Ephesians 1: 7        NIV

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Yesterday we observed a bit of what God’s grace does for us. Today’s verse adds another dimension. The grace of God provides for our redemption, restoration and the forgiveness of sins.

Sometimes I am awed at the amazing end play God pulled off to restore humanity. It is an amazing story and the devil played right into God’s hands. Then again, he was predictable, and God took advantage of the situation to install Jesus as the unblemished lamb who became king. This miracle of planning and execution brought humanity into an enviable position and now we walk as heirs to a mighty empire.

This thing about forgiveness is interesting though. I have met people who cannot receive forgiveness. It is truly sad that they would let the blood of Jesus, which was spilled for them, have no effect in their lives. The converse is true too. There are some who take the blood and forgiveness for granted. Most of us understand the blood of forgiveness which God’s grace and love caused to be shed and we are grateful. However, I wonder if the more we understand the forgiving power that was in that blood the more we are likely to take it for granted. Sometimes the biggest sinners are the most grateful because they feel their salvation and redemption as if it is close at hand. Others, perhaps, are not as keenly aware of the heat of hell that was burning for them.

The plan of God to restore us was intricate. However, receiving forgiveness, now, on this side of the cross, is actually easy. “Father, please forgive me.” In fact, we actually already have forgiveness. Our sins have already been forgiven. We don’t have to show up at the temple and offer the blood of animals to cover over our sin. It has been done in Jesus. Now, I know you already know this but here is my question, does this simplicity ever make it less frightening for us to sin? We know we have forgiveness so do we ever get complacent? Do we think we can sin now and pray later, and everything will be alright? Do we use our forgiveness as an excuse to be lazy about sin? What is the harm in a little sin behavior right now when we know we can ask for forgiveness later?

I like to think none of us does this consciously, but I do wonder if the benevolence and magnitude of God’s grace ever makes us a little sloppy. Some people have actually used the grace message to develop a doctrine around loose behavior. It’s crazy and I am not talking about those people. They are just being stupid, and they know better. I am more interested in us, regular, everyday Christians. Have we become desensitized to the point that we are no longer concerned about offending God? It is just a question I have been pondering and thought you might ponder with me. I would love to hear your thoughts. Click on the link below and share. Thanks.

Tired and Weary

Proverb 30: 1 – 3

God, I’m so weary and worn out, I feel more like a beast than a man. I was made in your image, but I lack understanding. I’ve yet to learn the wisdom that comes from the full and intimate knowledge of you, the Holy One.

Some of you can relate to this passage. It reminds me of the song Peace in the Valley. Sometimes the weariness feels like it goes right down to your bones. This is a picture of someone who is over-stressed and tired. Any small thing becomes too much. What would you advise for someone in this situation?

Believe it or not, sleep may not be the answer. Yes, sometimes our bodies need rest and it is important to get that rest and allow your body to renew. What I hear in this passage, though, is emotional and mental fatigue. The author has come to the end of himself and needs more of what God offers his life. Too much sleep, in fact, could lead to depression so, in this case, the author needs proactive remedies.

The scriptures offer rejuvenation. Reading the Psalms can be particularly revitalizing and comforting. Any book or passage which stimulates your relationship with God is good though. Jesus is found in every book of the Bible which I hope I proved in my book,  Journey Through the Bible. I also recommend Isaiah when you feel worn out and beaten up.

Read slowly and absorb. Stop and consider what might have motivated the author. What was he feeling when he wrote the passage? What synonyms could you use in the passage and what do those synonyms offer? If a passage has struck you, stop and read it in several versions. Let those other versions add color and fulness. As you read and absorb it is natural to meditate on what you are reading. As you ponder the scriptures, it is also the most natural thing in the world to begin to pray.

Prayer is a remedy all to itself. We think of prayer as a request for God to do something for us and that is not wrong, but it is only one type of prayer. Prayer, at its base, is conversation with God. When you are worn out and frazzled, prayer is a soothing balm. Nothing, in fact, is more soothing that God’s reassurances and gentle touch.

Take time for restoration. It is the new year and that means that you probably need some recovery time. It is also a good time for us to adopt some healthy habits, like meditation and prayer for example. Be restored and blessed.


Psalm 126: 1 – 2

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, it was as if we were dreaming. Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful songs. Then the nations said, “The Lord has done spectacular things for them.”

