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Too often we focus our identity on Paul’s comment that we are all as filthy rags without remembering that those words described us before Christ.  In him we are new creations. Because of his blood we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Today live in the victory Christ has given you!


Never ForgetJoshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day. Joshua 4:9

I have an infatuation for old abandoned houses and buildings. When I drive through our beautiful countryside you’ll see them. Tucked away among trees and brush you’ll see them. Broken or non-existent windows. Trees growing out of what used to be a living room or bedroom. Holes in the walls or roof completely expose some of these buildings to wildlife and the elements.

Some people look at these places as eyesores and I suppose they are. Others see them as safety hazards and I’d have no argument to that either. So why the infatuation? The answer is simple. I don’t see the broken glass or falling walls. I see the stories.

These broken buildings, especially the houses, are full of stories. One day, that house was someone’s new home. Perhaps it was a dream home of some young bride, or the home a farm wife always hoped for. At one time the walls were full of stories of babies being born and grandparents dying. Of young men and women graduating from High School and going off to college or war.  There may have been Christmas celebrations and Memorial Day picnics. There were baptisms and perhaps weddings.

Many people drive by these monuments without a thought of the stories. This past week we celebrated Memorial Day, a day set aside originally to remember those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Then it became a day to remember all those who have gone before us. Now, for many of us, it’s become a day to celebrate the beginning of summer and vacations.

When Joshua led the people into the Promised Land they were entering into a whole new lifestyle. He knew that many would soon forget everything they had gone through. They’d forget all too soon the lessons learned from the victories as well as the defeats. The stones set beside the Jordan River were a reminder to never forget what it took to get them from slavery to freedom.

Just as Joshua put stones on the river bank as a reminder, we place stones in cemeteries for much the same reason. Those stones may mean nothing to most people, but if it is the stone of a relative, it means something to you. Hopefully, if it is the stone of a member of our armed forces, you admire them for giving their lives so that you can be free. We should never forget the sacrifice that was paid for our freedom.

There’s one more stone of remembrance we should never forget. That’s the stone of an empty tomb. Just as the members of our armed forces have sacrificed their lives for our political freedom, Jesus sacrificed his life for your spiritual freedom. Religion and all its activities can’t buy your freedom from guilt. Only the sacrifice of Jesus and his resurrection can do that.

PRAYER: Lord of the universe. You have crafted me in your image for your glory. Let the stories of my past and the legacy left by others be a continual reminder of your love and grace. Amen.


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

The depth of our worship often determines the level of our wisdom. Solomon is considered to have been the wisest and wealthiest of all the kings of the ancient world. He had wealth in the form of money (gold), land, and cattle. But it wasn’t earthly holdings that Solomon clung to as his security. After all, he wrote in Ecclesiastes that he had spared nothing in his want of pleasure, and found all of it to be worthless in attaining fulfillment.

What was it then that was foundational for his greatness? Solomon says that the beginning, the foundation, the footings for all knowledge was the fear of the Lord. A better rendering of fear hear would be, as Gill says, a filial fear, a reverential devotion to his Heavenly Father. In a word, the beginning of knowledge is worship.

After all, worship is giving our allegiance to that which we hold in highest esteem.  Our human tendency is to worship that which we perceive with our senses. We worship what we can hold, what we can hear, what we can taste. We don’t need to name our objects of worship. We show by our actions what is the most important. Relationships, Religion and Riches are the top three. But Solomon had all three of those and came up empty, just as many of us do.

Knowledge is made up of facts, figures and information. Wisdom is the ability to act according to the knowledge you have. If your knowledge is faulty, your wisdom is inevitably so as well. In the same way, if your knowledge of God is shallow, your worship will be shallow.

Some would say that there is knowledge and wisdom that is apart from God, that we need to separate the ‘religious from the political’, but Solomon tells us that the beginning of any knowledge is actively worshipping the God of the Universe.

Others may say, “I’ve asked God for wisdom and got nothin’!” But my question is how well do you know the Father? The closer we are to the author, the more we understand the book. James tells us in his letter to the church that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God and he will give it to us.

If you are looking for answers to life’s difficulties start with renewing your relationship with the one who invented the idea of relationships. If you want to know the meaning of life, begin with getting to know the giver of life. If you are looking for direction, seek the one who laid the four corners of the earth. Apart from him there is no true wisdom. Learning to worship him is the best way to gain wisdom.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for being the source of all wisdom. I pray for those of us who are going through difficult times with our families, businesses, finances or relationships. I ask that you would help us to grow in our worship of you so that we may have wisdom to face today’s challenges. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


The Lord has said: “These people praise me with their words, but they never really think about me. They worship me by repeating rules made up by humans. Isaiah 29:13

“Now I lay me down to sleep…”

It’s a simple childhood prayer. One repeated by countless children in the past. For many it’s their first prayer. For far too many it’s as deep as their prayer life goes. Are the words of this simple prayer meaningless? Do we really believe that the God of the universe is so concerned about miniscule me that he’ll watch over me in the night? Are they dead words?

