Monday, July 31, 2017

Filled with the Best

July 31
Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 63-64; Psalm 107; John 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading: 
Topic: Trust in the Lord

SCRIPTURE:  John 2:9-10

9…the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." (John 2:9-10 NIV)


This is from the story of the first of Jesus’ miraculous signs performed while attending a wedding in Cana. When the supply of wine ran out at the wedding banquet, at the behest of his mother, Jesus instructed servants to fill six 20 to 30 gallon stone water jars with water. When the water was drawn out and served, it had miraculously been changed into the best quality of wine. One observation from this incident is to note that the best quality of wine men can produce falls short of the quality the Lord produces.   


What have I filled the vessel of my life with? At the pinnacle of my abilities and good intentions, what I fill my life with will pale in comparison to what the Lord can fill me with.


Lord, may I ever be filled with your best. Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Your Light Has Come

July 30
Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 60-62; John 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading: 
Topic: Hope

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 60:1-2; John 1:1-5

1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 2 See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Isa 60:1-2 NIV)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
(John 1:1-5 NIV)


Both our Old Testament and New Testament readings for today speak of light and darkness. Isaiah speaks prophetically of the coming of Jesus (“your light has come” v. 2) and in the verses following it is a clear foreseeing of the visit of the Gentile kings—the wise men—of the Christmas story bringing gifts of gold and incense, and worshipping the Lord Jesus (v. 6). In John we see the fulfillment of the coming of the eternal Son of God who became flesh and lived among us (v. 14) and brought light and life to men (v. 4).

The contrast of light and darkness in both Isaiah and John has deeply significant meaning. Isaiah contrasts the brightly shining light, that brings to pass the glory of the Lord, with the darkness that covers the face of the earth, and deep darkness the people. The Hebrew word translated as “darkness” (that covers the earth) is choshek meaning misery, destruction, death, and the ignorance that fails to recognize it. The word for the “thick darkness” (that covers the people) is araphel—often describing the deep clouds in which the presence of the Lord dwells as when Moses approached the mountain and the thick darkness where God was (Ex 20:19).


What could all of this mean to us?  As our world is covered more and more by the clouds of violence, corruption, and ignorance; what afflicts the nations of the world will also attempt to destroy the people.  But, even within that terrible darkness, Isaiah sees light—a glimmer of God’s glory that begins to shine out of the darkness. Along with the darkness that crushes and destroys (choshek), look for the glory of the Lord within the“araphel”—the light shining out of the thick cloudy darkness. 


Lord, thank You for being the Light of the World and the Light that dispels the darkness in my own life. For any reading this journal entry who are living in the oppression and confusion of darkness, may the brightness of Jesus begin to shine bringing revelation and clarity to them I pray. Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Living Legacy

July 29
Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 57-59; Psalm 103; 2 Peter 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading: 
Topic: Legacy

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 103:14-18

14 for he (the Lord) knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children — 18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. (Ps 103:14-18 NIV)


God made men and women out of the same stuff He made the earth and everything in the earth. Just as every living thing in the earth has a life cycle—a birth, a lifetime, reproduction, and a death—so we who were formed from the dust will one day return to dust. Our days are numbered and the earth from whence we came keeps no memory of us. If we live our existence only as creatures of the earth, the brief flower of our lifetime that flourishes for a while and then fades away will be all there is to our existence. However, if we live our life as creatures not only of the earth but as beings living in relationship with our Creator, He will remember and love us “from everlasting to everlasting”—our life becomes eternal in Him. This is the legacy of life we are to pass on to our children and our children’s children for generations.


I am so grateful for the fullness of life that I have come to realize in relationship with God through Christ. It is a legacy that has been passed on to me from my parents and grandparents and generations before me. These people physically have returned to the earth, but their souls live on eternally. My forebears did not just reproduce earthly life, they reproduced eternal life. This is the legacy I desire to pass on to my children and grandchildren and the generations that follow me. Do not just live and die. Do not just reproduce babies that live and die. Let your progeny know the possibility and reality of eternal life available to you and them from our Creator.  


Thank You my Lord and God for the gift of life that endures beyond the confines of the earth. Help me pass on the legacy of that life to those many who have come and will come after me. Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Friday, July 28, 2017

And His Name Was Jesus

July 28
Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 53-56; 2 Peter 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Messianic Prophecy

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 53:3-6

3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:3-6 NIV)


The prophecy of Isaiah in the 53rd chapter is an insight to a future that would come 700 years later. God gave Isaiah such a detailed picture of the Messiah, His suffering and sacrifice. It was a picture that for 700 years people who were longing for the coming of the Messiah likely could not and did not understand. How could a Savior be a sufferer? How could a Savior be despised and rejected? How could He be stricken, smitten and afflicted by God? Why would He be pierced and crushed? How could His being wounded bring healing to us? It was a vivid prophecy, but it didn’t make sense.

