IDOLS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 5:14-7:73 ESV, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 ESV, Psalm 33:1-11 ESV, Proverbs 21:8-10 ESV

Daily Verse: “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1 ESV)

EIDOLOTHUTON (1494): “An image-sacrifice, i.e., part of an idolatrous offering: things offered unto idols.  This word is an adjective signifying “sacrificed to idols.”[i]

Idolatrous offering.

Paul, answering another question from the Corinthians, addresses eating food sacrificed to idols.  The question leads to another question about exercising our freedoms.  No longer under the law, thanks to Jesus, what do they do.

Motivation for our decisions should consider how our actions will affect the person.  Paul uses the example of his rights for provision from others because he’s spreading the gospel, as written in the Jewish law.  But Paul didn’t exercise his rights because he didn’t want to give anyone a reason not to accept the truth of Jesus.

In other words, Paul put Jesus before the law and the rights he gained from it.  Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. 

Love builds.

The second half of the verse gives us an answer we can apply to any situation.  Whatever the circumstance, we should look for ways to build love, not ourselves.  If what we contemplate doesn’t advance the kingdom through grace and mercy, then we shouldn’t do it, even if we have every right.

As Christ followers, we have every right to drink alcohol.  However, if we hinder someone’s walk with Jesus by exercising our rights, then don’t drink.  Whatever the situation, ask yourself how my actions will impact the people around me?  If the answer doesn’t lead to more people knowing Christ, then don’t do it.

Living for Christ means putting Him first in all decisions.  Anything that takes away from sharing the good news of the Gospel doesn’t advance the kingdom.  Love paves the way for relationships with Jesus. 

Christ first loved us; He showed us how to care for others.  Offering our bodies as living sacrifices opens the door for others to meet the Savior.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 77) Thomas Nelson

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DEALINGS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 3:15-5:13 ESV, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40 ESV, Psalm 32:1-11 ESV, Proverbs 21:5-7 ESV

Daily Verse: “and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31 ESV)

KATACHROAOMAI (2710): “To use overmuch, is found in 1 Cor. 7:31, with reference to the believer’s use (over use) of the world.”[i]

Over use.

When Paul talks about dealings, he means with the world.  The apostle, responding to a letter he received from the church, admonishes them for holding tightly to material things.

Getting attached to stuff doesn’t take much effort.  Looking for solace in material things leads to temporary happiness.  The possessions of this world pass away quickly, but when you focus your eyes on Jesus, you find the joy of the Lord.

Paul also reminds the Corinthians that their time on earth doesn’t last long.  If we focus on the things that pass away, our stuff, we’ll miss out on the eternal life Jesus offers.

Heavenly attachment.

Instead of attaching to material things, fix your thoughts on heaven.  Focus on eternal life, which lasts much longer than the average 70-80 years on earth.  We will meet our Maker one day, whether we want to or not.  Since we didn’t create life, we can’t control it.

Paul encourages the Corinthians to keep their eyes on the Son, whether married or single.

“I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:35 ESV)

When we focus on stuff, we lose sight of the Lord.  Enjoy the blessings God gives you, but don’t worship them.  Remind yourself who provided the gifts.  Cling to Jesus, discovering His joy.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 135) Thomas Nelson

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LEAD

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 1:1-3:14 ESV, 1 Corinthians 7:1-24 ESV, Psalm 31:19-24 ESV, Proverbs 21:4 ESV

Daily Verse: “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.” (1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV)

PERIPATEO (4043): “To tread all around, i.e., walk at large (espec. As proof of ability); fig. to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary).[i]

Walk at large.

Leading comes naturally after spending a lifetime volunteering, working, and attending trainings on the topic.  In truth, we all lead people in our lives, whether we think we do or not.  Following Jesus makes us leaders.

Whatever task God gives us, He wants us to do it well.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:24-24 ESV)

Finish well.

Pastor Mike Cooke[i], friend, and mentor, taught me to pray, “Lord, help me finish well.”  He often spoke about finishing well during the transition from one church to another.  Not wanting to leave work undone, Mike completed his pastoral duties well by having the hard conversations and doing the complicated steps.

When faced with a challenging task, I pray, “Lord, help me finish well.”  When working on my degree or finishing my book, “Three Word Prayers,” God often heard the prayer.  Currently, the words come from my lips as I work to finish my next book.

