You’re In

Today’s Reading: Ephesians 3:1-21

It’s incredible to think back to how much of my life I have always just tried to fit in.  I wouldn’t be inaccurate in saying that most likely, in all aspects, I have just tried to appear like I have it all together.  As humans, we try our best to fit in; many of us will face this-worldly battle until there is no battle to fight on this side of the earth anymore. Thankfully we know that Jesus says, You’re already in.  We can stop the daily hustle, grind, and race that wakes you up by the alarm and keeps you going until you fall asleep.  I wish and pray that I have this down, but it would not be honest.  There are still times I try to fit in at my job, with my parenting, with friends, in our marriage, and in any other daily interaction that requires my presence.

Give yourself some grace.  Turn every moment of insecurity to Him.  We attempt and try to be the All-Star in all we do. We spend a lot of time trying to live by the rules people set for us. I have now seen days where I’m parenting and forcing the world’s expectations into them at a young age instead of just my love and His promise that takes care of every aspect of life.

None of the rules of life or the attempted All-Star parenting measures up to the power the love of Jesus has for us. If I can teach others and my family, I want to show them how to live in grace like Jesus and to walk in love like Jesus.  I need prayer to be their number one model. Will you pray for me?

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Gods Word of Life

Chalk it up to a strong case of insecurity and a self-inflicted case of selfishness. Today’s reading of what we are focusing on is God’s Words of Life. It’s not too far into our assigned reading of John 6:25-59, and I found my life in Him.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you have seen the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.

I can pick out the “food that spoils” I have selected along my journey. I can recall those that attempted to speak the truth to me, and I didn’t listen. The things of this world that look good, feel good, sound good but are not connected to Jesus are temporary. . It wasn’t until I genuinely ate of His bread that my life changed, and I indeed had the feeling of fullness.

This temporary physical life goes quick. The world will tell you one thing and make it feel like instant temporary gratification will make you “full.” It won’t. Only Jesus will provide you with this. The Son of Man came for you and me to give a full eternal life. Today’s a new day, what are you eating?


Expressions of God’s Anger & a prayer request

Today’s Reading: Revelations 15-17

Today we get the opportunity to read through some very intense, detailed reading that looks at the expression of God’s final anger.  I will admit that many of the descriptions and details were hard to imagine.  I lean back on the truth of God’s Word being the truth ad that when these days come if I’m still in this physical space, I want to be written in His book.

This anger described is in 7 bowls of wrath shared by seven angels.  These bowls included different wraths given around the following areas.

  1. Sores –  These were given to those who had the mark of the beast.
  2. Water – was turned to blood and all sea creatures died.
  3. Rivers and Springs-  of water were turned to blood.
  4. Sun –  people were burned by the heat.
  5. Throne of Beast – darkness
  6. The Euphrates – dries up, and the kings all come together for a battle. Frogs come from the mouth of dragons.
  7. Air – Lightning, thunder, earthquakes, and 100 lbs hail.

At the time of the seventh bowl, a loud voice came from the throne in the temple saying, “It is done!”

Going back to Revelation 13:16, the beast forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, to have the mark placed on their right hands or foreheads.  I had read a commentary saying these markings were put on their hands and foreheads based on actions and choices.

Chapter 17 talks about the great prostitute, beast, abominations, and impurities.  And while I struggled with all the meaning behind many of these stories, I landed on a few reminders.

They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with I’m recalled and chosen and faithful.”

As I read through these chapters, I was reminded of the importance of turning our life over to God.  Many had an opportunity to turn to God throughout these chapters, but they didn’t.  The infinite time we equally have consisted of 24 hours 7 days a week.  The most precious commodity we have is time.  The time we have with others gets shorter every day. I pray that we share in these days between Christmas and New Year with friends, family, and others who need to know of our Lord’s victory these days.  I ask for wisdom and prayers from all of you to share and influence my family in making this most important decision of their lives so they will continue to transform their own children’s lives.  Thank you.

Going Fishing

I need Jesus. If I’m sincere, I need him a lot more than the amount of time I spend with Him now. I can’t quite figure out which one of the many human flaws keeps me from this daily surrender? ( Romans 3:23)  I’m grateful for His living word that can pierce my heart and draw me home. Hebrews 4:12

Today’s reading is Luke 5.

