Sunday, October 24, 2021

Improvements ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 10:12-22  /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 4

"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more... And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more." - 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10
We live in a world that's all about improvement. Improve your looks, your job, your education, your car, or your house. We're never satisfied with the status quo. As in the Dickens classic, Oliver Twist, we are always asking, "Please, sir, I want some more".

What about our spiritual lives? Paul mentioned the phrase "more and more" twice in this chapter. He instructed these believers to "live in order to please God" more and more and "love all the brothers" more and more. In both cases he noted a current lifestyle of Godliness, but he didn't want them to settle for just enough. He wanted to see spiritual improvement, "more and more".

Have you become satisfied with your spiritual life, while being driven for more worldly gain? What efforts are you making to improve your walk with God and your love for the brethren? The next time you want bigger and better or you're planning some home improvements, ask yourself, when was the last time you did some "heart improvements"?

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 11  /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 5

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Caring ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 10:1-11  /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 3

"So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them." - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
Some time ago twin babies were found abandoned outside a fire station in Shawnee, Oklahoma. A note attached read, "Take care of my babies. I'm poor and can't do it." Over a period of twelve months, 570 other children have been abandoned in the state. Such stories are sad and quite troubling when children are born into the world and left alone without care.

There is another type of birth when someone is born again into a spiritual life. Paul knew that such children needed care and protective love. With this concern, "when he could stand it no longer", he sent Timothy to provide the proper spiritual nurture. Paul never led someone to Christ and abandoned them, alone without care.

Have you led someone to the Lord recently? Do you have plans to care for their spiritual needs as new babes in Christ? Will you make the time to follow up their "new birth" with spiritual mentoring and discipling? Or, do you know someone who has recently been born again and abandoned? Allow God to use you as spiritual parent and give them the nurture and care that they need.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 10:12-22  /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 4

Friday, October 22, 2021

Our Glory and Joy ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 9 /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 2

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." - 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Over the years our last church was blessed with a Children's Choir that would often sing during the worship service. The group was made up of children from first through sixth grade. Our attendance was usually bumped up with parents, grandparents and extended family members. Relatives would come out of the woodwork to see, hear and encourage their young ones. Children are a glory and joy.

Paul was a busy missionary who also wrote volumes of Scripture and planted churches throughout his world. Yet, his greatest thrill was to lead a person to Christ and nurture them in the faith. He found this to be the very foundation of his ministry. Paul loved people in the Name of Jesus and cared for believers as a mother and father would. To Paul, spiritual children were his glory and joy.

Where do you look for true satisfaction in life? What brings you the greatest sense of fulfillment? When was the last time you led someone to Christ and nurtured them in their faith? My friend, this will bring you the thrill of a lifetime and it will last a lifetime. Love people like Jesus, lead them to the foot of the cross, encourage them in their walk with God and they will be your glory and joy.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 10:1-11 /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 3

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Motivation ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 8 /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 1

"We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Years ago my father worked for a nationwide retailer that gave its employees a vested interest in the company. The more they sold, the more shares they would be awarded. As they succeeded, the business succeeded, and as the business succeeded, so did they. This company learned that success comes from a healthy motivation.

Paul greatly appreciated the work, labor and endurance seen in the Thessalonians. He noted that they were a motivated group of believers who were driven by a much deeper commitment than most. Their faith empowered them to work hard, their love encouraged them to labor diligently and their hope invigorated them to endure to the end. Three spiritual qualities kept them motivated in the most difficult hour.

Faith, love and hope; every believer has these qualities, but not often drawn upon for motivation. From time to time, we will face the giants, but every day we will have to deal with the little foxes that pester us in our spiritual walk. The work, labor and endurance will be difficult at times, but trust in the Lord with all your heart, love the Lord with all your heart and hope in the Lord with all your heart and you will be sufficiently motivated for the greatest success.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 9 /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 2

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

People ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 7 /  NT - Colossians 4

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:5-6 
It has been well said that one minute after death no one will say, "I wish I had spent more time at the office!" Or, "I wish I had put more time in home improvement!" When the tally sheet is opened for evaluation, I believe the greatest regret will be that more time wasn't spent with people.

