HARMONY Psalm 15

Will this week’s election bring harmony to our country?  Have I gone whacko, loco with a screw loose?  No comment from Howdy Doody’s Peanut Gallery, please!  Getting together and cooperating, a thing of the past.  Or was it a phantom which never really existed?  One political comment–the Lord will still be Lord after the election.  God Almighty!  Worry not…as best you can.

Years ago I sang lead in a Gospel quartet called ‘Livin’ Harmony’.  We had four parts all trying to produce one sound.  Practice every week, having a vocal coach pointing out where we need help and improvement.  A full-time job!

Singing in sync not easy.  Our individual volumes have to mesh.  None overpowering.  Phrasing must connect.  Memorization required.  Humor not too corny.  This is heavy sledding.

Psalm 15 begins with a question and ends with a promise.  The question?  Who is welcome to dwell with the Lord? Who are those harmonizing with the King of Kings?

The answer?  Three positives and three negatives.  The positives, found in Psalm 15:2, are Hebrew participles; which, in English, end in ‘ing’.  Those closest to God are walking blamelessly, doing what’s right, and speaking truthfully.  Walking…doing…speaking.  Harmony.

The negatives are found in verse 3.  Not mouthing off as a backbiting mudslinger.  Not plotting something rotten against your neighbor.  Not being green-eyed jealous of friends.  I’ve done some of these.  And you know what?  None did me one bit of good.  Not one.  All groaned and moaned in total disharmony.  Notes way off key.

So, exit the negative.  Cut it out.  Harmony travels Jesus’ way.  Tipping my behavior toward what He wants.  More positive.  Less, well, you know.  Jesus helps us get up when flattened and floored.  Back on track after going around in circles.  Head held high when thrown for a loop.

And that promise at the end of Psalm 15?  ‘He who does these things shall never be moved’ (v.5).  When we’re in tune with the Master, we’ll be singing His praises right on key, tunefully with perfect pitch, and sweet-sounding!  Ah, now that’s harmony!


Lord Jesus, what a privilege to be with you.  Amen.


INSIDE Luke 11: 37-44

Usually writing a check is no sweat.  Popping it in the mail no big deal.  Help is on the way for some Christian charity, which we love to support.  Without others like us, there would be no money to fulfill the work God calls them and us to do.  It’s a team effort for Jesus.

But sometimes your money spring dries up.  The caboodle skedaddles.  Even then we can give with what costs nothing monetarily.  Reading Luke 11, I’m stuck at verse 41.  Regardless of your translation, Jesus says to give what’s inside.  Inside?  As in what?

The Lord squelches those who make a scene of giving.  Big shots who brag about their largesse.  Grandstanders.  Blowhard showoffs.  Better to be looked over than overlooked?  Not from Jesus’ mouth.

Better to look within for things to give away.  A pastor could use encouragement but often receives ‘suggestions’.  What does he need that I can give?  A listening ear.  A kind word.  Intercessory prayers to the Lord.  Costs nothing.  Gives something that money can’t buy.  Not only clergy.  You can think of many others.  Dig deep within and give.

Sometimes I warrant a ‘swift kick’.  I’ve received a few.  Why even from the editor of my devotional books.  But all were given to make my writing more effective.  Looking back on those earliest pieces catches me with egg on my face–no paragraph breaks, endless wordiness, way too many uses of the word ‘just’.  Just plain awful!  See?

Hints from the editor?  Spot on.  Shame on me if I don’t heed them.  I did and still do!

So, here’s an idea.  Jesus says–‘But give as alms those things that are within…’ (Luke 11:41).  Look within.  Find tenderness that exhibits grace and mercy.  And give from them.  Even that helpful idea.  Firmly yet gently put.  From your heart.  From inside.  From you.  Genuinely.

See what fits.  Sometimes shut your mouth!  Keep it to yourself, as hard as that may be.  Remember, we’re to help someone else.  Not for brownie points or a pat on the back.  But actually, as gifts for Jesus.


Thank you, Jesus, for gifts to share with others.  Amen.



THAT MAKES SENSE Luke 8: 40-56

Blessings come from God.  I say, the more the merrier.  Not showers but downpours.  Yet when troubles hit, we wonder.  Where’s God then?  He has some tall explaining to do.  Really?  Instead of looking on the sunny side, I nurse older, darker wounds.  Scabs and scars.  Too bad really.  What am I missing out on?

Reading Romans 8:28, you’ll find out.  Me too!  God takes all kinds of nasty stuff, and somehow, due to His being God, makes lemonade out of lemons.  Gets my approval though hardly needed!

But in Luke 8 something bothers me.  Synagogue leader, Jairus, rushes up to Jesus because his 12 year old daughter is dying.  Word floats around that Jesus can help.  Jairus gets His nod and off they go together.

A large crowd gathers around Jesus when someone touches Him and healing happens.  Here’s my question.  Why make a big stink about this woman touching Jesus?  He knows who’s done it.  Yet, he tells his followers to find out who.  In the meantime, Jairus knows that time is slipping away.  May already be too late.  She was so sick when he last saw her.  And foot travel chews up valuable time.

But Jesus refuses to take one step further without pinpointing her identity.  Why?  Feels like He’s making an example of her, which bothers me.  Is that what’s going on?

