Come on now, read at least the first seven verses of Proverbs 2.  You can do this without missing too much precious time on your smartphone, right?  All of Proverbs is like a spiritual Google roadmap.  Maybe better?  Must you ask?  After all, sometimes the internet is out-of-date.  I remember driving across country, somewhere in Texas or Louisiana, needing to fill up our gas tank and being led by Google maps to a station that hadn’t yet opened.  Just workmen and shiny new, unused gas pumps.  No help there.

Proverbs 2 presents a different kind of roadmap, one for good, godly living.  The life we’d like to live.  As with anything that’s worthwhile, it takes effort.  Blood, sweat, and tears in a manner of speaking.  Living God’s way doesn’t just float out of the sky and land on our collective heads.  Neither by osmosis as we sleep.  Nor some freebie in the sticky popcorn Cracker Jack box of life.  Takes your level best.

Now, wait a cotton-pickin’ minute!  Sounds like we have to work for God’s salvation, doesn’t it?  Hold on.  Get this straight.  Our relationship with God is His free gift.  No backbreaking effort is required.  No being perfect before membership is accepted.  Rather, it’s free for the asking for Jesus paid it all.  Our bill He covered.  No debt owed, which we couldn’t pay anyway.  Nothing is required except some gratitude, and some trust in Jesus alone, while admitting our failure to follow God on our own, and remembering that God’s the greatest giver.  That’s how our relationship with God gets off the ground.  Got it?

But after becoming His own, then get out of bed, cease making lazy circles in your life, and get to work…for Him…for others…for a change.  That’s all woven tightly into those Proverbs 2 maxims.  About making your ears attentive to the things of God.  Leaning into what will increase your understanding of godly living.  Seeking God’s wisdom is much like a job that produces a livelihood.  Searching out His Word in the Bible.  Our head in its pages.  Our heart passionately His.

Getting serious about following Jesus.  Putting Him front and center.  Getting off your high horse.  Discontinuing navel-gazing, and begin caring about somebody else.

All of the above signals an exciting life.  One that makes a mark, leaving a lasting one at that.  A life that paves the way for an unimaginable and mind-boggling heavenly paradise.  Certainly far better than anywhere that Google maps may take you.

Thank you, Jesus, for a life worth living.  Amen.

GRIEF Isaiah 63

Having tender feelings has its drawbacks.  Likewise, being emotionally hard as a rock is to be regretted.  A balance, somewhere in the middle, would be what the doctor orders.  As one somewhat sensitive (we’re now called HSPs so I’ve read.  Please don’t call me that as it might hurt my feelings!), I can still feel some hurts caused years ago.  Don’t remind me.  They might be front and center anyway.  All the more to ruin my day.

But it doesn’t end with your feelings or mine.  For there’s more to consider.  Isaiah 63: 10–‘But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit…’  St. Paul pens these words–‘And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…’ (Eph. 4:20).

Guess what?  God has feelings too.  He loves us so much that He’s put Himself at risk of having His feelings devastated.  God can be grieved, wounded, and broken-hearted… by you and me.  Oy vay!

How does God get hurt?  Any ideas?  Of course, you do.  Like when we lie to get out of something we don’t want to do.  Or stretching the numbers of readers of these devotionals to pump up my fragile ego?  Or not speaking up for Him when we should have?  Or spouting off when we should have shut our trap?  Or taking for granted all that the Lord gives us and does for us, which is a ton and a half at the very least?  On and on I can go.  Good grief!  But surely it isn’t good when I grieve the Lord.

I’d like to spend this week giving Jesus less to be unhappy about.  Less grief than I usually give Him.  Giving Him more joy.  Pleasing Him for a change.  To hear Him say ‘well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21) would make me so happy, which is what I most want–Jesus…being pleased with me.  I’d like some company.  How about it?

Have a great week delighting our Lord Jesus!

Thank you, Jesus, for making life so good.  Amen.


Three months before surgery, I’m administered some fancy-dancy injection that will do its wonders before I’m under the knife.  Or so they say.  With nary a side effect?  Fat chance.  One promised by the specialist will be hot flashes.  Now that’s something to look forward to.

