blog-home-pageIntentional> Deliberate> On purpose> Planned> Premeditated> Calculated.  When we step away from the myriad of responsibilities and opportunities calling to us each day to spend time with God, we have made an intentional decision to connect with Him.  

Join with me as I read through the Bible this year – every day will deliver a life-changing read and provide the guidance we need in the days ahead.  Just follow below or click a day on the Calendar to the right for that day’s devotional. 

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  (Ps.119:105)  More than ever before, let’s be intentional!


Proverbs 17-18 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is our place of safety in the time of trouble

@ Proverbs 18
Most everyone has faced at least one moment in life on the verge of an accident, fall or catastrophe.  If not, I trust your insurance premium is low because you deserve it!  I faced one of those moments several years ago while driving my little black Volkswagen bug, the first model.  This is important to note in that it really wasn’t much bigger than I was.  As I was making a left turn from a dead stop, a full-size van ran the stoplight, crossed in front of me and the front of my little car collided with the rear end of the big van.  Save yourself the headache of trying to figure out how it all happened and just trust me that it did. I just hate the sound of crunching metal, especially when it’s mine.

Although time seemed to hang in space as my life flashed before me, it all happened in just a split second.  There wasn’t time to brace myself, phone a friend or recite the 23rd Psalm.  The only thing I had time to do was to say Jesus. And He answered.  It was at the moment when I said His name that the left rear end of that van broke through my windshield and ended up where my head should have been from the impact.  Instead of flying forward, I was glued to my seat as if a supernatural airbag had filled the space and I couldn’t move.

Never was the scripture that I had memorized as a five-year-old and quoted over and over more precious and more real to me than at that moment, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” (10, NKJV)  At the time of crisis, I ran to the only name that could help me, to Someone who knew me, and it was as if He lifted me high above the scene, safe and secure.  Proverbs goes on to say, “The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety.” (11)  How foolish they are!  At the moment of impact, the biggest bank account on the planet could not have done for me what the name of Jesus accomplished in a split second.

Before the police arrived, I managed to get out of my totaled bug and went to a nearby home to call my husband.  When I returned to my car, I heard a young policeman ask a bystander as he walked up to the car, “Well, have you seen any movement in the car?  Anyone alive?”  To his amazement, I ran over to him yelling, “Here I am, here I am.”  Not a scratch on me.  What a miracle!  To Him be all praise and glory.

In the storms of life, when the enemy’s agenda is in full force, run to the strong tower of safety.  David had been there time and time again and understood God’s place of safety when he wrote, “Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.” (Psalm 61:3)  I am living proof, dear friends, that He’s as close as the mention of His name. 

Moving Forward: No matter what I face today, whether a trial or just a desire to be near Him, He’s as close as the mention of His name.  Jesus!

Tomorrow @ Daniel 7-12

Psalms 96-98 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is great and worthy of all praise! 

@ Psalm 96
Sing a new song to the Lord!”(1)  One dimension of this verse has come to life today in our church services and worship music.  Creative young souls are writing songs filled with a heart of love for the Lord, and I enjoy their expressions, their rhythm and their passion.  Their anointed songs are new and represent their understanding of who God is as well as their experience with Him. But then, I also enjoy the old songs of the church, the hymns and gospel songs of long ago when creative young souls wrote songs filled with a heart of love for the Lord.  The new songs and the old are all beautiful testimonies of God’s presence in our lives.

However, I believe the writer of this Psalm does not really intend new to mean a song that is different or newly written, but more so one that is a fresh and up-to-the-minute response to God’s goodness and greatness in our lives.  It may be a newly written song or an old one, but regardless, it is a song that is fresh from our hearts to Him.  Sometimes when He displays His power and majesty in my life, it causes me to burst out with a spontaneous new song that no one has ever sung before, fresh from my heart.  It’s for His ears only, and that’s probably a good thing.

When a new song is vibrant in our hearts and minds, the Psalm goes on to tell us what to do with it, “Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nationsTell everyone about the amazing things He does.  Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!”(2-3) 

Each day

1) proclaim – publicly state or make known

2) publish – print, distribute, circulate, announce

3) tell – inform, advise, enlighten.

Share about His salvation and the amazing things He does with everyone, everywhere. How are we going to do that along with all our other responsibilities?  If the song is there, the fresh song, we will find a way!

For 40 plus years, my friends Jim and Della found a way to share their song with at least one person every day, everywhere they went.  Jim was quite the rascal before he found the Lord, and he never forgot the freedom that came to his bound-up soul the day he accepted Jesus as his Savior.  His eyes always filled with tears when he shared his 40 year-old-song because it was fresh in his heart, and he wanted everyone to experience it.  Jim and Della led hundreds of people to the Lord by sharing their song each day, one soul at a time, everywhere they went.  If the song is fresh, we will find a way to share it.

