“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” – Psalm 146:5

In the summer of 1982, I traveled from Oregon to Illinois for Midwest camp meeting with a group of nine others, including my two children. We went in a 1979 Chevrolet twelve-passenger van with all our luggage piled on top. Needless to say, the van was overloaded.

The camp meeting was wonderful, and on the return trip home we stopped to visit a few of our Midwest branch churches as well. After that, though, we ran into some car troubles. About a hundred miles east of Oklahoma, the right rear tire blew out. Our driver was able to bring us to a safe stop along the shoulder of the freeway and we put in the spare, but upon letting the jack down we discovered that the spare was also flat.

With few options available to us, we decided to pray and then proceed as far as the Lord would allow on the flat tire. We started slow at first, but as we drove we were amazed to see that the tire actually started to fill back up with air. After traveling a short distance, the tire was up far enough to get back on the freeway at fifty-five miles per hour! At the next service station we checked the tire’s air pressure and it read ten pounds, yet the tire was all the way up. I aired it up to forty pounds and then we continued on our journey.

We knew we should stop at the next city and purchase new tires, and at a particular exit I felt the Lord prompt me look for a tire shop. I did, and there was a shop just off the exit. However, they did not have the tires we needed. They recommended another place, and we went there, but they could not help us either. We would have left, but another employee there heard what we needed and said he could help. He said he had been praying that morning and the Lord urged him to go get two tires from his warehouse for someone who would need them that day. They were exactly what we needed and were the last two of that kind that they had! We proceeded on our trip rejoicing and praising the Lord for His goodness to us.

As we follow God’s leading in our lives, we can expect Him to help us every step of the way. He will open doors that were previously shut and make ways where there were none before, all to bring glory to His name. What a privilege it is to see God working and to be included in His plans!



“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

“Help me to understand more about faith,” I asked the Lord as I sat looking out the window. Like showing me a picture, He reminded me of a scene from my life several years earlier.

I was pregnant with our second child. It had been a difficult pregnancy as I was in a wheelchair due to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Many times, in prayer I had given the baby to the Lord. Then, seven weeks before my due date, I began hemorrhaging. I thought that the baby had died. My sister came and took my four-year-old son to her house. As I sat alone waiting for my husband to come home from work and for the ambulance to arrive and take us to the hospital, I began to cry almost hysterically. Then suddenly I stopped and said, “Lord, I have given this baby to You; he is Yours.” Instantly, I felt a calm and peace come over me. It stayed with me when the ambulance arrived and while all the little neighbor kids came out to watch the “show.” The next day, when the baby’s heart was in distress and the doctors decided to do an emergency Cesarean section, I still had peace.

When I woke up from surgery, I did not have to ask if the baby was okay, I already knew he was. I did not even think about how amazing that was until the day, many years later, when I asked the Lord to help me understand faith better. He showed me that when I surrendered to Him even though I could not see the end result, that was faith. It was as though the evidence was already before me.

Today, my son is a six-foot-one-inch tall young man. You would never guess that he was a preemie or that he ever gave his mom a moment of worry about his health. God is so good!



“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14

Looking back on my life, I see how God used people to bring the Gospel to me—a grandmother moving into my home when I was a small child, and an older lady who knocked on my door and invited me to Sunday school. People who, every day, were doing what they were called to do—going out and proclaiming the Gospel to a needy world. From the world’s eyes they were not important. Nevertheless, God called and they answered. Maybe it was that smile as someone helped me learn my lines for a Christmas program, or the bus driver who picked me up every week and drove me to Sunday school. God was calling them for “such a time as this” to plant the seed of the Gospel in my heart. I am sure it was not always easy, and maybe, at times, they were out of their comfort zones, but God called and they answered.

Esther was a young girl when she became queen. She had no previous training for being a representative of her people, and her new, high-profile position was out of her comfort zone. She understood that she was placed in that position “for such a time as this,” to save her people from annihilation. A wrong move on her part could have cost her life, but with much prayer and fasting, she stepped out for God and went before the king, preserving the nation of Israel.

As Christians, probably all of us have felt called to do something that was out of our comfort zones. Every day God brings opportunities our way: the grocery clerk and the stranger in line behind us, and other individuals we see throughout the day. It is “for such a time as this” that God put us where we find ourselves today. Much prayer is needed to step forward and to plant the seed of Jesus’ love in the hearts of those around us, but when we determine to obey, the Lord will bless our efforts.

There is a saying: “You may be the only Bible someone reads.” Let us maintain a Christian walk every day so that those reading our lives may receive a seed that will grow in their hearts.



“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Years ago, a new space shuttle lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a special mission into outer space. Millions of dollars and months of work and experimenting went into this effort by the scientists who sent equipment, cameras, and other instruments to “unlock the mystery of the origin of the solar system.” Their goal was to determine what the stars are made of, what holds them up in the darkness of space, and how they were made.

The fact is, God made the stars! (Genesis 1:16) In fact, God made every thing that exists and He made it out of nothing (John 1:3). The way the universe works is not a mystery to God; He hung every star and he calls them by name.

Today’s focus verse comes from the account when Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again. Nicodemus did not understand that Jesus meant he must have a changed heart; he needed a spiritual birth. How God can redeem and regenerate a soul through the power in the shed Blood of Jesus is a far greater mystery than where the solar system came from, but we do not have to understand exactly how it works in order to receive His salvation. The simplicity of the Gospel truth is for those who believe God and are willing to do what is right.

Some people will search for the origins of the universe their whole lives, and never realize that God made all of creation—including them! They are “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Yet, God’s plan of salvation is so simple that everyone can understand and follow it and find a home in Heaven.

There are “mysteries” in the Bible, but they are revealed to those who will study and desire to learn. There are riches in the Bible that will only be disclosed by the searching of a hungry soul. The origin of the solar system is just one of the “pearls” to be discovered by the one who thirsts for more of God. If we will seek Him with our whole hearts, we will find that the simple truth of the Gospel is far more meaningful than any wisdom the world can offer.




“For the son of man is come to save that which was lost.” – Matthew 18:11

I know of no one who likes to be lost. It is an unpleasant experience.

When I was a third grader, we had just moved to a new neighborhood, and I started attending a much larger school than I had even seen before. I had previously gone to a one-room school, which was located right next to our rural home, so I was totally unprepared for “city life.”

At noontime, on my first day in the new school, the children were dismissed to go home for a lunch break. I went out an unfamiliar door and took a wrong turn, which took me in the opposite direction from my home. After wandering up and down streets for what seemed to me a very long time, I finally started crying. A kind man came out of his house and asked what was wrong, so I explained that I could not find my way home. The man asked if I lived in a “stucco” house. I had never heard the term before so I had to admit I did not know, even though later I found that was, indeed, the kind of house we lived in. After a few more questions, I was headed in the right direction. I was a very happy girl to finally get home.

I was only a couple of blocks from my home, but I had no idea how to reach my destination. Even though I could not help myself, someone came to my rescue and helped me to head in the right direction. If I would have had the courage to knock on someone’s door and ask for help, I could have been home much sooner.

Many people in this world are spiritually lost and heading the wrong way. There is much wandering about and searching, trying to get their bearings. God is faithful and is watching, and wants to help each one find the way Home. Often, the Lord uses Christians to help point lost souls in the right direction. Sometimes they will come right out and ask us about our faith, but more often than not we will be the ones to bring it up. When the Lord prompts you to help someone find his way to the Savior, do not be afraid to speak up. The Lord wants to save that lost soul, and you might be the one to help Him do it! How grateful that individual will be when he finally gets home.




“For the son of man is come to save that which was lost.” – Matthew 18:11

I know of no one who likes to be lost. It is an unpleasant experience.

When I was a third grader, we had just moved to a new neighborhood, and I started attending a much larger school than I had even seen before. I had previously gone to a one-room school, which was located right next to our rural home, so I was totally unprepared for “city life.”

At noontime, on my first day in the new school, the children were dismissed to go home for a lunch break. I went out an unfamiliar door and took a wrong turn, which took me in the opposite direction from my home. After wandering up and down streets for what seemed to me a very long time, I finally started crying. A kind man came out of his house and asked what was wrong, so I explained that I could not find my way home. The man asked if I lived in a “stucco” house. I had never heard the term before so I had to admit I did not know, even though later I found that was, indeed, the kind of house we lived in. After a few more questions, I was headed in the right direction. I was a very happy girl to finally get home.

I was only a couple of blocks from my home, but I had no idea how to reach my destination. Even though I could not help myself, someone came to my rescue and helped me to head in the right direction. If I would have had the courage to knock on someone’s door and ask for help, I could have been home much sooner.

Many people in this world are spiritually lost and heading the wrong way. There is much wandering about and searching, trying to get their bearings. God is faithful and is watching, and wants to help each one find the way Home. Often, the Lord uses Christians to help point lost souls in the right direction. Sometimes they will come right out and ask us about our faith, but more often than not we will be the ones to bring it up. When the Lord prompts you to help someone find his way to the Savior, do not be afraid to speak up. The Lord wants to save that lost soul, and you might be the one to help Him do it! How grateful that individual will be when he finally gets home.



“We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” – Philippians 3:20-21

Extreme makeovers have become very popular in our society. Magazines, documentaries, and even news programs allow viewers an inside look at what people will do to adjust their appearance. It seems that some people will pay almost any amount of money to look better. On a smaller scale, a glance through the yellow pages reveals that manicurists are without number and hair salons are equally plentiful. We can purchase a pedicure, facials of all different kinds, and full body massages. There are also Botox treatments to smooth wrinkles, silicone injections to make lips fuller, and even tattooing to provide fuller eyebrows or permanent lipstick.