For the first month, nothing.  My wife seems somewhat disappointed, hoping that I’d be sensitized to what she’s endured for years.  Not to worry, my dear.  Time is up.  For those nasty flashes and flushes shift into high gear with a vengeance.  At bedtime I’m freezing, pulling up the covers, only to violently toss them off, as my internal furnace kicks in with a blast of heat from head to toe.

I want out of these hot flashes.  Which is what the Bible also recommends.  Okay, maybe of a different kind.  Nevertheless, turn down the heat.  Psalm 37:1,8–‘Fret not yourself…Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!  Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.’

What’s with that word ‘fret’?   Rather archaic, isn’t it?   ‘Fret’?  In the Hebrew language, it means to ‘get heated’.  Also, to eat away at, corrode, fray, and gnaw at.  None good, so best turn down the heat.  ‘Fret not…’

Hot flashes of anger will rot hearts and minds, ours and others.  We all know some who regularly blow their tops, releasing harmful steam from under their collars.  One way they bully people is to make others afraid that the hothead will blow a gasket right in their face at the drop of a hat or two.  No fun to be around.   Better steer clear.  Get out of their way.  This is why hotheads keep their fingers crossed, hoping their anger will work its intended purpose–to get their own way and you out of it.

Rather, Psalm 37 wants us to focus on trusting the Lord, and remembering how quickly life passes by.  What a shame to spend so much time fretting and fuming, stewing and spewing anger into the air, raising the roof, making a scene, and going ballistic.  Better to let go and let God handle what’s scorching and searing us.

I need this as much as anyone else.  So, I reread God’s prescription in Psalm 37–‘Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act’ (vs. 3-5).  That’s better, isn’t it?

Leaning on Jesus.  Trusting the Lord.  Being faithful and content right where you find yourself.  Finding the Lord to be delightful and giving.  Reflecting on God’s love and forgiveness rather than on how to get your own way.  Deciding to get off yourself.  Thinking about what makes someone else tick, cutting them some slack rather than ticking them off.  Tossing your hat in His ring, knowing that He’ll take care of it all.  By His means.  By His clock.

Time for your angry hot flashes to go?  Think so?  I’m working on it, but more is needed.  Quite a bit more, honestly.

Lord Jesus, I delight myself in you.  I love you.  Amen.

CAN’T LET GO Psalm 32

The problem with forgiveness is not with God but with me.  We know that sin takes a terrible toll on everyone and everything, don’t we?  But too many kid themselves, imagining that that three-letter word is some medieval superstition.  Long out of its ‘best used by’ date.  Not for our time.  Good luck with that.  For sin’s pain is real and current, coupled with far-reaching effects.  So, to have God forgive me of all my sins is way over-the-top amazing.  Unearned and undeserved, certainly by me.

Unfortunately, feeling unforgiven won’t let go.  I can quickly drum up nasty infractions I committed decades ago.  Some insensitive remarks.  A put-down that feels good at the time, which rots in my conscience ever since.  And lots more and worse.  Again, all are forgiven by Jesus.  All of them?  All.  Gone?  Forgiven and forgotten by the Lord.  Really?

Maybe you need some evidence.  I do.  Read the first two verses of Psalm 32–‘Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…’  The word ‘blessed’ in Hebrew can also be translated as ‘happy’.  Sins forgiven, covered over, not noticed anymore, and not counted against me ever again.  For sure?  Am I happy yet?

Any fine print I missed?  No.  Shouldn’t that make me happy as a lark?  For that’s God’s promise to those of us who come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  That’s His Word.  What He says.  God wants us happily forgiven.

Yet once again I have trouble letting go and being happily forgiven.  Why is that?  Could it be that I don’t easily forgive others?  Possibly.  I feel a twinge or two.  Or that I know that I’m not pure as the driven snow?  No doubt.  Got me there.  Or that my conscience is way too sensitive, eagerly holding onto the negative, too reluctant to accept what God has positively promised me.  Probably.  That sounds like me.

Is there any help on the horizon?  I think so.  Honestly talking about my foibles reveals some honesty which in itself brings rewards.  Confession is good for the soul.  But there’s more going on as in changing my ways.  Doing what I know needs doing.  What God wants.  Countering those negative thoughts with His good promises.  Crowding out accusing voices with Jesus’ accepting ones.

