Getting Ready for Lent 2023, Come join me on a journey into Isaiah

As I approach the Lenten Season and prepare my heart, I have been in prayer about what direction God has for my writing. In the past I have done short books in the New Testament, Psalm passages, Attributes of God, provisions I have in Christ, etc. This year God has laid on my heart to dive into the book of Isaiah. I have loved the poetic nature of Isaiah since first studying it with Bible Study Fellowship in about 2005. A lot of it seems very difficult to understand and filled with judgement, yet it remains one of my favorites as it constantly reminds me of God’s power, might and love. There are promises to claim from this wonderful book and you gain a glimpse of God not seen elsewhere in regard to God’s person and His Son. It is filled with prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ when he was on earth and more looking towards His future return. It is a book of hope that can and does speak to us today.

Here are some fun facts I learned recently:

The Bible has 66 books, Isaiah has 66 Chapters.

Isaiah is easily divided into 2 sections like the Old and New Testaments. Chapters 1-39 are about the coming judgement for sin and the anticipation of the hope that is coming in Christ (like the Old Testament message) and 40-66 tells us of the coming Christ and his kingdom (like the New Testament). The first section has 39 chapters like the Old Testament has 39 books and the second section has 27 chapters like the 27 books of the New Testament.

The book of Isaiah is often referred to as the gospel of the Old Testament as its message shows us the coming gospel message and its messenger, Jesus Christ.

Chapter 1:18-20 gives us a glimpse into God’s heart and His provision of hope. He desires that we come to Him for cleansing and renewal. He then warns us that without intervention from the Holy One of Israel, God Almighty, we will be perish. Christ is the Holy one, the Only one, who can Save us.

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me,
    you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you turn away and refuse to listen,
    you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!”

Isn’t that what Lent is all about? It is a time for humbling ourselves before Almighty, Holy God with a repentant heart. Seeking Him and what He has for us, redemption, and cleansing which we cannot obtain on our own.

As we look towards Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season may you anticipate a message from God for your heart from Isaiah.


A Prayer for Others, do it for them!

November 19 and 20

As we think about and plan for the upcoming holiday and the theme of giving thanks, let’s look at Paul’s attitude towards the believers in Philippi.

Philippians 1:3-6 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Paul begins his letter to the Philippian Christians with a note of thanks. He is thankful every time he thinks of them because they are coworkers in telling others about the love and redemption they have through Christ’s death and resurrection. When was the last time you prayed with thanksgiving for those who work beside you at church, at work or at home who know the Lord and are seeking to tell others about Jesus? Whether they are near or far, it does not matter to God as He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. Living with an attitude of gratitude for those around us is essential to a fulfilling and abundant walk with the Lord.

Paul then continues as he seeks to lift these coworkers up in prayer. Consider his prayer in Philippians 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Paul is praying for his friends to have abounding love, knowledge and insight into God and His ways so they can apply His truth to their lives. He wants them to be fruitful and fulfilled in their walk with the Lord. Who do you know this Thanksgiving season that you can pray this prayer for? You can put their name into the scripture and lift them up to Jesus. Here is my version, I pray it inspires you to pray for others.

Dear Lord, I am thankful every time I remember ___________. May his/her faith in Jesus be continually filled with joy. I am confident that You who started the good work of salvation in ______ will continue to do so until Jesus comes again or he/she joins you in heaven. Today I’m asking that _____________’s love for Jesus will continue and grow more and more. I pray _______”s knowledge of Jesus will expand so that __________ will be able to choose what is best in our world filled with temptations and distractions. Lord, I ask that ________ will show the fruits of the Spirit in his/her life so that others may be encouraged by his/her love, patience, kindness, peace, self-control, gentleness and joy. Amen.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am a co-worker for Jesus. The letters in the New Testament all have verses that speak of the co-workers that are toiling with the Apostles. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 Paul says, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” He affirms their working together for Christ. Paul also addresses the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 3:2 about why they are sending Timothy to them. “We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,” Doing God’s work is serious business and appreciated by your fellow co-workers. Together we can encourage and pray for one another, so God’s work is accomplished just as He promises. We are a part of His work in the world! Praise God! He can use us even though we are weak. One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 12:9, may it encourage you to keep on keeping on in Christ. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Blessings as you pray with thanksgiving and hope in your hearts for your fellow coworkers and those they are ministering to!


Ancient Problems are Here and Now, Too!

