 13:7; The man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water; it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8)

5/1/21 – Stop

I was watching a YouTube video of a girl I subscribe to, and in the latest episode, she had just purchased an old van with intentions to transform it into a travel-type camper van as many people are doing these days. She got into some trouble during a roadside stop on her first trip, as she locked both her keys and her phone in the van. Using a fairly large stone, she broke the passenger side window and climbed in. What she didn’t know was that the van had a special security system that didn’t allow her to start the van. There was nobody to call since she was so far away from home. In her desperation, she began waving down cars, but nobody stopped to help. She cried and panicked feeling she would never get out of her situation. Finally, after several hours, someone finally stopped to helped her, a modern-day good Samaritan. Oh, how many times I have seen someone in trouble like her and haven’t stopped. What would you do? Read Luke chapter 10:25-37 to see what Jesus said. (Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. I John 3:18)

4/30/21 – Weep

It seems I cry so easily these days. Do you? In conversations with certain people, they confess that they’re not criers. I used to be that way. When I was little, my mom would tell me not to cry or she’d give me something to cry about. These days she says, Now don’t cry. It’ll make you look old. I think because she didn’t know how to handle a weeping child, she taught me to suppress that emotion. Or because she’d cried so much when my brother died that she gave up crying and became a no-tears advocate. Now, here on my yellow couch, I think I’ve just about made up for all the years of being dry-eyed. When I watch or read emotional stories, I actually weep without fear of ridicule. I weep with those who weep. I weep when I’m alone. Except I’m not really alone now, am I? The Bible says that God sees each tear that falls. When His dear friend died, even Jesus wept. Plus we have to remember that weeping might endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5; You have taken account of my miseries; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8)

4/29/21 – Scoffers 

I thought that a scoffer was simply someone who made fun of people who believed in a particular theory or an idea in which they disagreed. In the Hebrew, however, not only do scoffers disbelieve, mock, and ridicule others, they are ambassadors who rally or recruit others to join up with them. The Bible says that in the last days there will be scoffers, influencers against God and His word. It says that scoffing will only increase as the end draws near. I have found this to be true in recent days. Many people I knew to have believed in Jesus at some point in their lives have walked away from Him for various reasons. (…in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. II Peter 3:3) Many have either adopted false teachings or do not believe in God at all. As Christ-followers, if we’re not careful, we can be influenced by these people. When we stop influencing and start to become influenced, Jesus said, it is time to shake the dust off your feet. Matthew 10:14. News Flash: But the day is coming, a promised day when everybody will believe and will bow down. (…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11.) They will accept the Truth, and their scoffing will be silenced forever.

4/28/21 – Book

The most important book in life has never been read. It’s named The Lamb’s Book of Life. The Lamb refers to the Lamb of God. Jesus Christ. The Savior of the world. This book contains the name of every person who will spend eternity in heaven with Him. Once you admit that you’re a sinner, believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins, and confess with your mouth that He is Lord, your name will be added. If you’re unsure whether or not your name is written there, it would be my strongest plea that you tend to it right away, for only you can decide. It’s your choice. But do hurry. Time is running out. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15; Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:3)

4/27/21 – Ask

Sometimes it’s hard to ask another person for what I want. Either I fear their rejection, or the thing I want seems too difficult to acquire so I don’t bother. But if I am totally honest here, the root cause of my not asking for what I want or need from another human being concerns my pride. At the core, I don’t want people to think I am weak. I want to appear strong and independent enough to survive life on my own. But the fact is that I do need things. I do need help. We all do. A good friend of mine has always told me, you don’t G-E-T if you don’t A-S-K. While that is almost always true, it doesn’t change the fact that it is difficult for me to ask. Somehow though, I don’t feel that way about asking the Lord for things. Perhaps because He already knows what I need before I ask or because His loving and caring reputation precedes Him. I can be vulnerable with Him because He knows me and loves me more than anyone else. If He says no, I’m certain it’s because He wants the best for me. He will give me my desires if I seek Him (not my desires) with my whole heart. How do I know? Because if my relationship with Him is right, His desires become mine. (You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3; If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7)

4/26/21 – Beware

Of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. These wolves are everywhere. Outwardly, they look harmless, are kind, and have seemingly good intentions. Inwardly, however, they are full of hate, evil, and deceit. They love only themselves. They seek to control. They hate criticism, and when they hear it, they respond in anger. They tempt you with money and things and promise you the world. They know the power of emotions and they use this to their advantage. The wolf pushes his own agenda. Recognize this person before you get involved. Remember that if you know the real, you’ll recognize the fake. To know the real, you must know the Lord. To know the Lord is to read about Him in His word and accept Him as truth. Sincerely pray and ask Him for much discernment to see any red flags that are waving in the distance. (Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16; The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. II Corinthians 2:14)

4/25/21 – Certain

To be certain of something can either bring peace or anxiety. Certainty is a for-sure thing, good or bad. We can wholly trust in absolute certainty. It is what is. It is what will be. No matter who says the earth is flat, we can know for certain that it is round. We can know that light travels at a speed of 186,282 miles per second. When a baby cries, we know that it’s sick, in pain, wet, tired, or hungry. When someone says, I’m absolutely 100% sure, you can just about bank on the outcome. Nearly. Almost. Those words still leave a little doubt, a little wiggle room, don’t they? Until God says it, the One who made everything, the earth, light, and babies, there is always a chance, however slight, that it’s not entirely true. How can we know that what God says is absolutely true? We read his absolute true Word. What the Bible says is absolutely true. If you’re not sure of something, anything, read it! Scripture is sure. It’s 100% true. God and His Word is our only sure thing. His promises always prove true. We can be certain of it. (Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17; The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; Psalm 19:7)

4/24/21 – Trapped

We often feel like a bird in a cage with some of our relationships, be it work, personal, or spiritual. We feel trapped inside something we helped to create. The key word in that first sentence is feel. We may feel caught, trapped, imprisoned, but in reality, the door to our cage is open. We can fly out anytime we want. But often times, we choose to remain in a place where it’s not so bad. Even if we don’t like being there, we feel that the risk to fly out is greater than the misery of staying put. I mean, we’re not miserable all of the time. So, after careful calculation, we decide that the loss of our captivity would be greater than the gain of our freedom. After all, freedom isn’t really free, is it? There’s a cost, and the cost would be too great. That’s the lie the devil would want you to believe. If you’re miserable and are feeling that you’re not living up to your God-given calling, there’s a reason. Could it be that the Holy Spirit is calling you out? Until you decide to surrender your life to the One who can help you to escape, you will remain stuck and unchanged in the cage you actually made for yourself. (And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32; For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11)

4/23/21 – Priority

Our actions determine what our priorities are, period. You can argue with people all day about it, but what you do with your time tells the truth about who or what is most important to you without your having to say a word. Others know the truth as well, by the way; there’s no hiding it. While we’d like to think that we’ve got it together in this area, there are probably some things needing to be rearranged. Let me give you some advice from experience. The One who should be occupying this number 1 position in your life is God. If He is out there in the left field of your life, your games won’t be very exciting. And the nice thing is that when you finally allow Him that space at home plate, when you make Him number 1, everything else eventually falls into its proper place on its own. That’s the miracle of it. It’s a beautiful thing (with less work and stress) when you prioritize in this way. (But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33; Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3)

4/22/21 – Assume

It’s so easy to assume, isn’t it? Assumptions are easy to make but are really difficult to take. (Enter Debbie Downer) If it’s cloudy, she assumes it might rain and cancels her outdoor plans. If Juan doesn’t respond to her within 2 seconds, she assumes he’s upset. Even in regard to texting; if he doesn’t include the exclamation point and a red heart, she thinks he’s cheating. Assumptions are what we accept as true but have no proof. They are suffocating and highly toxic. If you are the assumer, don’t be surprised if you’re standing by yourself at the altar. If you’re the assumee, you might want to jump in your van and head to Galveston. But hold on just a minute. Before you end up alone and before you pack your bags, why not try these simple remedies? Have a conversation. Talk about it. Ask questions. Pray. Do some research. The same can be said regarding Biblical principles. If you’re in a church and the pastor is teaching something that doesn’t seem quite right, search it out. Talk to him. Get some perspective. Read the Bible. (A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2; Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1)

4/21/21 – Confusion

Until our minds are comfortable with a process, an equation, or a relationship, for example, we will remain in a state of confusion. That is, until we have an understanding on any subject, we will be confused. Phrases like, Oh, now I get it and Okay, yes, now I understand come to mind when I think of those aha moments. The Bible says that if we are in a state of confusion, we are being influenced by the evil one, as the Lord will never bring confusion, only understanding. If you are in a state of confusion, if things just aren’t making sense to you today, pray to our Heavenly Father to send the clarity you need. He promises to do it. (Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:2-5; Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. II Timothy 2:7)