All that would help.  In what ways?   Relying on His promises more than my guilty feelings?  That’s good.  Believing what Jesus says more than my fragile feelings?  That’s better.  Don’t stop now.  Refusing to lie helplessly flat on the ground when He offers to lift me up?  Come on.  Take hold.   Acting on what I know He wants.  Right!  Now we’re headed in the right direction.

Other ideas?  You must have some that will help us to feel happily forgiven.  Don’t you?  Time to practice what we preach?

Thank you, Jesus, for your generous forgiveness and love.  Amen.


I’m innocently checking out a couple of books from our public library.  Since I never carry my library card, I recite from memory my card number to the librarian.  An older man overhears what I say and shouts his card number at me, saying, so the whole building can hear, ‘not many people our age know their library card numbers by heart, do they?’  What?  Who’s he talking to?  ‘…people our age…’  Our age?  This old duffer is way past his sell-by date.  Who’s he squawking at?  I look around. They must be hiding.  Can you blame them?   Unfortunately, there’s no one else standing near him.  Just me.

Here’s a better word that I can also hear.  Psalm 90:10–‘The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.’  This is better?  Life soon gone?  Sliding away as if coated with greased lightning?

Should I get all weepy-eyed, down in the dumps?  That’s one option, but not what’s recommended.  Later in Psalm 90, better ideas are put forth–‘So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom…Satisfy us…with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days’ (vs. 12, 14).

Make each day count.  Cherish each one, especially as they’re nurtured by God’s love.  Spend time praying.  Dig into your Bible.  Quality and quantity time.  This time for Jesus.  Give carefully but generously so your money promotes God’s work.

I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more I’m aware of Jesus’ love and care.  More experience with answered prayers.  Some answers are yes.  Some no.  Some wait a while.  Some ‘you’ve got to be kidding!’  Even then, I’m more apt to pray than gripe, turning quicker to Him, trusting Jesus a tad more.

Have I arrived yet?  ‘…people of our age…’?  Made it as a Superbowl saint?  Perfect in every way?  Humble and proud of it?!  Well, you know.  But I am getting there, slow as molasses, even on good days, moving ahead at a snail’s pace, plugging along with that slowpoke tortoise.  Progress noted.  More ahead.  He’s not done with you or me yet.

By the way, remember that not ‘many of us our age’ can recall the numbers on our library cards.  Remember that, if you can.  I do!

Lord, it’s good to grow old with you, getting closer and closer, day by day, moment by moment.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

WHO DID WHAT? Matthew 28

I feel bad when I doubt the Lord.  Unwelcome thoughts cross my mind.  When troubles hit, I wonder if God cares.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Passing thoughts that erode faith.  Is God out to lunch?  Taking a much-needed holiday?  Or am I even saved?  Maybe I’m kidding myself when I hem and haw about trusting Jesus.  How weak can I be?

That’s why I read my Bible every day.  Pray often.  Why?  To strengthen what I have.  To shore up against doubt’s incoming tide.  To hold Jesus’ hands as our godless culture’s whirlwinds blow ever stronger, trying to knock me off course.  I need His help.

Know what I mean?  Possibly you don’t but I doubt that too!  If we’re in this together, we’re in rather good company.  Take a gander at Matthew 28: 16-17–‘Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.’  Who did what?  You read it.

Some doubted.  Who?  The disciples and apostles of Jesus.  How can that be?  They witness firsthand the miracles Jesus performs.  They hear with their own ears His engaging stories.  They witness the change in others’ lives, including their own, after encountering Jesus.  Then His trials and death, but all trumped by His Resurrection.  He lives!  He’s alive!  Death defeated by Jesus!

Their reaction here at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, just before Jesus ascends to heaven?  Well, they do worship Him.  Fine.  Bow down and offer praise to God.  Even better.  However,  that’s not all– ‘…but some doubted.’  In spite of all that they had seen and heard?  That’s what the Bible says.  Sadly, even then.

Guess we’ll have doubts too.  The Lord knows this and understands.  So, return home from your guilt trip.  Unpack your bags with that excess baggage.  Get used to living in an imperfect, fallen world.  Have joy, encouragement, blessing… and doubt.  But know that doubts will come and doubts will go. But they won’t last through eternity.  Not at all.  They’ll be like fog disappearing on a warming day.  Here this morning, then gone forever.  Gone and good riddance.  No doubt about it.

Lord Jesus, please strengthen my faith in you today.  Amen.

