Hebrews 3:1

Your Identity In Christ

Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and the High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.  Hebrews 3:1 

Two of the aching questions of the human soul are, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”  In different seasons of life we attempt to find the answers, desiring to know ourselves and to be known. As believers, we have an identity.  We have a purpose.  We belong first and foremost to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We draw our purpose, direction, example, and identity from Him.  We are children of God and co-heirs with Christ.

The living sacrifice of Jesus Christ bought us forgiveness of sin, victory in this life, and an eternity secure with God in heaven.  He made us holy and He made us family – family with Him and family together as believers.  Our purpose and focus in life is Christ and His kingdom.

Finding our identity in Jesus changes everything.  The pathway to discipleship involves living a life that reflects this new identity.  We no longer identify with the flesh, but with Christ.  When we live according to our fleshly nature, it is a false identity.  Our lives are to reflect all that His identity evokes.  We are to live in community with other believers, reaching toward the goal of bringing others the Good News of the gospel.

In what ways do you need to embrace your identity in Christ and live more like Him?  In what ways do other people see your true “Christ” identity in your words and actions?

Father God, in the quietest parts of my life, I long for You.  I long to know who I am and what I’m to do.  I find the answers all within You.  Through that I belong to You.  As Your servant, I seek to serve.  As a part of the family, I accept the responsibilities that come with the family privileges.  Thank You for calling me to You.  Thank You for Your love that changed my everything.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dr. Richard Mark Lee, McKinney, TX

2 Corinthians 1:3,4

God Is Our Comforter

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Comforting HandsTimes of transition and tragedy are not reserved for a few unfortunates.  All of us have experienced unsettled or broken times in our lives.  Even the path to discipleship has pain along the way.  But our pain is not purposeless.  God, who is rich in compassion and steadfast in sovereignty, uses all of our experiences, including the difficult ones, for growth, healing, and ministry.

In hard times, we have a Comforter.  God comforts us in our trials with His presence, reminding us that we are not alone.  He strengthens us with His peace, giving us hope toward a greater purpose.  Whether we suffer the loss of a loved one, financial collapse, injustice, persecution, or some other difficulty, we can look to God as our Comforter.  Our personal experiences of pain, when massaged in the comfort of God’s grace, often become our greatest platform for ministry.  God brings us through our pain so we can encourage others who experience similar trials.  The comfort He gives us in our own times of need becomes a powerful testimony for someone else.  Allowing the Spirit of God to work in you during seasons of difficulty produces a greater work through you, ministering to others in their pain.

God comforts us because of His love toward us.  Hard times help us see who He is – the most faithful Friend who comforts us in the midst of trials.  In turn, we can show others that kind of comfort and testify to God’s faithfulness to see them through.  Know that you are not alone!  Experience God’s grace in the difficult times so you can share His grace with others.  Even in pain, discipleship involves learning and growing, so you can help others do the same!

God, I thank You for Your peace, comfort, and extravagant love.  You have brought me through incredible trials.  I would have never made it apart from You.  Help me see You in the midst of present pain and past scars.  Use me to bring Your love and peace to others who face their own hurts.  I exist for Your pleasure, to bring You glory.  May the experiences of Your faithfulness in my life be used to help others find You in their pain.  Open my eyes to see opportunities to comfort others in their troubles.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dr. Richard Mark Lee, McKinney, TX

Psalm 4:6-8

Finding God’s Peace

There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?”  Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.  You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.  I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:6-8 


Be honest – where does your joy and security come from?  Yes, I know the spiritual answer is “from the Lord,” but I’m asking you for a truly honest answer!  I have been a pastor for over thirty-four years, and I’m telling you, there are many, many Christians who have no joy, peace, or contentment.  They know the right answer to the question, but they still spend their time worrying and fretting and losing sleep because what they know in their head has not taking root in their heart.

It today’s passage, David says that many ask, “Who will show us any good?”  These were people in God’s family, not from the pagan world.  They should have known the answer, but they were not living by faith.  David says that God put gladness in his heart (literally more joy and rejoicing) – more gladness than the things of his earthly life could bring.  As a result, David was able to experience true peace and safety in the Lord.  David knew the secret!  Your security cannot be found in things, but in the Lord.  Your security cannot be found in your bank account, the stock market, or your property.  It can only be found in your faith in the Lord – when you come to understand that God is sovereign, that He is in control, and that He loves you!

Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  He also promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”  (Hebrews 13:5).  Remember, the opposite of fear is faith.  Strengthen your faith, and you’ll starve worry to death!  If your faith is in God, you will have peace, and His peace will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)

Dear Lord, You know my heart, my thoughts, and my life.  Teach me to walk in accordance to Your wishes and in obedience to Your Word.  Lord, when I doubt, remind me of Your presence and Your promises.  Help me to be one who encourages others.  Thank You for being my peace.  I praise You, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Dr. Rob Zinn, Highlands, CA

Vertical Reality

Vertical Reality is designed for your student to encounter and get a better glimpse of God. There will be an awesome band and incredible speaker, fun and challenging games, and most importantly, relational small group discussions! 


Had the opportunity to spend some time with a small group of high school teens this weekend.  So blessed to see God working in the relationships with those kids and their small group leaders.  Awesome!