4/20/21 – Guilt

The guilt we feel or don’t feel when we’ve clearly done wrong reveals a lot about our hearts. If we don’t feel guilt when we should, there is a problem. A stubbornness to relinquish a behavior or confession of wrong will result in a hardening of the heart. A hardened heart will not accept guilty feelings. It cannot. And if the heart cannot feel because of a hardness, it will not experience the necessary guilt required to make things right. If you are feeling the slightest twinge (a sign that your heart might not yet be fully hardened) to explore this further, and if you’ll agree to do some real digging, I have a sneaking suspicion that when you finally get to the bottom, pride is all over it. (For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. II Corinthians 7:10; And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 32:26)

4/19/21 – Alert

When we achieve a big victory in a game of football, at a marriage conference, or at the end of a brilliant performance, we are on cloud nine. It’s natural. We are thrilled with ourselves. We did it! We won the game. We made a commitment to make the marriage work. We received the accolades for which we rehearsed. Nothing can stop us now. But I say, be alert. We stumble least in our weakness. It’s in our greatness that we get tripped up. Stay close to God at every moment. Even though we may be a highly experienced surfer, it’s the force of the undertow we cannot see that becomes our greatest opposition. (Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. I Corinthians 10:12; Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8)

4/18/21 – Grip

When I think of this word, I think of little Frankie. She’s only 6 months old, but boy, does she have a grip! When she takes hold of my finger or of my hair (ouch), she doesn’t let go. She has discovered something she can do all by herself. This gripping must give her some sort of satisfaction, as she does it often and with a smile the size of Montana. And I love the feeling I get when she grips my finger so relentlessly, as I seem to be providing security for her. She is forming a bond with me and I to her. I feel needed and loved when Frankie, at her tender age, can trust me to provide security for her. This is a picture of how our relationship to our Heavenly Father should be. For many of us, these delicate days in which we live are filled with so much uncertainty. To learn to hold on, with as fierce a grip as we can to the One who never lets go, to the One who knows our future down to the very last second, is when trust is born, nurtured, and finally becomes full-grown. (For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13; Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10)

4/17/21 – Help

Do you need it? I know I do. It’s when we think we don’t need it that things become much harder for us than they already are. We rely on our own strength and on our own sanity. Wouldn’t it make more sense to come to the Lord for His help to fight our daily battles? The Lord, who made heaven and earth? The Lord who already knows our innermost thoughts and needs? Why do we not ask? Do we not believe? Or do we not even think of asking? Maybe we have asked God for help in the past and have not received it, so why would we bother? We assume He doesn’t hear or that He doesn’t care. I say, that if we come to Him with the right heart, He hears us. Cleanse it. Surrender it, and then wait. And while you’re waiting, meditate on these verses. (So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10; I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2)

4/16/21 – Sovereignty

The only one who knows the truth of what has happened before this date, and the only one who knows what will happen today and after this is the Lord God Almighty. We’d all like to know, wouldn’t we? We think it would be great to know what’s coming around the corner. But that’s not how God rolls. In His sovereignty, He knows that wouldn’t work at all. His plan is for Him to know and for us to find out. He has His reasons for it being a mystery. We ask Him to reveal things to us, and He might or He might not. That’s when we choose to trust in His sovereignty. Do you trust Him? I mean, think about it for a minute. He made the whole world with you and me in it! He has big plans for us. We, who are chosen to receive His inheritance, need to be ready for His soon return. Lord, we ask for Your wisdom and discernment today as we go about it. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we may speak to those who need to hear about You, love those who need loving, and help those who need help, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

4/15/21 – Vacation

I’m all about it. You? As we see the perennials blooming and the trees blossoming, we know the time is near. Many people have already planned their getaway. Vacations were non-existent for some last summer, but now that people are feeling more free to let their hair down, they’ll no doubt, go. We need it, don’t we? Some have been cooped up in their homes for over a year while others have tried to make life as normal as possible by venturing out. Either way, we all need a vacation. Even Jesus got away for refreshment from His earthly duties. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s when we take a vacation from our spiritual and moral life that we can get ourselves into real trouble. Keep your wits about you in this wonderful season of R&R. Keep seeking the Lord, as He wants obedience no matter where we go or what we do. (But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33; The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Mark 6:30-32)

4/14/21 – God

In trying to determine which word I would use today, God spoke to me. He knows I am weary. He knows I am discouraged. He knows I feel old. He knows I have decisions to make. In the midst of my prayer for strength, guidance, wisdom, and discernment, He told me in my spirit to talk about Him. Just Him. He is my strength(Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28) He is sovereign(Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21). He is glorious(For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14) He is magnificent(There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. Psalm 104:26) He is peace(You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3) He is wisdom. (For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6) Praise be the name of the Lord my God!

4/13/21 Turn

It is one thing to profess Christianity, to SAY that you follow Christ. It is another to TURN from your sin and walk in the opposite direction. You can profess anything, but if the evidence is not there, then you might want to look into it further. For instance, if a man says he is a teacher at a specific school but nobody sees him teaching in the classroom or online, it would be hard to believe his story. Likewise, if a man says he’s a Christian and he’s forever cussing like a sailor (sorry, you sailors who don’t cuss; your reputation precedes you), it’s likely he’s not really following Christ. There are evidences in a person’s life, fruits that prove their true identity. If you are truly born again, you’ll have a desire to know God, for instance. I’m not saying that you have to work for your salvation. I’m talking about the evidence AFTER a true salvation experience. Have you more of a desire to be like Jesus? To be a servant of His? Have you turned from your past sinful behaviors and become someone new? 

4/12/21 – Two

Today’s word, two, echoes some poignant thoughts taken from John MacArthur’s message on April 11, 2021. There are only two. Two what? Two religions: True and false. Two gates: Narrow and wide. Two destinations: Heaven and Hell. Two fruits: Good and bad. Two behaviors: Sayers and Doers. Two foundations: Firm and Weak. Jesus talks about all these contrasting elements in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7. There are only 2. You cannot choose both. You can straddle the fence, but at some point you’ll have to choose. You’ll have to make up your mind without turning back. It’s either/or. Not both. (Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Matthew 7:13; Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:24-27)

4/10/21 Unbelief

I don’t live in a hurricane zone, but because I love watching the weather on TV, I’ve heard testimony that the reason people don’t adhere to hurricane warnings and the like is that, deep down, they don’t really believe what the meteorologists say. What I mean is, they believe their town is most likely the hurricane’s target, but they don’t believe the hurricane will have that much of an affect on them personally. What is the evidence that they feel this way? They choose to ride it out. They stay when they’re advised to go. They put themselves in harm’s way on purpose. Why? Maybe it’s too much trouble to pack up and drive away into bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours to leave their homes. Could it be that they want to appear tougher than that massive wall of destruction? Maybe they think they’re smart enough and strong enough to save themselves. Sometimes they can, and sometimes they can’t. But where the rubber meets the road, they don’t believe what the experts say. This unbelief resides inside of me too, but in other situations. Because we think we’re so smart, we refuse to accept the advice of others. (Of course, I’m not saying we should believe everything we hear; some advice isn’t good, but that’s where Holy Spirit discernment comes in.) This is the problem with skepticism and finally, unbelief. This unbelief can be a killer in whatever precarious situation we find ourselves. This unbelief is what causes the loss of a job, the breakdown of a family, the senseless death of people, and other tragedies. The root of this stubborn unbelief is PRIDE. Let’s be careful and mindful of this killer sent from the evil one to destroy us. (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8; The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10)

4/9/21 – Honor

Some of us find it difficult to give honor to someone who has achieved what we did not. We, because of our jealous and prideful hearts, fail to show someone the great respect they deserve for the achievements for which they’ve worked so hard. We are reluctant because either we feel we deserve it more than they do or because we feel we could’ve done it better given the opportunity. Have we even found ourselves withholding honor from the One who has saved us from everlasting doom? Have we become so proud and hard-hearted that we hold others and even God responsible for our own failures? Do we then withhold the honor that’s due Him because we feel that it’s mostly His fault that nobody honors us? If you are feeling guilt or angst as you read this entry, it’s a sure sign that you are the person to whom I am speaking. The truth is that God honors those who honor Him. He blesses those who bless Him. (Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2; Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21)

4/8/21 – Warfare

We are in it. Spiritual warfare. We are in the heat of the battle. The evil one knows his time is very limited and he is attacking Christians with a vengeance. He’s very smart and uses his evil tactics in extremely strategic and unpredictable ways while at the same time, doing it underhandedly. I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming weary in this battle. I cannot see the future and so I’m beset with unanswered questions, lies, manipulations, and loads of adversity on all sides. I never thought I’d see such division in my lifetime. I must remember that there is an end to this fight. God, in His sovereignty, knows how His story ends. By faith, I also know, but I just don’t know when. My job is to keep speaking the truth in love. To fight for what’s right according to the Holy Scriptures. Period. When I look at the big picture, I see that my victory is absolutely certain. This will keep me going, in Jesus’ name. (He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31) 

