4 minute read

“Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—  no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.” (Philemon 1:15-16 NIV)

Separated for now so you will be together forever.

Breaks in relationships are complicated.  When a conflict happens that separates friends; we don’t always know why.  But in some cases, temporary separation is necessary to have them back forever.

Paul’s letter to Philemon is his shortest.  Philemon is a church leader, Onesimus, his slave who wronged him.  Paul meets Onesimus in prison.  After Onesimus becomes a Christ-follower, Paul sends him back to Philemon.  The letter is paving the way for Philemon to forgive Onesimus and embrace him as part of the family.  Culturally, Philemon had the right to exact penance from his former slave.  What he did, we don’t know.  But what Paul did was exemplify what Jesus would do.

Actions speak louder than words.

Paul’s letter to Philemon is the only one he doesn’t talk about Jesus’s death and resurrection.  He doesn’t have to because Philemon already understands the meaning of what Jesus did.  And because Paul is acting like Jesus, he expects Philemon to do the same.  Paul has forgiven and embraced Onesimus.  He met him when he was in prison, at one of the lowest points of both of their lives.  Paul loves Onesimus right where he is.  When we love people amid their bondage, we are showing them God’s grace and mercy.  Lives change when we love like Jesus.

Forgiving someone who hurt you isn’t a one-time occurrence. Each time the offense comes to mind, we must forgive again.  Philemon could only forgive Onesimus with the help of Jesus.  We have the same need if we’re to forgive those who hurt us.  When we decide to let go of the offense, we take a step towards reconciliation.  God’s forgiveness of us reconciled us to Him.  Our forgiveness of others shines Jesus light into a dark world, drawing people to Him.

But the separation was necessary for Philemon and Onesimus to have eternal friendship.  If Onesimus hadn’t wronged Philemon and run away, he would never have met Paul.  If he didn’t meet Paul, he would never have met Jesus.  For whatever reason, Onesimus had to go through what he went through to see Jesus’s truth finally.  We are the same as Onesimus.

God uses the circumstances in our lives to draw us to Him.  Whatever heartache you’re facing, God won’t waste.  He works all things to the good for those who believe and trust in Him (Romans 8:28 NIV).  

Today’s separation is tomorrow’s reconciliation.

Question of the Day:

Who do you need to forgive in your life to start the process of reconciliation?

Further Reading:Lamentations 1:1-2:22 NIV, Philemon 1 NIV, Psalm 101 NIV, Proverbs 26:20 NIV


4 minute read

“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” (Proverbs 26:18-19 NIV)

Jokes cause pain.

Raised with two brothers, I understand the pain that comes when people make fun of you.  No matter how old I am, they can make me feel less than with the words they speak to me—feelings of foolishness, embarrassment, rejection, and disappointment all roll together to fuel an ugly fire.  Words can’t express the extent of the pain.  For some reason, leaving behind our childish ways is more challenging in some situations than others.  But we can.

Times, when we feel the most hurt in this world is when turning to God is hardest.  Recently, when my brother’s once again made me feel less than, I asked God a question.  “Are you really there?”  Sometimes, God doesn’t seem present.  We seek Him, but He doesn’t seem to answer.  Prayers we’ve prayed for years go unanswered.  God’s intangibility is difficult when we crave tangible.   

Choose to believe

As I sat in my quiet place, waiting for a sign of God’s presence, I thought of my friend Mike.  After his son was murdered, and he almost lost his own life, Mike had to choose.  He spent his life following Jesus; would he still?  He chose God.  When I asked God, “Are you there?” I had a choice.  Thinking of Mike, I responded to God.  “I choose to believe You are.”

Another hard truth, you’ve made someone else the butt of your joke.  We all have at some point.  I’ve made fun of people.  God forgive me, but I have.  My brother’s treatment of me reminds me of that fact.  As I work through the pain, I recognize my own sin.  A particular instance comes to mind, which I’m humiliated to admit.  Years have gone by since the incident, and all is well, but I still feel the shame.

Words hurt.  They are arrows of death that sting deeply.  A fine line exists between having a little fun and making them the butt of the joke.  One thing is real, hurting people hurt others.  Sometimes, we take things too far in our joking because of our pain.

Full confession, in my past, I made fun of others out of my pain.  Placing attention on others takes it away from me.  Following Jesus words changed my ways:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,” (Matthew 12:36 ESV)

Instead of tearing down with words, build people up:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)

Shoot arrows of love with your words.  Give life with love.

Question of the Day:

Who do you need to build up with words of love today?