Talk To God

2 Corinthians 9:10, 11

The Reward of Sharing

May He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.  2 Corinthians 9:10, 11

sunrise matterhorn overriffel lake zermatt switzerland

Giving is the very essence of God.  It is His nature.  As John 3:16 tells us, “god so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  As we grow in Christ, His nature should become our nature.  We move from impulse giving to obedient giving, then to supernatural giving.  We are not to give based on what we think we can afford, but as God leads us to give.  Remember this: we will never be the kind of givers we should be until we understand that we are simply stewards of God’s possessions.  We don’t own it; we simply oversee it.

Paul notes five attitudes of supernatural givers in 2 Corinthians 9.  They give generously (v.6).  It’s not about how much you can keep, but how much you can give.  They give prayerfully (“let each one give as he purposes in his heart,” v.7), cheerfully (“God loves a cheerful giver,” v.7), and faithfully (vv.8-12).  As God leads us to give, we know by faith that He will take care of us.  Nowhere in the Bible is there a command for us to give without a promise of return.  If we are giving to glorify God, we can expect a return, one that is greater than the gift.  Again and again we find evidence of this in Scripture: Proverbs 3:9, 10; Proverbs 11:24. 25; Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:15-19.  Therefore, we should always give to receive, so that we will have the ability to give even more.  Finally, a godly giver gives sacrificially (vv. 12-15).  To give God’s way, we must be willing to give up things.  But whatever we give up for the cause of Christ will come back in so many different ways.  Always remember, He can and He will.  You will never out-give God. 

Dear Lord, give me the heart to be a good steward.  Help me remember that You are my supply.  All that I could ever need, You can provide!  Help me be faithful and trustworthy.  May the way I live and share with others be a true testimony to the love of Jesus.  It’s in His name I pray.  Amen

Dr. Rob Zinn, Highland, CA


Job 42: 12, 13

The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys.  He also had seven sons and three daughters.  Job 42: 12, 13

As you read the last chapter of the Book of Job, you are captivated by three main thoughts.  First, you see transformation in Job’s character, from one who tries to justify himself to one who sees the glory of God and repents in dust and ashes (Job 42:6).  He comes forth with genuine faith that is like gold “tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7).  Second, there is vindication of Job before his friends, as God calls him “My servant” (Job 42:7, 8) and calls on Job to pray for them.  Finally, there is restoration to Job of all his former prosperity and indeed far more.  The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had beforehand (v.10); Job is vindicated and rewarded.  Because this is a real account of God’s dealings with a man, its meaning is profound.  Remember, the story of Job is a divinely intended object lesson through which we are meant to apprehend certain great truths pertaining to the trials of the godly.


Whatever we go through is for our good and God’s glory.  Our spiritual growth does not come when everything is going well, but in times of testing when we must turn our eyes on God and trust Him for the results.  Sometimes what we go through is for our own growth; sometimes we shed tears to water someone else’s garden.  Always know that there is a reason, and the Lord will bring us through.  We will be better and stronger because of it.  This world is not our home, but in Christ we are rich, and one day we will be with Him forever!  Remember, after Job’s trial, God gave him twice as much materially as he had beforehand.  He gave him the same amount of children, and there were already sever sons and daughters waiting for him in heaven.  God is good and he knows what you need – keep the faith!

Dear Lord, You have given me far more than I deserve to have.  You have blessed me with Your love, grace, presence, and salvation.  Help me realize how very rich I am in Christ, and help me be thankful for all I have.  Lord, help me focus on the truths that one day I will be with You and that today I am called to be Your servant who brings glory to Your name.   In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Doctor Rob Zinn, Highlands, CA

Job 42:7, 9, 10

The Lord Knows What Is Right

The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has”… So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord accepted Job.  And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends.  Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.  Job 42:7, 9, 10


There are two key thoughts in these verses.  First, the Lord rebuked Job’s three comforters.  God’s wrath was kindled against them.  Why?  Because they spoke wrongly of both God and Job.  They did more damage to Job’s spirit than even the devil himself.  When Satan had done his worst, it could still be written, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  But as the three friends pounded their pious misrepresentations of both God and Job, the poor sufferer was driven to discouragement in his spirit (16:2; 17:1, 2; 19:2, 3).  Mark this in your heart: Satan has no more dangerous tools than those who, under the guise of piety and in the name of religious orthodoxy, offer false comfort or give untrue impressions of God.  It’s far better being silent in the presence of suffering than saying what is wrong or doctrinally incorrect.

Second, the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when Job prayed for his friends.  Job’s release did not come by defending himself; it was prayer that brought the miracle.  Prayer is the vital axis in the spiritual life of any Christian individual or church.  There can be no genuine spiritual revival where there is no prayer.  Is that not what Jesus said in Matthew 5:44-46?  We are to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who persecute us.  Job prayed for his friends, and that brought about the real turning point.  His liberation came not when he prayed for himself, but when he prayed for others!  When I earnestly pray for others, my intercession not only brings blessing to them, it boomerangs back in blessing upon me.  It’s not about me.  It’s about others and glorifying God.  Trust God and see what a difference it will make. 

