Chicken or the Egg?

Today’s readings are Jeremiah 22,23, and 26, Psalm 77, and James 2.

What comes first..the chicken or the egg? Most of us have probably heard this saying implying that you can’t have a chicken without an egg, but you can’t have an egg without the chicken. So, which comes first? James 2 digs into a similar question but with the topic of faith and works.

Christians believe that you go to Heaven by believing, or having faith, that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of your confessed sins and rose again on Easter (Romans 10:9-11). “Good deeds” don’t get you into Heaven and “good people” don’t go to Heaven if they don’t believe in Jesus. So, some can struggle with James 2:24 which says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:17 also says similar, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Are these verses saying just faith in Jesus doesn’t get you to Heaven? Is this saying works get you into Heaven?

I believe Scripture can often best be interpreted by cross referencing other Scripture, and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that our all-church study verses last week came from 1 John 4 which can provide some more context when paired with James 2.

What compels us to do good works? Put simply…love. 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love.” Reading on in 1 John 4, we see verse 20 states..

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

1 John 4:21 follows up verse 20 also stating…

And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

If you truly have faith and love God, then it will show up in your actions. If you say you have faith and love God, but your works don’t show it…then do you really have faith and love God? James is telling us you can’t have one without the other..chicken or egg concept. Your faith in God is made complete by your actions just as in Abraham and Rahab who James references in James 2:23 and James 2:25.

Jesus gives us a great example of this when in John 13 He washed his disciples’ feet which was thought to be such a lowly task that Jews wouldn’t even let their Jewish servants do this for them, only Gentile servants. And of course, Jesus showed us the ultimate act of service when the next day He, the God of the universe in the flesh, gave himself up suffering one of the most gruesome and painful deaths possible through his scourging and Crucifixion on the cross, all so we could be forgiven and live with Him in Heaven.

We love because He first loved us.

1 John 4:19

Let us reflect personally.

  • How am I serving my family?
  • How am I serving my church?
  • How am I serving my neighbors or community?
  • How am I serving my friends?
  • How am I serving those who can do nothing for me in return?

Pick one you can improve on and let us complete our faith in action.

Aligning Actions with Values

Today’s readings are 2 Kings 22-23, Psalm 73, and 2 Corinthians 5.

The local financial planning firm I represent used to have part of our mission statement which said, “aligning actions with values.” We all have certain values, whether they be in our mind or we’ve written them out. As Christ followers, I would assume and hope some, if not all, of those values line up with our Christian faith. The questions for us today is, are we actually living those out? Would others who you know well or others who meet you for the first time know you are a Christ follower? 2 Corinthians 5 discusses how we should live life differently as a follower of Jesus. It challenged me to ask myself, am I?

2 Corinthians 5 talks about how our body is a tent, a temporary dwelling for our eternal soul. As result of knowing our citizenship is really in Heaven, there are some things we should be doing to live life differently which others would recognize and possibly cause them to turn to Christ as well.

  • Live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • Allow the love of Christ to control us (2 Corinthians 5:14)
  • Live for Him and not for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:15)
  • Do not regard others by their flesh which is weak (2 Corinthians 5:16)
  • Be an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Jesus’ last words, which must be important since they were his last, in Matthew 28:18-21 instructed us to go and make disciples of others. This sounds a lot like 2 Corinthians 5:20 which tells us to be ambassadors for Christ.

This again challenges me to ask myself if I’m being an ambassador for Christ based on my actions through living by faith, showing Christ’s love in my actions, living for Him and not myself, and regarding others by their soul and not their outward physical appearance and actions (seeing them how God sees them).

The great news is that although I’m sinful and have a lot of work to do in these areas, God tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21…

“For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

For more reflection on these areas, check out 2 Kings 22-23 where we see King Josiah of Judah aligning his actions with his values and leading his people to follow God, as well as Psalm 73.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of

my heart and my portion


Psalm 73:26

Monday Morning Quarterback

Today’s readings are 2 Kings 20, Isaiah 38-40, and 1 Corinthians 11.

In our readings from 2 Kings 20 and Isaiah 38-39 we learn about King Hezekiah of Judah who the Lord told Isaiah to deliver the message he would die from illness. Hezekiah then cried out to the Lord in prayer asking for healing to which the Lord obliged giving Hezekiah another 15 years of life. God even showed Hezekiah the words of Isaiah about his healing were true by turning back the shadow of the sun on the dial of Ahaz ten steps.

