WORKS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 20:1-21:15 ESV, John 9:1-41 ESV, Psalm 113:1-114:8 ESV, Proverbs 15:15-17 ESV

Daily Verse: “Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3 ESV)

ERGON (2041): “To work; toil, as an effort or occupation, by implication an act.”[i]

God’s action.

Jesus healed a man blind from birth.  His disciples want to know which one of his parent’s sins made him blind.  In their minds, his disability resulted from someone’s sin, the man’s parents the obvious choice.  Human thinking limits options.

God, the knower of all things, knew this moment in time would happen.  Thirty-eight years before the disciples strolled by with Jesus, God began setting the scene. Day after day, passers-by watched the poor man suffer, then one miraculous day, they saw him healed.

Nothing anyone else did could save this man from his misery.  But some divine spit made a miraculous mud.  The ecstasy the man felt when he washed the dirt from his eyes, cool water dripping down his face, at first, his vision blurred from the water, but as it slid away, he could see for the first time in his life—what a moment he had.

Divine mud.

Only God would heal someone with mud made from spit.  Jesus didn’t have to do anything but say the word, and the blind man would have sight.  But instead, Jesus bends down and makes some mud.  Watching God work made a more memorable impact.  If Jesus didn’t get His hands dirty, people wouldn’t remember it as well.

Think about the best sermon you’ve ever heard.  I bet the pastor used a visual to make his point.  I know; the messages I remember the best had a visual cue.  God knows He must get our attention; Jesus’s not afraid to get His hands dirty to make His point.

God’s work comes in many forms.  As employees of the Big Guy, God works through us.  Keeping our eyes on our mission: love God, love others help us stay focused and available.  We can only fulfill the Great Commandment by staying connected to the source of love, Jesus.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 102) Thomas Nelson

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ABIDE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 18:5-19:24 ESV, John 8:31-59 ESV, Psalm 112:1-10 ESV, Proverbs 15:12-14 ESV

Daily Verse: “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” (John 8:31 ESV)

MENO (3306): “A primary verb: to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy).”[i]

Abiding word.

Jesus’ following words remain some of my favorites:

“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 ESV)

People quote this scripture often, not realizing Jesus said them. The truth of these verses resonates with anyone who hears them.

Abiding in Jesus’ word will lead to life-changing truths which set you free.  In Bible-based therapy, our conversations revolve around distorted thinking.  Lies I believe from my past affect my actions today.

For instance, I’ve felt invisible all my life.  My dad liked baseball more than cheerleading.  As a cheerleader, I felt hurt because dad only came to one of my events; however, he rarely missed my brother’s games.  Misinterpreting the situation, I didn’t think I mattered to my dad.

Let truth free you.

Daily reading God’s word focuses your thoughts on Jesus, developing a relationship, and allowing Him to examine your heart. 

When you enter a dark room, you can’t see how the furniture looks inside.  But the moment you flip the light switch, what’s inside becomes apparent—immediately seeing the unseen.

God’s word flips the switch on the dark areas of our hearts.  When we allow Him entrance, we begin to see the condition of our furniture, some more tattered and torn than others.   God begins to repair the upholstery in the light, creating a warm and inviting room. Light begets light; dark begets dark.

My father adored me; he loved me to the best of his ability.  When I wanted a T.V. sophomore year, I came home from school to a small black and white one waiting for me. Meanwhile, the boys had to earn theirs, paying for it themselves.  Maybe dad didn’t come to every one of my cheerleading events, but he did love me with all his heart.  I’m not invisible; what I do matters. 

Jesus exposes lies, freeing us from bondage we don’t know we have. Living fully in Christ means living in truth.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 160) Thomas Nelson

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WORLD

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 17:1-18:4 ESV, John 8:21-30 ESV, Psalm 111:1-10 ESV, Proverbs 15:11 ESV

Daily Verse: “He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23 ESV)

KOSMOS (2889): “Is first a harmonious arrangement or order, then by extension, adornment or decoration, and came to denote the world, or the universe, as that which is divinely arranged.  It came to mean anyone not of the ekklasia (1577).  The present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God.[i]

Harmonious arrangement.

In its original form, world means harmonious arrangement, which seems in stark contrast to today’s circumstances. In the past 3,421 years of civilization, only 268 years have enjoyed peace, meaning no war anywhere.[i] 

Over time, Kosmos came to mean the universe, divinely arranged by God.  In today’s verse, world means the human affairs, not in alignment with God.  In other words, man pursues his desires instead of God’s.

Jesus understood we couldn’t grasp the heavenly realms He comes from because we have earthly perspectives.  If we don’t place our faith in Christ, following His commands, we’ll stay trapped in our sin. With Jesus, we can overcome the world.

Temporary troubles.

