Summertime and the living is easy.

Unless you’ve made your way to America’s southern border seeking asylum or citizenship and found yourself imprisoned and your children ripped from your arms.

For the last two months, this has been happening in alarming numbers at border crossings.

We as followers of Christ cannot stay silent in the face of this abuse.

Especially when people use God’s own Word to commit vile acts He would condemn.

God tells us to welcome children, to care for them, protect them and nurture them.  We are to do so in His name.

We find His instructions and admonitions to care for the weak and needy in our society throughout His Word.

We are to care for children – not rip them from their parents’ arms.  

Jesus very clearly tells us that we are to receive children in His name – but if we cause them to stumble, we are sinning against God and man and will be punished for such evil behavior.

“”And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:5-6)

You cannot claim to be for family values and then destroy families.

Some are saying that this may be an attempt to create bargaining power in border wall negotiations.

These are not pawns.  These are not bargaining tools.

These are human lives.

These are little boys and girls, far from home through no decision of their own.

Jesus died for these children.  He loves these children.  These are the children of God.

Watch this video at about 1:24 and see the little girl, overwhelmed with stage fright, crying on stage, afraid to sing.  See who comes to her aid with love and tenderness.

Who is coming to the aid of the children in these shelters across the southwestern United States?  Is anyone drying their tears, listening to them, comforting them, loving them through the most terrifying experience of their lives?

They are helpless, desperate, afraid and alone.

They must not be manipulated or used for political positioning.

Sociologists, pediatricians and psychologists have all said that these children may have been permanently damaged by the fear, anxiety and depression they are experiencing as a result of being separated from their parents at the border.  Here is an article with perspective and analysis from a pediatrician and the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The article also states that shelter workers aren’t allowed to hug, hold or even touch the children as they wail and cry for their parents.

Apparently the children sit on the floor crying with no comfort or relief.

This is untenable, it is unconscionable and it is inhumane.

Can you imagine your own child alone in a strange place without a single familiar face or voice, nobody to comfort or console them, unheld, unloved and undone.

This is intolerable and every single one of us knows that.

Some of us know it viscerally, intuitively and instinctively.

Others perhaps may need to be cajoled or challenged before they would admit that this is wrong and unacceptable.

It is sad to think someone can call this practice humane or acceptable — this practice of separating families and ripping children from their parents’ arms and leaving them without anyone to comfort, hug or hold them while the children cry and suffer, perhaps wondering if their parents have abandoned them and both parent and child questioning if they will ever see each other again – or that anyone could justify this behavior using God’s Word.

For churchgoers, think of your friendly nursery and preschool area.

Children are away from their parents for about an hour, more or less.  There are gentle rocking chairs for babies to be held and rocked, toys and games for playing on the floor, snacks of goldfish crackers or cheerios with little cups of water served at kid-friendly tables.  A Bible story, perhaps a puppet show or children’s Bible songs sung, a brief lesson, time learning how to pray and games.  There are familiar faces from week-to-week, folks mom and dad have introduced them to and declared them safe and friendly.  Mom and dad take a few minutes saying goodbye and their little one knows they will be back before too long.

Even with all the comforts and activities, children still miss Mom and Dad, so it’s not unusual for a nursery volunteer to page Mom and Dad to return to the nursery, perhaps to bring their child to the service or just to offer an encouraging word to sustain them until the end of the service.

But this treatment at our southern borders – there just are no words for what these babies and toddlers, preschoolers and elementary aged kids – even middle and high schoolers –  are being subjected to, all apparently for the sake of using their lives as a negotiating tactic.

The Art of the Deal?

Sorry.  Not with Children.

More like the Heart of the Deal.

Or Heartless, as the case appears to be.

Think of your own children and how you have comforted them when they are scared, discouraged, worried or disappointed.

Consider how your own parents once tended to you, held your hand, dried your tears, comforted you with words and tender kindness, prepared a favorite treat for you when you were discouraged or following a particularly difficult day.

It appears that these children may become – or temporarily have become – orphans through the actions of the United States government.  Some child welfare and immigration experts have warned that it may be extremely difficult to reunite all families with their children and that some children may remain in the United States after their parents are deported – potentially making reunification difficult if not impossible.

If someone did this to your children – tore them away from you – would they be charged with a crime?

Would it be kidnapping?

Would it be abuse?

Would you allow it and stand idly by, hoping somebody else said or did something about it?

This is every parent’s worst nightmare – to have your children taken from you, ripped from your arms, or even worse, a promise to return the child in a few minutes, only to spirit them away without a chance to say goodbye.

This is every child’s fear – separated from your parents, unable to see or talk with them.

This is the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment, and often for a crime no greater than seeking asylum from a repressive or abusive situation in their home country.