People watch you when you work.  When others learn you follow Jesus, they want to see how you handle life’s situations.  Non-believers chat about judgemental Christ-followers, but they judge, too, without Jesus’s grace.

Whatever task God gives you today, do it with all your heart.  Remember, people watch you learning more about Jesus.  Lead them by finishing your job well and glorifying Christ.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 199) Thomas Nelson

[i] https://lifecommunitychurch.cc/blog/

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GRIEVANCE

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Ezra 10:1-44 ESV, 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 ESV, Psalm 31:9-18 ESV, Proverbs 21:3 ESV

Daily Verse: “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?” (1 Corinthians 6:1 ESV)

PRAGMA (4229): “That which has been done, a deed.  Akin to prasso, “to do,” denotes “business” 1 Cor. 6:1, in a forensic sense, “a lawsuit.”[i]

Forensic sense.

Paul admonishes the Corinthians for taking their grievances out in the Roman courts.  Challenging them, Paul wants to know why they don’t care about God’s law.  Instead, they take their troubles to people who neither know nor follow God.

Becoming more like Christ will baffle people in your life.  As you move away from negative thought patterns and embrace the teachings of Jesus, your life does change. Leaving behind your sinful life changes relationships, actions, and words.

Tiffany Jenkins, an American author whose best-selling book details her battle with addiction, answered a question on social media.  “Can you still drink?” Posting photos, she illustrated her previous life.

Yes and no.

In Tiffany’s response, she wrote about waking up on people’s lawns, unaware of her surroundings.  Recalling her words and actions, she described a bleak life.  Tiffany’s closing comments speak volumes:

So yes, technically as a person over the age of I’m “allowed” to drink, but as a person who knows where it will lead me, I chose not to…Life is too good without it.” Tiffany Jenkins

Paul’s words to the Corinthians remind them, following Jesus changes how you deal with life.  When you have grievances with others, find out what Jesus would do first.  Instead of acting like the world, imitate Christ.  Turn the other cheek, work on forgiving, and find ways to bring peace into the situation.

Yes, you can do whatever you want to do.  But no, following our desires instead of Jesus leads us to places we don’t want to go.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 208) Thomas Nelson

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ABSENT

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Ezra 8:21-9:15 ESV, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 ESV, Psalm 31:1-8 ESV, Proverbs 21:1-2 ESV

Daily Verse: “For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.” (1 Cor. 5:3 ESV)

APEIMI (548): “This word means to go away, depart and hence to be absent (1 Cor. 5:3).”[i]

Go away.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Holy Spirit connects us even though apart.  The church of Corinth overlooked a person of power’s sin, not reprimanding him because of his societal position. Influential people get away with things because others don’t want to cross them. After all, the good outweighs the bad.  Jesus doesn’t care how much money people have; He looks at the heart.

Christ departed the earth, sending the Holy Spirit in His place.  When we enter into a relationship with Jesus through faith, we tap into the spiritual network Christ offers. 

Ron and I have a network of computers in our homes.  From our garage, the center of our technological world, signals reverberate throughout the house.  Sitting on my couch and writing on my laptop, the Wi-Fi connects me to our network’s central unit in the garage.

Signal strength matters.

When I connect to the router in our garage, I receive a strong connection because of my proximity.  But if I sit across the street in the courtyard, I can’t connect.  The distance between me and the router means I can’t pick up the signal.

We have the opportunity to get as close to Jesus as we want.  Deciding to pursue Christ through scripture, hanging with other believers, and praying draws us closer to the router, strengthening our connection. 

Paul’s walk with Christ made him extremely sensitive to Jesus’s Spirit.  Knowing how much God’s heart breaks when we sin, Paul’s heart also broke.  When we don’t acknowledge the sin in our lives, we can experience a break in connection with Jesus.  Guilt keeps us from approaching the throne and asking for forgiveness.

Acknowledge the sin in your life, and lay it at the foot of the cross.  Receive God’s grace and mercy as restoration comes from following Jesus.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 33) Thomas Nelson

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STEWARDS

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Ezra 7:1-8:20 ESV, 1 Corinthians 4:1-21 ESV, Psalm 30:1-12 ESV, Proverbs 20:28-30 ESV

Daily Verse: “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4:1 ESV)

OIKONOMOS (3623): “Primarily denoted “the manager of a household or estate” (oikos, “a house,” nemo, “to arrange”), of preachers of the gospel and teachers of the Word of God, 1 Cor. 4:1.”[i]

House to arrange.

