My Soul Waits for the Lord

Today’s Reading: Psalm 130

5. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word, I put my hope.

Future, past, wisdom, fears, trust, adversity, words, God, truth, and parenting.   These are just some of the topics of notecards I like to have in hand reach. Often in one of my pockets.  Each of these cards has various verses that speak truth through scripture. When I need hope and realize that none of that comes from me, I will use His words to help me face any situation I may have.  This is every day multiple times a day.  I can usually tell you the result of when I reflect on His words and when I don’t.

Where do you need to find hope today? Lean into God’s word to find exactly what you need.  Please take a moment to jot it down on a piece of paper or notecard and carry it around with you.

Here are a few verses for today!

  • Future – 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
  • Worry – 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6: 33-34
  • Life – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
  • Words – Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
  • Others – 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
  • Past – He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
  • God – Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!  Romans 11:33
  • Adversity – and call on me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15
  • Wisdom – Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:15

Listen to this song called Your Word…Stay blessed. 


Not Alone

“You will fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” – Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” – Mark 14:27-30

Today’s Reading: Mark 14, Psalm 138

The struggle is real! How many times do we declare our faith and fall short? Jesus knows our earthly struggles. Peter was told by Jesus that in the very same day he would disown Jesus three times. God has seen humans fall short since the Garden of Eden. As I read through Mark 14 even in the presence of the Lord, the disciples fell short in submitting to God’s will.  There are times when we do as well. But in these stories of the disciples falling short, Jesus leaves hints of how to stay connected to Him. His word is packed with promises for today and tomorrow.

The visual I see of sheep scattering is a perfect image of what I can be like sometimes when trials come my way.  A quick reflex, eyes wide open,  with arms flailing  in an opposite direction, possibly stumbling, trying to get up so I can get away.

Jesus lets us know He goes before us.  That even Peter, who believed he would never deny Him, did so in the same night.  That we can’t rely on ourselves to get through hard circumstances. We have to call on Him and trust.

Jesus provides us some reminders as we read Mark.

Prayer – Mark 14:35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”     All things are possible through prayer.  All things can be included in your prayer life.  Most days I will pray to be more prayerful? It’s when I think I have I have it under control the Lord has His way of saying, Why are you not asking me?

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Psalm 145: 18:19 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

  • Stay Awake – It’s easy to get caught up in schedule that has you looking into the end of the week as we worry about the things to be wrapped, this gift to find, the party you have to attend, or these things at work that need to be done.  It can be the problem that still hasn’t been solved that is now growing and leaving you half-minded. Be aware of God’s presence right now in your life, waiting for you to call Him.

Mark 14:41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

1 Thessalonians 5:6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • Don’t do it alone –  Having and realizing God is with us all the time is amazing. It  God always being with us, do life with others.  I think of our small group and how many circumstances in our lives we have walked through together. I think of the many brothers and sisters in Christ I have been able to talk with and hear timely words of wisdom from when there was no way at all I was going to figure out that problem. Sharing your struggles with others can provide you with the additional blessings and strength you may need.  Same with you and others, we supply that same blessing and prayer.  Together we provide strength and growth towards Christlikeness.  Thank you to all of you that have made such a difference in my walk with the Lord.  Please always know I’m here for you too.

Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


God wants us to stay close to Him, instead of falling asleep or denying Him, draw closer. We celebrate and praise the birth of a Savior who came for us, and who loves us.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Bible Journal Family and Friends. David, Jennifer, Jackson, Marshall, and…7/11/18:)

Psalm 138:7-8 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.



A Calm and Quiet Soul

Like many of us, I am familiar with Jesus’ words that come at the end of Matthew 28. Here, He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus is commanding His followers – all believers – to tell everyone about Him and His work. This is known as the Great Commission.

Several times, though, throughout the gospels, Jesus’ command is different. He tells those impacted by His ministry to NOT tell anyone of what He has done. We find this in today’s reading, in which Jesus says, “…tell no one” (Mark7:36). Why would He say this? Why would He want someone not to share?

I have been thinking about this for a few days, and I haven’t come up with an answer. But thinking about this verse has made me wonder if perhaps some experiences are too sacred to be shared.

I don’t know that we, in our social-media-saturated world, have a good grasp on this. We live in a world in which it is common to post all of the events of our lives from the mundane to the extraordinary. And often, this is good. Social media can help us to regularly connect with family and friends in ways that were impossible in years past.

But I am wondering – in our online lives and in our real-life lives, do we need to practice pausing before we post, and before we speak? I know that I do.

Pausing and slowing down have been themes of my writing this past year. Slow down when I read my Bible in order to let the words truly sink in. Slow down when I think, in order to take the time to thoroughly consider whatever I am pondering. And slow down before I speak, in order that my words are intentional and life-giving rather than hasty and potentially harmful. Writing this year has been good for me, if for no other reason than this gentle reminder: slow down.

