…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth… Philippians 2:10 (NIV)

I saw the Conquerors riding by
With cruel lips and faces wan:
Musing on kingdoms sacked and burned
There rode the Mongol Ghengis Khan;

And Alexander, like a god,
Who sought to weld the world in one;
And Caesar with his laurel wreath;
And like a thing from Hell the Hun;

And, leading like a star the van,
Heedless of upstretched arm and groan,
Inscrutable Napoleon went
Dreaming of empire, and alone. . . .

Then all they perished from the earth
As fleeting shadows from a glass,
And, conquering down the centuries,
Came Christ, the Swordless, on an ass!*

Father, amid all the chaos and atrocities abounding throughout our lawless world, Jesus remains Victor and has already won earth’s battles. Help us to remember to whose Kingdom we belong and live glorifying him even as we await his final coronation. In Jesus’ name. AMEN 

*by Harry Kemp


O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. II Chronicles 20:6 (KJV)

This week we have celebrated All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. In light of that our Scripture reading for Sunday was about Jesus and Lazarus from John 11. The CliffsNotes version of the story goes like this.

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are dear friends, beloved of Jesus. He stops at their house from time to time for a visit and a meal. The narrative opens with Lazarus’ illness and his sisters’ message to Jesus to come quick. By the time the messenger reaches Jesus, Lazarus is probably already dead, and Jesus waits another two long days to go to his friends. He even tells his disciples that Lazarus is dead, and he is glad because this will be an opportunity for their faith to increase.

When Jesus arrives at the village of Bethany, Martha comes out to greet him with the admonition, “If you’d been here, Lazarus wouldn’t have died.” Then she adds a profound statement of faith. “But I know that God will do whatever you ask.” Jesus proclaims one of his I AM statements, saying, “I AM the resurrection and the life. If you believe in me, you will see the glory of God.” Martha reaffirms her faith.

Then Mary joins Jesus and Martha, and the entourage of grieving Jews follows her. Mary also tells Jesus that if he’d been there, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Jesus doesn’t respond but asks instead where Lazarus is laid. At the grave site, Jesus cries because of the unbelief around him, because of his anger at death, because of the sadness of his friends who are responding as pagans rather than believers, and, perhaps, because he has to bring Lazarus back.

Practical Martha warns Jesus that Lazarus already stinks because he’s been dead four days. (Jews didn’t consider anyone officially dead until three days had passed.) Instead of silently joining the mourners, Jesus prays and then shouts, “Lazarus, come out.” (He had to say Lazarus’ name so that only he would be raised from the dead.) Lazarus came out of the tomb, and Jesus commanded that he be loosed from his grave clothes. What a sight that must have been.

John tells us at the end of the chapter that from that day, the priests and temple rulers sought to put Jesus to death…

Now look at these gems from this story:

• Jesus’ timing was perfect. Mary and Martha expected him to appear immediately, but his delay caused a greater manifestation of God’s glory.
• Mary and Martha and Lazarus wanted a healing—they got a resurrection.
• The delay was proof that Lazarus was really dead, and only divine intervention would save him. Indeed, the Son of God, the incarnated Jesus, the I AM, brought Lazarus to life.
• Jesus was angry at death, our last enemy, but knew that his divine commission would soon be accomplished, and that he would conquer death, hell, and the grave.
• The priests and Jewish rulers began planning from the day of Lazarus’ resurrection to put Jesus to death. Instead of taking him down, they played right into Jesus’ hands to fulfill God’s promise of salvation from the beginning of creation (Genesis 3).
• GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL, and all things serve his purpose. He can always be fully trusted even when we don’t understand.

Dearest Father, we thank you that your Son Jesus is Lord of all and that nothing is outside your control. Remind us that you always answer our prayers according to your will, your way, and in your time. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17 (KJV)
We were en route to the Alamo this past summer reviewing the events surrounding the fateful battle that is part of our Texas lore. Suddenly, my five-year-old granddaughter Caroline made a dramatic plea to her seven-year-old brother, “William, I don’t want you to go into the Army and be killed.” “Can’t you just be a doctor?” Caroline begged. “All right,” William consented, “I’ll be a Marine.”