And now, people are trying to use God’s Word to justify their actions.  Some have cited Romans 13, telling us that we are to obey the authorities, no matter what.

Perhaps some folks need a refresher American History class.  They might want to familiarize themselves with a war fought on America’s eastern seaboard that had to do with liberty and justice for all.

Yeah.  That one.

A war about freedom from an oppressive authoritarian government that was abusive, unjust, controlling, manipulative and which demanded absolute submission and total obedience to laws that were capricious and self-serving.

A few words from our own Declaration of Independence…

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

and this…

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

If not for people standing up against tyranny and refusing to abide by unjust laws, there would be no United States of America.

Our nation is literally built on the foundation of a people who demanded freedom and who defied and fought against unequal and unjust laws, ultimately claiming victory and bequeathing to us – and to all who have come to these shores – a land of hope, liberty, opportunity and promise.

Lady Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom, raising her torch as a beacon of hope to welcome immigrants to our country with these words:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

–The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus

Perhaps some in our nation are like David Copperfield and would like to make the Statue of Liberty (and all that she stands for) disappear.

Thankfully, it was just an illusion and David Copperfield “returned” Lady Liberty to her rightful place to continue welcoming the huddled masses.


Illusions are funny things.  You can act one way, but live another.  Jesus called those people hypocrites.  They were the Pharisees and Sadducees of their time.

Today, there are people who call themselves Christians but don’t follow – or perhaps even believe – the teachings of Christ.

They preach a gospel of hate, greed, anger, nationalism, bias, violence, cruelty, selfishness, bigotry and abuse.

And they do it while proclaiming to love God and declaring themselves Christians.

The Bible tells us that there will be a time when God will separate the sheep and the goats, He will divide the wheat and the chaff.

That not everything is at it appears.

That God will ultimately judge our behavior and He unequivocally knows who loves and serves Him and His people and who is just a great pretender.

In Matthew 25, Jesus was teaching a final sermon before His betrayal by Judas Iscariot, which led to His wrongful conviction, brutal crucifixion, His death as payment for our sins and in three days, His resurrection and our eternal hope.

Jesus taught of being ready for His return and offered practical guidance for how we can use our gifts and talents wisely to glorify Him and serve Him and others – and then He taught about love, charity and service.

You can find the verses here.

Here is an excerpt:

” “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.” (Matt. 25:31-33)

He goes on to articulate who the sheep are and what their conduct is like.

““Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:34-40)

Finally, He contrasts the love of the sheep with the apathy and indifference to suffering of the goats.

He provides an account of their lives and of all the times they had not fed Him, offered Him water, invited Him in, clothed Him, visited Him, came to Him in prison.

He explains that the goats will protest and ask when they had seen Him in such condition and not cared for Him, defending their innocence and arguing that they had never not cared for Jesus.

And then Jesus — the Suffering Servant, the One who left the glory of heaven on a rescue mission bound for the sordid soil of earth, who came to lay down His life to redeem us and reconcile us to our Heavenly Father — said this:

“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:45)

Words that cut to the heart of the matter.  Words that reveal the condition of our heart.

Knowing and revealing the condition of the heart is something Jesus did over and over again as He lived among men and women – and something He continues to do today.

When a scribe tried to test Jesus with a question as they were wont to do, Jesus knew the condition of the man’s heart and his intent.  He knew the scribe was seeking to trip Him up and provoke Him.  The Pharisees and Sadducees couldn’t agree on much – but they shared a distrust and dislike for Jesus.

When Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, perhaps the Pharisees wanted to see if they could trump Him and be able to silence the Teacher who was drawing crowds with miracles, healings, wise teachings and great love.

One of them decided to see if he could stump Jesus and asked Him which was the greatest of God’s commandments.

Jesus silenced the man with His wisdom.

We should love God and love our neighbor.

“But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And He said to him, “‘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.’  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” (Matt. 22:34-40)

That’s it.

  1. Love God

  2. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

It’s as simple and difficult as that.

What kind of message are we sending to the world and to each other about the kind of people we are as Americans if we allow children to be ripped from their parents’ arms?

How is this loving?  How is it Christlike?  How is it American?  How is it humane?

How can we tell our children to trust if that trust is broken by representatives of our government in our own backyards?

How can people look for the helpers in uniform if the helpers in uniform prove themselves not to be safe?

In a matter of weeks, actions have been taken that have literally undone and destroyed our reputation in the world and in our own nation.

Questions are being asked by many – how can we trust our own government?  How can we trust our neighbor?

That appears to be the end game of all of this.  And it appears that some people in power are playing games with human life.

With the innocent lives of young children.

Chaos.  Confusion.  Disruption.  Hate.  Anger.  Evil. 

Violence.  Bitterness.  Destruction.

People are intentionally breaking up families – apparently as it is now being reported, because they believe it will give them greater bargaining power to enable them to build a wall at our southern border.

