Romans 9 & 10

Read Romans 9 & 10

The passion, even anguish, he has for his people can be heard in Paul’s voice as he writes Romans 9 and 10. He says in Chapter 9 verse 3, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” 

Paul’s heart and desire was for his people to know the Lord. He’s so desperate for them to know the Lord that he is saying he’d rather be cut off from Christ if that meant his people would be saved. He’s desperate for his people to be saved—to accept Jesus and their Lord and Savior. Can you and I say that? Do we have the same passion for the lost around us? 

Glory be to God that we don’t have to give up our salvation so that others can be saved—that’s not how the Gospel works. However, I pray we become a people with a desire to see lost people saved. 

Paul spells out the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, in chapter 10. It’s not something we can force on people, but it is for anyone who believes. Anyone. 

He goes on later to say there is neither Greek, nor Jews, the Lord is Lord of all. Anyone can be saved. The Gospel offers hope for this life and the next. All we have to do is believe in our hearths that God raised Him (Jesus) from the dead and confess with our mouth that He (Jesus) is Lord over our lives. 

If you haven’t already, would you allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life? Ask Him right now.


2 Corinthians 1 & 2

Read 2 Corinthians 1 & 2

As usual, there are many things we can learn from Paul’s teachings. 2 Corinthians 1 and 2 provide snapshots of several things we can hold on to, but I want to focus on two main themes that stand out—suffering and forgiveness. 

Often, we dwell on our sufferings by living in the pain of the moment, without realizing God is sustaining us through those difficulties. Well-intentioned as they may be, our words can offer hope in the midst of suffering as we misquote God with phrases like, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” That phrase is not only a false teaching, but it puts the focus on us, as if we are the ones who will get us through. But we are not. God is the one who sustains us. God is in control and is with us amid the ups and downs of life. 

In chapter 1, Paul paints a word picture of suffering as being something that will bring glory to God by helping others through their suffering. It’s paying it forward, allowing God to move in our pain and use it for good in our life, in the lives of others, and ultimately for His glory. There is always purpose for our pain, even if we don’t see it this side of heaven. 

Paul’s word picture in chapter 2 portrays radical forgiveness. This forgiveness is geared toward ones who speak or act against us. Forgiving people who have wronged us is no easy task. Paul warns us not to be outwitted by Satan, saying we are ignorant of his design, meaning that harboring emotions of unforgiveness will only allow Satan to work in that situation. Forgiveness may not be easy, but it is commanded of us, and is a sign of our faith (Matthew 6:14-15). 

Whether we’re in times of suffering, peace, or needing to forgive, Jesus is with us. He’s working in us and through His power, we can live out this faith journey we’re called to. And in the end, it’s all for His glory! 


2 Thessalonians 1-3

Read 2 Thessalonians 1-3

I had the opportunity to see my niece graduate from high school a couple of weeks ago. Naturally, it brought back a flood of memories from the time I graduated high school—twenty years ago. Wow. Twenty years. That’s hard to believe.

Some of those memories made me laugh, some not so much. I remember walking the line and thinking I should be happy to finish this race. I had earned my freedom, so to speak, but I was miserable. Like many graduating, I had no clue what the next day held for me. I hadn’t planned for higher education, and I knew I didn’t want to dig ditches with my dad forever, so, I had nothing to look forward to…right? 

Fast forward a few years, I had started (and stopped) college a couple of times but it felt hopeless. I muddled through different jobs, became idle at times, and struggled internally with direction. Until direction came. 

2 Thessalonians is a letter written by Paul addressing persecution, Jesus’ return, faith, hope, and being idle as a believer. Keeping those points in mind as we read, we are able to see that what we hope for lays the groundwork and lights the path for what we work for. 

I had lived a large part of my life without reliance on the hope we have in Christ alone. I wasn’t working toward living a life that was pleasing to our Lord. Even though I was a believer, there was little faith, and little joy, but an abundance of idle time. But God is gracious. He picked me up and dusted me off. And I am living proof that God is faithful. I’m living proof that He is gracious and offers a joy and a hope that we can put our faith in. He’s worth living for. He is my direction.


Acts 12

Read Acts 12

Peter is in prison—not what one might expect of a Christian. Peter’s situation reminds us that being a Christian doesn’t mean experiencing only good things or getting everything we want. 

