Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We show God’s love not only through our actions but through our voices as well. For some people, the only words they hear from God are through us. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it—through our words of comfort, love, and praise to Him.


The Voice

After many weeks, Americans voted for their favorite singer on the popular TV show, The Voice. How could the voters choose from such a host of worthy singers? They likely voted not only on their voices, but on the way they dressed and moved, and on their life stories. Some came from difficult circumstances and wanted to prove their talent to everyone, or to start a new career. Others wanted to win enough money to help their families.

Their singing styles and voices differed greatly, as did their choice of songs—from pop to rock, classical to country. All sounded good, and no doubt many of the losers gained a large enough following to advance their singing aspirations.

We all are faced with other types of voices that beckon us. We “vote” for favorite hair styles, clothing fads, and home décor. We tend to try new foods, endorse new politicians, and follow new religious fads. In fact, every day brings something or someone new that draws us to follow. Like those who listened to the singers on the TV competition, we also vote on someone or something that looks, sounds, or acts differently.

Voices clamor for our attention until sometimes we don’t know how to respond, how to vote. If we’re bored, disillusioned, or anxious about our present situation, it becomes easy to listen to other voices—voices that try to make us believe our lives will improve, become easier, or bring more fun and satisfaction.

God’s voice, however, is trustworthy. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own … and I lay down My life for the sheep. Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice ….” (John 10:14-16)

In these verses, Jesus refers to you and me. After the Jewish leaders rejected Him, He told them He accepted the Gentiles into His sheepfold. As our Shepherd, Jesus guides us through His voice. He gives us safety, tends to our needs, and loves us as His own. As His sheep, we obediently follow His perfect path, listening to His voice—His perfect voice of love—so we can dwell with Him.

Many voices call to us, tempt us to stray from His path. Only when we listen to Him through His Word and Spirit will we find inner peace, joy, and rest.

Lord, instill in us a compelling desire to hear Your voice clearly—even when other voices clamor to overpower us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Forgiving someone for a hurt they’ve caused can be unbearably hard—even for Christians. Only God can give us the grace, the strength, the will to make such a choice to forgive. Only by forgiving can we receive His peace and joy and inner healing. 


National Forgiveness Day

The doe sauntered along my row of Coral Bells, taking a bite out of every one. From there she walked over to my one fenceless garden and sampled every newly-planted tomato plant. And that’s after I had been told deer don’t have a taste for them.

How could I forgive those doggone pests? Not to mention the slugs that determined to rob me of many other leaves, shoots, and roots.

I say this with tongue in cheek, for I realize wild animals couldn’t give a hoot or bark or grrr about my feelings. They’re only doing what they’re meant to do—eat whatever is available and tastes good.

Forgiveness, rather, has everything to do with wrongs done by other people. (Don’t tell that to cat owners whose pets have permanently spoiled their best rugs, however.) Unfortunately, too many people find it impossible to forgive others for their wrongs. Some say they’ll give a person one chance. After that, they’ll not forgive. Others say they’ll forgive anything a person does except ___. (You fill in the blank.) 

Percy Shelley, a poet of the 1800s, called some wrongs “darker than death or night.” When we hear about the terrible acts of violence, we can certainly agree with his description. Many such acts are beyond a human’s ability to forgive.

Enter Jesus Christ, who not only forgives even the worst sinner, but who gives us the ability, desire, and power to forgive.

June 23rd is National Forgiveness Day, promoted by the Center of Awesome Love, an education center in Fremont, Ohio. They call forgiveness “a gift of health” that “sets us free to receive love, happiness, joy and peace.” Forgiveness is promoted not only by the Christian churches but by mental health workers. They know that failure to forgive can lead to frustration, pent-up anger, and bitterness which can result in all kinds of health issues—physical, mental, and spiritual.

Settling our unresolved issues can be difficult. But the rewards are many. By asking ourselves why our feelings are hurt and then working to restore our relationship with the person involved, we can learn to forgive them—even when it’s not deserved.