I claim this passage on behalf of our generation. We have been challenged. We have a global pandemic which has claimed many lives and upended our lives for most of the year. The weather has been tumultuous, and that is probably an understatement. There have been tornadoes, floods, typhoons, hurricanes, fires, mudslides, earthquakes, unseasonable temperatures and all of these in unprecedented numbers and unusual places. If there is anything you can say about 2020 is that it has been unprecedented. Things have been so unpredictable that they are almost becoming predictable. What would be unusual? That is probably what is going to happen. Record fall warmth and snow before Thanksgiving. Yep! You are getting both, and in the same region. It’s nuts.  And that isn’t all, but it is enough.

People are stressed out, no doubt! But here’s the thing, whether you are in the Philippines getting thrashed by typhoons, being swarmed by locusts in Africa, shaken by earthquakes in Turkey and Greece or dealing with record numbers of Covid cases, God is good and He has not abandoned us. We will be as these ancient song smiths who proclaim the year of Jubilee, the restoration of God’s people.

We should have the biggest New Year’s celebration ever, though virtually rather than congregating in large numbers. Still, it is a time to rejoice. Never have we been so happy to say good-bye to a year like this year. In the good-bye to 2020 we embrace our restoration and God’s good graces, “filled with laughter and our tongues with joyful songs.” Start thinking about God’s deliverance. Start anticipating it and thinking of how it will feel. Celebrate the Lord and His goodness. We will say and others will say of us, “The Lord has done spectacular things for them.”

Heal and Restore

2 Chronicles 7:14

And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Two different people have sent me this scripture lately. They, like you, wish to see the healing of a nation. This devotional goes out around the world so let’s recognize that we are in different places and having different experiences. Even within a country, the experience can be quite diverse. Still, nations around the world have need of healing.

The keys for national healing are the exact reflection of what we need on a personal level for healing. Let us look at these three important elements to national and personal healing. First, most people will easily see the sin component in this verse. As a nation or as an individual who desires healing, we need to confess our sin. You cannot be healthy knowing you are carrying around sin. It will damage your emotions, relationships and ultimately find expression in your body. So, release your conscience of sin by humbling yourself before the Lord and turning from any form of sin for sin is a cruel task master. Be free of any sin because it is a toxin, then allow the healing to take place.

The part that jumped out at me from this verse is that God challenges us to seek His face. I think it is easy to get caught up in the sin component and overlook the next two pieces, i.e. seeking and praying. God did not say He would heal our land nor heal us without involvement on our part. He calls us into a deeper engagement with Him. “Seek My face,” it is a necessary part of healing individually as well as on a national level.  When God’s people seek HIs face and engage with Him, good things happen.

Lastly, of course, is prayer. Well, how do you seek the Lord’s face and not involve yourself in prayer but . . . I do not think God is talking about petition prayer. What is that you ask? It is my moniker for those prayers which are about what we want Him to do for us: Father, heal me, bless me, pay my bills, care for my children, etc. Those are all good prayers but not what God is talking about here. The kind of prayer referred to in this passage is that which is involved in seeking God’s face. It is about getting quiet and contemplative and looking for Him in your heart, listening to Him speaking out of your own spirit. This is what we do too little of, myself included. If a nation, a family or a person will seek God’s face with heart engagement, then He can move in our realm and bring healing and deliverance.

Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually,” Psalm 105: 4

Streams of Water

Jeremiah 31: 9

I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I am a father to Israel.

I say it often but for those who are new to the Word of the Day, fill in your name in place of Israel. I actually take a pencil and line through Israel in my Bible and fill in Ivey. You can too.

I have this passage outlined in my Bible. I really was not going to send another verse out of Jeremiah today, but I just couldn’t help it. I can’t get away from this one. The reason why it is sticking with me so strongly is because of the loving nature of this entire passage. Of course, the first phrase puts me in remembrance of Psalm 23, “He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul,” (v. 2-3). We learn why he leads us by streams of waters. It is to restore us. He also leads us on paths that are straight and level so that we will not trip and fall. What so you think of that?

The God of the Old Testament gets a bad rap. He is often accused of being wrathful and angry. And, to be honest, there are some passages that make you hold your breath. He was sorely tested but that fact that there is humanity remaining on the planet is proof that he is not a vengeful, hateful God. While humans were stumbling around making idols of wood, metal and clay, He was planning how and when He would send His son to earth to sacrifice himself so that we could come into unhindered fellowship with God. How is that for an angry God? You see, just because you get angry does not mean you have to act on it. “Be angry, and yet do not sin,” (Ephesians 4: 26).

