Who is my Brother?

Psalm 119:63         TLB

Anyone is my brother who fears and trusts the Lord and obeys him.

In these confusing times, it is nice to have theological guidance from the one who is best qualified to teach us, the Lord Himself. It is so easy for humans to divide ourselves into cliques. In religious circles we call them denominations. The denominations work to help likeminded individuals worship God in patterns which agree with their personal philosophies, habits and even comfort. We are different but have similarities with others. We congregate around those similarities.

In today’s verse, God shows us the one similarity that is important to Him. We can overlook a great number of differences when we have this one in common; that we each love God, having given our trust and obedience to Him. Interestingly, this guiding principle leads us to communion with Jews as well as Christian denominations because they, too, love the God we love. So, it turns out that the real test for communion is love of the one true God. How we serve Him and how we worship Him is less important than our zeal for Him.

I have adopted this philosophy though not so much intellectually as organically. By that I mean that I really did not make a decision to believe this way. I simply found myself attracted to others who love God even if we don’t believe exactly the same. I am also learning that I do not have to persuade them to my way of thinking. The Holy Spirit is the teacher and is leading us all on the journey to full enlightenment. It is his responsibility to teach us. I may have some revelation another doesn’t, but they may have learned some things I have not yet learned. It is even okay to be wrong if you love Yahweh. Our Lord is revealing all truth to us bit by bit and will lead us all to the fullness of the knowledge of Him. The one thing God cannot do is mandate our love and devotion. The decision to love and serve Him is uniquely our own. Once that decision is firmly settled down in one’s spirit, the decision to love others becomes easier and easier.

You and I both have witnessed disagreement between Catholics and Protestants, between Jews and Christians, and disputes amongst Protestants. When I imagine myself sitting in the throne room, beside God looking down and witnessing these disputes, I do not perceive them as important. In truth, today’s verse is an excellent reflection of Jesus’ theology. When asked which was the greatest commandment Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Upon these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37 – 40). Jesus was teaching that all of the law and all the teaching of the prophets, the entire canon of law and the entire theological doctrine from the beginning of humanity until that very moment was contained in those two commandments. Jesus then went on to synthesize and express the entire law and doctrine of his coming and ascension, or the complete embodiment of New Covenant theology. He said, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another,” (John 13: 34). This is the sum of Jesus’ theological argument. This is New Testament, resurrected savior theology. The rest of the New Testament is there to lead us to this revelation.

I am not Catholic, but I love Catholics. I am not Baptist, but I love Baptists. I do not cling to any one denomination, but if you love Jesus and if you revere God, then you are my brother and I love you. My job in God’s service is to teach but first, I must love. If you get a revelation because of something I have taught, fabulous! But, if you draw closer to Yahweh in your own relationship with Him because you have seen the love of God in me, Hallelujah! That is the glory of God.

Spirit Guide

Romans 8: 26

Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

This verse describes my prayer over the last year and a half. If ever there was a time I have not known what to pray or how to pray, this has been it. Yet, never has there been a year when the need for prayer has been so great. Many times, I began praying just to find myself out of words, lost and frustrated. I thank my God, as did the Apostle Paul, that we have the Holy Spirit to help us pray as we ought.

The Spirit helps us pray and brother, we need the help like never before. The Spirit can lead us in prayer in our known language or in an unknown language, though it takes a certain amount of surrender to utter syllables you don’t personally understand. I used to pray in what sounded like French. It was beautiful but I didn’t understand it. He can also inspire your prayer with pictures. That can be quite helpful. During the Covid crisis, the Holy Spirit gave me an image of angels with flame throwers. That picture conveyed a lot of meaning in an instant. Later I was able to wrap words and prayers around it.

Some of us are more in our heads when we pray than others. I find some people are adept at connecting with their spirits and, subsequently, with the Holy Spirit within. I have found it an immense relief to be able to pray with the Holy Spirit and to let him give voice to my desires and emotions, especially over the last year and a half.

