INFLUENTIAL

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 19:1-21:17 ESV, Galatians 2:1-16 ESV, Psalm 59:1-17 ESV, Proverbs 23:13-14 ESV

Daily Verse: “And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.” (Galatians 2:6 ESV)

DOKEO (1380): “This refers to a person’s subjective mental estimate or opinion about something.  A person’s doxa (1391) may be right or wrong since it always involves the possibility of error (except when used of Jesus).  It always signifies a subjective estimate of a thing, not the objective appearance and qualities the thing actually possesses.”[i]

Mental estimate.

Paul faces constant conflict but remains steadfast in his stance for Jesus.  Referring to a private meeting with James, Peter, and John, men considered influential, Paul defends himself to the Galatians about the Jerusalem council.

Paul and the Big Three kept their eyes squarely on the Gospel, not allowing false teachers to sway them from the truth they knew.

The Jerusalem council met to decide the issue of circumcision.  Paul went because he received a revelation from God directing him to attend.  James, Peter, and John showed mutual respect for Paul. Their mission fields differed, yet the Big Three recognized Paul’s gift for working with the uncircumcised Gentiles.

Same Jesus.

As Christ followers, the mission remains the same, spread the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Following the law doesn’t gain access to heaven but believing in Jesus does.

Legalistic views on the Bible draw people away from Christ.  Pointing fingers at others because they break religious law does no good.  No one can keep the 613 laws held by the Jews.  Only Jesus lived a perfect life. We shouldn’t force others to do what we can’t do ourselves.

But we can stand firm in the face of conflict with Jesus.  Anyone can place their faith in Christ, admitting they can’t do life alone.  We all fall short, but Jesus picks up and carries us the rest of the way.

Influence people for Jesus.  Live a humble life, acknowledge your imperfections, and glorify Jesus for helping you overcome them.  Share how submitting your life to Christ gave you a new beginning.  Let God’s light shine brightly through you.  Stand firm in Jesus, His message doesn’t change.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.71) Thomas Nelson

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DESERTING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 15:1-18:7 ESV, Galatians 1:1-24 ESV, Psalm 58:1-11 ESV, Proverbs 23:12 ESV

Daily Verse:  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—” (Galatians 1:6 ESV)

METATITHEMI (3346): “To place among, put in another place” (meta, implying “change,” and tithemi, “to put”).  “To change oneself,” signifies, in the middle voice, and is so used in Gal. 1:6 (I marvel that) ye are…removed”; the present tense suggests that the defection of the Galatians from the truth was not yet complete and would continue unless they changed their views.  The middle voice indicates that they themselves were responsible for their decision, rather than the Judaizers who had influenced them.”[i]

Put in another place.

Paul’s heartache comes from the Galatian’s desertion of their faith.  Turning from the Gospel, the Galatians place their faith in the law, embracing legalism over God, putting their trust in a different gospel. 

Becoming legalistic caused the Galatians to turn their back on God, rejecting His grace for merit.  Recently having accepted the Gospel of Jesus, the Galatians quickly make a U-turn by embracing the law.  Paul knows he still has a chance to steer them back to the straight and narrow.

Embrace grace.

Before you judge the Galatians, realize that we do the same thing.  In the blink of an eye, we turn our backs on God, placing our faith in humans.  When we look to a different gospel, we will find disappointment.

One of the things you will notice when you read through the stories in the Bible, God used fallible people.  Abraham lied, Noah drank too much, Moses murdered an Egyptian, David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and Paul killed Christians.  If salvation came from the law, none of us would qualify.

Accepting God’s gift of grace doesn’t require a perfect record.  Instead, we acknowledge that we have things in our past that need forgiveness.  God grants us do-overs when we submit our lives to Him and then try to go and sin no more.

No one gains entrance into heaven because they lived a perfect life.  Our golden ticket comes through Jesus.  Trusting what Christ did for us means acknowledging we needed saving.

Place your faith in Jesus.  Accept that you need a Savior who offers His love and mercy at no cost.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.163) Thomas Nelson

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ESTABLISHED

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 12:1-14:32 ESV, 2 Corinthians 13:1-14 ESV, Psalm 57:1-11 ESV, Proverbs 23:9-11 ESV

Daily Verse: “This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (2 Corinthians 13:1 ESV)

HISTEMI (2476): “As a verb, means “to make to stand,” means “to appoint.”[1]

Make stand.

Paul faces misdemeanor charges from the Corinthians on his third trip to the church.  Referring to the requirement Moses wrote about in Deuteronomy 19:15, accusations need two or three witnesses to support them.  Jesus taught the same principle concerning church discipline:

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:16 ESV)

When people accuse others of crimes, they better have backup.  Making an accusation doesn’t make it accurate. Unfortunately, most people believe what they hear without looking for any supporting evidence.