Our focus verse states that someday our bodies will be changed, and that change will be the ultimate in extreme makeovers! I have often wondered what my body will be like after this life. What am I going to look like? Will I be younger, or will I be older? Will I still resemble myself, or will I look totally different? While I do not know the answers to these questions, I do know that the result will be wonderful. Today’s focus verse says that our bodies will be fashioned like Jesus’ glorious body. This makeover will be far better than anything a surgeon could do for me!

Jesus’ appearance was changed after he rose from the dead, and the Bible tells us that His followers did not immediately recognize Him, but it dawned on them as He spoke or prayed that it was Him. He was recognized by Who He was, not by what He looked like. That is what we can expect also. In eternity, we will have new, glorious bodies, but our personalities and souls will be the same. These old bodies that age and wear out—no matter how much time or money is spent trying to prevent that—will be gone. That being the case, shouldn’t the condition of our souls be our biggest concern? If our hearts are right with the Lord, we can look forward to the coming day of our extreme makeover, which will last for eternity!




“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

Have you ever had a time in your life when you were so busy you could hardly think straight, and there was no end in sight? Maybe it was during your college years when fitting in a job, homework, and a very important social life felt like a juggling act. Or perhaps you have children and the list of chores and responsibilities seems never ending. Sometimes our jobs can be so demanding that they eat up most our free time, and then even in our free time we find ourselves stewing over it. Then there are family weddings, birthdays, and graduations that can pile up all at the same time. At times like these, you wake up in the morning knowing there is a long to-do list waiting for you, and it won’t get any shorter with you lying in bed!

I remember one busy season when I was feeling stressed. I would remind myself there was enough time to accomplish that day what the Lord wanted done, and that comforted me some, but the pressure was still there. Then one day as I was reading the Bible, I came across today’s focus verse, which tells about the peace of God. I cannot tell you what it did for me! I immediately felt some of that peace touch my life, and I was finally able to see beyond the busyness of my little rabbit trail.

Whatever our day holds, God is always the same. His peace is there, available to us whenever we need it. When our schedule seems to be loaded heavier than we think we can manage, we need to call on Jesus for His peace. It reaches our soul like cool water on a hot day. Even though our circumstances are the same, the change in perspective is enough to allow us to enjoy our busy day rather than just make it through.

Take a break today and enjoy the peace of God. Let His joy fill your heart and put a smile on your face!



“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” – Psalm 103:1-2

Having spent most of my life in Kenya, I had been in the United States for less than a year when I asked a friend to take me to look for a car for my family. We shopped until way past lunchtime, and at about 3:00 p.m., we decided to take a break and eat at a place where chicken meals were sold. The good smell and the appetizing presentation of the food were beyond my imagination.

Chicken in Kenya was very expensive and many people could hardly afford it. It was surreal to be sitting in that restaurant which was extraordinary to me but so common in the States. I enjoyed every bite with an intensity words cannot describe. But before I cleared my plate, I noticed a hair. I wanted to just put the hair aside and continue with my lunch. However, my friend saw it and immediately asked for the manager and showed him the hair in my almost-finished food. The manager was so apologetic, and spoke the most heartwarming words of the day, “I will give you another plate of food. We are sorry for the hair.” I was not sorry for the hair; I thanked God for it!

On reflection, I have thought of the many situations where we focus on trivial inconveniences and overlook the blessings that might be disguised. We complain about a rainy day at the expense of thanking God for the food that will be harvested as a result of the rain. We complain about our jobs instead of thanking God for our employment. We complain about what we do not have instead of thanking God for what we do have.

Having an attitude of gratitude is a choice we make as individuals. You can choose to see the “hairs” in your life or the extra plates of blessings you get because of them. You do better when you choose to bless the Lord and forget not the second helping that you may get at no extra charge. Think of the clean water or of the fact that you may not have to worry about your next meal or your family or your health. And do not forget that if you are reading this, you have been blessed with another day that many people did not live to see.




“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” – Luke 11:13

As a child, the winter days in Minnesota seemed very long, especially when snowdrifts cut us off from our neighbors or town. We were confined to a small house, and it was often depressing and certainly lacked excitement.

Mother was challenged but usually rose to the occasion by inventing house games or projects that kept us interested. I remember when she showed us an ad in a magazine that said if you sent the ad, possibly a few box tops or wrappers, and a few pennies, you would receive a sample bar of red colored soap. So mom clipped the required coupons and the proper wrappers, sacrificed a few of the grocery pennies, and sent for this fantastic gift for each of us five children.

We knew it was coming. Even though the mailbox was too far away for us to collect the mail, we watched each day as my father came back from that long walk up to the big, busy highway where all the mailboxes stood.

We were excited about the pending arrival of the soap even though it seemed to take weeks. Then one day, our patient waiting was over. Papa came down the road carrying a package. We gathered around my mother as she tore open the treasure and handed each of us a beautiful tiny red bar of clean-smelling Lifebuoy soap. We each had our own gift.

God has promised gifts to us, and we can enjoy that exciting anticipation as we wait for its arrival. As we study God’s Word and read His promises, we can look back at our Christian walk and remember the promises that have already been fulfilled in our lives. We can know that the promises we have yet to claim are just as certain. They are on the way! They are in the mail!

Our heavenly Father takes pleasure in giving us those “good gifts.” We can safely ask God for those gifts. They are worth waiting for!



“Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.” – Deuteronomy 2:3

A few years ago, I traveled to Portland, Oregon, to give a whole day seminar at George Fox University. It was late and raining heavily when I picked up a rental car. My strategy was to maneuver my way out of the airport as soon as possible and avoid the traffic. I took an exit and noticed that the cars in front of me were not moving. I could see a light and some people around what seemed to be the airport pay booths, but the only movement in the traffic was at the front of the lines. After almost fifteen minutes, I decided to get out of the car and find out what was happening. That is when I realized the cars in those lines had no drivers, and I had joined the rental cars at the car wash facility!

There are times in life when we find ourselves making no progress in our professional or personal endeavors. We knew what our goals were when we started. We had plans and maybe even resources, but at some point, progress stopped. I would have been in that car-wash line for hours had I not decided it was time to re-evaluate what was happening and make a change.

The account presented in Deuteronomy gives us a great picture of what stops us from moving forward spiritually, and how to overcome it. The Israelites had started their journey with a great vision—go to the land of promise and leave the land of bondage behind. Yet, because of their disbelief and complaining spirit, they ended up spending many years without progress in their journey. Then we read powerful words—”turn you northward.” God instructed them to turn and go in a different direction. Our situation can only have a different ending if we are willing to change, reevaluate our spiritual goals, and turn Heavenward.

Ask yourself honestly, “Am I in a better professional, personal, or spiritual situation than I was in last year?” Is it time for you to move on? If your answer is yes, ask the Lord to show you what is hindering your progress and what needs to change for you to obtain the promises He has given you.



“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” – Psalm 34:8

Recently, a friend telephoned me and asked if we could go out for dinner at a restaurant that we like and frequently visit. My answer was a definite yes! One of the attractions there is a line-up of delicious desserts, among them is one of our favorites—a bowl of berry cobbler.

When we got to the restaurant, my friend could not make up her mind whether she would get a berry cobbler or not. She decided to wait and see how full she felt after eating her main course. In the end, she apparently had room for dessert. She asked the waitress to bring her a loganberry cobbler ala mode.

As my friend sat enjoying the cobbler, she kept exclaiming how good it tasted. She did not say it just once, but several times she made clear how delicious she thought it was. In fact, she was still talking about it as we left the restaurant. I could tell she really, really liked it!

That is how we as Christians should feel about the Lord. One of the lines in a hymn we sing says, “He’s sweeter than honey, from out of the comb.” Indeed, I have been on the Christian highway for many years now, and I have found that the Lord’s love is “sweeter as the years go by,” as another hymn declares. The love we receive from the Lord as we serve Him far surpasses anything else that this world offers. Yes, it is even sweeter than the loganberry cobbler my friend enjoyed that evening!

Today’s focus verse tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good. When we eat something that is delicious, we usually do not hesitate to let those around us know about it. Yet, are we voicing our appreciation of God’s love as freely and unreservedly as my friend voiced her delight in the loganberry cobbler? As we go through this day, let us take the time to thank the Lord and to let others know of the joy and satisfaction that we have found in serving Jesus.



“Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” – John 16:23

After recently moving to a different house, I find that many items have been misplaced. I am constantly looking for things I want to use and am not able to find them. As a result, I am breathing little prayers to the Lord saying, “Jesus, will You please help me to find this or that?” Sometimes the Lord answers immediately and sometimes my faith is tried.

A few days ago, I wanted a particular cookbook, which contains a casserole recipe I like. Of course, I could not find it. I kept saying, “Jesus, will You please help me find that cookbook?” I made several trips to the garage where I had a box of books that I had not finished unpacking. It was not there. I made several trips to the bookcase and could not see it there. I wondered if it had been lost in the moving process and was gone forever. I searched for two or three days without any results.

This morning, I began looking again. I stood staring at the bookcase, once again disappointed. This cookbook was special to me because it was one that had been printed by the Apostolic Faith Church. I thought, Perhaps there are some left and I can buy another one. As I turned to go to the telephone to call and ask if there were any more, my eye caught the back of a spiral book. I pulled it out, and there was my “Finest of the Wheat” cookbook right in front of my eyes!

It thrilled me once again at how faithful the Lord is, even in small things. Of course, it would not have been a life-changing event if I had not found that cookbook. Yet, it proved to me once again, that the Lord is faithful to answer our prayers no matter how small they may be.

Is there anything you have been wanting the Lord to do for you? Ask Him. He will answer you.



