Daily Devotional

Weeds and Worries

Weeds and Worries

“Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” (Matt. 13:7) LET’S JUST SAY I TRIED MY BEST. I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I thought it would be fun to try my luck at planting a garden. I tilled the ground, plucked out the rocks, and...
Strong Roots

Strong Roots

“When the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” (Matt. 13:6) “YOU WANT WHAT?” my wife exclaimed as she lifted her eyebrows. I was suggesting that we should buy a product I had seen on an infomercial. The product promised...
Watch Out

Watch Out

“Some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.” (Matt. 13:4) I COULDN’T BELIEVE what I was witnessing! My children have been raising chickens for several years, and they are always on the lookout for roaming predators trying to sneak into our chicken...
Listen Up

Listen Up

“ALRIGHT, EVERYBODY IN,” I bellowed to my basketball team. It was halftime, the game was tied, and we wanted to win. It was the first time I had coached my children’s team, and I had made a lot of observations from the first half that needed to be communicated. As the...
Better Than a Six Shooter

Better Than a Six Shooter

The Lord protects the simplehearted. (Ps. 116:6) BECAUSE OF THE VIOLENT AND DANGEROUS WORLD in which we live, we have become highly security conscious. It is reasonable for us to be aware of our surroundings and alert to danger. The sheriffs in the counties...
It Will Be a Good Day

It Will Be a Good Day

Then he said . . . “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. (Matt. 12:13) Hope can easily be lost in our problem-plagued world. We may begin the day with very little anticipation that anything good...
A Good Day to Do Good

A Good Day to Do Good

“How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:12) A FRIEND AND I walked into a fast food restaurant to get a cup of coffee and engage in friendly conversation. A rather dirty, unkempt guy with long, stringy...
The Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Day

“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matt. 12:8) GROWING UP, my family had some rules that governed what we were allowed to do on Sunday. Of course, going to church was the most important activity. Naps were good. We boys were not interested in naps, but Mom...
New and Improved

New and Improved

“I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.” (Matt. 12:6) WE CAN BE SKEPTICAL when a product is labeled “new and improved.” It may mean only that the packaging has changed and the amount of the contents decreased. God’s redemptive plan in Jesus is not merely...
Team up with Jesus

Team up with Jesus

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30) OUR TASKS ARE SOMETIMES greater than our abilities. The load can be too heavy, and our strength can be too small. When these times come, we need someone who can step in and help carry the load and provide the...
The Still Dew of Quietness

The Still Dew of Quietness

“I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.” (Matt. 12:6) MY WIFE AND I have a favorite place to go when we need to get away from everything and rest our bodies, minds, and souls. Stretching out in our lounge chairs on the sand with something cold to drink...
Dealing with the Enemy

Dealing with the Enemy

Hear, O Lord, my cry for mercy. (Ps. 140:6) DAVID’S ENEMIES WERE NUMEROUS. If he wasn’t fleeing King Saul, he was fleeing the Philistines. For many of David’s younger years, he was hunted and hounded by people who resented his skill in battle and his popularity among...
A Cup of Cold Water

A Cup of Cold Water

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones . . . he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matt. 10:42) GOD REMEMBERS THE DETAILS. The Scriptures tell us that He notices when a sparrow falls to the ground. He even numbers the hairs of our...
Examples for Christ

Examples for Christ

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Matt. 10:40) ADVISING THE FIRST CHRISTIAN PREACHERS, Jesus told them that those who received the disciples as they went about preaching and teaching were receiving Jesus. What an...
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...