How is that OK to any of us?

Would you allow that to happen to your family or to someone you love?

I don’t have to ask the question.  I know the answer.

None of us would be OK with this happening to our family.

So it begs the question of why we’re allowing it to happen to others.

Jesus’s teachings give us the Golden Rule.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

Not a single one of us would want this done to us.

And we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that this is being done to our brothers and sisters at our border.

And yes.  They are our brothers and sisters.

We are a human race.  We are all human beings.

We are all Dreamers.

And we are all sojourners and travelers upon this earth God has given to us.

God gave us clear instructions on how to treat sojourners and strangers in His words to Moses in Exodus.

 ““You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry;” (Exodus 22:21-23)

Consider for a moment these sojourners of our faith…

Adam and Eve, exiled from the Garden of Eden

Noah and his family, afloat on an ark before landing on the mountains of Ararat, a remnant of humanity, a people of righteousness in the midst of depravity and evil, preserved and  protected by God 

Abraham and Sarah (nee Abram and Sarai), leaving Ur and setting out for Canaan, determined to obey God and trust His will, plans and promises.

Jacob and his family, first fleeing to Laban in search of a wife and then fleeing from him after years of Laban’s trickery and skulduggery.

Joseph, sojourner taken to Egypt after he was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery, found himself accepted by Pharaoh after proving himself able to interpret dreams through God’s grace.  He would welcome and be reunited with his brothers when they came in search of food during a famine in Israel.  They would bring Jacob to Egypt to be reunited with his beloved son and the 12 tribes would remain there for 400 years before another sojourner would seek to lead them back to Israel.

which brings us to…

Moses, Israelite by birth, raised in Egypt, on the run to Midian where he married and raised a family, then back to Egypt before spending 40 years in the desert while searching for the Promised Land.  It should be noted that Moses’s very life is the result of rebellion against the Egyptian government which demanded the death of all Jewish baby boys.  It was the Jewish midwives who protected the lives of the Jewish baby boys and refused to follow the evil and sinful laws of Pharaoh.

Ruth, a Moabitess widow who returned to Israel with her widowed mother-in-law Naomi when the famine had subsided there.  She married Boaz, an Israelite, and together they had Obed, who begat Jesse, who begat David, which is the very line through which our Savior was born.  Ruth was an immigrant, received lovingly and graciously by Israelites and she embraced and loved their culture and people.

David, on the lam twice, once running from a jealous and mentally unstable King Saul, then later facing a coup d’etat at the hands of his own son.

The Israelites, conquered and exiled after years of rebellion and sinning against God, desperate to return home to Jerusalem.

Joseph and Mary fleeing to Egypt when they learned that King Herod was seeking the life of their child, Jesus.

The apostles, fulfilling the Great Commission and traversing the land and sea in journeys across the world, often persecuted and scattered throughout their homeland into lands unknown.

Sojourners, Immigrants all.

Citizens of Heaven, Sojourners on Earth.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Phil. 3:20)

On Election Day 2016, I played this song for my kids on the drive to school that morning.  I get goosebumps every time I hear it.  I love this song.  It reminds me how blessed I am to live in America and how amazing our nation is.

And I love Election Day and all that it represents – the right and responsibility to vote, the power and privilege to be governed by those we elect and select.  As a parent, one of the lessons I want to impart to my children is that we have a civic duty and a moral obligation to be involved in our government – to pray for our leaders and our cities, states and nation but also to speak up, get involved, volunteer, make your voice heard, take a stand when you see wrongdoing and above all, remember that we are ambassadors for God and Christ here on earth.

We must live out our faith in a way that honors God and respects those who are our elected representatives, whether or not we chose to vote for them.  As Christ taught us when a group of scribes tried to trick Him with a question regarding whether or not they were to pay taxes to Caesar, we are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render to God’s what is God’s. (Lk. 20:19-26)

The denarius reflected the image of Caesar, so they were to pay taxes to Caesar.  Yet we bear the image of God – His Word declares that He created us in His image.  (Gen. 1:26-27)

Our lives are to be a sacrifice and a rendering to God, giving to Him all of ourselves, and submitting to His will.

We are to obey the laws of our government.  And, if we find that those laws violate God’s laws, then we are to speak up and challenge those laws in a respectful, wise and appropriate manner.  We are to debate policies and practices, discuss issues and ideas and live out our faith with grace, mercy and respect for our fellow man.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the best examples we have of an American living out their faith while challenging their government to do the right thing.

I love our country and I am so proud to be an American.  We are, admittedly, an imperfect union made up of imperfect people, but this is still the best nation in the world, a beacon of hope and light, where we enjoy freedom, justice, liberty, opportunity and community.  I count it an awesome and amazing blessing to have been born in America – and I remind myself that it is a privilege and a joy — and that millions around the world long for the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy so richly and abundantly here in the US.