Further Reading:Jeremiah 51:54-52:34 NIV, Titus 3:1-15 NIV, Psalm 100:1-5 NIV, Proverbs 26:18-19 NIV


4 minute read

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5 NIV) 

Older women who are reverent make the best mentors.

Reverent women are submissive and humble, according to Webster’s Dictionary of 1828.  Part of the definition reads “a reverent posture in prayer.”  When I read those words, a vision of a woman on her knees, silently pouring her heart out to the Lord as she seeks His strength, flashed before my eyes.  The solitary figure is communing with her Maker, submitting her life to Him.  As the years slip by, the relationship between them continues to grow deeper and deeper.  She recognizes, now is a time to put away childish ways.

Two things I often heard from my mother’s mouth. “Act your age.” And, “You’re old enough to know better.”  Gratefully, my mom lived long enough for us to have an adult relationship.  However, the older I got, the more I heard those sayings came from her lips.  Moms are always moms. And they’re usually right, as was my mother when she uttered those words to me.  She was my mentor, a woman who was reverent of the Lord.

Reverent women know better.

Reverent women understand the consequences of actions.  Typically, they’ve lived long enough to experience what younger women are currently going through.  Older moms know how to survive the sleepless nights and thankless days:

“What has been will be again,  what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9 NIV)

God’s provision is what helped them persevere.  They’ve faced the bitter nights of the soul and found Jesus.

Submissive and humble is not the same as meek and mild.  When we come before the Lord with a heart of contrition, we gain His strength.  We understand the battles we are to fight and the ones to avoid.  He gives us the direction we need when we don’t know.  In the face of our enemies, He is victorious. 

And we are to share what we learn with others.  Wisdom comes as we walk with the Lord.  When you meet a woman who walks with a humble spirit and submissive heart, learn from her.  Ask her over for coffee.  Begin a Bible study with her.  Pursue a relationship; find out how she handles the pressures of life.  When you do, she’ll lead you to Jesus.

Find a mentor, learn from them.  In return, mentor someone.  Life’s circle is never-ending.

Question of the Day:

Who is mentoring you, who are you mentoring?

Further Reading: Jeremiah 51:1-53 NIV, Titus 2 NIV, Psalm 99:1-9 NIV, Proverbs 26:17 NIV


4 minute read

“To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” (Titus 1:15 NIV)

Jesus makes you pure.

People act like following Jesus is a one time event.  Believing in Jesus is a journey of discovery and truth.  As we apply His teachings to our lives, He unveils to us the reality that already exists.  

Before digital photography, pictures were taken with cameras which captured the image on film.  Photographers used a dark room to develop the strips of pictures.   Slowly, the process of developing the film reveals to the eye what already existed, but not seen.  Jesus purifies us as we follow Him daily.  Each day He reveals to us something that exists, but we couldn’t see.

One friend described Jesus’s unveiling of truth this way.  She was reminded of standing in front of an open food pantry, looking for a jar of peanutbutter.  No matter how hard you look, you don’t see the familiar red cap.  In desperation, you ask your spouse, who informs you where the creamy spread is.  All of a sudden, you see what was right in front of your eyes the whole time. Jesus reveals what is right in front of us.

Purity comes through submission.

In order to see the truth, we have to submit to Jesus.  Each morning, the journey begins again as we acknowledge our Creator.  Repentance isn’t a one time thing, but an ongoing lifestyle.

“But the repentance God desires of us is not just contrition over particular sins; it is also a daily attitude, a perspective.  Repentance is the process by which we see ourselves, day by day, as we really are: sinful, needy, dependent people.  It is the process by which we see God as He is: awesome, majestic, and holy.”  Chuck Colson,Against the Night

Corrupt minds don’t understand repentance because they don’t believe in Jesus.  As a result, they aren’t pure.  Purity is freedom from adulteration or contamination.  Living with a perspective of repentance means a daily cleansing as we submit ourselves to Jesus.  He then reveals to us areas of truth we can’t see.  Our corrupt minds, cleansed.  Without Jesus, cleansing doesn’t occur, corruption exists.

“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about, See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 MSG)

The pursuit of Jesus purifies us as He investigates our lives and reveals our sin to us.  With love like no other, He cleanses us.  Restoration comes as we submit our lives to Him.  Life eternal is our reward.

Question of the Day:

Have you allowed Jesus to investigate your life lately?

Further Reading: Jeremiah 49:23-50:46 NIV, Titus 1:1-16 NIV, Psalm 97-98 NIV, Proverbs 26:13-16 NIV


4 minute read

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV)

Prepare to preach always.

