Category Archives: Daily devotions

Just Asking

Nehemiah 7

The reading of God’s Word was taken so seriously in Nehemiah’s day. When Ezra stood up and began to read, the people stood and listened closely… from early morning to noon! (verse 3)

Everyone listened, including children who were old enough to understand.

Hours.

Standing.

Listening closely.

Ezra didn’t preach. He read God’s Word.

Does your church stand for the reading of God’s Word (the whole 90 seconds it takes to read the morning passage)?

Do you read for hours, comfortably sitting in your home with a cup of coffee, listening closely to God’s Word?

Just asking.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Lamentations 3

“Great is thy faithfulness,” O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness.” “Great is Thy faithfulness.”
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided –
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me.

That beautiful hymn is probably familiar to those of us over 40. I always hear the words and music in my head whenever I read Lamentations 3:22-24. “Morning by morning new mercies I see.”

But did you know these words of assurance are found smack dab in the middle of suffering and pain in the book of Lamentations? God has told the prophet that Israel will receive their just punishment for sins against God. And God will exact judgment without mercy. There is no escape.

Yet the writer has hope in the truth of God’s faithful love and mercy. Here’s the reason, though:

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him, to those who search for Him. (vs 25)

Over and over Scripture equates God’s blessings with our obedience. His presence, protection, and provision are not just a blanket promise thrown over the earth. If we aren’t obedient – God will not bless. If we reject Him – He will not hear or help us, at all.

I love that old hymn. But there have been times I have been falsely comforted when singing it while harboring unrepentant sin in my life. Those words don’t apply to disobedient people, even if singing them makes us feel good.

God is faithful to keep His promises. And He promises to reject people who reject Him, to punish those who disobey. Great is His faithfulness.

But also great is His faithfulness to those who confess sin, repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus for salvation. Great is His faithfulness to bless and keep those who belong to Him through the blood of His son. Great is His faithfulness to those who seek Him. He WILL be found!

So it is good to wait patiently for salvation from the Lord. (verse 26)

A Wall of Righteousness

Ezekiel 22:30-31

I don’t know many people who would say they believe the US is on a healthy trajectory, whether monetarily, morally, or spiritually. Evil is called good. The economy is in the tank. The number of people who profess to be Bible believing Christians is dwindling, and what is scary is that some people think that’s a good thing.

A nation established under God has rejected Him. So we should not be surprised at what is happening here. Are we looking at the end?

God, through the prophet Ezekiel, told Israel why they were facing their own destruction. It was clearly God’s judgment for their unrepentant sin.

But God said something that made me think about our situation in 2022. He said:

I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one. So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken. (Ezekiel 22:30-31)

A wall of righteousness that guards the land.

For 200 years the USA was blessed beyond any other nation in the world. Oh, it wasn’t perfect. But there was something different about this country that made it stand out. I believe it was a wall of righteousness; a core group of God-fearing believers who worshiped God and, because of their relationship with God, they prayed, read the Bible, and weren’t ashamed to call on God in private and in public.

I believe it was a wall of believers wearing Jesus’ righteousness that guarded the USA.

Oh, you can try to erase our spiritual history, deny the intent of our Founding Fathers. You can be foolish (or woke, which is the same thing in my book), and deny God’s grace and mercy on this land. But the truth is – America enjoyed years of prosperity and peace as a direct result of our dependance on God.

Somewhere along the way a crack appeared in the wall. But instead of repairing it, we ignored it, accepted it. It didn’t stay a crack, did it? It became a gaping hole which grew until the wall began to crumble. Is there any portion of the wall still standing today?

Dear Christian, if we want to see this amazing country of ours survive, we have got to rebuild the wall! You and I need to not just wear the righteousness of Jesus in the privacy of our own homes. We need to flaunt it. We need to wear it loud and proud.

I AM A BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIAN!

I STAND FOR THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE!

