Sunday, January 31, 2016


1 Corinthians 15:58b

...nothing we ever do for the Lord is useless. (NLT)

...your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose]. (Amplified)

...our work in the Lord is never wasted. (ERV) the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)

...nothing you do for him is ever lost or ever wasted. (J B Phillips)

...your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (KJV)

...nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. (The Message)

...your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (NASB)

...your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (NIV)

...all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God. (The Voice)

There you have it – today's word.

Who needs to hear this besides me?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Psalm 139

Is it time for us to read Psalm 139 again.

Do we need reminding of some basic truths & concepts?

Do we need encouragement?

Do we need some warm & beautiful concepts to touch us in our deep & hurting place?

Psalm 139

1 O LORD, you have examined my heart
  and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
  You know my thoughts even when I'm far away.
3 You see me when I travel
  and when I rest at home.
  You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
  even before I say it, LORD.
5 You both precede and follow me.
  You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
  too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

  I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
  if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
  if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
  and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
  and the light around me to become night—
12   but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
  Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

  and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
  as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
  before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,* O God.

  They cannot be numbered!
18 I can't even count them;
  they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
  you are still with me!

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

  test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
  and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Friday, January 29, 2016

words of encouragement

Peter is writing from Rome to the followers of Jesus who were in the general are of what we know today as Turkey.

These last few verses of chapter 5 are a kind of final instructions of Peter at the close of his letter.

These are not only pertinent words for those folks back then, but a good word for us today.

In these 5 verses are some of the verses I feel like God has given me to hold on to during 2016 – I've underlined them.

The lead verse, or the primary verse for 2016 seems to be verse 7.

Verse 8 feels a little prophetic, like there's gonna be some attacks this year, so I need to be on the lookout for them.

(it feels like we've been under attack since we moved here in 2010.)

Then there seems to be some reassurance in verse 10.

Verse 12 holds 4 words that pop up occasionally in my life & reading of the Bible ever since the end of December, 2009.

No matter what happens” seems to be 4 words God has been using with me since then to prop my weak faith & fearful nature.

Anyway, these are not just words that apply to me, but words that apply to all of us.

Let them soak in, especially verse 7 – they are good to hold on to.

1 Peter 5

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God,

and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

  8 Stay alert! Watch out for attacks from the devil, your great enemy.

He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

9 Stand firm against him,

and be strong in your faith.

Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

  10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus.

So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you,

and he will place you on a firm foundation.

11 All power to him forever! Amen.

12 I have written and sent this short letter to you with the help of Silas, whom I commend to you as a faithful brother.

My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you, no matter what happens.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

what if we REALLY believed this?

What would our lives be like if we REALLY believed the basic idea that Jesus is talking about here...

...that God is gonna take care of us.

Matthew 6

19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth,

where moths eat them and rust destroys them,

and where thieves break in and steal.

20 Store your treasures in heaven,

where moths and rust cannot destroy,

and thieves do not break in and steal.

21 Wherever your treasure is,

there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.

When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.

23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

  24 "No one can serve two masters.

For you will hate one and love the other;

you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and money.

  25 "That is why I tell you don't worry about everyday life...

whether you have enough food and drink,

or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.

And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?

27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

  28 "And why worry about your clothing?

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow,

he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  31 "So don't worry about these things, saying,

'What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?'

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,

but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,

and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.

  34 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

worries & cares

Do things feel like life is a train wreck?

Does it feel like if it's not one thing, it's another?

Is life just a little too overwhelming?

Are there things, situations, people, or jobs that cause a deep, deep worry?

Does life feel more than just a little nuts?

Maybe this verse addresses some of that for anyone who feel besieged by life, overwhelmed by circumstances, or worried sick.

Maybe we each should take these words of Jesus seriously & depend on the truth He speaks here.

Maybe this is a verse than can give us something to hold on to, an anchor in a time of storm.

Now we have a choice here...

We can continue to carry our worries & cares, figuring that noe one else is help us.

Or we can choose to believe what Jesus says about what we can do in regards to the crazy things in our lives.

John 16:33b

Here on earth you will have many trials & sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world. (NLT)

In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world! (ERV)

In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] (Amplified)

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (ESV)

You will find trouble in the world—but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world! (J B Phillips)

In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. (The Message)

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (NASB)

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (NIV)

In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order. (The Voice)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

last minute words

Jesus is speaking to his disciples.

It's Thursday night of Holy Week.

Jesus knows Judas is going to betray him in a few hours,

& then Jesus will be arrested,

setting into motion the whole purpose for which Jesus came.

He & the remaining disciples are walking from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane.

I'm sure as they walk toward the garden, Jesus would stop & talk to them.

Since Jesus knew He is about to die, He's probably trying to share as much as He can in the time remaining.

And here He makes a big statement about the connectivity with God that they are fixin' to have.

Read this slowly, more than once.

There's a WHOLE LOT of stuff in these 17 verses.

John 15

1 "I am the true grapevine,

and my Father is the gardener.

2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit,

and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in me,

and I will remain in you.

For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine,

and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

  5 "Yes, I am the vine;

you are the branches.

Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.