“Publish His glorious deeds among the nations.  Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” (3)  If God has allowed us the privilege, and I do mean privilege, of going on a mission’s trip or outreach, we understand the great need, the great opportunity and the great sacrifice of sharing our song to the nations.  For most, the going and telling the nations each day is impossible, but God has appointed those to serve as our representatives, our hands and feet if you will, to go to the nations – our missionaries.

Because their song is fresh and up-to-the-minute, our representatives leave family, friends and comforts to go share the good news of His salvation and good deeds with everyone, every day.  Their tools include Bibles, books and lessons that our monies publish or announce through incredible mission’s groups like Wycliffe, Life Publishers (Book of Hope) and Light for the Lost.  Our missionaries represent new songs proclaimed, published and told to the nations every day!

If our song is new, fresh and up-to-the-minute, we can’t help but share the good news of God’s salvation and greatness with those we meet each day.  And if our song is new, fresh and up-to-the-minute, we can’t help but support our representatives who take our song to the nations.  It’s time to sing a new song!

Moving Forward:  The song is new and fresh today – I can’t help but sing!

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 17-18

1 Chronicles 5-9 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He carefully planned for the security and care of His Temple

I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most outstanding pastors, missionaries and evangelists of our time.  Life has just afforded me that honor, and I’m grateful to have met them and to have sat under their ministries. If you asked who I considered being the most faithful man or woman in the work of the church in my lifetime, it would be difficult to choose.  It could be a missionary hero like Mark Buntain who changed the future of so many in Calcutta, the great evangelist David Wilkerson whose ministry rocked the drug culture of our nation, Reinhard Bonnke and his powerful evangelism of Africa or it could be a church custodian I knew by the name of Bob. 

@ 1 Chronicles 9
“In all, there were 212 gatekeepers in those days…David and Samuel the seer had appointed their ancestors because they were reliable men.” (22)  In the verses that follow we learn the role of the gatekeepers who opened the Temple doors in the morning, protected and cared for the Temple furnishings and utensils, oversaw the entrance and all those who entered, took care of the money, made sure supplies were available for the priests, provided the showbread for the offerings and finally closed the doors of the Temple at night.  We may call them gatekeepers, custodians or even janitors, but all those who follow after them in this role serve the house of the Lord with faithfulness.

Bob was the custodian at my church when I was growing up.  He opened the church early Sunday mornings long before Sunday School began and stayed to lock up until the very last souls left the building late that evening, which usually included my mom, my sister and me.  Mom was a prayer warrior. Every time we came to church for any event on any given day we walked into a spotless building, every chair in place, paper goods always provided in the restrooms, the communion set ready to go…Bob was reliable, Bob was amazing.  We always knew where he was by the jingle of his keys and the song he was humming.  Bob smiled through the messes his fellow parishioners made and smiled even when we stayed late at night.  Bob served his church for many, many years and is one of the most faithful men in the work of the church that I have ever known.

Our churches are filled with workers just like Bob who receive few accolades for their faithful service – janitors, ushers, nursery workers, Sunday school teachers, offering counters, sound men and pew fillers.  Oh, the list is endless.  Most are volunteers, some receive some small remuneration; but, trust me, it’s not enough.  However, Someone sees everything they do and is keeping a record of it.  God was concerned enough about His Temple that He gave detailed instructions about its security, care and maintenance, and we can be sure that He sees every moment spent on something that is so close to His heart.

Someday when God divvies out all the eternal rewards, Bob is going to get a boatload, as well as all of God’s many other faithful gatekeepers.  In the meantime, we would bless the Lord by praying for these faithful servants and by sending notes of thanks and sharing kind words of gratitude to the many Bobs in our churches who serve us so very faithfully.  “Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24) 

Moving Forward: My prayer today is special blessings for the gatekeeper and servants at my church, followed up by words of thanks. 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 96-98

Numbers 1-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart:  He has promised victory to all who serve in His army

Numbers!  Math was my least favorite subject in school, and I must admit that I approach an entire book entitled Numbers with fear and trepidation.  While the book opens with the numbering, or census, of the Israelites, Numbers is really not so much about math at all but is more so a story about a group of people at the threshold of incredible promise, their response to that promise and God’s undeniable patience with them through it. 

@ Numbers 1
At the opening of Numbers, the Israelites had escaped from Egypt, traveled south to the area around Mt. Sinai and were camped there for almost eleven months. During that time, through His spokesman, God built a nation and established the nation’s purpose by renewing His Abrahamic covenant with Moses.  He set up the nation’s constitution by providing the laws needed to govern.  And most importantly, He gave the guidelines for the construction of the Tabernacle, providing the means He would use to fellowship with His people.  When we think about the time spent in Sinai in light of this agenda, a great deal was accomplished in a very short time.

