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Temptation

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Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. (James 1:12)


A Little League coach was asked the name of his team. He replied, “The Scrambled Eggs.”

“Ok? Why did you pick that name?” someone asked.

He answered, “Because we’re always getting beat!”

Do you every feel that way about temptation?

Russian novelist Feature Dostoyevsky made the Temptation scene a centerpiece in his master work THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. Ivan Karamazov calls the Temptation the most stupendous miracle on earth: the miracle of restraint. If he had yielded to the Temptation, Jesus would have been a very popular figure, not just with Satan but with all Israel. He would have established himself beyond dispute. Imagine for a moment–stones turned to bread to feed the hungry, a spectacular descent from the pinnacle of the Temple as the cr owds gasped in amazement and awe, political appeasement as the foundation of the Kingdom program rather than righteousness and justice. According to Dostoyevsky’s view, Satan offered three easy means of inciting belief–miracle, mystery, and authority–and Christ refused all three. Again I say, I wish we could all be so fortunate.

We are fortunate that, even though we may fall into temptation, through Christ we can endure.


God of forgiveness, give me the strength to resist temptation. In Jesus name, Amen.

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A Challenging Question

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Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)


Sociologist and evangelist Tony Campolo once spoke to a group and asked this question, “Is it a sin to own a BMW?” Then he added, “If Jesus had forty thousand dollars, would He buy a BMW or use that to feed or house the needy in the Third World?” Wow, that’s a tough one. That’s the kind of question we would prefer not to even think about. People get crucified for asking questions like that. It’s a challenging question–even a disturbing one. One woman, however, was so struck by Campolo’s talk that she wrote his ministry a check for the same amount that she paid for her new custom drapes. Her gift built three houses in Haiti.

It is so easy for us to forget who we are and what Christ has called us to be. It is so easy for us to become so preoccupied with our work, with our family, with our own needs that we forget our essential call to feed Christ’s sheep. There are needy people all around us–needy for things but also needy for love and recognition and for a word of encouragement. Most of all, needy to know that God loves them. Who will share Christ’s love with them if we don’t?


Heavenly Father, thank you for feeding me. May I also work to feed others who need your love. In Jesus name, Amen.


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You Need A Vacation

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After this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:19)


“Follow me,” Jesus said. It was the same call he gave them at the beginning of their discipleship. Do you know what that call was? “Follow me.” This is his final instruction for them before he leaves them. “Follow me.” He is not sending them out to a hostile world alone. He goes ahead of them. Like a commander leading his troops into battle. Like an explorer leading his party into the unknown. He takes the first step, and those who would be his followers come after. That is what gives Christian living its radiance, its joy, its reassurance.

Susan took one look at her friend’s exhausted expression and cluttered office and said, “What you need is a vacation!”

Her overworked friend asked jokingly, “Vacation? What’s that?”

“A vacation,” Susan explained, “is what you take if you can no longer take what you’ve been taking!”

If you can no longer take what you are taking, try following Jesus Christ more closely.


Dear God, remind me daily to follow more closely in the steps of Jesus. Amen.


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A Different Kind Of Life

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Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)


A man went to see the doctor for his annual physical exam. When he came home later that afternoon, his wife asked him, “What did the doctor say?” He answered in a gruff voice, “He told me that if I want to stay healthy, I have to eat what I don’t want, drink what I don’t like, and do what I’d rather not do!”

Jesus tried to get the disciples to do the same thing. The disciples are sitting around a charcoal fire now. The disciples recognize their risen Lord, but still they are disconcerted by the recent chain of events. While they are lost in their thoughts the resurrected Christ takes some bread and breaks it and gives it to them. Then also the fish. Then he turns to Simon Peter and asks one of the most famous questions in the Scripture, “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Three times Christ asks Simon Peter this question–once for each time Peter denied him. “Lord, you know I love you,” Peter replies. And after each reply, Jesus instructs Simon Peter to feed his lambs and then his sheep. This is Christ’s way of focusing Simon Peter on his real mission in the world.

Remember those earliest days when Jesus first recruited Andrew and Simon? He said he would make them fishers of men. Now he is challenging them to continue that journey on which they first embarked. Not that their prior lives as fishermen were unimportant, but from here on they would have a different kind of calling. Christ was asking them to forget themselves and to center their lives in ministry to others. That is a challenge that Jesus is still offering his disciples today.


Dear God, teach me to center my life on your ministry. In Jesus name, Amen.


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How Do You Measure Life?