For apart from me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.

Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you,

you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.

This brings great glory to my Father.

9 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.

Remain in my love.

10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love,

just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love.

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.

Yes, your joy will overflow!

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves.

Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

16 You didn't choose me.

I chose you.

I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit,

so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

17 This is my command:

Love each other.

Monday, January 25, 2016

one way

John 14

6 Jesus told (Thomas),

"I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one can come to the Father except through me.

7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.

From now on, you do know him and have seen him!"

  8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied."

  9 Jesus replied, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don't know who I am?

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!

So why are you asking me to show him to you?

10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?

The words I speak are not my own,

but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.

11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.

Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

There are many in the world who say that all roads lead to God.

iow, no matter which religion we choose, we each are led to the same God.

I think what Jesus said in verse 6 poked some serious holes in that thinking.

Some may dub that interpretation of that verse as being narrowminded.

Well, what He said, He said.

I don't know how we can get around it.

No one comes to the Father but through me” makes the possibilities of connecting with God pretty singular in how it's accomplished.

It makes it pretty simple.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

and Christians, in a word, are...

John 13

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment:

Love each other.

Just as I have loved you,

you should love each other.

35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

(this is Jesus speaking to His disciples a few hours before he was betrayed & arrested.)

Want an eye opening experience?

Google “what do people think of Christians”.

Or “what is a word people associate with Christians”.

Or something like that.

Here's a word associated with Christians today...


And in our pop culture world, a lot of the time I think that's pretty accurate.

In the years that I've been a follower of Jesus (almost 50 years now) I always thought that we were supposed to be about one word...


We were supposed to love

when we didn't feel like it,

when we didn't actually like the people we were loving,

when no one else would.

Love defined us.

To love God & love others was the whole purpose to life, in a nutshell.

But our “street cred” has decayed to something else...

we're seen as just plain mean people.

What can we do about it?

Well, don't develop a program for it!

Don't write a New York Times best seller about it!

Don't go on all the talk shows & gab about it.

And certainly don't dump a lot of stuff about it on social media!!!

What should we do then?

Ask God to channel His love through us.

Ask God to help us see the people around us like He sees them.

And then start channeling God's love to the people all around us.

And not just love in general.

Love the people around us individually.

Our job is to love - not to convict, or to judge.

Love is how people will know we follow Jesus.

The only way our pop culture will start to think of us as people who love is if we actually spend the overwhelming bulk of our time loving the people around us.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do. Proverb 4:23

We live in a world where “anything goes”.

The only thing that doesn't “go” is to ever say or imply that not everything or anything “goes”.

It's kinda odd that that is part of the paradigm – do you sense the irony in that?

It's like saying “there are no absolutes” - but that “there are not absolutes” is an absolute.

Anyway, we live in a world that is a gajillion times more sin soaked that when I was a kid. (& yes, I can remember that far back!!!)

Advertising, politicians, special interest groups, new or radicalized religions, and dozens & dozens of other influences bombard & assault us from every turn.

Think not?

Try this – turn your TV off for a week, don't get on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, or any other social media.

Then jump back in.


We live in a world where anything goes.

And somehow, we have to walk through that world & not succumb to it wiles & Sirens' songs.

Somehow we can't let all of that stuff get into our minds & hearts.


Walk away from it.

Don't listen to it.

Don't look at it.

Don't buy it.

Don't accept it as “just the way it is”.

Don't even consider if what is being said or done is ok.

The longer I live & the more I see, the more I think that there is significant truth in the statement that this world is not our home.

(Check out Hebrews 13:14 or 1 Peter 2:11-12 to get a feel for that thinking.)

Because of who we're hooked up with, because of who we follow, & because of who God is transforming us to be like, we are people who don't “fit in” in a lot of situations & in relation to a lot of current thinking.

That doesn't mean we go around flaunting our uniqueness – like we're better than everyone else.

At the same time, so much of the stuff that's flung at us from every corner is stuff we don't need to absorb.

Perhaps that the operative word for all this – absorb.

We just make the conscious effort to not take in all that is thrown at us.

We just say no to it, every day, without fail.

Friday, January 22, 2016

it's all about trust

If anyone has been around church very much, we've heard sermons on these 2 verses,

or someone will glibly quote it for any number of reasons.

But the crux of these 2 verses comes down to 1 word...

The longer I live, & the more I see, the more I believe that following Jesus is all about trust.

We either trust Him, or we don't.

Each of these translations or paraphrases expresses the basic thought but each ones says it a little differently.

It's like turning a diamond, reflecting the light in different ways as we turn it.

Also, it depends on which words we emphasize in each reference.

But the paramount truth of these 2 verses remains the same, no matter how it expressed...'s all about trust.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart;

    do not depend on your own understanding.

6 Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take. (NLT)

Trust in and rely confidently on the LORD with all your heart
And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. (Amplified)

Trust the LORD completely,

and don’t depend on your own knowledge.

With every step you take, think about what he wants,

and he will help you go the right way. (ERV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

    and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths. (ESV)

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do,

everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track. (The Message)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. (NIV)

Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely;

    never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.

Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish,
    and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead. (The Voice)