4/7/21 – Grace

Undeserved but freely given. Grace is the goodwill or favor shown to someone who doesn’t deserve it, to someone who doesn’t ask for it, and to someone who doesn’t even know they need it. Think of that for a moment. The greatest example of grace is the grace God extends to every human being. It’s shown in the 2 most amazing events in history: Creation and Redemption. Creation is enjoyed by everyone whether they’ve experienced salvation or not. But it isn’t until we humble ourselves before God that we are able to accept the redemptive gift of grace offered to us. Creation is simply there. In front of us. We see it. Redemption, on the other hand, has to be accepted without seeing. That’s where the trouble lies with people who need more proof than the scriptures. Even though they are both examples of God’s amazing grace, one involves faith in what we don’t see. It’s our decision to take it or to leave it. The decision to accept the free gift of redemption guarantees our eternal inheritance. Accept this marvelous and free gift today. Today is the day to receive God’s grace. (For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9; And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32)

4/6/21 – Unlikely

God uses the unlikely ones, many times, to do His work. If he choses you, there is a reason. You may feel you are the most unlikely person, but if He wants you, and you are willing, it’s you He’ll use. Like David in the Old Testament, if you have a genuine heart for God and His purposes, there’s nothing that He can’t do in and through you. All it takes is a fully-surrendered heart. And there’s nothing more rewarding or fulfilling than serving the King of Kings, the Savior of the world. (… for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7)

4/5/21 – Manage

When we feel we have to start managing our relationships with other people, our anxiety level is likely escalating. When we seek to manage how other people feel about us, we are dealing with the sin of selfishness. You say, wait a minute. Selfishness? How is making sure people are happy a selfish thing? We want the comfortable feelings we get when we people-please. If everyone is happy with us, we feel good. At the root is the need for us to feel valuable which is the sin of pride. We then start to manipulate (lie) people by speaking in a certain way to get the feelings we want. We begin valuing others’ view of us more than we value God’s view of us. The truth is, we can manage these relationships for a while, but most often, we end up feeling worse because people’s evaluation of us is ever-changing. It’s hard to keep up. We feel trapped and are unable to be all that God has called us to be. (For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10)

4/4/21 – Risen

He is! Glory Hallelujah! Jesus is risen from the dead! If He had not risen from the dead, there would be no salvation. There would be no life. It would’ve all been a lie had he not come out of the grave. But He did! Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Holy Spirit! Because He rose from the dead, we have eternal life if we believe and confess that He is Lord. If you have not done so, please do it today, and I’ll see you in heaven when He returns for His church. His return is imminent so don’t delay in making your decision to follow the One who died, was buried, and Who rose again! Here’s what the apostle Paul had to say, (For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Peter and then by the twelve. I Corinthians 15:3-5)

4/3/21 – Responsible

We are all responsible, that is, held accountable for what we allow our eyes to see. But did you know that we are also responsible for what we don’t see? There are things to which I am blind. There are little gods, idols that rob me of my peace. Idols are people or things that take the place of Almighty God in my life. Sometimes, I don’t even realize they exist. But whether I realize them or not, I am responsible. I pray to the Lord for eyes to see my weakness here, and He shows me every time. Just this morning, He showed me that I have an idol in my life that I thought was gone forever. But it isn’t. The hope of one day having it again, an oxymoron in and of itself is an idol. This hope is robbing me of my peace right now and is therefore, an idol in my life. It leaves me bound to an unsatisfied disposition. Can you relate to what I’m saying? Search your heart for the idols that are hiding in the folds of your soul. If something is coming to mind right now, then that’s probably your idol. God is jealous of these people or things that take His place in your life. Don’t delay when you receive your full revelation. Be careful to surrender these idols at once and find your peace. (Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7; Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:21-22)

4/2/21 – Finished

It is finished(John 19:30) What did Jesus finish? He finished his earthly work by fulfilling the requirements of the Scriptures. All He was born to do was completed in His death on the cross. Because of the horrific sins of the whole world, like in Noah’s day, instead of destroying the earth, God chose to birth a Son through a virgin. His Son, Jesus, would grow up to live a sinless life and become a suffering servant and would pay the ultimate price for our sins both now and forevermore. We, as Christ-followers, remember His death today. I used to think Good Friday should be labeled Bad Friday because of the terrible suffering Jesus had to endure. But folks, that was the purpose for His coming! That was the plan all along. He was literally born to die. For your sins. For my sins. It was so good for 2 reasons. Jesus fulfilled the prophesies spoken of in the Old Testament, and He bore the weight of our sins and died so that we could live in heaven forever. That’s it. It’s finished. Forever. And all we have to do is to believe it, accept it, and confess our sins. It’s that easy. I encourage you to read the whole account found in Matthew chapters 26-28 of the Bible. Then tell me why anyone wouldn’t want this free gift. I mean, what have you got to lose? (For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16)

4/1/21 – Judgment

It’s not coming. It’s here. Today’s word is harsh. I don’t like using it at all. There are many senses of the definition listed in the dictionaries, but I’m going to define it here as a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment. (copied from the Oxford Dictionary) Divine punishment. We, here in the US, are experiencing it now. If you don’t agree, then you’ve been living under a rock. But these are only the labor pains before the birth of the child. I’m afraid the God of this universe, our creator, has had enough. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? I believe it’s too late now. Too late for us to repent as a nation. We’ve gone too far. You might say it’s never too late with a gracious and loving God, but I argue and say that if it was too late for Israel, God’s chosen nation, why wouldn’t it be too late for us, a nation that was blessed (only because we are allies with Israel), but not chosen? It is too late for our nation, but it’s not too late for you. You as an individual still have time to repent and turn from your sin. Surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter how difficult it will be to let go of your pride and to change your ways, you’ve simply got to do it. Now.  (Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Matthew 3:2)

3/31/21 – Prepare

I can be ready to go shopping, out to breakfast, or to head to Africa for a 3-week-long safari in no time. I don’t need that much time to prepare. That’s even the case when I plan a trip for myself or for my family and friends. I’m pretty much a last-minute gal. Procrastinator? I’m not too proud to confess that, yes, I probably am that too. So when I tell you that for me to prepare way in advance for something is highly stressful for me, I am not exaggerating. What is freeing to you is enslavement to me. But. Yes, there is that word, but. I am now in recovery. Since these times in which we all find ourselves are so crazy and unsure, I’ve changed. I’ve actually been preparing for what’s ahead. People who know me and love me are scratching their heads and asking, Where’s Suz? They’re probably talking about me and are using words like, crazy, cuckoo, and bonkers. It’s okay. I can take it. With things escalating at such a rapid rate, I’d like to be ready. That’s all. It’s even more important with regard to my spiritual condition. I want to be sure that when Jesus comes back for me, I am ready. The oil is already in my lamp. I’m ready to go. There’s a great teaching moment from Jesus recorded in Matthew 25:1-13 on this very subject. It’s only 13 verses. Take a look before it’s too late to matter.

3/30/21 – Holy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. Is this how I really feel? I know it to be true, but am I witnessing the holiness of God in my everyday life? Where I am right now? In my daily routine? Certainly, when I’m near the ocean, I look out over it and say, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. When I’m deep in the forest I look into it and say holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. When I’m near the mountains, I look out over their majestic splendor and say, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. But do I look at my home, my family, my friends, my church and say holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty? Do I look at my life, how I’m living it and say holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty? He tells me to be holy as He is holy. Do I see His holiness right where I sit today? It all starts with Jesus. I cannot even begin the journey to holiness without coming to Him first. (Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6;…for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. I Peter 1:16)

3/29/21 Hinder

I decided on this word about an hour ago and ironically, as I am trying to write this entry, I have literally been hindered. No joke. At least 5 times. Interruptions. Hindrances. These hindrances keep us from doing what we planned to do or what God would have us do. We must set our eyes on the end result and never deviate until it’s accomplished or we’ll become discouraged or frustrated and never finish what we started. (Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14)

3/28/21 – Broken

There’s always a box of tissue on my end table. The end table is next to my yellow couch on which I sit and study each morning. Sometimes I can go a week without using any of these tissues, and there are weeks that I use up a whole box. Not because I’m physically sick with viruses and such, but because my heart is broken. Why? Because there are so many people who are clueless that the end is near. People in my own family, in my church, some dear friends, and random people in my city, and certainly in the world don’t see the signs. What I can’t understand and what really breaks my heart is that some people do recognize the signs but they don’t care. They are busy with their daily lives and don’t have the time or don’t feel the need to think about the future as relates to their eternal security. Since we don’t know the exact time of His return, I’d say that now is the time to, at least, accept Christ’s offer of salvation! Believe and confess that He is Lord! Don’t wait a minute longer; for today could be the day of the Lord’s return! I don’t want you to be left behind. (Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. I Thessalonians 5:1-2)

3/27/21 – Character

You’ve no doubt heard the quote by John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, the true test of a man’s character is what he does when nobody’s watching. Having good character practically guarantees a good reputation, which is really what everyone wants if they’re honest. Just to confirm: Your character is what you really are, and your reputation is what people think you are. If your character is good, your reputation will be good. The 2 go together. In that order. Making sure your reputation is good without having good character to support it is like building a beautiful house on a cracked foundation. Before long, the house will start to crumble. (Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. …For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. Matthew 23:26-27)

