Who is This Jesus?

“. . .the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth”  John 1:14b

Ink wells run dry from all the words written about Jesus. Great scholars and theologians have spent their lives studying, not only the Scriptures, but scores of other ancient writings in the hopes of understanding Him.  Still, He is so much more, so much other, than mere words can describe. Thankfully we have the testimonies of those who walked closest to Him, we have His own words, and we have the pronouncement of the God of heaven and earth upon which to study and meditate.  That is more than enough for a life-long pursuit.  Even then, we’ll barely scratch the surface of who this Jesus really is.  I know I can’t do Him justice in a few hundred words, but I write this to whet your appetite to know Him more.

Matthew tells us He is “God with us” – “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23).  This is not a new concept.  God was with man in the Garden, in perfect communion until sin entered the picture.  He was with the Israelites in a cloud in the desert and in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later, the Temple.  But when Jesus came, He was “God-in-the-flesh with us,” walking among His people, touching them with hands they could feel, speaking words their own ears could hear, eating and drinking and laughing and crying as any other man.  Yet He was very much God, performing miracles and speaking with divine authority.  If we need any more proof of His God-ness, twice Matthew reports a voice from heaven saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (3:17; 17:5).  That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

Mark shows Him to be a King with uncommon power to drive out demons who recognized Him as “the Holy One of God” (1:24), to heal, to raise the dead, to give sight to the blind, to multiply a few loaves and fishes, and to calm the raging sea.  He also shows Him to be a King who endured uncommon suffering to rescue His people from the sentence of death.

Dr. Luke shines his spotlight on Jesus as the salvation of all people (2:32).  He wrote to give an ordered account of Jesus from reliable eye-witness testimonies.  Luke offers the most detailed version of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, and tradition holds that these were Mary’s own memories.   How incredible that we have the testimony of Jesus’ Father, and the recollections of His mother to confirm that this Jesus was fully God and fully man.

From his opening testimony – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1) – John most powerfully reveals Jesus as the Son of God, the One and Only, divine in nature and one with His Father.  John records Jesus’ “I AM” statements, a direct connection to God’s own self-revelation (Exodus 3:14), and His declaration:  “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9).  John also devotes half of his gospel to Jesus’ final week, His death, burial, resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. (John 12-21).

Paul said that He is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), and the writer of Hebrews said “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being’ (Hebrews 1:3).  Revelation shows Him to be the victorious conqueror over evil.

Many, many people have written many, many words trying to elaborate on these accounts.  Popular culture has tried to stretch the story of Jesus far beyond the Scriptures and a great many unbelievers have spilled much ink attempting to discredit and refute His Name. But there is only one place to find the truth about this Jesus. Everything you need to know about Him is recorded in the Bible.  He is present in every book from Genesis to Revelation.

We began this devotional by asking the question, “Who is this Jesus?”  But Jesus has a question for you: “Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15).  Is He “God with me?”  Is He your King?  Can you declare, “He is my salvation!”?  Do you recognize Him as the Son of God?  If not, I encourage you to take another look at the Jesus of the Bible.  He is all this and more—and if you believe in Him and confess His Name, He will be all this for you.  Grab your Bible and get to know the one who loves you enough to die for you.  His Name is Jesus.

Lord Jesus, if I could mine the depths of all the Bible I still would barely scratch the surface of who You are.  I want to know You as deeply and truly as I can this side of heaven—I rejoice in knowing I will have all of eternity to fill in the gaps.  Amen.

Image from https://pablorenauld.deviantart.com/art/Jesus-Christ-55567468.


Is the “Good Book” Really Any Good?

Know What You Believe; Believe What You Know: The Bible

“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” (2 Peter 1:16).

Oh, the B I B L E,

Yes, that’s the book for me,

I stand alone on the Word of God,

The B I B L E!

This little children’s chorus has been around since I was a girl.  I taught it to my son and to children in the preschool department for years as we shared stories of Creation, David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale, the fall of Jericho, Baby Jesus, the Cross and the Empty Tomb.   I loved learning and later telling those familiar stories and like all the other children, I believed them.  But come on you say, you’re an adult – isn’t it time stop believing in “stories?”