Seek evidence.

Jesus teaches that before convicting someone of a crime, get witnesses to corroborate the story.  The next time someone comes up to you, accusing another person of a misdemeanor, don’t take their word for it.  Instead, ask them to prove it by having at least two or three witnesses agree with the charges.

When I received a traffic violation for going through a red-light years ago, I made a court appearance.  Convinced of my innocence, I stood before the judge, and the two police officers accused me of the crime.  As the cop misdescribed my car, my innocence became apparent. The judge dismissed my case because the officers disagreed about my vehicle.

If you accuse someone of a crime, make sure you have the evidence to prove it.  Verify the facts with at least two or three witnesses before charging an innocent person.  False accusations tarnish a person’s reputation; even when the truth becomes evident, people still choose to believe the lie. 

Make sure to get the facts before making false accusations.  Don’t damage someone’s reputation unnecessarily.  Remember, we all fall short of the glory of God, all sinners.  Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.


[1] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.37) Thomas Nelson

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BURDEN

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 10:1-11:16 ESV, 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 ESV, Psalm 56:1-13 ESV, Proverbs 23:6-8 ESV

Daily Verse: “For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!” (2 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)

KATANARKAO (2655): “This word means to be a burden, to be burdensome, primarily signifying to be numbed or torpid, to grow stiff (narke is the torpedo or cramp fish, which benumbs anyone who touches it); hence, to be idle to the detriment of another person, like a useless limb.  It is translated “be burdensome,” 2 Co 12:13-14.”[i]

Useless limb.

Paul did not cause a financial burden to the Corinthian church, using this opportunity to remind them of this fact.  Facing false allegations, Paul exposes them by asking for forgiveness for not burdening the church.

In front of our house lives a river birch tree.  Currently, one of the top branches has no leaves, unlike the others dressed in tear-dropped green attire.  In other words, the useless limb has no benefit to the tree; dead and needs trimming.

Sharing Christ’s love shouldn’t burden anyone.  Instead, like the limbs full of leaves, loving God and others helps them live life to the fullest.  Useless limbs burden others, taking away vital nutrients that help others thrive.

Help don’t hurt.

Life challenges people enough without adding additional burdens to it.  Jesus didn’t burden anyone, and neither should we.  Everywhere Christ went, He uplifted and encouraged those around Him.  If people didn’t choose to follow Him, Jesus let them live with their decision.

“See a need, meet a need,” a common phrase heard in the church community.   Spreading God’s love by helping people touches their hearts and helps them grow.  But if we become a burden, demanding instead of encouraging, we become lifeless limbs.

As you share Christ’s love today, find ways to encourage and uplift people.  Whatever burdens you carry, lay them at the foot of the Cross, trusting Jesus to meet your needs.  Then, look for the needs of others and help them thrive. 

Loving God and others helps you live life to the fullest and those around you.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.132) Thomas Nelson

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BOASTING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 8:1-9:21 ESV, 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 ESV, Psalm 55:1-23 ESV, Proverbs 23:4-5 ESV

Daily Verse: “I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 12:1 ESV)

KAUCHAOMAI (2744): “Means “to boast or glory,” is translated “to boast.”[i]

Glory to God.

Paul feels like he has no choice but to boast.  However, Paul doesn’t glorify himself but God.  After breaking a 14-year silence, Paul tells the Corinthians about his vision.  Because Paul struggled with pride, God gave him a thorn in his flesh.  Three times Paul begged God to remove the thorn. God responded with grace.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

God’s words humbled Paul, making him thankful for his weaknesses.  Paul learned contentment because of his thorn.

Extended grace.

Everyone has a thorn or two in their life, an area of imperfection that drives them crazy.  When you have a thorn in the flesh, it festers and causes the skin to get red and inflamed.  The slightest touch can cause a flash of intense pain, causing you to wince.  Learning to live with the prickly weed requires God’s help.

Leaning into the Savior will help you find relief from the irritation.  Christ gets the glory as you overcome your thorns, allowing His strength to shine in your weakness. 

An illustration I heard long ago, the source unknown, explains it well: 

An alcoholic asked his pastor, “Why doesn’t God take away my desire to drink?” 

The pastor responded.  “What do you do when you want to drink?”

“I get on my knees and pray.”

“If God took away the desire to drink, would you spend as much time praying?”

