1 Corinthians 13:4-7

What Is God’s Forever Love?

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

For some love is fickle, but with God it is forever!  As I read again the words of the apostle Paul in the great Love Chapter of the New Testament, I am challenged to love more and love better.  I am also reminded that God always possesses and displays every characteristic on Paul’s list.  God is never lacking in the love department.  He never acts in a way that contradicts the noble characteristics of real love.  Why?  The answer might surprise you.

The reason God’s love is a forever kind of love is because it is not something He possesses; rather, it is who He is.  First John 4 paints the picture of the nature of God’s heart in this way: “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (v. 8).   The way the apostle John describes love in this passage reveals that apart from God, there is no love, because “God is love.”  In fact, he repeats that claim later in the same chapter, “We have known and believed the love that God has for us.  God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (v. 16).

If God is love, how much does He love, and for how long?  John answers both questions in one encouraging sentence: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).  In Christ – and in the eternal life we can have through His life, death, and Resurrection – we see the full measure of God’s love.

Oh Lord, thank You for Your love.  I know there is nothing in me that deserves Your attention, and there is nothing lacking in You so that You need to love me.  You love because You are love, love that last forever.  Help me love others the way You have loved me!  Amen.

Tim Dowdy, McDonough, GA

2 Thessalonians 3:5

How Does God Teach Me Patience?

May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ.  2 Thessalonians 3:5

Growing up in the South, I have become used to hearing and using expressions that add flavor to ordinary conversation.  Expressions like, “Go whole hog,” “You’re barking up the wrong tree,” and “That just takes the cake,” are just a few.  One expression I have heard all my life to describe a person with amazing patience is, “That man has the patience of Job.”  After reading the story of Job’s life, his measure of patience does seem very unusual, almost unachievable.  However, Paul raises the expectations when he prays that God would guide the hearts of believers “into the patience of Christ.”  Wow!  Now that’s really raising the bar!

Patience is a virtue that most people, even believers, would say they possess in small amounts, if at all.  So when we read this kind of challenge, we almost want to give up at once because it seems like an impossible task.  However, there are two facts of this passage that offer hope.  Commentators are divided on whether this verse is just teaching Christ as our model for the patience we are to display, or if He is the One who gives us the patience we are to display.  I believe the answer is both.  Jesus is the One who walks ahead of us, displaying patience in unmistakable fashion as an inspiring example, and He is the One who gives us the strength to exhibit real patience.

Another expression we have in the South is, “To run fast, you just need to run fast.”  To apply that same logic to patience, some might be tempted to say, “To have patience, you just need to have patience.”  However, this kind of patience isn’t obtained through practice, but rather through daily participation in a relationship with Jesus.  Chasing patience will never get you where you want to go, but pursuing a life with Jesus will take you beyond your greatest expectations.

Oh Lord, I desire to live like You, especially when I need to be patient and loving.  Give me the strength and heart to be grace on display every day.  Amen. 

Tim Dowdy, McDonough, GA

Psalm 130:5

I wait for the lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. - Psalm 130:5

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. - Matthew 5:5

Ephesians 1:18

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, - Ephesians 1:18

Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Matthew 22:37-39

1 Samuel 3:8-10

Learning to Hear God’s Voice

The Lord called Samuel again the third time.  So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.”  Then Eli perceived that the Lord called the boy.  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  Now the Lord came and stood and called as at the other times, “Samuel!  Samuel!”  And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”  1 Samuel 3:8-10

There are many voices screaming for our attention today.  One of the greatest needs in a Christian’s life is to have the ability to recognized the voice of God.  God’s voice comes in various forms: comfort, warning, rebuke, salvation, and repentance to name a few.  However, the real test in believers’ lives is how they respond to God’s voice.

Although God’s voice came to Samuel four different times, Samuel misunderstood the first three times (1 Samuel 3:2-8).  He confused God’s voice with that of Eli’s.  Each time Samuel went to Eli and replied, “Here I am.”  Each time Eli instructed Samuel to go back to sleep.  Samuel did not respond to God’s voice for the same reason many people today do not respond; he did not yet know the Lord.  He ministered in the flesh and not the Spirit. 

The call of God demands a positive response.  We must be careful not to reject it.  Our response must be the same as Samuel’s:  “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

Take joy in knowing that the Lord loves you enough to call you to faith and repentance.  Heeding God’s voice always brings joy; dismissing God’s voice always brings regret. 

Lord Jesus, thank You for calling me to salvation.  Thank You for calling me to spread Your glorious gospel.  I am so grateful You call me to repentance each day of my life.  Amen.  