If you are not accustomed to praying with the Holy Spirit or just think you would like to encourage a closer communion in prayer, it begins with asking the Spirit to join you. Then try to open your senses to the Spirit’s presence. He is there right now. That I can guarantee. I am not the most sensitive person, so I run with the understanding that he is there and that is my anchor. Knowing he is with me moves me towards sensing his presence and guidance. Then pray and as you pray, try to relinquish some of the control. Don’t hold on so tightly. Try to be in the river, floating along with the current. Relax, breathe, pray. That is your model. Let God’s Spirit guide you and life will get easier. This, I promise you. And do not be surprised if it takes a little practice. Just pray every day asking for the Spirit’s assistance and then intentionally try to flow with him. Let the Spirit intercede for you. You really can’t beat having God pray for you. It is as good as it gets.


James 5: 13

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

Here is a primer on the Christian life. When things aren’t going quite right, pray. When they do go well, praise. Do you think life is complicated? It has just been simplified. Just in case you didn’t think about it when you saw the verse citation, this was written by Jesus’ brother. James grew up seeing how Jesus responded to situations. In trials, he prayed. In victory he praised.

What is happening in your world right now? You need to do one of two things. Which is it?

Slow Down

Proverb 16: 3 & 9

Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The mind of a person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

I can speak on this subject with some authority having messed it up many times. Here is my former model. God would open my eyes and give me a tremendous idea. I would know beyond doubt what He wanted me to do having received a vision of this idea. Now I don’t mean a mystical vision. I mean that God gave me an idea that unfolded before me so that I could picture where it was going. Working with God often means that plan unfolds with time, but you can get an overview in the beginning, the details to follow. Well, I would grasp the idea, become enthused with it, and start running. As you see, that is not the model this verse teaches. Sometimes the vision is not for this moment. It could be for tomorrow, and it could be given to you now so that you recognize something that comes into your hands as a piece of the whole.

When we begin a new project or God gives us an idea or goal, the very first thing we should do is run to our prayer closet. I get all excited and want to “DO” something. I want to get the ball rolling. What a bad idea that is. The worst thing about it is that I have done it over and over. Praise God, I am finally learning. God will do a lot of the work for you, put the right people with the right assets right in front of you if you will do your job. That is to pray.

Take this vision God has given you and commit it to Him in prayer. Seek His wisdom and guidance. Instead of planning the project out yourself, be still and let Him reveal the plan. He will direct your steps. You can do a lot with your energy and strength but in the end you are worn out and the project is never as full as if you had let Father direct your steps. Believe me! I know what I am talking about. And, I am still preaching to myself a bit today. Slow down a little and enquire of the Lord. If you will commit your works to Him, He will give you a good plan and establish your steps.

Finding Good

Proverb 16: 20

One who pays attention to the word will find good, and blessed is one who trusts in the LORD.

I wrote last week on how the Word of the Day got its name and its start. Now here is this verse reminding us that the Word brings goodness to our lives. That is why we must develop our relationship with the Word.

God gave us His Word to guide us. Surely, the guidance of the Lord takes us to places of goodness, refreshing and blessing. I often think of the Bible as a How-to manual. We can get direction about everything in life. The problem is that sometimes we treat it too much like a sacred document or a piece of literature. While it is both, it is first and foremost a functional document and those other aspects can take away from its primary function.

Another problem many of us have is that we were raised on the King James Version. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t understand old English that well. I mean, read the Canterbury Tales and tell me what they mean. While I still like the King James for Luke 2 and Psalm 23 I just can’t use it for everyday enlightenment. If I want it to lead me to good, I need to understand it and for me that is best done with the NASB. In truth, while the NASB is my daily go to Bible, I use a lot of translations so that I can reap the most out of a scripture.

As to the second phrase of today’s verse, I find when we get comfortable with the Word and learn how to find God in it, our level of trust grows exponentially. When I need God, I know He is always waiting for me and will reveal Himself in His Word. I cannot recount the number of times I was desperate to hear from God, opened up my Bible and He spoke to me.