A divine appointment is when God brings someone into your life.  My husband and I’s meeting was one such event.  Both of us are tennis players; we committed to playing on a mixed doubles tennis team.  Our first match was Oct. 21, 2010.  My mind’s eye still sees him practicing his serve as I walked onto the court.  He wore a white pocket tee and black shorts, his outfit of choice for every match we played.  I knew the moment I laid eyes on him; he was someone special.  In no way, shape, or form did I know how special at that moment in time.  Praise God for divine appointments.

Every appointment is a divine appointment.

As my faith has grown more in-depth, I realize, every appointment is a divine appointment.  Each person God brings into your life is extraordinary.  Maybe your interaction with them is only once, perhaps you marry them, but they are all divine appointments.  People have impacted my life, who I’ve only spoken to one random time.

A few years ago, my husband and I were at an outdoor festival.  We ordered our lunch at a food truck.  Trying to be friendly, I was chatting with the cook.  He communicated defeat with his body language; I wanted to encourage him.  I’ll never forget when, without looking at me, he said, “Maam, I’m just trying to do my job.”  My surprise was instant, I had no idea I was bothering him, yet I was.  Immediately I apologized and walked away.

His sadness has never left me.  A few minutes after our interaction, I looked over at the food truck.  His boss had returned and was screaming at him, threatening to fire him.  I don’t know what the young man had done; I just pray it wasn’t because of me.

That interaction was a divine appointment for me.  Even though I don’t know the cook’s name, God does.  My prayers for that young man are often, every time God brings him to mind.  He is a child of God, created by the Creator.  My job is to love him; I do that best through prayer.

What we are to preach is love.  Every divine appointment God gives us is an opportunity to share His truth, grace, and mercy.  When we do those things, we are preaching.  Some of the best sermons ever given didn’t require one word.  Instead, actions spoke louder than even the fiercest of pastors.

“I’ved learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Every appointment is a divine appointment.  Preaching doesn’t require words.

Question of the Day:

Who are your divine appointments with today?

Further Reading:Jeremiah 48:1-49:22 NIV, 2 Timothy 4 NIV, Psalm 95-96 NIV, Proverbs 26:9-12 NIV


4 minute read

“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)

Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.

We have a choice where we focus our attention.  Darth Vader, arguably the number one villain of all time, chose the dark side.  He pursued all things evil.  His deep, gravelly voice and heavy breathing makes every word out of his mouth sound ominous. He sought evil intentionally, we seek it unintentionally. 

“If we want to live well, we can’t live unintentionally.” Mike Cooke

When we unintentionally spend our days doing whatever, we aren’t living life to the fullest.  Time slips away, never to return.  Opportunities are lost as we mindlessly move through our daily routines.  But if we choose to live with intentionality, life’s adventure never ends.

Live well intentionally.

My friend and pastor, Mike Cooke, is teaching me how to live intentionally.  Listen to his story in this video at 1:17 minutes.  Sitting with Mike, listening to his story is heartbreaking.  Victims of robbery, shot five times, his son Bryan, killed.  His words at 1:23 minutes touch my heart:

“This earth has lost someone who literally loved everyone.  I had a number of choices.  One of them was to give up on God, the other one to stay in mourning and grief and suffering, just focus on those negative aspects.  God wouldn’t let that happen.” Mike Cooke

None of us can understand another person’s pain.  We all have hurt we’re dealing with today.  But we also have a choice of how we live.  We can choose to live unintentionally, allowing the suffering in our lives to consume us, or we can live intentionally with God. 

One of Mike’s favorite verses has become one of mine as I begin to understand its meaning:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

At the end of Mike’s story, he talks about the ability to laugh again.  Miracles happen every day. To me, having walked through these past two years with my friends, the ability to laugh is a miracle.  God called Mike into a journey he never wanted to walk, but he’s not traveling alone.  I’ve witnessed family and friends surround them and help them.  Life Resources and their counselors are invaluable to the family’s ability to move forward from this tragedy.

Intentionality is a daily choice.  Each morning when we turn our eyes heavenward, we set our intention.  You can choose whether you allow Satan to steal your joy, or you can live life to the fullest with God.

Question of the Day:

Are you living your life intentionally?

Further Reading: Jeremiah 44:24-47:7 NIV, 2 Timothy 2:22-3:17 NIV, Psalm 94 NIV, Proverbs 26:6-8 NIV


4 minute read

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (2 Timothy 2:14 NIV)

Quarreling is of no value.

