Daily Devotionals

What the Heart Wants

What the Heart Wants

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39) A WELL-KNOWN ACTOR AND FILMMAKER had a live-in arrangement with an actress. Between them, this unmarried couple had an assortment of children from previous...
Take Up Your Cross

Take Up Your Cross

“Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:38) TO TAKE UP ONE’S CROSS meant something entirely different to first-century residents of Israel from what it means to twenty-first-century residents of the US. To ancient people, the...
The Most Divisive Person in the World

The Most Divisive Person in the World

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34) JESUS HAS BEEN CALLED the most divisive person in the world. That seems harsh, yet we know it is true. Although at His birth the angels pronounced...
Acknowledging Christ

Acknowledging Christ

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32) I RECEIVED CHRIST when I was in my mid-teens. My lifestyle changed overnight. I had been on a dangerous trajectory prior to receiving Christ. On weekends, I had...
Lost in Wonder

Lost in Wonder

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Ps. 139:17) MOST OF OUR THOUGHTS about God are really about ourselves. At least mine are. When I think or sing about God, I’m silently adding the word me at the end of every line. Like this,...
Substance, Not Style

Substance, Not Style

“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt. 7:20) “YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!” Chances are good that you have either voiced or heard this complaint leveled either at your own congregation or another. The complaint stems from dissatisfaction with the ways we...
A Firm Foundation

A Firm Foundation

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24) I BUILT A FENCE AROUND MY BACKYARD. My yard is large, so it’s a big fence. I’d not undertaken a project of that scale...
Refining Fire

Refining Fire

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt. 7:19) WE USUALLY READ THIS VERSE as an admonition to behave well. We think of the “fruit” as good behavior and the “fire” as eternal punishment. By that line of thinking, the verse...
The Wrong Battle

The Wrong Battle

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matt. 7:18)  WILLPOWER DOESN’T WORK. You can ask anyone who has tried it as an antidote to smoking, the impetus for weight loss, a bridle for the tongue, or a check against a raging temper....
Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7:14) I DON’T LIKE TO BE THE ONLY ONE. I don’t think anyone does. It is uncomfortable to be the only one arriving late for a wedding. It’s embarrassing to be the only one who...
Never Alone

Never Alone

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Ps. 139:7) THE LINE SNAKED BETWEEN rope barriers and ended at the security counter. She spoke as I exited the X-ray scanner. “Ma’am, step over here.” “I don’t have time for this,” I groaned. “Hold...
God With Us

God With Us

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.” (Matt. 1:23) “IS IT A BOY OR GIRL?” THEY ASKED. “I don’t know,” she responded. “Don’t you want to know?” they questioned further. “Well, yes and...
Hard Things

Hard Things

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. (Matt. 1:24) WHEN JOSEPH RECEIVED THE ANGEL’S MESSAGE, I wonder if his first response was something like this: “Lord, I know You’re talking to me, but do you know...
Life Savior

Life Savior

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21) EMERGENCY ROOMS AND TRAUMA CENTERS utilize medical personnel who work valiantly to save the lives of countless individuals....
Beyond the Fear

Beyond the Fear

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife.” (Matt. 1:20) WEDDINGS EVOKE A VARIETY OF EMOTIONS for brides and grooms. In Joseph’s case, news of a baby and a bout of fear dampened the...
Without Public Ridicule

Without Public Ridicule

Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matt. 1:19) NEWS ALERTS FLASH across electronic screens with the latest world events and celebrity activities. Friends and family...
Choosing the Unlikely

Choosing the Unlikely

His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 1:18) IN THE LATE SUMMER, my family and I make several trips to the local blueberry farm. Our berry picking rules are...
God “Digs” You

God “Digs” You

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. (Ps. 139:1) HIDDEN CAMERAS and electronic recording devices make us uncomfortable. After all, we don’t want others to know everything we say and do. Perhaps we feel the same way about God. According to David, God knows...
The Best Route, Not the Smoothest

The Best Route, Not the Smoothest

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33) OUR GPS ALLOWS US TO CHOOSE VARIOUS ROUTES. Just for fun, my husband and I once used the device on familiar roads, telling it to direct us to our home...
Live Today

Live Today

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) WHEN A DOCTOR ORDERED a test known to be painful, I began to worry. Could I tolerate the stress? Then my friend Janine told me she had...
Why Worry When You Can Pray?

Why Worry When You Can Pray?

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27) I AM A WORRYWART. I know that my worry indicates I don’t trust God, but still, I worry. I worry when my husband faces surgery. What if he does not survive? I worry about my own health. What if I...
Decisions Determine Life Direction

Decisions Determine Life Direction

“No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt. 6:24) THE MOST LIFE-CHANGING DECISION I ever made was to leave a teaching career to serve a church as a director of Christian education. I sometimes wonder how my life would be different...
See the World Through God’s Eyes

See the World Through God’s Eyes

“If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matt. 6:22) MY EYE DOCTOR ASSURED ME that if he removed my cataracts and inserted clear lenses, my eyesight would improve. I would again be able to read in normal lighting instead of having to seek...
Make it Count from Here to Eternity

Make it Count from Here to Eternity

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matt. 6:20) MOST OF US WORK TO EARN A LIVING. We need to provide food, clothing, and other basic necessities for ourselves and our...