Friday, October 30, 2015


I find it easy to walk out of God’s Kingdom into the kingdom of the world. How about you? With the powerful pull of God’s living Word, however, it becomes easier and easier to remain in His Kingdom. Perhaps we all should pray “Thy kingdom come” every day.


Great effect

We live in a country that requires humane treatment of those in jail. Such humane treatment, however, is not available to people in many countries, no matter what the crimes. During Jesus’ time on earth, many city prisons had horrible conditions. Prisoners were stripped, whipped and placed in leg irons. They had no heat in winter, no ventilation and no sanitation. Their wounds went untreated. Conditions were so deplorable that many prisoners begged to die or committed suicide. 

Enter Paul and Silas, imprisoned for speaking out about their faith in Christ. Imagine the worst conditions possible for them, to say nothing of the moans and groans and screams of their fellow prisoners. But they didn’t join in with the rest, in spite of their painful wounds. Instead, they began to pray and sing praises to God. The moans and groans and screams stopped. All the prisoners listened. Could they believe what they heard—praises and hymns in such a desolate, hopeless place?

The effect of Paul and Silas’s praises was enormous. “Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” (Acts 16: 26)

Not only were the prisoners freed, the jailer fell on his knees and received Christ as his Savior. He immediately whisked Paul and Silas away to his house, where he tended their wounds and was baptized, along with his family.

If this story sounds like an impossible fairy tale, be assured that God often causes the “impossible” to happen to those who keep an eternal perspective. We may be facing a different kind of prison, one which also can be painful and seem hopeless. Knowing our earthly life will end someday, however, we can rejoice in the promise of a much better life with Christ in heaven, if we belong to His kingdom.

Paul was imprisoned in numerous cities during his missionary travels. As miserable as his experiences were, he always used them as a pulpit to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. While imprisoned in one of them, he wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) His bold statement sums up the kind of life we Christians should be living. Too difficult? Not when we focus on God’s power. Paul also wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Lord, thank You for Your astounding power that affects our lives when we keep a continual perspective of the eternal. May we do so daily for Jesus’ sake, amen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


When I don’t keep my ears clean, they start to itch. Perhaps I need to keep my spiritual ears clean every day so they won’t itch for the unsound and distrustful noises that surround me. How about you?


Sensitive ears
While watching a brood of Canada geese one day, I noticed a straggler that didn't pay attention to the calls of its parents who were leading their youngsters out of danger. The recalcitrant straggler seemed not to hear, seemed even to ignore, Mom and Dad. Instead, it appeared to listen to another call—perhaps that of a delectable bug, the enticing gurgle of water, or the rustling grass. Its ears seemed to itch for sounds other than the warning voices of its parents. Clearly, trouble lay ahead for the little tyke unless it changed its course.

This example appears much like our own toddlers and teens, doesn’t it? But we adults, especially those of us who should know better, often turn our ears toward new, exciting sounds that may hold danger, even when our consciences tell us to listen only to what is good and true and beneficial.

Paul the Apostle warns believers that "…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Like the gosling, we too can be curious. Surrounded by so many voices today, our ears easily itch to hear some of them. We may read an article or book that draws us to its philosophy of a new, exciting lifestyle, one that can be harmful. We’re easily tempted to follow the bad habits of others because they've glamorized the effects.  We may hear a preacher or evangelist twist a biblical truth to fit the beliefs of his own choosing. We may pick and choose only the Biblical truths that satisfy our itching ears.

Sound doctrine is important in following God according to His will. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

We all need to ask Him for good judgment about what we hear, and seek His truth in the Bible every day. As the days dwindle toward the end of our lives, or of creation itself, it's important to be more vigilant than ever to keep our ears from itching for unsound doctrine.