I suppose that’s a valid question, and it deserves a solid answer.

The truth is, I would stop believing if I thought they were only stories made up in the minds of men.  But I am confident in the authority of the Bible as the Word of God from the mind of God given to human authors through the Spirit of God.  That’s exactly what Peter says following up our key verse: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).  God wrote the words of Scripture through the pens of men like Moses, David, the Prophets, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and James.  David, in the last of his Psalms said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). It is so important to understand that the Bible is not man’s ideas, thoughts, opinions or views on what God has said – it is man as the scribe recording what God has said through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Many people view the Bible as a directive for how we are to live our lives.  Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  First, notice that Paul confirms the inspiration of Scripture as coming directly from God to man.  Secondly, notice that Paul said the Scriptures are useful for life-direction – but that is not the chief purpose of the Holy Writ.

Neil Lightfoot, in his study How We Got the Bible notes, “It was God’s purpose that by means of a written record he would be revealed to all ages and tongues as Creator and Redeemer.”[1]  God is all about relationship, about knowing and loving us and us knowing and loving Him.  Since the beginning God has been revealing Himself to His beloved creation.  He came to Adam and Eve in the Garden until sin broke that pure fellowship.  He revealed Himself in various ways to Noah and to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to Moses.  He revealed Himself through words given to His prophets.  And finally and perfectly, He revealed Himself through His Son, Jesus.  The Bible is a written testament to the reality of God the Creator and Redeemer of all that exists.  Over and over in Scripture God reveals His will, “That you may know Me.”

Consider this:  If God desires to reveal Himself to humankind, why would he allow men to include fantasy and fallacy in the written account of Himself? Archeological finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the accuracy of the Bible as we have it today in comparison to the most ancient manuscripts available.  Most modern translations have been painstakingly taken from the ancient Hebrew and Greek and research has proven that any changes from those manuscripts are minimal and do not affect the original message.

That said, I don’t hold to the authority and authenticity of the Bible because of these things.  They support my faith in the Bible, but they are not the reason I trust it.   I believe in the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God because it has changed my life.  It was there that I met Jesus and He turned this sinful woman into the daughter of the Most High God.  The Bible is so much more than a good book – as Moses declared, “They are not just idle words for you—they are your life (Deuteronomy 32:47).

Holy Father, thank You for all the ways You have revealed Yourself to human beings.  Thank You for inspiring men to records words that we can understand to make Yourself known.  Give me a holy passion to drink in the words of the Bible for as long as I live.  Amen.

[1] Neil R. Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible: Third Edition, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 2003), 23.

The Sword of the Spirit


“Take up  the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” (Ephesians 6:17).

Did you notice that Paul called the Word of God the “sword of the Spirit”? There’s a very good reason for that – it is the only offensive weapon in our Christian arsenal.   And it is enough because Satan runs from the holy power of God’s Word.  Hebrews 4:12 says “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword.” Revelation 1:12-16 describes the God-Man, Jesus Christ as He appears in John’s vision; verse 16 tells us “out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.” Even in the heavens, Jesus still uses the Sword of the Spirit to deliver justice.

So where do we get this sword, and how do we learn how to use it? Psalm 119:11 gives us the answer – “I have hidden your Word in my heart,”   Simply put, we memorize Scripture. Every verse, every passage, every promise and every truth adds to the weight and length and strength of your Sword. And the more you study the Word and meditate on it, the more adept you will be at using it. Is there a particular area of weakness or stronghold where Satan usually attacks? Look for Scripture that addresses that area. Read the verses aloud, write them on notecards and place them in areas like the kitchen, your desk, your bathroom mirror or bedside table. Get a journal and write the verses out, look up the words, consider how this verse applies to your life – these are all excellent “drills” to help you grow in knowledge and strength in the Word of the Lord.