While it is true that "you can't take it with you", it's also true that you can certainly "send it ahead" by making the best use of your time with people. Be wise with your use of time my friend and embrace every moment to be a blessing to others. Give them love, mercy, and grace, but above all... Give them Jesus!   

Think about this: "Jesus... wants us to see that the neighbor next door or the people sitting next to us on a plane or in a classroom are not interruptions to our schedule. They are there by divine appointment. Jesus wants us to see their needs, their loneliness, their longings, and he wants to give us the courage to reach out to them."  ~  Rebecca Manley Pippert

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 8 /  NT - 1 Thessalonians 1

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Our Clothes...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 6:10-25 /  NT - Colossians 3

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." - Colossians 3:12 
They say that clothes make the man. That may or may not be true, but clothes often tell a lot about the person. An immoral person will dress promiscuously, and a moral person will dress modestly. Most often the outer appearance is a reflection of the inner attitude.

Throughout this chapter Paul emphasizes the believer's daily choice of dress. He is focused on the spiritual clothing, not the material. When we have put on a "new self" (vs. 10), our heart changes and our outer appearance takes on a whole new look. When we are God's chosen people, we dress accordingly.

You are a child of the King my friend. The kingdom attire isn't expensive suits and gowns; the clothing of the court is "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience". Before you spend time in your clothes closet thinking about what you will wear today, spend time in your prayer closet putting on the clothes that reflect a new heart.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 7 /  NT - Colossians 4

Monday, October 18, 2021

All You Need ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 6:1-9 /  NT - Colossians 2

"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority." -Colossians 2:8-10 
Self help books and new life-changing programs are beyond number. The issue comes down to this; people feel inadequate to face the challenges of life. Sadly, even believers find themselves in this deceptive rut. The lingering value of previous conferences quickly slips away as a new approach enters stage left. If the child of God would look within, they would have no need to look elsewhere.

The problem stated above is far from new. Paul found it necessary to give warning and counsel to the believers of his day. There have always been charlatans and profiteers that would take captive poor souls who were insecure. Human traditions have always been attractive for the moment. But in time, every tradition and philosophy loses it's luster and inadequacy returns with a vengeance. There is only one timeless answer that never fails the child of God. Look within, for you have been filled in HIM.

Where is your adequacy, security and sufficiency my friend? Do you feel as if the ground on which you stand constantly slips away? Is there a sense of hollowness in your philosophy of life? Well, take a moment and gaze upon your Savior. In Him the fulness of deity dwells and you have have been filled in Him, and He is all you need!

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 6:10-25 /  NT - Colossians 3

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Basics ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 5 /  NT - Colossians1

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." - Colossians 1:9-10
You can dress your car to the nines with the slickest hubcaps, sport suspension, finest audio system and sharpest interior tweaking. Yet, if you don't change the oil and keep the engine in good shape, eventually all that you will have is a pretty lawn ornament. You need to take care of the basics.

When you look carefully at Paul's prayer for the Colossians, he was all about their spiritual condition. I have no doubt that he had concern for their physical and financial issues, but his priority was for their knowing the will of God and living in a manner worthy of the Lord. He always prayed about the basics.

When you attend your church prayer service my friend, what is the focus of prayer? Prayers are lifted up for broken bones, lost jobs, safe traveling, church projects or youth activities. While all these requests are important, how much time is spent on the spiritual welfare of people? When do we pray without ceasing that our church family would be filled with spiritual wisdom to bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God? Are we really praying for the basics?

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 6:1-9 /  NT - Colossians 2

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Thoughts ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 4:41-49 /  NT - Philippians 4

"Finally, brothers, 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
When our boys were children we had all kinds of toys to entertain and challenge their abilities. One such toy was called "Domino Rally". After a lengthy domino creation was built, the last step was to knock the first domino down and watch the rest follow. Life is like falling dominoes. Tyrone Edwards put it this way... "Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny."

When Paul wrote to the Philippians he directed them into a life of humility, joy, gentleness and contentment. While all this comes from a close walk with the Lord, it begins in our thought life and from there the spiritual dominoes will fall. When thoughts are right, your actions and lifestyle will be right.

What are you thinking today? What preoccupies your mind? Only you can choose what you think about. If you want to live a Godly life, start with your thoughts and the rest will fall into place.

