The Way of Death

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12

Logic. It’s one of our worst enemies—at least it’s one of mine. I’ve always been a person who needs to understand things. It helped me in school and produced straight A’s on my report cards, but it often works against me when I need to trust. My analytical mind sets to work and robs me of peace.

Can you relate? Have you ever tossed and turned in the night working through all angles of a scenario, looking for that light bulb moment when it all becomes clear? Perhaps you think, “If I can just figure it out I can fix it, or at least I’ll be able to rest.”

That might be true in the world, but that doesn’t apply to God’s agenda. Isaiah 55:9 explains why.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God’s thoughts and ways are beyond our ability to understand. If we spend our time trying to, we’ll end up frustrated. There’s only so high our thoughts can ascend. Once we reach that plateau, we’re left with trusting the unseen as our only recourse, and most of us aren’t very comfortable there. We don’t like that dark area where we can’t understand or make sense of our circumstances. Logic tells us things shouldn’t be happening this way, so we find ourselves robbed of peace.

Curiously, we pursue logic in search of that elusive peace, but we won’t find it there. Consider our opening Scripture,

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

Death, not peace, lies at the end of the road traveled by logic. In God’s economy, it’s our enemy, not our friend.

So what do we do? We allow God to renew our minds. Praise Jesus that through salvation, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Dear one, peace comes when we learn to release what we don’t understand, and trust what we know of God. What do we know of Him?

  •   He’s good. “may your saints rejoice in your goodness.” 2 Chronicles 6:41
  •   He’s loving. “He is my loving God and my fortress.”  Psalm 144:2
  •   He’s for us. I know the plans I have for you . . . to prosper you.” Jeremiah 29:11

Here’s the best part.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”1 Corinthians 2:9

If you can think it, you’re limiting what God wants to do for you.

Ask God to let that settle on you . . . Give it a moment to sink in. The best plan that you could come up with for yourself—your best case scenario— is less than what God desires to do for you.

Beloved, if God gave you the desire of your heart in the way you think He should do it, He would be robbing you of a blessing.

Your God loves you too much to allow you to settle for less than. He wants to give you everything He’s planned for you.

So the next time you find yourself stumbling in the darkness, try practicing gratitude. Know that the blackness you see is merely the result of your limited ability to understand, but there is something waiting for you just beyond the horizon. Something you can’t yet see. Something wonderful. Something perfect for you.

Don’t let logic rob you of your blessing, dear one. Choose to trust God for His very best. When He finally leads you to it, you will likely surrender to worship, because it has blown your mind.

But of course it has. It was designed for you by the One who made you. He alone knows what you really need.

More Than a Story

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord . . .  Judges 2:10-11

I grew up hearing Bible stories. My Sunday school teachers would thrill me with tales of David’s bravery as he faced a giant with only a sling and a stone, or three heroes’ miraculous walk through a fiery furnace. I even had a series of storybooks highlighting biblical adventures, and I loved to read about Daniel and the lions or Joseph and his colorful coat.

As a child, I loved the stories. But as I grew, I began to wonder if that was all they were.

Do you ever wrestle with believing the truth of God’s Word? Do your children know that Jesus is more than a fairytale?

Several years ago I was preparing dinner when my son burst through the door in tears. My eldest reported in anger that his younger brother had just pelted him in the head with a rock.

I guess frustration over consistently feeling inferior had finally taken its toll.

I called him into the house and sent him to his room to consider what had just happened while I finished my task. Then I climbed the stairs to find him on his bed, a tearful mixture of defiance and regret.

He told me he had just been so angry, he picked up the rock and threw it at his brother in a rage. He knew it was wrong, but he just couldn't help it. And he was sorry.

I could see his remorse and I told him I had forgiven him. Then I advised him to ask his brother's forgiveness as well as the Lord's. He took my hands and prayed with me on that bed. I'll never forget what he said.

You see, I expected him to simply bow his head and ask God to forgive him for hurting his brother by throwing the rock. Instead he confessed that he had a problem with anger and asked God to help him with it. His next words caught in my throat and stung my eyes with tears.

"I believe that you can help me with it because my dad had a problem with anger and he prayed to You to help him and You did, so I believe You can help me too."

My 8-year-old son had faith in a redeeming God because he had witnessed firsthand the power of His redemption. He had seen God temper a short fuse that could explode into harsh words, transforming it to increasing patience and gentle replies. He had felt the love of God flowing through to him in the form of a changed father. He had experienced firsthand the transforming power of resurrection life.

So he believed.

And that faith moved him to take action to trust God with the sin in his own heart.

Do people see that Jesus is real through your life, dear one? Do you allow Him to reveal His glorious power in you?

Jesus is more than a story. He is the King of Kings seated at the right hand of God who has taken authority over all sin through the cross. He is the Lord who raises the dead, who transforms, renews and restores.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Corinthians 4:20

Isn’t it time we experienced that power instead of just reading about it? You and I can’t continue to stand in faith on yesterday’s stories. We need fresh works of God to reveal His presence today. A life that doesn’t experience God firsthand will struggle with believing He’s there at all.