“The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion.” – Psalm 20:1-2

It seems that my personal life is a compilation of moments of “help from the sanctuary.” One of them happened several years ago, when my wife was about to give birth to our youngest son. She had gone through a troubled pregnancy. When it was time for her to deliver our son, a doctor, a nurse, and myself were in the delivery room with her. The baby started to come but then stalled halfway through the birth canal. There was no more movement, and it was too late to perform a Cesarean section! My wife was hovering between life and death. I heard the doctor cry out, “I need help!” and then someone came into the room and with all his strength put his weight on the womb and pushed the baby out. He did not say anything to the doctor or us, he just walked out. I was left to wonder if he were a man or an angel, but it did not matter; I knew he was help from the sanctuary.

In the focus verse, the Psalmist was describing something extraordinary: custom-made help for you and me, designed to fit whatever situation is at hand, and which comes from the sanctuary of the Omnipotent One. Sometimes people may refer to that help as coming from a guardian angel, or attribute it to good luck or simple chance. David wanted us to know that it is divinely-crafted intervention from God. What a comfort to know that when we are in trouble we can call on God to send help from His very sanctuary!

God wants to give us help. He looks for opportunities to be of help to His children. Maybe you have something going on in your life more difficult than usual. Do not despair; there is no situation too hard for Him! Tell God that you need more than ordinary help, you need help from His sanctuary. He will send a special delivery package of custom-made help for the need you have at hand.



“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” – Matthew 10:30

I was reared in a family of thirteen children: five boys and eight girls. Lots of times, things were chaotic around our house. Not that anyone was naughty, just all of us doing our own thing at once. I can remember both my mom and my dad calling out names: “Sandy, Marie, Dickie, Lainie . . .”—all of us would sort of pause and listen. They would stumble through a long list of names until they reached the right one. I even remember my dad ending one of those episodes with, “You, with the glasses on,” which was not a whole lot better because half of us wore glasses! It could be frustrating to them and also very frustrating to the siblings.

In a family that size, I sometimes felt a little lost, especially when I was standing right in front of my parents and they could not come up with my name! Even in my church family, I was often confused with my sisters. One time, after addressing me by several of my sisters’ names, my pastor said to me, “Well, which one are you?” That did not make me feel very good. No one likes to be lost in the crowd.

Can you imagine that God, with His great big family, does not lose track of an individual? When God calls your name, He knows whom He is calling. He is not confused or thinking of another person—He really does mean you. He calls your name for a number of reasons; He first calls when He wants you to give Him your heart, and He also calls when He wants a deeper commitment or when He wants you to do something for Him.

Knowing that God keeps track of the hairs of our heads should give us confidence that we are well known to Him. From time to time, He may call your name and say, “Speak to this person,” or, “Send a card to this hurting one.” He might tell you, “Take dinner to the family next door,” or, “Come closer, I need to be with you.” These things are not figments of our imaginations; they are very real. When you hear the Lord call your name, pause and give attention to what He is saying. He knows exactly who you are!



“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

When my wife and I lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, a lady gave us a plant and told us it was a hollyhock. I happened to be familiar with those plants from my childhood, but I had not seen one for years, so I was excited about the gift. I kept an eye on my new plant, marking its progress. However, the more it grew, the more certain I became that it was not a hollyhock. And sure enough, it turned out to be some sort of gourd, which I was not excited about.

In contrast to that experience, it is so good to know that the things planted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ do not end up surprising or disappointing us. In spiritual terms, we can compare growing plants to developing godly qualities in our lives. The Lord provides the seed and plants it in our hearts, and our part is to cultivate that seed through prayer, studying the Word of God, seeking the Lord’s will for our lives, and obeying what He tells us to do. As we invest our time and energy into the cultivation process, there is never a fear of what the outcome will be. The seed from God is good, and if cared for properly it will always produce righteousness in our lives.

Today’s focus verse tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (self-control). What wonderful qualities for a person to possess! As Christians, those are the virtues we can expect to grow in our lives as we walk with the Lord. If any of them are lacking in our lives, we can be sure that the problem is not in the seed, but somewhere in our own cultivation process. However, if we will water, weed, and nourish what God has planted in our hearts through His Word, those good qualities will grow. Guaranteed.

Gardening can be fun, but oh how exciting it is to reap the bounty of God’s promises!



“And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.” – Isaiah 48:21

The heat was a welcome change from the colder days that our thermometer had registered the week before. However, the humidity that accompanied the higher temperature was not received as positively; it made the outside feel like a furnace.

I was waiting for friends in a shopping center parking lot and I observed a hard-working construction crew laboring on a new building being erected next door. The heat and humidity created beads of sweat on many of the workers’ faces. Now and then I would see a crewmember go to a water cooler for a refreshing drink. Looking toward the water cooler again, I noticed a water hose winding through the building material, and a flushed worker spraying his arms and shirt to cool off. That kind of refreshment was definitely needed and appreciated in this weather!

Thinking back on that day, I considered the many times a stressful day had made me feel emotionally overheated, sometimes almost to what felt like my boiling point. I would go to the drinking fountain at work hoping for some refreshment, yet that brought little or no relief. The stresses would still be steaming around me, threatening to erupt into a crisis. However, one time I escaped to the elevator on a day like that, and there I whispered a prayer to the Lord. I gave Him the fiery problem. Right in the elevator between the second and third floors, it was as though the Lord sent a river into my dry and parched day. A stream of His love flowed from His heart to mine, and my soul was restored. A calm surrounded me. It was just what I needed that day.

Do you ever feel like your day is getting too “hot,” and your spirit is beginning to languish? If so, ask the Lord to send His cooling stream to your heart. Since my experience in the elevator that day, I have made the elevator my spiritual “water cooler” where I can quickly be refreshed in my spirit by the Lord. However, any location where we can whisper a prayer will do. His healing water will bring strength to your thirsty soul.



“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15

One day, a friend sent this thought to me: “Those around you desperately need to be encouraged by your latest encounter with Christ.” Since then, I have pondered that thought often.

There is something thrilling about hearing a new convert tell of the change God made in his or her life. It is exciting and encouraging to hear firsthand about a healing or of God providing financially. How many times have you been going through a trial and the testimony of someone with a similar experience came to your mind? These accounts of God’s faithfulness and goodness to His children can give us just enough hope and assurance to keep us trusting in Him.

The helpfulness of testimonies should come as no surprise, because the Bible tells us plainly that victory is in store for those who are ready to tell of “the hope” they have in Jesus: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Not only do we overcome through sharing our testimony, but we are also helping someone else to overcome. Rehearsing with each other what God has done in our lives is critical to our strength as Christians and the furtherance of the Gospel.

We live in a world that is desperate for the Good News. People are struggling to find a better way. We can win others for Christ, one heart at a time, but two things are required on our part. First, we need to have a testimony. We must have a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ on a daily basis so that His hope is alive in us. Second, we need to be prepared to share our testimony. We must boldly proclaim the power of Jesus Christ when we have the opportunity.

When was the last time you told someone about the reason for the hope that is in your heart? Today, let us think about God’s love and what He has done for us, and most of all, let’s share it with others.




“I have called you friends.” – John 15:15

Several years ago, a Christian college near our home was hosting a concert and my family and I planned to go. I was as excited as the kids were; it had been a while since we had been on a family outing. Then, at the last minute, my husband called from out of town and said he could not make it home in time to go.

When the children’s aunt heard our plans had to be canceled she offered to take us. But since it would have been very difficult to fit me and my motorized wheelchair into her small car, it seemed best that just the children go, and that I stay home.

After they left for the concert, I sat by the table with my Bible opened. I could not help feeling disappointed and a little lonely. I prayed, “Lord, I really need You to be my Friend tonight.”

A few minutes later there was a knock at my door. There stood my brother-in-law with my favorite beverage—an extra hot, double tall latte! He said, “I was studying for my sermon, and the Lord told me to go get this and bring it to you.”

Recently, when I mentioned the incident to my brother-in-law, he did not remember doing it. But I still marvel that the God of the universe would hear my feeble prayer and would show me, in such a tangible way as sending me a latte, that He is my Friend.

If you ever find yourself in a position in which you feel friendless, remember that Jesus is our Friend that is closer than a brother. He is only a whisper away, and even sees the desires of our hearts before we actually form those prayers. Just as we love to do good things for our friends, so Jesus delights to be our Friend and to favor us with good things. Let us rest in His loving care.



“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” – Psalm 32:7

Have you dreamed about finding your own little “get-away?” Maybe you have wished you could just sneak away for the weekend. Or, perhaps somewhere in your own hometown there is a secluded place you return to when you are feeling busy and overwhelmed. Sometimes, when life is particularly stressful, just the thought of a place like that can be very appealing. It makes me wonder, What is it about a hiding place that sounds so good?

Like many children, I was always looking for hiding places. I spent hours looking for a secret passageway or a hidden crawlspace. One time, I made a secret hiding place of my own. I had a huge dresser in my room and I learned that if I took all the drawers out, and threw a blanket over the holes, I could crawl inside the dresser and have my own little refuge. I enjoyed decorating the space. I crammed a pillow, a doll, a picture, and even a lamp with a long cord, inside my “secret” hiding place. I do not remember that I ever did anything spectacular once I had the space all set up. I imagine I sat there and basked in the secretiveness of it all. Nobody could steal my hiding place (mainly because nobody else could fit inside); it was mine.

Think about all the stressful things that life can throw our way: people at work, deadlines at school, chores to finish, bills to pay, families to raise, dinner to cook, repairs to make, and the list goes on. Some days you may feel as though you are running from here to there and you never find relief. But Jesus knows! He has made Himself available to us every hour of the day. When we are scared, overwhelmed, troubled, or when we just want to hide from the evil world, we can know that Jesus is there. Jesus is our own hiding place! He is our shelter and our protector; we can curl up in His love and feel at peace. There is no better hiding place on this earth.