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 5 /  NT - Colossians 1

Friday, October 15, 2021

Practice...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 4:15-40 /  NT - Philippians 3

"Brothers, 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. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained." - Philippians 3:13-16
Many family Doctors have their own medical practice. I often wonder what it is that they practice. They update their expertise quite regularly through various workshops and seminars, but what do they practice on patients? Over time I have concluded that aside from the newest upcoming procedures, they take what they have already learned and put it into practice.

Paul was driven to grow in Christ. He wasn't satisfied to stay where he was spiritually. He pressed and strained toward greater goals for the Lord. But while he pursued new ground for Jesus, he was careful to live up to what he had already learned. Paul always put his gains into practice.

Are you living up to what you've learned today? Or are you occasionally preoccupied with new stuff and slip back from the basics? Don't ever lose sight of what you've already learned and be sure to put it into practice.

Think about this: "Practice is the soul of knowledge." - Thomas Adams

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 4:41-49 /  NT - Philippians 4

Thursday, October 14, 2021

No Complaints...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 3:23-4:14 /  NT - Philippians 2

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe" - Philippians 2:14-15 
Whenever I plan to make a major purchase of electronics, appliances or a car, I spend hours reading product reviews. They are some help, but the complaints are often beyond belief. Given the opportunity, people will complain about the silliest things and expend incredible time and effort in the process. It's such a joy to meet someone who doesn't complain.

Paul wrote about the humility and sacrifice of our Savior in this chapter. He pointed us to Jesus as our example for selfless living. This kind of lifestyle will always produce people who face life without complaining and arguing. As a result our lives shine like stars in the world, with quality, purity, and contentment. People will listen to our witness because they see our consistent joy.

No one likes to be around complainers. Arguments turn people away. But we have been sent into the world to bring the light and joy of the Gospel. The next time you want to complain, consider the Lord's selfless sacrifice for us and find reason to rejoice. To win people to Christ, you often have to woo them first.

Think about this: "Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses." 
                                                                  - Alphonse Karr

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 4:15 - 40 /  NT - Philippians 3

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

He always Finishes...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 3:1-22 /  NT - Philippians 1

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:4-6 
Throughout history, works of art have been left unfinished, for a wide variety of reasons. Some of these have, over time, become quite valuable as is, while others have little or no value. No matter the outcome, every artist begins their work with high expectations of finishing.

Paul was full of expectation as he prayed and worked for the Lord. He had great confidence that his labor would never be in vain. He knew that the Lord's work would certainly come to completion in those he had led to Christ. It is God alone who saves, sanctifies, and sustains us until the end. And God always finishes what he starts!

Are there times when you feel spiritually depleted and wonder if the Lord has given up on you? Did you begin your walk with God with great excitement, only to arrive at a place of confusion and doubt? Stop for a moment and remember... You are God's work and He always finishes what he starts! 

Think about this: "God watches and weeds us, and continues his labour upon us, till he brings us to the end of his promise." 
                                                                     - Richard Sibbes

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 3:23- 4:14 /  NT - Philippians 2

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Overcoming...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 2:26-37 /  NT - Ephesians 6

"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." - Ephesians 6:19-20
Fear can be a crippling emotion. There are those who are afraid of dogs, snakes, spiders, crowds, darkness, heights and some are even afraid of peanut butter. Fear is no respecter of persons or things. The truth is if we don't overcome our fears, our fears will overcome us.

Paul, of all people, asked for prayer to be fearless. He was passionate for Christ and burned with desire to see others come to know his Savior. Yet, he sought prayer to "fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel". In light of mentioning this twice, one might conclude that Paul struggled with fear. Yet, for the sake of the gospel, he chose to overcome and be fearless.

You may be afraid of many things my friend, but never allow fear to hold you back from witnessing. Pray and enlist others to pray that you will be fearless, "...as you should". Rememberif you don't overcome fear, your fear will overcome you. Be an over comer and make the good news known to someone today.

Think about this: "Only he who can say, 'The Lord is the strength of my life' can say, 'Of whom shall I be afraid?" 
                                                                     - Alexander MacLaren

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 3:1-22 /  NT - Philippians 1

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Very Serious Matter...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 2:1-25 /  NT - Ephesians 5

"Therefore do not be partners with them." - Ephesians 5:7
A number of years ago I had a friend who went into business with an unbeliever. They were partners. Over time the decisions of the unbeliever led the business into a federal investigation and brought the business to the brink of bankruptcy. My friend almost lost his house, car and family security. Partnership is a very serious matter.