The fate of the Israelite children bares witness to that. When Joshua finally led Israel into the Promised Land to claim their inheritance,

The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.  Judges 2:7

These were the children of the generation God led out of Egypt who had witnessed the mighty miracles of God’s deliverance. They held on in faith to what they had seen, and they remained faithful to the Lord. But they didn’t believe God for fresh works in their midst, so their faith didn’t pass to their own children. They may have shared stories of God’s miraculous provision in the past, but with no fresh work revealing God to them in the present, that’s just what they became. Stories. And,

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.  Judges 2:10

Within one generation of entering the Promised Land, an entire generation of Israelites grew up that didn’t know the Lord. So they wandered from Him into the idolatry of the culture around them.

Oh, how I pray we would break the cycle of unbelief in our generation! Let’s become the generation that returns to the Lord full of faith and experiences the outpouring of His glory.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  John 11:40

The power of sin is broken. I think it’s time we see Jesus raise the dead.

You Will See Me

“Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” John 14:19

Do you see Jesus, beloved? According to Jesus’ own words, you ought to. That’s one of the rights and privileges of being His disciple. While the world cannot see Him, His followers can.

Perhaps that statement has raised your eyebrows in disbelief. After all, seeing Jesus was a blessing reserved for those who lived in His day, right? How can you and I see Jesus?

Yet before He left them, Jesus told His Disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.” John 14:18-19

Dear one, followers of Jesus aren’t just supposed to hear about Him at church. We’re supposed to see Him at work.

I’ll admit that for many years I didn’t see Jesus. I went to church. I had memorized Scripture. I had followed someone through the recital of the “sinner’s prayer” and asked Jesus to be my Savior. But I couldn’t see any evidence of Jesus at work in my life, and that left me floundering in my Christianity, doubting my salvation, and wondering if He was even real.

Can you relate? Do you see Jesus at work in and around you? Or are you left trusting that Jesus exists only because you’ve heard stories of how others have experienced Him? Are you secretly longing to have your own story to share?

You, dear one, are meant to witness Jesus revealed in your life. That blessing is available to you by the power of the Holy Spirit. Consider Jesus’ words from Luke 4:18.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.”

Jesus came to set the oppressed free and restore sight to the blind. He didn’t claim that promise merely for those suffering the limitations of physical blindness. Jesus speaks that promise to you and me. The gift of the Spirit He sent us after His death and resurrection restores our spiritual sight.

So how can you experience the revelation of Jesus in your life? Let’s see what Jesus had to say about it.

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21

Did you see His promise, dear one? Jesus claims He will love and reveal Himself to a very distinct group. He will show Himself to those who love Him.

Seeing Jesus isn’t about how often we go to church or how much Scripture we know. Seeing Jesus at work relates directly to the condition of our hearts.

Do you want to see Jesus reveal Himself? He asks one thing: offer Him your heart. Fully. Completely. Unashamedly. Jesus simply requires that you love Him.

That was the part I missed all those years. All the rituals of religion couldn’t open my eyes to see what I desperately needed. I had to open my heart to Him. I had to love Him. And I had to demonstrate that love by walking in obedience to His commands. I had to be willing to follow where He was leading me. 

Here’s the great news. Ezekiel 36:26-27 teaches,

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

The ability to love and obey Jesus has been given to you by the Spirit Jesus sent. You need only ask Him to empower you to love Jesus as He deserves. The Spirit within you will “circumcise your heart” to love Him (Deuteronomy 30:6). And as you draw on His strength and submit to His authority, He will “move you to follow” His commands. As you follow Jesus through loving obedience, you will see Him revealed in your life.

Don’t settle for someone else’s experience of Jesus, beloved. He longs to give you your own.


The Son Rises

 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. 
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, 
but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

Isaiah 60:1-2

Have you ever had the joy of watching the sunrise? Of witnessing light splitting the darkness on the horizon?

I’ll admit that until recently, I’ve never been much of a morning person. Opening my eyes to welcome the day while darkness still blankets the earth never offered much appeal to me. I’d much rather wait until the sun is shining. To me, rising to the bright radiance of its warmth seems much more inviting.

But on a few occasions when I have allowed the Lord to draw me out of bed before the sun made its entrance, a spectacular sight greeted me. My willingness to rise in answer to the Lord’s invitation made me privy to a special blessing: I witnessed the waking of the earth.

Have you had the privilege, dear one? Have you observed the glorious transition from night to day as the sun draws back the heavy curtain of darkness? It’s wondrous to see. Anticipation stirs the heart, kindled by the sight of a hazy glow forming on the horizon to announce the sun’s ascent. Then light slowly penetrates the blackness, illuminating the earth with shades of yellow, orange and gold. After washing creation in a glorious array of color, the sun takes its place in the sky.

Beloved, we miss the glory of the sunrise when we refuse to awaken while the sky remains dark.

And yet, that’s what most of us choose. We’d much rather pull up the covers and settle back into sleep, waiting out the cold blackness that lingers before the dawn. We decide that we’ll rise from our slumber when it’s a bit more comfortable and inviting out there.