Verse 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

Why did Simon say this? In reading comments on this verse, it shares how Jesus had spoken previously to Simon and Andrew. (John 1:40-42) They had heard and met Jesus previously but were too distracted by their business of fishing. ( I recall scenes of this in the series The Chosen- I would recommend this if you haven’t watched it yet) For myself, I connect with the start of school and getting everything ready. I think about worldly distractions that can come when you have young kids involved in various activities and two working parents in education—distracted by the world, distracted by focusing only on our jobs. Simon and had forgotten about the miracles that Jesus had performed. Still, Jesus pursued them and got their complete attention by filing their nets.

Have you been distracted lately? Have you forgotten the miracles Jesus has already performed in your life? I have at times. Thankfully, Jesus never stops pursuing us.

Verse 10-11 Then Jesus said to Simon, “ Don’t be afraid; from now on, you will fish for people”. 11 So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything, and followed Him.

The journey we all take closer to Him is incredible. Luke 5 reminded me of His miracles in my life and my lack of focus at times when the call of the world distracts me. Lord, I’m so grateful for every blessing you have provided in our lives. Let these miracles draw us closer to you. Thank you, Lord, for always pursuing me and helping me to become a fisher of others.

What’s your Yeast?

Daily prayer is for obedience.  We keep an index card with Romans 12:2 written on it from a small group activity years ago.  The world has so much to offer.  An achievement-focused lifestyle can pridefully lift you to where you feel like nothing else matters.  In this breath of life until you realize our eternity.

Today’s Reading: Mark 8 (verse 15 & 34-37)

15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

The world can infect and change your heart and mind.  The same pridefulness that the Pharisees and Herod held can be seen in our world today.  So I ask myself, do I provide lip service and merely admiring the truth?  Or am I singing praises and obeying the truth?  Pastor Charlie Welke rechallenged me this weekend as he talked about our “Domesticated Faith.”  I reflected on the finite nature of our world and the infinite power of God.  Am I allowing any yeast of the world to enter into my life? I prayerfully ask the Lord to search my heart, see if there is any offensive way, and lead me. Psalm 139:23-24

Author MaryLu Tyndall writes about the World system vs. God’s Truth.

The world says it’s all about you. God says it’s all about Him. 

The world says elevate yourself. God says to put others ahead of yourself. 

The world says grab as much power as you can. God says to be a servant. 

The world says to eat, drink, and be merry, for this is all there is. God says you are an eternal being, so be wise with your time. 

The world says the ends justify the means. God says the means will be judged in the end. 

The world says outward beauty is everything. God says those with inner beauty will shine at the end. 

The world says gather as many things as you can. God says only your treasure in Heaven will last. 

The world says truth is relative. God says I am the truth. 

The world says to be tolerant.  God says to call evil, evil. 

The world says it’s all about personal happiness. God says it’s all about personal sacrifice. 

The world says death is the end. God says death is only the beginning. 


Just as Jesus will warn us what to stay away from, he points us to the truth.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

God Bless your day!


Familiar Words

John 3:16. What does this make you think of? This verse is probably one of the most well-known in the Bible, recognized by believers and non-believers alike. It is certainly quoted more often than many other verses. When I read the words “John 3:16”, a few images pop into my mind. I see a person holding up a large sign toward the camera at a football game. I picture a person in a city, standing on a box at a street corner, calling out the words of this verse to anyone who will listen.

My most vivid memory, though, is from when I was around nine years old. I remember walking in downtown Boston with my parents and my sister. A man handed me a small piece of paper as our family walked by; the only writing on it was this: “John 3:16”. I wonder if he thought I knew the verse? Or maybe he assumed that I would be curious enough to go look it up, to read the words for myself. Having grown up attending church, I did know the verse. But I did not know Christ, and because of this, I did not truly understand this verse. It made no impact on me that day.

It does now.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

Today, I understand those words in a way I did not, could not, 40 years ago. I did not understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ until I was almost 30 years old. So I know from experience how it feels to live life not knowing my Savior – and I know what it means to walk through life now, knowing Him. Since I became a believer, I have seen people I love put their faith in Christ and subsequently change in ways I could not have imagined. I have witnessed miracles.

Today, John 3:16 represents new life to me. Changed life. A saved life. And we need that now, don’t we? Our world needs that. Today, as you read John 3 in its entirety, pause for a moment. Be still. Think about the words you are reading; ponder them in your heart and treasure them as Mary did (Luke 2:19). Give thanks for Christ’s ongoing work in your life and on your behalf, and pray for those you know who do not yet know Him. Finally, rest in this truth: “Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” (John 3:33 – 36).