Now at the beginning of Numbers, God is ready to advance His people to their new home.  He directed Moses to count the men, “A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the Tabernacle in the wilderness of Sinai. On the first day of the second month of that year he said, ‘From the whole community of Israel, record the names of all the warriors by their clans and families. List all the men twenty years old or older who are able to go to war.’” (1-3) This directive from the Lord alone must have served as an indication to the Israelites that war was ahead for them.  Moses needed to know how many troops he had for the battles that were ahead, and we should note that this directive did not ask for volunteers.  It was all men over 20, all hands on deck, stand up and be counted and be all that you can be! The army was formed and ready to possess the land!

Similarly, when we give our hearts to the Lord, we automatically become a part of His army, and there isn’t a separate sign-up sheet for active duty.  Just as the enemy of God’s chosen people fought them on every front even before they entered their land, our enemy will fight to keep us from entering the territory God has for us.  If this isn’t the case, why has God provided all our tools for battle in Ephesians 6:13-17?

The Israelite army totaled 603,550, a strong military by any standards, but by the time they reached the battleground, only 2 had survived the journey.  As we read their story over the next several weeks, we will learn how they became casualties on the way to the Promised Land.

We, however, need not be dismayed or discouraged by their outcome because we have reinforcements they did not have in the way that we do, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness… Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:26,35,37)  And my personal favorite is, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 KJV)

Numbers is more than a census, more than a page in Jewish history.  It paints a picture of God’s patience with us, and on occasion, it also portrays how not to serve in the army of the Lord.  Sometimes He just needs to draw a picture for us… 

Moving Forward:  Suited up according to Ephesians 6 and ready to rumble!

Tomorrow @ 1 Chronicles 5-9

1Timothy 1-3 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: It pleases Him when we pray for everyone to understand the Truth

Mediterranean food, Mediterranean people…I just love them!  From television and movies, we are acquainted with the fun-loving, energetic and, well, opinionated nature of people from that region. Those of us from a Mediterranean heritage have a tendency to live by the motto, “When I want your opinion…I’ll give it to you!”  I’ve wondered if this was why Paul chose young Timothy, whose father was Greek and not Jewish, to minister at the church in the difficult city of Ephesus.  Possibly he would best understand the culture of the region. Regardless, Paul sent some letters to him to mentor his young charge in the ministry there.

@1 Timothy 2
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1-2) The first and best advice Paul could give Timothy was to pray – for everyone.  Pray for those who were believers and those who were not and pray for the Godly, peace-loving members of the church and for those who had caused trouble.  Ask God to help them in the best way, intercede with boldness on their behalf and thank God for them, regardless of their mindset or behavior.  After all, we all are a work in progress.

Paul encouraged Timothy to “pray for kings and people in authority.”  To be honest, I’d rather fuss about the president and the Congress than pray for them, but prayer is the only thing that will change hearts and the laws of the land and allow us to live as Christians in peace and dignity.  We just read a great example of this in Daniel.  Prayer is the answer!

“This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (3) Whether male or female or Jew or Gentile, salvation and truth are for everyone.  Paul goes on to state the truth that we all must understand, “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.” (5-6)  No bias or argument will ever unseat this truth.

And speaking of bias, I’ve always thought that in heaven someday I would like to sit down with Paul over coffee and have a little chat about a few of his teachings regarding women.  There are moments when I imagine the dialogue starting with, “Paul, what were you thinking?!!”  I would only show respect to this giant of the faith, understanding that his influence has changed my life for the good, but his teachings about women such as those found here in Chapter 2 have caused more than a few moments of distress for women in the church through the ages.  Of course, I know that in heaven, absorbed by God’s glorious presence, this will all be immaterial, and I’ll just let it go.

We understand that the culture of the Ephesus church demanded these instructions from Paul, “Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly.” (11) The exciting part of this scripture is that education was now open to women, a freedom that was not a part of the culture.

Just like the sense of free at last that comes to a teenager with a new driver’s license, many believe the Ephesian women were somewhat over the top with their new-found freedom to learn and were disruptive in the church service with their questioning and even with their dress.  This was not good.

I’m certain we all agree with Paul that nothing we do, men and women alike, should be disruptive to the ministry or to the working of the Holy Spirit in our churches.  We should be known, not by our dress or possessions, but by what we have accomplished for Him.  We should be people who pray for everyone, from the president to the homeless, unbiased, leading everyone to the Truth.

Moving Forward: Challenged once again by Paul, I’ll pray and intercede without bias for my leadership in government, for my neighbors, for my friends and…for everyone. 

