Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Rest of the Story

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When it was reported to Jesus that Lazarus was critically ill, He continued what He was doing for a few days. During that time, Lazarus died. It would be four days after his death that Jesus would arrive. Doesn’t make sense, does it? It didn’t to Lazarus’ family either. But in order to prove that He was the “Resurrection and the Life,” He had to let Lazarus die. When He got to the gravesite, He called Lazarus from the dead and loosed him from death. It all makes sense when you know the whole story.

I don’t know why things are the way they are. Why people are born deformed. Why my grandson had to die on his due date. Why my wife has cancer. Why people who once were close to God have jettisoned their faith. Why a godly executive loses his job, then his savings, then his home while the godless are submerged in material things. It just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the hope of my faith: it will all make sense when we see the rest of the story. What is happening in our lives right now is not the final chapter of the book. The Author and Finisher of our faith has not yet written His grand finale. When we reach the last chapter on earth, most people write, “The End.” But the great Author writes, “The Beginning!” 

Like I said, I don’t get it now. But, I will, and you will, when we know the rest of the story. 

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Corinthians 13.12 

Monday, October 30, 2017

On the Right Track

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I remember getting my first Garmin GPS. It was the latest gadget to get you from point A to point B using Global Positioning Satellites. I put it to use right away, punching in destinations that I already knew how to get to. A few days later, a missionary friend came to the States and was staying with another friend. They invited me for lunch and gave me the address of where to meet them. “Do you need directions,” he asked, “his house may be difficult to find?” “No problem, I’ve got a Garmin.”

Long story short, after the Garmin directed me to 5 dead-end streets, 3 dirt roads, and nearly to another city, I knew I needed to get a second opinion. I stopped a gentleman who gave me directions, which I followed, and it led me directly to my friend. Being on the right track is important to reach your destination. 

The Psalmist wrote about being on the right track. He said, "How blessed [happy] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers" [Psalm 1.1-3].

The point is, true joy and happiness come from delighting in the law of the Lord, and meditating on it day and night. When you follow that advice, you get where you truly want to be: firmly grounded, yielding fruit, strong, and purposeful That was David's confidence when he wrote, "The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" [Psalm 19.8].

"Precepts" in that verse speaks of divine guidelines for conduct. Every precept is right and true. That’s the track you want to be on because it will guide you through the maze of life. Furthermore, it gives your life purpose and significance. When you know your life has a holy purpose, each day is joyful as you see that purpose unfold. 

What brings you joy? Your answer will reveal much about the direction your life is heading spiritually. Knowing your life is on the right track is a source of great joy.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119.105

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pass It On

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

If you are a Christ follower, eternal truth has entered your heart and subdued the whole man to itself. Once there, no power whatsoever — human or infernal — can dislodge it. That’s because it is not merely a house guest, but, rather, the master of the house. To reject that is to reject the very power of the Gospel.

Those who have experienced that truth know the Holy Spirit who opens, appropriates, and seals the Word of God in them. They would rather be torn to pieces than be torn away from their salvation. 

It’s true we outgrow some truths because they are elementary lessons for “baby” Christians. But that is not the case with divine truth. While it births and sustains “babes,” it is strong meat for mature Christ followers too. Wherever this truth is found, we acknowledge that it will remain until we hear the Pearly Gates click behind us!

That’s why we broadcast the Good News. It cannot remain wrapped in silence. We are emboldened and empowered by the same Spirit who brought the truth to us. Above all our concerns in life, let’s love, as Christ did, and pass the truth along. The last stanza of Pass It On says it well:

I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I've found
You can depend on Him, it matters not where you're bound
I'll shout it from the mountain tops
I want the world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on
© 1968 (from Tell It Like It Is, Ralph Carmichael)

I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth … because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.. 2 John 1-2

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fear of the Lord

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I once asked a Jewish friend of mine what it means to fear the Lord. He said, “Fear means, fear!” Well, that helped a lot! He went on to say that he had been taught in Torah studies that it means to bow to sovereign authority. Much better!. 

The Old Testament is filled with references to the fear of the Lord. Here are just a couple of them:

Psalm 34.11-14 — Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the LORD. Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Proverbs 3.7 — Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.

A Sovereign would want you to live that way.

We’re not limited to the Old Testament when it comes to the fear of the Lord. Listen to these:

2 Corinthians 7.1 — Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5.21 — And further, submit to one another in the fear of Christ.

Again, a Sovereign would want you to live that way.

The fear of the Lord compels us to conform our lives to His will. Pleasing Him is a cause for delight and displeasing Him, a great disappointment. Fearing God leads to reverential attitudes, activities, and actions.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. Psalm 19.9

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Obedience or Sacrifice?