About 700 years later every detail of Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled and many of the people still could not see it. The Messiah came and He was not recognized as the Savior. So He was despised and rejected. He was beaten viciously, He was pierced with thorns and a spear. He was whipped and His flesh torn open. He was smitten—He was killed! His name was Jesus.     


The truth of what Isaiah prophesied and what Jesus fulfilled—the reason for the suffering and death is found in verse 6 of Isaiah’s prophecy: Every one of us throughout history and to the present day has turned away from God in one way or another. We are all deserving of the eternal death that naturally follows such separation from God our Creator. Only the perfect, flawless, sinless Son of God could take upon Himself the iniquity of us all. Only He could make a way for us to be brought into right relationship again with God. He who did not deserve it did it for us. And His name was Jesus.


Oh my Lord I praise and worship You. The Son of God came as a human being and lived a sinless life among us. Jesus, You bore the suffering and excruciating death for me. You died and were buried. But you defeated death and arose. Now I have a relationship with You my living Savior and through You a relationship with God my Creator. Oh my Lord I praise and worship You! Amen.  -AP

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Coaching Believers

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 50-52; Psalm 92; 2 Peter 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Leadership

SCRIPTURE:  2 Peter 1:3-12 (particularly v. 12)   

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. (2 Peter 1:3-12 NIV)


The “things” Peter has just reminded believers of are basic truths expounded in vv. 3-11:

In all humility, knowing that we have been forgiven and cleansed from our past sins by God’s grace (v.9), we should be  growing in the virtues of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, love (vv. 5-8). When we do, we will be effective and productive (v. 8). We have been chosen to receive eternal life, but falling again is possible if we neglect our calling to these things (vv. 10-11). Then Peter says, “I know you already know this, but it is my job to keep reminding you.” 


A good coach keeps going over the basics with his team or coachee. In Little League baseball for example, coaches will teach players to “keep your eye on the ball.” When batting, “see” the ball to your bat. When fielding, “see” the ball into your glove. Errors occur most often when players take their eyes off the ball. Major League baseball players will still have coaches reminding them to “keep your eye on the ball.” Whether a beginner or a seasoned athlete, growth and progress will be added, but only upon a continually maintained foundation.

As a Christian leader called to equip God’s people to do His work and to build up His Chruch—His Body (Eph 4:12), I must be mindful to lead believers to deeper truths and greater maturity. As a good coach, like Coach Peter, I must also keep reminding them of the basics along the way.   


Lord help me to be a good and effective coach on Your team.   
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

He Will Carry, Sustain, Rescue

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 46-49; 1 Peter 5

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading: 
Topic: Trust in God

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 46:4

Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isa 46:4 NIV)


The context of Isaiah 46 is debasing the gods of Babylon. They are impotent and burdensome. The one true God—the Creator of the heavens and the earth (45:18), is omnipotent. The cold stone gods of Babylon must be carried by men and beasts of burden (vv. 1-2). Our God— the God of the house of Jacob (v. 3), carries us. He is reliable and trustworthy all the days of our lives. He carries, sustains and rescues us from birth through old age.


As of this writing I am approaching, if not already arrived at, old age. I certainly have the “gray hairs.” I can personally testify of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God to me through many years of hardship and ease, sorrow and joy, sickness and health, days of want and days of plenty. He has carried me through it all. When difficulties of life arise, it is comforting to know His presence will see me through. When joyous times come (and thank you God, there have been many), I cannot help but offer my praise and thanksgiving to my God.

The reality of life on this earth is that as our bodies grow old the strength and vitality of youth eventually declines. I am not physically as strong and vigorous as I once was, but in my heart, soul and spirit I am mightier than ever through Christ who strengthens me. I am not feeble by any means, but I know that I will one day die and that day draws closer year by year. When my body finally gives way to the sleep of death, it will not be the end, but the ultimate rescue.


Lord, I praise you for the joy of life. I thank you for showing me purpose and giving me fulfillment. I know you will sustain me until my life’s course is run, and that is just the beginning of my existence in your love and care.
To You I offer all honor, love and glory. Amen.  -AP

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Redemption is Already

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 43-45; 1 Peter 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Salvation

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 44:22

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you." (Isa 44:22 NKJV)


The phrasing of this verse of scripture indicates a past tense. The Lord has already blotted out and, like a thick cloud, covered your transgressions; like a cloudy morning mist dissipates, so your sins have already vanished from the sight of the Lord. The only thing you need do to realize this redemption is to return to the Lord—to repent—to change direction and come to the Lord.


So much of the time we think that when we repent then we are redeemed and our sins “blotted out.” We think that it is our action of turning to the Lord that activates our salvation. In reality, however, redemption and forgiveness of sin are already taken care of; I just have not accepted or acknowledged it until I “return”—repent and come to Him. My actions have nothing to do with it, it is all God. I just have to come to the place of knowing it and believing it.