“Then Jesus beholding him loved him.” – Mark 10:21

One of my grandsons is going through a stage where girls and kissing is an especially abhorrent idea. Though he clearly adores his mother, he even wipes off her kisses from his head or face.

Recently he did so, and his mom pretended to pout and asked him, “Don’t you love me?” He swiftly answered her, “Of course I do; you’re my mom; I have to love you.” Likewise, by his thought process, his mother has to love him, because she is his mom.

My daughter loves her son devotedly, and it most assuredly is not a case of “have to.” A mother or father will often go to great lengths to protect and set up a future for their children. They expend time, money, energy, and emotions throughout their lifetime because of the great love they have for each of their children.

Jesus loved the man referred to in our focus verse. This was the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what more he needed to do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told him what to do, Scripture tells us that he walked away sad because he did not want to do what Jesus had said. Jesus was trying to help him, but unfortunately His love was not well received. It was almost as though the young man was wiping off kisses from the One who loved him more than any other.

God loves us more than we can comprehend, and not just because He has to. We are His creation, His own handiwork. He loved us before we even knew Him. Because of that, He has gone to great lengths to protect us as we walk through this life, and He is preparing a place in Heaven for us. God’s great love for you and for me caused Him to send His only Son to die on the Cross of Calvary so we might be saved.

Everything He does for us is done out of love. Do we love God back? Or, by our actions are we wiping off His kisses? It is understandable that boys will reach an age when they do not appreciate all forms of affection from their mothers. However, we need to understand that anything God gives us is needful and important, and we ought to receive it with thankful hearts.



“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

The bright red light caught my attention as I drove along, my mind racing through the errands I was attempting to accomplish. I quickly glanced over to see what it was—I did not recall that there was a red light in that area of my truck. I discovered that it was not an actual light bulb, but a reflection. So my eyes darted around the cab in between glances at the road. Soon I found the source: a shiny red gift bag was reflecting light onto the wall! The reflection was so bright, however, that all throughout my drive, my eyes were drawn constantly in that direction.

As I drove on, I thought about Jesus, the Light of the world. How I would love for my life to reflect Him so much that people cannot help but notice! I want His love to shine through me so brightly that it draws attention—not to me, but to the Light I am reflecting.

I have known, and still know, people who reflect God’s love brightly. In the times when I have felt discouraged or gone through difficult times, I have been thankful for that reflection. The love these people have shown me always reminds me just how much Jesus loves me. What an encouragement that is!

As much as we may want others to experience God’s love the way we have, it is not always easy to reach out to them and show them love. There is always a risk of rejection, a risk of looking or feeling foolish. Yet, when we reflect the light of God’s love, we have His security behind us. Whether or not we are rejected by those we try to reach, He will always be there, and will never reject us as long as we keep our hands in His.



“In what place therefore ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us: our God shall fight for us.” – Nehemiah 4:20

A member of our church family was seriously ill. For days he struggled between life and death, and the news of his condition went out to our other churches. “This brother needs prayer.” It was a call to battle. God’s people were united with one purpose and we knew this struggle was not too big for God. There was a desperate need, and we prayed believing God would respond. In a few days’ time, God gave the victory. That man made a full and miraculous recovery.

In these last days, Satan is trying extra hard to take out those who are committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He attacks on every side, with illness, afflictions, family struggles, and distractions in many avenues. We, as soldiers of the Cross, need to be on the frontline, on our knees fighting with tears and strong supplications that God will keep His people under the Blood and protected as they carry the Good News to the world.

While the Israelites were repairing the walls of the old city, each one carried a sword in one hand and a working tool in the other. As they worked, they were aware of what was going on around them. If any part of the wall was in danger of attack by the enemy, they were to sound a trumpet and workers around the wall would rally to the point of attack and be ready to resist the invasion. Sounding the trumpet was a cry for help, and we can still do that today. When we are in the thick of battle, we can call on the prayers of others for our need. What a comfort it is to know there is power in prayer and that through the united prayers of the saints many battles are won!

When the enemy attacks God’s people, we have the privilege to “sound the trumpet” to charge against the army of Satan. We do not fight against flesh and blood, but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). But neither do we fight alone; our Captain goes before us, and we are promised the victory! As we pray in our private devotions each day, let us remember our nation’s leaders, our ministers, and each other. We have seen the wonders of God’s answers, and it gives us great confidence that our God continues to watch over us until the day of His coming.



“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

When I was growing up in Kenya, we prepared our farm land for planting during the dry season. The soil was hard to cultivate by hand, so we used draft animals to break up the ground. With yoked steers, we were able to plow large areas in a short time.

The smoothness with which the steers pulled the plow depended on the direction they were going. When they pulled toward home, they moved in a straight line. When they pulled away from home, they moved in a crooked manner, and pressure had to be applied to make them cut a straight line.

Since I became a Christian, I realized that our spiritual walk toward Heaven could be compared to steers plowing a strait furrow. As long as we keep our eyes fixed on our eternal home, we can overcome life’s challenges that would otherwise cause us to “swerve” off track. When we try to be in charge of our own lives, charting our own course instead of focusing on the Creator, our path becomes like the crooked lines that the steers cut when pulling away from home.

The emotions that come upon us when we face challenging life experiences are similar for both Christians and non-Christians. However, the responses to those emotions differ greatly. For those grounded in Christ, the consolation comes from knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Our hope is that even in hard times God has the situation under His control. That is what keeps us moving forward steadily toward our goal, despite obstacles that come up along the way.

Each passing day draws us closer to our home, and each day on our way home is special. May we live every day as though it were our final day on earth. It can never be repeated. Cherish this day as you keep focused on the eternal goal, and enrich others on your way to Glory Land.




“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1

Recently, my boss was explaining to me why she does not want to smoke. She has been a smoker at different times in her life, and of late has started smoking again. She is not really concerned about the health issues that come with smoking, but she is concerned about the strong hold it has on a person. She does not like the bondage that she is under—everything she does is controlled by the need for a cigarette. When she goes to a restaurant, she has to know if there is smoking allowed. Going to the movies must be planned around her last cigarette. Her next smoke is all she thinks about while she is at work. At one time she had quit for eight years, and she said that she had not realized how much bondage she was under until she was freed. She could breathe better, her food tasted better, her schedule was not dictated by smoke breaks, and her thoughts were not occupied with cravings. She no longer felt like a chained prisoner.

As she was explaining all of this, it occurred to me that this is exactly what it is to be in the bondage of sin. People who are bound by sin often do not know they are under so much bondage until the chains of sin are loosed. They cannot understand the freedom there is in salvation until they have experienced it, and then how grateful they are to finally know what it is to be spiritually free.

However, it is sad to say that there are those who, once freed, decide to return to a life of bondage. I turned my back on the Lord’s goodness several years ago, but in His love and mercy, He called me back. What joy I experienced when He set me free! No more a slave in the bondage of sin, I am free to live life as a child of the King! With God’s help, I will never turn my back on this freedom.

Logically, it does not make sense to return to something that was so terrible, yet many have been tricked into doing just that. Thank the Lord, there is hope for backsliders to get victory again, and there is enough power in Jesus’ Blood to keep those who are determined to be kept. May we all be vigilant to stand fast in the liberty Christ has given us, and to “be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”


Proving God


“And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece.” – Judges 6:39

We had had a wonderful vacation trip to Florida, Denver, Kansas City, and Tennessee, but on returning home to my position as a clerk on the railroad, I discovered that a wholesale cutting of positions had occurred while I was gone and I no longer had a position to come back to. The closest job my seniority would make me eligible for was that of a yard clerk forty-five miles away in the city of Longview, Washington, and I took it.

My brother-in-law was the pastor of our church in Denver, Colorado, and when he found out that I was driving to work that many miles a day, five days a week, he offered to find me a job in Denver. He said there would be no problem at all finding work there.

I had no desire to move to Denver, but I needed to support a wife and five children. So after talking it over with my wife and my pastor, we decided to wait until the end of our upcoming camp meeting, which was only a few weeks away, to see what the Lord would do on our behalf.

The chief clerk in the yard office had the most seniority of anyone in the area. His young daughter had a serious ailment and had to spend much time at a specialized hospital in Seattle. Seattle was in our seniority district, so he decided to bid on a position there. After he got the position in Seattle, there was a long line of bidding by the employees in the area, to get more desirable jobs. The bids for the lowest position on the roster were due to be closed on the same week as the last week of camp meeting. You guessed it! I was given the position I needed in the very time frame that I had asked God to help me.

God confirmed His will with Gideon in his situation in the Bible, and He confirmed His will for me: that I should stay where I was and not relocate. When we are sincerely seeking God’s direction for our lives, He will not leave us hanging. He wants us to follow His will even more than we do, and He will show us what that is as we seek Him and wait on Him.

If you are facing a difficult situation, trust the Lord to lead you. He will always prove faithful.



“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” – 1 Samuel 18:1‍

My mom taught me to knit when I was young. I have two sweaters to prove it, but learning how involved a bit of trial and error. My first project was a pair of socks. Mom started me off and I did quite well binding each color of yarn together. The first sock I did perfectly, but on the second one, when I came to the heel of the sock, I made a stitch incorrectly. Something did not seem right but I just kept going anyway. Needless to say, I did not end up with a perfect pair of socks; in fact, one could say that they were not a “pair” at all.

It is interesting that simply weaving yarn patterns of knots can result in nice garments, blankets, or other items. In that way, knitting is somewhat like building a friendship. If each person involved in the friendship cares and keeps in contact with the other, a relationship will grow and eventually their lives will be knit together into something beautiful. Friends talk, share, communicate, and spend time together on a regular basis. However, if one is not considerate of the other, and does not take the time to talk and share, or is too busy to communicate, the relationship will have problems. Rather than developing into something lovely, it will dissipate.