3/26/21 – Light

After dark days of discouragement, the light finally comes. Even if just a sliver, the light of the Lord Jesus Christ shines into our dark, aching souls and brings an almost confusing joy in the midst of our pain. Be it great or dull, it subsides just enough to allow us to breathe. To wipe our tears. To get up. To recalibrate. To take a step. The light finally comes to show us the way. Truthfully, the light is always there, but our pain hides the light. It feels better in the dark, so the dark it prefers. I wish you, you who are suffering at this very moment, were sitting right next to me on my yellow couch. I would look you in the eyes, perhaps with tears streaming from mine, and tell you to hang on. I would pray to our loving, Heavenly Father and ask that He would take your hand and gently move you into His marvelous light. Because in the Light there is no darkness at all. (The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a Light dawned. Matthew 4:16; The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5)

3/25/21 – Discouragement

Many times, discouragement (some people might call it a let-down) comes after successfully finishing a  project or after the beach vacation has ended and you’ve returned home. It’s a kind of back-to-the-grind type feeling. Isn’t that just like the devil? After times of victory, rejoicing, and refreshment, he and his twerpy side-kicks tiptoe in and plop themselves down on my yellow couch to rob me blind. Of what? My peace. My joy. Put on your armor, folks. (Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8; Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11)

3/24/21 – Paid

Have you ever gone out to eat at a restaurant and when the time came to pay, you looked around for your waiter to bring the check? I mean, he was nowhere in sight and you were ready to go. That has happened to me on occasion. In my experience, he casually walked over from the bar area and said, can I get you guys anything else? Um, yes, we’d like the check please, I replied. Then he said the most surprising thing, it’s already been taken care of. Somebody paid it. Of course we, at the table, were stunned. We went back and forth with the waiter about who it could have been, and he didn’t know except it was a older man with wire-rimmed glasses. I mean, that bill was a rather large sum for 4 people. And it wasn’t breakfast! Think of how much more than that dinner total was my debt paid in full by Jesus Christ. All I had to do was to accept it, believe it, and confess it. He did the rest. On a cross, He died for me so I could spend eternity in heaven with Him. The absolute least I can do for Him is to tell people that He died for them as well. So I’m telling you now. (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16; When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30)

3/23/21 – Pride

It’s normal to be proud of the accomplishments of your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends, and even of yourself. If you’ve achieved something you worked hard to acquire, it’s normal to be proud of it, to give yourself a pat on the back. That’s not exactly what this word, pride, is addressing here. The Bible says that pride goes before the fall. What does that mean, exactly? Well, if the tree is pride, some of its poisonous fruits are self-sufficiency, anxiety, self-consciousness, fear of man, insecurity, feelings of superiority, self-pity, and a critical spirit. The list actually goes on and on, but to save time here, I will publish a blog on this very prickly subject. But I mean, look at the list. Isn’t at least one of these fruits hanging from the branches on your tree? I think it’s safe to say we all have a pride tree. These fruits are heavy; they’re deadly, so wouldn’t it be a good idea to get rid of it? To humble yourself and take a chainsaw to it before it comes crashing down on you? Be it in small pieces, or if you’re serious, go ahead and chop it down in one fell swoop; the point is to get it down as soon as possible. (Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18; Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12)

3/22/21 – Doubt

And with noise comes doubt. There are so many opinions about our world flying around like missiles in a video game. When I’m not focused on God and His word, I am tempted to listen to the wrong ones. Opinions from the news media, random people on social media, friends, parents, children, teachers, and even some pastors can certainly sound convincing, but if I’m not rooted in the Word of God, I can begin to doubt what I know is true. Just this morning, I begged Him for wisdom and discernment as I wrestle with so many things. I asked Him, What is true, Lord? And do you know what He answered? What is logical? and What makes sense to you? In my mind, that means, I gave you the answers, now use your brain, Suzanne. I gave you a well-functioning brain to use as you read My word to you. But since I doubt the well part of functioning so much, I am conflicted. I’m sure He is so frustrated with me at times. He even talks about people like me in these verses: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6 And in the next verse is His feeling about my decision to doubt: That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:7)

3/20/21 – Noise

You do hear it, don’t you? I’m not the only one, am I? All the noise? The noise produced by the news media, social media, the noise in your family… That’s exactly what the evil one would like for you and me to hear. Noise. His noise. I have the perfect example. Yesterday, I was on a very important video call with a few people, and while I was speaking, I was hearing their questions and responses repeated in a 30-second delay. If you’ve seen the movie, Bruce Almighty, there’s a scene in which he (and the audience) hears all the prayers of billions of people at the same time. That’s how I felt during that video call. Trying to answer their questions while hearing the question that was already asked was nearly impossible; the great and awful aspects of technology at its finest. It was the most frustrating and distracting thing I’d ever experienced. When I try to do the things the Lord has asked of me, it’s that way at times. There are so many other voices that can distract me from hearing His. So today, I ask Him for help; to hear only His voice as I go about my day. (But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. II Corinthians 11:3; But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26)

3/19/21 – Unexpected

Those things that catch us by surprise or events that are shocking can cause the most intense internal reactions. Adrenaline rushes, nervous breakdowns, or happiness beyond imagination. The unexpected return of Jesus at the time of the Rapture of the Church will be one of those events. I mean, we as Christ-followers are expecting it, but we don’t know the exact time. However, it will be the most unexpected event for some. Imagine it. Millions of people, in the twinkling of an eye, will be taken out of this old world to a wonderful place called Heaven. What will the others say? I’m so excited! I can’t wait! Are you ready? (So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. Matthew 25:13)

3/18/21 – Agreement

When I eat a particular food that I know isn’t going to agree with my digestive system, I am miserable until it is out. It can be the same with regard to my relationships with people. When I am in agreement, there is a peace that is present. When my spirit is in agreement with God’s spirit, I have peace. When I am holy as He is holy, I have peace. If I choose to be unholy, I suddenly feel the need to fill my day with work or with other distractions that will protect me from the guilt I will feel from not focusing on the holiness to which God is calling me. It is for my own joy, peace, and happiness that I enter my spirit and my actions into an agreement with God and pay no attention to anything other than this. And it is my job to do it. Not His. (So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. I Corinthians 9:26-27)

3/17/21 – Perspective

There’s a drawing that, when you look at it, you see one image, and the person you’re with sees a totally different image. For instance, I see a woman, and my friend sees a dog. I wonder how she sees a dog and then, if I stand there staring at it long enough, I see a dog too. What we see depends on how we look at it. Seeing things from my perspective is so easy. It’s so natural. Seeing things from someone else’s is not, unless I’m in agreement. Seeing things from God’s perspective is the hardest. When I experience difficulties in my life, I find it extremely difficult to see in any way other than my perspective. That’s where trust comes in. You know, trust is imperative here. Trusting that God sees it all from His perfect perspective and will take care of everything, is what my heart longs for today. And when I trust, I have peace. (For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9)

3/16/21 – Offense

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, the best defense is a good offense. George Washington (can I still use his name, or will I be censored?) first said it way back in 1799 to his brave soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Simply sitting around with their guns cocked was not nearly as effective as having an offensive plan to take out the enemy. Can you imagine a football team only using their defensive line in a game? Yes, we need to wear our daily defense, our armor, to fight off the devil’s fiery darts, but what can we do? What actions can we take to assure that we win against the devil? (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8; For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13; Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7)

3/15/21 – Mercy

How long has it been since you were so sorry for something you said or did that you begged for mercy from someone who was about to bring down the gavel and sentence you with the consequences you deserve? The words, have mercy on me, aren’t spoken too often these days, it seems. That humble pie doesn’t taste very good, does it? We really aren’t so sorry that we’d have to beg for mercy for the sinful acts we commit on a daily basis. I mean, our wrongs aren’t that bad. Or maybe we think that they aren’t that bad compared to other people. Or maybe we just don’t care what God or anyone else thinks. We’re going to do what we want to do or what feels good regardless of what’s right or wrong; because after all, what used to be right is now wrong and what used to be wrong is now right, so how’s a person supposed to know? Is that your excuse? Take a look at David’s prayer to God for mercy: (For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:3-4, 17)

 3/11/21 – Obey

We think God wants to keep us from enjoying life because He has rules. But I say, He has the list of dos and don’ts because He knows the consequences we will experience if we engage in certain behaviors. He knows what’s best for us. He knows that if we sleep around, we’re going to get sick. He knows if we lie or steal, we’re going to have trouble sleeping. All sin produces a guilty conscience (unless yours is seared) and has a way of making us physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally unhealthy. God knows this! That’s why he gave us a conscience, our own built-in internal gauge. What a gift! He created it to free us! And that’s what we all want these days here in the good ‘ol US of A, don’t we? Our freedom? It’s an oxymoron to be sure, but it’s true. Obey and be free. Lay down your pride and do what He says. You will be so happy! (But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:25)

 3/10/21 – Lavish

We give gifts for various reasons throughout the year to people we know and to people we love. Be it birthdays, anniversaries, or just because; we give gifts to mark moments or to show love to them. If we, being sinners do that, how much more does God, our Creator, give good gifts to us? Certainly not because we deserve it, but because He loves us. The word, lavish means to give in great amounts without limit. This is how God wants to give gifts to us even though we’re sinful. If we’re Christ followers, He has already given the most lavish gift of all, our salvation! (So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him? Matthew 7:11; If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Matthew 6:30)

 3/9/21 – Judge

Jesus talks about 2 very different types of judging in the Bible. One He condemns and the other He affirms. He says that we are to beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. It is these people we are to judge or to have discernment. On the other hand, we often pass judgment on other people based on their appearance or on their socio-economic status. This is the type Jesus condemns. In fact, He calls us hypocrites when we call out someone’s sin, yet we have sin in our own lives. There is no sin worse than another in Jesus’ eyes. He says in Matthew 7:4-5, How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the beam out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. It’s backwards really; it’s difficult to see our beam, but easy to see their speck. 