And don’t we all need that slowing-down, especially right now, in the midst of a busy Christmas season? Listen to David’s words in Psalm 131: “I have calmed and quieted my soul” (Psalm 131:2). Recently, after a few unusually busy weeks, I have implemented a new daily practice. Mid-afternoon, when I am home, I do what I call a “full stop”. I make myself a cup of tea, and I sit on the couch or on the porch or now, in this Christmas season, on the window seat next to our Christmas tree. I stop, and I rest. I sit in the quiet. And it has been so good for me, so good for my soul.

My prayer for all of us in our reading community during this busy season is that we each practice taking time every day to simply sit and rest, and that little by little we would build this calming practice into a daily habit that brings us a bit of peace into our days.

Do You Not Remember?

“Do you not remember?” Jesus asks this question of his disciples in Matthew 16:9. They have – again – misunderstood something that He said to them, and He says, “Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?” (Matthew 16:9-10). Remembering is important. It is clear just from this passage alone that Jesus places a high value on remembering.

I believe that Jesus is reminding us of the importance of remembering because it helps us to understand Him and His work. Just prior to the verses above, Jesus says, “Do you not yet perceive?” (Matthew 16:9) And later, He asks, “How is it that you fail to understand…” Matthew 16:11). Remembering leads to greater understanding. Have you ever looked back on an event in your life, one that you didn’t understand at the time, and finally, perhaps even years later, thought – THAT’S why that happened. I have, for sure. I believe that is what Jesus is talking about here.

Later in this same chapter, Jesus speaks over Peter, saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). I have always loved this verse; whenever I read the word “rock” here, it reminds me of the idea of standing stones mentioned in Joshua 4:7: “So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” For years, I have wanted to create some sort of memory box, our own version of standing stones, to honor God’s work in our little family. I want to always remember the good work He has done, and I would love to have a tangible memory of that work. Today’s reading, about rocks and remembering, is the push I need to actually begin this project!

One last note. If you have time today, take a minute to read Psalm 89. It begins, “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1) and ends, “Blessed be the Lord forever!” (Psalm 89:52). The theme of remembering winds through this Psalm, and it is a sweet complement to Matthew 16.

Fulfilled Promises

My mom and I are going Christmas shopping together this week. Yes, it is only mid-October – so why Christmas shop a full two months BEFORE Christmas? One word: anticipation. My mom and I look forward to this time together every fall. We anticipate our shopping day, planning out the stores where we will shop, the gifts that we will purchase, and the restaurant where we will eat lunch – and in doing so, we also anticipate celebrating Christmas with our family.
In our text for today, which is Matthew 2, we read one small part of what we traditionally call the “Christmas Story”. Here, we learn of the wise men visiting King Herod, Joseph fleeing with his family from Jerusalem into Egypt, and their subsequent return to Nazareth.
Today, I’d like us to consider the promises kept and prophecies fulfilled that Matthew references in this chapter. In Micah 5:2, this prophet writes that “one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me.” This prophecy was fulfilled almost 800 years later. Matthew wrote that when King Herod asks his chief priests and scribes where Christ would be born, “They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” (Matthew 2:5) Christ Himself was the fulfillment of this promise.
Let’s look at another example. The Old Testament prophet Hosea explained that God would one day call his Son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). In Matthew 2:15, we read that, “He (Joseph) remained there (in Egypt) until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I called my Son.’” Over 800 years after Micah’s original prophecy was recorded, it too was fulfilled in Christ.
Thinking about these prophetic words which were fulfilled years after they were originally uttered simply amazes me. I hope you take some time to ponder these words today. Approximately 2000 prophesies in the Bible have been fulfilled – 2000! After you let that sink in for a few minutes, consider this verse, found in Isaiah 53:5 (NIV): “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah wrote these words HUNDREDS of years before Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross as a forgiveness for our sins. Oh, what a Savior!

Luke 13

I am a reader. Those who know me will probably smile when they read those words. In my free time, I am rarely without a book in my hand. When I was younger, I read mostly fiction – especially the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series. My favorite author, though, was Louisa May Alcott. I read and re-read every book she ever wrote because I loved how she created a story. Even though her books were fiction, I felt as though I were reading a true story – her plot and details were that believable. And I always learned something from her books.

Jesus is the master story-teller. Over and over in the New Testament, we read of our Savior using a story to make a point or to teach a lesson. In doing so, He teaches about complex topics like faith and grace and salvation. We see this over and over in Luke 13, our chapter for today.