Tim Anderson, Athens, AL

Psalms 33:8, 9

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.  For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.  Psalms 33:8, 9

Matthew 17:20

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20

1 Timothy 1:5

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  1 Timothy 1:5

Colossians 2:2

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  Colossians 2:2

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  Proverbs 3:5

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34

Proverbs 14:26

Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.  Proverbs 14:26

2 Corinthians 10:4

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  2 Corinthians 10:4

Romans 8:18

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

Matthew 14:27

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  Matthew 14:27

Joshua 7:10, 13

Boldness for God Has Its Rewards

The Lord said to Joshua: “Get up!  Why do you lie thus on your face?... Get up, sanctify the people, and say, “Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the Lord God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you. “”  Joshua 7:10, 13

The children of Israel were moving into the Promised Land.  They had witnessed an amazing victory over the city of Jericho, and were continuing toward their next victory.  To their surprise, they met defeat as they attempted to capture the town of Ai.  When they asked for God’s explanation for their defeat, He responded by revealing that someone in their camp had disobeyed His command not to keep any possession from Jericho.  The disobedience of one man and his family had paralyzed an entire nation!  Achan thought he could conceal his sin and it would not affect anyone else.  One act of disobedience cost Achan and his family their lives.  His sin had serious repercussions for others, denying them the blessings, power, and victory of God.  Our sin makes an impact on others.

However, as we look at Joshua, we realize that obedience to God can also have effects far beyond our own individual lives.  Joshua’s willingness to respond to God and walk in obedience changed the outcome for an entire nation.  David wrote in Psalm 37:25, 26, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.  He is ever merciful, and lens; and his descendants are blessed.”

Always remember, disobedience leads to defeat.  Obedience leads to victory.  Diligently seek to obey every word from God!  Scripture promises that if you will obey the Lord, He will not only bless your life but also your life as a channel of blessings to others.

Father, examine my heart and reveal to me any area of disobedience.  Make Your way clear to me so I can walk according to Your will.  Allow my life to be a channel of blessings to others so the world can see what a great and awesome God You are.  Amen.

Chris Dixon, Dublin, GA

Psalm 81:10

When You Listen, God Will Meet Your Need

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.  Psalm 81:10

Do you believe God can meet your needs?  The Word of God teaches that you will never face a need for which God cannot provide the supply.  This promise appears over and over again in the Bible.  If we are not experiencing God’s provision, where is the problem?  Is the problem with God?  Or could the problem be our lack of faith in the promise that God can meet our every need?

Every resource of God is available to Christians who will listen to Him and put their trust in Him.  No one who has ever placed their life in His hands and trusted in His promises and provision has ever been let down.  Just as He provided a way for the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt, He can provide a way for you.  Philippians 4:19 says, “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Today, live in confidence knowing that the God who made a way for Israel is the same God who is going to provide a way for you.

Father, You have provided for me and met my greatest need through Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for the wonderful forgiveness and the intimate relationship You have made available to me.  Today, I have confidence that You will supply all my needs as I seek to follow Your will for my life.  Amen.

Chris Dixon, Dublin, GA

Psalm 46:10

What Is the Benefit of Stillness before the Lord?

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:10

There is no substitute for time alone with God.  Stillness before the Lord prepares you for the unexpected challenges and opportunities of life.  Rather than allowing our mind to race from one problem to another, trying to figure out every possible solution, wondering what will come next, or grieving about the past, we are simply to “be still.”  This phrase literally means, “Take your hands off! Relax.”  His is in control.  He is God and He has got everything covered.  You can put your trust in Him.  Let there be no doubt whatsoever that He has a perfect plan for all of us.

Sometimes we just need to wait quietly and simply let Him work in us so He can work through us.  Being still is a challenge at times… but is it not reassuring to know that He is God and He has everything under control?  He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in Him, whose thoughts turn often to Him. 

If you have not developed the habit of daily prayer and Bible study, why not begin now, so you will be prepared for whatever life brings your way?

Father, You are God and even when I do not see Your plan, I know You have everything under control.  I praise You today for the care and attention You give to my life.  I exalt You, for Your grace is enough.  Amen.

Chris Dixon, Dublin, GA

Psalm 46:1-3

How Can I Be Confident in Times of Distress?


God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.  Psalm 46:1-3

What are we to do when an enemy is about to overpower us and everything looks stacked against us?  This is the problem that Hezekiah had as the Assyrian army marched toward Jerusalem.  As the Assyrians marched southward through Syria and Israel, fields ripe with fruit, green with vegetation, and gold with grain lay before them; behind them they left the land bare, trodden down, and burned.  Before them were cities, strong and sturdy; behind them they left only the blackened smoke of ruins.  As they marched onward to Jerusalem, Hezekiah was biting his fingernails.  But with his spirits lifted by the messages of the prophet Isaiah, Hezekiah refused to comply with the Assyrians’ demand.  God would be his refuge, which means “a place of shelter.”