When Paul wrote about immorality and greed he expected a complete break from such a lifestyle. He pointed to the empty life and final outcome of those who remain in this path. Furthermore, he gave clear counsel for believers to separate from those who live in this way. Because Paul knew that partnership was a very serious matter.

It has been said that believers are to live in contact with the world, but never in contract with them. This passage is a strong support for such counsel. Choose your partners wisely my friend. Be involved with those who will lift you up and not tear you down. An immoral and greedy partner will eventually bring you into spiritual bankruptcy. Be very careful, because partnership is a very serious matter.

Think about this: "The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world are so many traps to catch souls." 
                                                                    - J. C. Ryle

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 2:26-37 /  NT - Ephesians 6

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Amazing Grace...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 1:19-46 /  NT - Ephesians 4:17-32

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." - Ephesians 4:29
One of the more common complaints about the recent political battles is the amount of abrasive and critical attacks made from both sides of the aisle. Rather than working together in more productive and positive ways for America, the time has been largely spent tearing the opponent down. The best way to win the hearts of others is to build people up with words of grace.

Over the last two millenniums since Paul wrote these words little has changed. People are more prone to make themselves look good by making others look bad. This is just the way we are without a renewed spirit and mind in the likeness of God. In contrast, the mark of a true believer is clear: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32) This is how we build others up with lives of grace.

Take an inventory this week my friend. Jot down the nature of every conversation you participate in during the next few days. Look especially for "build up" or "tear down" content in each encounter. I have no doubt that you will be surprised at the results. We need to be intentional to "put on the new self" and "build up" others with amazing grace!


Think about this: "One of the first things that happens when a man is really filled with the Spirit is not that he speaks with tongues, but that he learns to hold the one tongue he already has."  
                                                                      - J. Sidlow Baxter

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 2:1-25 /  NT - Ephesians 5

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Peaceful Waters...

 Today's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 1:1–18 /  NT - Ephesians 4:1-16

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." - Ephesians 4:2-3
I've been in a large boat as the engine roared with incredible force to cut through stormy waters. I have also been in a small canoe when one stroke of an oar would propel us a great distance in quiet waters. Life is much like maneuvering a ship; the more peaceful the waters, the smoother the ride.

Paul often addressed the subject of peace to believers. One might conclude that such a concern would be unnecessary for the children of God. Yet, the instructions were given in detail to be humble, gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. The Christian community should be a place where peaceful waters prevail, always providing a smooth ride.

Are you making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace? Do you treat others with humility, gentleness, patience and love? These are the ingredients that provide and sustain peaceful waters for a smooth ride. Stormy waters are never fun... so don't make waves!!

Think about this: "Our Lord has many weak children in his family, many dull pupils in his school, many raw soldiers in his army, many lame sheep in his flock. Yet he bears with them all, and casts none away. Happy is that Christian who has learned to do likewise with his brethren."
                                                                 - J. C. Ryle

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 1:19-46 /  NT - Ephesians 4:17-32

Friday, October 8, 2021

Who's Inside?

 Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 36 /  NT - Ephesians 3 

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:14-19
Some time ago a missionary friend of mine let me take a close look at a bottle he brought home from Vietnam. The bottle was filled with wine and a coiled snake with a scorpion in its teeth. Yikes! I was more than happy to quickly return the unique conversation piece. The simple bottle took on a very distasteful aura from the fullness that was inside.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians to be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Such filling would come from the Father's riches, being strengthened with the Spirit's power and knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.  As a result, the simple believer would take on a very tasteful aura from the fullness that was inside.

The day you came to Christ, the Spirit of God made his home in your heart. His desire has been to expel the snakes and scorpions of your past and fill you with his fullness. This process is a matter of daily growth. Will you pray Paul's prayer for yourself and other believers today? May it be the intentional effort of your life to have the very fullness of God inside?

Think about this: "God does not communicate things to us so much as he just is himself in us. We are the vessels, the containers, so that the first work after the new birth is to cultivate the habit of receptivity."
                                                                                     - Norman Grubb

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Deuteronomy 1:1–18 /  NT - Ephesians 4:1-16

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Who will YOU Follow?

 Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 35 /  NT - Ephesians 2

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient." - Ephesians 2:1-2 
In 1998 Christopher Nolan directed a film entitled "Following". The plot tells the story of a young man who follows strangers throughout London for inspiration to write a novel. In time he is drawn into a criminal underworld as a result of following the wrong people. Following can be beneficial or it can be detrimental; it all depends on who you follow.

Paul referred to the life left behind in the passage above as one that "followed the ways of this world". Jesus called his disciples with the call, "Follow Me". In response, twelve men left the old world behind and followed the Lord in learning and serving. Their lives were dramatically changed for the better as they found someone worth following.

The most important question to ask when you rise in the morning is: "Who will I follow today?" Will we choose to slip back into "the ways of the world", or will we follow Jesus wherever he leads? The day can be a blessing or burden; it all depends on who you follow.

Think about this: "There is a time when we must firmly choose the course we will follow, or the relentless drift of events will make the decision."
                                                                                    - Herbert V. Prochnow

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Numbers 36 /  NT - Ephesians 3

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

More Power ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 34:16-29 /  NT - Ephesians 1

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead..." - Ephesians 1:18-20
Whenever I shop for a new car I am intrigued with the reviews of consumers and experts alike that are so focused on power. I grew up in the age of muscle cars but today we are tremendously energy conscience. Yet, power is still the great desire of automobile owners. They're like Tim "The Tool-man" Taylor on "Home Improvement" who always wants "more power". The greatest disappointment comes when there is no more power.

As children of God we are blessed with an unusual phenomenon. We have "more power" than we will ever be able use in a hundred lifetimes. The greatest difficulty for believers is that we don't realize how much power we truly have in Christ. Paul prayed fervently that the Ephesian believers would know "his incomparably great power for us who believe..." For every believer, the greatest discovery comes when there is more power, and more power, and more power to live for Christ.

Have you ever given thought to the fact of God's power in your life? He has given you the power that he exerted at the resurrection of Christ. This being true, is there anything that you cannot do for Him? The answer is obviously no, but your effectiveness is linked to drawing on God's power every day for spiritual living. Just remember, "Ar, Ar, Ar"... you always have "more power".

Think about this: "God is not waiting to show us strong in his behalf, but himself strong in our behalf. That makes a lot of difference. He is not out to demonstrate what we can do but what he can do."
                                              - Vance Havner

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Numbers 35 /  NT - Ephesians 2

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Success ...

Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 33:50-34:15 /  NT - Galatians 6 

 "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." - Galatians 6:14
Graduations have come and gone this year. Diplomas have been awarded and these highly educated and well prepared young people are looking for career opportunities. Their expectations are running high since they have been well trained. But, does having a diploma really make a person successful?

Paul brought everything in life down to the main thing - the cross of Christ. It's the cross that puts an end to our sinful past and opens the door for a bright future. It's the cross that breaks the chains of sinful habits and sets us free to live for Christ. It's the cross of Christ that makes it possible to live a successful life.

As someone has best said it, "Keep the main thing the main thing". Never leave this basic truth behind and never lose its power to change you day by day. Having that diploma is good, but starting each day at the foot of the cross is the real key to success. 

Think about this: "The cross is the center of the world's history. The incarnation of Christ and the crucifixion of our Lord are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve."                                                                                                                                             - Alexander MacLaren

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Numbers 34:16-29 /  NT - Ephesians 1

Monday, October 4, 2021

Serving Others ...

Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 33:22-49 /  NT - Galatians 5 

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." - Galatians 5:13-15
One of the interesting results of the Alcoholic Anonymous program is the support given to others after sobriety is achieved. Recovering alcoholics know that they need each other to make the journey in life. For years they were bound to a lifestyle from which they are now free. They use this new found freedom to serve others.

Paul spoke to the Galatians about a new life in Christ that set them free from the law and sin. They were now a transformed people who were called upon to love others as themselves. Any other lifestyle would be devastating. This expectation was a timeless truth found as early as the giving of the law. God knew the need for his people to lovingly serve one another. 

All too often my friend, the church of Jesus Christ is guilty of shooting its own wounded soldiers. We give way to selfish agendas and critical attitudes. As we cut each other apart we lose the battle and the blessing. We have been set free from such ways. Use your freedom to love your brothers unconditionally and help them up. Be a brother or sister who lovingly serves others today.