Thank You Lord for the salvation You have already secured for me.
Through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Monday, July 24, 2017

I Honor My Wife

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 40-42; 1 Peter 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Marriage

SCRIPTURE:  1 Peter 3:7

Husbands… be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7 NIV)


Three points of observation strike me in this verse of scripture:

1.  The use of the word “with” – live with your wife… treat her with respect… she is an heir with you of life.

2.  Treat her with respect as the weaker partner. Generally speaking women may be physically weaker than men on average, but the real point has little to do with physical strength but rather a strength of character that honors her by expending my strength for her.

3.  If I fail to thus honor my wife, my prayers may be hindered.


There is a direct correlation between my closeness to God and my closeness to my wife. There is a direct correlation between my prayers being heard and answered, and how I am treating my wife. The gift of fullness of life is incomplete without her. The most important relationship in my life, next to my relationship with God, is with my wife. I may surmise that if I do not give my all for her, my God takes it personally.


Lord, as You formed the perfect woman for Adam and brought her to him, the greatest gift I have received in this life is the wife whom You brought to me. I love and honor her as I love and honor You. Grant unto me the strength to continue to give of myself fully to her all the days of our lives.
Through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Living in the World

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-39; Psalm 75; 2 1 Peter 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Righteousness

SCRIPTURE:  1 Peter 2:11-17   
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:11-17 NIV)


Peter here is urging believers on the one hand to not succumb to the pressures to live according to the world’s standards, and on the other hand to submit to the world’s authorities.  On the one hand we are to “abstain from sinful desires” promoted by a world in which we are not to consider ourselves citizens, but “aliens and strangers” (v. 11).  On the other hand we are, “for the Lord’s sake” to submit to “every authority instituted among men” (v. 13).  On the one hand we are to “live as free men,” and on the other hand to “live as servants of God” (v. 16).  On the one hand we are to “fear God,” and on the other hand we are to “honor the king” (the earthly authorities) (v. 17).    


This passage requires an interesting balancing act on the part of devoted followers of Christ which many find difficult today.  How far do we go in defense of righteousness in an unrighteous society?  How much political opposition should we exert to influence change in civic norms of behavior which are becoming increasingly hostile toward Christians?  How meek and compliant are we to be in the face of false accusations lodged against us by those who judge our standards of right living to be an indictment against their contrary values?  How far are we to go in accepting worldly values that fly in the face of what we believe and hold dear as Christ followers?

Verse 15 shows that our strategy ("God's will") is not that we primarily oppose evil, but that we overcome evil by doing good.  Perhaps the key to the balance we need may be found in verse 12:  “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 


Lord, with Your help may I live my life in such a way as to reach many for You before You return.  And on that Day may I have lived my life in such a way that even those who have been unable to be reached will recognize my actions as having been above reproach.  For Your sake and in Your name I pray.  Amen.  -AP 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Joy of Faith that Knows

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 36-37; Psalm 76; 1 Peter 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Faith

SCRIPTURE:  1 Peter 1:8-9   

8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV)


The essence of faith isn’t just believing in something you cannot see, it is knowing the reality of something you cannot see nor cognitively prove. I believe in God, and I have a real relationship with Him through my belief in God the Son, Christ Jesus. I know real joy, fulfillment and purpose that is inexpressible in purely intellectual terms. Yet it is as real and tangible to me as the keyboard I am typing on right now. There is a spiritual component to my being that is beyond explanation intellectually but is even more real than what I can physically see or touch. This is what I believe Peter is expressing and what I am trying to express here even though it may only be realized spiritually and is “inexpressible” by the written word.


As human beings the only tools we have with which to communicate the love of God are language and actions. It is certainly a challenge to share faith, but part of our faith is believing that as we express the love of God with our words and our actions that His Holy Spirit can make those connections with others that are beyond us.


Lord help me to express Your love and truth. Holy Spirit use my feeble efforts to share Your love. Bring enlightenment, life and joy to those struggling in a world of physical discomfort; to those searching for meaning amid a morass of varied toxic ideologies; to those who need to receive the goal of faith—the salvation of their souls.    
Through Christ. Amen.  -AP

Friday, July 21, 2017

Honest to God

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; James 5

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Honesty

SCRIPTURE:  James 5:12   

But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment. (James 5:12 NKJV).

James here is repeating a teaching of Jesus (see Matt. 5:33-37) that addresses the fundamental core of honesty and character.  The admonition to let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” is simple enough to understand.  It simply means to live your life with such honesty and character that people will always be able to trust the truthfulness of the words you speak.  But what is the point about not swearing oaths?    

How often have you heard someone emphasize the truthfulness of a statement by saying something like, “As God is my witness” or “Honest to God”?  In a court of law witnesses place their hand on a Bible and swear to, “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”  Why does James (and Jesus) admonish us not to swear oaths?  The admonition here should not be seen as an injunction against taking a required oath in court, but rather a command to keep our lives free from the need for elaborate oaths and schemes to assure others that we are indeed telling the truth.  He is pointing out that, if you are a person who has an honest character, you will not need to swear or promise in order to make others believe you. Your character will be your oath.