This psalm teaches us three things.  First, when we are in a treacherous place, we need a superior shelter.  Many places that are more susceptible to windstorms will have storm cellars.  These are dug in the ground for protection from the storm.  As a shelter it is superior to a normal residence.  In the perilous circumstances of our life, we need superior protection.  No wonder the psalmist said, “God is our refuge.”

Second, when we are in a tight place, we need a strong shelter.  God is not only our refuge but also our “strength, a very present help [not a distant help!] in trouble.”  The word trouble here refers to a tight place.  The tight places we find ourselves in can become a breeding ground for God’s strength to be demonstrated.  Just ask the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace; they knew something about a tight place (Daniel 3)!

Third, when we are in a threatened place, we need a secure shelter.  The hymn writer declared, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing”; therefore, there is nothing to fear!  The Enemy will send his threats, but in Christ, our refuge is superior, strong, and secure!

We thank You, oh Lord, for You turn our distress into delight.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Arden Taylor, Gray, TN

Judges 6:6

What Should I Do When I Feel Distant from God?

Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.  Judges 6:6

When you feel distant from God, the first thing you must consider is why you feel distant from God.  Could it be your own disobedience?  This was the situation with the people of Israel in Judges 6; they had not obeyed the voice of God (v.10).  The Israelites suffered for years at the hands of neighboring nations, but they continued to tolerate or worship pagan idols.  

Disobedience will always put distance between God and us.  God can never be the problem, so when we are distant from Him, the problem must lie within ourselves.  If disobedience pushes us away from God, what will bring us back to Him?  Repentance!  Repentance is the desire to turn from sin, not just escape the pain of sin.

The good news of God’s discipline or chastisement is that it assures us that we are His children.  His desire for us is that we would be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus, “This is My beloved Son, in who I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17), He desires to say of us, “This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.”  Our holy Father wants His very best for His children, and the best He can give to us is the character of Jesus.  Obedience develops our character; disobedience destroys our character, and God will not sit idly by and watch us destroy ourselves.

Thank You, Lord, for not giving up on me, even when I have given up on myself.  Forgive my sin, Lord.  I repent of my sin and turn to You.  While Your chastisement is not a gratifying experience, it is a guaranteeing experience of Your love for me, and I give You thanks for that.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Arden Taylor, Gray, TN

Stand Up

Isaiah 26:3

How Can I Have God’s Peace?

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3

This verse is a part of Israel’s song of salvation, which has a theme of righteousness and peace.  There can be no true peace apart from righteousness, and there can be no righteousness apart from salvation in Jesus Christ!  Psalm 85:10 speaks of the salvation Jesus made possible for us, describing what took place at the Cross: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.”

Verse 1 of Isaiah 26 refers to a day when Jesus will defeat His enemies and reign over all.  Blessings will follow.  Israel will be strong and sing the salvation song of Isaiah 26.  There is not much peace in Jerusalem today, but on that day, Jerusalem will b a city of “perfect peace.”

Jesus is the source of true peace.  Angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds by saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14).  Jesus gives us peace in three ways.  First, He gives us peace with God.  We cannot have peace with God apart from the salvation that Jesus makes available.

Second, He gives us the peace of God.  When Jesus is our Lord, “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard (our) hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).  When our world seems to be falling apart, Jesus can give us a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Third, Jesus gives us peace that comes from God.  Isaiah says that when Jesus rules over this earth, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not life up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

It is Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), not the United Nations, that we need today for world peace.  Today the world despises Jesus and gives Him no seat at the negotiating table.  Yet our world will never know peace until Jesus rules over the world.  Prince means “head person”.  When Jesus is the head person, whether in a life a nation, or a world, He will produce peace!

Lord, I remove myself from the throne of my life and call You my King.  Occupy this throne and rule my life for Your glory.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Arden Taylor, Gray, TN

Psalm 25:4, 5

How Do I Find God’s Way?

Psalm 25 v.4,5

Show me Your Ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.  Psalm 25:4, 5

When our circumstances are urgent, extreme, and bleak, we need to know God’s way… but how?  David wrote this psalm under dire circumstances; his son Absalom had rebelled against him and desired his throne, even his life.  Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”  David didn’t know what to do, so he turned to God.

David teaches us that when God leads us in His way, it typically involves three things.  First, there is the issue of what we want.  David said, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.”  David wanted to be led by the Lord.  Many times we don’t really want God to show us His ways; what we really want is for God to approve of and affirm our ways.  When God, who knows our hearts, sees that we really want Him to lead us, then He will lead us.  What caused David to want God’s way?  He understood how destitute he was.