Think about this: "Do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you do. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less."
                                                                                - C. S. Lewis

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Numbers 33:50-34:15 /  NT - Galatians 6

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Eternal Purposes ...

 Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 33:1-21 /  NT - Galatians 4:8-31

"You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus." - Galatians 4:13-14
It was due to family illness that I found myself back home on Long Island, preaching at a small church in Dix Hills in 1977. Those circumstances, difficult as they were, brought me together with a loving church family that invited me to be their pastor. I will always treasure those God appointed years as a great blessing. Troubling times are God's ways of achieving eternal purposes.

As Paul traveled far and wide with the gospel message, he reached some people and not others. God's plan was often clarified with such leading as in the Macedonian call, recorded in Acts 16:10. On other occasions Paul and his team were led by the prevailing winds of providential circumstances. For the Galatians, his ministry to them came about as a result of "a bodily ailment". Troubling times were God's ways of achieving eternal purposes.

Are you struggling through a series of hard times my friend? Is life full of illness, financial setbacks, or family trauma? Do you find yourself dealing with people and places that you never expected? Well, look for Divine connections or unique opportunities to be a blessing and share the Lord. Remember... troubling times are God's ways of achieving eternal purposes.

Think about this: "Christian people are generally at their best when they are in the furnace of affliction and being persecuted and tried."

                               - D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Numbers 33:22-49 /  NT - Galatians 5

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Never Late!

 Today's Readings: OT - Numbers 32:19-42 / NT - Galatians 3:15-4:7

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." - Galatians 4:4-5

The words from Alice in Wonderland often come to mind in this busy world we live in: "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date." Too many people, on too many occasions are late for very important dates. As a result, we tend to lower our expectations and even believe that the Lord will be late for our very important needs. But God... is never late!


Paul noted that Jesus came to be our Savior at just the right time. He didn't come too early, or too late. God had a time table that ticked away with exact precision and when the time had fully come, God sent his Son. To this very day God is following his time table and will bring life and blessing to each one of his children on time. Our God... is never late!

Trusting the Lord involves the patience that lives within God's time table. We need to wait on Him with utmost confidence that he will accomplish his will and our best in his time. Solomon said it in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Wait on the Lord my friend, for he is never late for a very important date!

Think about this: "God dwells in eternity, but time dwells in God. He has already lived all our tomorrows as he has lived all our yesterdays."
                                                                      - A. W. Tozer

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Numbers 33:1-21 /  NT - Galatians 4:8-31

Friday, October 1, 2021

All On ...

 OT Reading: Numbers 32:1-18 /  NT Reading: Galatians 3:1-14

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" - Galatians 3:3
The story is told of a traveler with a heavy backpack. Along his journey he was given a free bus ride, but he wouldn't take off his pack. When encouraged to do so he replied, "You've been kind enough to give me a ride, I couldn't expect you to carry the weight of my pack as well"... foolish logic, right? The principle is simple; if you're on the Bus, you're all on the Bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

Along the away, Paul grows quite impatient with the believers to whom he was writing. They began their walk with God in faith. The Spirit of God transformed their lives and secured their place in God's family. Yet, they were now misguided to believe that human effort was their resource for spiritual security and growth. Paul reminded them that the child of God begins, continues and ends his journey by faith alone. If you're on the Bus, you're all on the bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

My friend, your greatest frustration in the Christian life will be failure to walk by faith. When you lean on your own strength and human effort, rather than the Spirit of God, the way will be hard. Paul wrote in verse 14, "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." If we begin by faith with the promised Spirit providing our greatest need, you can be sure He will provide for the rest of the journey. If you're on the Bus, you're ALL ON the Bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

Think about this: "No more, my God, I boast no more Of all the duties I have done: I quit the hopes I held before, To trust the merits of thy Son."
                                     - Isaac Watts

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Leading Others...

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." - Galatians 2:11-13
It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. There were times that I wanted to be just like my father and there have been times that my sons have wanted to be like me. From time to time, we are all influenced enough to imitate someone. But do we ever consider that we too are influencing others to the point of imitation? If we are imitated, are we leading others astray or into truth?