At the heart of honesty is the matter of truthfulness, and this is a topic which is a struggle for all of us.  In the motion picture Liar Liar, actor Jim Carey plays the part of an attorney who, because of a wish his son makes, is unable to tell a lie.  The story takes viewers through a day in the life of this hapless lawyer who must always, and in every circumstance, tell the unequivocal truth.  The results are hilarious and strikingly poignant.  If we are truthful, we will admit that not lying can be a problem. Whether people describe them as little white lies, fibs or half truths, their misleading or deceptive statements are not entirely honest.  How often do we find ourselves exaggerating or stretching the truth about something to make ourselves look better?  It may not be that we even intend to be untruthful, but before we know it we are embellishing a story.  During the 2008 presidential campaign, then Senator Hillary Clinton and then Senator Joe Biden out on the campaign trail were criticized for embellishing stories about being shot at in war zones—stories that were proven to be less dramatic than stated.  Many of us have fallen victim to some degree of dishonesty even if it was just complimenting someone when we didn’t really mean it, keeping silent when we should have told the truth, or exaggerating a story to impress others. 

Lord, thank You for the reminder to watch the truthfulness of the things I say.  May my “yes” be “yes” and my “no” be “no” – That is, may I be known as a man of honesty and good character; that I may represent You well in the earth. 

Through Christ Jesus.  Amen.  -AP

Thursday, July 20, 2017

To Do or Not To Do

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Chronicles 29-31; James 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Righteousness

SCRIPTURE:  James 4:13-17

13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. (James 4:13-17 NIV)


A key observation from this passage is first that life is short and we have no foreknowledge of when our earthly life will end. Whatever grand plans we may have for the span of our lifetime are insignificant alongside eternity. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to spend the life we have doing right—doing what God has called us individually to do—doing the good we know to do. To refuse to do so, or to put it off, is to sin against God and against our world.  


I must seek above all else to determine the good God has given me this life to do. I must allow my own humanly devised ambitions to be replaced in favor of that God-given good. Wherever I plan to go and whatever I plan to do, I must say that I will only go and do, “if it is the Lord’s will” (v. 15). I must realize that whatever the span of my earthly life may be, I will experience the greatest fulfillment and joy only when I am doing life His way rather than my own.


Lord forgive me when I have wasted life doing other than your will. Reveal to me the good I ought to do and grant me the courage and ability to accomplish it for Your Name’s sake. Amen.  –AP

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grading the Teacher

Today’s Bible Reading:  2 Kings 17; 2 Chronicles 28; Psalm 46; James 3

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Teaching

SCRIPTURE:  James 3:1

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1 NIV)


A teacher who teaches a particular subject to students may give and grade tests. Students who score above 90% on a test have done very well, but the teacher who takes the same test should be expected to score 100%. Those who teach are held to a higher standard, and that definitely applies to those who teach in Christ’s Church. Therefore, to take the office of teacher, one should weigh very carefully the magnitude before ever accepting such office. Indeed, in Christ’s Church teaching should never be presumed, but rather seen as a calling from God.


I am one who has been called by God to a ministry of teaching. I like to teach probably because the giftings God has created me with make me well suited to teach. However, I must never take lightly this calling or the higher standard by which I am and will be judged.


God grant me Your wisdom and guidance as I teach and keep me from presumption. I humbly pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.  –AP

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Of Mercy and Judgment

July 18
Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 32-35; James 2

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Mercy and Judgment

SCRIPTURE:  James 2:12-13

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!  (James 2:12-13 NIV)


Previous to these verses James expounds about not showing favoritism to some people over others. To make such judgments or valuations of merit is to violate the scriptural law, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (James 12:8). The point is not that judgments are forbidden, rather that judgment without mercy is a violation of “the law that gives freedom”—the gospel of Christ who offers unmerited mercy and absolution of sin to any and all who will accept it and receive Him.    


This is what my attitude as a Christian is—to not judge others but to love and accept people; any and all people. This is what the attitude of most Christians I know is and always has been—to love and care for all people. However, this does not preclude me from having and expressing my opinions about what is right and wrong. In fact, in a loving society we have a responsibility to do so. There are certain behaviors that God calls sin. Sin separates you from God and He hates that. He loves you and wants close relationship with you.

It behooves us; as a human society that God loves so much that He became a human and died for us, and rose from death to bring victory for us; to promote standards of right living before Him. However, it is here where we humans often stumble into sin of another kind by behaving hatefully toward people because of the way they behave, to pass judgment without mercy. Then the human reaction is often to return hate for hate. Here is where the real human tragedy lies. All humans are sinners separated from God. Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you never sin again, it means you have now entered into a personal relationship with God through Christ. Within that relationship you will find the help and empowerment to live a better, more fulfilling and purposeful life. But you are still human and will certainly stumble at times. When you do the Lord is right there, still loving you and helping you get back up.