Dear Lord, help me think like You.  Help me to remember Your love, show Your compassion, and be sensitive not only to those who are kind but also to those who are unkind.  Give me the grace to forgive others and to be an ambassador for Christ.  Help me pray for others knowing You will take care of me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dr. Rob Zinn, Highland, CA

Isaiah 64:4

Just Wait and See 

“...Things which eye has not seen”

Isaiah 64:4


This world is often a very harsh place, sometimes barely survivable. In ancient times whole civilizations were crushed, a family in the wrong place at the wrong time only seeking to survive in relative peace could be wiped out by war or famine or disease or criminality. So widespread and typical, it was impossible for ancient man to imagine anything different. But God's people, Israel, received promises from God. If they would be faithful, their lives here would be so much more pleasant. God would bless them. Famines would cease in the land; they would be protected from their enemies; their crops and herds and flocks would be productive. When the nation was faithful, God kept His promise and blessed them and prospered them. Many of the Psalms written during these prosperous times speak of the blessings they enjoyed for the times they remained faithful. 

You know what God told them? In effect, He told them that they “had not seen anything yet!” This promise was meant to build anticipation and excitement. As wonderful as God's blessings had been, they were nothing compared to what was to come. They might have wondered, having been blessed with land, health, food, and security from their enemies, “But what more could one want?” 

Since The Beginning of the World 

Yes, God had blessed the nation, but the people had forsaken Him. So now, during the days of Isaiah, the Lord had withdrawn from His people. Theirs had become a truly “god-forsaken land” and there seemed to be nothing but destruction on the horizon. Their cities and even the temple where God had once been worshipped now lay in ruins (Isaiah 64:10,11). 

Yes, there had been periods of righteousness in the past, but the righteousness of the nation in the past did nothing for the people of Isaiah's day (Isaiah 64:6,7) . One who would compromise and try to serve both God and idols might as well not call upon God at all because He will not hear. 

Israel and Judah had turned to immorality and idolatry. But it was only Jehovah that had actually done something for the people. The idols had not. So why turn to them (Isaiah 64:3-5)? 

It is hard to believe that a nation would forsake a God that had actually done these things for them. Why? Would people really do such a thing? Perhaps we could ask the same question of our own generation. We have been a blessed nation founded upon principles that are righteous by believers in God. And yet, we are forsaking the very God of whom our founders wrote insisting it was He who gave us rights and liberty and prayed to Him daily. 

Note Isaiah 64:4 again: “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, Nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” 

God is unique. There is no replacement. Not for nations and not for individuals, and not for you. Human ears have not heard and human eyes have not seen any other God who will “act in behalf of one who waits on Him”. 

But We Have Seen God Who Will Act In Behalf of Those That Love Him 

Though it is not an exact quote of what Isaiah had written seven centuries before, Paul uses Isaiah's words to say something similar; specifically that we have a God who acts in behalf of those who love Him. 

“But just as it is written, 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.'“ (1 Corinthians 2:9) 

We find at least two important truths as we compare the context of these two passages; Isaiah 64:4 and 1 Corinthians 2:9. 

First, notice the two parallel phrases “from days of old” and “before the ages” (1 Corinthians 2:7). This “mystery” is not something that remains a mystery. Isaiah knew that unlike idols, the living God intervenes, so that was not a mystery. The “mystery” part was exactly how God would intervene to take away sins… theirs and ours (Isaiah 64:5b; 9; 12). Could the people of Isaiah's have possibly fathomed what God would do through Jesus at the cross? But now, through the gospel, we do know these things which never entered their hearts (1 

Corinthians 2:10-13; Colossians 1:25-28). 

Second, note the two phrases “Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him” and “All that God has prepared for those who love Him”. The one who “waits” for God is parallel to those “who love Him”. Our ability to endure life, survive and even prosper with joy and peace, growing in our faith (waiting for the Lord - not giving up) is depended in part on how much we love God and appreciate His grace and blessings. If you really love someone, your loyalty to them will have no limits! Besides that, we know what God has prepared for those that love Him. Paul 

“waited for the Lord” (2 Timothy 4:7) and Paul loved the Lord (2 Timothy 4:8). Human ears have not heard and human eyes have not seen any other God who will 

“act in behalf of one who waits on Him”. 


There is a sense in which we have yet to see eternity's place for the faithful. We see it by faith; we know certain aspects of it by revelation, but it is still outside of our experience at this time. There are characteristics and attributes of the eternal state which are described for us in terms we can relate to. One of my favorites is found here: (Revelation 21:1-4). 

And yet, I understand that this is a vision of heavenly scenes which employ symbols of another realm or state of existence. Things that flesh and blood cannot inherit. Things we probably cannot imagine. In that way, perhaps we can take the words that Paul once used concerning the mystery of the gospel and still say, applying them to heaven: 'Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.'“ *

* By Jon W. Quinn

From Expository Files 18.10; October 2011  

Dear Lord Father, I just come to You with open ears, eyes, and heart, praising You for Your faithfulness and direction.  In a world that is so impatient, You help us find the strength in Your promises.  Help me to put aside my selfish desires and impatience and to walk in Your light according to Your schedule and not mine.  I ask for these blessing in the glorious name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.