When our conversations turn from a debate into a quarrel, no one is listening.  For instance, the first Presidential debate of 2020 turned into three men quarreling and no one listening.  Instead of having an intelligent conversation, the discussion deteriorated into interruptions and name-calling.  The candidates weren’t listening to each other or the moderator.  No one was listening. Nothing of value occurred.  

Today’s scripture begins a section of  Timothy’s letter entitled “Dealing with False Teachers.”  We aren’t to quarrel with false teachers, because it does no good.  Why? Because engaging in an unproductive conversation with a false teacher is godless chatter:

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” (2 Timothy 2:16 NIV)

Godless chatter leads nowhere.

Just like the Presidential debate led nowhere, godless chatter does the same thing.  Not only do frivolous words lead to a dead-end, but they also pull you away from God.

Recently, I heard a heartbreaking story.  A husband made a wrong financial decision.  Embarrassed to tell his wife, he tried to hide his mistake.  One lie, then another, followed by another until they were in financial ruins.  The tragedy, his wife, had no idea; she trusted her husband with the finances.  Lies and godless chatter go hand in hand.

Ironically, I’m guessing the husband didn’t tell the wife because he didn’t want to argue with her.  Having constructive conversations that lead to restoration of the relationship is different than quarreling.  If you disagree with someone about something that has no resolution, you’re quarreling. Ending a quarrel means agreeing to disagree.

When we are dealing with false prophets, the same applies.  Your efforts to change their thinking are fruitless:

Their teaching will spread like gangrene…They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:17-19 NIV)

God knows the truth in all things.  He knows who the false prophets are, as well as who the next President is.  In His time, He reveals truth to us.  His word stands the test of the ages, again and again.  Applying Jesus’s teachings to our lives illuminates the false teachers quickly.  We don’t need to quarrel because God reveals the truth.

Quarreling wastes time and energy.  Agreeing to disagree is fine.  Don’t let a desire to win stop you from loving.  Our job isn’t to convince; it’s to love.

Question of the Day:

What quarrel needs to stop in your life?

Further Reading:Jeremiah 42:1-44:23 NIV, 2 Timothy 2:1-21 NIV, Psalm 92:1-93 NIV, Proverbs 26:3-5 NIV


Read time: 4 minutes

“He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15 NIV)

Quick prayers pack a punch.

For many of us, culture identifies prayer as time-consuming, requiring a schedule.  Praying is reverent, spiritual, and intentional.  Creating a lifestyle of prayer isn’t tricky, but does require discipline.  

Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, gave direction on what we are to do:

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)

Every day we are to fill it with prayer.  From the time we awake until we lay our head down at night, we’re to pray.  Starting the day off with quiet time, reading the Bible, journaling, etc. begins the conversation.  As you make breakfast, shower, and go about your day, don’t stop talking to God.  Keep the communication going with quips.

Tweet prayers to God.

Twitter, a popular social media site, allows 280 characters per post.  Anything over that number of letters is not permitted.  As a result, people must express their thought within those parameters. An example of the length of tweet” prayers; this paragraph is 279 characters long.

You can pack a big punch with 280 characters, or even half that number.  Not too long ago, Twitter’s maximum character count was 140.  People were adept at getting their point across with fewer words.  Technology causes us to shorten our communication, so we receive information quickly and efficiently.  We can use this new way of thinking to help us talk with God continually.

Continuous prayer doesn’t mean long dialogues with eloquent words.  Instead, keeping in touch with God throughout your day accomplishes the goal.  Unlike your spouse or best friend, God always answers.   He has a ready reply to whatever tweet you send. Short, heartfelt prayers are as reverent, spiritual, and intentional as long-winded ones, maybe even more.

Here are examples of a 140 character or less prayers:

“Lord, help me.”

“Lord, give me words.”

“Lord, keep my mouth shut.”

“Lord, bless them.”

“Lord, correct them.”

“Lord, show them the way.”

“Lord, forgive them.”

Are you beginning to get the drift?  I’m praying in 140 characters or less you will: “Lord, eyes to see and ears to hear.”

Whether your conversation with God is short or long isn’t the most crucial part.  Acknowledging Him throughout your day is what matters.  None of us stay connected 24/7 to the Higher Power, but He is always waiting when we sign back on to the network.  Just like wifi connects us to the internet, prayer connects us to the God of the universe.  He set the stars in place; He can help you with whatever problems you’re facing today.

A prayer’s length isn’t what matters.  Connecting with God continually throughout your day is where the power lies.