Nothing lasts forever in this world.  One day, someone else will live in our house and drive our cars.  The clothes on our backs will disappear, our physical bodies will die, and the world as we know it will end.  But our spiritual life continues, one way or another.

Choosing Jesus means life continues in heaven, a place our human minds can’t fathom.  Of heaven’s existence, I do not doubt.  According to John Burke’s book, “Imagine Heaven,” an estimated 1 out of 25 Americans has had a near-death experience.[ii] Burke investigates real-life stories of people who have experienced both sides of the coin, heaven and hell.  Reading this book will strengthen your faith in the afterlife, without a doubt.

The world we live in will one day fade away, but heaven never will.  Jesus prepares a place for you when you believe in Him.  In heaven, we will find a harmonious arrangement.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 144) Thomas Nelson

[i] Durant, W., Durant, A. (2010). The Lessons of History. United Kingdom: Simon & Schuster.

[ii] https://imagineheaven.net/

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STONE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-16:23 ESV, John 8:1-20 ESV, Psalm 110:1-7 ESV, Proverbs 15:8-10 ESV

Daily Verse: “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 ESV)

LITHOS (3037): “Is used literally of the “stones of the ground.”[i]

Drop the rock.

When the self-righteous crowd dragged the naked, adulterous woman in front of Jesus, His response made me love Him.  I didn’t get dragged down public streets, but I have sinned like her.  One cringe-worthy instance in my twenties felt metaphorically the same.  Tongues wagged at my inappropriate relationship, making me feel less than worthy of love.

But Jesus knew what to do.  Instead of condemning the woman, He protected her from the murderous crowd.  Bending, Jesus began to write in the dirt, then standing, He told the people, those without sin cast the first stone.  Dropping back down to the earth, Jesus continued to write.  One by one, everyone left.  Jesus, alone with the woman, forgives her, telling her to go and sin no more.

Change your behavior.

For the woman to “sin no more,” she must change her behavior.  Jesus wants us to live our lives to the fullest, meaning He doesn’t want us to harm ourselves.  When we do things like the adulterous woman did, we cause ourselves harm.  To stop the pain, we must stop the behavior.

In my situation, I ended the relationship.  An unmarried woman, I caused myself a mountain of pain getting involved with the wrong man.  To “sin no more” meant I needed to remove myself from the situation. 

Unlike the man in today’s story, who slithered away, the person I knew didn’t.  He stalked me, causing me to go into hiding—a very dark period of my life I regret deeply and one of my greatest lessons.  Changing my behavior and following Jesus’s teachings healed my heart over time, leading me to new life in Christ.

Whatever sins lie in your past, Jesus says the same thing to you:

“And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11 ESV)

Look at your life and identify any self-destructive behavior, then invite Jesus into it.  Let Christ’s grace and mercy help you make different choices, leading to a fuller life in Him.  Jesus doesn’t condemn; He forgives.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 151) Thomas Nelson

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LIVING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 14:1-52 ESV, John 7:31-53 ESV, Psalm 109:1-31 ESV, Proverbs 15:5-7 ESV

Daily Verse: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38 ESV)

ZAO (2198): “As a verb, means to live, be alive and is used in the NT of God, the Son in Incarnation, The Son in Resurrection, spiritual life, the present state of departed saints, the hope of resurrection, the way of access to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, the manifestation of divine power in support of divine authority, water (John 4:10 figurative of the Holy Spirt, 7:38)”[i]

Hope of resurrection.

Believing in Jesus means tapping into the unending hope He offers.  In this world, we have many struggles, but with Jesus, we can overcome them all.  Hope springs eternal when we follow Christ.

“Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” (John 8:39 ESV)

Since we live post-resurrection, placing faith in Christ means receiving the Holy Spirit.  From within, God prompts us onward in life.  When the walls begin to close around us, God’s Spirit encourages us.  We can live fully, trusting God’s plan to unfold perfectly in our lives.  God uses all things for good, even if we don’t understand.

Divine power.

Each breath we take comes from God.  He gives us life, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Cars run on fuel; we run on divine power.  When God chooses to call us home, our breathing will cease on earth, but life will continue in heaven.

Today will never happen again. One of my best friends works full time and currently has three teenagers under her roof. We talk on rare occasions; inevitably, she’s chauffeuring one of them from point A to B when we do. With exhaustion in her voice, she praises God for these days, knowing they won’t last forever. The kids will no longer live under her roof one day, and she will miss today’s chaos.