James 1:12

James-1-12-CU1_1024x1024Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  James 1:12

heads When we endure testing & hardships we must keep our up.  We must remember that God knows what we are going through & He will take care of us!

Lord, help me trust You no matter what comes at me today.   In Jesus’ name I pray, amen!

1 Timothy 6:7

How Can I Learn to Be Content?

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  1 Timothy 6:7

A wealthy landowner was trying to buy some additional land near his estate.  A neighbor observed that his only motivation seemed to be to prevent someone else from buying it.  So the neighbor asked, “Sire, do you want to own all the land in the world?”  “No,” the wealthy man replied, “just the land that joins mine.”

Many people believe that contentment comes through having enough money to do whatever thy wish.  Others think that it comes from having a good family or having a life without any problems.  That is why they constantly think that having a little more money or changing their circumstances or relationships will bring contentment.  


Contentment, however, comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a belief that He will supply all our needs.  Contentment is not found in things, situations, or other people.  It is found in knowing that our heavenly Father loves and cares for us.

The writer of Hebrews understood this source of contentment when he wrote, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).  To express it another way, discontentment comes when we think that having money or the latest gadget or fashion will make us happy.  But Scripture affirms that true contentment is obtainable only through Christ.  Knowing that He provides what we need when we need it to produce stress-free living at its best! *

Heavenly Father, teach me to be content.  Help me to see my joy and purpose in You rather than material possessions.  Help me avoid trying to manipulate my circumstances or other people to get what I want.  Lord, help me trust You and only You to meet my every need!  Amen.

*Phil Waldrep, Trinity, AL

Joshua 7:7

How Should I Respond to Failure?

Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all – to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?  Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordon!”  Joshua 7:7

Have you ever considered that some of the greatest lessons in life come through difficult times, when you’ve failed?  Reality did not meet your expectations in some arena of life – a business venture, a church activity, a relationship.  Perhaps learning to deal with that failure, and gaining wisdom and strength in the process, was a success in itself.  In our modern, success-oriented society, failure is not accepted or allowed in the minds of most people.  Yet some of the greatest success stories in history grew out of failure.

light bulbs

Take Thomas Edison, who invented the light bulb, Historians estimate that Edison tried thousands of wires until he found one that would glow for a long time.  Each time Edison failed with using one kind of wire, he learned what would not work.  Each failure left him with a better understanding of what might work.  Finally, after numerous failures, Edison found success.

Throughout Scripture, we see that our heavenly Father uses failure to teach spiritual lessons.  Sometimes, as He did with the Israelites, He uses failure to reveal sin in our lives.  Other times, the Lord uses failure to teach us that we cannot do anything without Him, or that He has a better plan for our lives.  Through all of these experiences, the Lord teaches us to trust Him completely.

It is encouraging to know that God never allows an experience - success or failure – to come into our lives without using it to change us into the image of His Son. *

Heavenly Father, failure is so hard to accept and even more difficult to experience.  Forgive me, Lord, for having resentment and bitterness when things do not go as I plan.  Help me see Your hand at work in my life in all situations.  Use these times, Lord to mold me into the character of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

* Phil Waldrep, Trinity, AL

Isaiah 41:10

Lamentations 3:22, 23

Finding Confidence in God

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22, 23


God will not let you go.  Though you may find yourself in the middle of a storm of your own making.  He will not turn His back on you.  Though you may find yourself experiencing the consequences of your sin, you will still be loved.  Because of His “mercies” and “compassions,” you can be confident that He loves you and will continue to provide for you and take care of you.

You may run.  He will run after you.  You may hide.  He will find you.  You may turn on Him.  He will not turn on you.  Your heavenly Father is relentless in His love for you.  Although He will discipline you, you will not be “consumed.”  He will not let you go.

Paul said it this way in 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”  Because our God is so faithful – and also because we can be so faithless – today you and I have a chance to respond to the amazing love of God.  Every morning is a chance to give back.  I can’t help but think that since His mercies are new every morning, our praise should be as well.

Think about it.  Every morning, without fail, a fresh supply of God’s mercy is made available to us.  It’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.  Many have tried to exhaust it (including me!), only to discover that it is inexhaustible.  It seems to me that partake and partake, but rarely give thanks.  Why don’t we that God right now for His steadfast love and mercy? *

Great Father, thank You for being so faithful to someone so faithless.  May my gratitude be as fresh as Your mercy.  I don’t want to pray the same old stale prayers I’ve always prayed.  Instead, I want to learn to speak to You each day with a renewed appreciation for who You are.  Great is Your faithfulness!  Amen.  

*Jerry Walls, Warner Robins, GA

Genesis 46:3, 4

What Does God Promise When We Are Faithful?


I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.  I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again.  Genesis 46:3, 4

God is with us.  I imagine that most of you reading these words already know that.  Although most of us believe it at some level, I’m not sure how many of us actually embrace it.  So, just for a minute, I want you to take a moment to feel the impact of that phrase.  I want you to ponder what it means for God to be with you.

Now, maybe you believe this when life is good – when you’re relaxing on the beach or eating at your favorite restaurant.  It’s easy to believe that God is with you in such moments.  This principle remains true, however, no matter when we say it, regardless of whether we feel it.  Frustrated at work, encouraged by kind words, or devastated by tragedy, God is with us.