I am praying for each one of you who reads this today.

Introduction to Ephesians

Tomorrow, our Bible-reading community will begin reading the book of Ephesians together. I’d like to offer an introduction to this book today, a brief overview that will provide some historical and cultural context before we start.

Like many of the books in the New Testament, the book of Ephesians was written by Paul. Paul wrote this book in approximately A.D. 60 while he was imprisoned in Rome.

Stop and think about that last fact for a minute. Paul did not let his circumstances – his imprisonment – hinder him from sharing the gospel. Let that be an encouragement to us today!

Paul wrote many of his letters to individual churches, and this one is no exception. His intended audience for this book was the church at Ephesus. God knew, though, that the themes and topics in this book would eventually be spread from Ephesus throughout the world, so in that sense we are also the intended recipients of Paul’s words.

Ephesians is a short book consisting of only six chapters, but each is packed full of wisdom and encouragement. Although several of Paul’s letters were written to warn individual churches against specific behaviors, the letter to the Ephesians is different. This letter is a nurturing one. The church at Ephesus was a young church at this time, and Paul writes to its congregation to encourage it to continue to grow and flourish. He also reminds them of what the Church should look like, and he challenges them to live as Christ-followers in a fallen world. This encouragement and these reminders are just as relevant to us today as they were to the Ephesians in the early days of Christianity.

My favorite verse in the entire New Testament is Ephesians 3: 20-21: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” This is the verse I will be praying for our Bible Journal community as we read this book together this week!

Acts 14: Not Without Testimony

I have read through Acts 14 several times while preparing to write this devotion, and each time, one verse keeps jumping off the page at me.  A bit of context, first, before I share which verse this is.  Paul is in the middle of his first missionary journey.  He has traveled already to Cyprus, Pisidian Antioch and Iconium, and will soon return to Antioch in Syria.  At the point where we pick up the story, Paul is teaching in Lystra and in Derbe.  Those listening to him want to offer sacrifices to Paul and to his co-worker, Barnabas, in response to Paul’s healing of a crippled man.  Paul and Barnabas immediately correct the people, redirecting their worship back toward the God who created them.  It is at this time that Paul reminds the people that God “has not left himself without testimony.” (Acts 14:17).  This is the verse that keeps jumping off the page at me.

The Message version of verse 17 reads like this:  “He didn’t leave them without a clue.”  The NIV version uses the word, “witness” in place of “clue” or “testimony”.  Clearly, Paul intends to remind us that God “made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.”  (Acts 14:15).  Knowing that we humans are prone to forget Him, prone to wander away, God left us evidence of Himself all around us.

Paul uses relatable examples from the natural world to teach about the evidence of God.  He says, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons…” (Acts 14: 17).  In Romans 1:20, Paul writes about nature again:  “But the basic reality of God is plain enough.  Open your eyes and there it is!  By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see:  eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.” (MSG)

When I need to feel God’s presence, His nearness, I always head outside.  I go for a walk, roam around our yard, and I can’t help but notice Him in the budding trees and flowers, in the changing colors of the leaves later in the year, and in the the blanket of snow during the winter.  My favorite place, though, to draw near to God is at the ocean.  There is something about standing on a beach and looking over the vast expanse of the sea that always turns my heart toward my Creator.

Perhaps, like me, the testimony of God’s creation reminds you of Him.  And perhaps something different serves as a reminder – a relationship restored from brokenness, coffee and conversation with a close friend, or an answered prayer.  Paul’s words, though, are a reminder to those of us who are looking at unrestored relationships, strained friendships, and unanswered prayers.  In these times, Paul reminds us to simply look outside, even if only for a moment.  We cannot help but see Him there.  His work began at creation and continues to this day.  Thankfully, “He has not left himself without testimony.”


    Today’s reading is from Luke 19.  As I read through this chapter, one phrase jumped out at me.  In the last verse of Luke 19, we are told that “all the people were hanging on his words” (Luke 19:48).  In the past few days, I have come across this idea of “hanging on” to the Word of God on several occasions.  Sometimes the words used were “hold fast”, and other times the word “tether” was used to describe how we are to attach ourselves to Jesus and His teachings.  When the same word or idea pops up several times within a short span of days, I pay attention!