There is a sinister spiritual reality present in our modern world; in the guise of enlightenment it denies the relevance of godly values given in the Bible. It disputes the validity of biblical precepts. It places the determination of moral behavior in the hands of general consensus while at the same time manipulating that consensus toward moral justification. It coerces society to conform to its moral determinations which seem to be ever devolving. It convinces individuals that behavior once thought sinful is actually righteous. It traps people into believing there is no need for repentance and forgiveness of sin. If I have no sin, I have no need for a Savior. If I become convinced that what God calls sin is really good and right and worthy to be emulated and celebrated, then I don’t need to feel guilty about it anymore and I certainly don’t need to repent of it. If the Bible says it is wrong, I reject God and His Word. If God’s book is just a compilation of old fashioned ideas, give it no credence. If we have progressed beyond the need for an antiquated God, do not foolishly believe in Him; and ridicule those mentally deficient people who still do. 

Such is the reality of increasing opposition to Christianity in our world today. It can certainly cause devoted followers of Christ to rise up in righteous indignation—to want to strike back! While we can certainly make judgments of what is right and wrong, we mustn't judge souls. That is expressly God's job not ours. Our challenge is to treat even the vilest of offenders with love and mercy before judgment; to trust in the promise that, "Mercy triumphs over judgment!"  


God help us! We cannot handle the balance of mercy and judgment without You.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.  -AP

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hooray for Trials!

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 29-31; James 1

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Perseverance

SCRIPTURE:  James 1:2-4

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-5 NIV)


You’ve got to be kidding me James! God, are You telling me to be joyful about hardships I go through?

Verse 2 literally in the Greek says, heegeésasthe (command authoritatively to count or consider) it pásan (all, whole, thoroughly) charán (cheerful, calm delight) hótan (whenever, in as mush as) you peripéseete (fall into, light upon or among, are surrounded with) poikílois (different, various, manifold) peirasmoís (adversity, temptation, provocation).

But verse 3 goes on to give the reason why:  …because the trying or testing of your faith develops hupomoneén (enduring patience, perseverance). And why is this important?...

Verse 4 – because in this world we will need that kind of complete and mature faith that is made strong through the exercise of patiently enduring hard trials.  


Whatever hard knocks I suffer in life, I must never give up. I must approach it as exercise that makes my physical, emotional and spiritual being stronger. When I see it in this light, I may be able to recognize the pain not as something to be disdained, but as helpful to my growth and maturity as a being created for a God-given purpose. I may even be able to thank God for the struggle, not just for the end of the struggle (whenever that may come), but for the struggle itself. It is a tall order, but with His presence within me through Christ, I might actually come to consider it pure joy.


Lord, without You I am unable to endure hard trials. I am so thankful for the strength within me that comes only from You. May each and every trail I face strengthen me and not destroy me. May my faith continually grow and endure all the days of my life.
Through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Be Imitable

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 25-28; Hebrews 13

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Leadership

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 13:7-9

7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings... (Heb 13:7-9 NIV)


The writer of Hebrews gives encouragement and warning here. Some teachers are very good presenters and engage listeners by being edgy, or provocative. They put a different twist on the truth to capture interest. Beware that you are not “carried away” by neo-didacts who alter the gospel of Jesus Christ to fit an audience or a changing culture. Remember, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Rather, believers are encouraged to follow the example of good leaders, “who spoke the word of God to you,” and whose teachings are borne out by their faith and in the way they live their lives. These are the teachers and leaders that should be imitated.


Perhaps the greatest compliment a leader can receive is to be imitated by others. This makes the responsibility of leadership all the more important. Therefore, I must not only hone the craft of teaching, preaching and leading; I must live in a way that if imitated by others would be pleasing to God. This is indeed a sobering thought for reflection.


My Lord, I ask the help of your Holy Spirit to accompany my teaching and preaching. May I present Your truth with vitality, veracity and verve. May others follow me only because I have first followed You.

In Christ Jesus who does not change, and for Your glory. Amen.  –AP

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Surrounded by a Great Cloud

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 22-24; Hebrews 12

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Faith

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 12:1-3

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Heb 12:1-3 NIV)


The “great cloud of witnesses” to whom the writer of Hebrews is referring, is the collective people of faith spoken of in Hebrews 11 who had previously lived and died. Well known names like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Rahab… Unnamed people who suffered persecution, torture and grisly executions… These are the great cloud of witnesses by whom people of faith today are surrounded.

Certainly the faith and perseverance of those who have gone before us serve as witnesses and encouragement to us, but the wording here, that we are “surrounded” by those who have gone before, seems to indicate that they are able to see us and witness what we do, how we persevere, how we live and die by faith.


Those who have lived before us, and often suffered greatly, are not dead and gone. They are still alive in the heavenly realm. Therefore, let us live up to the standard they have set. Let us face our challenges and hardships with the same courage, faith and perseverance. Yet however much we revere our forbears, let us remember that our hope and strength comes not from them, as encouraging as their examples may be, but only as we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”  


Lord when I see how your presence has enabled others who have gone before me, my faith is bolstered. Thank You that I too may look to You. As You reveal to me anything that hinders or entangles, may I have the resolve to throw it off and complete the race You have marked out for me. Through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Friday, July 14, 2017

Seeing the Invisible

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 19-21; Hebrews 11

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Faith

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Heb 11:1 NIV)


Faith—being certain of things that are as yet invisible to us, things that haven’t come to fruition yet or things that are intangible. In this sense, faith is the God-given ability to see the invisible. The New Living Translation Bible renders the verse this way:  

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.