The hard truth is that if we choose to follow Christ, we must forgive. “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26)

Lord, give us the will and strength to forgive our fellow man as You forgave us even though we didn’t deserve it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


When it comes to the Lord raining blessings on us, do we ask Him for torrents? Or trickles? He is always eager to give us abundant blessings—so we in return can give to others from the abundance in our hearts.


The Floods of Spring

On my way home from western North Dakota recently, I encountered many flooded fields because of heavy snowfalls and recent rains. Other parts of the country have experienced flooding, too. The little Yukon River town of Galena, Alaska, for instance, was going through a flood as I wrote this, due to a huge ice dam.

Ask anyone who has experienced a flooded basement, house, property, or road and they’ll say there’s no value in floods. Wouldn’t it be nice if rains always came in gentle amounts, just enough to water the earth? Wishful thinking, indeed. In real life, it rains too much at a time or too little. At least, it seems that way.

We may get tired of dodging the drops and facing yet another day of gray skies, but we can be thankful for the rain we receive. Whether it comes to us in trickles or torrents, rain is necessary and cause for celebration.

Rain is often used as a metaphor. We don’t want anyone to rain on our parade, meaning we don’t want to be stopped from having fun. When we get impatient for something to happen, we do a rain dance. Conversely, when we decide to postpone something, we’ll take a rain check. And speaking of checks, we know the value of saving money for a rainy day.

The Bible speaks of rain both literally and metaphorically. Abraham and Lot saw fire and brimstone rain down on the city of Sodom. When the Israelites complained about lack of food, God said He would “rain bread from heaven for you.” The prophet Hosea called people to repent so God’s blessings would be restored. “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)

The entire Old Testament points to Christ, whose righteousness covers our sin. He is the only way we can become free from the damning bondage of sin. A popular, Christian song says, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. Like a flood His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.”

With the coming of Christ and His death and resurrection, we are free to believe in His merciful gift of eternal life. We can choose to be free from the slavery of sin. 

Lord, thank You for Your mercy that rains down on us like a flood and reigns in our hearts. Help us love You in return by loving others. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Monday, June 3, 2013


There’s something about bubbles. Whether they’re as large as a beach ball or small as a pinhead, they can bring a smile. The joy of the Lord is like a gigantic bubble that can break through the rains of life we face—when we allow it. Let’s not hinder God’s joy in Christ to rise up in us. Others need to see Christ in us.


Bubbles of joy

During a walk along a gravel road one time, I saw the frost coming out of the ground. In a low spot, bubbles appeared through tiny holes in the gravel. Some came to the surface one at a time, slowly growing in size until they burst. Others flowed upward like frothy egg whites, piling on top of each other as if to escape the cold frost beneath them.

What a joy to behold! The surprising sight was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The bubbles reminded me of some new believers in Christ, whose hearts were hard as frost until they accepted Him into their lives and then burst forth in bubbles of joy. Many people testify to having been frozen in bitterness, anger, or other crippling strongholds and then turning to the only One who is able to thaw their hearts. Made new, they become so joy-filled that they are compelled to share their happiness with others.

In the far north, frost never does reach the surface of the ground. Some hearts are like permafrost, so hard that nothing can penetrate the darkness. They miss the joy that God offers them, staying frozen in bitterness and anger. They aren’t willing to break through the darkness of sin and choose to allow God’s joy to bubble forth in their lives.

Believing in God is a matter of choice. Right behind faith, joy is waiting on the surface ready to bubble through our whole being. If we think of all the happy moments we've experienced, the greatest moments in our lives, they can't begin to compare to that of choosing Christ as our Savior and Lord. "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Furthermore, Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) Joy that comes from new life in Christ begins as a bubble that bursts forth as a river hard to contain.

Lord, we gladly choose to accept Your thawing love and grace so we can experience that inexpressible and glorious joy You desire for us. We humbly ask this in the Name of Jesus, who gives abounding joy. Amen.