In Jesus’ time, people were only beginning to understand who He was and how His death, burial and resurrection would impact their lives eternally.  Yet they still knew, somehow, that they needed to pay close attention to the words He spoke.  When I imagine people hanging onto Jesus’ every word, I picture a crowd pressed close together, leaning forward and straining to hear the words directly from Jesus’ mouth.  In those times, people had to work hard to hear Jesus’ words.  Hearing Him meant finding out where He would be, making their way on foot to that place, and then positioning themselves close enough to Him so that they could hear His voice.  In many ways, we have it so much easier today, don’t we?  We have relatively easy access to Bibles both in written form and on our electronic devices.  But we also have an incredible number of distractions that can draw us away from pursuing God and His word.

     In a world that is constantly changing, it is critical that we hold fast to God’s unchanging word.  His word is as valuable and relevant today as it was on the day it was written.  It is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and God promises “it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).  

So, what does it look like on a daily basis to tether ourselves tightly to God’s word?  Here are a few suggestions.

– Spend time reading the Bible daily.  This doesn’t need to happen at a specific time each day.  The reading itself is what is important; when you do it is not.

– If you find yourself thinking you do not have time to read the Bible because you have so much else to do, consider this thought that my wise husband shared with our small group this week.  He suggested approaching spending time with God during the week with the same mindset we approach taking a Sabbath rest.  God asks us to rest once a week, and He asks us to trust that our work will get done throughout the remainder of the week.  Likewise, we can set apart time to spend reading His word daily while trusting that He will enable us to accomplish what He has called us to do that day.

 – Consider using a daily reading plan found in a Bible or online.  There are hundreds to choose from, and the accountability of a daily plan can be helpful.

 – Memorize Scripture verses that have personal meaning to you.  When your Bible or your device isn’t near, the verses you have memorized are easily recalled when you need them.

The time we spend reading our Bible matters because the words we read on the page or on the screen are alive.  His word accomplishes God’s purpose for us and for the world He created.  I encourage you to try one or more of the ideas above as you seek to hang onto every word of Jesus!

Take Root

Matthew 13

Matthew 13 contains 7 parables to help explain faith and the Kingdom of Heaven. We will focus on the parable the sower.

Jesus first tells of seeds which fell along the path and were eaten by birds. He clarifies this is those who hear the message, but don’t understand and accept it. He then tells of seeds that fell on rocky soil. He clarifies that here he is describing those that gladly hear the Good News, but lose faith when trouble and persecution come. The Word did not “sink in” so to speak like the seeds did not sink in the soil. He then tells of seeds that fell among the thorn bushes. These seeds grow up, but are choked out by the worries of this life, the love of riches and the world. Finally, Jesus tells of seeds sown in the good soil which sunk in and bore great grain. This is describing those that hear the message, understand it, and bear fruit by living it out in their everyday lives.

A few years ago I told my wife how thankful I was for the blessings we have received, but that I was also fearful for how I would react when we faced what I perceived as some “real” challenges others have faced. We know that challenges will come because James 1:2 says “when” trials come and not “if.” I had attended church my whole life, but how do we make sure our faith is strong and the seeds are planted deep in the good soil? Is going to church regularly enough? Would that prepare us?

In order for the seeds to be buried deep and take root, we must have a strong relationship with Jesus. In fact, Jesus specifically directs us to do so…

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 ESV

How do we foster that relationship with Him? Find a church that focuses on the Bible and sees it as the truth and never changing with time, despite what modern day culture tries to tell us. Next, be in the Word daily (finding a daily devotional helps) to provide a constant and consistent message of instruction and direction. Be in prayer throughout the day to be in communication with God and keep our heart in the right place. Join a Bible study/small group to create a community of believers and friends that can help facilitate and hold us accountable to growing our relationship with Him and our faith. There are many other great spiritual habits and disciplines. These are just a few we focused on.

Since that conversation, we have faced some new challenges we had not before, and I believe we were better prepared to face those. Putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) to create a relationship with Jesus allows us to move forward with confidence each day in knowing we are equipped to face trials and tribulations.

So, how do we now make sure we are not like that seeds that grew up among the thorn bushes and are choked out by the love of riches and the world? There is good news. The answer and steps are the same..let the seeds take root deep in the good soil through putting on the armor of God to create a relationship with Jesus!

What is one thing will you focus on in 2017 to strengthen your relationship with Christ?