Often we only see at a subjective and personal level the circumstances that appear to be against us—in our family, our health, our business, our community, our nation, our church. Sometimes, it is hard to see how we will ever get through it. Yet despite the reality of those things that poison the atmosphere surrounding our lives, our convictions as believers are not to be restricted by them, nor are our sensitivities to be dulled to what’s going on around us. 

In a way, we are not to acknowledge the evil and opposition that is all around us, in the sense of not letting it restrict our living in and for our Lord. Yet, at the same time, we are not to be blind to it either, to where we don’t see it or can’t recognize it to oppose it and take authority over it in our prayers and our actions in Jesus’ name.


Lord, thank You for the measure of faith You have given me. Thank you for the reality of Your love and my relationship with You that, though it is beyond physical eyesight, is undeniably real and known to me. So often I hear people say that they cannot believe anything they cannot see. By Your Spirit enlighten them to realize that such a statement is patently false. Everyone in the human family certainly has believed in the reality of something they have not seen—the love of a parent, the pain of a betrayal, the hope of a future. Help people to see that a relationship with You will be more real than any of these.  
In Jesus’ name. Amen.  –AP

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Paradise Lost?

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 15-18; Hebrews 10

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Backsliding

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 10:26-31

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."  31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:26-31 NIV)


This is an ominous warning. Can a Christian—one who has repented and received Christ as Savior—lose their salvation by committing sin? This passage seems say yes to that question. The writer of the book of Hebrews has very lucidly explained how Jesus, as our High Priest, has fulfilled the law of sacrifice for sins. In Christ there is no longer any need for yearly sacrifices of atonement for our sins because He has offered Himself by the shedding of His own blood once for all (see yesterday’s journal entry). Therefore, it follows that if one willfully rejects Christ after having once accepted His sacrifice for their sins, there will not be any other sacrifice; “no sacrifice for sins is left” (v. 26).

The language used here is important. Notice that the implication is not directed to believers needing to fear losing their salvation if they make mistakes or stumble. It is directed to those who “deliberately keep on sinning.” The language is explicit: those who willfully, willingly, voluntarily, deliberately choose to turn their backs on all they have received, all they have been given, all the truth they have learned and acquired, are essentially repudiating Christ’s sacrifice for them.    


Does this mean that when a Christian backslides there is no longer any hope for them? I don’t think so. God’s love and grace are boundless. The danger lies not just because one backslides, but when one chooses not to repent, not to ask for forgiveness, and rejects living in and for Christ. To do so is insulting to the Spirit of Grace; it is like trampling the Son of God under foot and treating His blood as unholy (v. 29). The result for such: “…a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (v. 27). When does someone reach that point? That is a judgment left only for the perfectly just Judge to determine.

Eternal life with the Lord in heaven is available to everyone. Why anyone would choose to lose paradise I cannot fathom.


Thank You Lord for the gift of eternal life to come and abundant, meaningful life today. Forgive me my sins each and every day along the way as I confess them to You and strive to live my life in and for You. With all my love and devotion through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Our High Priest

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 11-14; Hebrews 9

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Salvation

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 9:24-28

24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Heb 9:24-28 NIV)


The hardest part of writing today’s Life Journal entry was choosing just a few verses to write about. Hebrews is rich with inspired explanation of godly eternal truths. Chapter 9 starts with a description of the Old Testament Tabernacle, its furnishings, and how the high priest entered the most holy place once each year with the blood of a sacrificed animal offered as an atonement for his own sins and the sins of the people (vv. 1-7). The writer of Hebrews explains that this is an illustration of what has been fulfilled in Christ. Jesus, as our High Priest, offered His own blood to cover our sins once and for all, ushering us from the old to the new covenant (vv. 8-15).   

When we come to verses 24-28, Christ’s once and for all time sacrifice for all sin is reiterated. But the story isn’t finished yet. Every person on this earth is still destined to die and face God’s judgment. Christ died and, as our High Priest, entered the true tabernacle of heaven that the earthly tabernacle was only a copy of. He will appear again, and when He does it will not be to again bear our sin (that has already been taken care of), it will be to complete the salvation of those waiting for Him (v. 28).


The application of the truths given in these passages of Scripture is for each individual to ask and answer the question, “Are you waiting for Him?” The truth of what God’s love has accomplished for us is that when we believe in and receive His gift of salvation in Christ, we are delivered from eternal death to eternal life. The fruition of that glorious salvation comes when we are in His physical presence again. We wait for Him until our earthly life ends or until He comes again. Do not become weary in waiting. Remember, waiting is not a passive word, but an action word (perhaps a subject for another Life Journal blog entry).