We take that same approach when Jesus calls us to rise in His name. The evil we see penetrating the earth makes us want to burrow under the covers and sleep through it. We reason that we’ll get up and stand for Jesus when circumstances are a bit more agreeable. Yes, we’ll wait for His light to rise and shine brightly, and then we’ll emerge from our slumber to bask in its warm glow.

There’s one problem with that line of thinking.

“You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14 

If you and I do not shine the light, dear one, how will it ever dispel the darkness? As followers of Jesus, our calling is clear.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8

Christ’s glory rises, dear one. The hazy glow forms even now on the horizon. Can you sense it? For that glow to pierce the darkness and fully illuminate the sky, you must do your part. Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

It’s time to awaken from our slumber. Sure, we can remain in our cozy beds and wait for someone else to step up. We can let someone else experience the heavenly glory of the “Son rise” as it unfolds and continue on with sleeping. But we will miss the blessing of witnessing His revelation, and our complacency will only prolong His coming.

“What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” 2 Peter 3:11-12

Let’s answer Jesus’ call to shine His light and usher in a new day. He’s poised and ready to reveal His glory. Will you allow Him to do it through you? 

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. 
Put on your garments of splendor . . .
Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. 
Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion.

Isaiah 52:1-2


A Gift of Grace

Today’s Word on Wednesday comes from my dear friend and partner in ministry, Juliet Sharrow. You may have read some of her testimony in recent months about God’s pursuing love. Now she shares how His gift of grace empowered her to finally respond to Him. After reading her words, you may be blessed to know she just had the privilege of watching this beloved son walk the stage to receive his high school diploma. Whatever you may be going through, know this, dear one. There is ALWAYS hope in Jesus.

A Gift of Grace by Juliet Sharrow

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

I had spent my life running from God. Desperate for love and caught in an abusive relationship, I made one destructive choice after another. Then God did something I didn’t expect. He chose to bless me with a child.

I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant.  I would love my child in all the ways I hadn’t been loved.  I would somehow make it all right.

Then I got the worst news an expectant mother could hear.  The doctor called to tell me that something was wrong with my unborn child.  The routine blood tests they had done showed that my child would have Down’s Syndrome and possibly Spina Bifida as well.  I felt like my world came crashing down.  Then the doctor said something I could scarcely believe.  They were recommending that I have an abortion.

I sunk down on my knees, horrified at what I was hearing!  How could this be? My baby was alive; I could hear the heartbeat and I could feel the kicking.  How could I destroy this precious gift I’d been given?  I did not understand what I was getting into, but I knew one thing: I couldn’t end this child’s life.  He was my hope! I told the doctor in no uncertain terms that I would never choose that for me or my child.

The next several weeks were a blur as medical personnel escorted me into private rooms to watch videos about children with these conditions, “so I would know what I was getting myself into.”  I met with doctors who tried to explain that a woman in my situation— unmarried and with no support network—could certainly not handle a child with issues of this magnitude.  They assured me I did not understand how impossible things would be. But I never wavered.  Somehow I knew that God had blessed me with this child, and I would have this baby no matter what they said.

So a month after I heard the devastating news, I underwent a sonogram to see if the doctor could see the abnormalities that are usually present with these conditions.  What happened next can only be described as a miracle.  There were NO abnormalities.  The baby was perfect in every way!

The doctor insisted there must be some mistake.  And so she checked and rechecked, and decided that the baby was too small for me to be as far along as they originally thought.  Her new measurements said I was one month behind where I should have been and so they changed my due date to one month later.  They retook the blood tests and assured me that everything had come back normal this time!  I cried as I left the doctor’s office that day.

I know now the enemy had tried to convince me to give up on my child, to destroy his precious life.  But somehow God had given me the strength to hold on. Just like He promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13,

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I believe that Satan tempted me with an easy way out.  My life was not good at the time, and bringing a child into that world was what some would call crazy!  But, I know that God provided a way out for me.  He helped me to stand up under it.  He filled me with love for my unborn child. He gave me strength to endure, and His peace soothed my soul.

A few months later my son was born. The doctors said he was 4 weeks premature.  It was 4 days after the original due date they had given me.  And he was perfect, not premature in any way, a healthy 6lb 4oz baby boy!  He was my gift from God.

Psalm 127:3 says, “See children are a gift from the Lord.  The children born to us are our special reward.” (NLV)

At that time in my life I did not deserve any special reward.  I had run from God and turned my back on Him more times than I could count!  But God in His infinite wisdom knew that what I needed was grace.  He gave me this gift instead of what I deserved.

I needed that child because I was in a pit. A pit of self-loathing and self-despair, a pit of oppression.  I was so low I could not find a way out. In fact, I did not WANT out.  I felt like I deserved everything that was happening to me.  God knew what I needed to give me the strength to get out of that pit.  I needed someone else to live for, someone else to love.  I did not love myself enough, but He knew I would love my child enough to claw my way out of that pit.  That through the love of my child, I would finally turn to Him, finally seek Him instead of running from Him. I learned that when I resist temptation and do what I know is right, God will provide the strength I need to endure.  And I would learn the greatest lesson of my life: that God’s grace isn’t based on what I’ve done. It’s about God giving me what He knows I need, even when I don’t deserve it.