Lord, thank You for the life-giving, sound truths of Your Word. Keep our ears sensitive to the truth as we are surrounded by the world’s deceptive myths and doctrines.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, October 12, 2015


One would think some people enjoy being stirred up by the troubles of others, or worse, by their own problems. Let’s face it, sometimes we all build mental mole hills into mountains without realizing it. doing so is an indication of focusing on the trouble instead of on God. We’ll never achieve inner peace when we insist on the wrong focus. Like a camera lens out of kilter, our perspective will mess us up every time. God would have us settled, not stirred up.



Glaciers are receding. Certain species of animals are disappearing. Earthquakes, floods and droughts are affecting the lives of millions across the globe.

Immorality, terror and political unrest are wreaking havoc in many countries, causing whole populations to flee their homes. Unsettling problems in our own country are bringing anger, paralyzing fear and hopelessness to many. This is all to say nothing about debilitating and terminal diseases that surround us.

So … where’s the hope? Can any one of us escape tragic events? We try, but often we use the wrong escape route. Some of us try by filling our lives with ineffectual and potentially harmful things such as mind-altering drugs, unhealthy food or mind-numbing pursuits. The habitual escapes of TV, games, books, movies and trips also may bring temporary happiness and relaxation. Eventually, however, we must face the tragedies and problems.

How we face them determines our outlook on life. When we obsess, we end up going around in circles of fear, anger and distrust. We may try to go beyond our range of thought through the emptying of our minds. We may try any of the above methods or we may struggle to fix things ourselves. But we can’t manufacture our own peace and joy.

When we decide to turn our negative feelings over to God, He will exchange them for His incomparable peace and joy. In fact, His Word promises that He will settle us. The word settle means to resolve a difficulty, make our home in a new place or become calmer and more comfortable. Abraham had faith to become settled in God. In fact, all who are faithful—full of faith in God—are settled in God.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength. For He brings down those who dwell on high ….” (Isaiah 17: 3-4)

We will have no peace within ourselves, others or God without faith in Him. All of our trying for it will fail. Many will claim they live in peace, yet anyone who has embraced total faith in God will say that no other kind of peace exists except His.

Lord, thank You for settling us in You. Keep our minds stayed on You rather than the unsettling, ineffectual ways we are tempted to use as escape from our problems. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


It’s said you can tell where a person’s heart resides by looking at their checkbook. Certainly one’s checkbook indicates where their focus is. Another indication could be with the company they keep. Or with their internet records. Or …. When Jesus has our heart, people know where to find us and with whom. Who has your heart?


The heart of the matter

My dad smoked from age 14 until his 70th birthday. He lived to be 95. My mom was 97 when she died. They took no vitamins, ate a diet typical of most Americans and exercised little. However, their hearts were healthy to the end, probably because of their genetic makeup. Yet we know that diet, exercise and living a stress-free life also can determine the health of our hearts.

We refer to the heart in ways other than the physical sense. We consider a kind person as good-hearted, big-hearted, or one who has a heart of gold. We learn we should follow our heart, have a change of heart or open our heart. We can lose heart, be sick at heart or broken-hearted. The long list of idioms about the heart indicates how much emphasis we place on the heart.

The Bible also has much to say about the heart. It can be sincere, trusting, willing, wise, steadfast and pure. It desires, rejoices, searches, believes and refreshes. It also can be evil, proud, wicked and deceitful. Our heart can despise, condemn, doubt, be as hard as stone, become confused and even die. It can grieve, yearn, be troubled and in turmoil.

Our spiritual heart needs to be healthy. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) When our hearts are clean of impurities and sin, we will be blessed with God’s presence. Instead, if we allow our heart to be filled with self-love and other sin, it will be spiritually weak, develop a thin covering and easily become shriveled. Such a heart will turn others away.

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) A heart like that of Jesus is strong. In His ministry on earth, He always saw past the outer veneer into the heart. As His followers, our hearts also must expand and throb for the love of God and neighbor.           

How can we be spiritually heart-healthy? “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Lord, thank You for Your heart of love. Help us, through Your Spirit, to develop clean, loving hearts for You and for those around us. In Jesus’ name, amen.