It’s The First And Greatest Commandment But Why?

Most Christians know the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Or at least they know it as Christ stated it. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38).


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:1-4
Key Verse: “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39


But have we ever stopped long enough to think about why it’s the first and greatest commandment? Is it because God is a dictator? Is it because He’s unreasonable? Is it because He wanted to see us fail?

Nope.

It’s because He alone is God. And He knows it. “There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isaiah 45:21b).

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).

The LORD is the one who blots out our transgressions and remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).

The LORD is the one who made the earth and created man on it (Is. 45:12).

The LORD is the one who stretched out the heavens and put the stars in place (Is. 45:13).

The LORD is the one who forms light and creates darkness (Is. 45:7).

The LORD is the one who changes times and seasons. He alone removes kings and sets up kings (Dan. 2:21).

I love the way God says it in Isaiah 44:8, “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

So nothing else will do. Only God. Everything else will fail us. Therefore, He started with this… “You shall have no other gods before me.” It makes sense really that a loving God would begin with a request for allegiance because He knows anything other than him will disappoint. Leaving a gaping hole in our quest for life and love and satisfaction.

If we want love – God is love.

If we want peace – God is peace.

If we want joy – God is joy.

If we want life -God is life.

If we want truth – God is truth.

Chase me God says. Put me first. Because to seek God first and foremost is to seek the utter most longing of our soul. When we chase after anything other than God, we are always left with less than. Yet for some reason we still think it’s money or a home or a spouse or a child we most need. Or the fulfillment of a dream or job or fame we most want. The lap of luxury that will bring the most joy. Or a night in front of the television or an extended vacation that will build us back up.

But it’s none of those. It’s God. Why is it that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied? (Matt 5:6) Because it’s God who satisfies. So love me with everything you’ve got, says the LORD. With your heart and soul and mind and body. You won’t regret it.

And do it in the right way.

Which brings us to the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 4:4).

In other words, don’t make idols. Don’t carve a face into a piece of wood and call it a god. Don’t liken the Creator to something He’s created. It reduces his power to an item. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

We are to worship in spirit and truth, not stationary items and false convictions. By faith, not fabrication. With God’s might and majesty exceling beyond anything we could even imagine, God says, “Don’t even try.” Any and every attempt will fail.

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit” (Isaiah 44:9a).

Furthermore, we don’t need to make things to represent God since “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). We already have plenty to spur us on to worship.

What we need to do, is be the image of God.

And therein lies the kicker. God’s already made something to represent Him. He’s made us, in his own image! Bringing a whole new meaning to the commandment, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), don’t you think?

It’s not our responsibility to make things that represent God, it’s our responsibility to be a representation of God.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). That the world might see God in us. That they might come to know Him. That they might reject every other false attempt at deity, except the LORD Almighty, the gracious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It won’t be long and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Phil. 2:10-11). So why wait? “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deut. 4:39).

And that my friend is why loving God with everything we’ve got and everything we are is the first and greatest commandment. Let us go and let us love Him and let us do it in the right way.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How might your life change if you truly sought God at all times? What would be easier? What would be harder?
We aren’t to make images of God but we are to be the image. Can you give an example when the world saw God in you? How did they react?

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Rest

In this crazy busy gotta-do-everything-right-now life we lead, seasons of rest seem to be less and less. So, I’m forcing myself to take one during the month of August. But don’t worry! I’ll be back. (I’m going to pretend you were worried.)

I’ve got some fun things lined up for the fall. Including a guest posts at (in)courage coming at ya on September 2nd and a free giveaway I’m working on with some other writers. It’s good stuff!

In the meantime, because I know how much you’re going to miss your weekly Deeper Devo, here’s a few of my favorites, from last year, to tide you over. (Hint, hint: They cover the life of Joseph.)

The Biggest Misunderstanding of God’s Love

When You Feel Disappointed with God

How to Navigate the Best Life Even Amidst the Worst of Circumstances

The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

The First Step to Reconciliation

How We Move Past the Hurt and Heal

I appreciate you friend. Without your support (and the encouragement of Jesus of course), I probably would have quit this journey a while back. Will you do me a favor? Over the next month, will you share Deeper Devos with someone new? Muchas gracias! See you in a few weeks!

Discipleship is More Than Coffee Once a Week

In honor of Mother’s Day we’re taking a break from Exodus today to encourage my fellow mama’s who are stretched thin and guilt ridden over the concept of discipleship. Or maybe I’m the only one, nonetheless, this is important. Because discipleship looks different in various seasons of life, yet it’s often described only one way.


Sometimes discipleship is pouring over the Scriptures, tall latte in hand, with a new believer in Christ. But sometimes, it isn’t.