3/8/21 – Relinquish

This word means to give up something. To cease from claiming it; to voluntarily give up something. When we are forced to give something up, we will probably go back to it. But when we give something up on our own for whatever reason(s), it means that we have, either from our conscience or from the Holy Spirit received a nudging, a prodding. When we give up our sins voluntarily, when we relinquish control of everything in our lives and hand it over to God, we will receive all that God has for us. Easy? No. Necessary? Yes. (Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5; No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:13)

 3/6/21 – Travel

This weekend, I traveled to a place I’d never been. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I arrived, but there are some things I knew before I left. I knew I needed clothes, toothpaste, toothbrush, make-up, and other stuff so I got out my suitcase and stuffed it with everything I’d need. When getting ready for heaven, there are some things we need to do to get ready, but when we travel there, nobody really knows. The important thing is to be ready. (But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:36-44)

 3/4/21 – Stand

Sometimes, I find it difficult to stand up for myself, my values, my beliefs, or my policies as relates to my work. This all stems from a feeling of insecurity that was born during my childhood and adolescent years. I was taught that it was rude to voice an opposing opinion. Children are to be seen and not heard kinds of ideas were instilled in me at a young age. My feelings were never validated, and a whole boatload of problems arose from that. But I now say that standing up for myself is absolutely necessary for my own peace of mind. It’s the confidence in myself that I desire. My feelings on a particular topic are valid, and I should be able to speak about them no matter who’s around. If I don’t, and I go away feeling small, it’s my own fault. Jesus certainly wasn’t afraid when He spoke about certain topics that surely made people feel uncomfortable. But that wasn’t His problem now, was it? (Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6; All you need to say is simply Yes or No; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37)

 3/3/21 Understanding

These days, it seems many people know and understand what’s coming. They’ve received prophetic news from God, either in visions or in dreams, and they tell it. Or they receive news from people who’ve received prophetic news from God and they tell it. By the time it reaches me, it’s 2nd and 3rd-hand information. To be perfectly transparent here, I wish He’d have just told me. And then I remember that He did tell me. I have a whole book about it. Everything He wants me to know is in the Bible. This is when I must ask for God for understanding. Does God really give people dreams and visions today? Yes, I believe He does, but that’s not how he chooses to communicate with me. I have to get over myself and open the prophetic news that’s right beside me. (Happy is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding…Proverbs 3:13; Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom… but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me… Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 3/2/21 – Heart

If I am living with a truly transformed heart, rules aren’t really necessary. If I find that I need rules, then the problem is really within my heart. If my heart has been changed, I am not weighed down by what I should do or by what I ought to do. I can act naturally. I can be who I was created to be. The Holy Spirit transforms my nature and does not spank me for my misbehavior. I have and will continue to experience consequences for my choices whether good or bad, but the Holy Spirit in me is working to continually transform my heart and not my behavior. So I can live today from my heart where there is peace, truth, joy, and contentment. If you’re not experiencing these luscious fruits of a changed heart, you can! (Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10; Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2; As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19)

 3/1/21 – Impossible

Preposterous. Can’t happen. There is no way. Impossible. How many times have you said or thought these words? If you’re a skeptic, probably millions of times. A skeptic questions everything. If they can’t see it or understand it, they don’t believe it. In the spiritual realm, where God is concerned, we must believe what we can’t see or what we don’t understand if we are to get anywhere near heaven. We must eventually dispose of our skepticism and trade it for faith. Faith believes that the impossible can happen. Faith in what? Faith in whom? Well, where I’m concerned, faith in the God who created the universe. Faith in the God who created me. Faith in what He said concerning everything. Faith in the God of the impossible, the God of miracles. Are you in an impossible situation? A no-win scenario? Cool it on the skepticism and try trusting in the Almighty. The One Who makes possible the impossible. (Ah, Lord God! Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17; Jesus looked at them and said, With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God. Mark 10:27)

2/28/21 – Fight

This word may have a negative connotation to you, what with the state of our world today or with the condition of your personal life. Granted, it’s refreshing when we don’t have to fight for what we want or for what we believe in; it just happens without our having to lift a finger. But when you find yourself in the fight for your life, you must give your all; you do whatever it takes. You fight with all you have inside you. Remember what Jesus said, in John 16:33: In this life you will have trouble. And we do, don’t we? But we don’t have to sit there and absorb it. We don’t have to let it overtake us. We must overcome it, with the help of our Lord. The rest of that verse says, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. Take heart! I have overcome the world. 

 2/26/21 – Approval

You’re approved! What exciting news to hear after applying for a mortgage on a home or after applying for a loan to buy a car. Even when dating, we want to feel we are enough for our significant other. Being approved of says I believe in you. I trust youI believe and trust you to pay back this money you borrowed. I love and trust you enough to partner with me in marriage. I seek approval on so many levels. Why? Because it fills my human need to be trusted. To be chosen. To be worthy. To be enough. But I say to you that if God’s approval is all that I’m seeking, these other things will fall gently into place. It really makes no difference what other people think of me, if indeed I am seeking the kingdom of God. I can say this, but am I living it out? Am I seeking only the approval of God? (But seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:23; Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15)

 2/25/21 – Blind

I have not come in contact with many people born without their sense of sight. Having never seen the pear tree exploding with tiny white blossoms in the spring or the sun as it disappears from the horizon seems like such a tragic loss to we who see. Think about your eyes for a moment. What a magnificent and indescribable gift from our Heavenly Father! I am reminded of the blind man in the Bible to whom Jesus gave sight. Take a moment to imagine it. The surprise! The wonder! The joy! The man’s eyes were seeing for the first time! I’m smiling right now. Believe, and let Jesus heal you today. From your past. From your sickness. I’m so glad that John recorded this miracle in the New Testament.  (…one thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! John 9:25; For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16)

 2/24/21 – Slave

When I think of the word slave, it triggers a negative emotion inside of me. Words like forced, dominate, and obedience also come to mind. It’s one thing to be a slave to another person, but to be a slave to my own sin is so self-defeating. When I allow my sin to dominate me, I am immediately defeated. What is it that allows me to obey these sins? Do they force me to obey? Certainly not. All sin is dangling out there tempting me to take hold. Do I have to? No. But do I? Sometimes, yes, I do. To say I can’t help myself is not a true statement. I can help myself, but I don’t. I succumb. There is some selfish part of me that thinks a particular sin will satisfy me. But it doesn’t. Maybe for a moment, but when that moment dies, so does a part of me. When my sin has more power over me than I do, I become its slave. Obedient to it. A servant to it. I give my life to it, but it gives me nothing. (We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6; Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. John 8:34)

2/23/21 – Die

We often hear people say while on their death bed, I don’t want to die. We know they mean it because of the physical pain they’re experiencing. We might even hear someone metaphorically say, I just want to die, when they’re no more close to dying than a healthy newborn. I was reading this morning in A Gospel Primer, and something really hit home to me. If we don’t, as true Christ-followers, die to ourselves daily, we cannot conform to His image. Here is an excerpt from Milton Vincent’s book: When my flesh yearns for some prohibited thing, I must die. When called to do something I don’t want to do, I must die. When shattered by hardships that I despise, I must die. When wanting to cling to wrongs done against me, I must die. When enticed by allurements of the world, I must die. When wishing to keep besetting sins secret, I must die. When dreams that are good seem shoved aside, I must die. Not my will, but yours be done, Christ trustingly prayed on the eve of his crucifixion. Let us pray that too. 

