“Speak Life”

(Mark 5: 35-43) 35 While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?” 36 Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” 37-40 He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. 40-43 But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room.

Did you ever hear that the strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue?  Most of us have heard so at some point, and though this little “fun fact” ins’t exactly true, the tongue is pretty fascinating when you think about it.  It can twist, it can bend, it can cup, and it’s often used playfully to blow raspberries and to make silly faces.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t just one muscle — it’s a network of several muscles, giving it the ability to bend and flex in many different ways, enabling us to speak, eat, drink, and swallow.  What is most amazing though, is that the tongue NEVER TIRES!  Think about that for a minute.  The one thing that is probably the most difficult for us to control and tame is also the one part of our bodies that never grows weary.  You know, much of what happens in the physical realm of our lives mirrors what is going on spiritually, so it does make sense that our tongues can get totally out of control when we don’t monitor it properly.  It’s like an annoying toy with brand new batteries (yeah, I was thinking of the Energizer Bunny too!) — eventually you’d have to stop being lazy and actually make the effort to reach over and physically turn that thing off! 

There is power in what we say.  The Bible tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  (Proverbs 18:21)  Our words verbalize what we are already thinking and feeling.  That is why we so often find ourselves with a “foot” in our mouths — because eventually what we truly believe comes spewing out, and it can be hurtful or embarrassing much of the time.  My grandmother used to tell me that there is always a little truth to every joke…you know, when you say something a that’s little mean and you quickly bandage it with a “just kidding” or a wink.  Be honest, if you didn’t think it…even just for a moment…it could never come out of your mouth.  Luke 6:45 says,  “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”  Your words may not always be the truth, but they’re definitely your truth…reflecting what you think, what you feel, and who you are inside. 

The bottom line is that we are Christians, striving to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus, and as such we have to monitor what we say very closely.  When Jairus’ daughter died, all of the people surrounding his home began to chatter and gossip and speak death into Jairus’ ears.  Their words were a reflection of their measures of faith.  Jesus never once said that the girl was dead and that he would raise her from such.  Instead, He just spoke words of life.  What we speak into the lives of others can be life-changing.  A simple compliment can turn someone’s entire day around for the better…life.  A cutting remark can take root and hang on for a lifetime…death.   We must speak life, as much and as often as we possibly can!  We each have a powerful tool that never gets tired, so let’s use it the way our Lord intended us to— by confessing our sins and praying, by singing praises, by telling others of His love and faithfulness, and by encouraging one another with truth and love.

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)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I don’t ever want to be the Debbie Downer, busybody gossip standing outside with a casserole.  Instead, help me to bridle my tongue when it gets to flapping, so that I can instead be a Peter, a James, or a John — full of faith and life-giving words.  I want to be on the inside with You, Lord, where healing and life take place.  Amen.    

“All You Need Is Love”

(1 Corinthians 13: 12-13, The Message) 12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! 13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

I have always been intrigued by fog. I think it is beautiful, mysterious, and somewhat scary. It isn’t inherently dangerous — it’s just mist — yet it can pose a threat to those of us who pass through it without caution. This is the world in which we are presently living — it’s a fog. Our world is beautiful to look upon. It is a magnificent wonder, created by God for a specific function. It was never meant for our harm, yet it has become harmful because we have chosen to walk through our lives without thinking. We have thrown caution to the proverbial wind! Our lives, this world, even God Himself, are all mysteries that are gradually revealed as we navigate through it all. Yes, we are surely “peering through a mist,” but we aren’t blind…at least, we don’t have to be blind. We just have to slow down and think, pray, consider and observe. Eventually, the fog will lift. The sun will shine. Things will become clear. One day, we will have all of the answers. But…yes, BUT…until then, we must use caution — caution in our decisions, caution before we speak — because we have an enemy who is laying low, waiting for us to trip and fall. He wants us vulnerable and weak — easy prey.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

It is when we become distracted, when we are not careful, that we fall, and we allow ourselves to believe that we are alone, left out in the fog, lost and afraid.