Though it’s taken me years to realize it.

Born and raised in a traditional, non-denominational, Bible teaching church, the coffee-shop concept of discipleship is like an old t-shirt. I’m comfortable with it. I like it. I’ve been blessed by it and I enjoy it.

But now, with one hard working husband and four kids under the age of ten I’ll be honest, I have little time to wear my old, comfy, t-shirt.

At least, not in the way I expected. With my days occupied by the non-negotiable demands of preschoolers, my afternoons with homework, and my evenings with either a sporting event or bath time. (Because let’s be real, there just isn’t time for both.) I’m lucky if I get five uninterrupted minutes hiding in the pantry, let alone time to go have coffee with a precious sister in Christ.

Yet I’m supposed to, right? Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, ESV).

Yes, Jesus commanded it. There’s no doubt about that. And if it works, an hour or two a week pouring over the Scriptures, is a great way to disciple. But it’s not the only way.

By definition a disciple is, “One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” (Thank you Merriam-Webster.) And you know what? I’m already doing that. Every time I come along side one of my children to tell them what Jesus says. Assuring them with a word of truth. Praying with them before they walk out the door.

Not to mention when I take the time to recite Colossians 3:20 with one of the littles, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord” (ESV). Like when the three-year-old melts into the floor because I won’t let him pick his nose. Or when the two-year-old sits stone still refusing to swallow the food in his mouth. (Never saw that one coming. But each child has taken their turn.)

And could there be anything more important than raising my children in the admonition of the LORD? Yet for some reason discipling our kids often feels like the lesser job. Slipping in under the category of discipline, or child development, or domestic responsibility.

But living my life for Christ in front of my children is discipleship too. And none of it, thus far, has been in a coffee shop. But it has been at the breakfast table and in the car and in a plethora of I-still-love-you’s. It’s been in the no’s. It’s been the yes’s. It’s been in the why and why not’s. It’s even been in the bathroom, though I’ll spare you that story.

Slowly but surely God’s been teaching me discipleship isn’t a one-size-fits-all t-shirt. It comes in all kinds of colors and patterns and shapes and sizes, depending on one’s season of life. And that’s the beauty of it.  There’s no right and wrong way to disciple.

Sometimes it might look like hot lattes and quiet conversations. And other times it might look like chaos and sippy cups and staying home because your kids need you. Either way, make no mistake, it’s discipleship.

So don’t feel guilty about staying home sweet mama. Your work is important too. In fact, it’s essential. Not just because the world would fall apart without you, but because the next generation would too.

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When It’s NOT OK to Compromise

As a farmer’s wife who built a house in the middle of a field, close enough to our hog barns it’s convenient to spread manure on, I have certain – how shall I say this – privileges, not everyone gets to experience. Like flies. Thousands upon thousands of flies in the heat of July, covering my lovely abode, like a bunch of sugar crazed elementary kids out for recess.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:20-32
Key Verse: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2


Dare to open the front door and recess just moved inside. The problem is when four children live in your home, you might as well take off the hinges and call it indoor/outdoor living because let’s be honest, kids don’t know how to close doors.

Anyway, with his otherwise even keeled wife (at least that’s how I like to think of myself), about to hop tractors over to the funny farm, my man did what every good husband would do: he googled it. Wherein he was told this fly bag, filled with decaying chicken scraps or spoiled milk, would trap them all. Of course we bought one.

The smell was horrid but praise be to Jesus, it worked. There were still flies, mind you, but we could once again walk outside without being attacked. (Though I still yelled kindly asked my little lovies to CLOSE THE DOOR whenever they went outside.)

The poor Egyptians however had no Google, no Amazon Prime, and no fly bags. (Sheesh, life must have been rough.) So when God sent swarms and swarms of flies to cover their land and houses and food and bodies and everything they owned – I can only imagine, it was crazy town.

Except in the land of Goshen, the part of Egypt the Israelite’s called home. There, not a fly buzzed, not a woman swatted, not a speck of land was ruined, because God protected Israel from the devastating effects of the fourth plague. Declaring it the first ever “no-fly zone” (literally) so that Pharaoh would know He is the LORD. And consequently, so would Israel and Egypt alike.

Because in every other part of the country the land was ruined (v. 24). Devoured by swarms of ruthless flies (Psalm 78:45), yet Goshen miraculously remained untouched.

This truth ruffling Pharaoh’s headdress enough he alas yielded, a little. “Go sacrifice to your God within the land” (v. 25).