Merodach-baladan, the king of Babylon, heard of Hezekiah’s healing and came to visit him. Hezekiah proceeded to show Meodach-baladan his treasure house and all his riches. Isaiah then told Hezekiah all that was his, including his children, would be carried to Babylon someday foretelling of Judah’s future exile there. To this prophecy by Isaiah, Hezekiah mistakenly responded it would be good because it would bring peace.

These chapters don’t explicitly state that Judah’s exile to Babylon was a discipline due to Hezekiah’s actions after his healing (scholars differ on their opinions), and the Bible seems to overall seems to paint him in the light of a good king. He also gives us a great example of the power of prayer. However, it is evident when the King of Babylon visited because he heard of Hezekiah’s healing, Hezekiah did not glorify God for lengthening his life and for his blessings. Instead, he showed off his “stuff.” He also found comfort and peace in the prophecy of Judah’s exile to Babylon, rather than finding peace in God.

As we start football season, we can say it’s easy to play “Monday Morning Quarterback” when it comes to Hezekiah’s actions.  However, I think we can agree he could have better used his healing event as an opportunity to glorify God and witness to an unbelieving king and people, so they could know Him too. He should have continued to find his comfort in God and not in peace with this other nation.

Today, with the internet and especially social media, we live in a selfie-filled, “look at me” world. We like to show off our “stuff” like Hezekiah…ourselves, our kids, our spouse, our trips, our cars, our fancy meals, our accolades, and maybe even our recovery after an illness or condition like Hezekiah.’s the question…

Are we using these things to bring glory to ourselves or the One who gave them to us?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

Let us check our hearts and make sure we are giving Him the glory He deserves for our blessings which come from Him. Social media gives us a platform to witness to this, so other non-believers can know Him in the same way Hezekiah had an opportunity to do so. We don’t need a king from a far-off land to come visit us though, we can witness to many non-believers 24/7. We can show them all good things come from Him and only through Him can we find a peace that passes human understanding (Philippians 4:7).


Today’s readings are Isaiah 17-19, 1 Corinthians 1, and Psalm 62.

What makes you happy and puts a smile on your face? What excites you, and what do you look forward to? What gives you a rush of adrenaline? What are you striving for? Most of us can probably name a few things after these questions. Many of us would say our spouse and kids make us happy. We might say we strive for career success long term and short-term things like closing a deal or completion and implementation of a big project you’ve been working on bring us satisfaction. For me, I would also say Illini sports, the Chicago Cubs, and the Chicago Bears make me happy…when they are winning at least (which is not often enough)! Some might even say their home and vehicles.

Psalm 62 helps us take a step back and gives some perspective on what’s truly important in life.

62 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

A few verses later…

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

These verses make it very clear that He alone should be our foundation and source of joy. This past Sunday at Eastview Christian Church we had a guest pastor named Mark Moore from Christ’s Church of the Valley in Arizona. He preached on John 10. Pastor Moore said, “Success does not bring fulfillment.” In the book of the Ecclesiastes, Solomon, the son of David who wrote this Psalm speaks much about how chasing worldly success and riches is vanity and like chasing wind. Maybe the foundation of that belief was laid out by his father because David says here in Psalm 62.

Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

God gives us many great things on Earth. But it’s important we view those things as ways to shine and reflect His light, but that we do not look to them to be the light. God gives us wonderful things so they can bring Him glory…not us or that object. Pastor Moore said, “You don’t have to give up your occupation, but you can give over your occupation to Him.” We can glorify him through what we do.

Pastor Moore also told the story of a recent non-believer who decided to follow Jesus. This gentleman said, “If someone gives up their life for me, I’m going to give over my life to them.” Jesus died for you and for me while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Now that we know this the question becomes…what will we do about it? Will we look for the reflections or the actual light source to bring us fulfillment? Will we look to glorify Him who can bring us a joy that is eternal or the things that are here today but could be gone tomorrow?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8

Self Image

Today’s reading is Hosea 11-13 and Matthew 19.

How do you view yourself? Do you view yourself as someone who makes many mistakes? Or do you view yourself as a “good person” who may not be perfect but is “better than most people?” Some may even view so highly of themselves that they think they do no wrong.