2/22/21 – Do

There are things we simply can’t do on our own. Like, play football, sing a duet, become a parent, or enjoy an experience on a teeter-totter. But there are countless things we can do by ourselves. We ask God to help us when we are perfectly capable. Like the action of renewing our minds, for instance. We ask for help with that, but really, we already have the power to do that if we’re saved. Now, I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s an action that will strengthen our faith if we do it ourselves. It’s also what the Bible tells us to do. (Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2)

 2/21/21 – Expect

I don’t consider myself a skeptic, so If I’m guaranteed  something from someone, I expect it to pan out. If I order something, I expect it to be delivered to me exactly as promised. That’s where I’m sometimes disappointed. Upon receiving the item, it doesn’t quite meet my expectation, so I return it and hope for a better outcome the next time (if there is a next time). I have an extremely high expectation when it comes to eternity. I expect that Jesus will return to Earth and take me with Him to heaven. Why? Because He offered to come for me (He has offered it to you as well), and I accepted. Since I accepted His free gift of eternal life, and I expect Him to come as He promised. I believe He will. Although there is no posted arrival time, I’m certain He will return for me at some point and that it will far exceed my expectation. (For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:16-17) Come with me, won’t you? 

2/20/21 – Read

I checked out a book at the library yesterday, but I couldn’t go in to get it as the library is closed for in-person service. I had to reserve it, call for an appointment, then had to pick it up under the awning of the blue table on the porch of the library. Crazy times, we live in…nevertheless, I will read the book and take it back by the due date. I do read other books besides the Bible, although the Bible is my go-to. It has the answer to any question I’d ever have about what concerns me. It is my source for healing. It is my source for instruction on right-living. It is my source for encouragement. I could go on and on. (Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15 – amplified Bible) 

2/19/21 Late

I love being on time. Early even. Why? Because being on time says that I respect the other person or the organization. Being on time says I care. It says that I value the other person. For me, there’s rarely a positive outcome if I arrive late. All the stress that comes with being late is not worth those 5 extra minutes of sleep. I’m sure you remember the story of Noah in Genesis. The Lord instructed him to build the ark so people would be saved from the worldwide flood that was coming. Since it had never rained, people didn’t believe it. They thought Noah was crazy. But the flood did come and on time. But people were, of course, late. The old seeing-is-believing scenario. They fought for their lives there in the water and eventually drowned, for the door was sealed shut. It was too late. There is another similar event coming up to which I hope you’ll be on time. If you’re late, you will experience whatever devastating consequences come with it. You can read all about these 2 events in the Bible. Genesis chapters 6-9 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18. I hope you’ll be ready…

 2/18/21 – New

This word generates such positivity in me. New. Shiny. Start. Fresh. Begin. When we make mistakes, it’s so wonderful to know we can begin again. Jesus told the disciples, after they had fallen asleep in the garden, an act for which they were ashamed and guilt-ridden, to get up and do the next thing. Wallowing in despair over your sin does no good. Sincerely ask the Lord to forgive you and then move on. Do that next thing He is requiring you to do. Nothing new can happen when you’re stuck in the old. (…but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going. John 14:31; See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19)

 2/17/21 – Think

What are you thinking about right now? Work? Family? Friends? Imminent disasters? The weather? The stock market? Facebook? Instagram? Do the things you think about affect your day in a positive way? If your day is filled with thoughts of doom and gloom, it might be time to change that thought life of yours. I didn’t say it would be easy, especially if you’re surrounded by negativity all day long. But it is possible. Would you agree that your situation could be a lot worse? Think about that. The thought is at the front of the line. It is followed by the emotion birthed by the thought. The Bible is clear on how good thoughts lead to more good thoughts. (Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:4-8)

 2/16/21 – Miracle

By definition, a miracle is a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. Pretty accurate, don’t you think? I’m told that when a real miracle happens, people are so happy that they can’t say enough! They’re shocked and completely amazed with the change in their life or with the help they received, whether it be a healing, surviving a catastrophic event, or literally coming back to life after being pronounced dead. These are all miracles that I’d say would be classified as A+. The top of the list. But what about the miracle of breathing? The birth of a baby? Creation? Your salvation? These are all just as exciting as the A-listers. Take a look in the mirror. Even if you don’t look or feel like one, you, my friend, are a walking miracle. Focus on that and thank your Heavenly Father today. (Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27; But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God. Luke 18:27)

 2/15/21 – Tree

Ever planted one? It’s very hard work to dig a hole deeply enough (especially in the hard, clay soil where I live) and to lift the tree into the hole. But once you get it in the ground, water, stake, and fertilize it, the tree acclimates to its new environment. If you’re lucky, it takes off on its own. Even better if you plant it near a water source. Many years ago, we planted a young willow tree in the backyard of our home where the water gathered because of the slanted grade. Perfect place for it. It’s probably a beautiful 30-40 footer by now. When in full bloom, I used to love to watch from my kitchen window its leaves swaying in the wind. There’s a peace and a calm when you watch and listen to a Willow blowing in the wind. Trees are an amazing gift from God. He says in Psalm 1:1-3 that we will be blessed like the trees planted by the water if we live the way he suggests. (Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither and whatever they do prospers.)

 2/14/21 – Truth

Truth is good. All truth. Can we agree on that? We say we want the truth, and we do (kinda), but boy-oh-boy does it hurt sometimes. It’s the hurt from the truth that we don’t want, not the truth. When we we say, tell me the truth, we really do want it. But at the same time, we know there is a strong possibility we will wish we wouldn’t have asked for it. Sort of a catch-22. I used to close my eyes to the truth that was staring me in the face, but there is no freedom in that. Knowing the truth eventually brings peace. You may hurt for awhile, but sooner or later the truth will bring a freedom to your soul that is  beyond understanding. If you need the truth, ask for it today. (And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32; When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13)

 2/13/21 – Hear

Our hearing of audible sounds becomes weaker as we age. Some people lose their hearing entirely, and some need assistance with help of hearing aids. When it comes to God, however, we should always be able to hear Him speak. If we’re in right relationship with Him, if we’re seeking Him with all our hearts, He will speak and we will hear. How? Through His written word and through the speaking of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us. If you’re not hearing, then you’re probably not listening. If you’re listening but not hearing, then get into His word and find out why. (If you seek me, you will find me if you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13; So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17; My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27; Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3)

 2/12/21 – Shame

Shame, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety; a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute; something to be regretted. We feel shame if we violate the values we have set for ourselves. If any of us has done something wrong, we have, no doubt, had feelings of shame. The devil would love to make you think you’re the most horrible person alive and that you could never measure up, so why even try. To whom don’t you measure up? To God? He’s right, we can’t. But I’m here to tell you that the shame you are feeling or have felt is not from God. Grab your Bible and read it. The following verses are a start, but I encourage you to delve in on your own. Study it. (When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2; There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1) 

 2/11/21 – Self

Self. Your character, your personality, and your nature together form yourself. It has been said that you can’t do anything to change your nature, your DNA (however, with technology skyrocketing, it is now a possibility). But how about your character? Your personality? It’s certainly a good thing to care for yourself. Self care is a huge industry these days. But when is it too much? Too much self help? When does self help become self-centered, self-absorbed, self-pity? When we stop thinking about ourselves and start focusing on others, it begins to change us. How about trying it today? Perform an experiment for yourself. How about doing something nice for somebody else today? Just one thing. (I’m talking to myself here too, by the way) If you like the way you feel afterward, start making it a habit. You’ll find that something inside you will begin to change for the better. (In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35)

 2/9/21 – Ready

We don’t feel ready at times, but when we are, it’s so peaceful, isn’t it? To get that song perfected and memorized before the performance date, to have all the data printed and in a notebook before the big presentation, to have everything packed the day before you leave, to have checked all the safety precautions before you jump out of that plane; each of these examples is the foundation for readiness. There are simply some things which should be done beforehand. There’s nothing quite like the peace you have when you’re ready. True, you may experience some anxiety, but nothing like the anxiety from being unprepared, from being caught off guard. There’s a calm, a sense of accomplishment, an assurance that you did all you could. Are you ready? Are you ready to leave this world and move on to the afterlife? Have you taken care of everything? I’d like to tell you something that you might not know. The only thing you really have to be 100% sure of is your eternal status. Will you go to heaven or hell? You can know. For sure. Without a doubt. You can be prepared before you actually depart. Check out these verses from the Bible: (I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. I John 5:13; The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23)

 2/8/21 – Everyone

To love everyone is what all Christ-followers are instructed to do. Love everyone. Everyone. Think of that for a moment. We find it relatively easy to love people in our family, our friends, people of similar backgrounds, race, values, and goals. But what about loving the worst of the worst? Think of the vilest of humans and try to imagine loving him or her. Imagine praying for him or her. Can’t? I admit that I can’t, and that, in itself, is the sin of pride in me, for I am no better than they. I now repent of my pride and ask the Holy Spirit for the supernatural love it takes to love the unlovely. Myself included…(Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. I John 4:8; This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him…since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. I John 4:9-11)

 2/7/21 – Hope

It’s Super Bowl LV Sunday. Some of you have been waiting so long, while others of you don’t even know which teams are playing. Those of you who’ve been waiting, I’m sure are also hoping that your team wins. Are you hoping for anything else today? Are you hoping for a miracle? Maybe even praying for a miracle? A miracle of healing? A miracle in your finances? A miracle in a relationship? Don’t give up hope! For if we don’t have hope, we really have nothing. Solomon laments the same thing in Proverbs 13:12: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but the rest of the verse is like a cool drink of water on a hot day: but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Like Paul said in Romans 8:24-25: …but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (emphasis mine) Wait eagerly-with an excited desire. Not anxiously-with worry or unease. Keep on hoping. Keep on praying.