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another, Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn

Such a sad insight into the loneliness that life can impose upon us. The thought that we are like ships in the night — in a dense fog — passing right on by one another. We are all in the same situation, just trying to navigate through the fog and darkness, through the pain and heartache. We are operating under the pretense that we are alone, yet here we all are…just a whisper away…close enough to touch. Yet if we are not cautious, we either collide or simply drift past one another. We become reduced to mere hazards and missed opportunities.

In this fog we are not left on our own. We may feel lost at times, but we must continue to trust God. He is our hope, anchoring us when we need to stop for a bit and think. “This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself…” (Hebrews 6:19). Above all else, He is love and therefore our inspiration to reach out to and love others. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Nothing else that we do will ever matter without love.

In the density of life as we know it, let us remember that God is with us, and that we also have one another. We do not have to lose heart in rough conditions. We can choose to look toward the light of Christ in each of us. We can allow the love of God to penetrate the fog, so that we may see one another as allies, rather than happening upon one another in collisions of disagreement and opinion-driven anger. We can, and should, choose caution when we speak and act, using love as our guide, so that we can minimize damage and loss as we all try to just get through this mess. Then, when the fog lifts, we can be proud of what is revealed.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we need You more than ever, but help us to remember that we also need one another. Help us to LOVE, for LOVE is what You have commanded us to do…NO MATTER WHAT. Without it, we are just a bunch of annoying, dissonant sounds. Help us to instead be pleasing to Your ears. Amen.

“And the ground began to shake…”

(Matthew 28:7, The Message) “Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”

“That’s the message,” the angel said.  Such a simple message to relay, yet it was the first act of our most important role as followers of Christ…our Great Commission.  It’s why we live and breath.  And this message is a three-fold message of hope.

  1. “He is risen from the dead.” — Without the resurrection, God’s promise to us would not be complete.  Now, because Christ lives, we are in covenant with God our Father who has faithfully fulfilled His end of the deal.  Our hope is in this great and final victory over sin and death.  1 Corinthians 15: 55-57 reminds us: 55 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2.  “He is going on ahead of you to Galilee.” — Oh man I love this!  Yes, this was a message for the disciples who would be heading to Galilee, but…Galilee was Jesus’ home!  This is our hope…that our Lord Jesus is going ahead of us…preparing a place for us…in His home…our home…Heaven!!  (John 14:3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  And further still, we have hope in knowing that every path we take has been scouted out.  He has gone before us, and He sticks by our side…every single step of the way.  (Deuteronomy 31:8) The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
  3. “You will see Him there.” — This is our hope…our reward…that we will one day look upon the face of Christ.  We will see Him there.  Where?  Revelation 1:7 promises us:  “Riding the clouds, he’ll be seen by every eye…”  Whether your soul is at rest or still within your body doing work…no matter what you’re up to…every eye will see Him — face to face.  One of my favorite songs paints the picture so beautifully. 

“We Shall Behold Him”

The sky shall unfold

Preparing His entrance

The stars shall applaud Him

With thunders of praise

The sweet light in His eyes, shall enhance those awaiting

And we shall behold Him, then face to face

O we shall behold Him, we shall behold Him

Face to face in all of His glory

O we shall behold Him, yes we shall behold Him

Face to face, our Savior and Lord

The angel will sound, the shout of His coming

And the sleeping shall rise, from their slumbering place

And those remaining, shall be changed in a moment

And we shall behold him, then face to face.

And that, my friends, is the message:  He rose from the dead, He’s gone before us, and we will see Him there.  That’s our hope…a hope we so desperately need, as we are living in a world where evil is so common, so rampant, and so accepted.  We…have…hope! 

(Hebrews 6:18-20, The Message) We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us…

But it doesn’t end with our comfort in knowing we have hope, because (like Mary and Mary at the tomb) we have been instructed to go quickly and share our message of hope.  We are His ambassadors to the world.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for hope.  Through your word I am given every bit of strength, knowledge, wisdom and truth that I need to fulfill my end of the deal.  Until I see your face, I know that I have a job to do.  Help me to do it gracefully, boldly, and with the love and authority you have placed within me.  Amen.