Not a bad concession for a guy like Pharaoh. In fact, many would have chalked it up as a win for Moses and Aaron. (Come on guys, just take the deal.) But without hesitation, Moses declined. Telling Pharaoh, no way, no how was that going to work. “The Egyptians will stone us for having a nationwide BBQ right in front of their fly eaten faces.” (My paraphrase.)

Probably true. But the real reason Moses said no isn’t for fear of the Egyptians, but for fear of God.  The LORD’s instruction was clear, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness” (Ex. 7:16). Not in bondage, but in freedom.

Egypt’s deliverance a picture of our salvation, it wasn’t going to work to stay in Egypt to worship God. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Made new in Christ, we’re free. He doesn’t lead us half way out of bondage and then tell us “That’s good enough.” No, He takes a repentant sinner all the way to victory, every single time.

The problem is, we tend to compromise. The problem is, us. Given the freedom to make choices we walk right back into Egypt. Right back into the place we’ve been comfortable in for so many years. Because it’s easier. (No one ever said living apart from the world was going to be easy.) Because it looks more fun. Because otherwise we might be labeled one of those fanatical Christians.

Or maybe because we don’t believe we’re actually free. Lured by Satan’s compromises we take the deal. We worship, but we stay in Egypt. Holding onto this habit or that one because we couldn’t really give it up. Making little allowances here and there. Going to church but carefully blending in the rest of the week. Believing the lie, we can be buddies with the world and with Jesus all at the same time, a win-win for everyone. (cf. James 4:4)

But like Moses, no way, no how, can we take the deal. It’s not what God intended. It’s not what’s He’s commanded. He’s instructed wholehearted obedience. “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). I know not totally possible while still in the flesh, but we’re to give it a go nonetheless.

He’s instructed us to be set apart. To be in the world but not of the world. No longer conformed, but transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Abhorring what is evil and holding fast to what is good (Rom. 12:9).

But it’s not going to happen unless we decide we’re all in. Freed from sin and death and not going back. No matter how good the deal might sound, we’re not taking it. We won’t compromise, not when it comes to God’s word. Though we know the devil will try.

As he did with Eve (And we know what happened there.) As he did with Jesus. (And we know what happened there!) And as he will do again, offering the bait of compromise over and over.

Accordingly, this is the first of three compromises offered by Pharaoh (Satan doesn’t give up easily.) The second came at the threat of locusts. Urged by his servants to “let them go already!” Pharaoh says OK fine the Israelite’s can go, but no taking the women and children! Only the men can go and sacrifice to the LORD.

Knowing he’s in a losing battle, ever seen Satan try that one? Keep us too busy, keep us distracted, keep us entertained long enough to leave our kids behind. To not teach them the ways of the LORD. Or not include them for one reason or another in the ministry we’re involved with. Maybe it’s to protect them. Or maybe like me, it’s because we’re just too tired. So they miss out at seeing the hand of God at work. They miss out on answered prayer. And then what? They grow up and walk away from Jesus.

The third suggested compromise came with the ninth plague. Pharaoh conceded that the entire family could go, as long as the herds and flocks stay behind. A bit of a problem if they were to fulfill the required sacrifices.

We see this one daily too. Don’t give God your time. Don’t give God your talents. Don’t give God your best. Those are for you to enjoy. Besides, it’s too much effort and you deserve the proceeds, not Him. (I’ve certainly been tempted, you?)

But when it came to God’s instructions Moses was nonnegotiable. And the result? A work of God in his life so marvelous it took his breath away. My friend, compromising isn’t worth it. It may look good. It may even look like a win-win, but decide today, right now, you won’t take the deal. Because when it comes to the word of God, victory is never found halfway.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
In what areas are you compromising with God’s word? Have you taken any deals?
How can you experience victory today?

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When Expectations Go Unmet

Writing isn’t something I grew up thinking about. I didn’t hide with a notebook as a little girl sketching ideas for my future books. Nor did I study it in college. Even up until a few years ago, besides the weekly grocery list hanging inside my pantry and the occasional prayer in my journal, it wasn’t something I considered much.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 5:3 – 23
Key Verse: “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9


So when God made it clear He wanted me to write, starting with a weekly devotional I posted online, I honestly expected it to be easy. After all it was His idea, not mine.

Surely, I wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail for the time to get it done. Surely, I wouldn’t get discouraged. Surely, the readers would come flocking by the crowd full. I’d be filled to the brim with ideas. Agents and publishers would beat my door down. And Deeper Devos would catapult to the New York Time’s Best Seller list in no time. (Ahem. Please excuse me while I give myself an eyeroll.)