That made me think of how we Christians mistake our calling. We forget that we are part of a mighty army whose battle is not against flesh and blood (people) but against powers and principalities, against spiritual wickedness in high places (supernatural powers) (Ephesians 6:12). And there’s no way we will escape the fight – even if we join the Marines. When we mistakenly identify people as the source of our difficulties, we overlook the real enemy that strategically uses and manipulates people to do his bidding.

But we’re not to be distressed or fearful. We have everything we need for the battle: a full set of armor (the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, truth for a belt, shoes of peace, a shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit – Ephesians 6:14-17), empowerment by the Spirit, more fighting with us than with our enemy (II Kings 6:16), and a promise of victory (II Corinthians 2:14). And, of course, we know what happens at the end of the Book.

The battle is the Lord’s (II Chronicles 20:15). Let us daily go out fully equipped to overcome whatever foe that threatens to destroy our peace, our joy, our relationships, or our confidence in him and his promises. We are mighty through Christ Jesus to pull down strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4) and anything that would defeat us. Let us go forth and conquer in his name.

Heavenly Father, strengthen me and my faith to defeat those small and large things that every day attempt to rob and harm me. Remind me that you have already won the battle. All I need to do is access your victory for your glory. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NIV)

Reggie was a beautiful little four-year-old – curly blonde hair and vibrant blue eyes—a real charmer. Happily, by the time he got to my class, I had a few years of teaching under my belt and was certified to work with “special” children.

In our first parent conference, Reggie’s caring parents asked if I’d be willing to work with the three psychologists who were overseeing Reggie’s developmental and behavioral issues. Of course, I wanted to do what I could to get this little guy on the right track.

At first, it was really easy. With small classes, my aide and I could keep an eye on Reggie, make notations on his chart every five minutes, and encourage him to participate appropriately. For a few weeks and with our guidance, he was a model student.

Then one day it happened. I was teaching, when suddenly Reggie exploded, shot out of his chair, and began jumping on tables and overturning empty chairs. I looked at my aide, and she immediately ushered the other students from the room while I softly talked to Reggie in an attempt to quiet him. Eventually, Reggie calmed down, and I was able to pull him onto my lap to talk.

“Reggie,” I said, “you’ve had so many good days. You’ve been doing so well. What happened?”

Without hesitation, Reggie responded, penitently, “Teacher, I ran out of nice.” Immediately, I understood.

The team and Reggie and I worked well together, and by year’s end there were no more outbursts, and he went on to become a lovely young man. But before then, he had other days when he “ran out of nice.”

I’ve done that. I’ve expended all my efforts trying to do what I knew I should (sometimes like Paul’s quandary in Romans 7) and failed. I’ve run out of nice. And then I remember that there really isn’t any good thing in my flawed humanity but only what Christ produces in and through me. So I have to make a U-turn and get back to the Source, the Source of nice, of goodness, of perfect love. And that Source never runs out.

Father, help me to stay focused on you and to live in you so that what comes out of me is your love, your kindness, your beauty. Remind me that I can do nothing without you, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath…” Deuteronomy 28:13 (KJV)

A friend asked someone, “How are you doing?” to which she responded, “Fine, under the circumstances.” At that point my friend said, “A Christian has no business being under the circumstances. In Christ we live above the circumstances.”

Often we can’t change our circumstances or our schedules or our budgets or the people in our lives, but we can allow ourselves to be changed so that in everything we live at peace and become more than conquerors. When Joseph was taken into slavery, for a long time it appeared that he was beneath, the tail. But you can’t keep a good man down. Joseph was a “goodly person,” excelled in his work, and kept his ear opened to God.

