Love always

Today’s reading:  Isaiah 56-59, Psalm 70, 1 Corinthians 16

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

As Paul was closing out his first letter to the Church at Corinth, he challenged them with instructions on what to do while they awaited his next visit:

  • Be on their guard against spiritual dangers
  • Stand firm in their faith
  • Be courageous
  • Be strong
  • Do everything in love

Not only were these instructions meant for first century Christfollowers waiting for Paul’s next visit, they are also meant to guide our behavior as we await for Christ’s return.  In this list of five, which one is the hardest for you?

The older I get and the more divisive this country gets I must admit it is sometimes hard for me to consistently do everything in love.  It isn’t like I usually go around being rude or hateful to others, but being loving in all things requires a different level of intentionality all the time.  Even when I’m tired or frustrated, doing everything in love means I am consistently patient, humble, forgiving, and unselfish.  How do I know this?  Paul devoted the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to a complete description of what it looks like when we love others like Jesus loves us.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Love always…protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.

Doing everything in love means this is how I need to show up all the time.

In Vain

Isaiah 53-55, Psalm 128, 1 Corinthians 15

My wife suggested that if I lose a little weight, I would snore less.  So I exercised.  I kept eating ice cream and cookies.  My exercise was in vain.

I wanted to be a millionaire, so I set out to make a lot of money.  Then I bought cars and houses and boats and stuff.  My work was in vain.

I wanted a college education, so I went to college.  I partied and played.  I got my degree, but the education was in vain.

I heard the Good News.  I stand in it.  Through it, I am saved.  Unless, I believed in vain (1 Cor 15:1-2).

If I believed in vain, then Jesus gave me great grace in vain (1 cor 15:10).

Are you drowning?

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 49-52, Psalm 69, 1 Corinthians 14

  1. Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.

The fear of drowning is real.  I know the pressure I feel when I try to show my kids how long or far I can hold my breath underwater.  The feeling of not being able to gasp for breath.  Did you know that when you dream of drowning, it is usually related to having too many things going on?

Psalm 69 – The psalmist David provides a vivid picture of a person dealing with so many pressing issues at once that he feels as if he were drowning.  David was inspired to prophesy more details of Jesus’ agony at this separation from His Father.

Let’s take water away and think of our lifestyle.  Have you ever felt you were metaphorically drowning? I know I have.  Maybe it’s the start of a school year? A season of crazy with your kids’ schedules? A new job with all new expectations? Medical bills? Paperwork?  We have all been there at some time.

Even Jesus felt like He was drowning when living on Earth.  It seems impossible to even fathom what Jesus had to endure.  When facing all the attacks and drowning struggles, Jesus prayed to His Father.

But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.
15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.

So many things vie for our attention in our complex world.  Take a moment to lift your head out of the water and pray to our Father.  He is loving and full of grace.  He knows everything we have done and will do and still calls us by name.  There are days when we can feel like we are drowning.  Turn to our Lord to be rescued.

God provides a space to breathe and live. God saves his people from drowning.

33 The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.

Have a blessed day!


What’s in your heart?


Today’s Reading : Isaiah 45-48; I Corinthians 13


What is the first thing that’s on your mind in the morning? What is the first thing that you do in the morning? Do you sit in your bed, just wondering about today? Do you open up your phone to see what has happened over the evening? Do you open up your Bible app and read the verse of the day?

The things that we put first in our mind, our heart, and in our spirit tells us what we hold most dear. I am guilty of searching for things to take my attention. I have woken up to play games on my phone. I have woken up to read stories on my phone. I woken up to see what has gone on Facebook and other social media the first thing in the morning and throughout the day. But those things take away from my energy.  There have been several times in my life that I’ve had to reset the button and refocus on God and his time in my life.


These two passages that we have today’s central theme is: What is In Your Heart. 


In Isaiah,  we see God showing us the awesome power that he has and gives us examples.  He is exhibiting to Israel the magnitude of his power compared to the other gods of the land. 

“For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭45‬:‭4‬-‭7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

““Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭45‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We see God is at the center of all of our being.  He is is the one that created and creates constantly for us for his benefit.  He has placed us in the center of his heart since the beginning of time. One illustration is that of the Father he is to us.  From my experience as a father, you will constantly think of your children no matter how old they are or what they have done in their lives.  You will always hold them in your heart regardless of the circumstances and situation.  God holds us in his heart even more profoundly and passionately.  This love is unimaginable. 