Paul was led to rebuke Peter to his face for hypocrisy. Peter's conduct was confusing and inconsistent with Biblical truth. While his personal practice was disturbing enough, the fact that others followed his lead was even worse. Peter's fear of men led him into error, followed by other Jews, and finally Barnabas. By imitating Peter, many were being led astray.

It doesn't really matter who we are, other people imitate us. There will always be someone who looks up to you and is influenced by your life. When you walk with the Lord and live a godly life, this can be a good thing. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Be a consistent and godly example to imitate my friend, for as you follow Christ, you will lead others into all truth.

Think about this: "The world takes its notions of God from the people who say they belong to God's family."
                                  - Alexander Maclaren

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Who do you serve?

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10
The Sunday that I was being considered for the role as pastor at my first church, a young believer asked this question: "Do you serve God, or man?" The Next year Bob Dylan wrote the song "Gotta Serve Somebody". The issue is thought provoking and life directing. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters"

Paul faced quite a dilemma with the churches in Galatia. The believers had initially trusted in the finished work of Christ for their salvation, but now there were false teachers that sought their allegiance. These teachers were winsome and convincing, teaching a works salvation. They were seeking the approval of their own circle of peers and were determined to increase their followers. Paul sought the approval of the Lord alone and was simply saying, "No one can serve two masters"

There is no safer path than the one that follows the Lord alone. Do you seek the Lord's approval in every decision you make? Is His will the most important thing in your life? Serve the Lord and you will never go astray. Remember, "No one can serve two masters"

Think about this: "We put one foot on God's side and one on the side of human reasoning; then God widens the space until we either drop down in between or jump on to one side or the other." 
                                                                  - Oswald Chambers

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Results...

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test." -- 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
The following explanation is found on the SAT web site: "The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college... measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century." Simply put, this is a test to discover your knowledge and skill for further study and success. For many, their future depends on the results.

Paul never took anything for granted. When he wrote to these believers in Corinth, he challenged them to test themselves. He may have offended some, but such a test is far more important than any SAT exam. This is the final test to discover your position with Christ. Is Jesus your Lord and Savior or not? For everyone, their future depends on the results.

When did you take that step of faith my friend? Was it a sincere confession of sin, repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as your only means of salvation? Has your life been transformed by the Spirit of God living within your heart? Don't blow it off; test yourself now, because your future depends on the results.

Think about this: "I cannot believe that a man is on the road to heaven when he is habitually performing the kind of deeds that would logically indicate that he ought to be on his way to hell."
                               - A. W. Tozer

Monday, September 27, 2021

Fluff...

"I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing." -- 2 Corinthians 12:11
We live in a day when a smooth talker, pretty face and a winsome smile can win the public in a heartbeat. Political offices, leadership roles and other prestigious positions will often be awarded to those who may lack the heart and skill, but look and sound good. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

I speak today for my fellow pastors who have heart and skill to feed their flocks. But Sunday in and Sunday out the congregation reminds them of how great the "super-preachers" were that week. They will often compare my dear brothers with those that tell better stories and funnier jokes in the pulpit. There are hundreds of faithful, loving and passionate pastors across this land that should be heard with open hearts and commended with grateful words. These are the men who feed your souls. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

October has been highlighted as "Pastor Appreciation" month for a number of years. For myself, my church family appreciates me every month and I am blessed beyond belief, but what about you my friend? When was the last time you told your pastor how much you appreciated his messages and his care for you and your family? Unlike the "super-preachers", your pastor prays for you in the night and prepares his sermons with you on his heart. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

Think about this: "The life-giving preacher is a man of God, whose heart is ever athirst for God, whose soul is following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of God's Spirit the flesh and the world have been crucified; his ministry is like the generous flood of a life-giving river. Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul."
                                                                   - Edward McKendree Bounds

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Masquerade...

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." -- 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
It's will soon be the time of year when children and even adults will "masquerade" as someone other than themselves. They dress in costumes for fun and entertainment, but there are those who regularly change their identity for evil purposes. Some wear masks to rob banks and others change names and appearances to deceive people out of money. The "masquerade" eventually leads to their condemnation.