The truth is, God made sacrifices for us, so sometimes in life we are going to have to make some sacrifices as well. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to go to prison, especially for preaching about the Good News of Jesus, but this happened to Peter. God had a plan for Peter even when Peter was in prison.

Just because the world is filled with evil and bad things, that doesn’t mean God won’t use that bad for His good. Look at verse 24. It says, “but the Word of God continued to spread and flourish.” 

Absolutely nothing can stop the Word of God from being shared. The world may try to, our God is bigger than their attempts.

Continue reading the chapter. Peter was sleeping beside two guards. He was sleeping. In prison. And awaiting death. Though escape seemed impossible, and death inevitable, Peter slept, completely at peace. How could he escape? Two armed guards were beside him. However, their attempts to keep Peter quiet, to silence the Gospel were thwarted. God performed a miracle and Peter was rescued. 

We may never go to prison for sharing the Gospel, but we will be surrounded by people bringing us down or trying to steer us away from spreading the Good News. However, God has a plan for each one of you.

Do not let the voice of the world be louder than the Creator of Life. He truly saves, even when it looks impossible. 


Luke 24

Read Luke 24

It’s hard for us to completely comprehend Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. 

Death we’re familiar with. Burial too. Death comes for us all, and then burial, but resurrection? No. We can’t wrap our head around it. Dead things don’t come back to life—but Jesus did. 

Jesus came back to life. And he appeared to many. 

Can you imagine being there when the women found the tomb empty? Can you imagine walking with the men on the road to Damascus when Jesus appeared?  Or when Jesus stood among the disciples and said, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and rightfully so. 

These things are difficult to imagine let alone experience. They were probably confused and undoubtedly had many questions. 

How did He come back? Or why did He have to suffer like this? 

But how and why are not as important as who—Jesus. Jesus was and is the answer to their questions. They may not have fully been able to wrap their head around His death, burial, and resurrection, but seeing Him was answer enough. 

You and I may ask questions of God, not understanding the how and why of our circumstances. Not that our questions aren’t valid, but perhaps it’s not the right question. If we know who holds us, if we know who oversees all things, then the how and why questions are quelled. 

Our who is Jesus, and we can trust Him. He’s the answer to our questions. 


John 13

Read John 13

Servant leadership is not something we do by nature. Putting others needs before our own, even as Christians, is at times a hard pill for us to swallow. 

With the current societal climate, it’s no wonder this is the case. Marketing, social media, and most other received imagery seem to be conditioning us to be an inward focused people. We’re taught to think of ourselves first, but that’s not what Jesus taught. And that’s not who He wants us to be.

His words and actions in John 13 paint a very different picture of how He wants us to live, love, and lead. We see Jesus, with little time left on Earth, and He serves His disciples by washing their feet. 

This King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, the one who had the power to stop what was to come, the one who knew that Judas would betray Him, the one who would soon die on a cross for the sins of all men, showed us how we are to live, love, and lead—by serving others. 

His ministry on Earth was drawing to a close, but He had so much to say by showing us how to be people who love others first. This is how we are to lead, live, and love. 


Mark 9 & 10

Read Mark 9 & 10

“I believe, but help my unbelief.” These are the words spoken to Jesus from a desperate father whose son suffered from a demon possession.

The demon made him mute, threw him around, and violently tortured the young man. The father was a believer and asked Jesus to take pity on them and to heal the boy.

So, if the father believed, why does he ask for Jesus to help his “unbelief?” 

We know the answer because whether we realize it or not, we are like the father. We can believe, but our faith is not perfect. In fact, I believe that Jesus knows our struggle and desires to help our unbelief. 

Look at verse 23 when the father says, “…if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus says, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” It’s here that the father says, “I believe, but help my unbelief.” 

Jesus doesn’t shrug him off or scold him because of his doubt. No, he calls the spirit out of the boy and heals him. I can’t imagine being a witness to this, and how encouraging it would have been to hear a fellow believer confess that they too struggle with unbelief. But because of Jesus’ love for us, He helps our unbelief grow into deeper belief.


Luke 2

Read Luke 2

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

The birth of Jesus Christ is a story most are all familiar with. In fact, we celebrate Jesus’ birth each year during the Christmas season. 