God uses the thorns in our lives to draw us closer to Him.  Christ’s strength overcomes our weaknesses, His grace sufficient.  Seek God for help; He won’t let you down.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p.136) Thomas Nelson

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FOOLISH

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 6:1-7:25 ESV, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33 ESV, Psalm 54:1-7 ESV, Proverbs 23:1-3 ESV

Daily Verse: “I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.” (2 Corinthians 11:16 ESV)

APHROS (876): “Froth, i.e., slaver: the one foameth again.”[i]

Foolish boasting.

Paul faces the Corinthian’s determination to compare him to his rivals, the false apostles.  Although claiming to follow Christ, the aggressive nature of the deceptors impressed the Corinthians more.

Ironically, Paul can claim the same things as the false teachers:

“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.” (2 Corinthians 11:22 ESV)

After establishing the similarities, Paul lists the differences.  In his efforts to share the gospel, Paul endured imprisonment, beatings, and near death.   Paul boasts about his weakness, acknowledging God’s power in his life.

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.  The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” (2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV)

God knows.

False teachers still exist, aggressively trying to lure people from Jesus.  As representatives of Christ, boasting about God’s work in our lives becomes our best defense. Honesty about our weaknesses glorifies God and shines a light on His strength.

People like to boast and compare.  Dealing with misguided beliefs challenges anyone, even Paul.  But if we stay focused on God’s work in our lives, boasting about Him, we’ll navigate difficult conversations well.

Connect with others through honest conversations, boasting about your weaknesses.  Find ways to share Christ’s love by living your life transparently in front of others.  Wherever God guides, He provides, especially when faced with false teachings that steer people from Jesus.  Like Paul, you will know the words to say at the appropriate time.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 49) Thomas Nelson

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CUNNING

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 3:1-5:30 ESV, 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 ESV, Psalm 53:1-6 ESV, Proverbs 22:28-29 ESV

Daily Verse: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV)

PANOURGIA (3834): “Literally means all-working, able to do everything: hence, high discerning which works itself out in unscrupulous conduct, craftiness.  It is always used in a bad sense.”[i]

Unscrupulous conduct.

When the serpent tempted Eve, he played on her ego.

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5 ESV)

Wanting God’s knowledge, Eve succumbed to the serpent’s cunning words. Her ego led the way in wanting to know more; as a result, sin entered the world with one crisp bite.  In an instant, the devil gained a foothold, captivating Eve’s thoughts and causing them to veer from the Lord.

In the same way, evidence of false apostles in the Corinthian church caused Paul to fear for them.  The deceptive teachings caused the people’s thoughts to stray from Jesus.

Deceptive words.

Our hearts control our thoughts; we think about what we desire.  Eve wanted knowledge but didn’t know how her yearning would lead her astray. The serpent used deceptive words to lead Eve down the wrong path, playing on her heart.

Today, we face the same struggle Eve did.  Deceptive words crowd the internet and social media, leading us down lifeless paths.  Instead of focusing on the life-giving words of Jesus, we get caught in webs of lies spun in a myriad of ways. 

Staying focused on the truth seems impossible.  Narrative overrides fact.  Social media experts understand how to manipulate headlines to promote their story, even if not true.  

God’s word helps decipher the truth and keep our thoughts focused on Jesus.  Spending daily time with the Lord will help you discern the deceptive words of this world.  God’s purpose for our life remains the same, to love Him and others. Don’t let the lies of this world veer you from the truth of Jesus.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 187) Thomas Nelson

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REMIND

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Isaiah 1:1-2:22 ESV, 2 Corinthians 10:1-18 ESV, Psalm 52:1-9 ESV, Proverbs 22:26-27 ESV

Daily Verse: “Look at what is before your eyes. If anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” (2 Corinthians 10:7 ESV)

LOGIZOMAI (3049): “To take an inventory, i.e., estimate.  Primarily signifies “to reckon” whether by calculation or imputation.”[i]

Take an inventory.

Paul faced opposition from the Corinthians.  They tried to undermine Paul by casting doubt on his authority as an apostle.  Paul’s attackers knew if they could cause converts to lose faith in his credentials, they wouldn’t believe the apostle’s teachings.

Instead of trying to discourage the converts from testing his credentials, Paul questioned the criteria used.  In other words, the Corinthians tried to lead the converts on a rabbit trail:

“It’s a confusing maze of pointless leads. In short, a rabbit trail leads (us) nowhere. It serves only to confuse the prey/the reader. It keeps them preoccupied and confused.Using English.com

Stay on task.

Following Jesus requires focus.  Losing sight of the task at hand happens without realizing we do it.  Our minds can spiral down a path we never intended to take.

My mind tends to jump to the worst-case scenario quickly.  A few weeks ago, a friend ran late and didn’t call or text.  After an hour, my mind had her in a ditch somewhere dead.