This doesn’t mean that God always creates a smooth path for us or gives us an easy life.  It means that whatever we experience, our amazing, heavenly Father will be with us every step of the way.  I find it so encouraging that God is not simply way off in the distance somewhere doing something else… He is actually with us!

Maybe you are hurting deeply today.  God is with you.  Maybe you are battling discouragement.  God is with you.  Maybe you are lonely.  God is with you.  Perhaps you are fighting a terrible disease.  God is with you.  Perhaps you have recently lost a loved one.  God is with you.  The reward of our faithfulness to God is the realization that He is – always has been and always will be – faithful to us.  His faithful presence carries us through. *

Heavenly Father, thank You for being with us.  We are so grateful that You aren’t simply watching us or noticing us or keeping track of us, but that You are actually with us.  Help us be sure that we are with You.  Thank You for Your amazing promise to be with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Jerry Walls, Warner Robins, GA

James 4:3

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?


You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  James 4:3

If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, you’ve probably asked at some point, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”  If you’ve ever felt that way, you are not alone.  In fact, the Bible is filled with accounts of people who questioned God’s silence.

The thought of God not answering your prayers may bother you, but I believe there are often specific reasons why God is silent.  Sometimes it’s because of our own sinful choices.  The most obvious obstacle that could prevent my prayers from being heard is my own disobedience.  The psalmist made this very clear when he wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).

There are also times when God is silent because our prayers are selfish or trivial.  He may not answer simply because our prayers aren’t very good ones.  James warned against these kinds of prayers when he wrote, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

Of course, sometimes God is silent for reasons we’ll never know.  It’s in those instances that we must wait, trust, and believe.  

However, with all that said, I think that God’s question for us might be, “Why don’t you pray more?”  After all, God is far more justified in complaining about our absence than we are in complaining about His! *

Heavenly Father, please help me learn how to pray.  May I be more concerned about Your will than my own.  I know You truly know best.  Help me to trust You as I pray!  Amen.

*Jerry Walls, Warner Robins, GA

Matthew 6:33, 34

What Are Your Priorities in Life?


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 6:33, 34

In Matthew 6, we see Jesus teach His disciples how to pray.  In His prayer are the words, “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done” (v.10).  He follows up this prayer with our text, “Seek first the kingdom of God” – a command, not a suggestion, about how to live our lives.  We are told to have proper priorities.  It goes without saying that if we are going to seek His kingdom, we are going to have to submit to the King.

Submission is the key to obeying this command.  Who is Jesus to you?  If He is your King, you will willingly follow His plan for your life rather than your own.  Jesus does not invite us to be casual acquaintances of His; He calls us to be fully devoted followers of God!

Having proper priorities has its rewards.  In Matthew 25:23 Jesus said those who follow Him faithfully will hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.  “Because of our commitment to God, we will receive affirmation (“Well done”), promotion (“I will make you ruler over many things”), and His eternal presence (“Enter into the joy of your lord”)!

What are your priorities in life?  Stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Who is Jesus to me?”  If He is your Lord, you will allow Him to have control of your life.*

Heavenly Father, it is so easy to get busy and forget who we are and what You have called us to be!  Help me today to refocus my priorities and to make You the center of all that I do.  Amen.

*Mike Hamlet, Spartanburg, SC

Matthew 6:25, 26

How Can I Overcome Anxiety?


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?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Matthew 6:25, 26

It seems that we are constantly seeing another report or study documenting the fact that we are worrying ourselves to death.  The use of drugs to deal with worry and depression keeps growing dramatically.  Everyone seems to be on “something” to deal with the anxieties of life.  The world continues to turn up the pressure.  It may be work, finances, marriage, kids, parents, health, emotional problems, or any of a host of other issues.  Everyone has something happening in his or her life that no one else seems to understand.

Do you have something in your life about which you would say, “Not even God can do something about this.”  Maybe you wouldn’t actually say that, but you are living that way.  We have let the world inflate the power of our circumstances and shrink the power of God.  That is not the way God meant it to be.  We have let the world convince us there is a ceiling on what God can do.  It is as if we think He has a power limit He cannot go beyond.  Today’s scripture says God gave special attention to the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.  Certainly He can deal with the situations faced by the ones He has created in His own image, the ones for whom He made this world!

Worry is all about where you put your attention.  Are you putting it on the things of this world, or the plan God has for your life?  When you put Him first, your anxiety will begin to lessen dramatically.  There is nothing you will face today that the Lord cannot handle.  You are only a manager of what He has given you.  He will always make the right decision. *

Lord Jesus, today I give You control of every part of my life.  When I try to take control and do it my way, I pray that You will remind me that Your plan is always better than mine.  I know that I need to spend my time seeking Your guidance rather than trying to do things according to my desires.  Help me to see that success is not getting my way, but making sure that I live according to Your will.  Amen.

*Mike Hamlet, Spartanburg, SC

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

We are sinners by nature and by choice.  Romans 3:23 says all of us “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one.”  When we are saved by putting our trust in the living Lord Jesus who died for us on the Cross, we do not become perfect.