Jesus uses the parable of a barren fig tree to teach about how to live a Godly life (Luke 13:6 – 9). He compares the kingdom of God to both a mustard seed and to leaven used in baking bread (Luke 13:18 – 21) He uses the idea of a narrow door to represent the fact that “no one comes to the Father except through me” (Luke 13:24 – 30; John 14:6). The people to whom He was talking would have had as difficult a time as we do now understanding concepts like the kingdom of God, faith, and salvation. Fig trees, mustard seeds, leaven and doors, though? They understood those. They were familiar with these objects, because they used them in their daily lives. By using stories, Jesus made complex topics more easily understood.

As Jesus ends this time of teaching, He laments over the lost in Jerusalem, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34). As I finish writing this devotion, it is Monday morning, and our country is waking to the news of the massacre in Las Vegas. Jesus’ poignant cries over Jerusalem remind me that my Savior also weeps today, along with those who grieve.

The Trap of Our Earthly Desires

I have the privilege of writing about Romans 1 today but I really want to focus on verses 18-32. It’s in those 14 verses that you can truly see the repercussions of the fall that happened way back in Genesis when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.


We live in a broken world. Every day the news comes up with new stories about death, hate, poverty, and sickness all over the world. We try to turn it off but we never can. People propose solutions for all of these problems and don’t understand when they don’t work. We are a people who rely on things, machines, and other people to be our saviors in times of need rather than falling on our knees and crying out to God.


We know there is a God but we find ourselves turning towards earthly pleasures because we lack self-discipline. God is knocking at the door but we still have to open it and invite him in. We can’t keep talking to him through the door or only letting him in when we need him. Romans 1:24-25 says,


“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”


It says specifically God gave them up. There always will be a choice and you can choose to continually choose early pleasures but will that ever satisfy your soul? God gave them up means to me that he had was trying to protect them for a while but they never turned from their ways. It was never his plan but when these unrighteous people kept doing what they wanted, he had to give them up to their desires. The true king of their lives.


How can we relate to this?


Think about your life. Do you find yourself at church scrolling, checking email, or even napping? Do you find yourself buying new things because you have to have them in your life? Are you doing the minimum to just get into heaven?


These 14 verses show us how easy it is to lose yourself in these early desires. These men and women KNEW God and they still desired these worldly things. It is easy to fall into Satan’s trap so guard your heart. If you lost everything but still have Jesus, could you say that you still had all that you need?


Reflect on your own lives today. Pray that the holy spirit will convict you so that you do not fall into the same trap as these unrighteous people did in these 14 verses.

Paul on Trial

Heart pounding. Mind racing. Paul stands in front of hundreds of people who will decide whether he is innocent or guilty of his accusations. I’m sure even Paul had fear in that moment with such an uncertain future ahead of him.


In Acts 23, Paul was face to face with his accusers and a council that didn’t have any sympathy for him. Sometimes I find myself reading the bible and placing a lot of the people on pedestals because of the life they lived for Christ. If we really dive into the word, you can start to see that these people are just as human as we are. Let’s look at Paul as an example.


So Paul is up in front of this council getting accused of many things that aren’t wrong in the eyes of God. The first thing he chooses to say is, “ Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” He is pleading his case, trying to help them understand that he sees nothing wrong in what he is doing…because there is nothing wrong in what he is doing. Instantly the high priest orders Paul to be struck, not just anywhere, on the mouth.


I imagine myself in his shoes. I am wrongfully being charged and I want to keep this civil so I start off with a calm statement of my innocence and then BAM! I get punched right in the jaw. Growing up with four brothers has, I would say negatively, gifted me with having the ability of not thinking before swinging. In this situation, it would have been my natural reaction to swing back or tackle the guy if I got hit like that. As we keep reading we can see that Paul reacts in a similar action(He responds in anger and frustration) and that makes him just as human as you and I. Paul says, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!” He didn’t punch the guy, but his words are powerful because they have the authority of Christ behind them. I can also imagine that he isn’t saying that in a friendly tone either. Though he was angry and probably wanted to punch the guy back, he knew that God was the ultimate judge and would take care of it in his timing and grace.


The rest of the chapter goes into the plot to kill Paul by 40 men who have sworn to not eat or drink until Paul is dead. This story has always been interesting to me because there has been nothing, so far, in my life that I have hated enough to give up eating and drinking until that thing is dead. The hatred towards God and his people just amazes me sometimes as I read through the bible.


Chapter 23 ends with Paul getting sent to Rome secretly to avoid being ambushed by the 40 men so that he can await trial there. Remember that even though there are men and women in the bible, they were sinners just like us. Don’t put these people on pedestals but learn from their actions as you go through similar situations in your life.

In It, Not Of It

Do you ever find it challenging to be a Christian who lives in the world, but is not of the world?