November 17, 2022

Psalm 107:16-22 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

When you read this portion of the psalm you see the Israelites suffered from illnesses cause by eating disorders and from their own afflictions caused by sin. I was pondering this and the first thing that came to mind was addictions we have today for drugs and alcohol. The eating disorders and the wasting away reminded me of anorexia and bulimia. That these disease and afflictions would be in our present day but addressed in this ancient text shows the depth and applicability of God’s Word. What the psalmist is saying is that God can and does address these problems. If the sufferer cries out to Him, he will be heard. God can and does save people out of addiction each and every day. God can rescue them from the grave so to speak as He breaths life and hope into the individual through faith in Christ. Verse 20 says that God sent out His Word. Jesus is the Word and faith in Jesus will heal and save both physically and spiritually. Those who have been rescued out of these conditions along with their loved ones live lives fill with praise for God’s powerful healing in their lives. Why does God do this? He heals and rescues because He loves us. His love is unfailing unlike human love His is eternal and always full. His is a faithful love that is unconditional and unending. Praise God!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I can find grace and mercy in a time of need. This truth is so wonderful. You can claim it with hope in your heart day and night. God is accessible and we can come to him any time or any place. He promises in Deuteronomy 31:6 to never leave us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” We can have courage for living each day and assurance of His presence with us. Knowing we can come to God in prayer, what can we be assured we will find there in His presence? First of all we can find peace and relief from fear. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” We are also assured in Hebrews 14:6 of grace and mercy. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” God would not have told us that He has peace, grace and mercy unless He means it! God does not lie. God is truth. You can count upon Him to always be with you, give you peace, grace and mercy exactly when you need it most. Come into His presence today and ask Him for these things. He is faithful and will answer just as He promises.

Are you facing difficulties right now in your life? Do you suffer from an addiction or are you stressed out from the pressures of life? Call upon Him. Come into His presence today and feel His love and support. He has what you need in abundance.


Restoration From Utter Darkness, Thank you Jesus!

November 16, 2022

Psalm 107:10-16 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

In this portion of the psalm the writer gives examples of different problems that were NOT beyond the control of Almighty God. The one who is suffering is portrayed in utter darkness, a prisoner in chains because of their own sin against God. This scenario is like the Israelites who refused to follow God and worship Him. After many years and many chances, God sent the Babylonians to take the Jews captive and remove them from their beloved land. They were deported to Babylon and remained there for 70 years. After that time, God arranged for their miraculous return to Jerusalem and they were able to rebuild the temple and the city walls. Never again did the Israelites forsake God and worship idols.

God knew what they needed to come to the realization that He was God and deserved all their praise, worship and thanks. They learned that God preserves and protects His own for their good and His glory. As the psalmist wrote in verse 14, He brought them out of darkness, broke their chains and restored them. Just as God has done in the past, He will do for you and me today. He restores our soul, lifts our spirit and redeems us from utter darkness. Where has God rescued you and broken the chains of sins that entangled you? Will you give Him thanks and praise? He is an awesome God and He loves you!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am free in Christ. Because of Christ and his work on the cross, I am no longer in bondage to sin and I am free from sin’s penalty, death. Here are some verses to ponder about your freedom in Christ: John 8:35-36 “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Galatians 5:1 speaks of our freedom from our old nature and its slavery to sin “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” What a glorious truth! I am free in Christ! Thank you Jesus!!


Thankfulness in Prayer

November 12th and 13th

We are about midway through this month of gratitude and as we near Thanksgiving and all the preparations that go into that day let your mind and heart dwell on the why. Why are you personally thankful this year? Begin this weekend to speak words of thanks for your family, home, neighbors, cities and for our country. Instead of looking for what is wrong, focus on what is right and pray for those around you. Here is a prayer of thanks from Colossians 1. Paul begins by expressing his thanks for the faith of the Colossians. ” We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel .” (verses 3-4) Who do you know that you are thankful for their faith? Who’s faith has pointed you continually toward Jesus and the truth of God’s Word? Offer up your own thanks for those believers who strength and encourage your faith.

Paul continues in verses 9-14 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

What is Paul praying for the Colossian believers? In verse 9 Paul begins by asking that they will be filled with the wisdom and understanding provided by the Holy Spirit. He then continues and asks that the wisdom and understanding God will give them be applied to their lives so they will please God with their words and deeds. He wants them to produce fruit of the Spirit in the good works they are doing. He desires that they continue to grow in the knowledge of God. Paul wants them to be strengthened so that they may have patience, endurance and joy in their walk with Jesus. He wants them to remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and how he saved them from eternal death and darkness and brought them into a life of light and forgiveness.