We live in a world that is works– or performance-oriented.  Our success is determined by what we do and how well we do it.  That is why we see so many people who are trying so desperately to work their way to heaven.  Not matter how hard we try, however, we cannot do it in our own strength.  Galatians 2:20 is very clear.  The only chance we have to deal with our sin is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  We’ll never make progress on our sin problems as long as we try to handle it ourselves.

Today’s scripture makes it clear that we cannot live in our own strength; we must live by faith in the Son of God.  The world tries to make it on our own, but that is simply not possible.  This is why it is so important that we confess our sin daily.  It is a reminder that Jesus has paid the price for our sin and we have victory through our relationship with the One who gave Himself for us.

Temptation will always be there, but we can live with confidence because Christ is living in the life of the believer.  Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Transformation is a lifelong process that takes place when Christ is living in us. *

Lord, I am continually amazed at Your love and Your grace.  Why You would send Your Son to save a sinner like me is far beyond my understanding.  I am so grateful that I do not have to do this alone, but can know joy and contentment because Christ lives in me.  I know it is not because of anything I have done.  May my life today reflect my dependence on You.  Amen. 

*Mike Hamlet, Spartanburg, SC 

Lamentations 3:40

How Can I Praise God When Life Doesn’t Go Well?


Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.  Lamentations 3:40

The Lord does not promise us that everything in life is going to go our way.  In fact, in James 1 we are told to “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (v.2).  The scripture teaches us that these trials can come at us from all directions.  But the testing of our faith produces “patience” (v.3).  When things do not go well, we are given the opportunity to learn to be patient and steadfast in our faith.  James says that as a result, we can “be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (v.4).  This is a phrase that describes the believer who has a mature faith.  When we face the trials in life, it gives us the ability to “grow up” in our faith.  God allows us to experience difficulties because God’s purpose is not that we would just be happy, but that we might be conformed to the image of His Son.  Receiving that honor is certainly a reason for praise!

Another reason is that the Lord gives us the opportunity to be involved in the great works He is doing.  As a part of the body of Christ, we have a chance to touch the world as we share the light of the gospel and to help carry out God’s will on earth.  This gives us a real sense of purpose.  We must constantly be seeking to bring our lives in line with His will, considering what might need to change every day.  When we live in such a way, the fact that things don’t always go so well pales in comparison to what God is doing in and through us! *

Lord, I praise You today not because of what has happened or what will happen, but because You are God and You loved me so much You sent Your Son to die on the Cross for my sin.  When I get caught up in what is going on around me, I pray that I will be reminded of what You have done for me.  Help me evaluate everything in my life on the basis of what will bring glory to You.  May I always be in the process of turning to You.  Amen.

*Mike Hamlet, Spartanburg, SC 

Numbers 14:8, 9

How Do I Keep My Focus on God?


If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, “a land which flows with milk and honey.”  Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us.  Do not fear them.  Numbers 14:8, 9

We live in a world of distractions.  New headlines, e-mails, voicemail, texts, tweets, and podcast clamor for our attention every hour.  Our smartphones and computers are constantly beeping with new information, drawing our focus to one new subject after another.  We are sometimes overwhelmed by things that surround us.  In this passage the people of Israel had just received a bad report and they were in a state of panic.  Joshua told them they must stay focused on the Lord.  They could trust that He would do exactly as He had promised.

It is so easy for us to get caught up in our circumstances and lose sight of what God has for us.  We must make sure our focus stays on Him.  Doing that involves four important actions.

First, we must regularly spend time with God in His Word.  So often we listen to the voices around us rather than communicating with Him.  Our time in the Word will always give us a better perspective.

Second, we have to remember He has a plan for us.  No matter what the circumstances, He is still God and He is still in control.  He is not frustrated by our circumstances.

Third, we must keep our eyes on Him.  We must constantly look to Him rather than the people or events around us.  That means He is our priority.  We must be seeking to put Him first and give His the glory in everything that we do.

Fourth, we have to remember that He is the God who makes and keeps promises.  The people of Israel continually forgot that God had made them a promise.  Just as He was faithful to them, so He will be faithful to us.  He has promised to sustain, protect, guide and support those who have put their trust in Christ.  You can trust Him to do what He has promised!*

Lord, I live in a world that is so distracting.  It is easy to focus on things that do not deserve my attention.  In times of great stress and pressure, help me stay focused on what You want to do in my life.  I pray I can trust You in every circumstance.  We ask this in the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

*Mike Hamlet, Spartanburg, SC 

Matthew 6:8

Can I Really Trust that God Will Provide What I Need?


Do not be like them.  Four your Father know the things you have need of before you ask Him.  Matthew 6:8

If you have driven to the gas station or been to the grocery store lately, you may have felt a little uneasy.  The twenty-first century has unfolded as a time of war, bad weather, and gloomy economic conditions.  When the stock market lost seven trillion dollars in one week a few years ago, Christian author Phillip Yancey was asked how to pray during a bad economy.  Yancey gave a multilayered response, but it started with the advice to cry, “Help!”  There is nothing wrong with that advice.  God loves simple desperation in prayer.  But we can also have some confidence when we pray.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:8 that even in tough times, including periods of unemployment or a national recession, God never forgets what we need.  The first teaching in the New Testament on the subject of prayer includes this assurance that while God expects us to pray, we never need to worry about Him understanding our request.  He knows “before you ask Him.”