By the way, while we’re on the subject, pretty sure I had the same preconceived notions about motherhood, minus the best seller list. But absolutely lots of praise and appreciation and a few Best Mother Ever trophies to place on my shelf. (Side note: My four-year-old is currently crying over a massive bowl of Lucky Charms, refusing to eat those luscious marshmallows and I have no idea why.)

Unmet expectations. We’re OK with it, probably even anticipate it, when it comes to things like government and health insurance and movies and continental breakfasts. But when it comes to God’s will, and our acceptance of it, we’re completely blindsided when things go wrong and expectations go unmet.

We like to assume, if it’s God’s plan, there will be a wide, beautiful, well carved path, already in place. A scenic one with lovely trees and lovely people and maybe even a bench we can sit and rest at, while everything we need perfectly falls into place.

I think it’s what Moses anticipated too. If he was to bring the people out of Egypt then surely there’d be a nice, wide, lovely, path with a few benches. So when the journey began and their first step to freedom lead them right into a giant pot hole, I think it’s safe to say everyone, even Moses, was taken by surprise.

You see, apparently, when the people heard of God’s impending rescue, they no longer felt the urgency to work. (I can’t say I blame them.) But their idleness angered Pharaoh, who of course blamed Moses and Aaron for the people’s sudden laziness (v. 4). As a result, Pharaoh took away the straw the Israelites needed to make bricks and told them to go and gather it on their own. The catch was, they still had to make the same number of bricks.

Unfair? Yes, extremely unfair. The Hebrew foreman, beaten by their taskmasters when quotas weren’t met, went to Pharaoh in hopes of changing his mind, but Pharaoh refused. “You are idle, you are idle…. Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks” (v. 17-18).

Unnerved by the new requirements the Israelites let loose on Moses and Aaron, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (v. 21).

Stunned by the sudden large pot hole they’d sunk into, Moses went to the LORD, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (v.22-23).

Unmet expectations? I think so. Not only does Moses blame God for this unforeseen trouble, but also for not delivering the people as He’d promised! But isn’t that just like us! To blame God for not doing things exactly as we thought he should. For not fulfilling his promises in the way we thought best. And frankly, letting us down.

I’ve felt it. The tug of disappointment when life didn’t sail as I thought. Up until 1am trying to finish a devotional I was just sure God had totally abandoned me on. Warn down from an unending virus circulating through our house. Fighting what seems to be an upheaval of demands on me as a mother, wife, committee member, employee, (fill in whatever title you’d like). Wondering if I took a wrong turn or did something wrong.

They (whoever they are) say the first step is always the hardest. But I beg to differ. The hardest steps are the one’s right in the middle. When doubt threatens to take over and fatigue sets in and we’re bombarded by the enemy in subtle, yet significant ways we hadn’t anticipated. Believing then God’s still in it, when our expectations go unmet, that’s the hard part.

Moses, however, did the right thing. He took his concerns to the LORD and then he held on. He stuck with it. He believed the LORD and in turn, saw the miraculous hand of God in ways he never could have fathomed. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from Heaven, the giving of the law, the indwelling of the Tabernacle, the passing of God’s glory, the long conversations with Jesus.

All of it, I’m just certain he’d say, was worth the unexpected pot holes.

And as far as unmet expectations, when all was said and done, think Moses still had any? Do you think he got to the end of his life and thought, “You know LORD, you could have done better.” No. Not a chance.

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9

In his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). Even in the scorched places. The places our hearts are scarred with disappointment and unmet expectations – there is joy and satisfaction in Christ. (Isaiah 58:11)

So don’t give up on Jesus. Instead, draw near. Do what Moses did and ask the hard questions. And then, wait. Because unmet expectations aren’t an indication of God’s absence. But an opportunity for God’s presence. A filling more desirable than anything we could have ever dreamed of.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What unmet expectations have you dealt with? How might those expectations be filled in Christ?
When and where have you seen God do far more abundantly than you ever could have imagined?

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The Absurd Reality of Every Believer

There’s a truth seeking to intrude the everyday moments of life – both the mundane and the monumental. A truth I let slip into the daily drama every once in awhile but would do well to let drench the difficulties and decisions and dilemmas that arrive on my doorstep each morning. A truth I long to live within – snug and secure within the boundaries it provides, the comfort it gives, and the hope it exhales.


Key Verse: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16


But instead of soaking in this immeasurably wonderful revelation, with all it’s lovely attributes, I more often than not set it aside for less feasible realities. Like having a beautifully put together life (the kind that is social media worthy) or a number on the scale that is less than last week or a completely picked up house or every dish in the cupboard or a floor that has less food on it than an all you can eat buffet.

Consumed with the hope of making such lofty goals the truth of my everyday, I forget the real truth. The truth that would have blown the sandals off every godly Israelite of Moses’ day or Joshua’s day or David’s day.