This passage beautifully dovetails into I Corinthians 13.  This is one of the most cherished and loved chapters in the Bible regarding love.  Revisiting this chapter, I was reminded of several verses from my childhood. The first verse was a constant reminder that my grandmother would use throughout my entire life. The other verses have been used by me and others at different times of my life.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭11‬ ‭ESV‬‬


“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭1‬, ‭4‬, ‭8‬, ‭13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

These verses are small pieces to a major idea of God’s connection with us.  When read individually, these words have a big impact, but when read and digested as a whole it is monumental.  Paul is showing us truly how awesome God is.  Even after Paul has been in the presence of Christ and has been in true communion with the God the Spirit (the Holy Spirit), he fully cannot comprehend the full awesomeness of God which is Love. Try to reread this chapter and replace love with God and you can truly see the depth and beauty of the chapter and of life. 

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭11‬-‭12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What is in your heart? What is the first thing that you think about in the morning? Is there a song that you can think of that gets you into the space of love? Is there a verse that you can gravitate to in the morning?   What if you started your day in this manner; how would your day, week, or month change with a renewing of your heart?   

Be blessed

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).


Do you ever remember playing a game called Mercy? All I recall is that you were really trying to hurt the other person by grabbing their hand and pushing/squeezing them as hard as you could. When you couldn’t handle the pain and were ready to give up you yelled “mercy.” When you said “mercy” the other person had to stop and the game was over. The other person had mercy on you and stopped the pain because you asked.

Today in Psalm 123 we read that God has mercy on us.

I lift my eyes to you, O God enthroned in heaven.
We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, Just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy, for we have had our fill of contempt.
We have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud and the contempt of the arrogant.
Psalm 123

The first thing this chapter in the Pslams tells us to do is to lift our eyes to God in heaven. This means that we take our eyes off of ourselves and look to God. To put our trust in Him and know that He will give us mercy in our time of need. This is an opportunity for us to tell God who He is, to thank Him for all that He has given us.

God is the one enthroned in Heaven. He is the one who is above all and in control. He has absolute power. We can look to others to help us through a tough situation, but people are human and have their faults. God sits on the throne and is the only one who has mercy on us when we look to Him.

When we keep our eyes looking to God in heaven we allow Him to guide us through all of life’s challenges. We can look expectantly and ask for favor from the Lord our God and He will respond with mercy in His time and in His will.

Psychological Warfare

King Hesekiah was backed into a corner.  185,000 Assyrian warriors gathered around his city, Jerusalem.  They had a nasty reputation for being merciless, cold-blooded killers.  The people were scared.  Rather than a quick invasion, the Assyrians would first launch an emotional attack.  One that would challenge their values and beliefs.  It will become a test of faith.

2 Kings 18:29 (ESV) ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand.

2 Kings 18:30 (ESV) 30 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’

2 Kings 18:31 (ESV) 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern,

2 Kings 18:32 (ESV) until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.”

2 Kings 18:33 (ESV) Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

2 Kings 18:35 (ESV) Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

This method was as effective then as it is today.  If the people turn on their king, they would win handily.  Furthermore, if the king’s confidence in God is rattled, they win everything.

It is far easier to believe the seeds of doubt sown by our enemies than the infinite power of God.  Especially when our circumstances are grim.  This is where our faith and actions collide.  How did Hezekiah respond?  First with frustration and anguish.  He “tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth.”  But, more importantly, he “went into the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:1).

King Hezekiah did not give in to the lies of the enemy.  He would not surrender his belief.  Instead, he returned to what he knew to be true.  He went to God, his protector and redeemer.  With that one act of faith Hezekiah received the precious words that we all need. “Do not be afraid, for I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David” (2 Kings 19:6&34).

These words strengthen me today.  There is an enemy that is sowing seeds of doubt in me, challenging what I believe and  enticing me to surrender the victory I have been promised.  There is only one true response; enter the house of the Lord, and pray.  Here is the prayer of Hezekiah:

“O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 16 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.
17 “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 18 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”  2 Kings 19:15-19 (NLT)


Today’s Reading:  2 Chronicles 29-31; 1 Corinthians 8

Have you ever found yourself in a position that you had to make a decision that was not popular?  Have you been in a situation that you had to make a judgment that made others uncomfortable or put you in an adversarial spot?

Our decisions are influenced by those around us. Our friends influence the way we behave.  Our spouse impacts the daily support or lack thereof to our hopes, dreams, morals, and actions.  The people we associate with have a major impact on our life journey.

2 Chronicles outlines several kings of the land of Israel.  Israel endured sixteen years of reign of King Ahaz who strayed away from the Gospel of our God.  Ahaz was punished by God due to his unfaithfulness and his worship of idols.

Following Ahaz, King Hezekiah brought about great change and correction to the Israeli people.  Hezekiah cleansed the temple, rid the people of their idols, and provided support through tithes for the priests.