Thank You Lord for Your great love and salvation offered to me. I humbly accept Your gift with worship and adoration. I actively await Your coming again and joyfully enjoy the blessings of Your Spirit’s presence with me until that day. Amen.  –AP

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What Do You Fear?

Today’s Bible Reading:  Isaiah 8-10; Hebrews 8

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Fear

SCRIPTURE:  Isaiah 8:12-14

12 "Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, 14 and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. (Isa 8:12-14 NIV)


People fear all kinds of things. Whether their fears are founded or not, Isaiah says do not fear the things society fears. What people think is a conspiracy against them may or may not be, but the Lord Almighty is the only one we should really fear. All outcomes are ultimately in His hands. He will protect individuals who trust in and follow His ways, but when a society as a whole turns away from Him, He will cause them to falter or even to fall. Whatever fears we have, justified or not, are insignificant compared to the realization that what God says He will do, will be done. When the culture opposes Him, that’s when a nation has reason to be afraid—very afraid.


In our country today fear seems to be growing. On writing this journal entry, we are in a presidential election year. Some people are absolutely terrified at the thought of Hillary Clinton being elected President. On the other side, people are equally adamant in their fears of a Donald Trump Presidency. People fear radical Islamic terrorism. People fear the government isn’t doing enough to protect us and at the same time fear intrusion into their privacy. Is there a conspiracy to take away our 2nd Amendment rights? Is the top 1% conspiring to oppress everyone else? Are the police out to kill black people? Do Christians hate gay people? Is illegal immigration taking away jobs and hurting the economy? Is it that liberals just despise unborn human life, or that conservatives just want to oppress women? On and on it goes; more and more dividing lines, more and more conspiracy theories, more and more dread and fear. But where is the fear of the Lord in all of this?

The Lord Almighty is the one you are the fear and dread. It is He who will be a sanctuary in the midst of turmoil to those who acknowledge and follow after His ways of right living, of love and charity and putting the needs of others above our own. It is He who will be a stone that causes a people to stumble when they do not acknowledge Him. It is He who will be a rock crushing the nation that turns away from Him.        


Lord, nations are made up of masses and masses of individual people. May more and more individuals turn to You and find their peace and purpose in You. May the masses of individual people turn the heart of a nation away from divisive fear and toward You.   

By Your fearsome power and loving grace in Christ Jesus. Amen.  –AP

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Little

Today’s Bible Reading:  Micah 5-7; Hebrews 7

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Humility

SCRIPTURE:  Micah 5:2

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judahout of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." (Mic 5:2 NIV)


This prophecy of Micah foretells the birthplace of the Messiah. 750 years later this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem. When king Herod inquired of the chief priests and teachers of the law where the Christ was to be born, this is the prophecy they quoted to him (Matt 2:4-6). Micah described Bethlehem as “small.” Centuries later by worldly standards it was still a little insignificant village.


At Christmastime we sing the well known carol… “O LITTLE town of Bethlehem…” It is significant that God chose for His Son to be born in the most humble setting in a little town. You would think that the King if kings would be majestically born in an important city like Jerusalem. But even the place of our Savior’s birth speaks to us. For it is for the little and the humble that Jesus came. Worldly wealth, status and power carry no weight when it comes to receiving the salvation He brings. It is the little and the humble for whom He came. All may come to Him, but regardless of our status and standing in the world, we must come to Him humbly.


Lord, I realize how little I really am. That You came for me—that You died for me—that You rose from the dead and conquered death, hell and the grave for me, humbles me. With all I have and all I am, as little and insignificant as that is, I worship and adore You my Lord, my Savior, my friend. Amen.  –AP

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Point of No Return?

Today’s Bible Reading:  Micah 1-4; Hebrews 6

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Apostasy

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 6:4-6

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Heb 6:4-6 NIV)


I observe two fundamental questions to be asked and answered from this text:

1.   Is it possible for a born again believer in Christ Jesus to backslide and lose the salvation He purchased for them?

2.      If a Christian can/does backslide, can they ever receive the gift of eternal life again, or are they forever lost without hope?

This text in and of itself seems to be saying that it is possible for one to backslide and lose his or her salvation, and that “if they fall away” (Greek, parapipto – apostatize) it is “impossible” to be saved again. But is that really the message here? As well as examining this passage as a stand alone statement, let’s also take these questions one at a time in the light of the whole of Scripture and the context within which these verses are written.

First, the word “impossible” in the original Greek is adunaton, defined as weak, unable, impotent, and may be used literally or figuratively to connote being passive or not possible. So is the writer of Hebrews categorically stating that there is no possible way for a backslider to ever again realize God’s grace for salvation; or is he expressing in strong literary language the seriousness of choosing to reject Christ and the foreboding consequences that will follow such foolhardy expression of free will? Is he expressing the state of weakness a decision to turn away from Christ will produce in one’s life?