Running behind, she forgot to text.  Because her car insurance gives her a discount for not touching her phone while driving, she couldn’t contact me.  My mind went on an unnecessary rabbit trail, leading me away from reason.

Paul pointed the Corinthians back to the truth when they went on a rabbit trail.  Instead of discouraging their investigation, he helped them stay on task.  Keeping the Son in your eyes will lead you on the straight and narrow, but when we look away, we find ourselves spiraling down rabbit trails.

Encourage people to investigate Jesus, and let them ask questions.  God’s not afraid of interrogation; He understands the human heart.  Seeking leads to Jesus. Encourage people to stay focused on Christ when their minds begin to wander.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 152) Thomas Nelson

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REAP

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14 ESV, 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 ESV, Psalm 51:1-19 ESV, Proverbs 22:24-25 ESV

Daily Verse: “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6 ESV)

THERIZO (2325): “to reap” (akin to theros, “summer, harvest”).  In 2 Cor 9:6 (twice), with reference to rendering material help to the needy, either “sparingly” or “bountifully,” the “reaping” being proportionate to the sowing.”[i]

Being proportionate.

“You reap what you sow,” mom said often.  How true her and Paul’s words ring.  Whatever you give out, you receive back.

Browsing Facebook, I came across a post that struck me:

“If you want a kind sixteen-year-old, teach him kindness at six and give him ten years to practice.” Anonymous

Not knowing today’s verse or the topic, I find God’s timing perfect.  We plant at a different time than we reap, and some crops take longer than others to reach their harvest.  What we give off, we get back.

Many conversations I’ve had with parents of adult children who don’t attend church, yet the parents don’t either.  You’ve got to plant the seeds to get the harvest you want.

Plant intentionally.

To get the crops you want, you must consider what to plant.  If you want kindness, cultivate it.  Generous people give generously, and angry people feed the anger.  But if you decide to plant seeds of virtue, you will get virtuous results in due time.

Just like the six-year-old that requires time to practice kindness, we must give our crops time to grow.  Waiting patiently for the fruits of your labor to produce good results allows us to lean into God.  When we feel like the harvest takes too long, God reminds us that we operate on His time, not ours.

Seeds multiply; you get an entire stalk full of ears from one seed of corn.  Planting seeds of love, grace, and mercy will return them to you tenfold.  Resist the urge to plant bitter seeds of hatred and anger; instead, reap the benefits of a harvest planted with the right motives.

Follow Jesus’ example, tap into the Father for strength and guidance, and lead with grace and mercy, planting love everywhere you go.  Trust God to water, nurture, and grow what you plant.  Reaping well comes from sowing well.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 115) Thomas Nelson

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ACCORD

2 minute read.

Daily Reading: Song of Solomon 1:1-4:16 ESV, 2 Corinthians 8:16-24 ESV, Psalm 50:1-23 ESV, Proverbs 22:22-23 ESV

Daily Verse: “For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord.” (2 Corinthians 8:17 ESV)

AUTHAIRETOS (830): “This word means “to choose, self-chosen, voluntary, of one’s own accord” and occurs of Titus in his willingness to go and exhort the church in Corinth concerning the matter 2 Cor. 8:17 ESV.”[i]

Voluntary choice.

Because of the Corinthian’s skepticism about Paul and Titus’s intentions, they require reassurance.  Paul’s adamant Titus came because of his love for Jesus and the Corinthians, not money.  Titus chose to serve them because of the unconditional love he found in Christ.

When someone begins to accept the unconditional love Jesus offers, they can’t help but share it.  In a world of judgment and criticism run rampant, finding people who love without condition proves challenging.  Following Christ of your accord means you voluntarily choose Him.

“Jesus is a gentleman,” I’ve said often. God’s Son doesn’t force His attention on anyone who doesn’t want it, and neither should we.

Stay the course.

Paul and Titus didn’t back down in the face of false accusations; they stayed the course, allowing their actions to speak for them.  Good intentions become evident eventually, sometimes sooner than later.  Lies get exposed given enough time.

Just as the Corinthians eventually realized Paul and Titus didn’t want their money, people will recognize your actions with the right intentions.  You may not use the right words, but pure motives will elicit grace for innocent mistakes.

Live life of your own accord for Jesus; choose to follow Him closely each day.  As situations arise in life, mimic Christ’s example.  Love at all times, seek the Father for guidance and strength, and in all things, give glory to God.  People will know you have a sincere heart with pure intentions when you do.


[i] Strong, J., & Strong, J. (2010). The New Strong’s expanded exhaustive concordance of the Bible. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 47) Thomas Nelson

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