Consider this, when Satan launches an attack against you, and all you know is John 3:16, (which is an awesome verse to know), you are trying to defeat the enemy with a pocketknife. But if you have been reading, studying, meditating and memorizing Scripture, when you reach into your heart where that Word has been stored and grab hold of those verses, you are going to pull out a SWORD that will send your enemy reeling and scrambling to get away. That’s how the child of God does battle with the enemy of our soul!


Big Little Words

reading-bible“Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

The little book of Philemon is one of those books in that Bible that I thought had no value for me – I mean it only covers one page and is just Paul’s personal letter to a friend about a slave.  Not as inspiring as the Psalms, not instructive like his letters to Timothy, not even about Jesus like the Gospels.  Until I saw it through fresh eyes and the Holy Spirit.  Philemon is the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ in 25 verses. 

Philemon was the owner of a slave named Onesimus, who desperately desired freedom from his bondage.  He did the only thing he could do and ran away from his master, and apparently stole from him as well.  Through God’s grace he connects with Paul who is in prison and who leads Onesimus to salvation in Christ.  Now he wants to make things right with his master, but fears the repercussions of his actions.  Paul intercedes for him, reminding Philemon that his former slave is now his brother in Christ.  Paul asks for Onesimus’ release so that he can serve with Paul.

The gospel says that you and I were slaves to sin and death, and though we desperately desired to be free, our best attempts only made our situation worse.  We are fearful of God, condemned because of our sinful human nature.  Then through God’s grace, Jesus finds us and offers us true freedom.  Now we can come to God without fear because Jesus has made things right between us and intercedes before the Father for us.

The heart of this book is also the heart of the Gospel: “If [Onesimus] has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me . . . I will pay it back” (v. 18, 19).  You and I have wronged God and we owe Him a debt we can never repay.  Jesus took our sin-debt and paid it with His own precious blood.  If you are in Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin and death.  You are free by God’s grace.  You are a child of God and a Christ is your brother.  There is power in every word of the Word of God.  Power to set you free.


Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

5867554“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!” Matthew 17:5

Facebook.  Instagram.  Twitter. Blogs. Articles.  Books.  Everyone has an opinion, and we all want to be heard.  Whether it’s politics, childrearing, fashion or religion, the world – and that includes you and me – is quick to share their thoughts on any given subject.  Some are more, shall we say prolific, than others (think Kardashian) and some only speak when it’s something they are passionate about.  Or maybe, we’re so busy doing all the talking we can’t hear what others have to say.  I’m a writer, so I’m as guilty as the next person.  The question is, in this sea of public opinion, whose opinion are we listening too?  Kim K’s?  The media’s?  The candidates’? Or our own?

Jesus took three disciples with Him to the mountain top to witness the extraordinary – His glory coupled with the appearance of Moses, who represented the Law, and Elijah, who represented the prophets.  Peter was so overcome with excitement that he started babbling his opinion – “Let’s make three booths, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4).  I have no doubt that James and John were nodding their heads in eager agreement.  They had the wisest of wise men and the very Son of God before them and the three disciples couldn’t hold their tongues long enough to hear what they had to say.  God had to shake them up – and shut them up.

When I was much younger and more naïve spiritually, I attended a weekly Bible study.  I cringe when I recall asking the teacher, “Do I really have to read the Bible? Can’t I just read books about the Bible? It’s too hard to understand.”  She was wise and patient in her answer: “Never take anyone else’s opinion for what God has to say but God Himself.”  That has stuck with me for thirty years and now, as a Bible teacher, I tell my classes the same thing.   Only God’s opinion matters.  What others have to say, no matter how profound they seem, whether it’s Billy Graham, Beth Moore, or Dorcas Beth Andrews – you take it to the Holy Word of Holy God and verify it against the Scriptures that were inspired by the Spirit of God.  That’s what the Berean church did and the Bible calls them people of “noble character, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Want to know what really matters in the cacophony of voices? You’ll find it between the pages of Genesis and Revelation.  God’s Word matters above every other voice.  Find out what He has to say to you.