In the New Testament, Jesus called His followers “friends.” The implication is that Jesus expects some communication from us. He wants to hear from us in the morning and at night and in between. He wants us to share with Him the burdens of our day, and to offer our thanks and praise for the good or wonderful things that occurred throughout the day.

 When a friend calls on the phone, we usually recognize his or her voice right away because we have heard it many times before. We want to communicate with Jesus enough that we recognize His voice too, and we need to be confident that He will also know ours when we cry out to Him. On some occasions we may be in sudden danger and need to call on Him immediately. There really is not time at that moment to get acquainted, so we need the doors of communication to be open at all times.

Make sure today that you keep in touch with that special Friend. As we keep working on this relationship, we will find our soul is being knit to the Lord’s in a beautiful way!



“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” – 1 Peter 4:7

The music quietly faded away as a hush fell over the crowded auditorium. The time had come for the curtain to rise on the final performance of “King Lear.” My friend glanced out from behind the thick curtain, scanning the sea of faces. Her eyes traveled from row to row. Then she saw it—the seat that she had reserved was empty. Her heart skipped a beat. What had happened to the person who was to fill it? Knowing that her part in the play came later, my friend pulled her eyes away from the empty chair, and hurried to a phone to make a call.

That Saturday had been a hard day for me. Nothing had gone as planned. My husband needed extra errands run, my daughter had a list of things to buy at the store, and piles of laundry waited to be done. I had looked forward to seeing my friend perform in her college play. However, by the time I was supposed to leave, numerous obstacles had made my evening out impossible. Sadly, I knew I would not be able to make her performance. Then my phone rang. It was my friend calling to see what had happened to me. She was concerned because my seat was empty.

Picturing her concern, I thought of how the Lord must feel about those who have not yet responded to His invitation. A “final performance” is coming when Jesus will return to take His followers to Heaven. It will be the greatest event the world will ever see! Everyone is invited, yet many seats are still empty. Soon, the last curtain call will be made, and this will be something we do not want to miss.

Have our lives become so encumbered by worries and cares that we are in danger of missing this great event? Will Jesus look out over the crowds of saints in Heaven and wonder why we did not make it? If we are not ready now, He is calling, checking to see where we are. He would love a full house when He returns!

Is the seat Jesus has reserved for you empty? We want to be ready to join Jesus in the air when He returns. Today, let’s make sure our seat is filled and that we are waiting and watching for Him.



“Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” – Philippians 2:14

The small aircraft lifted off from Sea-Tac Airport into beautiful sunny skies. As we climbed up and away from the bustling city and headed toward Yakima, Washington, the most awesome view of the Cascade Mountain Range unfolded before my eyes. Majestic snowcapped peaks glistened above the clouds in all their glory.

I was feasting on God’s lovely piece of handiwork when a little boy a few seats in front of me started jumping up and down shouting, “Good-bye city!” “Good-bye people!” Good-bye Mountains!” His little voice was raised in excitement as he tapped the window, looking down and shouting still more good-byes. As the flight attendant walked by, a businessman directly behind and across from this lad and his caregiver pulled the flight attendant aside. In shrill tones, he expressed his displeasure at the little guy bouncing noisily around. He stated he had a headache and could not take any loud activity at the moment. The attendant waited a few minutes, hoping the little boy would calm down a bit. However, upon seeing the scowl on the irritated man’s face, she walked over to the caregiver and explained the situation. The lady talked to her little charge for a minute and suddenly he became silent, putting his small face to the window and hardly making a sound for the rest of the flight.

It is easy to spot someone else being a grump, but is it possible we act that way sometimes too? How often do we complain or murmur over little things that bring temporary irritation or interruption? When we see others bursting with happiness do we grumble under our breath, wondering why they are so happy? When a neighbor is up early and whistling a merry tune as he works in his garden, do we shut our window as we try to read the paper, and hope he goes inside soon? If we can see ourselves here, we need to talk to the Lord about this attitude. He wants us to find joy in all things.

Next time a bothersome distraction comes across our pathway and makes us murmur or get upset, let’s turn our heart toward God and talk to Him about it. If we do, we will find that the frustration soon vanishes and a peace will fill our hearts. God will help us, as Paul wrote to the Philippians, “do all things without murmuring and disputings.”



“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” – Isaiah 41:10

Today’s focus verse is long, but is a very comforting Scripture when we are in a hard place. One time our family was moving from one state to another. My husband and I would drive the truck while our son and his cousin drove the car. We would change vehicles periodically. Sometimes our car had a bad habit of stopping and not wanting to start. It did that soon after we began on our journey, but it eventually started again. I told my husband and the boys that the Lord had given me the above promise before we left on the trip.

After a time we did change vehicles and the boys were driving the car. We had agreed that the leading vehicle would stop and wait if the following vehicle dropped out of sight for too long. After driving for a while my husband decided to pull over and wait because we had not seen the car for some time.

Sure enough, the car had stalled. The boys had tried for a while to get it started. Then our son reminded his cousin about the promise the Lord had given me and they prayed. The Lord answered prayer and soon after, the car started! They caught up with us in the truck and we were all on our way once more. We arrived safely at our destination the next day.

One day after we moved, my husband flew to the Midwest to visit one of our churches, and he asked a mechanic about the car’s problem. Amazingly enough, that man correctly diagnosed the problem. He said the car needed a tiny filter. Even though the mechanics we had consulted earlier could not find the trouble, that little filter did the job! Once again, the Lord had helped us.

It is good to be reminded we do not need to fear or be dismayed when God is with us. In fact, there are five specific promises in this single verse—not just one, but five! This is a verse that we can depend on in worrisome times.

Are you facing a hard circumstance in your life today? Review this amazing promise today, and find comfort in God’s assurance.



“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” – Hebrews 2:1

The cultural dynamics of our times threaten the survival of values and family structure. This fact vividly brings to mind a lesson I learned in my youth in Kangundo, Kenya. The mud house I grew up in was constructed when I was about seven or eight years old. Holes were dug in pre-marked areas, poles were placed in them, and then logs were nailed onto them, connecting the poles. The builders then put stones in the spaces between poles before thatching the structure with mud.

Sometimes, if it was raining or I was in a hurry, when my mother asked me to fetch firewood for cooking, I would go to the least visible side of the house and remove a log instead of going to the forest to find firewood. I did this until my father noticed that the house had holes and demanded that we, including my innocent mother, plug the holes and re-thatch it that very day.

Scriptural values and the acknowledgment of our Creator have held cultures together and helped people to have a clear conscience toward themselves, their fellow human beings, and God. These values are usually tested one at a time and their testing may be brought about by what some people refer to as “enlightenment.” However, just like the logs I removed, one log at a time, there are consequences we cannot avoid once the spiritual values have been removed. Each log in our home was a source of strength, and each one removed made it weaker. Eventually, if my habit had continued, our home would have collapsed. Likewise, if people make continual concessions in their values, the culture will decline until it collapses.

Our choices, in the long run, could hurt not only ourselves, but also those we care about. Before we move forward with altering practices that seem harmless at the present time, let us evaluate their spiritual implications and the impact on our families and Biblical principles.

Let us pay close and earnest attention to the things we know to be true. If we do not, before we realize it, we will be living with an unstable spiritual structure.



“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” – Matthew 25:13

“Company’s coming!” Could any words inspire more feverish activity around a house? I remember when I was a boy what would happen when we knew company was expected. There were a lot of chores to be done because Mother was concerned that the house be prepared just right. Everything had to be in its proper place. Bedding was aired and the sheets changed in the guest bedroom. Yard work that had been put off was on top of the list. Closets were rearranged. Special food was prepared. Flowers were cut and arranged in vases. It seemed the “to do” list was endless!

In some houses it may be that things are always in that kind of order, but around our place—there were three of us boys—when company came it meant extra preparation.

And oh, the anticipation! When the appointed hour drew near, the three of us boys would be looking out the windows, trying to catch the first glimpse of our guests. After a bit, we might even go out and peer up the road. We were eager for the company to come! Everything was geared toward the moment when they would arrive at last.

Christians today are living in an exciting age—Jesus is coming soon! We do not know the exact day or hour, but what anticipation should be in our hearts! If we really believe that His appearing is imminent, our greatest concern will center on the thought: Is everything in order? Are we ready? When that moment arrives, there will be no time for last-minute preparations.

When the Rapture of the Church takes place, will we be “out by the road” watching, longing for that first look? That should be the attitude of our hearts. Today, are you looking for His soon appearing?



“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

The other day I was at my friend’s house waiting for lunch. She was preparing the food and had put her one-and-a half-year-old son in a high chair while she made soup. She had set some bread in front of him on the table and not far from the bread was a long knife that she had used to cut the loaf. Her son saw the light reflect off of the knife and he wanted to hold it. As he reached out for it, he was almost able to grab the knife. Fortunately, my friend saw it just in time and was able to scold her son and move the knife further away. But he was not happy and let her know that by starting to cry. He did not understand that she had pulled the tantalizing object away for his own safety.

As Christians, there may be times when we want things that are not God’s will for us. Like my friend’s son, we may reach for them and almost have them in our grasp when God comes and snatches them away. We may get angry and question God’s motives, but like the child, we do not have the perspective or the wisdom that God does.

Today, if there is something that God has taken out of your life and you are bitter or upset about it, think of this verse and of the child. God knows what He is doing. He loves you and wants the very best for you. There is a song that we sing in church that has the lyrics, “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.” Trust Him and what He is doing.