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Sometimes, I think we don’t take obedience to God’s Word seriously enough. We should because obedience is a big deal to God. The best way to see it is to learn from those who have disobeyed. 

One example that stands out is King David’s predecessor, Saul. God instructed him to wipe out the Amalekites completely - people, property, animals… everything. But he didn’t do it. Rather than complete obedience, he kept some things including oxen and sheep. 

The prophet Samuel confronted Saul when he heard the bleating of the animals. Saul changed his tune quickly and made up a story that the animals were spared so that they could be sacrificed to God. 

Listen to Samuel’s profound response: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” [1 Samuel 15.22].

There it is; God wants obedience. Obedience is better in two ways:

You can’t make up by sacrifice what you lose through disobedience. Even had he sacrificed the animals, it was too late. God had given Saul's right to be King to another. 

Furthermore, obedience is preventative. Had he obeyed the Lord, there would have been no need to sacrifice for that particular sin. Obedience would have prevented it. 

Obedience is God’s way. God’s way is always best.

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” [1 Samuel 15.22b].

Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When I think about the commandments of the Lord, I think about whole chapters in the Bible. I also think about the 10 Commandments. But how about a one-word commandment? Yep, God gave Deborah, Israel’s judge, a one-word command to the leader of Israel’s army, Barak. 

It was time for Israel to fight. They were up against Sisera, a Canaanite commander. And then the day came, the battle was at hand. Deborah went to Barak and said, “Up!” That’s it, no other command or direction. Just, “Up!” 

Sure, there are days when the the Lord replenishes us when we are depleted. There are days when He feeds us, when we need strength. There are days when God teaches us, getting us ready for a future challenge. 

But never forget, there is a time to fight and God simply says, “Up!” Trust me, when God says, “Up!”, you will already have been prepared for the moment. 

Will this be the day you hear Him say, “Up!”?

Wake Up: Be ready for any divine encounter that comes your way.
Rise Up: Put on the armor of God and be the soldier God wants you to be.
Move Up: Go to a higher place with God.
Give Up: Lay aside the sins that so easily beset you.
Speak Up: You are His witness to the ends of the earth.

Are you listening? Are you ready? Tell Him, “I’m ready and awaiting Your command.”

And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. Judges 4.14-15 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Misunderstood Grace

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I’ve been asked on many occasions if I believe that once you’re saved you’re always saved and it doesn’t matter what you do. My typical tongue-in-cheek response is, “No, I believe once you’re saved you’re always saved and it matters what you do!”

Many people, from Paul’s day until now, think the gospel of grace is a license to sin. The idea being: Once grace covers all your sin, you can live any way you want to live. 

The very idea of a Christ follower living in habitual sin was abhorrent to Paul. It should horrify us too. Paul addressed this when he rhetorically asked if we should live in sin because we are under grace. His answer is found in Romans 6.2, “God forbid!” Or, “Certainly not!” Or, “May it never be,” depending on your translation. In the Greek text, he used the most emphatic expression of “no” possible. Today, we might say it like this, “Are you kidding? That’s ridiculous.” Or, “No way, that’s impossible!” Later in the chapter, he would argue that no one can be a slave to two masters at the same time. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 6.24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [mammon is the personification of wealth]. 

Don’t be deceived into thinking you can sin as much as you want to because you live in grace. A true Christ follower understands living in grace is not a license to sin. Freedom from sin does not mean freedom to sin.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. Titus 2.11-12

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Converted, Completely Restored Soul

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

What is your response to this statement: The Bible is sufficient for a complete restoration of your soul?

A lot of people doubt it, you know. Sure, they may say, it’s OK for spiritual problems or maybe some superficial problems, but it’s too simplistic, too archaic for modern man. To them, the complex psychological issue of people today is beyond the bounds of the Bible. 

The truth of the matter is that the Bible is the sum total of God’s instruction to man. One of my favorite descriptions of the Bible comes from Dennis Prager who, in his class on the Torah at the American Hebrew University, said, “The Torah is a human repair manual.” 

And that’s what the Psalmist said too. He called Scripture “the Law of the Lord,” and said it “is perfect, converting the soul.

The Hebrew word “perfect” in some of your translations, means, sufficient or complete. In other words, it contains everything necessary for your spiritual life. Albert Barnes said it well: Scripture "lacks nothing [for] its completeness; nothing in order that it might be what it should be. It is complete as a revelation of Divine truth; it is complete as a rule of conduct … It is absolutely true; it is adapted with consummate wisdom to the [needs] of man; it is an unerring guide of conduct. There is nothing there which would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there" (Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms, p. 171).

Now, that’s sufficiency! In fact, it’s so comprehensive, it can “convert” your soul. “Convert” is from a Hebrew word, which means, to restore, revive, or refresh. God’s “Human Repair Manual” has the ability to transform your soul — the inner man. 