Even when falsely accused and forgotten, Joseph stayed above the circumstances. From a young, naïve, boastful boy, Joseph allowed God to use the circumstances to make him into a trusted employee, an honorable man, a wise manager, and an interpreter of dreams. Who would’ve thought? In God’s time and with his molding, Joseph was given a position that his spirit already occupied.

Naturally, Joseph’s brothers were frightened when they discovered him alive in Egypt. Not only was Joseph alive, but he was Pharaoh’s right-hand man. How they must have feared retribution when their father died, but all along Joseph understood that the circumstances had been God’s unique opportunity to raise him from the tail to the head for his purpose and greater glory.

Father, help us to grow up so that we begin to discern our circumstances as opportunities for you to do marvelous things. Help us to get over whining and complaining so that we become instruments of your glorious working, fully engaged with the process. AMEN.


You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen… Matthew 24:6 (NIV)

Have you ever thought of taking a holiday from the news? I mean, if you want a real downer, just turn on any of the news networks or read the online newspapers. Is there ever any good news to report? And before you know it, you’re talking with colleagues about the latest terrorist incident or killing or vitriol among the presidential candidates. And you get caught up in the angst and find yourself being sucked into the negative atmosphere of our times. Sound familiar?

That is not what Jesus told us to do. He was up front about what we could expect – wars and rumors of wars and any number of awful things. And then he follows that up in the same breath with, “See to it that you are not alarmed.” Who is not to be alarmed? That’s US, his children. Why? Because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and we are always victorious (II Corinthians 2:14). When the world is going up in flames around us, we have his peace, and we have HIM.

What’s another name for the Gospel? GOOD NEWS. Instead of reeling under the latest horrific broadcast, let us be LIGHT in this dark place. Let us be JOY in the middle of sorrow. Let us be HOPE as people grasp for answers. That is precisely why we were called to the Kingdom for such a time as this. ONWARD.

Father, this is such a great time to be a Christian. Help our lights to shine so brightly that they can be seen in the midst of the darkest of nights. Love and hope through us, your children. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


Did you hear the comments of any of the family members of those who died in Charleston? They were given the opportunity of speaking to the accused shooter at the bond hearing, and without exception, they said, “I forgive you.” One even went so far as to encourage the young defendant to turn to Jesus Christ and accept his forgiveness and salvation.

These were real people under real stress dealing with real loss. And when it was their turn to speak, they responded. They didn’t react. Their lives spoke volumes through the few words that each had to say. I forgive you. The same words they had heard Jesus say to them.

You know the analogy of the tea bag and the tea cup? You never know what’s inside until immersed in hot water. These Charlestonians, these Christians, showed us all—not just the accused—what was inside, and it was all Jesus. They were quoting Jesus and responding to what he had done for them.

They knew that to whom much is given, of him shall much be required. Can we, will we pass that test?

Father, wrap your arms of love around those precious people who’ve showed us your love and forgiveness. Comfort them and use their strong witness to grieving hearts around the world. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

The Scripture often uses hyperbole to make a point. I believe that’s the case when we look at the story of David and the giant Goliath.

When we read the story in I Samuel, we see that David has come to the battlefield to check on his brothers, not to engage in a fight. But he hears Goliath’s challenge and is astonished—not at the giant’s words but that no one has taken up the gauntlet.

David hasn’t prepared for a conflict; but God has prepared him through his many experiences in everyday life. David may be the youngest male on the field; but with God, age doesn’t matter. David has no weapons; but God has weapons already in place. David seems to be going forward against overwhelming odds; but with God he has the victory.

Essentially, everything is against David. But God…

Without looking at the obvious, David trusts the One who has been with him in previous trials. He uses familiar weapons that he’s proven in the past. He goes out trusting in the name of the LORD Almighty, and the enemy is defeated.

No giant is too big for God. He is the one who fights for us and through us, and he is glorified in victory. The bigger the battle, the greater the triumph.

Father, open our eyes to see that it is not us but you who can defeat every spiritual enemy in our paths. You are glorified when we acknowledge and surrender our weakness to you, realizing that only in you do we conquer. Thank you.