Some friends of ours used to work for a Christian camp. They shared with us about a boy whose parents sent him there basically against his will. He didn’t really think he needed God because he thought he didn’t do bad things. Then, they read James 4:17 (or a similar verse) which says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” This young man’s mind was blown. He finally realized he needed Jesus because he could not say he had done everything he “should do.” There are sins of commission…what we do…and then there are sins of omission…sins for what we don’t do. This young man had to admit that even he had not done everything he “should do.”

Most of us read Matthew 19:16-25 about the rich young ruler and take away the challenges with money and being willing to give to God. While this is all true, I also think of the sins of pride and omission. The sin of pride can be defined of “an excessive love of one’s own excellence” as stated by This man thought highly of himself and that he could be saved because he didn’t think he had broken the Ten Commandments. But, Jesus reminded him of his sin of omission…what he wouldn’t do which was give it all to God.

These verses are a good reminder for all of us about our sins of pride and omission and that none of us are “good” and worthy of standing before God’s throne when we leave this Earth without Jesus. Let us become more aware of what we aren’t doing so that we take action and become more aware of how thankful we should be that we have become righteous and worthy to face our Creator because our sins have been washed white as snow through His blood (Isaiah 1:18).

Leadership and Influence

Today’s readings are 2 Chronicles 24, 2 Kings 12, Psalm 50, and Matthew 9.

In 2 Chronicles 24 and 2 Kings 12 we read about Joash who became the king of Judah at just the age of seven. Can you imagine? Although young, Joash led well early and throughout most of his reign. There was a priest named Jehoiada who mentored Joash and 2 Chronicles 24:2 tells us that while Jehoiada was alive Joash “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Joash helped lead a charge to gather offerings like Moses instructed generations earlier so they could use the money to repair the temple. Again, Joash led well during most of his reign, but unfortunately, he did not finish well much like King Asa I wrote about 2 weeks ago.

What changed to cause King Joash to turn from the Lord? With King Asa, we are unsure. However, with King Joash it is apparent once Jehoaida died, then everything changed. Some princes of Judah came and influenced Joash negatively immediately afterwards. The Lord even tried to send Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, to help bring Joash back to his senses to return to the Lord, but instead Joash ignored Zechariah and even had him stoned. When Joash was only forty-seven and could have reigned for many more years potentially he was assassinated by his own servants after the Lord allowed a great army of Judah to be taken down by the lesser Syrian army because Joash and Judah had forsaken Him (2 Chronicles 24:23-25).

What can we learn from this? I’ve written on this before but often we put our hope in earthly leaders, even ones who seem to be and even are God following. However, we are all sinners and earthly leaders and mentors, even though often good and well-intended, will eventually make a mistake to disappoint you or like Jehoaida they will pass away because they are human. We must make sure that the leaders we are following are leading us to Jesus and even when they are trying, it is up to us personally to make sure Jesus is who we are really following and putting our hope and trust in. Jehoaida may have led Joash very well and did all he could, but Joash evidently did not see the Lord as the leader of his life or he would not have fallen away from his faith so quickly once Jehoaida passed.

Put not your trust in princes,

in a son of man, in whom there

is no salvation.

When his breath departs, he

returns to the earth;

on that very day his plans


Blessed is he whose help is the

God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the Lord his


who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them.

who keeps faith forever.

Psalm 143:3-6

We can also learn from Joash’s downfall to be very careful who we surround ourselves with and their influence. While we can likely say Joash must not have been very convicted in his faith and relationship with God since he departed from it very quickly after Jehoaida’s passing, he also surrounded himself with princes of Judah who evidently were not God-following who influenced him negatively, ultimately leading him astray (2 Chronicles 24:17-18). Nearly all of us can be susceptible to falling astray and making poor decisions if we do not surround ourselves with good people and good counsel. We must make sure those who we are spending the most time with and turning to for advice are God-following and ultimately that we look to Jesus and put our hope in Him and Him alone.

Some trust in chariots and some

in horses,

but we trust in the name of the

Lord our God.

Psalm 146:7

(I would also encourage you to read Psalm 50 which includes much more about how everything in the world belongs to God, thus calling us to glorify Him by putting our trust, hope, sacrifices, and thanksgiving in Him alone.)