2/6/21 – Fruit:

I’m not a big fruit-eater. I like fruit, but sometimes I buy it and cut into it, and it’s either not sweet enough or it’s rotten. Questions like, I wonder how long that has been sitting there, and where did that come from, enter my mind. If only I could pick it myself. And if I could pick it myself, there are other questions. Is this tree healthy? Does bear good fruit? Some trees just can’t produce good fruit because the tree itself isn’t good. The only way to know if the tree is good is by tasting the fruit it bears. That’s how it is in our lives. You only know a person by his/her consistent actions. If you have eyes and any amount of discernment, you can know the type of person you’re dealing with. (Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. …John 15:1-17; But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23)

 2/5/21 – Armor

It’s crazy out there. Put on your armor today, people. The devil and his buddies will come at you from all sides. That’s a guarantee. He’s more crafty today than he was yesterday because he sees that his days are swiftly coming to an end. (Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not (emphasis mine) against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-18)

 2/4/21 – Mystery

I love a good mystery. Mystery invites us to solve, like a whodunit. The Bible is full of mysteries, some that won’t be fully revealed until we get to heaven. To me, one such mystery and a controversial theme is the question of salvation. Once a person is saved, is he always saved? Or can he, by living in habitual sin lose it? There are only 2 answers to this question. Yes you can lose it, and no you cannot lose it. In my opinion, there are verses that support each belief. If you’re wondering or worried, maybe do some digging. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and discernment as you READ THE BIBLE. It may be a mystery that we will not know until we get to heaven, but for me, I’d rather know now. (for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11; All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16)

 2/3/21 – Praise

We all love it, don’t we? Our egos crave it at times. But what about praising someone else? Some of us find it difficult to praise other people, especially if we think we deserve the praise they’re receiving. How about taking our eyes off of ourselves for a second? How about praising the One to whom all praise is due? We really start to experience God when we worship Him. When we praise Him for being our provider, He’ll provide. When we praise Him for his power, He’ll strengthen us. When we praise Him for getting us out of a jam, He’ll be our rescuer. God loves our praise. He loves to hear genuine praise from our lips. (Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Psalm 150:1-2; Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:1-2)

 2/2/21 – Follow

Most people follow someone or something. If you’re not a leader, you’re a follower. Even leaders are followers. There are so many tiers of leadership and followship (I made that word up, but you get the idea) that I will do blog on this subject alone. Think about this for a minute. You’re following something. Someone. Even atheists follow a moral code. If you’re not following the teachings of Christ and are not walking in the way He walked, you are not a Christ-follower. You’re following someone or something else. First things first: discover who or what you’re actually following, and we’ll go from there. (For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. I Peter 2:21; My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

 2/1/21 – Return.

To give something back. To go back from whence you came. Sometimes returning is good, but when you return to something that’s harmful or destructive, you face opposition from all sides. Mostly, from yourself. If God has led you away from something or someone, don’t go back. Like the children of Israel in Numbers 14, they complained to Moses that their desire was to go back to Egypt. Back to their old ways, back to where things were comfortable. They had come so far! They had almost reached the promised land and they were tired, hungry, and irritable. At times, we all feel as if we want to go back. To leave what God has called us to do and return to an easier life where things and people are familiar. This is not a bad thing, but if it doesn’t line up with your calling, keep moving forward. A good friend of mine is always telling me, Don’t go back to Egypt. The only time you should do any real returning is when you return to God. When things get rough, stay the course. Take your eyes off of yourself and pray, pray, pray. (And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6)

 1/31/21 – Risk

I’m sure you, like me, have heard people say it’s just not worth it. Albeit, risks are sometimes worth it, but sometimes they’re not. We never know, do we, until we take them. Should I sign up for a 26-mile marathon? Should I join the American Legion? Should I register for college? Should I get married? Should I have another baby?  Sometimes you just know. Most times your gut will tell you. If you’re a Christ-follower, the Holy Spirit will guide you. But what happens when your gut isn’t working properly? And what do you do if you don’t have the Holy Spirit? Then I’d say that you’re left to your own devises. Phone a friend? Visit a palm-reader? Become a nun or a monk? But seriously, where do you turn? My advise would be to crack open a Bible. The answer is in there. If you dig deeply enough, you’ll find it. There’s absolutely no risk. If you’re leery, there’s probably a good reason for that. There’s something supernatural about reading the Bible. Try it. See if that answer doesn’t come. (Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7; All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 1/30/21 – Listen

Most people find it easier to talk than to listen. Communicating is more about listening than talking. What can be gained by listening that could never be gained by talking? We obtain information by listening. We gain understanding by listening. It really is the basis for all communication. Instead of listening with the intent to speak, listen with the intent to understand. Thinking of how you’ll respond while the other person is speaking could rob you of critical information. If you become a listening pro, you’ll no doubt catch the story behind the story. (Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19; A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2)

 1/29/21 – Bless

To bless someone or something is to offer praise or congratulations to them or to ask God to give something good to someone. We don’t see a problem offering a blessing to a good person (someone we like or someone we respect). But when it comes to asking God to bless our enemies, to rain down his goodness on them, now that’s where we draw the line. How, in heaven’s name, do we do that? Only by His power do we do it. In fact, we are blessed if we bless our enemies. Now, don’t bless your enemies just to get a blessing, but ask God to give you a heart that loves like He loves. A heart where genuine love flows from your heart to another’s. That’s how you bless those who hate you, who persecute you. You will receive more of a blessing than your enemy when you take a risk, let go of your pride, and bless that enemy of yours. That’s a promise. (Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Romans 12:14; Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:28)

 1/28/21 – Discern

To discern. To detect. Either with the eyes or ears or any other of the 5 senses God gave you. Discern that which is good. That which is acceptable. But how? These days, what used to be wrong in our culture is now viewed as right. What used to be right is now viewed as wrong. To whom? To most people living on this planet. The only way to know what is truly right, good, and acceptable is to read the Bible. What does the Bible say about it? That’s where you’ll find true answers for everything, right and wrong, good and bad. Nobody who believes the Bible in its entirety can argue with what it says. You can try to argue; you can justify your contrary behavior in your own mind which then will satisfy your own conscience. But there is no true justification. What the Bible says is the truth, not your seared conscience. If your behavior doesn’t match up with the truth of scripture and you feel nothing when you perform those sinful actions, it’s because your conscience has become hardened to the things of the Lord. A hardened conscience will not feel anything, sort of like the dead skin that hangs from an old wound. Therefore, trying to discern wrong from right will be impossible. Now what? How do you recover? Start with confession. Then pray to God for the wisdom only He can give to discern right from wrong. Then, read the Bible. That’s it, really. Here are a few verses, but dig into the Bible yourself to get more highly valuable instruction. (If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5; And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment. Philippians 1:9)

 1/27/21 – Laugh

You’ve got to do it! Find some time in your day to read or watch something funny. In these trying times, laughter heals the soul, if only for a few minutes. I woke up this morning and watched a video that my friend had sent to me. I was literally crying; tears were streaming down my face. My soul was immediately lifted. It really is the best medicine sometimes. In the words of the late Milton Berle, Laughter is an instant vacation. It really is for me. Even the Bible talks a lot about laughter. (A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. Ecclesiastics 3:4; A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22; He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Job 8:21)

 1/26/21 – Confess

It’s one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. And confessing to each other is the hardest of all. Confessing to the Lord seems easier because it’s between us. Spirit and body. But since confessing to one another is human-to-human, we put ourselves in a vulnerable situation and it immediately becomes uncomfortable. We fear that our self-image that we’ve tried so hard to preserve will be tainted if we confess our sins. This then leads to the subject of pride. That’s why the Bible says that pride is at the root of all sins. All. When we decide to get rid of all the pride in our hearts, we become more free to confess our wrongs to others. If something is eating at you today, something that you need to make right with someone, let go of your pride and make a call. Send a note. Meet virtually. Meet in-person. Take the initiative. It will not be easy, but it will be healing. For both of you. (Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed… James 5:16; Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13)

 1/24/21 – Persevere

From the dictionary: To continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty with little or no prospect of success. To keep going. To stay the course. To persevere. To follow through. To carry on. What do you think about when you read these phrases? I’m reminded of various scenarios in my life where I stopped. I chose to end. Some of those decisions were right and some may not have been. Big decisions and not so big. I’ve never thought of myself as a quitter, but at this moment, I find myself at another fork. To the left is to stop, to the right is to continue. Do I trust and keep on keeping on? If you’re a Christ-follower, you will consult Him as you should. He will tell you whether to stop or to keep going. If you’re truly seeking HIS direction, you will know. And you will either obey Him or you won’t. (You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. Psalm 119:1 MSG I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. II Timothy 4:7 ESV