“The Heart of the Matter”

(Matthew 15: 15-16) 15 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Explain to us the parable that says people aren’t defiled by what they eat.”  16 “Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. 17 “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. 18 But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. 19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. 20 These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”


Jesus came to bring freedom…freedom from sin, and yes, freedom from the legalism of the past.  The life and death of Christ, though not easy or simple in any way, took place so that our faith could be simplified and our redemption more accessible. 

In his ministry, Jesus told many parables and gave even more examples of and metaphors for the moral situations we face in life.  He was a gifted teacher…a relatable source of God’s own mind and heart…and through His words we find that a life of faithfulness and righteousness is attained through living out one word:  love.

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:37-40)

It isn’t about rules…what foods are bad, when to wash your hands, whether or not you should shave your beard or get a tattoo…rather, it is a matter of the heart.  In all things, the condition of the heart is what governs our choices and actions. 

I teach children at church, so I spend a lot of time finding ways to make scripture easy for them to relate to their lives, and I have found that the thing that I say to them most is that it all comes back to love.  Is it hard to memorize a bunch of laws?  Sure it is!  Is it hard to remember to love others?  Nope.  Well, it certainly shouldn’t be hard to remember that.  Sure, it’s hard to do at times, but we all know that it’s what we are supposed to do.  Right? 

Think about the ten commandments:  would you commit any of them if you are loving God first and others next (above yourself)?  Noooo.  Many times we try to trick ourselves and justify things we are doing that are contrary to the truth…things that don’t reflect God’s love.  When we are not reflecting His love, we are rejecting Him, because His very existence is just that…love

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.  (1 John 4: 7-12)

Because of Jesus, the very embodiment of love…because He came that we might have abundant life…because He died to free us…we don’t have to hem and haw over every detail of our lives wondering, “Is this wrong?  Am I sinning?”  It’s basic really.  Ask yourself, “Is this loving?  Is this kind?”  If the answer is no…well, don’t chance it.  The acronym that was so famous in the 90’s might be corny but it’s always applicable to EVERY situation:  WWJD  (What Would Jesus Do)?  The answer is:  Jesus would love


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to keep a watch over my heart and what I allow to occupy its space.  Fill me with Your love, so that I am walking and living a righteous and faithful life, reflecting and magnifying You in all that I do. 

“I Will Rise”

(Job 23: 13-14, The Message) “But he is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?  He does what he wants, when he wants to.  He’ll complete in detail what he’s decided about me, and whatever else he determines to do.”


I hear ya, Job. 

A few years back, this was where I seemed to be lingering.  I was going through a very tough period in my life.  I had lost one of my grandfathers to Alzheimer’s Disease, one of my grandmothers was placed in a nursing home due to the same condition, my other grandmother passed away after 3 years of suffering the aftereffects of a severe stroke, and my dad was also diagnosed with early onset, rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s…as well as another type of dementia.  This all took place in a matter of months.  My inner strength was already faltering due to miscarriages and negative reports from my doctor about the condition of my reproductive system, so when the bad news just continued to pour in, I pumped the brakes and literally said to God, “What in the world??”  I was in every kind of pain…physical, emotional, spiritual and mental.  I spent a lot of time crying…just spells of hard sobs that came from a deep place of anguish…and when the crying finally ceased, I fell numb.  One day I looked at my husband and I said, “I have stopped asking God for anything.  He just does what He wants, so why even ask anymore?”  I meant it too.  I hadn’t stopped believing, or praying even…I still spoke to God regularly.  In my hurt and sorrow I would sing, “Peace, peace, wonderful peace.  Coming down from the Father above.  Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love.”  I would tell God how much I hurt, and I wasn’t mad…just broken and defeated.  I was absolutely in a Job-like place. 

We are human, so we get into funks like that.  We want answers and resolutions.  We get very involved in the flesh and as a result our requests become centered around our own desires and ideas of what we think is best.  Our understanding is very limited and small in comparison to God’s omniscience, so it’s extremely difficult for us to see the master plan beyond what we are experiencing.  We are blind in many ways, and instead of trusting our guide, we instead try to feel our way around.  Then we get angry or upset when we bump into things and get hurt!  So what do we do then?  We just stand there in the safest spot we can find, still and useless…and pouty. 