As Christ followers, we become stewards of the mysteries of God.  In other words, God wants us to share what we know about Him with others.  We transfer truth to those who don’t know it. 

What others think of our actions doesn’t matter; what God thinks does.  So, as you introduce others to Jesus, remember that God watches all we do.  The final judgment comes from above; Jesus exposes our misdeeds.  Following Christ closely will help you do your job well.

Serve first.

Paul calls the Corinthians servants of Christ who must steward God’s mysteries.  Serving others helps you draw them closer to Jesus.  As you learn of their needs, meeting them to the best of your ability, you will have opportunities to talk about Jesus. 

Tell others how Jesus impacts your life.  Explain to them what life changes occurred once you started following Christ.  Share the mysteries of God working in your life with those around you.  Help them discover what you found when you placed your faith in Jesus.

And just like arranging furniture in a house, it happens one piece at a time.  First, you place your faith in Jesus and then follow Him.  Learning about Christ in the scriptures will help you apply His teachings to your life.  As you do, life will take on new meaning, everything has a purpose, and God will give you opportunities to share your faith with others.

Become a trustworthy servant of Christ and share God’s mysteries with others.  Stewarding the good news of the Gospel happens when you tell others what Jesus does 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. 176) Thomas Nelson

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FOUNDATION

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Ezra 4:24-6:22 ESV, 1 Corinthians 3:5-23 ESV, Psalm 29:1-11 ESV, Proverbs 20:26-27 ESV

Daily Verse: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” (1 Cor. 3:10 ESV)

THEMELIOS (2310): “Something put down, i.e., a substruction (of a building, etc.).  Properly an adjective denoting “belonging to a foundation.”  It is used of “the ministry of the gospel and the doctrines of the faith,” 1 Cor. 3:10.”[i]

Solid substruction.

Building a solid foundation for your faith will help others build theirs.  Growing and maturing require encouragement.  One of the beautiful things about faith in Jesus, you don’t have to do the work alone.

Every house has a foundation of some sort, either brick or cement.  The materials used to sustain the building have to hold tremendous weight.  If you don’t put something on the bottom that can hold the rest of the house, the first strong winds will cause the house to fall.

In the same way, if we don’t begin our faith journey with the solid rock, when storm winds blow, we’ll lose our way.

Firm base.

In high school, I participated in cheerleading.  Because of my athletic build, the coach made me a base.  Every time we performed a stunt, the lighter girls climbed on top of me to their positions.  The entire pyramid would tumble if the squad didn’t have firm bases.  A slight move could cause someone to fall; bases must remain steady and strong.

Jesus never moves.  The world changes, but God remains the same.  No matter how harsh the winds blow, nothing shakes the Rock.  Living life to the fullest means trusting your foundation of faith.  The slightest gust will blow you off course if you don’t have Jesus as your base.

And just like we needed a squad of cheerleaders to build a pyramid, God uses other believers to help build our faith. Believers journey together, encouraging each other and building each other up in their faith.  God’s kingdom grows when we work together, trusting Jesus as our foundation and helping others do the same.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 114) Thomas Nelson

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SECRET

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Ezra 3:1-4:23 ESV, 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:4 ESV, Psalm 28:1-9 ESV, Proverbs 20:24-25 ESV

Daily Verse: “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” (1 Cor. 2:7 ESV)

MUSTERION (3466): “Among the ancient Greeks ‘the mysteries’ were religious rites and ceremonies practiced by secret societies into which any one who so desired might be received.  Those who were initiated into these ‘mysteries’ became possessors of certain knowledge, which was not imparted to the uninitiated, and were called ‘the perfected’ are, of course the believers, who alone can perceive the things revealed; Christ, who is God Himself revealed under the conditions of human life, and submitting even to death, 1 Cor. 2:1,7, but raised from among the dead, that the will of God to coordinate the universe in Him, and subject it to Him, might in due time be accomplished.”[i]

Things revealed.

God reveals things to us as we follow Him.  Become comfortable waiting for revelation.  In life’s journey, you will have “aha” moments; rarely does God give you the whole story all at once.  Instead, the Creator leads us along the path of righteousness one step at a time.

“God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.” Karen Blixen[i]

Accepting we have a limited perspective opens the door for God’s revelation.  If we knew what lay ahead, we might not continue forward.  God wants us to follow, not lead.  Only when we trust His guidance will we learn the Big Guy’s secrets.