“God is great, God is good…”

We sit before a table full of food. More food perhaps than the majority of the world sees in a month. Do we believe God IS good with all the starving children and homeless people? Do we believe God is GREAT when disease and violence are ravaging our families and killing our children? Some before they are even born? Are the words we pray for table grace dead words? Words we repeat with no meaning, no thought, no real belief they are true?

I have a dear Christian friend who, for all his gifts and talents, can’t manage his time to save his soul. Countless numbers of times he’s forced to call people and tell them he can’t make this appointment or that appointment because he’s double booked. Sometimes he completely misses appointments because he’s forgotten to write them down or check the calendar on his high tech equipment. Much as I love the guy, I can’t trust him to be where he says he’ll be. His words are dead words because they aren’t followed consistently with action.

I get countless prayer requests on social media. I’ve learned to pray for a situation first and then post my agreement in prayer for people I don’t even know. Do I really believe my prayer for a situation will make any difference? Are my words dead words? Words without thought or expectation of action?

As I sing songs of worship or raise my hands in praise or open my Bible for study. Are my actions out of duty or truly out of worship of a God who has taken my worthlessness and made it new?

The Father speaks to us through his prophet Isaiah. The message is simple. Think before you speak of him. Humble yourself before proclaiming your allegiance. Put actions to your words wherever possible. Always, always pray in the Spirit. The Spirit brings life. The Spirit brings truth.

This isn’t a treatise against simple prayers or written prayers. It’s not an attack on any form of worship. It’s simply a reminder to all of us that our Father, the God of the universe is not impressed with our words or religious activity; He’s blessed by pure hearts. Hearts that are broken before him.

PRAYER: Father, I’m humbled today by my own words. I confess that too often the things I do ‘for you’ are really things to make me feel better about myself. May my words be full of life and action through your Holy Spirit. Amen.


infant-jesus-born-01But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Mom’s amaze me. Sit and listen sometime to a group of mother’s talking about their ‘babies’. They compare their pregnancies, the stages of development of the child, whose member of the family they resemble the most. I love the “She has her daddy’s [nose, eyes, ears, hair]. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but I never could figure that one out.

It must have been an incredible scene in the stable that night. Mary, a young, unwed mom. She was in the hometown of her husband, miles from anyone she knew; having just endured what must have been a grueling donkey ride, especially being nine months pregnant! Scared, uncertain, alone, even though she was in the presence of the man she loved.

Joseph. A young carpenter. The last thing he thought he’d be doing is marrying a pregnant woman. The last place he thought he’d be was a stable in the middle of the night, playing mid-wife to his soon-to-be bride!

Yet there they were. Confused, yet in awe. Can you imagine the journey to Bethlehem? Discussing over and over again the conversations they’d had with their respective angels? Wondering what all this would mean? What would happen if the baby were born in Bethlehem, or on the way!

Then the shepherds showed up. Mary’s first visitors. A bunch of smelly, rough, simple shepherds with an angel story of their own. I would guess they were a little apprehensive to tell their angel story until they found out that Mary and Joseph understood all too well about angel visits in the middle of the night!

But all that activity paled in comparison to the gift that night. The gift of a tiny infant that symbolized the great love the Father has for his children. God with us. God among us. God as one of us.

The angels proclaimed it above the dark hillsides of Bethlehem. Glory to God! Glory to him in the highest, who was and is and is to come. The king has come in the form of a pauper to lead us to new life in him. It was an amazing proclamation of worship and praise.

In the stable, Mary worshipped as well. One little phrase that we attribute to the manger scene, but as with any mom, it was a phrase that would follow her entire life: “Mary pondered all these things in her heart.”

Ponder: To reflect, to remember, to keep near you, to consider quietly, deeply in your mind.

Some of the gifts we’ve been given will be broken, used up or forgotten before the tinsel is down and the lights are put away for another year. But the most important gift of all, the baby in the manger is one that should be a ‘pondering place’ throughout the year.

The angels worshipped God in an awesome display of light and song. Mary worshipped in the quiet solitude of her heart. Worship involves both expression and introspection; revealing itself over time and depth as our relationship grows with the Father.

PRAYER: Creator God, I am in awe of your love for me. I am amazed that you left your throne and became one of us so we could find life in you. Amen.

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