Well I got tired of being the useless and pouty believer, just taking up space and fulfilling obligations.  I had to trust my guide, because standing still was making me crazy!  I thought I knew what was best and I was wrong…it was time to accept that.  In my human brain I thought things like, “How can Alzheimer’s be in God’s plan for someone’s life?”  Yet in my spirit, the Lord began to whisper His truths, the truths of His word, and it was brining me back to life.

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.

    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.

9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so my ways are higher than your ways

    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. 

(Isaiah 55: 8-9, The Message)

The truth is, we do not always know what He is doing through these things that happen…you know, the things we just don’t understand.  However, as hard as it is at times to walk in faith, there is peace when we trust Him.  Romans 15: 13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  We are not promised understanding; we are entitled to nothing.  Our faith is a work in progress, but it begins with trust.  Without that, our faith is dead.  In these days, which are likely the last, we are being watched by the world.  Our actions, reactions, and all of the words we speak in faith are being observed.  Let us be ever mindful that what we say we believe is what we must live

(Hebrews 12: 1-4) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, when I hurt, help me to remember that You have suffered the greatest anguish.  Help me to trust You, always, so that I live a life of joy and peace…reflecting Your strength and love to the world.  Amen.

“Surely He bore our sorrows…”

(Matthew 8: 1-4, The Message) 1-2 Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, “Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.”

3-4 Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”


I love the simplicity found in this exchange between Jesus and the man with leprosy.  This man, so sick and in so much pain, had an undemanding and sincere measure of faith.  Notice that he didn’t even ask Jesus to heal him; he simply stated, “If you want to…I know you can.”  He humbled himself, down on his knees, and declared his faith in Jesus.  His recompense?  Total restoration. 

I can’t help but think of people who are living under the oppression of outward, obvious sin and its consequences.  Like the leper, they are often cast aside, seen as filthy, and exiled from the sacred confines of the church. 

We see your sin.  We see your struggle.  We don’t want any part of it.

Maybe that’s you, or someone you hold dear to your heart.  You get up every day and strap on your backpack full of shame and haul it around because you’re just used to it, and you think you deserve it.  You spend each day feeling like the dead man walking.  Maybe someone else has convinced you that it’s just your cross to bear in life.  Well, it’s time to find the truth and stop dragging around your failures. 

YOU ARE NOT A LEPER!!! 

What I mean is…you don’t have to feel like a castaway just because someone else knows about something you did.  Guess what?  We don’t always know specifics, but we do know something that is a universal truth about people…WE ALL SIN!  EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US is an unworthy, lowly, sinner who deserves death…as we are all born into the dilemma and curse of sin. 

But just like Jesus wanted to heal the leper (and did), He wants to heal your life (and will).  Romans 8: 1-4 says:  1-2 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.  3-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.

You must understand that because God is love, of course He wants to restore your life.  You simply have to humble yourself and believe.  It’s not about begging, or even hoping.  It’s about an unembellished statement of faith:  If You want to…I know You can.  He wants to, He can, and He will. 

Maybe you are worried that others won’t believe you, and that because of your past you will shed a negative light on the name of Christ.  Please do not buy into that lie!  It’s straight from the mouth of the devil, and it has no place in your life.  You don’t have to convince anyone else that your life is changed.  Just live according to God’s word and let your life do the talking. 

“Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank you for the beautiful exchange that takes place when we simply believe.  Beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair.  Amen.

“You Gotta Have Faith”

(1 Kings 17: 10-15)  When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.


Choosing to obey when it’s difficult is putting your faith into action.  I’ve always wondered why the widow in this account chose to believe what Elijah was telling her… promises that must have seemed lofty and somewhat sketchy at best.  But she did it.  I wonder, did she give up the last of her food because of the strength of her faith, or was it more of a gamble at seeing if this God would be true to His promises?  Maybe she said to herself, “It’s our last meal anyway.  We are going to starve either way, so I may as well feed this fellow too.”  However, it is also possible that something within her organically and innately just believed.