I PRAY. I WORSHIP GOD ALONE.

I CHOOSE HOLINESS!

I FOLLOW JESUS AND WANT YOU TO FOLLOW HIM, TOO!

Can we join hands and hearts and pray for each other, our political leaders, our schools, our churches, our neighbors? Can we humble ourselves and pray God’s will be done in our own hearts, as well as in our country?

God was looking for SOMEONE to stand in the gap. Could that someone be you? I’m afraid if we don’t repair the wall of righteousness to guard this land, our future might look like that of Israel in the Old Testament.

Build the wall! It’s not too late.

Does God Speak Today?

Ezekiel 13

First let me say an unequivocal YES! But I think we need to be careful what words we put in His mouth.

What would possess someone to say they’ve had a vision or prophecy from God when they haven’t? Can someone who truly knows God lie about such a thing? There are whole religions based on lies claiming came from God. Some even use the Name of Jesus, but have fashioned a Jesus that’s not in the Bible. Do the leaders of these churches sit back and chuckle at the gullibility of their followers? Or have they deceived themselves and are actually convinced God has given them a special word apart from Scripture?

I think there is a test to know if what you are hearing is actually the voice of God. Simply put, if it’s not in the Bible, it’s not God’s Word. I think we need to be careful about what we attribute to God’s voice.

Years ago I heard a woman say God told her she would live in a certain house by a certain date. “God told me as clearly as anything,” she said. But the deadline passed and she didn’t live in the house. Had God lied to her? Could God not make His promise to her happen? Or had she put her wishes in God’s mouth?

I think we need to be careful to claim God has told us anything we can’t put chapter and verse to. It may sound very spiritual to say you’ve had a special word from God, it may seem to give your words more weight. But it’s a serious thing to speak for our Holy God. God has already said everything He wanted too say, then closed the Book.

Jesus IS the Word. God’s Word is alive and active and powerful and used for our correction and growth. God’s Word is Scripture.

So if you are hearing God speak, you’d better write down the words so we can all read it, memorize it, and live by it. (1 Susie 3:16)

I believe God speaks to His children today through the Words He inspired men to write in what we refer to as the Bible. Those are God’s Words. Often I am reading a verse or passage and it jumps out at me and it speaks to a question I have or a circumstance I’m facing. Sometimes I am praying and a verse comes to mind that speaks to a need I have. Those verses are God’s voice to me. And I believe to all of us.

In Ezekiel, God is going to punish people who claim to have a word from God, and don’t. He’s going to punish people for putting words in His mouth, and misrepresenting Him. God is very protective of His Word.

I hear God saying the same today. I want to be very careful what I attribute to God’s voice. Because He takes His Word very seriously.

Praying For Healing

2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38; 2 Chronicles 32

I sat here and wondered for a time why, when Hezekiah reminded God that he had been faithful to serve God and do what pleased Him, did God heal the king suffering from a fatal disease, and give him fifteen more years of life? I kept thinking how often Scripture tells us our best deeds are like filthy rags, that salvation is a gift and can’t be earned so that no one can boast. So why was Hezekiah saved from that death sentence because of works?

He wasn’t.

I believe he was saved because he went to God, laid it all at the feet of the Great Physician. Scripture says he wept bitterly, but it doesn’t tell us what those tears represented. Were they bitter tears, tears of regret, angry tears, or tears of repentance? It seems to me they were probably tears of surrender (my opinion only), the kind of prayer God still answers today.

However, this is not a recipe for healing. God doesn’t simply heal those who come up with the right attitude, or the right words to pray.

Here’s the thing: if we are faced with a terminal illness or another seemingly impossible situation, and we go to God and pray expecting to be healed, we aren’t really going to God. We are using Him.

But if, when faced with that diagnosis, we go to God, lay our illness or situation, heartache or anxiety at His feet, submit to His will with no strings attached, the outcome of our prayer will be everything He wants it to be!