LEAVE IT TO ME! Psalm 20

A church member has charge of a local hospital’s medical imaging department.  It’s an active unit filled with umpteen stresses.  When I’d stop by to see this member, after visiting a patient, invariably some crisis captures the emotions of the nurses and imaging assistants.  They’d come running to their boss with this issue or that.  Always immediate help required–as in pronto, half a jiffy, on the double, a.k.a. right now!

I’d marvel at my church member who would say, ‘ Leave it to me.  I’ll take care of it.’  You could sense the anxiety-bubble bursting into thin air.  Best of all, he would!  Take care of it, that is.  So, go about your business and leave whatever to him.  Okay?  Got it?

Psalm 20:7–‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.’  Read that verse again.  Good advice, I’d say.  The best really.  Okay?  Got it?

So, what’s weighing heavy on your mind today?  Can’t seem to give it a rest.  Nags, nudges, and hounds at you.  Hard to sleep lying down on pins and needles.  Any help out there?  As in on the double?

Here’s an idea–memorize that verse from Psalm 20.  Deposit it deep within your memory bank.  About trusting the Lord more than anyone or anything else.  I know that’s hard.  It’s disappointing when this world offers so little to hang your hat on.  Its limits are everywhere, aren’t they?  Why even that church member couldn’t cover every issue thrust in his face as quick as greased lightning.  Did the best he could, but still…  Well, you know.

Now look at Psalm 20: 4-5–‘May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!  May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!  May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!’  Good news, huh?  But only when we put our trust right where it should be.  Smack dab in His hands.  Resting firmly on His shoulders.  And leaving them with Him.  Okay?  Got it?

The bottom line– trust Jesus.  Bank on Him.  He’ll take care of it.  In His time.  In His way.  And don’t fret over hanging onto security blankets from this life.  Relying on what’s unreliable.  Trusting the untrustworthy.  Just come back to Him.  Keep on keeping on with the Lord.  I’m trying the best I can.  My grade is a C+.  Better than an F but still a long way to go.  Remember that God knows we’re made of dust and clay.  So, He keeps saying, ‘Leave it to me.  I’ll take care of it.’  Okay?  Got it?

Thank you, Jesus, for being so trustworthy.  Amen.


I’ve wondered, if when my time comes, when I’m welcomed by Jesus through heaven’s gates, that there will be some who see me and immediately want to quit heaven’s welcoming committee and start carrying placards protesting my presence!  ‘Fischer’s a Fink.  Keep Heaven Heavenly.  Toss the Sinner Out.’  I think not!

Reading Hebrews 11 comforts me with its last verse–‘And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they not be made perfect’ (Heb. 11:39-40).  Could it be that those Hebrews 11 heroes of the faith, that none will be complete until you and I cross the finish line?  Heaven is not the same without us?  Paradise waits patiently for, well, you know who?  And no placard-plastered protesters in sight.

Such good news.  Heaven yearns, even pines for us until our homecoming.  Complete only when the seating at the Lord’s banquet table is full.  None empty.  None whatsoever.

I cuddle up next to the idea of the waiting Father, whose patience seems limitless.  Never giving up on His own.  With hands wide open.  Expectant and hopeful.  On the other hand, I’m dying to see Jesus return and wipe out His enemies once and for all.  To rid the world of nasty buggers.  Evil dictators and sin-loving godless folk.  All of them, vamoose!

Thank God I’m not God with my appalling attitude.  Imagine all who would be left out if I were in charge.  Including me?  Maybe you?  Fear not.  Our patient Lord Jesus puts up with the likes of even me.

So we live in an in-between time, a pause that allows God’s people to repent and become one of His family.  This becomes our opportunity to promote His Kingdom.  To share Jesus with others.  To dig deeper into our treasure trove of shekels sharing with others.  To be purposeful.  Committed to what we believe in.  Where our faith’s rubber meets the road.

Since I first heard about Jesus’ love while listening to the radio, guess what type of ministry I’m eager to support?  Right.  Go to the head of the class!  Then I do what’s natural as a believer–give so that someone else can hear about the Lord, as they listen to Christian radio programs, as I did many years ago.

Any ideas about how you can help others to hear about your Lord?  It’s still early in the year, with time to get busy.  For Him.  For a change.

Father, help me to share Jesus with others. More than ever.  Amen.