If God is calling something from you today and you are afraid or upset, keep in mind the fact that God sees the end from the beginning and you can trust Him. The focus verse for today echoes that fact. God is thinking good thoughts toward you today. Let Him have His way in your life.



“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” – Colossians 4:5

It can be difficult for little children to understand the concept of time—the difference between now, tomorrow, yesterday, last week, and wait. My son is no exception. Sometimes he gets a little confused when he is waiting for a particular event to take place. If my wife and I have promised him that we will do something “tomorrow,” or if we tell him that “tomorrow is the party,” he will come up to one of us and ask, “Is it tomorrow yet?”

God’s perspective on time can also be different from ours. He is not as interested in tomorrow as He is in today. With Him, putting off until tomorrow what we can do today is never a good thing, because it causes more to build up on our plate than we can handle. When God calls us to say a word here or there, it requires a quick response or the opportunity will pass, maybe never to come again.

Our focus verse refers to “redeeming the time.” That phrase means to “convert into something of value,” or “to make worthwhile.” Simply put, we are to make the best use of the moments we have available to us now at this current moment and not later. Yesterday is past and tomorrow may never come. We only have today.

We live as though there will be a tomorrow, but the truth is, for some of us there will not be. There may not even be the rest of today. Right now is the time we have available to use for God. Now is the time to say, “I’m sorry.” Now is the time to fulfill a promise we may have been putting off. Now is the time to do something kind for others, and to say thank you to those who have done something kind for you.

Time is a precious commodity, so let us spend our time in valuable efforts, realizing that everything we do and say is important. Let us make every moment count for eternity!



“And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.” – Luke 19:3-4

I can empathize with the rich tax collector, Zacchaeus, who climbed a tree to see Jesus. The last time I recall climbing a tree was in the early 1970s, and poverty was the driving factor.

The community of Kangundo in Kenya, where I grew up, had started conducting an annual agricultural fair. The fairground was fenced, and there was one main entrance where people bought their tickets before entering the grounds. Inside, they saw agricultural produce and displays of projects developed by the government. Traditional dancers, a military band, and national soccer teams entertained the patrons.

My friends and I badly wanted to see that military band, but we could not afford the entrance fee. So, we went to the grounds and climbed in trees that were taller than the fence, and from there we watched them play. We had a specific goal, and we were willing to do what was necessary to achieve it.

Zacchaeus must have wanted to see for himself what others had been talking about. He came up with only one limitation—his height—and he devised a strategy to overcome that. He would climb a tree. Then he took a step of faith and acted on his decision. To do this, he humbled himself to a point that it did not matter what others would say of his action.

Jesus knew where Zacchaeus was and why he was there. When He arrived in the place where the Sycamore tree stood, He looked up and told Zacchaeus to climb down quickly. Jesus was going to his house! I cannot imagine Zacchaeus’ thoughts as he was climbing down, but I believe he was satisfied beyond measure with the result of his actions.

Do you need divine healing, restoration of harmony in your family, or God’s direction in a decision to be made? Do what Zacchaeus did—seek out Jesus. There may be obstacles, and you may have to humble yourself and climb a spiritual tree. But with a definite purpose, we can derive spiritual benefits just as Zacchaeus did. Forgiveness, salvation, love, peace, and hope of eternal life, are waiting.



“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

About the time in life when most people were thinking ahead to retirement, my parents adopted two teenage boys from Vietnam. Scarred by the events in their early lives, my brothers came to our family with many emotional wounds, and life around home was not always smooth and harmonious as they tried to adjust to a completely new way of life. A conservative Christian home seemed confining, and at times they rebelled. While some people would have become discouraged and perhaps wondered why they had ever taken such a drastic step at their age, Mom and Dad never wavered in their assurance that they were following God’s leading.

In this situation and in many others where problems were unresolved and prayers seemingly were unanswered, my dad’s comment was often, “The last chapter isn’t written yet.” He had faith that God was still at work, and my mom did too.

I find myself quoting Dad’s statement quite often these days. There is an undercurrent of faith and hope woven through those simple words. God isn’t done. He does hear my prayers. He is still working, though perhaps behind the scenes. The picture could be entirely different around the next bend.

Sometimes Dad would quote today’s focus verse, and would reflect upon the fact that waiting for God’s answer was not always easy. Still, my parents’ attitude taught me that waiting upon the Lord is not a frustrated “grit your teeth and hang on” mentality. Rather, it is a restful confidence that God is in control.

Are you waiting for an answer to prayer today? Do not give up! God has not forgotten your petition, and in His time the answer will come.


Armor Up!


“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13

For several years on the drive to Portland, I noticed an old barn with a message printed on it that always caught my eye. It read, “Soldiers of the Cross, armor up!” I was not a Christian when I first read that, but it excited me. I have not seen that sign lately, but the message still rings in my heart. “Soldiers of the Cross, armor up!” It is time for the soldiers of God to raise a standard and stand for the right. It feels good to know that I am in God’s army.

In recent years, the United States saw battles regarding the posting of the Ten Commandments on a national monument, a courtroom wall, and a stone monument inside the rotunda of a state capital. There are many who protest when seasonal displays remind them of our country’s Christian heritage. There is always someone who will object to any recognition of Christian beliefs. The Bible tells us that it is not a good thing to call right wrong and wrong right, but people are going to do just that. And the enemy of our souls is on the job to make sure it happens.

We are soldiers for Jesus. All of God’s spiritual weapons are available for us and they are: the breastplate of righteousness; the helmet of salvation; the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; and the preparation of the Gospel of peace. These are our resources to resist the enemy and to stand for what is right and true, and we will need them all to be overcomers.

This world desperately needs Jesus, and our orders are to go into the entire world and preach the Gospel. We need to look for ways to get the message out, pray for opportunities to tell the story, and seek for wisdom to create opportunities. We are soldiers of the Cross; the battle we fight is not of this world! We cannot risk being the “silent majority.” Let us armor up and shout for the battle!



“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15

Years ago, I completed a course in first aid. The purpose in taking the class was to fulfill a workplace requirement that at least one person on site be trained and prepared to render emergency assistance if the need arose. In the event of an accident, health incident, or some other crisis, our actions could make the difference between life and death. The class included instructions from a manual and we were also given a quick reference card which we were encouraged to keep readily available.

Not long after taking that class, while studying my Sunday school lesson I was presented with the question, “What is our responsibility when we observe that a brother or sister is having spiritual difficulties?” As I contemplated that thought, some of the lessons from the first aid course came to mind. I realized that the principles of first-aid can also apply to a “spiritual emergency.” Such situations would include encountering someone who does not know God and is in a place of desperation in life, or perhaps someone who is a Christian but is struggling critically with doubts or temptations. Any number of scenarios could be presented to us at any time, and today’s focus verse charges us to “be ready always” to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason of our hope. It is of utmost importance that we are prepared to act in those moments, for there may be no one else on site who can help.

In the first aid class, we were given manuals of safety information for various emergencies. As Christians, our manual is the Bible. It contains the answers that can help others in times of need, and it is our responsibility to study and know what it says. The first aid class also encouraged us to keep a quick reference card on hand; we could compare that to Gospel literature, daily devotionals, or a Bible app that can be useful in an instant. We also have the invaluable benefit of calling on the Holy Spirit to give guidance and wisdom for every challenge we face.

In first aid, one crucial response is to “stop the bleeding.” I remember an occasion several years ago when a brother took offense at the careless words of another. Spiritually speaking, he was bleeding. I’ll never forget the “dressing” offered immediately by another brother in the form of a few kind and well-reasoned words. The effect was quick and positive—he got the bleeding to stop. We cannot take care of every problem that comes our way, but if we will administer the aid, God will provide the healing.



“And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” – Luke 18:29-30

Several years ago, my family had a problem with moles. They continually tunneled through our yard leaving piles of dirt behind. If you were to look across our lawn back then, you would have seen a section of grass, a pile of dirt, another section of grass, another pile of dirt . . .

One day I learned of a man who would come to your house with traps and catch the moles. Though this was exactly what we needed, I was not willing to pay the price for his services. I did not know what the cost was, but I was sure it would be too high. However, after no success in getting rid of the moles on my own, I finally called the mole man and asked about his fee. He said he charged five dollars to set the traps and five dollars for every mole he caught. I paid the price, and it was a bargain! In no time, our mole problem was resolved, and I wished I had called sooner. If I had, my yard would not have been ruined!

As Christians, there are times when we need to pay a price spiritually. As we seek for our deeper experiences or continue growing in our relationship with God, He will require consecrations. To receive God’s blessing, we must fully surrender the things He asks for and yield our lives completely to Him. Sometimes this seems difficult, because the devil does not want us to yield. A spiritual battle may ensue—the enemy will tell us the price is too high. He will make the sacrifice seem bigger than it is, and he will try to keep us from thinking about what we will gain in return. However, Jesus is there to help. He wants us to receive all of God’s blessings. Everything He asks of us is for the good of our souls, and truly the price is a bargain.

Today we can search our hearts and see if God is asking for a deeper commitment from us. If He is, let’s pay the price and say yes to God. It will be worth it! As today’s focus verse says, the Lord will reward us for every sacrifice made for Him, both in this life and in eternity. Once we have made that decision, we will only wish we had done it sooner.



“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” – James 4:7-8

Last year in early springtime, my husband and I had the opportunity to go camping. At that time of year, rain and snow can still be a part of the beauty of the region we live in. It was quite cold and to some, it would not have been the most ideal time for camping, but we enjoy the challenge. The campfire and a cup of hot coffee encourage me to get out of the sleeping bag in the morning, as well as the birds who greet us in song.