This is a mighty prayer. Who do you know that you can pray this prayer for? Who do you know that needs empowerment for living like the Colossian Christians? You can replace the ‘you’s’ in this prayer with their name or your own. I challenge you to pray this prayer over them for several days, a week or even a month. Look for God’s transforming power in them and in yourself as you pray for others.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I have the ability to approach God. The idea of approaching God has been fraught with fear and trembling throughout the ages. However, if we look at Genesis Chapters 2 and 3 we see that in the beginning man existed in the garden and had a relationship with Almighty God. Adam and Eve did not fear God until they ate from the tree of knowledge, then they knew sin. Through the work of Jesus on the cross, we can now come near to God as we have a relationship with God again. Jesus has made us clean and presents us to the Father. I love Ephesians 3:12  In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” and Hebrews 4:16  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” We can approach God on behalf of others, as Paul did for the Colossians, or for ourselves.

Prayer is a mighty privilege and through it we come into the presence of God Almighty. Use it wisely and often.


Thanks for Grace!

November 8, 2022

1 Corinthians 1:4-5 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,  that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—

I love this verse as it gives us a glimpse into the heart of the Apostle Paul and his love for believers. He was sharing with them his thanks that they were recipients of God’s Grace. Why did this truth cause Paul to be so thankful? God is filled with grace and showers His grace on His created beings. Theologically, grace is defined as God showing His unmerited favor towards us. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor or grace. We are definitely inferior beings in relation to God, as He is the Creator and we are created beings. His grace is filled with mercy, kindness and compassion. God directs His grace to every believer. God has it to give and gives it freely to every believer. We cannot make or demand grace be given to us. God alone is the deliverer of His grace. We can however cultivate grace within our lives and show it towards others.

When we become a believer in Christ, the Holy Spirt comes to dwell within us. Graciousness comes from God and as we live and walk with Him. He gives us grace to give to others through our words and actions. Colossians 4:6 describes this: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Paul and Peter often started their letters, like here in Colossians, with references to grace. 1 Peter 1:2b “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” God wants us to live graciously speaking and acting with His spirit of love and acceptance and showing favor towards all with impartiality just as God has done for all of us.

Paul was thankful for the actions and words of grace that he was hearing about the Corinthian Christians. How would someone characterize you? Do you show grace towards others? Are your words gracious? As impossible as this sounds for us to live graciously, God impowers us through His Holy Spirit to live lives filled with grace. I’ve found that the more I learn about God’s grace and see it working in my life the more thankful I become and the more gracious in my living. May it be the same with you.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I can have godly character. Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit within me, I can be the new creation of 1 Corinthians 5:7 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Knowing Christ as savior brings Him into my life and I am indwelt by His Spirit. The Spirit’s work with me brings about a transformation of spirit and the fruits of the Spirit become evident in my life. Galatians 5:23-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Praise God for His transforming power and grace in changing me into the man/woman He knows I can be in Him.


Singing and Praising Led the Way to Victory

November 3, 2022

Today’s scripture of praise and thanks comes with a story. This event occurred during the reign of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. Their enemies decided to attack in large numbers and Jehoshaphat did not know what to do. He called the nation to fast and pray, then gathered the people before the temple to pray. He prayed an eloquent, heartfelt prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:6-12. He ended with these words, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” The Lord responded by sending a prophet to tell King Jehoshaphat the following: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ With this assurance, Jehoshaphat and his men went out to meet the enemy. However, before they left Jehoshaphat did the following, (21-22) “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
    for his love endures forever.”

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

This is a wonderful example to us that when faced with problems or circumstances beyond our control, we need to look to God and ask for His help. Then proceed as if it is already done and give Him praise and thanks. The Israelites faced the opposing army with a song in their hearts and praises on their lips. They lived their faith fully that day with thanksgiving in their hearts. God did indeed give them victory as He promised and their rewards were above and beyond their expectations.

What are you facing today that has you worried? Follow the lead of the Israelites and pray. Submit your problems and cares to the Lord. Live like you truly believe in His answer with praises and thanks in your heart.

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I have access to God in prayer. The Bible is filled with examples of people praying to God. David, Daniel, Paul and Jesus all had the habit of going to God in prayer. They sought fellowship, reassurance and answers to the problems they faced in their lives. Know that you too can approach God and seek His help and guidance for your daily life. Here are a few scriptures to encourage you. Ephesians 3:12 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” James 4:8a “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

Be assured God will hear you just as He did Jehoshaphat. Live believing and keeping your eyes on Him. God hears and will answer!