When God Sees Me

Young woman looking at herself in the mirror

Young woman looking at herself in the mirror

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me’” (Genesis 16:13)

When you look at me through this blog what do you see?  Perhaps a Bible teacher or writer?  When my friends look at me they tell me they see a person who is determined to fulfill God’s call.  They also say they see someone who is friendly and helpful and dependable.

But when I look at myself in a mirror, I see a middle-age woman with graying hair (under the red hair dye), a weight problem, out of date clothes and a tired expression.  When I look at my heart, I see scars—lots of scars—some self-inflicted and some caused by others.  I see anxiety and a sense of unworthiness.  When I look at my spirit, I see hopes and dreams left scattered and unrealized.

But how does God see me?  Does He have the same image of me that I see of myself?  Let’s take a look through the Bible and see how God’s perspective is so vastly different from our own.

Abram whose name meant “exalted father,” saw himself as childless, but God saw Abraham as the “father of many”—in fact God saw him as the father of nations (Genesis 17:5).

Abram’s wife saw herself as a barren woman, but God saw her as the mother of the promise, through whom an entire nation would be born (Romans 9:8-9).

Jacob was known as a deceiver, a name he lived up to for many years; but God saw him as “Israel”—an overcomer (Genesis 32:28).

Joseph’s brothers saw him as arrogant and bratty, Daddy’s favorite son.  The Midianites saw him as a quick sale in the slave market.  Potiphar saw him as his slave, and Potiphar’s wife saw him as a temptation until he spurned her advances, then she saw him as a prisoner.  Pharaoh saw him as a wise and trusted official. But God saw him as the savior of Israel (Genesis 50:20).

Moses saw himself as a stuttering criminal on the lam, but God saw him as the deliverer of His people (Exodus 3:10).

Gideon saw himself as “the least in the weakest clan of Israel,” but God saw him as a “mighty warrior” (Judges 6:15, 12).

Ruth believed herself to be merely the caregiver of her mother-in-law, Naomi, but God saw her as the great-grandmother of the chosen king of Israel.

David’s father Jesse saw his son as the tender of the family’s sheep, but God saw him as the shepherd-king of His people.

Esther thought of herself as the wife of the king of Persia, but God saw her as the instrument through whom He would rescue the Jewish people.

Consider Peter, Andrew, James and John—just fishermen and Matthew—a tax collector and the others Jesus saw as His disciples, men who would turn the world upside down in just a few short years (Matthew 4:18-22, 9:9).

He saw paralyzed people as whole and walking, demonized people as souls at peace, sick people as healthy, dead people as alive.  He saw people once bound in sin as freed from their shackles to live as His followers.

The woman caught in adultery, who was seen through her sin, Jesus saw as forgiven and restored to a life of holiness (John 8:3-11).  Where the woman with issue of blood saw herself as ostracized and unclean, Jesus saw her as a “daughter” (Luke 8:48). Simon the Pharisee saw the woman washing Jesus’ feet as a “sinful woman,” Jesus saw her as a model of love born out of forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50). He saw Mary Magdalene, whom the whole town knew as a demon possessed woman as the first witness to His resurrection (John 20:10-18).

He saw Saul, the persecutor of His church as His “chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people Israel” (Acts 9:15).

The Roman Emperor Dominican saw the Apostle John as a criminal who deserved banishment, but Jesus saw John as the Revelator, who would receive his divine prophecy for the church (Revelation 1:11, 19).

So, to return to my question—how does God see me?—I believe the answer is found in these examples from His Word.  He sees me as forgiven, redeemed, and whole, set free and set apart.  Yes, He sees me with my scars, but He sees those scars as bridges as I reach out to other wounded souls.  He sees me as His servant and vessel, as His imperfect, but chosen mouthpiece in this generation.  But most precious to my heart, He sees me as His daughter.

