Monday, August 31, 2015


Focus is the key to getting things done successfully. Why does it take some of us so long to learn that lesson? Jesus makes it clear that when we focus on Him, on His kingdom and His righteousness, we don’t have to worry about leaving things undone. He will see to it we accomplish what’s most important.


A productive day

A recent article listed things that contribute toward daily productivity. The article touts the health value of starting the day with exercise, a glass of lemon water and a good breakfast—all of which increase our energy.

Besides setting daily goals, we’re advised to perform the hardest, most disagreeable tasks first, when our energy level is at its peak. If we save our worst jobs until later, we may end up avoiding  them or struggling to finish them.  

From experience, I know that goal-setting keeps me from multi-tasking, a habit many of us should avoid. In fact, a neuroscience professor at MIT discovered that our brain is not designed to focus on more than one task at a time. For instance, driving and texting can lead to disaster on the road. We can learn, however, to change our focus with lightning speed when necessary. We can learn to combine reading and watching TV, but we’ll end up with diminished concentration—and limited productivity.

 We’re wise to focus first on the most important task of the day, forgetting about the secondary items until later. But is that possible for a mother of two toddlers? For a soldier in the heat of battle? A supervisor responsible for dozens of employees?

When we find ourselves overwhelmed with too many things to do, our minds tend to go into worry mode. Worry, after all, equals stress which equals frayed emotions which equals less productivity.

God has given us the ability to adapt to sudden change. He has also given us the means to do so with optimum results. He knows the problems we face, our need for quick adaptability. Jesus knew how tough life was for the grape growers and the shepherds and the fishermen. When He spoke to the multitudes from a hillside, He addressed their concerns.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? … But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25, 33-34)

Thank You, Lord, for caring about us even more than You care about the birds of the air and lilies of the field that You also value. We trust in Your provision daily. We say goodbye to our worries and hello to a more productive day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Let’s face it; we can’t go through life without someone or something guiding us. It may be the position of the stars, or the superstitions we heard as youngsters. None can lead us to God’s salvation and eternal home with Him.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES            by Sally Bair

Our guide

I once took a trip through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Our guide, an experienced, young outdoorsman, led ten of us across lakes and portages in Minnesota and Canada. We trusted him to keep us from losing our way. His experience, skill and knowledge got us safely to our destination and back.

Another time, I hiked with some friends to a northern Wisconsin waterfall. The leader hadn’t walked our trail for over 20 years. The woods had changed so much, it didn’t take long before he began to lead us in circles. We became lost for hours. His intentions were good, but he lacked the updated knowledge necessary to find the waterfall he had visited as a youngster. 

We all need guidance as we decide what to do and how to do it. Parents, teachers, spouses, pastors and others all contribute toward our mature decisions. Trouble is, we sometimes choose the wrong guide.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is our best guide for traveling our life path. As His “sheep,” we are promised a full life of peace and joy, among many other blessings. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And 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)

Jews and Gentiles alike can be part of His flock, but we’re required to recognize His voice. We must be able to distinguish His from other voices. The only way to discern a counterfeit is to know the original personally. However, we may decide to follow someone who focuses only on God’s love and grace but says nothing about His holiness and justice. Or we may listen to a guide who tells us that eternal life with God is received by our good works alone. Many other counterfeit, spiritual guides exist, all of whom we must avoid.

When we follow our Guide, Jesus, we know there are certain things we must do. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and our neighbor as ourselves. God will guide us through His Word. When we meditate on it daily, we can’t help but recognize His voice as the one to follow.

Lord, thank You for being our Good Shepherd who guides us. Help us focus on You and Your Word so we can hear Your voice above all others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


How easy it is to get off our spiritual track! Good intentions often mean just that, nothing more. Oh Lord, that we would hunger after You enough to make the time for intimate communion with You every day without fail. You are, after all, our sustenance.


Good Intentions
One summer stood out in memory as the busiest and most fun ever. I put in several new perennial gardens, had lots of company, and did lots of traveling. I worked hard and played hard and enjoyed every bit of it.

The trouble is, I was just too busy for God. Oh, there’s nothing wrong in working hard and playing hard. But when I go for days hardly thinking about God, it ends up being a spiritual loss for me. A casual “thank you, Lord,” or a ten-word “arrow prayer” sent to God for a quick blessing or a need fulfilled, were not enough to sustain my Christian spirit. I felt deep regret for my lack of attention to God’s Word and His presence that summer.

I should have heeded the commands from the Bible, including Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly ….” And that requires quality time with God, time I had failed to invest in. But from experience, I know that nothing compares with getting to know Christ more intimately and hearing His voice while in a quiet, private place.