When we truly put our faith in God, we release all expectations.

That’s why I am convinced the name-it-and-claim-it theology is anti-Christ. God is not our personal genie in a bottle to grant our wishes. How dare we reduce Him to that, and think we are being obedient.

Here’s another thing, and I believe it demonstrates what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

If you or I or anyone else is saved from sin or disease, we are saved because of God. Period. It’s not about us. It’s about God.

Sadly, after God saved Hezekiah, he became proud. He seems to have thought he had something to do with his healing in light of all the good things he said he had done for God in the past. And he squandered the fifteen years God gave Him.

Then he died.

I guess I feel God would have us consider Who He Is, not just what He can do for us. Do we really trust Him? Do we really have faith in Him? Can we honestly pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done?”

Then it doesn’t matter if we are healed in this lifetime or in death. I believe God wants us to pray for healing:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Ephesians 4:6)

That includes physical healing. Don’t worry about it. Pray about it. Pray with thanksgiving. Present it to God.

When you present something, you don’t hold back, do you? When you present something you trust the receiver with whatever you’ve given. Can we do that with our illnesses and sin?

So pray for healing for yourself or your loved ones. Pray for the salvation of those God lays on your heart. Do what God nudges you to do, go to the doctor, eat more vegetables, take that 20 mile bike ride, spend time with that person, whatever and wherever God leads.

Pray.

Then trust Him. Leave your request at His feet. No expectations, just God. Then Paul tells us that after we present our requests to God:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 4:7)

I honestly believe that’s how we should pray for healing or anything, knowing God hears and answers our prayers. And we can have His peace knowing for sure that He will answer our prayers according to His own good will.

Another Jesus

The King of Assyria sent his thugs to threaten the children of Israel, to bully them into surrendering. They pointed out that Assyria had successfully defeated the nations around them, that none of their gods we’re able to saved them from the mighty Assyrian army, and that the writing was on the wall. Israel was next.

Surrender or die.

Then these representatives of the Assyrian king said something that has me thinking today:

What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord Himself told us, “Attack this land and destroy it.”

One of two things could be true about that. Either God is using Assyria to punish Israel for their sin, and indeed instructed the enemy to be His judgment on the Jews, or the men representing the Assyrian king were lying.

Today, Satan is to us what the Assyrian King was to Israel in this portion of Scripture. He is the one threatening to destroy God’s people, and bullying us into submission. And he is using the Name of God to do it.

Bethel names the name of God. Benny Hinn names the name of God. Joel Osteen calls himself a Christian minister. I could go on. And so could you.

The question is, are we going to stand with God according to His inspired written Word, or are we going to be bullied into surrendering to Satan?

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse. (Galatians 1:8)

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

Guard your heart, dear one. Know what Scripture has to say so that you can recognize Satan’s lies. Then stand firm. Because the truth is, there isn’t another Jesus. There is only the One who is revealed in the pages of the Bible. If anyone says they have had a special revelation concerning Jesus… they are lying

There is only one true Gospel. There is only one true Jesus.

Do not be deceived.

Living As I Should

Psalm 119

May this psalm be my prayer. And may these verses describe my life:

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.

You have charged us to keep your commandments faithfully. Oh that my actions would consistently reflect your decree! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.

As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me. (Verses 1-8, emphasis mine)

Stepping Between God and the People

Psalms 105-106

These psalms recount the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of Egypt in the days of Moses, and reminds us how God moved in dramatic fashion on behalf of His obedient children. I think one amazing thing about Scripture, however, is how often we are also reminded how God moves when His children aren’t so obedient, like in these two psalms. God doesn’t sugar-coat anything. I’m thankful for that.

What stood out to me today was in 106:23,30. The Jews were living in blatant disobedience, even after God had blessed them. So God declared He would destroy them. Their disobedience made Him that angry.

But Moses, his chosen one, stepped between the Lord and the people. He begged God to turn from his anger and not destroy them.