My friend, God sees you and me far more clearly that we could ever see ourselves.  Who you are in the sight of others, or even in your own eyes, is not who you are in the sight of the God who created and redeemed you.   For those who are in Christ, He sees us as His children (1 John 3:1), with a purpose and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Where others see us through the mistakes we’ve made, God sees us with all the potential He placed in us from before we were born.  When we see ourselves through the worldly standards of beauty and success, God sees us through the beauty of His Son and His victory over death.  When we see ourselves as unworthy, hopeless, useless and unwanted He sees us as valuable, and desired, because He sees us through eyes of love and compassion.

How do others see you?  How do you see yourself?  When you consider those questions, always come back to this truth:  the God who created you sees you as so much more than you can ever imagine.  Ask Him to give you His perspective so you can live as the child of God that you are.

Holy Father, Your perspective is what really matters to me, because Your eyes only see what is true.  Give me a glimpse of who I am in Christ, so that I can cast aside every false image and live as the woman You created me to be. Amen.


Time to Grow Up

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”   2 Timothy 3:16-17

I’ve been in church pretty much all my life, from the “cradle roll” (who remembers that?) to being a Bible teacher today. Other than a short stint of youthful rebellion, church has been part of my life all my life. I was taught all the Bible stories, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, Baby Jesus and the Empty Tomb. As I got older I listened to my Sunday School teachers and Pastors tell me what the Bible said – and I took their word for it and went on my merry way. Until about ten years ago, when God began to stir something up in me – a deep thirst for His Word – and so began a journey that I will be on for the rest of my life, studying the Bible – for myself. Because, while my teachers and Pastors did their best, they couldn’t speak truth into my heart and life like the Word and the Spirit can.

Our key verse was the first Bible Drill verse I learned as a kid (who remembers that?). And it is a powerful word about the inspiration of the Scriptures, the whole counsel of the Word of God. The Bible is not a man-inspired construct, but is man-penned through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. It is truth, and it is true. I believe it is infallible, inerrant and as relevant today as the day the fresh ink hit the papyrus.

I couldn’t always say that though, or at least not with the same conviction, because I didn’t know the Bible well enough. I took what had been spoon-fed to me all my life and that was enough for me. Until it wasn’t. I was like the people in the book of Hebrews, who were still drinking milk and refusing to sink their teeth into the meat of truth. The writer says, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn” (Hebrews 5:11). From our contemporary perspective, that seems to imply a learning disability, but in the original Greek text, the word “slow” is translated “lazy and undisciplined.” That just took my breath. Read the verse and explanation again. They could not understand the deeper truths of the faith because they were lazy and undisciplined. Today we could say they spent more time watching T.V. and playing video games and Candy Crush Saga than attending to their souls. They went for the snooze button rather than the Scriptures every morning. Yes, we all need down time to give our brains and bodies rest, but have we gotten that out of balance? Don’t our spirits need to be refreshed as well, if not more so? Look at verse 14: “Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (emphasis mine). Ask any talented musician how they play so beautifully and they will tell you – constant practice. Ask a pro athlete how he became so good and he will tell you – constant training.   Do you want to be a more mature Christian? Get into a Spiritual training program –a Sunday School class, Bible study class or seek out a godly person to be your spiritual mentor. Put in the effort, and God will reward you with understanding and revelation and a deeper hunger than you ever imagined. Yes, understanding comes from the Spirit, but the Spirit ain’t gonna do all the work for you.

Let me show you one more thing I learned. As I said, I’ve heard this verse almost all my life, but I saw something very personal in it this morning. This is in the center of Paul’s charge to his young protégé Timothy, whom he has appointed as the Pastor and leader of the church in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). From 2 Timothy 3:10 through 4:5, Paul exhorts the young Pastor in his calling. The passages in our key verse are a personal word of advice and instruction to Timothy. And that is what God spoke to me today (note: I am using my given name Dorcas, because God uses that name to speak to me): “Dorcas, all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching you Dorcas, rebuking you Dorcas, correcting you Dorcas, and training you Dorcas in righteousness, so that you Dorcas may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This passage is not intended to be used to point to – or worse – point at others, especially non-Christians about the authority of the Bible. It is meant to be pointed at me. God is calling me to submit to the authority of His Word and to allow it to teach, rebuke, correct, train and equip me “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [me] to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Maybe you got that long ago, but it hit me with great force this morning.   As a Bible teacher, I tend to read the Scriptures searching for the lesson I am to present. I often forget God wants the lessons to apply to me first.  As important that it is to know the inspiration of God’s Word it is even more important for me to know its authority over my own life.