It’s Not How You Start..It’s How You Finish!

Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 15 and 16, 1 Kings 16, and Philemon.

In 2 Chronicles 15 and 16, we learn about the life of King Asa of Judah.

King Asa turned to the Lord after Azariah, the son of Obed, spoke truth to Asa saying in 2 Chronicles 15:2.

and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

Azarariah went on in 2 Chronicles 15:4 to describe how Israel was without God but when they turned to Him, He found them. King Asa responded with courage by turning to God putting away all the detestable idols (2 Chronicles 15:8). He was on fire for the Lord following God for many years.

However, in his last years, something changed. He turned away from God for an unknow reason in his 36th year of his reign. He took the treasures from the house of the Lord and gave them to the king of Syria as a covenant to get them to break their covenant with Baasha who was the king of Israel and it backfired. Syria did not support them.

Then, Hanani, the seer, delivered the famous verse in 2 Chronicles 15:9…

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless towards him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

I wish the story of Asa had a happy ending, but it doesn’t. In the 39th year of his reign, he got a disease in his feet and even then did not turn to the Lord. In the 41st year of his reign, he died without turning to God.

Unfortunately, Asa did not finish well. As with most things in this life on Earth, it’s not how you start but how you finish.

The criminal on the cross next to Jesus in Luke 23:49-43 may not have started well, but he gave his life to Jesus and Jesus said they would be together in Heaven. He finished well!

Have you not started well with this life on Earth? That’s ok…we can learn from the man on the cross next to Jesus…it’s how you finish that matters!

Have you started this life pretty well following Jesus? Let’s learn from Asa and continue to stay close to Jesus throughout all of our lives and finish well!

Training for What Really Matters…The Rope!

Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 5-7, Psalm 121, 1 Timothy 4.

1 Timothy 4:7-8 reads…

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

What is godliness? states it is “the quality or practice of conforming to the laws and wishes of God, devoutness and moral uprightness.”

An article I read from written on December 16, 2022 said Americans spend $33 billion per year on weight loss programs alone with 45 million people in the US putting themselves on a diet yearly. Another article from http://blog.marketresearch written on August 2, 2021 stated the self-improvement market was over $11.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to be $14 billion in 2025.

There is a saying, “image is everything”…but is it? The Bible tells us the body is a temple in 1 Corinthians 6:19. So, it is wise to take care of our bodies which God created for His glory, but is that the motivation behind most of our workouts and weight loss programs or are we just worried about what other people think about us? And in my opinion, other self-help books, programs, and coaching which does not include God may lead to short term success and results but will eventually lead to emptiness because feeling good and earthly success is fleeting. One day you’re the regional sales leader and the next day your being let go due to down-sizing. This world is a “what have you done for me lately” place. Just ask future hall of famer Chris Paul who led the Phoenix Suns to their 1st NBA Championship appearance in 21 years in 2021 and this past year he averaged a solid 13.9 points, 8.9 assists, and 4.3 rebounds…only to likely be traded this week to the Washington Wizards for the younger Bradley Beal.

The Bible is clear here in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 that training for godliness so we act in a way to please God is much more important than training for our looks or earthly success because it has eternal value. We should only be worried about what God thinks and strive to please him.

Pastor Francis Chan gave a talk I saw once with a rope that seemed to go on forever representing eternity. He had a small black strip of tape around it in one little spot representing our life here on Earth. He illustrated how most all of us spend our time worrying and focusing on the little black piece of tape. What we really should be focused on and in this case training for is the rest of the rope…eternity!

What is one daily habit you can start or improve on to train for godliness and draw you closer to Jesus which is the only thing that really matters in this life and most importantly the next?


Today’s reading is Proverbs 24-25, Psalm 41, and 1 Thessalonians 2.

Proverbs 24 speaks much about wisdom and being wise.

What is wisdom? states wisdom is “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgement as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”

Proverbs 24:13-14 reads…

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.

14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
    if you find it, there will be a future,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

If the Bible says something is important than it is, and in this case of wisdom, it says we will find future and hope in it. Sounds pretty important to me. So how do we gain it?

My reflection resulted in 3 ways we gain wisdom (not in order of importance).