So God did not destroy them.

Later, as punishment for yet more disobedience, a plague broke out among the Jews.

But Phinehas had the courage to intervene, and the plague was stopped. So he has been regarded as a righteous man ever since that time.

This morning I am reminded that Jesus has done the same for me. My disobedience angers God as much as the disobedience of the Old Testament Jews angered Him. What makes me think He hasn’t considered taking me out, too?

But I have a Savior. When I sin and make God angry, Jesus steps between the Lord and me and pleads my case. One day when I stand before the Throne of Heaven, Jesus will intervene for the last time, and I will not be destroyed. He will usher me into Paradise unlike anything I have ever known in this lifetime.

Here is something else that occurs to me. While I am still on this earth, I have the privilege of being a Moses or a Phinehas, one who intervenes for my loved ones, our nation and the whole world, and for you. I can beg God like Moses did, that He would turn from His righteous anger, and give each of us another chance to obey Him.

So today I want you to know that I am praying for you. I am going to step between the Lord and you and beg Him to have mercy. Will you do the same for me?

Praising the Judge

Psalm 98

For the first 9 1/2 verses the psalmist tells us to sing to the Lord, shout to the Lord, break out in praise to the Lord. Our victorious God has revealed His righteousness to every nation! He remembered His promises to love and be faithful to His people. Praise Him!

Living after the cross, we know God revealed Himself to the world when He became a human, and lived on this earth as a physical man. Jesus won the ultimate victory over death, Satan, and sin when he died on the cross and three days later came alive again. He saved the world.

Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! (Vs 6b)

But here is why the psalmist tells all creation that God is worthy of our praise:

For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the nations with fairness. (Vs 9)

Wait! Praise God for the coming judgment? Aren’t there psalms that tell us to praise Him for His goodness, faithfulness, grace, presence…?

Of course! He is all that and more, and deserves our praise. But these verses tell us to praise Him for the coming judgment as well.

Does standing before a judge in a court of law seem like something to be glad about? I had to stop and consider this for a while.

When I finished my course work in the School Counseling graduate program, I was required to take a comprehensive examination. It was a four or five hour test that would be the deciding factor whether or not I’d receive my graduate degree, and be qualified to be a school counselor. My future depended on my passing that test.

A few of us grad students got together periodically to study, and quiz each other on the different parts of the upcoming exam. We took practice tests, and discussed our answers.

I myself, would spend hours and hours on the Saturdays leading up to the test, pulling out every memorization technique I could think of. I actually started looking forward to the test date.

For one, I knew that I would receive my degree if I passed. That is what I had been working toward for a couple of years. Passing the test would mean no more evening classes to take after teaching school all day, no more papers to write, no more costly graduate fees.

That test marked the end of hard work, and the beginning of enjoying the benefits of the work. I was so ready to have it over.

On the morning of the test I remember standing in the shower and praying that God would help me recall what I had learned. Such a peace came over me I can only explain as from God. In fact, I felt so prepared, I almost dared the test-makers to come up with a question I couldn’t answer. (They actually did come up with one or two. 🙂 )

So I took the test that would judge my preparedness to be a school counselor. After several hours, I turned in my test, and walked away somewhat elated. I was pretty sure I had passed, and I did pass!

So why would God bring that to mind today as I considered the psalmist’s direction to praise God because He will come to earth to judge the world? Here are my thoughts:

The first is that we can know with certainty that God will judge the earth with justice and fairness. The truth is, He has been very upfront with His requirements.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. (John 3:3)

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

So the requirements the Judge will consider are whether or not we have accepted His grace and forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus. We all will be judged by the exact same standard. It will have nothing to do with how good or how bad we’ve been. Only whether or not we’ve received what Jesus died to give us. That’s fair.

The second thing I thought is, Jesus did the work. When my classmates and I were studying for our test, some of us put in the work before our sessions, others not so much. So when we actually took the test, we were judged on what we had put into it. As we should have been.