What does God’s Word mean to you? Is it light and life to you? Is the Bible your delight and hope? Come, dig into the rich treasure of the Scriptures as see how sweet it is. It’s there for tasting.

God of the Word, please stir in me a hunger and thirst for Your Word; that passion for the Scriptures will press me closer and closer to you. Amen.


Building a Wise Life

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt.”  James 1:5-6a

Google the word “wisdom” and you will get more than 50 million hits.  A quick check on a Bible website shows almost 400 times the Scriptures speak of wisdom or being wise.  A Christian book distribution website lists over 2,000 current resources that promote wisdom.   There is a lot being said about wisdom – so why are we still doing so many foolish things?   I offer two thoughts I believe hold some answers, and they both follow Jesus’ teaching found in Matthew 7:24-27.

This is the parable of the wise and foolish builders.  We all know that a sturdy house needs a strong and sure foundation.  You can use the best materials to construct the house, but without the foundation, the building is susceptible to the shifting ground beneath it.  My son, who works in electrical construction, tells me that there are two components to a building’s foundation: concrete reinforced with rebar.

Jesus said “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24). Likewise, He says, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (Matt. 7:26). Jesus is saying that there are two components to the wise life: His words – the whole of the Bible – combined with obedience. Together they become the sure foundation for the life of a Christian.

I love the Word of God.  It is my light and my life, my passion and my calling.  I study it all day long as a seminary student, and I teach the Bible in multiple weekly Bible study classes.  I am convinced to the marrow of my bones that the Bible is true, right and perfect, and is the complete revelation of the God of creation to man.  But I used to think if just studied the Bible enough, poured over it every day and memorized verses, I would be wise.  But for so long, I failed to put those words into practice in my life.  I wondered, how can I know so much Scripture and do the foolish things I do?  The Bible gives much wisdom about finances, yet I was always broke and drowning in debt.  God has volumes to say about relationships, but I did not have good relationships with my family, friends or co-workers.  The Scriptures are replete with constructive advice for avoiding sin, still I stayed in the sludge pit constantly.  Why?  Because, while I knew a lot of Bible verses, I wasn’t applying my life to what I knew.  I wasn’t following those Biblical principles for financial management or healthy relationships.  I didn’t look for the way out of temptation, but followed it straight into sin.  The words of Jesus – the Bible – is the rebar, and obedience is the cement in the wise Christian life.

Here again we look to James who says “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and . . . goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (James 1:23, 24, emphasis mine). You see, the Bible is the living, breathing, spoken Word of God, inspired by His own Spirit.  God does not speak merely to be heard, He speaks to be obeyed.  The first, and most important ingredient in the wise life is to hear the Word of the Lord – without it we have nothing to center our lives on; the second ingredient is obedience to the Word, otherwise we are just foolish people with our heads full of words that have no practical application to our lives.  Look at the other part of James’ teaching: “The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, emphasis mine).

That is the truth behind our key verse today.  If we ask God for wisdom, He will give us wisdom – generally through His Word.  But if we receive His wisdom and don’t put it into practice – because of doubt or our own desires, we will be “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6b). We will do foolish things, and our lives will fall with a great crash.  The Bible is very practical to our daily lives.  There is nothing we will encounter in life that the Bible does not address, either directly or implicitly.  There are “do’s and do not’s” and there are teachings that guide us in the best way to live.  But they will just be words on a page to us unless we walk in obedience and submission to the God who created us and who loves us.