Recently my wife needed her driver’s license renewed so I went with her to the Department of Public Safety and we waited our turn.  The officer working behind the desk seemed to hate his job.  He frequently answered people’s questions before they could finish asking them.  He must have heard it all a thousand times and his answers never changed.  None of us wanted to be there, but his obvious impatience with everyone didn’t help.

It is true that God, like the DPS officer, knows what we need before we ask, and he has heard every request before.  But unlike the impatient officer, God is “your Father.”  That loving relationship makes all the difference.  So go ahead and ask.  God loves to answer!*

Father, You know every need I have today, and You already know how the needs will be met.  I am trusting You as You minister to me and build my faith in Your constant care for me.  Amen.

*Kie Bowman, Austin, Texas 

Hebrews 6:11

How Can I Be the Kind of Faithful Person God Honors?

We desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.  Hebrews 6:11

The Book of Hebrews was written to a persecuted church with several members thinking of rejecting the gospel and returning to Judaism.  The writer urged his readers to keep going in faith and not to quit.  Have you ever been tempted to give up in the Christian life?  A friend of mine grew so frustrated with his circumstances that he quit his pastorate, divorced his wife, turned his back on God, and eventually developed a serious drug addiction.  He finally came back to Christ, but he lost eleven years of his life in that whirlwind of rebellion.  He was living his life in reverse at full speed!


The best rewards in the Christian life are at the finish line, not at the starting gate.  The writer of Hebrews urged “diligence” in the Christian life.  That word in the New Testament means “to have an earnest desire to accomplish a thing” – not just to start it, but to finish it as well.  We are to set our sights on “the end.”  The Greek word for end is related to the cry of Jesus from the Cross, when He said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).  The word means “the limit of activity” or “the final result.”

When my daughter was young, she was a fast sprinter, and like all young runners, she had to learn not to watch the other runners.  To finish first she had to focus on the finish line, not on anything else.  The same is true in our faithfulness to Christ.  In order to keep going, we have to learn to take the long view and keep our eyes on the prize.* 

Oh God, You have blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ, and I won’t look back or turn back from serving You.  Lead me today Lord, and I will follow.  Amen.

*Kie Bowman, Austin, Texas


Colossians 2:6, 7

How Can I Walk with the Holy Spirit


As you therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  Colossians 2:6, 7

Do you have any habits that your family and friends recognize?  I find myself singing the chorus to on particular song almost every day, and it has nearly driven my kids crazy!  If they never here “Over the Rainbow” again, they will be happy.

Habits are those repeated actions that help define our lives.  In the New Testament, the word walk describes the things we do habitually.  In Colossians 2:6, 7 believers are instructed to “walk in Him” as a way of life.  The word walk in verse 6 is a combination of two words in the Greek New Testament meaning literally “to walk around.”  It doesn’t mean we are walking in circles, instead it is a word that describes our “walk of life” or our lifestyle, the things we do again and again. 

Our spiritual lives grow through the discipline of habits and repeated actions, but they need not be dull.  The verb walk is present tense, which suggests that the Spirit-filled believer walks with Him every day.  As a result, the scenery changes along the way.

I am glad we instructed to “walk” and not “run”.  I can walk a lot farther and a lot longer than I can run!  Walking is also the most fundamental and universal mode or human motion and progress.  Not everyone can run or drive or fly, but almost everyone can walk.  Walking in Him is a habit, but it can never be dull because of the company we keep – we are walking in Him!

So our spiritual life has a pace; we walk.  Our spiritual life is about progress because we are walking.  Our spiritual life is a partnership because we walk with Him.  Today, take a walk with Jesus.*

Father, today I will claim every promise for living the spiritual life, promises You have given for my good and for my growth.  By Your Spirit, I surrender to Your authority as Lord of my life, Amen.

*Kie Bowman, Austin, Texas

Ezekiel 22:30

How Can I Become a Godly Influence on Others?

I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.  Ezekiel 22:30

It is tempting to believe that problems today are so enormous that a single individual cannot make much difference.  The truth, however, is the opposite.  The most momentous advances in history have occurred when one person stood up to the indifference of the times.

IMG 0287In Ezekiel 22, God identifies at least four levels of Judah’s culture that should have been faithful and were not.  Prophets, priest, princes, and the people themselves were corrupt and dishonest (vv. 25-29).  Finally, God said, “I sought for a man.”  One life could have been a “wall” of protection for a doomed city.  The Bible is full of examples of individuals who changed the world, and individuals still provide a godly influence today.