You can, if you want, consider human alternatives to transform your life, but why would you? They are impotent for the deepest part of man. That’s because they work only on the psyche to change the outside — human behavior — but God works deeper, converting, restoring, reviving, refreshing the soul. 

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul… Psalm 19.7

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Forsaking Idols

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

As I was reading through 2 Kings yesterday, I made a distressing observation. It had to do with the Children of Israel, but I think it applies to our nation as well. The author of Kings  wrote about the double-mindedness of the nation. They served God and idols at the same time. While they claimed and practiced a modicum of a God-fearing lifestyle, at the same time they served idols, false gods that had creeped into their culture. 

That, itself, was sad and destructive enough. However, the tragedy was magnified in that the next generations followed in their footsteps. What began as the nation’s disobedience became the sinful tendency of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. 

When the author wrote about these things, it was approximately 300 years from his statement, “as their fathers did, so they do to this day.” 300 years! For centuries, like a chain reaction, their mediocre religion passed down from one generation to another — from one family to another. 

Beware! Half-hearted service to God has lasting effects. To claim that you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength while pursuing the enticement of the world, leaves behind generations who have no compass, who do not know a single-minded devotion to God.

What a sorry legacy for a nation, a family, a person. Let’s not be that them! Let’s love God with all our heart, forsake all idols, and live a holy life before the world.

So while these nations feared the LORD, they also served their idols; their children likewise and their grandchildren, as their fathers did, so they do to this day. 2 Kings 17.41

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Prayers of Elijah

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Elijah was an impressive character in the Bible. His short biography can be found mostly in 1 Kings, but his name comes up elsewhere in Scripture. He is a favorite character of many and rightfully so. His life was powerful and effective. Maybe it was because he wasn’t afraid to boldly ask God for big things.

Here are a few things we glean from his example:

1. Elijah completely depended on God

On one occasion, Elijah was in hiding from the wicked king, Ahab. He was at the mercy of God for his basic needs at a small brook, which dried up from a drought. He listened to the Lord and went to Zarephath, complete convinced that God would meet his needs there. 

Sure enough, Jehovah Jireh came through. Although his first source of provision dried up, God’s faithfulness didn’t. He listened and obeyed. 

2. Elijah prayed for God-sized things

After dowsing an altar with water, he prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!” [1 Kings 18.36].

What faith! And God answered his prayer, giving him the opportunity to boldly proclaim the greatness of God. 

3. Elijah prayed until an answer came

It was through his prayers that a drought came upon the land. And, now it was time for it to end. So, Elijah began to pray. He asked God for enough rain to quench the parched land. Nothing. He went to God again and again. Still nothing. Seven times he prayed expectantly. 

Finally, a small cloud appeared. It was just enough for him to know that God was beginning to respond to his prayers. You guessed it, God ended the drought by sending rain on a thirsty land. 

When we pray, we are like Elijah, calling on the faithfulness and character of God who is able to do far more than we can ask or think. And, we, like Elijah, are merely ordinary people calling on an extraordinary, Omnipotent God.

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. James 5.17-18

Monday, October 16, 2017

Plan A and Plan B

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

How long did it take to get from Egypt to Israel in Bible days? One such journey is etched on a temple pillar in Karnak. Around 1450 BC, Thutmose III led an army from Egypt (presumably its capital, Memphis) to Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley of Israel. It took him 10 days! Why would it take the Children of Israel 40 years to get there? 

Let’s set aside their sin for a moment and go back to the beginning of their Exodus. Simply said, God did not lead them the shorter, coastal route. Instead, He led them southerly, through the desert. 

Now to the eDevotion.

Life is filled with Plan B’s. A lot of our frustration continues because we keep trying to work out Plan A. Plan A is the “life will turn out the way I thought it would” plan; the “they lived happily ever after” plan. Plan A thinks of perfect marriages that never go south, jobs that never end, children that grow up without problems, climbing the corporate ladder an easy thing — where all your dreams come true.

Plan A rarely happens. In fact, I thinks it’s safe to say, it never happens. 

The Exodus of the Children of Israel is a prime example. God didn’t lead them by the shorter coastal route (the Via Mares - the Way of the Sea) to the Promised Land. Instead, He took them into the desert. Had they gone the coastal route, they would have come to the land of the Philistines in just a few days. Undoubtedly, they wouldn’t have been a very hospitable nation to deal with. What at first appeared to be a detour was actually a different plan for their benefit, Plan B. They didn’t handle it very well, but that’s another eDevotion for another day.