In our own lives, our faith often mirrors this widow…on both ends of the spectrum.  Sometimes our faith is strong and we jump right off of the cliff, KNOWING that we’ll be cushioned and held.  Yet at other times, it really is just a gamble.  We want to believe, but circumstance has brought us to a place of insecurity and doubt…yet off we go, over the edge, because we have nothing left to lose. 

Whether you act out of excitement or because of desperation, it’s all faith.  The faith is there, because movement and action…obedience…they require faith.  So don’t worry that when you jumped you were desperate or afraid, questioning even.  YOU JUMPED.  That’s what matters.  Moving forward in obedience…that’s faith.  When you’re still just standing there on the edge, questioning…pondering…trying to figure it all out…deciding…that’s when you should be worried about the measure of your faith.  Big faith isn’t always believing for the miraculous.  Sometimes big faith is making the sacrifices that are necessary.  Big faith is active.  So even when it hurts, move.  Even when you’re afraid, just jump.  Step over the edge and revel in the freedom that comes when you just obey.


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I recognize that weakness comes from being sedentary.  Give me faith to continue on, no matter the sacrifice, regardless of how I feel.  My strength comes from You alone, and I am made stronger in my faith by moving forward at all times.  I trust You, Lord, in all things.  Amen.

“We’re All in this Together”

(Luke 4: 1-13) 1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. 3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’” 5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” 8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God

    and serve only him.’”

9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.

11 And they will hold you up with their hands

    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.

I was in a conversation not too long ago, in which I was listening to someone share with me about her current troubles and frustrations with life.  As I responded with the typical, “I understand” and “I know how you feel,” I felt as though I seemed apathetic…like I was simply filling the silence with meaningless responses because I didn’t know what to say, which was not the case at all.  Because so many seem to respond to the heartache and woes of others in much the same way, I felt the need to explain to this person why I actually do understand her, and how much I do actually know how she feels.

Sometimes people need to know your story, to hear your temptations and even your failures, because they long to have that connection with someone else…to know that they are not alone in their trials and temptations.  In the midst of drowning in a sea of guilt, people find comfort in knowing there’s a survivor in the distance…someone with a lifeline…a way out. 

This description of Jesus being tempted by Satan is strangely comforting to me, because I love knowing that my Savior, the Word in flesh, in all of His perfection and divinity, He was tempted.  Not only was He tempted, but the Spirit of God led Him into the wilderness to be tempted.  Why?  Why would the Holy Spirit wish to test Jesus in such a way?  It’s not that there was ever any doubt that the Son of God would resist the cunning words of Satan, rather it was done so that we could and would have that point of connection with Him.  He was fully human, and because temptation is such a monumental part of our existence…we are surrounded by it, and at times we are consumed with it…Jesus had to experience it.  In Christ, we find not only our Savior, fully God, righteous and blameless in every way, but we also find a man, filled with compassion and empathy, tested and tempted, who we may always look to as our example of victory and hope.  He is our survivor in the distance, reaching out to us through the storm.

(Hebrews 4: 14-16, The Message) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace that comes to us because Jesus understands our temptations.  He was victorious, therefore we too can be victorious!  Help us to remember that sometimes the best way to help someone else through their temptations and failures is to be transparent enough for them to see that we have also had our own share of tests.  Lord, we are all working toward the same goal…to one day look upon Your face.  May we always, “take the mercy, accept the help.”  Amen.

“To Whom Much is Given…”

(1 Chronicles 4:10) 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.


Enlarge my territory… a phrase that implies a desire for more…

As we grow in Christ, and become increasingly more committed to His will for our lives, we begin to have the desire for more responsibility, bigger blessings, and a greater reach into the world.  In fact, if we are truly growing, it’s a natural progression to have these desires, because we want to see the kingdom of God expand and become stronger.  Furthermore, we want to be a PART of it!  So we begin to ask the Lord to give us increase.  However, we must understand the importance of being a good steward with the blessings that God bestows on us.