Whatever chaos you have in your life, know it’s temporary. Nothing lasts forever, good or bad. Enjoy the people God places in your life today; only God knows what tomorrow will bring. Live life to the fullest with Jesus. Your heart will pour out living waters, your hope eternal.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 108) Thomas Nelson

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TRUE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 12:1-13:23 ESV, John 7:1-30 ESV, Psalm 108:1-13 ESV, Proverbs 15:4 ESV

Daily Verse: “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.” (John 7:18 ESV)

ALETHES (227): “As an adjective, means primarily “unconcealed, manifest”; hence, actual, “true to fact” and is used of truthful persons.  True things conforming to reality.  Related to alethes as from to contents or substances; alethes denotes the reality of the thing, alethinos defines the relation of the conception to the thing to which it corresponds=genuine.”[i]

Denotes reality.

Jesus, speaking to the people at the Feast of Booths, explains the difference between man’s truth and God’s.  Men glorifying God seek His truth, not theirs. Joining God in His work will help you discover His truth.

Loving God and others fulfills God’s purpose for our lives.  Through the scriptures, we find guidelines on how to accomplish our mission.  Ultimately, Jesus asks us to put others before ourselves, just as He did for us.  We will discover God’s truth in our obedience, exposing the lies we so easily believe.

Seek God.

“When asked about their religious identity, 29 percent of respondents, or about 3 in 10 U.S. adults, said they had “none,” meaning they were atheists, agnostics, or “nothing in particular,” according to the Pew Research Center survey.”[i]

Thirty percent of our country doesn’t believe in God’s existence.  Jesus means nothing to them.  Without Christ, we can’t know the truth.

“For this purpose I was born and for this purpose, I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37 ESV)

To find the truth, we must follow Jesus.  As we apply His principles to our lives, He exposes the lies we believe.  Listening to Jesus’s voice sets us free from the trappings of this world.  Our sins forgiven, we can live life to the fullest with Jesus. 

In Christ, we find the truth which sets us free.


[i]  Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 14) Thomas Nelson

[i] https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/585764-the-fastest-growing-us-religious-affiliation-none-poll-says/

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OFFENSE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15 ESV, John 6:43-71 ESV, Psalm 107:1-43 ESV, Proverbs 15:1-3 ESV

Daily Verse: “But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:61 ESV)

SKANDALIZO (4624): “To entrap, i.e. trip up (fig. stumble) or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure.  To put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall.  Metaph. To offend; to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away; to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority, to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another.”[i]

Stumbling blocks.

Jesus, talking to the disciples, understands their grumblings.  How could they eat His flesh and drink His blood?  Offended by Jesus’ words, not understanding the metaphor, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (John 6:66 ESV).

Offense separates us from people.  In this case, the disciples who chose to leave turned their back on eternal life.  Because they felt offended, they no longer trusted Jesus.  Their distrust stopped them from listening to Jesus, allowing the offense to cause them to fall away from His teachings.

Take no offense.

As you follow Jesus, you will meet people who offend you.  I recently spent the day with someone who constantly took the Lord’s name in vain.  People don’t use Buddha to curse others, but they use Jesus’ name.  Like nails on a chalkboard, a part of me cringed each time the words came from their mouth.  But I also know this person doesn’t believe in Jesus; I understand their background.  So, I didn’t take offense. Instead, we talked about why I don’t like taking the Lord’s name in vain, allowing me to plant seeds.

If we get offended easily, we miss the moment.  Full confession, my distrustful nature can easily take offense.  However, following Jesus helps me realize that He didn’t.  When Jesus endured persecution, not once did He take offense.  Christ said very little as He made His way to the cross.  Not letting others’ actions offend Him, Jesus didn’t stumble.

Jesus leads with love and grace; we should do the same.  When someone offends you, pray, “Take no offense.”  Recognize that hurting people hurt others.  Instead of falling away, search for understanding.  Grow closer as you work through the offended feelings together.


[i] [i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 227) Thomas Nelson

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SEEKING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 8:1-9:27 ESV, John 6:22-42 ESV, Psalm 106:32-48 ESV, Proverbs 14:34-35 ESV

Daily Verse: “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (John 6:26 ESV)

ZETEO (2212): “As a verb, signifies “to seek, to seek for.” Metaphorically, to “seek” by thinking, to “seek” how to do something, or what to obtain. To “seek” to ascertain a meaning.  To “seek” God, of “seeking” the kingdom of God and His righteousness, in the sense of covering earnestly, striving after.”[i]

Strive after.

After Jesus fed the 5000, He walked on water to get to His next destination, Capernaum.  When the crowd caught up with Jesus, they didn’t understand how He arrived so fast.  After providing His followers food, they grumbled, wanting to know what work they must do for God.

“Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29 ESV)

From a Jewish perspective, gaining access to heaven meant following the law and pleasing God with their actions.  However, Jesus introduces them to eternal life gained only through faith in Him.  We can’t do anything to earn God’s love and grace; He gives it to us freely.