In context the passage itself is followed by an admonition to live our lives analogous to land that is fruitful and produces blessings rather than land that produces only weeds that are useless and is “in danger” of ultimately being burned with fire (see Heb 6:7). This is further indication that the language be taken as a strong warning rather than a literal decree of no possibility of restoration to relationship with God through Christ. Furthermore, in the light of what we know of God’s nature from the whole of Scripture (e.g. “The Lord is… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” [2 Peter 3:9 NKJV], “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Rom 10:13 NKJV]), we can surmise that we are never without hope. We continue to have the free will to chose. Therefore, as woeful as one’s choice to reject Christ after once believing in Him may be, I believe He longs for that soul to turn again toward Him.


It is worthwhile to personally and honestly reflect upon the ways we may be rebelling against the Lord’s presence and direction in our lives. Not that we need to fret that our salvation may be lost because of our occasional or frequent stumblings, for the Scriptures also assure us of the security we may know in Christ. Apostasy occurs only when one “deliberately keeps on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth” (Heb 10:26), and willfully chooses to reject Christ. The admonition for me from these passages is to continually choose paths and behaviors that move me closer to my Savior, not further away.


Lord, thank You for your gracious love and longsuffering for me. I praise and worship You as the completely righteous and just God. My being is filled with thanksgiving for the blessings of life my Creator has given to me. Thank You that I am not alone, but that You are with me and dwell in me by Your Spirit to daily choose the abundant life You have lovingly purchased for me. Through Christ, Amen.  -AP

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Exercise, the Key to Growth

Today’s Bible Reading:  Hosea 13-14; Psalm 100, 102; Hebrews 5

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Spiritual Growth

SCRIPTURE:  Hebrews 5:12-14

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 
(Heb. 5:12-14 NKJV).


The writer of the book of Hebrews makes an observation about the Christians to whom he is writing. They were not maturing in their relationship with God as they should be. They were still only babies as far as their spiritual growth was concerned. While, by this time in their Christian growth they ought to be giving out the truth to others, they were still like babies nursing on the basics of a life in Christ, receiving only milk for themselves but not giving of anything for the benefit of others. The key to this maturity, to coming “of full age,is exercise. Those who repeatedly exercise their spiritual senses will grow to have the discernment to recognize what is right and wrong—to recognize God’s voice and His leading. They will mature to the place of being equipped to teach others.      


As Christians we need to exercise our spiritual senses; we need to use the gifts, talents and abilities the Lord has given us. When we exercise these we will grow stronger; we will grow to be mature and fulfilled children of our Father God. The converse is also true: if we don’t use what we have been given, not only will we not grow, our spiritual senses will be diminished.

This is a spiritual principle that we should easily recognize. We know that when we exercise our muscles they become bigger and stronger, and that if we don’t exercise them they will atrophy and become weaker. If we have a musical talent it will increase the more we practice; if we refuse to practice, our proficiency will decrease. Even the most gifted athletes work out and practice diligently; if they don’t they will never become champions. The same is true of our spiritual senses. Those who by reason of use have their senses exercised will grow to take in solid food and not just milk; they will become givers and teachers, not just receivers of God’s goodness.


Lord, thank You for helping me understand the importance of observing cycles of exercise and rest in my life. Intense exercise, whether physical or spiritual, can create weariness and the need for rest, but thank You for helping me realize that I cannot stay indefinitely at rest. Rather, it is the rest and refreshing You bring that enables me to get up and exercise more. This is how I grow, and I am eternally grateful to You my God for the abundant and meaningful life You have called me to and gifted me for. Through Christ. Amen.  –AP

Friday, July 7, 2017

He’s All I Need

Today’s Bible Reading:  Hosea 10-12; Psalm 73; Hebrews 4

Journal Entry on a passage from today’s reading:
Topic: Trust

SCRIPTURE:  Psalm 73:1-3 & 23-26

1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Ps 73:1-3 NIV)

23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps 73:23-26 NIV)


The psalmist begins this psalm with a declaration of God’s goodness to His children (Israel), to those whose hearts are pure (v. 1). He then expresses his doubts. He almost slipped; he nearly lost his footing; he became envious of others (vv. 1-3). In the following verses he laments how the wicked seem to prosper while he struggles and suffers. However, he finally comes around to realizing how senseless and arrogant such attitudes are (v. 22), and again expresses his trust in and reliance upon the Lord (vv. 23-26). 


On the occasion of writing this journal entry, I identify with the psalmist. Life in ministry and in service to the Lord can sometimes get weary. I have felt discouraged at the seeming lack of progress and poor church attendance in the church I have been called to serve. In my thoughts I have been envious of other ministers with bigger churches and bigger paychecks. My feet “almost” stumbled and my steps “nearly” slipped, but—praise the Lord!—like the psalmist, I have been able to see the error in such attitudes. When my flesh and my heart start to fail, I discover afresh that the Lord IS my strength today and forever!


Lord, You are my portion. You are sufficient and I need no more. Help me to remember that. Through Christ. Amen.  –AP