Is there a particular area of defeat in your life?  Look up Scriptures that address that area and ask God to help you put those words into practice.  Read and study the Word of God every day and consider how to bring your life in line with what He says.  You may need to make some changes and choices, but the blessings that come from walking in God’s truth are enormous.  Build a wise life on the Word of God and obedience to Him.  Then when “the rain comes down, and the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against your house, it will not fall, because it has its foundation on the rock” (Matt. 7:25b, adaptions mine).

Holy Father, please give me wisdom from Your Word, and help me to put it into practice every day.  Storm clouds are building over the sea Lord; I need Your strong and sure foundation.  Amen.


Deeper Roots

“The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time, when trouble or persecution come because of the word, he quickly falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21
My mom always had the most beautiful flower beds in the neighborhood. Early mornings and evenings would find her tending her buds and blossoms and pulling up weeds. I don’t remember her ever purchasing flowers to plant in her beds, she always grew hers from seeds and bulbs. She knew just where to plant and how to water and tend the seeds until those tiny green shoots began to push their way through the soil. Mom had gladiolas, four-o-clocks, daylilies, zinnias, cosmos, daisies, marigolds, and more. I admired her talent so much, so when I moved into my own home, I decided to plant a flower garden. Let’s just say, I did not inherit my mom’s green thumb. My seeds barely sprouted, and what came up was thin and scraggly and quickly withered and died. When she came to my house, she took one look at my garden and said “You didn’t give them room to put down roots.” I had tried to make a flower garden in gravely, sandy soil. The plants sprouted where they could in the coarse soil, but didn’t have a strong root system to anchor them and draw nourishment from the ground. What came up wasn’t healthy and didn’t last long because there were no roots.
The same principle applies to our Christian faith, which is what Jesus is describing in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13:1-23. A farmer in those days would walk through his garden spot and broadcast seed by hand. Jesus describes seed that falls on the path that has been packed hard by many feet as those who do not receive the message of the gospel because their hearts are hard and Satan takes that seed away. Other seed find the soil, but are choked out by weeds, meaning the message of Christ is lost amid the cares and materialism of this world.
The seed that falls on the rocky soil are those who receive the message, but like my flower seeds cannot put down good roots. These are people who give up on their faith and the church at the first sign of any discomfort or struggle. They do not sink their roots in the rich soil of God’s Word, they don’t establish the habit of prayer and are often too distracted by the world to regularly attend church. They do not have strong roots. The seed that is planted into the good, healthy soil is the one who receives the gospel with an open and humble heart, who believes the message of Christ and sinks his roots down deeply into God’s Word, who seeks Him every day in prayer and who spreads his roots outward in fellowship with other believers.
Trees are a perfect example. I live in Florida, a state very prone to tropical weather systems. Walking the neighborhood after a hurricane is a real-life illustration of the importance of one’s roots. Trees with deep roots, such as oaks and nut trees are usually able to withstand the storm’s high winds, but shallow rooted trees such as maples, poplars, cottonwoods and willows will frequently be toppled by the strong winds, thrown aside with their shallow roots exposed. Trees with shallow roots draw from surface moisture, but trees that seek out water deep underground have deep, strong roots that anchor them firmly into the ground.
In case you haven’t noticed, storms happen in life. You and I will face strong, howling winds and pounding rain in the form of health problems, financial struggles, job loss, difficult relationships, depression, and on and on. If I have a shallow relationship with God, if I am being nurtured by the world, I will not be able to endure these storms. But if you have invested time in Bible study, prayer and fellowship, searching for the deeper things of God, your roots have grown deep and strong, and though you may sway and bend in the wind, when the storm passes- and the storm always passes – you will still be standing.
When God called me to write this devotional blog, He gave me the title: “Deeper Roots,” and that is the heart is my ministry, to help others develop roots that are secured deep in the rich soil of God’s Word and nourished by His truth and His character. What threatens your life? What storm rages around you? Are you anchored deep in the Word? Are you securely rooted in prayer? Are you being nurtured in the Christian fellowship of the church? Will your roots hold? If you are grounded firmly in God, in His Word and in His love, you are standing strong.
Holy Father, this life sends storms that threaten to knock us down. Help us, Lord, to put our trust in You and let out roots grow strong in Your Word and Your love. Give us deeper roots God. Amen.