Trust and follow.

Everyone has something in their life they don’t understand.  A circumstance or situation that doesn’t make sense now will one day.  Until then, we must trust and follow, applying God’s principles to our lives.

As we align our hearts with God, things become more apparent.  We begin to understand the temporary nature of this world, living for the eternal rewards found in heaven.  Most of the things we worry about today won’t matter in 100 years or even 100 days.  But eternal life with God does.

Whatever the situation, look for God’s presence.  Ask God to guide you through the uncertainty of today.  Instead of trying to solve the problem in your strength, ask God for His revelation.  God provides the solution, but in His time, not yours.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (pp. 168 & 9) Thomas Nelson

[i] https://fiveminutehistory.com/out-of-africa-10-inspirational-quotes-from-karen-blixen/

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FOLLY

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Ezra 1:1-2:70 ESV, 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 ESV, Psalm 27:7-14 ESV, Proverbs 20:22-23 ESV

Daily Verse: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18 ESV)

MORIA (3472): “Silliness, i.e., absurdity: foolishness, and is used in 1 Cor. 1:18.”[i]

Foolishness.

No one can save themselves from their sin.  People who think they can consider the cross foolish.  Not believing in Jesus, they follow their path, leading to sorrowful places.

A Facebook meme caught my attention recently:

“The fact that there’s a highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven says a lot about the anticipated traffic numbers.”

Having never read the non-Biblical meme before, it caused me to stop and think.  In my world, more people don’t follow Jesus than do.  Sunday mornings at church recharge me after fighting the good fight for Jesus with people who don’t care about Him.  Gathering with other believers strengthens my faith which wavers during the week. 

Powerful cross.

God does exist.  Many people attempt to prove the Big Guy doesn’t exist, but they can’t.  Ultimately, they make a conscious decision not to believe in Jesus.  Everyone gets to choose; Christ doesn’t force Himself on anyone.

Chatting with an atheist about God, I asked him how he couldn’t believe in His existence.  His response still baffles me.

“I know something exists beyond this life.  I’ve prayed and stuff before.  But God doesn’t exist; He just doesn’t.”

The conversation ended at that point. I realized my friend didn’t believe in God because of his decision.  God doesn’t call me to change people’s minds; He calls me to love them. Praying for people helps me fulfill God’s will.

For my friend, I pray he discovers the power of the cross.  Like Paul, who experienced Jesus on the road to Damascus, life change can happen anywhere to anyone.  When faced with someone who denies the power of the cross, begin with prayer.  Ask God to draw them to Him, softening their hearts and giving them eyes to see and ears to hear.

Then love them to the best of your ability, trusting God will bless your efforts.  None of us knows when life change will occur, but we do know that with Jesus, it does.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 169) Thomas Nelson

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UNITED

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23 ESV, 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 ESV, Psalm 27:1-6 ESV, Proverbs 20:20-21 ESV

Daily Verse:  “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Cor. 1:10 ESV)

KATARTIZO (2675): “Complete thoroughly, i.e., repair, perfectly joined together.  It expresses the pastor’s desire for the flock, in exhortation, 1 Cor 1:10, “perfectly joined.”[i]

Perfectly joined.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he pleads for unity.  Hearing reports of the division in the church, Paul points the people back to Jesus.  Instead of following the Savior, the congregation followed people, enamored with their message. 

God wants us unified in Christ.  Jesus offers salvation.  When we submit our lives to God, we become perfectly joined with Him.  Aligning our hearts with Jesus gives us our earthly mission: to love God and others.

Our point of intersection comes when we join together to fulfill the Great Commandment Jesus gave us.

Unified love.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

Unity comes when we join together, loving God and people.  Completing our mission on earth only happens when we care for one another.  Love defines our purpose.  Only through Jesus can we unite with one another to fulfill our tasks.

Promote unity in the world by loving everyone you meet.  Seek God and receive the unconditional love He offers.  Let the Lord’s light shine through you as He pours into you.  Accepting Jesus’ gift changes your life and leads you to everlasting peace. 

In a divided world, strive to bring people together.  Imitate Christ, and show people what unconditional love looks like by your actions.  Lip service doesn’t unite, but loving acts of kindness do.

God tells us to love first and foremost.  When we seek God and care for others, we grow the kingdom.  Unity happens when we love well.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 133) 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.