God identifies Himself as a Father. That is His mental self-image. We could ask ourselves what image of the Father we hold in our hearts. Do we see an angry deity who, at the drop of a hat, can fly into a rage? Or, do we see a tender parent, loving and kind? Did you know that the image you hold onto of God is what you will allow to manifest in your life? If all you want from God is punishment, then you will find verses that support your abasement. However, if you will allow God to be who He truly is, you will overflow with love because love is His ultimate manifestation.

Perhaps today you can allow Him to lead you by streams of water where you will find refreshing and restoration. Today is a good day to allow Him to straighten your road. Enjoy the kindness of the Father.

The Way

Ephesians 3: 11 – 12

This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.

It is almost unfortunate that we call ourselves Christians and our faith Christianity. While we owe everything to our beloved Christ, sometimes we miss the prize of his faith. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14: 6). What did he mean by “the way” and why would he mention it before revealing himself as the truth and the life. Those are two rather large concepts to follow behind, “the way.” This is what I believe we sometimes lose in our Christianity, the truth behind this statement.

Yahweh God did a mighty restoration through Jesus. He restored us to Himself. This is the main work of the Christ. We were lost. We had no connection with the Father until Jesus came and made a bridge, actually, he became the bridge. We were separated from God. Now, through faith in Jesus and his work, we are made children of the King.

I have heard many Christians confess that they love Jesus, but do not know the Father. I was there myself. I had no relationship with the Father. I called myself a Christian which seems fair because I loved Christ, but it was God who sent Jesus into the world. He did that so that His family would be restored to Him. Jesus said that no one goes to the Father but through Him. That is what he meant by saying he is the way. He is the way back to the Father. Fellowship with the Father was the goal and Jesus became our way. Now, through our faith in Jesus’ completed work, we can have bold and confident access to the Father any time. This is the purpose of our faith and Jesus’ sojourn in the earth. It was about this reconciliation. Because of what God and Jesus did, we have access to God’s presence anytime.

At the end of the day, Christianity really isn’t about Christ. It is about the family of God being reunited. Of course Jesus’ role is vitally important but we need to keep our eyes on why God sent him in the first place. We were estranged from our Father and Dad wanted us back in the family.

It is imperative that now we seek audience with God. We seek His face and His presence. We seek Him and fellowship with Him until we know Him as Father, Dad, Papa. He should be as real to you as your earthly parents, if not more so. I encourage you to get to know your Father. Walk hand in hand with Jesus along the beach to where you see Father seated on the sand. Pull up a towel and bask in His radiance. He is real. He is love and he loves you. He wants to be a Father to you. Be His child.

End the Suffering

1 Peter 5: 10         GW

God, who shows you his kindness and who has called you through Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, strengthen you, make you strong, and support you as you suffer for a little while.

This verse is so easy to get wrong. Some translations leave you thinking that God is going to let you suffer for a while and then He is going to come to your aid. Not so. Let’s put this verse on its proper footing today.

Sometimes, though we don’t like it, sometimes you just have to go through. Not all unpleasantness is avoidable. It makes me think of daily workouts. Frankly, they are not all comfortable. Some are downright painful, but we go “through” the workouts in order to achieve the results we want. Some days I am tired before I go and I don’t want to go but I do and afterwards, I feel great and I am proud of myself but there is no way to get to that good feeling without going through. Life is like that. The key, in those times, is to start praying for Dad’s help immediately. Don’t even try to do whatever it is in your own strength. Call on the Father and lean on His great strength.

The key words to today’s verse are “who shows you his kindness.” If we first grasp that God is good, loving and kind, then the entire Bible takes on new meaning. You will find much greater understanding of God’s actions when you begin from the premises that God is love and that His loving kindness is renewed every day. He is always available to make your journey easier. Even when there is something you must go through, He is with you to support, restore, and strengthen you. He will also make the suffering last a short time. You may have to suffer a little while but there should be the sound of good news in there that it is only a short while. Some people live years in perpetual suffering because they don’t know how to invite the Father into all their life’s circumstances.

Face it, somethings are a challenge but when you go through you feel good about yourself. God is with you, showering you with His strength and lovingkindness so that the duration of the challenge is short. He will be your strong right arm throughout if you will allow Him. Learn how to lean on Him and become proficient at reaching out to Him at the inception. Pray about your projects before you begin them. Get God on board in the beginning. He will make your path straight and smooth. He is with you always willing to assist. Don’t strike out alone. Don’t bear any burden on your own. Call on the name of the Lord and end the suffering.