A Double Blessing today!

November 2, 2022

Psalm 7:17 “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.’

What a wonderful verse of praise from Psalms. This verse tells us God is due our praise and worship because of His righteousness. Without His righteousness, we would be lost. Scripture is filled with references to the righteousness we receive through faith in Jesus. Romans 3:22 “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Romans 4:23-24 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. ” Philippians 1:10-11 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Without the righteousness given to us through faith in Jesus, we would be hopelessly lost. We would be dead in our sins. What a wonderful position we are in as loved ones, as believers in Jesus! We are loved and cared for by Almighty God. Let your praises be heard today. Tell God how grateful you are and tell someone else about your wonderful Savior!

A truth to claim with thanksgiving: I am sanctified. Because of what Christ did on the cross, because of His imputed righteousness to me, I am sanctified. According to the dictionary to be sanctified is to be made holy, consecrated. Left to myself, I am buried in my sin as there is nothing I can do to make myself clean enough before God. However, Jesus has made me clean by faith and washed me by the forgiveness of sin through His blood. Because I still live in a sinful world, this sanctification or transformation takes a lifetime. Here are some verses to encourage you: Hebrews 2:11 “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Philippians 2:12b-13 “—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” and Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

What a double blessing today as we consider our righteousness imparted to us through faith in Jesus and His work within us to conform us to what He knows we can be in Him! Take Paul’s prayer from 1 Thessalonians to heart claiming it over your life today.


Targeted Prayer for Ourselves and Others

This reminds me of my friend Stephanie.

My friend Stephanie is a woman of prayer. She believes in the power of prayer to effect change in her life and lives of her family and friends. She recently was the chairwoman of our Pastoral Search Team and brought prayer into this process continually. Through prayer we were all more closely engaged in the search for a new pastor and linked to each member of the body of believers at our church. It does not surprise me that her favorite portion of scripture is a prayer from Ephesians 3:14-19. The Apostle Paul here is praying for the believers at Ephesus.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul knew these things to be true in his own life and ministry and desired that his fellow believers experience the same. Here is what Paul knew:

*God is accessible and he could come before him in prayer (14)

*Believers are all in the family of God under the name of Jesus (15)

*God provides inner strength through His Holy Spirit (16)

*God has vast resources at His command (16)

*Christ lives in our hearts through our faith in Jesus (17)

*God makes us firm in our faith through His abiding love (17)

*We can individually and collectively grasp a portion of how great God is (18)

*We can know through faith God’s unapparelled love, which is more than knowledge

*As believers, we can be filled to overflowing with God’s love, presence and spirit. (19)

Paul knew each of these truths personally. How many do you know? Do you pray for these for other believers you know and experience? The army slogan “Be all that you can be” could be applied here. God wants us to be all and experience all that He has for us. I challenge you to choose one or two of these and pray them for a believing friend so that they may experience God more fully and grow in their faith.

Thanks Stephanie for pointing us to this wonderfully rich passage that puts a priority on prayer and shows us how we are to pray for others while deepening our own experience of faith.


Happy 4th with A Promise


I thought this promise was appropriate for the week of the Fourth of July.  Enjoy the holiday and cherish your freedoms.  Happy 4th!!

John 8:31-32, 36

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’…’So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed,’”

Promise: God promises freedom, truth and discipleship in Christ

Where and when do you feel truly free? As Americans, we pride ourselves on our independence, self-initiative and having freedoms to claim and practice in our daily lives. As we know our freedoms are defined and limited by the society in which we live. Sometimes we agree with these limitations and sometimes we don’t. We struggle each day to survive and maintain our freedoms within our family, neighborhoods and society.

The freedom that God promises is dependent upon Christ not us. We need to believe and accept the true freedom and then live a life dependent upon God. We need to accept the truth that God provides in His Word and the truth of who Jesus is and what He did for us on the cross. We need to accept our place in His family and take up the job of living for Him as His disciple. Working for God’s truth in our world will bring greater freedom than anything we think we can obtain or receive here on Earth. So do as Jesus commands, accept His freedom in faith and be free indeed!

Live free today in Jesus,


Here is a fun fact I found on the Internet this morning about our flag.  I did not know what the colors represented.

Between 1777 and 1960, the shape and design of the American flag changed several times before arriving at the present form. The 13 alternating red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies. Talking about colors, red stands for hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. Food for thought- does our nation still represent these colors? If not, what can I do to stand for valor, live purely and persevere for what is right? Pray, pray and pray for our nation and our leaders and lean on Jesus in our own lives.