Our celebrations may include a church Christmas play, special video presentations, candlelight services, and singing Christmas carols. All of these elements serve to commemorate the coming of our King, celebrate his arrival, and deepen our understanding of what His coming meant for mankind. They spark our imagination and invite us to relive the wonder of Luke chapter two. 

Take a moment and read through Luke Chapter 2. Jesus’s birth was miraculous, but the chapter doesn’t stop at the stable. The Word gives us a snapshot of Jesus’ life as He grew. God’s favor was upon Him, but from the beginning, not many could see it. Not even the Inn keeper.

“There was no place for them [Mary & Joseph] in the inn.” If the Inn keeper would have recognized the events unfolding before him and that Salvation was literally about to enter the world on his property, the man would’ve made room. And yet, he didn’t know. How could he? 

Note the Inn Keeper did allow Mary and Joseph to stay in the stable. Not the best accommodations, but his willingness to help them shows he was a man of compassion. He was at least willing to make room somewhere. It was a start.

There’s a parallel here between the Inn Keeper’s willingness to make room for the coming King and our willingness to make room for Jesus in our life.

Maybe you’ve never asked Jesus to be the Lord or boss of your life. Make room for Him. Ask Him today. If you’re not ready to take that jump and give Him your whole life, would you be willing to let Him in the “stable” or start that conversation with Him. He will meet you where you are. 

If you’ve been following Jesus for a while, has He moved from the “stable” and into the “Inn” or the other “rooms” of your life? He wants to make you more like Him, so let him. 

Let’s be sure to make room for Jesus and allow Him to make His home in our lives—all the parts, and in everything we do.


Nehemiah 9

Read Nehemiah 9

I remember attending  a summer youth camp in Tennessee when I was about fifteen and being completely broken about who I was. Sin was present in my life, and I needed a savior. 

For the first time in my life, I became aware of God’s goodness and faithfulness. He stayed with me, beside me, and guided me through those teenage years of a doubting faith and long periods of my unfaithfulness to Him.

I had been living as if unaware of His existence, yet He never once left me. And this good news broke me in the best way. That brokenness turned into joy, and I worshiped like never before. 

In many ways, I see the similarities between my life and the people of Israel. They were constantly sliding backward in their commitment to God, brokenness, repenting, then thanking God as He redeems, restores, and provides.

In Nehemiah chapter 9, the Israelites are broken. They begin to confess their sins to each other and repent not only for their sin, but the sins of the generations before them. This continues for several hours, and then they begin to praise God for his faithfulness and His goodness. 

The repentance and worship persist amongst the Israelites for many more hours. As this scene plays out, we get a picture of genuine confession and true worship that comes from a place of brokenness. 

When we realize our brokenness, our sin, our need for a Savior, and the goodness and faithfulness of God to save and redeem us—our only response is worship. He is our hope and endless source of joy. 

Take a moment and thank God for all that He has done for you. Worship Him. 


Ezra 7-8

Read Ezra 7-8

Growing up, I can remember listening to our preacher and hearing him tell us often to “check me on that,” or welcome someone to challenge him on his teaching. He was speaking directly from the word of God and with that comes great responsibility.

If you think back, you can probably remember a pastor issuing a similar challenge. To my knowledge, it wasn’t often someone dared to go toe to toe with the preacher. After all, he was seminary-trained and was the one with the mic, so he must know what he is talking about. Right? 

Sort of. 

Thinking the pastor knows it all and we shouldn’t be in the Word checking out what he says has paved the way for biblical illiteracy in today’s church. 

Ezra was a man who, as the Bible tells us, was “skilled in the law of Moses.” This means he studied and knew the laws and word given by God. In fact, he knew it so well he traveled to Jerusalem to teach the laws to the people there. 

Because of its descriptive nature, it’s easy to miss a lesson in Ezra. However, this book and these chapters can be applied to the modern church. Many of us listen to the word of God without knowing the word of God. 

Ezra is someone we can strive to be like regarding our knowledge of God’s word and then teaching God’s word. Like Ezra, may we be people of the Word.

Pray God gives you a hunger for His Word—to know it, read it, study it, and share it with others.