The truth that in Christ, God is with me. Always and forever with me. Indwelling me with His perfectly righteous Spirit. Going before me, walking beside me, carrying me when I’m too tired to walk on my own. Or too overcome. Or too weary. Or too confused to take one more step.

“That’s impossible!” The Israelites would have said. “A holy God cannot dwell within sinful man!” Yet this side of the cross, He does. It’s not a ridiculous notion, it’s reality. The God who was once shielded nicely behind two curtains, on the other side of an altar, constantly smattered with blood – now dwells within every man, woman, and child that confesses Christ as LORD.

It’s a privilege unlike any other considering only the high priest could enter the presence of God (within the Holy of Holies), prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And even then it was only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, after cleansing and draping himself with special clothing. To do a job only he could do – sprinkle the mercy seat with the blood of atonement.

While the people outside waited. Are we accepted, or are we not accepted? Fear intermingled with hope; desperation threatening any shroud of confidence they felt after watching a goat, 2 bulls, 1 ram, and 7 lambs make their way across the bronze altar – the required number of sacrifices for that special day.

The vast gap between God’s righteousness and theirs requiring more of the same sacrifices not only on the Day of Atonement but at the first of every month and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost (Feast of Weeks). Along with two daily lambs a year old, without blemish, split open every morning with a drink offering and every night with an offering of grain – as long as they existed.

But nothing compares to the Feast of Booths. It lasted eight days during which 71 bulls, 15 rams, 105 lambs, and 8 goats were required to be struck, broken, and splattered across the altar that kept guard over the tabernacle entrance like a fierce watch dog reminding the people to not come any closer. To remember their unholiness. Confess their uncleanness. And adhere to the commands of the LORD or face the consequences.

Yet me, on this side of the cross, I get to walk right past the altar of burnt offering, past the bronze basin that the priests used for washing, through the veil separating the Holy Place from the courtyard, with its “blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen,” (Ex. 26:36), straight into the light of the golden lampstand.

Past the bread of the presence, which I could eat of if I wanted to, straight to the curtain separating me from the Holy of Holies.

Lungs filled with the sweet smells escaping the altar of incense, I get to slide the golden rings to one side, folding the cherubim embroidered on the large, expansive curtain, and walk straight into the presence of God.

Invited by the King himself. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Cleansed and covered by His blood, I am not only encouraged to approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), I’m expected to as an adopted daughter of the Most High. So that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, may shield me wherever I go. (Phil 4:6-7)

An awesome blessing every believer this side of the cross has the privilege to experience. Yet what do we do with it? What do we do with this ever present reality? Do we exchange it for something less lovely? Less beneficial? Less likely?

Sometimes we do. Ignoring the fact that we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16). An amazing concept I long to capture.

The presence of God is not shielded from me, but dwells within me (within you). “Therefore we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Heb. 6:18b-19, NLT).

My friend, whatever reality you’re facing today, in Christ, this is the truth behind it – You are welcome in God’s presence. Invited by and through the blood of Jesus Christ.

What a privilege! A reality I pray we each live within – snug and secure within the boundaries it provides, the comfort it gives, and the hope it exhales. May it always and forever be the truth that rises to the top and prevails. Mending the brokenness of yesterday and binding up the uneasiness of tomorrow in the pure wonderment it provides.

Thank you Jesus for your presence in my life. Forgive me for setting it aside. Help me to live within the reality of this great and wonderful truth. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Why is God’s presence in us such an amazing privilege? Is it reality you live within? How can you make fellowship with God a truth you daily experience?

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The Miracle that Can Happen When We’re Tired

Married to a farmer, fall is an exhausting time for me. It doesn’t just mean brisk beautiful mornings at our house, it means long 18 hour days in the field for my man and even longer 18 hour days at home for me.


Devotional Scripture: Mark 6:30-44
Key Verse: “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31


Doing all the things, from forcing my four year old to please eat two more bites of chicken,  to explaining why it’s really NOT OK to eat boogers, teaching spelling words that won’t stick, and killing ferocious spiders.

Basically while the world is happily posting pictures of pumpkins, I’m just trying to keep from sticking my head inside one. Maybe you can relate. Exhausted from a spouse required to work more than you’d like and the constant needy-ness of small children, you’re overwhelmed. Tired. Or perhaps just overloaded with responsibilities and problems that just won’t go away.

There’s no disputing life is busy and at times downright draining. The concept of rest plays hide-and-seek with us way more than fair, while we sputter along on empty, thinking we’re the only ones with this problem. But even the disciples needed a break and didn’t get one. Mark 6:31 tells us Jesus and his crew were so busy, they had no time to eat! (Can I get an amen?) People were in and out and coming and going and life was crazy!