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“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:31)


Pastor Johnny Price asks, How do you measure life? Like you measure a string, by its length? Methuselah lived more than 900 years, and that is all we know of him. Some of our best were taken by war before they were 25. Some of the greatest died young. Life is more than length.

Do you measure life by breadth or sphere of influence? Alexander conquered the whole world and cursed his childhood because he never learned self-control. Hitler controlled more of the modern world than any other single man. Who wants to emulate Hitler? Life is more than breadth.

Do you measure life by its height—popularity, wealth, or fame? Many have reached the top and discovered emptiness. They made it, but were never sure of what “it” was. Life is more than height.

Real greatness is measured in depth. Everything else about a tree depends on its roots—everything else about a building depends on its foundation. Depth is the measure of a person!

Shallow people can’t take pressure—they’re only good for fair weather, and scatter like buckshot in a crisis.

One with depth is like the sea—winds of circumstance may ruffle the surface, but underneath are great, quiet, untroubled depths. With depth, one stands in the critical hour. Such persons meet the real emergencies. They’re clear-headed when great thinking, strong leadership, and decisiveness are necessary.

The deep life, the mature soul is not an accident. It is the product of time for relationships with God, Scripture, prayer, spouse, children. To be too busy for God—or others—is to be too busy!


Heavenly Father help me to make my life worthy of your Love and Care, In Jesus Name, Amen


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Focus

Posted in Daily Devotions

That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7)


A man showed up at church with his ears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked “What in the world happened to you?”

The man replied, “I was lying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wife was ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room, leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued to the television, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear.”

“So how did the other ear get burned?” the pastor asked.

“Well, I had no more than hung up and the guy called again.”

Now there is a man who was focused. He was so caught up in watching the game, he didn’t know what he was doing.

In our lesson for today the disciples of Jesus have lost their focus. They are confused and weary. They needed a break. They have been through so much. They had seen their Master crucified on a cruel cross. It was the lowest point in their lives. They had invested everything they had into following him–including three years of their lives. When they saw him nailed between two thieves, it was as if everything they had worked for was futile and without meaning. No one could know their pain and disillusionment. Then the women had gone to the tomb on the first day of the week and found the stone rolled away and the body gone. It was then they discovered that their Master was alive. Now each of them had seen him with their own eyes. Still, it was a bit too much for them to deal with mentally and emotionally. They wanted to believe, but it was like they were in a dream. It was too much, too soon.

The disciples were still trying to sort all of this out when Simon Peter said, “Let’s go fishing.” They fished all night, but without any luck.

Just as the day was breaking and they were ready to call it a night, they saw a stranger on the beach. “Having any luck?” he called out to them. “Afraid not,” they called back. “Cast the net on the other side of the boat,” the stranger replied, “and you will find some.” And they did, and this time their net was teeming with fish. And the disciple John turned to Simon Peter and said, “It is the Lord.” Who else could it be? Who else has dominion over both land and sea? Of course, it is the Lord.

Will we be focused today, so that we will see the Lord?


Loving God, may I not get distracted today from seeing you. In Jesus name, Amen.


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Dynamic Life

Posted in Daily Devotions

And this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)


Dr. Robert Schuller, in one of his books, noted that Michelangelo attempted forty-four statues in his life, but he finished only fourteen. You may be familiar with some of them: David in Florence Square, the Pieta, and Moses, to mention a few of the best known. But the thirty he did not finish are interesting, too. You can see them in a museum in Italy… a huge chunk of marble from which he sculpted only an elbow or a wrist. Another shows a leg, the thigh, the knee, the calf, the foot, even the toes. The rest of the body is locked in the chunk of marble. It will never come out. “Could this be true for you?” asks Dr. Schuller. “Of all the tragedies in life, the greatest is for a person to live and die and never come out of himself or herself – never to realize the possibilities hidden within.”

We are given a divine invitation to look into the eyes of Christ by faith and to see reflected there the beauty we were intended to be. And then we are instructed to go forth, today, to live the dynamic Christ life that resides within each of us. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our background is, we can begin living the Christ life today.


Dear God, help me to live my life today as Christ would. In Jesus name, Amen.

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We Are Beautiful

Posted in Daily Devotions

But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. (Galatians 3:25-26)


In Jesus Christ we are all children of God. We are not losers at all. We are not unlovable at all. In fact, because we have met the Master, we are really quite beautiful.

Antonio Sanchez was only five years old when he was sent to a Mexican prison for juveniles after allegedly murdering his baby brother. Tony’s parents, who had beaten him with chains and tortured him with fire, deserted him and disappeared after telling police he was the killer. In prison other inmates taunted him with the word “murderer” and sometimes abused him. He had to fight for food.

