HARD WORK U! Proverbs 13: 4

Friends recommend that when we’re in Branson, Missouri that we have lunch at the Lodge of the College of the Ozarks.  We do, and how impressed we are with this Christian college known as ‘Hard Work U’!

Why the nickname?  Hard work!  Students labor on campus for their tuition, room and board.  They milk cows, wait tables, shovel manure, tidy up Lodge guestrooms.  That’s why it’s called ‘Hard Work U’.  And no one graduates with even a penny of Ozark College debt.

Likewise, the book of Proverbs calls us to get off our duffs and get to work.  Lazy and work-shy loafers get a bad rap.  After all, why does God give us potential and abilities?  To show off, lounging around, relishing that I’m better than you, though refusing to lift a finger?  Hardly.

I have the privilege to write for the Lord.  This is His gift to me.  Now, let me ask you a question.  Do these weekly devotionals magically appear on my WordPress webpage?  Do I get up in the morning only to discover that some ‘good fairy’ has finished my writing along with leaving money under my pillow for a cracked tooth?  Do I write willy-nilly hoping it all makes sense without exerting any daily editing work?  No way, buster!  Hard Work Me!

It should go without saying that the enjoyment of godly gifts comes from the using of them.  Satisfaction that only time and toil bring.  I’m a better writer because I’ve written, edited, rewritten, and re-edited so much.

Rewards come as we grease the wheels of God’s gifts.  Proverbs 13:4–‘The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.’  See?  Hard Work Us!

How about your godly gifts?  At work for Him?  Be honest.  No one will overhear.  Except the Lord who wants to get you off the dime using His gifts… for the good of others and Jesus’ Kingdom.

Ready to get up and go?  Good.  Don’t say you’ll do it.  Do it!


Lord Jesus, energize me so that I can do my best for you and others.  Amen.

LITTLE BY LITTLE Exodus 23: 20-33

Stop grousing about reading from the book of Exodus.  I know.  Exodus has lots of chapters about the architecture and furniture of the Tabernacle, along with long sections of laws and regulations, which seem out-of-date to us modern know-it-alls.  Me…not you!

Today I notice a phrase in Exodus 23 that stops me in my tracks.  This happens frequently now that I spend more time in my Bible.

First, let’s consider the context.  God is instructing His people on worship and godly living after liberation from slavery in Egypt.  Here in Exodus 23: 20, God reassures them that He’ll be sending His angel to guide and protect.  All He asks for is obedience, a willingness to follow His ways.

The Lord will go ahead of His people to clear the land of the ungodly.  To give His own a country.  This freeing up from enemy peoples will not happen in the twinkle of an eye.  No.  ‘But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you.  Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land’ (Ex. 23: 29-30).

There’s the phrase that gets my attention.  ‘Little by little…’–repetition drives home the point.  God’s goals for His people will take time.  Many years in their case.  Not lickety-split.

I don’t want to hear this.  I crave it now… or how about yesterday?  I’m not getting any younger.  Come on, God.  Get going.  Get moving my way!

Oh how I need to remember that God works at His own pace…in His own time.  May not be to my liking, but His will is always far better.  The best really.  Which is why I need to hear that phrase again– ‘little by little…’  Slowly but surely.  He’s not done yet.  ‘Little by little…’


Thank you, Jesus, for perfect timing.  Amen.


ON OUR BEHALF Hebrews 6:20-7:28

Many, many years ago, one of the most stressful times in my life occurs when sued by a neighbor over trees and roots.  The circumstances are bazaar.  The entanglements almost choke the life out of me.  Worry, anxiety, fears take an upper hand.  I can think of little else.

Until I decide to let our homeowners insurance attorney carry the load.  Also, I determine not to roll over and play dead.  I seek no revenge, but neither will I kowtow to anyone.   Pray and go about doing what I need and want, as best I can under this loaded gun.

At the same time, I need Jesus as my attorney and advocate.  The One who acts on my behalf.   Hebrews 6:20–‘…where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf’.

I love Hebrews 7:25–‘…He always lives to intercede for them.’  Jesus, our attorney, 24/7, 365.  Leap year and holidays included!  He’s there for us–‘always’.  And ‘always’ still means always, praise the Lord.

Heb. 7:25 proclaims that He ‘lives’.  No dying, requiring a brand-new lawyer.  Hebrews 7:24–‘…because Jesus lives forever…’  We come and go.  Not Him.  He’s our ‘forever’ helper.

Never a time when I need to fret over life’s wrong turns.  Never?  Really?  Get that through my thick German-Irish skull!