Can I find anything new in Psalm 23?  After all, it’s so familiar.  Over my twenty-three-year pastoral career, I performed hundreds of funerals, probably with none omitting the familiar and comforting words of the 23rd Psalm.

Today it’s my time to read this well-known psalm in my daily Bible reading schedule.  Skip over it?  Or scan it, using my Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics techniques?  Better not.  But will I find anything new here?  I would love to be grabbed by the collar, making me sit up and listen to God’s Word with something that I hadn’t noticed before.

Wait a minute.  I do feel a tug.  Where?  It’s in the last verse–‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’  Nothing new there.  Same old, same old.  Until I dig into my Old Testament Hebrew language.  The word ‘goodness’ is the simple word ‘good’ as in fine and dandy.  But the next word ‘mercy’, is a word that is packed with Hebrew meanings.

It’s the word ‘chesed’, often translated as ‘loving kindness’, which is fine as it is, but there’s much more going on here.  Though difficult to translate, let’s give it the old college try.  ‘Chesed’  boils down to synonyms such as loyalty, generosity, trustworthiness, and commitment.  Getting a bit of its drift?  Like deserving nothing, yet receiving everything.  In other words, the Lord is crazy about you and me.  We give Him many reasons not to be, but He does anyway.  That’s ‘chesed’.

But I see even more in this familiar psalm.  It’s in that last verse, about dwelling in God’s house–‘…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ (Ps. 23:.6).  When you’re God’s child, as in when you accept Jesus into your life, then He does all in His power to make sure that nothing and no one ever gets in the way of your being with Him forever.  He makes sure we’re not hell-bent or -bound.  Quite the opposite.  That’s His promise but one we should never take for granted.

You know you’re His own, don’t you?  If not, ask Him.  Open your heart to Jesus.  Trust Him.  Believe what He says for He means what He says.  Keep a forward focus on Jesus who forgives our sins, rarely looking back.  Then dwell obediently in His house as His worthy and respectful resident never to be evicted.

Dwell.  Planted.  Safe and secure from all alarms.

Lo and behold, I found a couple of goodies to chew on this week.  Makes me a happy camper!  How about you?

Oh, Lord!  For your promises, we thank you and love you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


For our 25th wedding anniversary, Sue and I enjoyed a river cruise in France.  Before traversing the Rhone River, they put us up in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cannes, on the French Riviera, on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  So nice to be pampered!

Two weeks later we culminate our silver celebration in Paris, having seen and enjoyed so much of France.  One particular stop is at the medieval town of Bayeux.  It’s there that we encounter something we hadn’t heard of before that hasn’t left our minds since.

It’s the Bayeux Tapestry.  The what?  It’s a thousand-year-old woven piece; actually, an embroidered cloth, depicting the events and people surrounding the Battle of Hastings in 1066 AD.  Remember that date from your history studies?  Whether you do or not, it’s when France and Normandy conquer Britain installing the French Duke of Normandy as ruler of both England and France.  That monarch’s name?  William the Conqueror.  Whom I’ve discovered, through genealogical research, to be my 25th great-grandfather, along with 88+ million others as my wife loves to remind me!  Such a close-blood relative.

This tapestry is over 250 feet long. Takes quite a while to walk around it marveling at the detailed work of this masterpiece.  The hands that embroidered it were those of superb and brilliant craftsmen and women.  Their tapestry is breathtaking and astounding.  Only wished we could have gawked at it for much longer than allowed.

But such delicate work pales in comparison to the handiwork of our Creator God.  His work.  The fineness.  Its details.  The symmetry and precision.  And how God’s creation all holds together through His mastery and genius, which boggles my pea brain and little grey cells.  Makes anything of man’s design seem like child’s play.

Psalm 8:3–‘When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?’  It’s that phrase ‘the work of your fingers’ which gives me pause.  Every bit of creation has been minutely crafted by the Lord.  Down to the tiniest sub-particle and below.  Up to the highest mountain, to what’s above the earth in the skies.  To infinity and beyond!

This week spend some time marveling at God’s creation.  Any part of it.  A sliver here, a slice there.  Delicately and finely tuned. Then gawk, with a panoramic view, at nature’s expanse.   For all this is  ‘the work of your fingers’.

Thank you, Lord, for your marvelous creation.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.