But if God operated on the same scale, none of us would pass the test. The standard for passing His test is:

For it is written “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

Are you a good person? Not good enough. Do you go to church? Not good enough. Do you abstain from certain sins? Not good enough. It’s not good enough to simply read your Bible, or stay faithful to your spouse. Holy is holy, without sin. And the Bible tells us:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

You have sinned. And that renders you unholy, falling short of God’s standard. And falling short of God’s standard results in:

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to praise God for the upcoming judgment. Who can stand before a holy God and expect to hear, ”Not guilty,” if all of us are guilty? No one!

That’s why Jesus did the work. That’s why He took on our sin and paid the death sentence we earned by telling a lie, taking something that doesn’t belong to us, thinking bad thoughts, or disobeying our parents. You see, because He paid my debt, I have no fear of standing before a Holy Judge who will judge with justice and fairness.

I did what He told me to do. I asked Jesus to forgive me, I repented of the sin that sent Him to the cross. I have been born again, not of flesh but of spirit. I wear His righteousness, His holiness, because I have none of my own.

The rest of Romans 6:23 is:

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

So yes. I can look forward to judgment day. It marks the end of all the struggles and hardships living in this world affords. It marks the beginning of an eternity, reaping the benefits of having Jesus pass the test on my behalf.

So, dear one, continue to praise God for all His benefits, His blessings, your health, your comfort, your family and friends, and on and on and on. Praise the One who deserves your praise.

And praise Him for the fact that when He judges the world, when He judges you on that day, there will be no surprises. One person won’t be judged more easily or more harshly for the same sin you’ve committed. You won’t fall short because you only did 9,999 good deeds, and someone else will get a free pass because he did 10,000 good deeds. No one will barely make it into heaven while someone else almost makes it there.

God is fair. God is just. God will judge each of us by the standard He has laid out so clearly in His Word. I look forward to judgement day. I hope you can say the same. I hope that because we both have been born again, cleansed and made holy by Jesus, we can praise the Judge together now and for eternity!

It’s A Miracle Either Way

Psalm 91

My brother-n-law fell off the roof of his house and landed on the concrete driveway this week. The result? He didn’t hit his head, he has no broken bones. He bruised his shoulder and is in pain. It’s a miracle he didn’t die.

It’s a miracle.

I thought about that this morning as I read this psalm. Verses 9-12 say this:

If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

When I first heard about what had happened to my borther-in-law, I said angels must have carried him off that roof. I think the psalmist would agree.

My cousin was trimming the limbs at the top of a tree when he lost his balance and fell. He died as a result of that fall. Where were the angels for him?

Both of these men had made the Lord their refuge, accepted Jesus as their Savior, and served him faithfully for decades. So why was Psalm 91 true for one and not the other?

I don’t know. I’m not God.

But I am reminded that God is Spirit, that His kingdom in spiritual. I know that, according to Scripture, my cousin fell from that tree and landed in heaven. The angels didn’t escort him safely to the ground, they escorted him right into the presence of God Himself!

My brother-in-law landed safely on the ground. And he will continue to live on this earth with all its blessings and curses, joys and hardships, health and sickness, laughter and tears. I’m very glad he’ll be around a while longer!

I am also reminded that God is much more invested in our spiritual health than our physical comfort. He has His eye on eternity, even if our eyes are on the 70, 80 short years we are alive on this planet. And what may not be true according to our physical bodies, God’s promises are 100% true for our eternal souls.

When we make God our refuge and take shelter in His spiritual arms, He will take care of us. Satan’s evil has no power over us when we are walking with the Lord. Verses 14-16 say:

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me, I will protect those who trust in my name. When thy call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

And one day, the angels will escort us into the glorious Presence of our Lord and Savior!

So whether we are saved from an accident, are cured from a disease, or leave this world to be with Jesus…

It’s a miracle either way!