So Jesus says to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Ahhhh, ok Jesus, that sounds lovely. So they got in a boat to make haste but when the people saw them leaving “they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them” (v. 33).

“Sheesh would you people just please give us a little space!” If I were the disciples, I would have been sittin’ in that boat displaying my best pout face. And promptly requesting he make them all GO AWAY. This is MY time to regroup and relax and I deserve it. Have you seen all the work I’ve been doing?

But Jesus didn’t make anyone leave. Instead he taught the crowd right there on the shore, smack dab in the middle of their hopeful moment of reprieve.

When it got late and the disciples saw their chance, they said to Jesus, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (v. 35-36).

But again Jesus didn’t make them leave. Instead, he told the disciples to feed the crowd themselves. (Um, excuse me?) Knowing they were a bit taken back he offered a little guidance. “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

They returned with five loaves and two fish and the rest is history. Jesus fed the massive bunch of them right then and there with just a small amount of provision, until every last one of them was satisfied.

It was a miracle we’re still perplexed by today. A miracle clearly displaying the power of our sovereign Savior. Yet just think what the disciples would have missed out on if Jesus had said to the crowd, “Hey ya’ll need to leave. I’ve promised these guys some rest.”

Because there’s no doubt they needed rest. They had just returned from a ministry trip, walking two by two, from town to town, with merely a walking stick in their hand. (Mark 6:7-13) They had been in homes of strangers for who knows how long, proclaiming the hard to hear message of repentance, casting out demons, and healing the sick. They were tired. They were overworked. They were hungry.

And they were more than likely a little scared. It was while they were out and about that John the Baptist’s head got served up on a pretty little platter. I can only imagine the questions this strange turn of events raised in their minds. They needed to regroup. They needed to think and rest and be with their LORD. But first, first, Jesus wanted to show them a miracle.

Because it’s only when we trust in the sovereignty of our Creator that rest will truly come.

So if peace and quiet doesn’t seem to be on the docket today. If it gets pushed further into the depths of chaos and kids and laundry and dinner and unexpected phone calls or fevers or tantrums or wishful thinking, maybe it’s because instead, what God really wants to do, is give you a miracle.

The miracle of His Spirit at work within us. Giving us patience when we didn’t think we had any left. Overflowing us with love when we don’t think we can love. Soothing us with peace when we don’t have any peace. Restraining us with self-control when we are way beyond self-control. Or helping us respond with gentleness or kindness, when it’s not even a little deserved.

None of that is a work we can do in and of ourselves. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are a supernatural work – a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). And when we’re tired, when we’re really really tired, that’s when we see it best – the work of God in us and through us. Because his power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

So if rest doesn’t come right away. If it gets interrupted and tossed out the window by little people or little problems (or big ones at that), don’t worry. God knows we need rest. He knows it’s hard and stressful. But he also knows more than anything else we need to learn to trust Him.

Therefore, before the ease, the miracle.

Contemplate and Evaluate
When have you experienced the miraculous work of the Spirit in your everyday life? How can you experience it even more?

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5 Benefits to Keeping an Eternal Perspective

Everyday we have a choice to make. A choice to either view life through an earthly lens or an eternal one. And I’ve noticed the days I choose to peek through heaven’s window instead of my own, it’s beneficial to not only my head but my heart and mind and relationships.

1. It keeps me upright in an upside down world. Have you ever noticed the world is often backwards? Babies are born to families who could care less, while godly women weep with empty wombs. Success meets the wicked at every corner, while the righteous deal with endless frustration. Prosperity throws itself at the worldly, while the one who adheres to God’s commands struggles to make ends meet.

There are days life just doesn’t make any sense. Yet in view of eternity, all is right as it should be and even more so. The blessings in store for those following Christ are nothing short of A-mazing. Redeemed, forgiven, and lavished with grace we’ve been blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). Already! As in it’s already happened! Let alone adopted as God’s own children, named co-heirs with Christ, and guaranteed an inheritance that would knock the socks off most anyone. 

Beloved, whatever appears to be lacking now will be filled to overflowing when we’re face to face with Jesus Christ. And when I’m able to keep that perspective, it’s much easier to stay on my feet and not trip over the world’s continuous need to turn everything topsy-turvy.  

2. It sheds light in darkness. Consider Job. An upright and godly fella who lost everything – servants, flocks, herds, sons, daughters, and was struck with boils from head to toe. Things were bleak to say the least. While describing his situation to his friends Job explained, “My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends detest me. Those I loved have turned against me. I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teeth” (Job 19: 13-14, 18-20 NLT).