Tomorrow @ Number 1-4

John 3-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth

It’s difficult to communicate with people when we’re not on the same page as them, so to speak.  Our focus may be different, perhaps our understanding of the thing we’re discussing is not the same, or maybe attitude is an issue.  Regardless of the cause, we’re well aware when we lack agreement and harmony in a dialogue.  In John 4, Jesus gave some powerful advice to the Samaritan woman about successful communication with our Father

@ John 4
The Samaritan woman at the well approached her conversation with Jesus with many issues regarding her race, her lifestyle and her worship. Jesus introduced her to the Living Water and answered her question about the proper place to worship with a powerful key to communicating with God. “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (23-24)

Jesus put to rest the dialogue about where to worship and focused on how to worship.  It was a new time, gone were the old traditions and typical ways of Old Testament worship, and now was the time for true worship – His coming changed everything!

Through the acceptance of Jesus and His salvation, we are no longer confined to a certain place or tradition of worship, but we have access to Him anywhere, any time because He is a Spirit who is everywhere all the time.  But how do we worship Him in spirit and in truth?

True worship is not done out of obligation or tradition, but it is offered out of sincerity and a genuine desire to express love and adoration for God – this is truth.  Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 15:8 when He quoted Isaiah regarding the Pharisees, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Worship in truth comes from a heart so full of Him that there’s little room for anything else when our lips express what is truly in our hearts.  At these moments of true worship, we are not thinking in the back of our minds about the errands we need to run or the roast in the oven or the next appointment because our thoughts of Him have filled our hearts and minds.  It’s not as though we can fool Him.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:17)  My most genuine spirit worship comes when I worship Him for who He is in relationship to who I am not.  It’s difficult to worship Him for the immensity of His greatness and goodness when there’s even an ounce of pride in any great or good in me.  “Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.  You have done such wonderful things.  Who can compare with you, O God?” (Psalm 71:19)

When the magnitude of His greatness shakes me to my knees in humility and brokenness, my spirit, my inner man, can truly worship in spirit the God who is Spirit.  Same focus, same understanding, same attitude – on the same page, so to speak.

True worship is sincere, attentive, heartfelt and spirit-humbled communication with the Father that can take place anywhere and anytime because He is a Spirit who is everywhere all the time.  Because He has to look for it, apparently true worship isn’t something that flows easily from His children, “The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way,” (23)  Oh, that He will find in each one of us what He is looking for today! 

Moving Forward: I join with David, a true worshiper, and pray, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) 

Tomorrow @ I Timothy 1-3

Daniel 1-6 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: “He is the living God and He will endure forever, He rescues and saves his people.”

I developed a Chicken Salad recipe several years ago that has become somewhat infamous in my little world.  It has very simple ingredients and is easy to make, but there are some necessary steps involved that give it the taste that everyone seems to enjoy.  I’ve given the recipe out to dozens of women and men alike and even posted it on my website.  Occasionally, someone will say they made the chicken salad, but it just didn’t taste the same as what I had made.  My response is always the same, “Did you follow all the steps and not compromise?”  Well, they just thought it would be easier to skip toasting the pecans or decided not to chop those golden raisins.  They ended up with a chicken salad that wasn’t the real deal.  Compromise will do that to you.  Fortunately, this is just chicken salad.

The book of Daniel gives the stories of men who would not compromise their faith in God.  Life would have been a great deal easier for them if they had just been willing to politely eat the food put before them, skip the prayer time or bow to the statue for just a split second.  But no, they decided to follow the recipe step by step, and when it was all said and done, they were the real deal.

When facing the fiery furnace because of their refusal to bow to the golden statue, the captive Hebrew young men responded, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (3:16-18)  No compromise!  At the risk of death!  Likewise, to the edict that prayers could be offered only to King Darius, Daniel responded by opening his windows and praying to the true and living God.  No compromise!  God’s response to these faithful children living as captives in a foreign land was to give them great favor and promotion.

We practice compromise almost every day when we negotiate a deal, agree on who is taking the kids to school and even when driving through traffic – after all, yielding our right of way is easier than having an accident.  But when it comes to our faith and the standards by which we live, there’s no room for compromise if we want to be the real deal for Him. When we live without compromise we may face some ridicule, we may lose some friends or we may even miss the job promotion.  After all, Daniel did spend some time in the lion’s den, but fortunately, he didn’t stay for lunch!

Shocked and thrilled by the outcome for Daniel, heathen King Darius’ life was touched by God’s faithfulness to Daniel, and we read in 6:25-27, “Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:  ‘Peace and prosperity to you!  I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God and he will endure forever.  His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end.  He rescues and saves his people; He performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.’”  And the best news today is – God hasn’t changed! 

Moving Forward: “I have decided to live like a believer, turn my back on the deceiver, I’m gonna live what I believe…” (M.Card)  No compromise! 

Tomorrow @ John 3-4