Our Plan B’s are the reality that your first career choice was a bust and it’s time to start over, that you won’t get that white house with a picket fence, that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you have a disease and your future is uncertain. It’s the plan where all your dreams don’t come true, at least, not as you expected them to.

He was a poor child, born in extreme poverty. He was self-taught. He started a business that failed. He ran for a political office and failed. He started another business that failed. At one point in his life, he had a nervous breakdown. He failed in five more attempts at being elected to a political office. He would eventually succeed, and in 1860, was elected the sixteenth President of the United States.   

Maybe your Plan A isn’t working. Don’t come undone. Plan A’s seldom, if ever, work out. Your success and happiness in life will largely be determined by how well you come to grips with Plan B. Don’t take my word for it. Ask Abraham Lincoln, the greatest Plan B President in American history.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. Exodus 13.17-18

Friday, October 13, 2017


Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

When you hear the word “Saint,” what comes to mind? A person that has been dead a long time? A statue? Someone worthy to be prayed to? A person who has lived a faultless, holy life? 

Paul used the word saint to describe the Christ followers at Corinth. If you’ve read the letter, you know that they weren’t people we usually associate with sainthood. Paul sent the letter to correct their behavior. They struggled with pride, jealousy, immorality, idolatry — just to name a few. But in his greeting to them, he referred to their calling as saints. 

The Bible has a different approach to sainthood than most people do. Sainthood starts right here on earth. A saint is anyone who has separated himself or herself from the world and consecrated themselves to God. In other words, a Christ follower [see Romans 1.7; 8.27; Philippians 1.1; Hebrews 6.10.

The problem with the Corinthian Christ followers is that they weren’t living according to their calling. Their living contradicted their assertion of knowing and loving God — living for Him. 

Their contradiction is ours too when we live inconsistently to our calling as saints. Our way of life should match our beliefs, especially that we have been saved from sin by the blood of Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit, to put away the ungodly.

As you head off into the weekend, consider your calling to be a saint. Is that calling consistent with your daily living? Are your priorities consistent with sainthood? If you think of an area in your life that is not pleasing to the Lord, pray about it. Ask God to help you to deal with it. Specifically ask Him to help you be the person He wants you to be — a Saint! 

Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 1 Corinthians 1.1-2

Thursday, October 12, 2017

This Little Light of Mine

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

Having lived most of my life in the San Diego area, I have been to the lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Park many, many times. I didn’t know why it came to my mind this morning until I sat down to write this eDevotion. What struck me was, a lighthouse is a powerful illustration of what it means to be an effective Christ follower in today’s world. 

If you think about it, lighthouses aren’t built in the middle of a city. There’s sufficient light there to find your way around. Lighthouses are built on dark, dangerous shorelines that are exposed to the harsh elements of nature. That’s where the lighthouse is needed most. 

One of the traps that diminishes your light, is to stay in what I call “a holy huddle” in church. Sure, it’s safe there, but your light is desperately needed where it isn’t so safe. Take your light and shine it where it is needed most. The world is a dark place, a dangerous shoreline, and it desperately needs your light to guide people safely to Jesus. 

Here’s a challenge: Leave your comfort zone and be a light in a dark place. 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house Matthew 5.14-15

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Storm Question

Encouragement for your daily walk with God 

I think most of us have asked it. I call it the “Storm Question.” I’ll get to it in a moment, but first the biblical story.

The winds howled. The storm raged. It was so furious, even those seasoned fishermen thought it was the end — they’re going down. Someone on the boat didn’t notice the storm because He was taking a nap, Jesus. In sheer panic, the disciples woke Him up and asked the Storm Question, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

There it is, the Storm Question. Don’t you care? We ask it in our storms. Don’t You care that I lost my job? Don’t you care that my marriage is a mess? Don’t you care that my wife has cancer? Don’t you care that my grandson died so young? Don’t you care that I’m sick? Don’t you care that I didn’t get into the college I wanted? Don’t you care, Jesus?

Maybe you expect Him to pat you on the back and say, “There, there. It’ll be OK.” But Jesus gets right to the heart of it. He answers our Storm Question with His own question, “Why are you afraid? Do you have no faith?” 

It appears we have two options when we are in the middle of our storms: 

Fear - convincing ourselves that our storm is hopeless and that Jesus doesn’t care.


Faith - knowing that He has the power to calm our storm, or to calm us while we are in a storm.

Easier said than done, true. But those are the choices — fear or faith. Easy answer. Hard to apply. 

We are prone to react as the disciples did in their storm. Let’s face it, it’s easier to talk about faith, but to live in fear. However, there is a peace that only Jesus gives [John 14.27]. Trust Him and live in it. He speaks to the winds and waves in your life, “Peace, be still.” [Mark 4.39].

He said to His disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? Mark 4.40