 1/23/21 – Reflect

Mirrors, of course reflect. You look in a mirror and you see yourself. You are either satisfied with what you see, or you’re not. I have not enjoyed seeing the signs of aging as I look in the mirror, so I have begun my attempts to correct these signs with various anti-aging products. You see yourself a certain way, but how do other people see you? That’s what I want to talk about today. Is how other people see you a reflection of who you truly are? The Bible says we are to reflect Christ, but how do we reflect someone we don’t know? May I point you to the gospels; they tell all about Him.  We have a lot of work to do, don’t we? I do. (Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. I John 2:6; You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:13-17)

 1/22/21 – Free

I love this word. It brings a smile to my face. Imagine yourself free from whatever is filling up your mind today. Is it your schedule? Is it your home? Is it the other person with whom you share your life? Is it the state of affairs of our nation? Is it your church? Your friends? Is it your parents? Your children? If anything but God is filling up that space in your head, your day will not amount to much. Be free, my friend. Be free from this world’s cares. Be free from the snares of the devil. Be free from whatever is holding you back from what God has called you to do. You must free yourself. The door to the cage you’ve been living in is OPEN. Mount up with wings as eagles and fly out of there! To have that peace you’ve been craving like nothing else, the peace that passes all human understanding, you must break free. Until you do, you are a slave to that which holds you captive. (Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17; And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32; So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36; Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. Psalm 118:5)

 1/21/21 – Forget

You may say, yes, I forget things all the time. I need a list. I need a calendar so I don’t double-book myself. That’s totally me, but it’s the needing to forget that I want to talk about today. It’s so difficult to forget the past, isn’t it? To move forward is so much work, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. But I can tell you from experience that it is a must. We cannot stay the way we’ve always been. When something is done, it’s done. And no wishing, hoping, or pleading will change it. When you have finally come to grips with this, you will be free. Let it go. (Philippians 3:13: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.)

 1/19/21  – Change

Change is sometimes difficult for me, but mostly I like it. There are some who would prefer no changes ever, and some like change so much that they seek it daily. We had a lot of change last year, didn’t we? Major changes that I would have never thought in a million years I would ever see in my lifetime. And we are headed for more major changes yet again this year. Whether you like them or not, they’re coming. You just have to decide if you’re going to go with the flow, or if you’re going to fight them. Depends on how much you believe in what you’re fighting for, what kind of resolve you have. Persecution might be in your future. Are you ready for that? I don’t even know what that would look like, as I have never known it here in the US. Separation might be in your future. From people in your own family. But something that should always be in our present and in our future is Jesus. He is the only one who knows what’s coming and how to handle it. He is the only constant. Stay in the Word or get into it for the first time. There you’ll find peace and joy beyond anything you can understand, no matter what you’re facing. Don’t be afraid of new things. Maybe it’s the Lord who’s bringing it to pass for your good. (See, I’m am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8) 

1/18/21 – Pray

When you don’t know what to do, pray. When you’re at your lowest low, pray. When all hope seems lost, pray. When you come to a fork in the road, pray. When you receive a miracle, pray. When you are the happiest you’ve ever been, pray. When you’ve been given more chances than you deserve, pray. Pray to the One who created everything. Pray to the One who controls it all. Pray to the One who sent His Son to Earth to be born. Pray to the One who died for our sins. Pray  to the One who provides salvation for you. Pray to the One who is preparing a place for you in Heaven. Prayers of repentance. Prayers of thanksgiving. Prayers of praise. Prayers for wisdom. Prayers for discernment. Prayers for understanding. Prayers for insight. Prayers for protection. (…pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances…I Thessalonians 5:17-18; Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God…Philippians 4:6)

 1/16/21 – Distraction

Distraction is anything that takes your attention away from something else. Distractions can be people as well as things. This is one of the most difficult issues for me. I can be reading a really great book, and ding, a text comes in, and I’m looking at that instead. It takes a lot of concentration for me to get back to that book. I can be cleaning my house and putting stuff away. I see something (completely unrelated to cleaning) that I may have forgotten to attend to, and ding, I’m attending to that instead. Do you have the same problem? It’s so frustrating! For me, I’ve had to walk away from the dings and purpose to keep on task. Ironically, as I’m writing this blurb about distractions, I got 3 texts! Did I check them? Confession: Yes! Walking away is hard but so necessary sometimes. Walking away might mean silencing your phone while you study. It could also mean that you need a break from social media for a second. Maybe that person to whom you can’t say no, needs to hear no from you. For those negative distractions, play the what’s-the-worst-that-can-happen game, and get free. (Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Let your eyes look straight ahead…ponder the path of your feet…do not turn to the right or to the left and keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4: 23-27)

 1/15/21 – Trust

If you haven’t had any sort of issues with trust, I’d like to shake your hand. And while I’m shaking it, I’d tell you that I don’t believe you. (There I go again.) If you read Word for Today yesterday, you’d know that this issue of trust is why I chose the word  disappointment. The scripture in Proverbs, Trust in the Lord with all your heart means that God ONLY deserves ALL your trust. Why? Because He never lies. Never has, never will. There is comfort in that. I’m not saying that the person I trusted instead of God lied necessarily, but folks, God ONLY knows the future. People can gather information about thus-and-such and develop their theories and conclusions, but in the end, it’s all up to God. All of it. It’s His plan that comes to pass. Not anyone else’s. Unless He’s behind the plan and allows it, it’s dead. He only is in control. If I could just get that through my thick head…you too? Then consider these verses. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6)

 1/14/21 – Disappointment

Isn’t is hard to keep smiling when things don’t go your way?  When I get less than what I want, I can become discontent, disillusioned, and even angry, depending on the magnitude of my want. To be honest, that’s how I feel today. Confession: I trusted in man instead of in God. When we put our trust in anyone other than the God of the universe, we’re bound to come to some trouble. Happens to me every time. I’m now so disappointed with myself that I could scream. When will I learn? Seriously? Even scripture is difficult to read, but I must. If you read a lot of scripture, it’ll come to you even when you’re unable to physically read it. Like while I was driving this morning, I remembered the perfect passage at the perfect time, and it threw me a lifeline, saving me from myself. All I had to do was grab on. God’s grace is truly amazing. What is that exactly? Amazing grace? It’s the love of God shown to me, even though I don’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve it at all, but He gave it to me. Right then. Am I over my disappointment? No, not totally, but I’m better. Scripture is like that. (It’s better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8 My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. II Corinthians 12:9)

 1/13/21 – Envy

Do you ever wish you had something or someone somebody else has? You say, yes, to be honest, I’d really love her big house. Or maybe you say, his wife seems so attentive to him. I wish I had someone like her. Sure, there are good things about what someone else has, but what you have is good too, unless you acquired it unlawfully. Listen, what you don’t know is the day-to-day grind it is to manage those things that you think you want. Unless you are plopped down in that situation, you cannot know. I’d say it’s not as good as you might think. Sometimes, we even want things ungodly people have. Look. Where the rubber meets the road, when has envy ever brought you joy? It can’t. Period. There is nothing good about it. The Bible calls envy a sin. Envy is really a form of hatred, and its foundation is insecurity and pride. Now, how can that be good? Impossible. Be content with what you have. Joy is there. Peace is there. Look until you find it. (A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30; Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong. For like the grass, they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good. Psalm 37:1-3)

 1/7/21 – Renew

When we hear the word renew we may think of renewing our license plates or renewing our subscription. But before we do any renewing of that sort, I would like to suggest that we renew our mind. The mind is where all the trouble starts, or it’s the place where all the freedom begins. It’s a daily and sometimes even a moment-by-moment task. But YOU, not God or anyone else can renew your own mind. That’s up to you. Purpose to renew your mind and see if you’re not more fulfilled and at peace. (Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2)

 1/6/21 – Wait:

To wait in line, to wait for traffic to clear, to wait for someone to get ready so you can leave… they all can try your patience. I am the most impatient when I’m driving. Waiting on God to move can be a VERY LONG wait. My advice is to sit back and relax. Trust His timing. (Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart. Psalm 27:14 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31)

 1/5/21 – Ponder:

Do you weigh things out before you decide to travel? (We do now, don’t we?) Do you think about the consequences of speaking to someone about something before you say it? When we hear the headlines or when we receive news about something, we’re quick to talk about it to everyone in our circle, but sometimes might it be better to consider it, to keep it to yourself for a minute, and to wait on the Lord? (And Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Luke 2:19 Ponder the path of your feet, and all your ways will be sure. Proverbs 4:26)

1/4/21 – Beautiful:

Just remember that when you feel you’ve totally made a mess of things, be joy-filled today because God promises to make all things beautiful in His time. He makes beauty out of our ashes. He works all things together for good to them who are called according to His purpose. (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Isaiah 61:3, and Romans 8:28)