As I sat before the campfire one morning, trying to warm up, there was a problem. Just when it felt like I was in a good spot, smoke started blowing in my eyes and clouding my vision. This caused me to back away from the warmth of the fire, which made me cold again. But when I scooted closer, there was smoke. Something needed to be done!

In order to enjoy the fire, it was necessary to become a proactive heat-seeker. I searched around the campfire for a smoke-free spot, and threw on another log to stir up the flames. Only by paying attention to the location of the smoky spots could I enjoy the heat and have clear vision. Had I remained in the same spot, merely hoping for things to improve, I would have ended up either continually cold or bombarded by smoke.

The situation reminded me of how Satan sometimes tries to discourage us spiritually. If we let him, he would love to bring to our minds reasons to have hurt feelings, to think we are not good enough, or to believe that we cannot make it through our trials—anything that would discourage us. He wants to cloud our vision of Jesus and cause us to distance ourselves from Him. In those moments, something needs to be done! When Satan attacks, we cannot continue listening to his lies; we need to become pro-active God seekers.

Today’s focus verses give three things we can do in order to get close to God without being hindered by the enemy: submit to God’s plan for our lives; seek His will, His wisdom, and His direction; and resist the enemy’s lies with the truth of God’s Word. Then, God’s Word promises that Satan must flee and God will come near. Finally we can simply enjoy the warmth of God’s love.

How close do we want to get to Jesus? How bright can our vision of Him be? It will not happen just by wishing and hoping; we need to do something. May we be pro-active seekers today and find more of Him than ever before.



“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” – Luke 10:29

“DIY,” the acronym for “Do it yourself” has become a common expression in modern society. It garners ever-increasing attention from merchants for its lucrative marketing appeal. Rather than paying for a professional to come install your tile flooring or landscape your yard, you can purchase an inexpensive DIY kit, watch a DIY video tutorial, and away you go! Somehow, I have a feeling that pioneers, adventurers, and farmers of yesteryear would find this trend somewhat amusing since “do it yourself” was typically a necessary part of their daily existence, and indeed has been to all mankind since the beginning of time.

In our focus verse, a lawyer in Jesus’ time attempted the DIY route in an area where it simply would not work—justifying himself before God. He had just confirmed with Jesus that what God requires of man is to love God with all the heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love his neighbor as himself. Being a lawyer, this man made his living by expounding on and teaching about the Law of Moses. He apparently thought the right argument could justify him before Jesus and the people, but he was mistaken. No amount of discussion is sufficient to justify the soul. Romans 3:24 says we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” How ironic that the lawyer presented his DIY justification to the only One who could actually justify his lost soul before God.

There are myriad other ways that people try to justify themselves to God. Some might say they have done more good works than bad, or that they lived pursuing their dreams, or that they were not as bad as others. Yet, standing before God simply is not a DIY project. Only the Blood of Jesus can enable us to stand before God justified.

DIY projects are notorious for being harder, messier, and more time consuming than expected. The next time you find yourself in the midst of a DIY job, take a moment to remember and appreciate that our salvation came through no work of our own, and the high price was paid by Someone else. Thank God for sending Jesus, that through Him we might be justified simply by faith (Romans 5:1).



“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him.” – Matthew 21:31-32

This morning I sat by a river watching fishermen go up and down the waterway. Each one was looking for the best fishing spot. Some went up river and some went down river, most were going fast but some were slow, many were in boats while a few stood along the shore. All were looking for some place that would fulfill their desires for today. They reminded me of all the people in the world, each one going this way or that way, looking for something to satisfy their needs. They employ a variety of different methods, all hoping to somehow find what will bring fulfillment to their lives.

As Christians, we know that the best place in life is to be in the will of our Father. Whether we find that place when we are younger or older, once we find it we do not want to leave. His will is where we find the purpose for our lives, rest for our souls, and His grace to help us every day.

While watching the fishermen, I thought about the parable Jesus taught about being in the will of the Father. In Matthew 21:28-31, Jesus told some chief priests and elders a story of two sons whose father told them to go to work that day. The first son said he would not go, but later repented and went. The second son immediately said he would go, but then he did not. Jesus asked, “Whether of them twain did the will of his father?” and the priests and elders replied, “The first.”

Jesus told this parable to a group of religious leaders because they needed to understand that obeying God is more than just making a declaration; we must actually follow through and do what God requires of us. So many people are looking for fulfillment in life, but when they realize it can only be found in the will of the Father, do they repent and begin to obey? For those of us who are saved, are we still keeping our commitment to obey Him? No matter what mistakes we may have made in the past, God is pleased with those who will repent and do his will. Unfortunately, the priests and elders were not willing to do that, and Jesus said there would be no place for them in God’s kingdom.

The will of the Father is where we want to be. Today, may each of us pause and review where we are headed. Let’s ask ourselves, What has my Father asked me to do, and am I doing it? Have I told Him no and need to repent? Or have I said yes but did not follow through? This is something that can only be settled between each of us and the Father. He is so pleased when we choose to do His will.



“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12

Some community colleges take as their motto, “Lifelong Learning Center,” or words to that effect. Their point is that further education is not for the eighteen- to twenty-four-year-old group alone, but for people of all ages who have a desire to learn.

My mother exemplified this. When she retired from a long career in the secretarial field at nearly seventy years of age, she fulfilled a long-held dream. She enrolled in the local community college to take a course in English Composition. Several times a week, she would board public transportation and ride to the college campus. At the end of the term, she received an “A” for her efforts. On the last day of class, the other students (mostly young people) gave her a round of applause. They realized that she was something special.

To be a truly successful Christian, we too must have the desire for lifelong learning. Whether we have been saved for just a short time or for many years, we need to be open to the voice of God. We need to desire learning what He wishes to teach us. He might speak to us as we read the Bible, as we listen to sermons, as we read religious literature, or even as we converse with a Christian friend. And there are many other avenues through which God could talk to us—if we are listening. Maybe we have always done something a certain way, but God would like us to make some changes. Our goal will not be attained until the day we arrive in Heaven. Until then, we need to keep striving for that goal by keeping ourselves sensitive to the gentle nudges that come our way to help us to grow in the Lord.

As we get older, we often hear the saying (spoken partly seriously, partly in jest) “You are only as old as you feel.” Our typical response to this is that “Some days we feel young, and some days rather old!” A better perspective on aging would be to say that we can remain forever young in spirit, as long as we retain a zest for listening and responding to the voice of God. Lifelong learners of Jesus are an encouragement to every other student, and they are sure to reach the goal of Heaven someday.



“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” – Matthew 26:41

My stepfather considered himself to be a “tree surgeon.” He was very good at topping and pruning tall trees, and when he would come to visit our family, he enjoyed working in our roses and helping with the landscaping. Once, he even worked on a tree in one of our neighbor’s yards. It was the house across the street from us, and at the edge of his property was a large, tall oak tree. My stepfather decided that tree was badly in need of surgery, so he offered the man a good price to work on the tree, and was accepted.

The night before the project was to begin, there was a service at church. As was his custom, my stepfather went down to pray after the service. He told us later that while trying to pray, all he could think about was what he should do in repairing the tree: what limbs he should remove, where to make the cuts, where to tie the ropes in order to make sure the limb landed properly, and every move he should make. The tree job was handled beautifully, but the prayer meeting was ruined!

Probably most of us have been through a similar situation of having a prayer meeting hindered by pressing thoughts. There might be something in our lives causing us to worry, get excited, be upset or even happy, and if we allow it, those emotions will take over a prayer meeting. Today’s focus verse is from an account when Jesus’ own disciples experienced a hindrance to prayer, at a time when Jesus needed them to watch and pray with Him the most. Scripture tells us that they went to sleep, “for their eyes were heavy.”

As humans, we have some physical limitations that we cannot get rid of. The devil is aware of these weaknesses and he would like to use them against us as much as possible. If he cannot put us to sleep, he will try to cause us to think of anything other than our prayer. He may bring interruptions. He may attempt to delay us from even beginning our prayer time.

We must be aware of these pitfalls, and make every effort to “watch and pray.” If pressing thoughts and emotions are intruding, give them to the Lord and ask Him to give you peace about the matter. If sleepiness is a problem, change your schedule so you can get more sleep or choose a time to pray when you are most alert. Make your prayer time a priority and determine that you will not allow interruptions to get in the way.

Prayer is vital to maintaining a close relationship with the Lord, and if we determine to “watch and pray,” the Lord will help us and give us victory every time.



“For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.” – Psalm 107:25

During my childhood, my Uncle Tom built sailboats, and owned one himself. Occasionally, he would invite members of our family to join him for a sail up the Columbia River on his graceful, thirty-six-foot sloop, the Tamara. In sailing, he explained, the relationship of the sail to the wind makes all the difference. The skipper on a sailboat monitors the direction and strength of the prevailing breezes, and adjusts the position of the sails in order to continue to go forward.

The winds of adversity blow in all of our lives. It is how we react to the wind that is important. Some people falter when the slightest breeze strikes. Some allow the winds to blow them off course. But others “adjust their sails” to cope with the fiercest of storms and come through triumphant. Why? They have learned to count adversities as opportunities to make spiritual progress.

As Christians, our destination is Heaven, and it is a goal of incalculable worth. We must keep moving in that direction! Sometimes the winds that assail us may be simply minor annoyances or frustrations. At other times, life’s storms may be so fierce that it is a challenge to even keep afloat. Either way, the winds can advance us toward our goal. It is the dead calm that stalls the sailboat!

If the wind is buffeting you right now, take heart. Remember that it is God who “raiseth the stormy wind” and He has a reason for what He allows in your life. He does not send adversity to hinder your progress, but to move you forward. Take advantage of those circumstances, knowing that God wants to use them for you.