Christ commands His followers to have an intentional relationship with Him. Sort of like a married couple making time together without distractions so they can truly share their most intimate thoughts and concerns. Some couples set specific dates and times for that purpose. Some spend a specific slot of time each day just to reconnect.

If we were to say to a friend, “Let’s get together sometime,” it wouldn’t happen unless a specific time were set. Psalm 1 speaks about the man who is blessed because “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”  Good, two-way communication includes both prayer and listening. We can thank Him, praise Him, confess our sins and pray for our needs and the needs of others. We can even grouse and complain to God, as David did in the psalms. But we also need to listen—meditate—chew on His Word—hear His still, quiet voice. When we truly desire to hear from God, we will be drawn to His Word and presence every day, no matter how busy we are.

Lord, thank You for promising never to leave us or forsake us. We miss You when we let ourselves get too busy for Your Word and presence. Make us so hungry for You that we can hardly wait to make a date with You each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Dangers of every kind surround us daily—dangers to our health, our mind, and spirit. God warns that we must be ever aware of them so we can prevent the subtle seductions that the world places at our feet and in our minds and hearts.


Who are our predators?

I heard a chorus of coyotes one morning, in broad daylight, just as I was about to start my daily walk. While traveling the country road that day, I searched for coyote tracks and found several, as well as the tracks of man and dog. The coyote prints traveled helter-skelter along one side of the road, while Man and Dog’s tracks followed a tidy, straight line on the other side. My head swung back and forth as I constantly searched the edge of the nearby woods and fields for unwelcome foes. I reminded myself of an owl with its head shifting from side to side while looking for prey.

While walking ahead, I kept my mind going faster in prayer than my feet were going. Although imminent danger seemed unlikely, I did not want to meet the pack of coyotes. So I prayed that God’s Spirit would give me supernatural discernment regarding the what and wherefore of danger.

I believe the Holy Spirit anoints us—that is, fills us with supernatural knowledge in times of danger. He not only fills our minds, but our eyes, ears, and other senses. We’ve probably all heard of or read stories about people who have been given special insight in times of imminent danger. Some have smelled danger. Others have actually seen evil things unseen by others. Noises unheard by other people have brought some people the distinct sense of harm.

This is not hokey. Evil spirits surround us, intent on stealing our health, our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Other dangers also appear deceptively harmless. Jesus often reminded His followers to beware of certain dangers regarding their faith. So did Paul in his New Testament letters.

We’re warned not to be taken in by philosophies inconsistent with Christ’s teachings. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, Who is the head of all principality and power.”  (Colossians 2:8-9) 

Lord, help us to be watchful always, not only of obvious evil from both four-legged and two-legged creatures, but also of deceptive teachings that can erode our faith in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Let no one persuade you otherwise, Jesus is the Living Water without whom we have no real life.


Needed rain
The raspberry crop in my neighbor’s garden started strong. Big, juicy, sweet berries filled my gallon pails. Then the lack of rain almost brought the crop to an end, the berries turning smaller, harder, and less abundant. Other varieties of berries are also suffering from dryness. I picture them crying out for moisture, panting like thirsty dogs. We would too if we went without daily drinks of water, our most needed substance for life.

We also need the Living Water of Christ to keep us spiritually hydrated and fruitful. Jesus asked a woman at a well in Samaria one day for a drink of water. He explained to her that anyone drinking of the well water would thirst again. However, He told her “ … whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14)

The woman had drunk of the waters of unclean living. When she discovered the Living Water, she couldn’t wait to tell everyone in her town about Jesus, the Source. Some of us also turn to other sources of “water” such as alcohol, drugs, even busyness, to quench the thirst in our soul. But eventually our faith will wither and our Christian service sour. When we neglect our daily drinks for our spirit, we can become as dry and shriveled as a drought-damaged berry, without substance and sweetness.       

Like the dry berries, our very bones can become brittle. The prophet Ezekiel, by the Holy Spirit’s power, witnessed a vision of a valley of dry bones that represented the Israelites who had resorted to worshiping false gods. Their rebellion, evil acts, and idolatry caused God to turn away from them until they died on the vine, so to speak, drier and more shriveled than raspberries.

But God, in His infinite patience, breathed life back into them just as He had promised. (See Ezekiel 37) He will breathe life back into our thirsty souls, too, when we ask.

Lord, thank You for being our breath and our living water. Revive us, that we may bear the sweet fruit of Your Spirit and that we may glorify You. Bless our daily meditation on Your Word and our fellowship with other believers to help us along in our spiritual walk with You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.