Seek faithfully.

Choose to believe God loves you, and Jesus died for you.  Each morning, dive into God’s word and set your mind on things of heaven.  The food of this world will one day pass away, but the bread of life given by Jesus lasts for eternity.

Learning to let go and let God challenges me more than anything else.  In prayer, I asked God for the courage to trust Him completely, not only with my life but also with the people I love.  Placing faith in Jesus means He knows how to run the world better than I do.  Instead of spinning my wheels, I need to let God do His thing, joining whatever work He’s doing.

Get to know Jesus by seeking Him through the pages of scripture.  Learn about the love He offers to all who believe in Him—experience life with Christ, one day at a time, as you seek Him faithfully.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (pp.109-10) Thomas Nelson

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SIGNS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 5:1-7:17 ESV, John 6:1-21 ESV, Psalm 106:13-31 ESV, Proverbs 14:32-33 ESV

Daily Verse: “And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” (John 6:2 ESV)

SEMEION (4592): “Is a manifest deed, having in itself an explanation of something hidden and secret.  It denotes “a sign, mark, indication, token,” is used of that which distinguished a person or thing from others.  As tokens of divine authority and power, Jn 6:2.”[i]

Divine tokens.

During Jesus’ ministry, He performed miracles.  People followed Him because they wanted to see what Jesus did.  Repeatedly, Christ astonished people with His teachings and actions.  Today’s verse comes before the feeding of 5000 men (plus wives and children) with five loaves of bread and two fish.  The disciples gathered 12 baskets of leftovers, a miracle indeed.

The more miracles Jesus performed, the larger the crowd became.  As we pursue Christ in our own lives and begin to experience His divine presence, we’ll want more of what Jesus offers, peace in a turbulent world, freedom from sin, unconditional love, and eternal life. 

Ask for signs.

God wants a relationship with you more than anything else in the world.  Jesus died on the cross to unite our imperfections with God’s perfection.  Freedom comes as we confess our sins and choose to follow Jesus.  God doesn’t give us the full itinerary for our life’s journey; He guides us one step at a time.

“Show me the next step” helps me keep moving forward when I don’t know what to do.  During those times in life when I’m stuck, asking God for direction comes from His word and in a myriad of different ways.  Sometimes, a text from a friend will spur me onward, other times, promptings from God’s Spirit move me forward, and sometimes, God gives me a miraculous sign.

We won’t receive it if we don’t ask God for direction.   Like highways have signs to help us reach our destination, we sometimes need personalized instructions from above.  Ask God for a sign, then ask Him not to let you miss it.

Lord knows I miss the signs sometimes.  But thank God, He never stops directing.  Like any journey, sometimes we need to make U-turns to get back on track.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 226) Thomas Nelson

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TRULY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 1 Samuel 2:22-4:22 ESV, John 5:24-47 ESV, Psalm 106:1-12 ESV, Proverbs 14:30-31 ESV

Daily Verse:Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24 ESV)

AMEN (281): “Transliterated from Hebrew into both Greek and English.  The Lord Jesus often used “Amen,” translated “verily,” to introduce new revelations of the mind of God. In John’s Gospel, it is always repeated, “Amen, Amen,” but not elsewhere.  Luke does not use it at all.[i]

New Revelations.

When people have “aha” moments, they realize something new.  What you didn’t understand before becomes crystal clear.  Like the fog lifting, sunlight burns off the watery mist, revealing hidden secrets.

Because of Jesus, I can see how jealousy impacted my life and relationships.  Instead of gratitude for what I had, I envied others.  As a result, I distanced myself from people, not wanting to hear about their lives because envy consumed me.  Now, some of those friends no longer live on earth.  My jealousy caused me to miss out on the relationship altogether.

Death to life.

Embracing Jesus means passing from death into life.  Instead of judging me for my jealousy, Jesus revealed it to me.  By seeing the issue, I can deal with it.  When I feel jealousy rearing its ugly head, I combat it by celebrating the other person instead, realizing I have all I need.  Jesus’ love and compassion brought new life to my heart.

Allowing Jesus into your heart will illuminate dark areas.  As I look back over my life, I recognize my self-absorption and how often I put my needs above anyone else’s, including Jesus.  But with Christ, I can leave the old ways behind, striving to become more like Him.  Each day, a new opportunity to try again, leaving yesterday’s mistakes behind, striving for what lies ahead.

Listen to Jesus’ words.  Life eternal begins today.  Experience the peace that surpasses all understanding as you allow God to examine your heart, illuminating the areas that keep you from living life to the fullest.  Let go of the past and embrace the future God has for you.



[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 17) Thomas Nelson

Check out my new release on Amazon. Learn how I used prayer to control my emotions and develop healthier relationships in my life.