A second thing involved is our will.  David not only wanted God’s ways and God’s paths, he was willing to follow God’s leadership.  Without the involvement of the will, the first pebble in the path trips us up.  God has never promised us health and wealth if we follow Him.  He wants us to follow Him no matter what.  Why would God show you His way when you are unwilling to follow His way?  David said, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me,” showing us that guidance in God’s way begins with a willingness to submit to the Word of God.

Third, experiencing God’s leading may require us to wait.  David demonstrated his desire and his willingness by his patience.  David said, “On You I wait all the day.”  This is where many of us fail.  We become impatient and act without God’s guidance, and then complain when things go wrong.  Let us remember that God is never in a hurry and that waiting on God is never a waste of time.  Show God your desire to learn His ways, your will to follow Him, and your resolve to wait on Him, and He will bless you with His wisdom, truth, and guidance.

Oh Lord, I am so lacking and destitute.  Guard me, guide me, and grace me, oh God of my salvation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dr. Richard Mark Lee, McKinney, TX

1 Corinthians 6:9, 11

Is There a Limit to God’s Forgiveness?

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived… And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:9, 11

Many people have at some time or another wondered, How could God ever forgive me?  The feeling of unworthiness or the inability to accept forgiveness is crippling.  The truth is, we are all sinners.  While the consequences of sin may vary, the reality of everyone’s vulnerability to sin levels the ground at the foot of the Cross.  We are all in need of forgiveness.

The Good News is that God’s love knows no boundaries.  The blood of Jesus paid the price for all our sin.  To those who come to Him in repentance, there is no place that God’s grace and forgiveness can’t reach.  Forgiveness is not only the beginning of the journey, when we first accept the forgiveness of sin Christ offers – it is also a steady marker on the pathway to discipleship.  As Christ-followers, we continually receive and distribute forgiveness.  God’s love is demonstrated in us through His forgiveness of our sin - - past, present, and future.  As we walk the pathway of discipleship, we will stumble and falter along the way, but we will never be out of the grip of God’s grace, nor beyond the limits of His forgiveness.

Gratitude for that kind of forgiveness, and the overflow of Christ’s love poured out in our hearts, gives us the courage to express that same kind of forgiveness towards others.  God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it.  There will be times when we must also forgive those who don’t deserve it.  Disciples reflect their leaders, so followers of Christ should lead lives steadily marked by forgiveness.  God’s forgiveness has no limits for those who believe in the saving power of the Cross.  Forgiven people are free!  Forgiven people are found.  And found people find other people to tell about the Good News of forgiveness.

God, I have received from You forgiveness I did not deserve.  Thank You.  I pray that You would help me forgive as I’ve been forgiven.  There is no limit to Your forgiveness, but sometimes there is a limit to my ability to forgive.  Create in me a new heart.  Help me love others as You love them.  Give me the strength to extend grace and forgiveness because You first gave it to me.  Help me continue to forgive when I’m reminded of the hurt.  Make me more like You.  In the name of Jesus, my Forgiver, Amen.

Dr. Richard Mark Lee, McKinney, TX

1 Corinthians 13:12, 13

What Does God’s Love Look Like?

Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:12, 13

But the GreatestWhat is love?  People everywhere are searching for it.  Our culture has redefined and cheapened it to the degree that many do not know what true love is.  As a result, people struggle to receive and give love.  Only after experiencing deep hurt and emptiness are some even willing to discuss God’s love as an alternative.

What does God’s love look like?  It looks like Jesus.  God’s love is demonstrated by the life, sacrifice, and gift of Jesus Christ.  In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul lists the attributes of love.  It is patient and kind, and not easily angered, proud, rude, or self-seeking.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Wow!  That’s a high standard!  The unconditional love of Jesus is all that and more. 

As recipients of God’s love, we rejoice and are thankful.  As followers of Christ, we are to extend His love to those in need, especially to those closest to us.  We are to be Jesus with skin on – loving others according to that same high standard!  We are to express God’s love at home with our family and in our everyday life relationships at school, work or play. 

Discipleship is not just knowing what to do; it’s living what you know day to day.  Discipleship is love in action!  The greatest expression of love is the life of Jesus.  He gave of Himself for the benefit of others, loving selflessly and completely.  That’s what love looks like.  Jesus loved with actions and not just knowledge or words.  He is our example and model for how we are to love others.  We are able to love because He first loved us!

God, because You loved us, You sent Jesus as the ultimate gift of Your love.  You’ve shown me how to love and to be loved.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to be able to pass it on.  I pray that You would use me to love others by Your grace, that they would see Your love expressed through me.  May my love for You shine in such a way that it leads others to see Your love for them.  Lead me to g specifically and intentionally to share Your love this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dr. Richard Mark Lee, McKinney, TX