Yet just a few breaths after that nauseating description Job had the audacity to declare hope! “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skins has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26, ESV).

My friend, it’s the light of eternity that makes life bearable. I honestly don’t know where I’d be (nor what I’d be for that matter) if I did not have the hope of heaven. But in light of heaven, I can walk any path, if it’s my duty to do so. Because the light of heaven can permeate even the darkest of days. 

3. It doesn’t answer my questions, but it does answer my doubt. We aren’t always going to know why things happen the way they do. In fact, most of the time we aren’t going to have any clue as to WHY. Even Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, admitted he didn’t understand why God allows certain things and not others (Ecc. 8:17).

But there’s one thing we can be sure of when nothing else makes sense: eternity. By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we’re signed, sealed, and delivered from this aching world unto a perfect one. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Eternity is a done deal. And when I think on it, instead of parking on the uncertainty of my current situation, I can calm my quivering heart with the things I know to be true. Like the fact that Jesus has gone to prepare a place just for me. Why would he do that if he didn’t care about me? (And you for that matter…don’t forget you.)

We may not know why things have to be the way they are today, but we do know  who holds tomorrow. And He is faithful and kind. 

4. It helps me fight the appropriate battles (Most of the time). Because in light of eternity, is it worth it? Will I gain any reward by taking up this fight? No, the answer is no. (This is so convicting.) In light of eternity, more often than not I’m engaging in the wrong battle or at least fighting it the wrong way.

Scripture is quite clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Am I saying the struggle you’re having at work isn’t real or the fight you had with your spouse last night was an illusion. Um, no. It was real. So real in fact, I know a piece of you is still there – at the scene – begging your mind to come back and replay the entire episode again and again.

But I believe wholeheartedly behind every misunderstanding, every argument, every hurt, every divisive word, is a scheme of the devil. To uproot our marriages, tear apart our families, and get us so sidetracked  and steeped in sin we’re useless for kingdom work. Satan may not be able to pluck us from the nest but he can certainly ruffle our feathers. And the only way we’re going to win is through whispered words of prayer that proceed from the mind set solely on Him.  

5. It keeps me ready.  When eternity is on the horizon of my soul, I’m much more apt to interpret the unexpected knock on my door as an opportunity instead of an intrusion. Or view the unwelcome disruption of my to-do list as a God sent invitation instead of an outright irritation. Giving me opportunity to store up  treasure in heaven. Because I know when I get there – I’m going to realize there’s nothing better.  

But when my mind is everywhere else but there, I tend to miss the God sent invitations, especially with my kids. And I want to be ready. Ready to speak of God’s attributes when the sunrise sings of his beauty. Ready to give him praise when I see his tender touch on my day. Ready when he counsels. Ready when he calls. And ready when he comes.  

Therefore, I make the choice to move beyond my own convenient window, to peek out heaven’s – no matter the effort it might take. Because eternity doesn’t just impact the destination – it improves the view along the way. So climb on up and take a peek with me – the view is gorgeous from up here.

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Photo provided by Pixabay

What if Praying for More Isn’t the Answer

Key Verse: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:15, ESV)

More of you Jesus, I want more of you. Have you prayed it? I have. Out of a longing to know Christ more, to be with him and near him and breathe his presence into the depth of my soul, I’ve earnestly asked Jesus for more.

More of him in my life. More of him in my soul. More of him in my heart and mind – penetrating my hard to reach spaces. My anxious spaces. My hurt spaces. My unsatisfied spaces.

But what if it’s not a matter of more but a matter of less.

Less of me. Less of sin. Less of filling my heart with the things of this world so there’s still room for Him.

Because the truth of the matter is, at the point of salvation we are not given a partial filling of Christ, as though I need more of him poured into my soul. We’re given a full one. 1 John 4:15 states, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

Not a little bit of God. Not a small portion of who he is. Not just enough to get us through until heaven. But all of God – in all of us. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead in us (Rom. 8:11).  So we can know he is with us and for us and walking right there beside us.

“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” (1 John 4:13)

All of it.

Yet we walk in doubt. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Not because Jesus withheld some of it or forgot to give us a portion of himself but because we’ve left no room. Unawares perhaps, we push him aside for other things. Like when I’d rather sit and be mad than figure out a way to be God honoring through it.

Or when I hang out with envy and pride, and then discontentment shows up. And I’m completely stumped as to why Jesus didn’t come to the party.

Where did you go Lord? I need you. I need you right now to show up and be here. Yet I’m unwilling to give him any part of my day.