In the 1980s, the late David Wilkerson was walking through Times Square in New York City where prostitution, drugs, and crime were rampant.  The famous author and preacher was praying that God would raise up a witness in that city when he sensed the Lord saying, “You do it.” So David Wilkerson started Times Square Church.  Now, a little over twenty years later, the church reaches several thousand people each week in worship and ministry.  In the beginning, it must have looked like a nearly impossible dream, yet today it is a strong witness in a part of New York City not known for vibrant churches.  What’s more, when David Wilkerson started Times Square Church, he was fifty-five years old – not the average age of a church planter!  Yet, with God, one man is a majority against the tidal wave of sin and compromise that can destroy an entire culture.  It is not too late to “stand in the gap,” interceding on behalf of your family, your workplace, or your nation.  You can be the one.*

Lord, use me today to bless someone else’s life.  I am only one – but I am one who believes that today, in Christ, I can make a difference.  I am available, and I am ready for every opportunity You bring.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Dr. Michael Lewis, Plant City, Florida

Proverbs 14:10

How Can I Deal with Someone Who Is Angry or Bitter


The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy.  Proverbs 14:10

Each day we encounter people who are full of anger and bitterness.  A bitter person is someone who has been hurt, has let that hurt fester within, and consequently hurt others.  Maybe the bitter person you will encounter will be a friend, and stranger, a coworker, a fellow church member, a family member, or perhaps even your spouse.

How can you deal with someone who is angry and bitter?  God’s counsel is Ephesians 4:32 applies here: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”  Kindness toward someone who is angry is a Christlike attitude – He responded to cursing with blessing.  Being tenderhearted means being moved with the compassion of Christ toward the bitter person.  Tenderheartedness is praying Christ’s prayer from the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:24).  Forgiving an angry person means that you do not hold their sin against them.  The only basis for these supernatural attitudes and actions is the supernatural grace of God found in Christ alone.  You can only forgive bitter and angry people on the basis of God’s forgiveness of you in Christ. 

When someone who is angry and bitter offends you, you have two options: you can either respond the way you naturally would, with revenge, or respond the way Christ in you would, with forgiveness.*

Father God, many times I ask, “How many times shall I forgive one who sins against me?”  And I can hear Your Son say, “Up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22)  I realize that this is not a matter of mere multiplication; it is a matter of the attitude of my heart.  I pray that You would supernaturally enable me by Your Spirit to be kind to those who are rude to me, tenderhearted to those who are angry at me, and forgiving to those who have wronged me.  I pray in Jesus’s name.  Amen.

*Dr. Michael Lewis, Plant City, Florida

Luke 24:38

How Do I Handle Nagging Doubt?

He said to them, “Why are you troubled?  And why do doubts arise in your hearts?”  Luke 24:38

This is a probing question the risen Lord asked his disciples in the Upper Room, and he could very well ask us the same question today.  We face difficulties, and doubts arise in our hearts.  We find ourselves feeling uncertain, confronted by troubling questions.


Earlier in the chapter, the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus were questioning the reality of Jesus’ reported Resurrection and whether He had accomplished the work of redemption as promised.  It was at that point in their journey of doubt that Jesus revealed Himself to them and explained all the things concerning Himself in the Old Testament.

So how do we handle daunting doubts that come our way?  Allow the living Christ to open your heart to the living Word and fill you with the truth of who He is and what He has done.  Doubts arise when our minds are focused on half-truths and uncertainties.  Faith is built when we receive the whole counsel of God from Scripture. 

Doubts can also be driven away when you realize that the living Christ who walks with you is the One who lives in you.  When the disciples’ eyes were opened and they realized they had been speaking with Jesus, they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (v. 32).  Doubts fade when you experience the reality of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).*

Heavenly Father, in the busyness and pressures of our world, my mind can become clouded with doubt.  Please drive back these dark clouds of doubt.  Open my eyes that I may see You and open my ears that I may hear You speaking through Your Word.  May I experience “holy heart-burn” as I daily walk with You.  I pray in the name of our living Lord Jesus.  Amen

*Dr. Michael Lewis, Plant City, Florida

Jeremiah 33:3

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3


The prophet Jeremiah gives us one of the most promise-filled prayers of the Bible.  This verse has been called “God’s telephone number” – JER-333.  How can you as a disciple maintain freshness in your daily prayer time with God?  Freshness in prayer comes from understanding the position of desperation from which you are praying.  Jeremiah was in prison and the Babylonian army was destroying the city of Jerusalem.  Then God gave him the promise we read in today’s passage.  There is nothing we can do, humanly speaking, to make an eternal difference.  Yet what humans cannot do, God can!

Freshness in prayer comes as you consider whom you are approaching in prayer.  The Lord says, “Call to Me.”  This is the invitation of the eternal, covenant-keeping God who is also the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  He is all-powerful, all knowing, and always present.

Freshness in prayer is experienced by the promise and power of God’s response.  The Lord says, “I will answer you.”  The only prayer God does not answer is the prayer not prayed.  God always gives the right answers to prayer, but they vary.  He always answers our prayers with messages of yes, no, or wait.  As you claim by faith God’s promise to answer your prayer, you will experience the power of prayer – just as He promised to show Jeremiah “great and mighty things.”  Though His power is invisible and beyond human comprehension, when we pray, God releases His power in visible ways! *

Heavenly Father, I realize that I am desperate and that my needs go far beyond my abilities.  I call to You in this prayer, thankful that You expect me and desire me to be in Your presence.  I pray in faith, knowing that You will answer me and that You will display Your might and power.  Thank You that Your grace and power are such that I can never ask too much!  In Jesus’ name I offer this prayer.  Amen.

*Dr. Michael Lewis, Plant City, Florida