In the spiritual life there are many who seek to lead others astray for personal gain. They talk the talk and appear to be true believers, but in fact they are simply false apostles. They preach and teach another Jesus than the Lord of the Bible. Paul wrote with great concern for his spiritual children, that they would not be deceived like Eve had been in the garden. Remember, if someone's righteousness is only a "masquerade", it will only lead to condemnation.

Costume parties may be fun for the moment, but we eventually need to take off our masks and embrace the truth. Be careful of those who are not the real deal and strive to lead you down the wrong path. Be discerning when listening to the teaching of others and settle for nothing short of the God of the Bible. Any other God is a "masquerade" and will only lead to condemnation.

Think about this: "A man can be outwardly conformed to the Christian way of life while he is inwardly conformed to the spirit of this world."
                                      - Sinclair Ferguson

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Famous One...

"But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. "For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends." -- 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
The lyrics to the Broadway song "Fame" include the following: “… I'm gonna make it to heaven, Light up the sky like a flame, Fame … I'm gonna live forever, Baby remember my name, RememberRemember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember, Remember my name” It's a catchy tune as well as a catchy concept. Many people live their whole life for "Fame".

A lot of people believe that living forever is being remembered for becoming someone famous. They commend themselves so often that they become legends in their own minds. But, Paul makes it clear that true "Fame" is only found in the Lord's approval. The lyrics of "The Famous One" written by Chris Tomlin are far more Biblical and true; “You are the Lord, The famous one, Famous one, Great is your name, In all the earth, The heavens declare, You're glorious, glorious, Great is your fame Beyond the earth” Wisdom says that we should live our whole life for God's "Fame".

Are you boasting in yourself or the Lord? Do you live for your own "Fame" or the "Fame" of God? The point is that the Lord is already the "Famous One". So, as you pursue "Fame" in your daily activities, let it be His "Fame"... not yours.

Think about this: "Seeking to perpetuate one's name on earth is like writing on the sand by the seashore; to be perpetual it must be written on eternal shores."
                                                                  - Dwight Lyman Moody

Friday, September 24, 2021

Be a Blessing...

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -- 2 Corinthians 9:8 
We collect lighthouses. One lighthouse in our collection sits outside with a working light that shines in the dark. It has a little solar chip that soaks in sun rays all day and then lights up all evening. The sun rays are free and abundant, providing the blessing of continuous illumination. God's sunlight is a gift that just keeps on giving.

In the same way God provides for the needs of his children in abundance. His grace abounds, so that in all things at all times, we have all that we need. The Lord blesses us this way so we will abound in every good work. In other words, the light of God's grace is free and abundant, providing continuous blessing. His grace is a gift that just keeps on giving.

Have your daily needs been recently met by God's abundant grace? Is there food in the cupboard and gas in the car? Are your bills paid up to date and a little left over? Then God's grace has provided all that you need and enabled you be a blessing to others. Remember, God's grace is a gift that just keeps on giving. So let your light shine and be a blessing to someone today!
   
Think about this: "When we let go of money we are letting go of part of ourselves and part of our security. But this is precisely why it is important to do it. It is one way to obey Jesus' command to deny ourselves .... When we give money we are releasing a little more of our egocentric selves and a little more of our false security .... Giving frees us to care. It produces an air of expectancy as we anticipate what God will lead us to give. It makes life with God an adventure in the world, and that is worth living for and giving for."
                                                                                         - Richard Foster

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Selfless Giving...

"For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will." -- 2 Corinthians 8:3-5
Time and again catastrophes occur and financial help is desperately needed. Money is quite often raised through concerts and similar fundraisers. People are touched by the needs of others, but they still need to be motivated to give. Part of such motivation involves providing the donor with some personal benefit from their donation. Selfless giving is a rare commodity.

Paul noted a very significant quality in the churches of Macedonia. These believers were motivated to give toward the needs of others without receiving personal benefits. Why, you may ask; because they made the choice to give themselves first to the Lord. As a result of such spiritual devotion they pleaded for the privilege to share in helping others in need. When the heart is given to the Lord first, selfless giving is never rare.

Do you struggle when asked to give to the needs of ministry and compassionate care for the hurting? Are you one of those who need to be motivated? Or have you given yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord and consider it a tremendous privilege to share in the ministry of giving? Once you've given yourself to the Lord, the privilege of giving is no longer rare, it becomes an exciting opportunity.

Think about this: Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a LIFE by what we GIVE."