In the time of storm, God may reveal a new direction for your life. He may reveal the necessity of checking your position. He may teach you a new lesson about “trimming your sails.” He may add a new chapter to your “logbook” of faith—one more instance of His divine grace.

You can let the storm hinder you or even stop your progress. Or you can determine with God’s help to take advantage of every wind that blows. Today, let us welcome the wind!


“Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” – John 4:9

There are two forms of greetings practiced by the Kamba people of Kenya, where I was raised: a verbal greeting and/or a handshake. Biological and social relationships determine which is used. It is a taboo to use the wrong form of greeting.

In greeting me, Jarra, a co-worker here in the United States, gave me a hug, and I immediately told her that I was married. I had thought that would make it clear to her that hugging was inappropriate, but she did not understand my meaning. I brought my daughter to work for Jarra to understand I was really married. She kissed my daughter and hugged me. I decided to have Jarra meet my family and she hugged all of us. Unknowingly, Jarra had broken down cultural “walls” and opened a new channel of thinking for me.

The woman in our focus verse asserted that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. They were not to share a drink out of the same cup or well. Jesus’ disciples marveled that He would break with tradition. What was He after and why would He talk to the woman? Their reaction was probably much the same as mine when Jarra hugged me.

However, as a result of Jesus’ visitation with that woman, she received salvation and inner peace and wanted all the inhabitants of her city to have the same thing.

What would have happened had Jesus not taken the initiative? That woman who had a heavy burden, having been married five times, would not have had the hope of eternal life. Historians indicate that such a woman was not respected in her community. However, after her encounter with Jesus and her past was revealed, she had the courage and motivation to stand in public and declare, “Is not this the Christ?” The Bible says, “Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him.”

By taking the initiative, Jesus lifted the burden from this woman, restored her respect, and created an opportunity for a city of Samaritans to hear His message of salvation.

When we consider reasons not to help out or reach out, this prevents us from helping to lift the burdens of other people. Today, let’s purpose to share the joy of the Lord —even if that means we need to break through cultural, racial, religious, educational, or economical “walls.” Let’s help restore hope, and healing, to those in need!

“A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.” – Isaiah 60:22

I recently attended a band concert performed by children in middle school, grades six through eight. It was obvious that most of the members were just beginning to learn their instruments of choice. The eighth-grade band was reserved till last, because they were the best.

When the director introduced the band, he invited the audience to join in singing the first piece they would play. When the first note was played, I knew it was our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” I stood up immediately and began to sing the familiar words. Just a few measures into the song, I realized I was the only one standing. I started to blush. It crossed my mind that since I was the only one, I should just sit down. But, No! I resolutely determined to stick it out. Very soon, others began to stand and sing, and by the time we reached the words, “at the twilight’s last gleaming,” the entire audience was on its feet honoring our nation’s struggle for liberty.

Can we be just as resolute in our determination to stand for the Gospel of Christ, even if we are the only one? We may literally be the only one in our family who is serving the Lord, but it is important. Who knows? One by one, some may join us.

When my mother was saved in 1952, she was the only one in her large family who had ever been saved, as far as she knew. In the mid-1970s, some of her children tried to calculate how many had been converted as a direct result of her stand. We counted up to seventy-two! It is far more than that now, because she never stopped standing up for the Gospel. You see, she was resolute!

God honored her, and He will honor us as we stand for Him.

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” – Matthew 12:34

Many things can characterize winter in Poland, but when I look back at my time there, I will always remember one thing—coal smoke.

One day as I was walking home from work I noticed a scene that was quite poignant. Three houses side by side were burning coal in their furnaces. Smoke was billowing out of the chimneys of each house, but each plume was a different color. The first chimney’s smoke was a dark dingy grey, while the second one was lighter but brownish in color and the last was a slightly off-white color. I was puzzled by this for a moment but then remembered something that my high school biology teacher had told us, “The quality of coal determines the amount of smoke it will produce. Cheap coal produces a lot of smoke; more expensive coal produces less.”

Another day I was walking in town and the coal smoke became unbearable. Someone was burning really low-grade coal and the smoke was practically suffocating. It was so thick that it obscured the path in front of me, making it hard to see. The smoke was so strong that I finally had to wrap my scarf around my mouth and nose to keep from breathing it in. The fire was supposed to provide welcomed warmth from the harsh weather, but instead it was intolerable. I hurried to get through the cloud of it as fast as I could!

A parallel can be drawn between the condition of the coal and the state of one’s heart. The quality of what a person has in his heart will be shown in his speech. If we allow questionable content to settle in our hearts, the evidence of it will show in the words that come out of our mouths.

Take a look at your speech today. What effect does it have on others? Does it, like the heavy coal smoke, suffocate the people around you? Does it make them hurry away from you? Does it hinder others instead of helping them? If this is the case, take time today to check the contents of your heart. Make sure you have good, quality fuel in your heart and your speech will show it.

“And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith Deliver me; for thou art my god.” – Isaiah 44:17

When I was in my early teens, I went through a particularly hard time where it seemed things were always against me. There were troubles at school, troubles with siblings, and troubles with my parents not understanding me or treating me right.

To make things better I found a refuge from all my oppressors. I would leave our home and walk or run the small distance down to the river below our house. There I would take a short game trail through the brush to “my” tree. This tree had a large branch that stretched out over the water. It was positioned in a way that I could sit on the branch with my back against the tree’s trunk and daydream or drop a fishing line into the water. When up in “my” tree, somehow all my anxieties would disappear, as if I were alone in the world. But within a few hours, after my initial depression disappeared, it would be time to head up to the house to go to bed or have supper.

As I walked back up toward the house, I would normally be calm and resigned to the unfairness of the world toward me. And though time at my tree had allowed emotions to subside, it had provided no lasting relief or deliverance from them.

The focus verse from Isaiah talks about all the things man can make and call a god. But for all his effort, his god is just something created by man, unable to respond in any way. As a boy I tried to find help from a tree, but ultimately it could not change a thing about my problems. Nothing created by man can provide comfort, guidance, peace, protection or anything else we may need. They are empty and powerless. 

How different that is from the one true God whom we serve! He does hear our prayers, and we can find real deliverance in Him. The salvation God offers is life-changing, delivering from sin and its hold on a person’s life. He makes life new, giving individuals purpose and promising to supply every need. He is the only One we can always turn to, and there is no problem too big or too small for Him.

God is always available to supply the endurance we need in the hard times, and protection from the traps of the enemy. Whatever challenge we may be facing today, let us be sure to seek deliverance from the God in Heaven who hears and answers prayer.

“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.” – Luke 1:80

I had carefully placed a healthy green hanging Boston fern in the far corner of our living room where there was a convenient and elegant hook for hanging plants. Each day I watered it and checked to see how it was doing. A month later, I began to notice that its luster was gone and it was starting to look yellow and sickly. I was disappointed. I had given it all the attention one could lavish on a fern and still it was not growing well! My husband, who had previously worked in a greenhouse, told me that it needed to be moved because it was not getting enough sun. So I moved the ailing fern near a window. I noticed an improvement immediately. In a week, the leaves turned green again and new leaflets sprang up. The new location made all the difference.

Where a Christian resides has an effect on how he will grow spiritually. We may enjoy a quiet Sunday at home in our little corner where we can worship God by ourselves, but are we getting enough of the Son’s light there? We may settle by a window overlooking a shaded garden of trees. Here seems to be the perfect place to serve the Lord, we think. But are we growing new leaves and producing fruit for His glory?

The Lord has a special plan for everyone, a location that is perfect just for us. It may not be in a place that we have ever been before. It could be across town, or in a place where we do not know anyone. The focus verse tells us that John the Baptist grew up in the deserts, which would probably not be the first choice for most, but there he “waxed strong in spirit.” God knew that was the best place for him, and if we follow the Lord’s leading we will also grow spiritually and become healthy, fruitful Christians.

Today, are we growing as Christians? Are we where God has placed us? Only the Lord knows best where we can grow abundantly for Him. Let’s allow Him to take control and change our location if necessary, so we can grow spiritually and be effectively used by Him. That perfect spot, hand-picked for us by God, is where showers of blessing will fall.

Shut In

“And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.” – Genesis 7:16

When I was in my junior year of high school, I occasionally went to after-school activities with a friend from another school. One day he invited me to his school concert. After the program he wanted to show me the outdoor courtyard of his school. He explained how unique it was because it was in the center of the school, and was totally surrounded by classrooms.

As we went through the doors into the courtyard, I remember hearing the doors clicking shut behind us. After admiring the beautiful courtyard, we headed across the way to the doors on the opposite side to re-enter the school. My friend pulled on the door handle but it refused to budge. He ran across to the doors we had just entered through, but they were also locked. We were shut inside the courtyard.

Today, as I thought back on this now-humorous situation, I pondered on how Noah must have felt when God shut him in the ark before the Flood. He was completely locked inside with his family and the animals. This must have been a somewhat astounding situation for Noah, but he trusted God. He knew God was in control of all that was happening and that He would never fail him.

Sometimes in our lives, a door of opportunity shuts and we can begin to panic or become afraid. We might feel trapped, as though there is no way out of our circumstance. However, we do not have to be afraid if the Lord is with us. Like Noah, we can put our trust in God, knowing that He is in control and He will take care of us.

That night when I was visiting my friend’s school, I had confidence that he would find a way to get us out, and he did. He crawled through an open window and then came and opened the door for me. God also took care of Noah, his family, and the animals in the ark. After the water subsided, the ark landed safely and they exited without harm. If you feel shut in by circumstances today, keep your confidence in God. The One who shut Noah and his family into the ark, and took care of them and the animals during the Flood, is the same One who is guiding your future. God has not changed since He did that mighty work for Noah, and you can rest assured that He will care for you right now, wherever you are and whatever your situation.