Question of the Day:

What short prayers keep you connected to God?

Further Reading: Jeremiah 39-41NIV, 2 Timothy 1 NIV, Psalm 90-91 NIV, Proverbs 26:1-2 NIV


Read time: 4 minutes

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” (Proverbs 25:28 NIV)

God’s Spirit gives self-control.

 Defining self control, it is the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.  Examples of self-control: not saying what you’re really thinking, not eating the third piece of cake, not buying things you can’t afford.  Jesus gave us help for all of these:

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

God’s Spirit is power.

We lack self-control because we don’t seek God’s help.  Jesus knew we couldn’t do life without Him, which is why He sent a helper:

“I will send you the Helper from the Father. The Helper is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me.” (John 15:26 NIV)

God’s Spirit reveals His truth to us as we seek Him.  Power is given to us to overcome the temptations of the world:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

Margin helps you avoid temptation.  When you create space in your life to keep you from doing something you don’t want to do, I call it margin.  For instance, when I was single, trying not to succumb to premarital sex, I made a practice to date publicly.  I didn’t place myself in compromising positions, like a hotel room with a man alone.  When I was getting to know someone, I did it in group settings with friends.  I trusted their opinion, not my feelings. The consensus on my husband was unanimous.

Now that we’re married, my husband and I protect our relationship.  We don’t spend time with someone of the opposit sex alone.  For instance, we met playing on a mixed doubles tennis team, guy and girl partners.  We have friends who played with a partner, not their spouse, regularly.  They ended up leaving their spouse for their tennis partner because of the relationship that developed.  Things they should reserve for their spouse, they talked about with someone outside the marriage, resulting in divorces.  Therefore, hubby and I don’t play mixed doubles with regular partners.  We protect our marriage by creating margin.

Whatever area you are struggling with self-control, spend time asking God to give you strength to resist.  Create a way out of the situation by making margin in your life.

Question of the Day:

Where do you need God’s Spirit to give you self-control today?

Further Reading: Jeremiah 37-38 NIV, 1 Timothy 6 NIV, Psalm 89:38-52 NIV, Proverbs 25:28 NIV


Read time: 4 minutes

“Like cold water to a weary soul  is good news from a distant land.” (Prov. 25:25 NIV)

Good news brings life to the soul.

The healthy birth of a long-awaited child, the announcement the cancer is in remission, or that the job you’ve always wanted is now yours, all good news.  Think of a moment when you heard good news like one of these, what did it do for you?

I remember where I was for the birth of all of my nieces and nephews.  In New York when my niece was born, I couldn’t wait to get home.  When my nephews were born, I was only minutes away from the hospital both times.  Each of their entries into the world highly anticipated, breathing new life into our family, literally.

Good news keeps you going.

In golf, we have a saying when we hit a good shot; “That will keep you coming back.”  As easy as the game may seem, hitting a small white ball with a long metal shaft is hard.  Even though the ball doesn’t move, our heads do.  Not keeping our eye on the ball, one of the many reasons golf is a frustrating game.  If you’re watching pros on tour, understand, they’ve hit an astronomical number of golf balls to reach that level of play.  So when you hit that one shot, just right, it keeps you coming back to the game.  If we never hit a good shot, we’d stop playing.

Life is the same; bad news is constant.  I learned of a Mom and a 5-year-old who were hit by a semi-truck, killing the child.  Mom was talking to Dad on the phone when the accident happened, he heard the scream, and then the phone went silent.  He’s who called 911.  Starting my day off with this tragic news, even though I didn’t know them, was challenging.  Unfortunately, in ministry, we hear more sad stories than happy ones.  Why?  Because people come to God when broken.  When life is good, God gets forgotten.

Good news keeps us coming back to the game of life.

Amid this tragedy, God’s people are His hands and feet for the family, supporting them through the dark days. The miracle of the mom’s survival is good news that spurs on the rest of the family.  The heartache of loss will never go away, but the hope of Jesus promises they will one day reunite.  Sometimes good news is hard to find, but it’s there.

Jesus is the good news we all need.  He is what paves the way for us to reunite with our loved ones in eternity.  Our days on earth are short, but our lives in eternity are infinite.  

Seek Jesus.  Let His good news breathe life into your dark days.

Question of the Day:

What good news has spurred you on lately?

Further Reading: Jeremiah 35:1-36:32 NIV, 1 Timothy 5 NIV, Psalm 89:14-37 NIV, Proverbs 25:25-27 NIV