No doubt Hezekiah had to take risks.  He had to take a stand and go against the people of his day.  He had to challenge their decisions, question their morals, and implore them to make better decisions that demonstrated reverence toward God.  He had to change the Israeli people’s thinking and force them to change their ways. No doubt those around him, who had been living and enjoying a life of immorality, likely criticized Hezekiah for his decisions to move them away from sin.

Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Does a neighbor or co-worker need to make changes in their life that are more Christ-centered?  Is a relative or friend living a sinful life that you feel likely you need to address?

Many who speak out today do so at great risk.  To speak the truth, from the perspective of the Bible and God’s teaching, puts us in contraction to the ways of our present world.  To contradict, condemn, or speak out against what is popular, can ostracize a person, create a hostile situation on social media, and ultimately cost them friendships, relationships, their job or their even their life.

1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord in not in vain.

Joshua 1:6: Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors and give them.

Psalm 31:24: Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord.

My prayer is that during times of difficulty, when you need to stand strong for the Gospel, you have the courage to do so.  Do not compromise your support of our Lord, forsake His teachings, and defy His Word because it is not popular today.

Standing firm in the Gospel is not hateful.  Living our lives by the teachings of the Bible should not be seen as judgmental of others.  We should be exalted to live a Christ-like life, encouraging and imploring others, to get their decisions and life in line with the Word of God.

Will you cry out?

A friend of mine is going through a very challenging time at home and at work. It seems the enemy is attacking him from all angles. Having lived through a similar situation which is fresh on my mind, I am acutely aware of my friend’s mental and emotional state. The hurt and worry show in his eyes and voice, his confidence is waning, and he appears to have lost some weight and has lost that “spring in his step”.

The positive thing that my friend may not see yet is that he appears to be drawing nearer to God than he ever has before. He is growing spiritually, his faith is increasing, and his dependency on himself is lessening. His wounds will someday be used to help someone else.

My friend asked me this week for some advice as to how I dealt with the situation and my memory flashed to the times when I was at my lowest of low. In those times it felt like I had nothing left, bringing me to tears and to my knees in prayer. All I could do was cry out. Thinking back on it now I realize that I resisted crying out mainly due to pride. I was my own god until I surrendered all to the one who waited patiently for this reckless soul.

17 For I cried out to him for help,
    praising him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:17-18)

Today I challenge you to humble yourself on your knees and cry out. Say his name out loud: Jesus, Father, God, the Great I AM. In parallel, praise God and confess your sin (like the psalmist). Even if you’re not in deep sorrow, you surely know someone who is hurting (emotionally or physically) or lost without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In my crying out I begged for rescue, mercy, and peace and also acknowledged where I had gone wrong. As a result, I felt peace beyond understanding, and recalled the quote from Rick Warren “You never know God is all you need until God is all you have.”

The psalm goes on to assure us that God does listen and pay attention to our prayers. Praise him for this! He loves you more than you know, and he is nearer than we realize.

19 But God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
    or withdraw his unfailing love from me. (Psalm 66:19-20)

Today’s reading: 2 Chronicles 28; 2 Kings 17; Psalm 66; 1 Corinthians 7

Right or Wrong?

Today’s reading:  Isaiah 33-35, 1 Corinthians 6

Rationalize – to think about or describe something (such as bad behavior) in a way that explains it and makes it seem proper, more attractive, etc (Britannica Dictionary).

Do you ever find yourself rationalizing your actions?  It is Monday morning and your kids wouldn’t get out of bed on time, so it’s okay for you to be grumpy and late for everything.  My teenagers were always especially good at rationalizing poor grades in school.  The teacher who hadn’t taught them what they needed to know for the test was always the reason they had received a poor grade…it was never because they chose not to study!

Rationalizing behavior is nothing new.  In 1 Corinthians, the church was using their freedom in Christ to rationalize their sins.  Specifically they were claiming that 1) because Jesus had taken away all sin, they had the freedom to live their life as they pleased, and/or 2) because scripture did not strictly prohibit certain activities, they were okay to do them.

The Apostle Paul addressed the validity of this reasoning in 1 Corinthians 6, our scripture for today.  His messages are as relevant for us as they were for Christfollowers in the first century.

  • Jesus takes away our sin when we put our faith in him, but that doesn’t give us the freedom to keep on doing things we know are wrong.
  • While some activities are not sinful in their own right, they are in appropriate because they can control us and lead us away from God.
  • Some actions hurt rather than help others, and thus, are actions we should avoid.

Freedom in Christ should be used for his glory, not to serve ourselves.

Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12).