No one seemed to care what happened to Tony, until Carolyn Koons, an American professor, heard his story. She battled bureaucracy and a corrupt prison warden for almost three years to secure Tony’s release and adoption at age twelve; but her real struggles had only begun. Somehow she had to meet the needs of a boy who still stuffed rolls into his pockets because of past hunger, who lashed out at others because of his emotional scars, and who seemed enticed by every wrong because of his unbridled life.

Tony Sanchez was not initially drawn to his new mother. In fact, he seemed more drawn to trouble than to anything else. He accused her frequently of not loving him and taunted her with “I won’t obey you or anyone.” Carolyn never stopped barbecuing those juicy hamburgers he craved, never quit hugging him after his acid words, never ceased rescuing him from fights.

Carolyn had almost despaired of Tony ever bonding to her. But then Carolyn got a big surprise; Tony made an unexpected speech at his junior high graduation. In almost a stutter he said, “I want to thank my mom for adopting me and bringing me to the United States.” Then with tears streaming down his face, he yelled, “I love you, Mom. I love you. I love you.”

Why did Tony love the woman who adopted him? It was because he could look into her eyes and see himself as someone of worth, someone of beauty.


Dear God, thank you for making me someone of beauty. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Through A Glass Darkly

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“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17)


One day everything will be revealed. Paul wrote, “Now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face.” (I Corinthians 13: 12) What a day that will be when some of the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together!

In order to save money, a college drama class purchased only a few scripts of a certain play and cut them up into the separate parts. The director gave each player his individual part in order and then started to rehearse the play. But nothing went right. After an hour of missed cues and mangled sequences, the cast gave up. At that point, the director sat the actors all on the stage and said: “Look, I’m going to read the entire play to you, so don’t any of you say a word.” He read the entire script aloud, and when he was finished, one of the actors said: “So that’s what it was all about!”

And when they understood the entire story, they were able to fit their parts together and have a successful rehearsal.

C. S. Lewis once said that the most frequently spoken word in heaven would be, “OH.” As in, “Oh, now I understand.” Or, “Oh, now I see what God’s plan was.” Or, “Oh, now I see the reason for the trial I went through.”

In this world, however, we walk by faith, not by knowledge. But one day it will be revealed to us. “I know the One in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to Him.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

There are some answers that are too large for our brains to contain. But our greatest need is not to understand, but to trust that God is with us. God is with us and will be with us until that day comes when all will be revealed.


Heavenly Father, I may not fully understand YOUR will or plan, but, with faith and trust, guide me in living for you. In Jesus name, Amen.


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A Measure Of Silence

Posted in Daily Devotions

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5)


In his book, THE LIGHT WITHIN YOU, John R. Claypool relates the very painful story of the loss of their young daughter to acute leukemia. Very quickly upon diagnosis of this dreaded disease, his daughter had been given a medicine that enabled her to go into a remission. For some time she was almost perfectly normal. Naturally, this created many hopes for her family. Had the diagnosis been a mistaken one? Had she experienced the miracle of divine healing for which her father and so many others had prayed?

It was not to be. All of these hopes came to an abrupt end, ironically, on Easter Sunday morning, when the old pains reappeared and she went into a severe relapse that involved hospitalization for some two weeks. Part of the time both of her eyes were swollen shut, and pain racked every part of her body. John Claypool reports that moving with her through those two weeks was an unspeakably draining experience. He found himself stretched in every way – physically exhausted, emotionally dissipated, his faith itself challenged as never before.

The worst moment of all, however, came one night when his daughter could get no relief, and she asked him, “When will this leukemia go away?” He answered, “I don’t know, darling, but we are doing everything in our power to find an answer to cure it.”

There was a long silence, and then she asked in the darkness, “Have you asked God when the leukemia will go away?” Her pastor/father hedged a bit and said, “You know, darling, how we have prayed again and again for God to help us.” But she persisted: “Have you asked God when it will go away? What did He say?”

Claypool asks, “How do you respond to such childlike directness at a time when the heavens seem utterly silent…?”

There are some questions without an easy answer. When we go to the hospital or the funeral home in an hour when someone has experienced a great tragedy, we do not go with ready-made answers. We go to offer support and to remind people of God’s love and hope. We will pray with them, but we will not have all the answers. God’s ways are not our ways! Some questions have no answers. Such times demand a measure of silence.


Dear Lord, help me to walk faithfully in your footsteps, especially when YOU seem to be silent. In Jesus Name, Amen.


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