  1. Experience
  2. Others
  3. God

Let’s start with experience. I believe experience is a function of exposure, not just time. Through our learning from past decisions and situations, we will gain wisdom and make better choices moving forward if we take time to reflect on things as they happen looking back and take time before making future choices.

We can also gain wisdom from others. They may see things in a different way than we do by seeing it from a different angle we have not. We may be too close to the situation to see the big picture from a different perspective. As the saying goes, “we can’t see the forest through the trees” sometimes. I just discussed the importance of experience in gaining wisdom. Through the counsel of others, we not only learn from our experiences, but theirs, too.

Specifically on gaining wisdom from others, Proverbs 24:6 states…

for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Last, but definitely not least, we gain wisdom from God. How do we gain wisdom from God?

First, being in His Word through reading the Bible. God speaks to us through His Word by telling us what we need when we need it as we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Hebrews 4:12. Ask any regular Bible reader how amazing it is that a devotional they regularly read has verses previously assigned that are exactly what they need to hear when they need to hear it. Is that a coincidence? I’m working through Tim Tebow’s One-Year Devotional: Mission Possible and what was the devotional on as began to write this..wisdom.

We also gain wisdom from God through prayer. It is sometimes said that being in the Word is God talking to us and prayer is us talking to God. And while I believe that to be true, I believe God also speaks to us through prayer. I often come out of prayer with peace and discernment. I commonly leave prayer time with certain things laid on my heart as how to proceed and with peace in those decisions, even if I didn’t hear the audible voice of God.

I could make a strong case that asking for wisdom is the most important thing we should pray for. Many sources say we make 35,000 decisions a! With that many choices, it seems like it’s pretty important God helps us make the best decisions. Many of us have also heard the A.C.T.S. acronym for how to pray which stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.  If we pray for wisdom first, this will help us know what should adore God for, what we need to confess to God, what we should thank God for, and what we should ask God for which is His will and not our own.

I pray each one of us reading this will reflect on this as to how we each can grow to gain more wisdom though these 3 ways of experience, others, and God (through His Word and prayer).

Daddy Issues

Today’s readings are 1 Kings 3, 2 Chronicles 1, Psalm 42, and Romans 8.

This weekend my 10-year-old son Deklin and I attended DADCAMP which is a camp for Dads to bring their son or daughter from 1st grade up through high school. It was an amazing experience I won’t forget, and hope Deklin won’t either. DADCAMP is a Christ-centered. biblical organization with a focus on inspiring Dads to be the best Dad they can be. Check out for more info.

At DADCAMP they spoke about how 80% of those incarcerated have an absent father. Younger generations are leaving the church and their faith at the largest rates ever, yet when a Dad follows Jesus, 93% of the time so will his children.

I’m always amazed at how when we dig into God’s Word, He speaks to us directly related to what is going on in our lives. 1 Kings 3:3 says…

“Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statues of David his father…”

We know not only did Solomon follow God, but he ultimately showed his level of commitment by building a temple to honor Him. We see right here in the Word where David followed God, and as a result, so did his son Solomon.  This still holds true today.

At DADCAMP we covered a book called, Father God:Daring to Draw Near by Dave Patty. This book discusses how there are 2 conversations recorded with God the Father and Jesus in Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 17:5. In these verses, we find God the Father communicates 4 things to Jesus, His Son.

  1. Identity – “This is my Son.”
  2. Love – “Whom I love”
  3. Pleasure – “With Him I am well pleased”
  4. Place – “Listen to Him!”

The author Dave Patty says the following…

  • Identity gives value
  • Love brings security
  • Pleasure gives motivation
  • Place brings honor

We see how God the Father felt about His Son. Not so ironically, Romans 8:12-17 tells us as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we who believe are now children of God. In fact, those verses in my Bible are under the heading “Heirs with Christ.”

12 So then, brothers,[a] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[b] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.

You can read for yourself here where when you believe you are now seen in the same way as Jesus, as a child of God who is glorified with Him. This tells us we now have an identity which brings value, love which brings security, pleasure which gives us motivation, and place which brings us honor from our Heavenly Father.

Romans 8:37-39 expands on this to tell us we are victorious, and nothing will separate us from His love and the way God feels about us now that we are His children through Jesus.

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Some reading this may not have had the best relationship with your own father, but we can all go forth and live life with confidence based on the relationship with have with our Heavenly Father through Jesus.