We know that we are called to live like Jesus in this broken world, but sometimes, I look in the mirror and I see someone who looks, talks and acts just like the rest of the world. I know that this should not be so. Today’s reading in John 17 is a reminder to me that, although I clearly live in the world, I am not to be someone who is of this world.

Today, first take a moment to read all of John 17 with me. This chapter of John has always been one of my favorites since I discovered it for the first time, as it is a beautiful prayer of Jesus for US. How incredible is that? As you read John 17 today, rest in the fact that Jesus knows you by name and that He knew every single person He prayed for so long ago. I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that Jesus interceded for me, for us, in the way that He did throughout this passage… it’s amazing.

Let’s focus on John 17:14-19 today and spend some time reminding ourselves how important it is to be in the world and not of the world:

14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

You’ve probably realized before that sometimes God answers our prayers differently than we might want Him to or expect Him to. For example, while God could deliver us from a challenge, He sometimes teaches us through the challenge instead. While God could heal us, He sometimes makes us wait for true healing in Heaven one day. You get the idea. Verse 15 above reminds me of this same sort of thing… Jesus certainly could have prayed that we would be taken out of the world and protected from the evil one in that way. But He didn’t.

Instead, verse 15 says that Jesus prayed specifically that God would NOT take us out of the world, but that He would protect us from the evil one as we live life in the world. Why wouldn’t Jesus just ask God to protect us by simply taking us out of the world?

Friends, I think there must be a reason Jesus prayed this way. I believe it is because He has work for us to do in this world, but in order to do that work, we simply cannot look like the rest of the world. It just doesn’t work that way. Of course, we are not called to be perfect as we live out an example of Jesus and His character. Instead, we can use our imperfections, weaknesses, and failings to point people to our desperate human need for God’s grace. But may I remind you today that you are, in fact, called to live here on earth for a reason? And may I also remind you today that as you live out your life here on earth, with purpose, you are called to do so in a way that does not look like the rest of the world?

Be encouraged today that although we are called to do life here on earth for a little while, we can make the most of that time here by not living like the rest of the world. Today, keep watch over your heart, your attitude, your words, and your actions and ask the Lord to help you focus on living in a way that is unlike anything this world has ever seen, and watch what the Lord does with that.

Glowing Box

Imagine a box in a dark room. Inside the box is a source of light that makes it glow. Now a pinhole is made in the box. The pinhole in the box gives off a thin beam of light piercing through the darkness of the room. You move to align your eye with the beam of light to peer inside the box. What you see, you see clearly, yet you can not see all the contents of the box, only what is within your field of view from the hole. What is shown is shown clearly but not all is shown. This is how I have come to understand a parable to reveal the truth. John 16 tells us that while Jesus revealed the truth in parables, He will send the Spirit that will open up the box completely and reveal truth plainly.

John 16 tells us that while Jesus revealed the truth in parables, He will send the Spirit that will open up the box completely and reveal truth plainly.

I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. – John 16:25

The word here translated as ‘figures of speech’ is paroimiais in the greek. Some versions translate this word as figurative language, some as allegories, some as proverbs and some as parables. A paroimiais is a pointed but veiled statement. Throughout His entire ministry, Jesus spoke in mashal which is the Hebrew word for the same veiled but pointed statements. These parables are very clear illuminations of the truth but they purposefully leave much hidden. (Luke 8:10)

An interesting fact, Jesus taught in parables, but from this point forward, from the end of the Gospels on, no one else ever gives a parable. After the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and after the coming of the Holy Spirit, everything is unveiled. Everything is given to us plainly.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:12-13

When I think of the disciples being given one parable after another, I think of our glowing box and their having another hole made for them to see in. Their box had many holes from all of Jesus’s parables. So much truth yet so much truth still veiled. 

Now imagine our box again. The four vertical corners of the box are split. The box now completely opened up, lays flat on the ground. Everything inside the box is now perfectly visible and accessible.

The Spirit has given us the perfect account of Jesus ministry in the Gospels, the beginnings of the delivery of His promises in His Church from Acts, the clear and plain explanation of His teaching we get from the theology from the epistles, and the complete unveiling of the future from Revelation. This is Jesus delivering on His promise to unveil all the truth. (John 14:26) This is the perfect and complete testimony of God revealed to us in Scripture. This is the box, the truth, completely opened and accessible to us.

God this morning we thank You for the gift of the New Testament and for revealing all the truth to us in plain ways. We praise You LORD God! God, we confess to not placing the proper value on Your revealed truth and ask that you would give us a strong desire to arm ourselves with your revealed truth and use it to Your glory. May Your Kingdom come LORD. On earth, as it is in Heaven. Amen.