My advice is to get a translation of the Bible with which you are comfortable. Maybe a NIV or NLB will work for you. Then begin to read. Don’t start with Genesis though. Begin with Matthew 1: 1. Read the Psalms and read the Proverbs. If you will read the first four chapters of the New Testament, the Psalms and Proverbs, you will have a great foundation poured. Then, read the rest of the New Testament. By the time you finish, you will be ready for the Old Testament, and you will see it with renewed eyes. There is a lot of great stuff back there but don’t let it overwhelm you. Lay a foundation first. Find your Bible and in so doing, find goodness and blessing.


Psalm 145: 14

The Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.

Many people do not seem to understand the basic nature of God. He is a father first and foremost. He longs to care for his kids. He does not want us to come into the kingdom so that we can serve him. He wants everyone to enter in so that he can take care of them. He wants to help us, to lead us, to show us the way so that we do not stumble but in those inevitable times when we, just like any kid, don’t listen to him and we do stumble and fall, he is there to pick us up and make it all better. He longs to be generous and kind to us and he only wants the best for us. He is there today for anyone who has fallen or lost their way. He is a loving father longing to extend his love and care to all who will receive him.

If you can embrace this fundamental truth, you will understand a great deal of theology that eludes others. You will understand evangelism, sin, healing and everything else in a deeper and more meaningful way. Begin with love, with the Father of love, and you are well on your way.

Word of the Day

Hebrews 4: 12           KJV

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.

The Word of the Day is back to a its regular schedule. Summer is over sports fans. I thought I would take a moment to recount how we got here, especially since we have some new folks. Let’s begin with why this devotional is called the Word of the Day.

The Word of the Day began in 2006. My brother had just been diagnosed with cancer months after our father passed away from the same disease. I knew my brother need to hear the Word of God on health and healing. God’s Word has power. His words are life and truth and health to those who find them. And therein lies the entire premise of the Word of the Day, that it is God’s Word which has power. His Word has healing in its wings.

So, I decided to send my brother my list of healing scriptures. Just as quickly as I had that thought, another one came to me. Instead of sending him the entire list at one time, maybe it would be better to send one scripture a day. At first, I was just going to send the verse citation but immediately realized I should type out the verse so he only had to read it. Then, just as quickly, the thought occurred to me that there were probably lots of other folks who needed healing for something. In fact, don’t we all have some issue in our bodies that needs God’s grace? So, I determined to send the list of healing verses, via email, to a small group of friends and family. Within moments I went from sending my brother my list of healing verses, one email with the entire list of citations, to sending one verse a day fully typed out to a whole list of people. That was a 43 day commitment. Now here I am 15 years later.

It was begun on June 16th, 2006. At the end of those 43 verses, the Word of the Day had gained momentum. “Now what?”, I mused. So, I picked another list of verses and kept going.

In those days, knowing that it was God’s Word that people needed to hear, I sent only the verse. I didn’t write anything. After a while, though, readers began to ask for explanation. At first, I did so sparingly, primarily giving background information. Finally, on June 24, 2008, on the 405th Word of the Day, I relented, and the Word of the Day evolved into its current format.

With that committment made, I had to learn to trust God at a whole new level. No longer was it simply a matter of finding a good verse. Frankly, that is pretty easy, and didn’t take a lot of faith. Having something to say five days a week, well, that was a whole new thing. I needed revelation every day. I know pastors who struggle to find Sunday’s sermon. All of a sudden, I needed five sermons a week. Was my faith and trust up to this challenge? I had to learn to relax and trust. I also learned that sometimes I had to stick my toe in the water, by which I mean, I had to put my fingers on the keyboard and begin. Then God would reveal Himself. It’s like Joshua 3: 14, sometimes you have to put your foot in the water before you see the move of God. That is a good lesson. When God gives you something to do, sometimes you just need to begin. He will steer you once you are moving.

Well, I still believe the most important part of this devotional is the Word. If you are in a hurry and don’t want to read the commentary, no worries, just read the verse. Read it several times. God’s Word has power. It created the universe and everything you see. So, meditate on what God said. You will never go wrong with that.  And that is why this devotional is called, the Word of the Day.

And by the way, this is devotional number 3391.  Wow, what God can do!