First:  We have to relinquish ownership.  Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  All that we have within our grasp is but a collection of gifts, given to us for the purpose of making the kingdom of God bigger…fulfilling our great commission.  We have work to do, and every blessing is a tool…an avenue.  “But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  (Deuteronomy 8:18)

Second:  We must take responsibility.  Owners have rights; stewards have responsibilities.  We are are but managers of God’s great wealth and vast domain.  He has given us dominion, but we must never forget that He reigns over us.  His will and desires are what we are called and purposed to carry out, and that is no small undertaking.  It’s important, and it matters. 

Next:  We have to be accountable.  Just as the manager of a business has to answer to the owner, we will one day have to stand before God and answer to Him for the way we managed all that He entrusted to us as stewards.  We will be held accountable for how we gave of our time, our money, our love, and our commitment.

Finally:  We must work toward our reward.  Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

When we ask the Lord for blessing and increase, and He grants it, we ought never to make the mistake of viewing that as reward.  A good steward will instead add it all to the inventory, using everything wisely and carefully to magnify the Creator, all with the understanding that a greater and truer reward awaits in Heaven…one that is eternal and far more glorious than anything we’ve yet to see. 

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.  (Revelation 22:12)


Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I understand that I am living on borrowed time and resources with a purpose to do Your will.  I am Your creation, and as such I am Your servant.  Help me to continue to grow and mature as a steward, and as I prove myself faithful with few things, I ask you to please…enlarge my territory.  Amen.

“You Can Go Your Own Way”

(John 10:11-15) 11 I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12 Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don’t own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13 Hired workers run away because they don’t care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15 Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep.

Why is it so difficult for us to fully trust the Lord?  We like to say that we do, and sing songs about how we do, but our actions speak otherwise.  In God’s word, we have an unparalleled reference for living — the only truth that exists — yet we continually disregard the guidance and wisdom therein.  Instead of trusting the Good Shepherd, we follow every hired hand that comes along.  We are like magpies…distracted by any and every shiny thing that catches the eye. 

When I was little, I remember seeing a cartoon about the Pied Piper.  As I watched all of the children follow the piper from the town, I was worried and distressed.  I had always been warned and trained by my parents never to trust just anyone…and certainly not a stranger!  I feared for the fictional children on the screen!  Why?  Because I had been taught to know and to trust only the voices of my parents and certain loved ones.  Not everyone has good intentions, and not everyone has wisdom.  People are, because of a natural inclination toward sin, flawed.  People tend to lie, be selfishly motivated, and at times are downright evil.  Not to say that no one is to be trusted in the least, but certainly never more than we trust in our Heavenly Father! 

When you are troubled, what or who do you turn to first?  Do you pray?  Do you open your Bible?  Do you call your parents, or a good friend?  Answer that honestly.  Yes, there are those who are placed over us, in the Lord, as leaders who help provide spiritual guidance, but what good can these people do in your life if you haven’t taken the first and most important steps in seeking out what God has to say? 

9 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,

    a refuge in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name trust in you,

    for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

(Psalm 9: 9-10)

We have to do our part, stop wandering off so much, and stop placing so much confidence in what the world has to offer!  We must develop some discernment and train our ears to the sound of God’s voice…so that we hear His direction and are able to receive from Him all that is offered and promised to us in His word.  When we seek Him, we will find Him.  We will know His name and His voice.  In seeking Him, we come to trust Him…truly. 

As for me, I don’t want to go my own way.  My way has only proven to lead me into places of sorrow and regret.  My way is a path shrouded in the darkness that is my own ignorance.  Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” 

You see, we are not simply a job for God to do…something with which to pass His time.  We aren’t borrowed or rented property.  We have been bought with a price…the price of God’s own son.  We matter to Him…more than anything.  Our Good Shepherd will never leave us to be devoured by the enemy.  We can trust Him…always.  We just have to put that faith and trust into action, and stop giving ourselves and others so much credit.    

Commit everything you do to the Lord.

    Trust him, and he will help you.

(Psalm 37:5)

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that when I am a lost sheep you correct me and guide me back to pasture.  Help me to trust you in all things, not just some things, and to come to better know your voice as I endeavor to seek you more each day.  Amen.