The Battle is On!

“I have hidden your Word in my heart,” Psalm 119:11

When Satan comes to pick a fight, you’d better have something bigger than a pocketknife in your hand.

Spiritual warfare. Not a phrase that makes us all warm and fuzzy, but we need to realize that spiritual warfare is very real, and as the end draws nearer, the battles will become more fierce. We have a cartoon image of the devil – red long-johns, a tail, horns and a pitchfork. We joke around that “the devil made me do it,” and we expect to flick him off our shoulder like a pesky fly. Dear friend, you and I need to wise up. We need to know that the devil is real, that he is powerful, and he hates us because God loves us. And we need to know how to fight him. Because whether you signed up or not; if you are a child of God, Satan has declared war on you.

If that thought makes you want to run and hide, let me assure you – the Lord God has not left you defenseless. First He has promised His presence to protect us, Isaiah 52:12 says “The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” The Lord is both before you and behind you. The enemy will encounter Jehovah Gibbor Milchamah – the Lord Mighty in Battle, before he can reach you. And he cannot launch a surprise attack from behind, for he cannot get past Elohim Tsebaoth – God of the Angel Armies.

He has also provided us with His own mighty armor, found in Ephesians 6:13-17. “The belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…feet fitted with the readiness that comes with the gospel of peace…the shield of faith…the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” We are going to study closely each piece of the Armor of God over the coming weeks, but today we are going to look at “the sword of the Spirit.” In the Sword of the Spirit, He has given you and me the weapon that causes Satan to tremble-the Holy and Mighty Word of the Living God. It was Jesus’ own weapon of choice when Satan came to tempt Him in the wilderness-every offer the devil threw at Him, Jesus countered with Scripture.

Did you notice that Paul called the Word of God the “sword of the Spirit”? Let’s see another passage that uses the same image. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword.” Want an even stronger picture? Revelation 1:12-16 describes the God-Man, Jesus Christ as He appears in John’s vision; verse 16 tells us “out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.” Even in the heavens, Jesus still uses the Sword of the Spirit to deliver justice.

So where do we get this sword, and how do we learn how to use it? Our key verse gives us the answer – we hide God’s Word in our heart. Simply put, we memorize Scripture. Every verse, every passage, every promise and every truth adds to the weight and length and strength of your Sword. And the more you study the Word and meditate on it, the more adept you will be at using it. Is there a particular area of weakness or stronghold where Satan usually attacks? Look for Scripture that addresses that area. Read the verses aloud, write them on notecards and place them in areas like the kitchen, your desk, your bathroom mirror or bedside table. Get a journal and write the verses out, look up the words, consider how this verse applies to your life – these are all excellent “drills” to help you grow in knowledge and strength in the Word of the Lord.

Consider this, when Satan launches an attack against you, and all you know is John 3:16, (which is an awesome verse to know), you are trying to defeat the enemy with a pocketknife. But if you have been reading, studying, meditating and memorizing Scripture, when you reach into your heart where that Word has been stored and grab hold of those verses, you are going to pull out a SWORD that will send your enemy reeling and scrambling to get away. That’s how the child of God does battle with the enemy of our soul.

Dear friend, we cannot pretend that the battle does not exist, lest we do so at our own peril. Our enemy is very real, he is powerful and he is on the prowl. But you and I have the presence of God, the power of the blood of Christ, and the perfect Word of the Lord God Almighty. It is time to take up the armor of God, grab your Sword, and stand on the Name of Jesus and the Word of God. How about making this verse your starting point: “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


Mighty God, the enemy is real, the battle is real. But You have given me Your Armor and Your promise to stand with me against my foe. Make me strong in Your Word and in Your mighty Spirit. Amen.