I’ve found another reassuring verse.  Hebrews 9:24–‘For Christ…entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence’.  Notice that itsy-bitsy phrase–‘For us’!  He’s in heaven, seated at the Father’s right hand, working salvation for His own, acting on our behalf.  Again, ‘for us’!

Here’s something to do this week.  Get personal with our Lord.  Repeat over and over–Jesus is for me.  Whatever bind we find ourselves in–Jesus is for me.  Loved ones disappoint and hurt–Jesus is for me.  Failures come out of the blue–Jesus is for me.

Maybe this will sink in for more than a week.  Maybe.


Thank you, Jesus, for all you do for us.  In your name.  Amen.

GONE Psalm 32

It hit me when I least expected it.  Let me explain.  At the funeral for a dear friend, her adult children spoke about what a super mom she truly was.  Very moving tributes.  But like a knife through my soul, I start feeling sad that I’ve been far less a parent than I could have been.  Even worse, far less a Christian than I or the Lord had hoped for.

Guilt surfaces.  Wish I could disappear.  But I don’t.  Even though it’s been decades of a growing relationship with Jesus along with fairly (!) faithful service to Him, it’s that time before that eats away at me.

The day after that funeral, I’m reading Psalm 32.  And there it is.  Smack dab in front of me.  God’s Word for a needy soul.  Me.  Whispering that I’m forgiven, which grabs my attention, being exactly what God does for those sorry as sorry can be.

Psalm 32: 1-2–‘Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him…’  The biblical Hebrew uses three different words for sin.  ‘Transgressions’ in verse one refer to open rebellion against God.  ‘Sins’ in that verse mean turning away from God’s path.  In verse two ‘sin’ denotes distortion of the truth coupled with disrespect for God.

Taken together these three Hebrew words sum up our sinfulness rather well.  Cover the bases.  No exceptions or loopholes to squirm our way out of.

But we need none.  We’re forgiven.  Period.  Sins forgiven… and forgotten.  Slate wiped clean for those who are God’s own through faith in Jesus.

So, plug up your ears when Satan shouts recriminations at you.  Blinders on when you visualize bygone failures.  Be blessed and happy trusting God’s Word!

That’s the rub for me.  To concentrate on Jesus.  Putting Him first in my thoughts.  Intently listening to Him.  After all, He’s carried my sins away, even hurling them as far as far can be, where they can never come back to haunt me…or you.

Forgiveness.  Believe it or not.  No, believe Him!


Lord Jesus, in spite of everything tough in this life, I want to trust you.  Amen.  


Jesus and His followers are in Jerusalem for what will be their last Passover celebration together.  He’s performed miracles like no one’s ever seen.  For three years He tells stories that engage people like no rabbi ever has.  Reaches out to the most abject outcasts.  Shows love and forgiveness that turns heads.  Rumors float in the air that Jesus is God’s Son and promised Messiah.

Nevertheless, the religious high-and-mighty gather to plot His overthrow.  To move Him off center stage.  Marginalize His competitive advantages.  As Luke writes–‘…(they) were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus…’ (Luke 22: 2).

What to do with Jesus.  Good riddance!  Adios, amigo!  Sayonara!  Au revoir!  Auf Wiedersehen!  Alright, enough already.

Here’s a question I ask myself.  How many times have I wanted to do much the same?  Hardly asking for God’s input.  Thumbing my nose at His commands.  Turning my back on what’s right so I can get more for me.  In effect, getting rid of Jesus.  Am I alone?

Throughout history people want to deep-six Jesus.  Sin with abandon.  Without restrictions, paying a price for being plain stupid and selfish.  Going my way is a one-way ticket to disappointment and frustration.  And yet how many of us, and how much of our culture, ride that same hellbent bus to the very outskirts of hell.

There’s more.  Satan enters the picture.  Ever since those temptations in the wilderness (Luke 4), Satan lurks in Jesus’ shadow.  Ready to pounce when given the chance.  Judas nods his permission, and a flood of evil enters to his utter ruination.  Getting rid of Jesus ultimately slides the unbeliever to darkness unimaginable and more and worse.

So, let’s be in the company of those eleven remaining disciples.  Did they understand everything about Jesus?  Not by a long shot.  Yet they know whose garment to hold onto.  In whose steps to follow.  Whose voice to listen to.  Whose love to count on.

Take Jesus’ hand.  Hold on tight.  He’ll never let you go!


Jesus, we cling to you for dear life now and forever.  Amen.