Give me the world and give me Jesus – this is the mantra we live by. But James reminds us, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

But in all honesty it’s not that verse that got me; it’s the next one – “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?”

His spirit. The very spirit of God choked, smothered, pushed back, one selfish decision after another. Stuffed underneath layers of calloused arrogance and self-righteous preoccupations, while we pray: More of you Jesus, More of you.

I get it now….

Exchange worship of self for worship of Him, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange time in front of the tv with time for him, and you will have more of Jesus.  
Exchange that which is dirty, and dark, and wrong, for that which is true, and noble, and right, and pure, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange the works of the flesh for the fruit of the spirit, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange sinful habits for holy ones, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange religion for a relationship, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange a prayer time for a praying life, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange the ways of the world for the ways of God, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange a love of money for a love of God, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange envy for contentment, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange my will for His will, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange pride for humility, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange bitterness for forgiveness, and you will have more of Jesus.
Exchange the heart of a master for that of a servant, and you will have more of Jesus.

We’ve already been brought near to God by the blood of the Messiah (Ephesians 2:13) There’s no reason to ask him to do it more. But there is every reason to ask him to make us less.

Less of me means more of Jesus. And more of Jesus means less of me. In the words of John the Baptist. If we want more of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

Thy will be done Lord. Thy will be done. In Jesus name, Amen.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What exchange do you need to make today to have more of Jesus?
In what area of your life does Christ yearn jealously over your spirit?

More Encouragement:
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8a

When You’re Still Waiting

As a year slips past and another rapidly approaches I wonder…are you still waiting for something? direction perhaps? good news? joy? Does the change of the calendar find you still praying? Still spilling your guts before a seemingly silent God? Hoping beyond hope that this year…it will happen. Your deepest desire fulfilled. Your longing satisfied. Your dream finally realized.

If so you’re not alone. The truth is…we’re all waiting. Maybe not for the same thing. Maybe not with the same intensity or for the same reasons. But we’re all waiting…for something. And when the thing for which we seek most earnestly finally happens, it doesn’t take long before we’re waiting for something new. Why? Because the reality is… life’s about the waiting.

(The following excerpts are taken from a devotional I posted last May entitled Life’s About the Waiting. To read it click here)

Consider Abraham who waited 25 years for God to make good on his promise of a son. Consider Jacob who waited 7 long years to marry the love of his life. Or Rachel who watched Jacob father 10 sons before she nursed a sweet baby of her own.

Ask Joseph who waited 2 unending years for the cupbearer to remember him in prison. Moses who waited 40 years for God to finally use him to free his people from slavery. David who fought and hid and ultimately waited 15 years from the time of his anointing until he ruled as king. Ask Zechariah and Elizabeth who remained barren year after year though they fervently prayed. Yet God delayed for his purposes. for his timing. for the one who would pronounce the coming of the Kingdom – John the Baptist.

Consider the faithful listed in Hebrews 11 who are still waiting. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar” (Heb. 11:13a).

Consider the earth which “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). Consider believers who “wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23). “Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

And then consider Noah who waited 57 days for God to open the door of the ark after the earth had dried. 57 days!! As if 10 months on a big boat with a bunch of stinky animals wasn’t long enough.

I can’t help but wonder what the atmosphere on the boat was like during those 8 weeks. “Dad we can see it’s dry outside…let’s just break the door down. Dad seriously…I can’t take this any longer! I need off this boat!” Or what about his wife? I could see myself begging to go outside.

Yet they waited for God to give the command to go. They waited for God to open the door. Certainly not something many of us are very good at…waiting for God to open the door.

But you know what? It’s not about getting through the doorway. It’s not about the achievement. It’s about the waiting. About finding joy in the waiting. About glorifying God in the meantime.

Because that’s where the blessing is. Not in the attainment. Not in the accomplishment. Not in the acquiring of a long awaited goal. The blessing is in the waiting. “Blessed are all those who wait for him” (Is. 30:18b).

It’s in the waiting we draw near to the God who saves us. Seeking diligently for His almighty presence. It’s in the waiting we come to know his strength and not our own. As we learn to trust. Learn to lean. And learn to pray. It’s in the waiting we get to watch Him work. In us. Through us. And around us. And it’s through the waiting we grow.

There is much blessing in store for a heart and mind that waits steadfast on God. So as tempting as it to wish away the waiting. To rush the waiting. To loathe the waiting. Let’s savor the waiting. Knowing there is purpose and blessing in the here and now. “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Ps. 27:14)

Because there’s blessing to be had in the waiting.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What are you waiting for? How can you bring glory to God by your actions and attitude while you wait?
How can you see God working in the waiting? What purpose might he have?

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