Not quite.  This poor woman suffers with a blood condition for 12 years.  Ancient sawbones have bled her savings down to the last shekel.  Also, in her culture, Temple worship nixed.  Marriage relationship on the back burner.  Friends and family move far away leaving no forwarding address.

Here’s her next hurdle.  When she’s healed, who’s going to believe her?  Think about that.  She’ll find everyone still at arm’s length.  Socially distant much more than 6 feet!  Disbelieving and accusing her of doing anything to seem well.  Even lying?  Making up stories?  She might.

No.  Jesus will have none of that.  He’ll make a blowout storm of this healing.  No one will doubt, absolutely no one, what He’s done for her.  She’s healed and that’s that.  This woman.  Completely cured and restored.  No one will dare to defy Him.

That makes sense, doesn’t it?  Could it be that what we’ve experienced, the good, the bad and the ugly, may take on a different slant when we know that Jesus’ hand has been at work?  What our eyes can’t see or fathom?  Romans 8:28 again.

And Jairus?  He no doubt needs to see Jesus’ healing power.  Firsthand.  With his own eyes.  And he does.  So, when word comes that his precious daughter is dead, he keeps following Jesus home, and even upstairs where her lifeless body lies.  No jeering from Jairus, like from those mourners who mock Jesus.  No.  He hopes that the best may yet happen.  For he’s just seen what Jesus’ hands can do.

How about being a Jairus this week?  Follow Him no matter what.  See the Master at work.  Look…!


Thank you, Jesus, for giving me eyes to see.  Amen.


I’m innocently reading my Bible, doing what I’m supposed to, when something jumps off the page and hits me right in the old mug!  How many times have I read Luke 8?  And where exactly?  It’s in the parable of the seeds.  And only one measly word.  That’s all.  As if hidden in the wings, waiting to come on stage, on cue.

Recently I’ve been down in the mouth.  My two devotional books haven’t exactly flown off the shelves or made the NY Times best-seller list.  When’s the last time scads of new followers sign up for these weekly devotionals?  Or how many even bother to say ‘thanks’?  One or two at most.

In Luke 8, I’m reading about those seeds and their possibility of success or lack of such.  Ever since my first assignment as a student assistant pastor during Princeton Seminary days, I’ve loved creating programs that get the message of Jesus out to others.  Dedicated a couple of summers to leading Good News Clubs in that rural New Jersey church for hundreds of kids.

I love seeing programs take root, take off and bear fruit.  From hosting a weekly Christian TV program, pastoring a couple of churches, writing devotional books, I’ve not actually been gathering dust.  But problems come when I get antsy for results.  Easily discouraged, pulling on new crops to make them grow faster.  Grandiose goals I’ve set for myself.  The bigger the better!

So what knocks me on my ear?  Luke 8: 15–‘As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.’  There it is–that last word.  ‘PATIENCE’?  That’s what I’d glossed over.  Soft-pedaled.  On purpose?

Patience.  Trusting His timing and ways.  Giving Jesus my life.  He’ll make more of it than I ever could.  Yours too.  I’m struggling, probably in a tizzy.  But you know what?  He’s not done with either of us!  Not by a long stretch!


Thank you, Lord Jesus, that we can rest in you.  Amen.




A certain lawyer always intimidates me.  Has a way of keeping me at arm’s length, letting me know who’s boss.  One day I’m called by this legal eagle’s office for certain financial planning information which I know is all wrong.  My chance arrives!  I’m ready to pounce upon this legal beagle with my right as rain straight stuff.  Gotcha!  Finally!  Thank you, Lord!

When this solicitor gets on the phone, the first word I hear is this–‘Nevertheless…’  As if to spout off–‘I don’t care what you say.  Just give it to me’.  Oh, how I’d love to!

Blasted member of the bar almost sends me to the nearest watering hole.  Nevertheless…I stay sober but in a blue funk, down in the dumps, chewing on a bitter pill!

In Luke 5 Simon Peter and Andrew, along with James and John, are out fishing but with nary a bite.  They’ve worked hard all night when the catch should be at its best.  But this industry offers no guarantees.  They know the risks.  Its fishy ups-and-downs.

Yet here comes someone who happens to be a carpenter.  Callouses from totally different work.  May know about wood and hand tools, but fishing?  It’s Jesus!  Listen to Him when these pro’s know best?  Who’s He to tell them what to do?  Buttinsky and meddler?  Nevertheless…Simon casts the net to where he’s told.

Simon’s pride and know-how say to forget it.  His heart says to follow.  His better judgement gives way to the Master’s wisdom.  Faithful obedience overcomes what his eyes can’t see.

Is there something in your life that you need to toss the net to on the other side?  Where it seems fruitless?  Giving it one more try?  Humbly listening to someone else for a change?  Praying more while not letting go?

I’m thinking of so much that I need to let Jesus handle.  Taking my net and tossing it His way.  I get in the way so often.  Don’t want to, yet here I am smack dab where I shouldn’t be.  Like some smarty-pants judicial know-it-all.

Nevertheless…Jesus still wants to help.  Will you let Him?  Toss the net His way?  Why not?


Lord Jesus, please help me.  In your name.  Amen.