I love this land from sea to shining sea and I love that so many people want to live here too.  What kind of nation would we live in if people didn’t want to come here?  I cherish our freedoms, our ideals and our practices.  I don’t fault people for wanting to be Americans – we live in a beautiful and wonderful country and it is no surprise that many around the world want to call our home their home too.

Obviously, they have to follow the laws and procedures of our government in order to become citizens, and I completely understand and respect that protocol and process.  We are a nation of law and order, and that is one of our greatest strengths.

I respect, honor and obey our laws, I pray for our leaders and I am so incredibly proud and grateful to be an American.

It is amazing to think how people have dreamed of America, longed for the freedoms and conveniences we take for granted all too often, risked their lives to get here and they have for hundreds of years.

My own family hails from all over the world.  We are a people of immigrants who have been blessed to call the United States of America home for many generations, but we still cherish the roots and traditions of those who came before us while celebrating the opportunities of the present and future.

And it is because of my deep and abiding love for America that I will stand up, speak out and ask questions when I see something that doesn’t look right.

As the expression goes,

See something, say something.

I respect the rule of law and I obey our laws and statutes.

But I will peacefully protest when I believe that our government is acting in a way that is contrary to God’s Law and to human rights laws.  I will respectfully disagree and express my opinion and views when I believe our government is causing irreparable harm to innocent children who need and deserve our love, protection and care.

Jesus’s brother James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem when the church had been scattered due to persecution of the followers of The Way.

He counseled the people in the midst of their own struggles and trials to be faithful to Christ’s teachings, to endure, persevere and not to lose hope.  Reading through James is often recommended when a person is going through a challenging time.

Here are two of my favorite verses from James.  I pray that they may offer guidance and wisdom to us and to our leaders as we wrestle with this issue of the practice of removing children from their parents at our border crossings.

 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (Jas. 1:27)

Let us consider the possibility that this government policy may effectively be turning these children into orphans and wreaking unknown havoc in these children’s lives, potentially harming them in unintended ways.

What if a child is so distraught by this treatment that they lose faith and harbor anger, resentment and hatred?

What if this treatment forever separates some parents and children, potentially subjecting them to a life without their parents and in the child welfare system if their parents are deported without them?

What if even a single child is subjected to abuse or mistreatment in one of these detention centers, their lives eternally changed if they suffer violence and abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to help them?

God forbid.

Jesus clearly admonished us that we must not cause a child – His children – to stumble.

The second verse from James is this:

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

God’s Word teaches us very clearly that if we know the right thing to do and we do not do it, it is sin.

There is no gray area there.

The pediatricians and psychologists have told us that this is wrong and damaging to the health and well-being of these children.

We cannot deny that we know it is wrong.

We must ask our government to tell us how it plans to return these children to their parents.

We must ask our government to explain and justify its policy of separating children from their parents at border crossings – and then we must ask our government to protect the lives of these children and to protect the sanctity of families.

We must reject this type of inhumane treatment of these innocent young lives.

We must take a stand and protect and defend those who cannot protect themselves.

God is calling us to a higher place, a better life, a more just way.

Hear the words of the prophet Micah, a clarion call to us even today:

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8)

It’s summertime across America.  Children are splashing in pools, riding bikes, going to camp, taking vacations with their families, sleeping in a little later than usual, taking trips to the library for loads of books, going on day trips to amusement parks and museums and enjoying the lazy longer days of summer.

Last week was our first week of summer vacation and we found ourselves watching a movie one afternoon – The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  There are some theological issues about sorcery and prayer that need a parent’s explanation and guidance with regard to what the Bible teaches us and offering clear biblical teaching, but the movie proved to be a useful backdrop for a discussion in our home on immigration policy, hypocrisy in the church, people declaring themselves to be one thing but acting contrary to their own statements, and caring for those in need.

And then, a scene in the movie that I had forgotten since the time I first saw the movie some twenty years ago.

This song that brought tears to my eyes as I considered its relevance in light of the news recently.

Many of the people coming to America are doing so seeking asylum because of violence, abuse and unrest in their nations.

America has always been a city on a hill, a light for the world.

Many fear the light could be snuffed out by policies, practices and people who have lost their way and who may have lost – or maybe never had – a moral compass to guide them.

God help the outcasts arriving on our borders.  God help the children who have been separated from their families.  God keep them and protect them, and care for them.  Reunite these families and let not a single child fall through the cracks of bureaucracy, lost in an abyss of confusion and separation from their family.

And God forbid that we should accept this as normal or turn a blind eye to this abuse.  God forbid that we become numb or apathetic to this type of evil and wrongdoing.  God forbid that we allow our government to treat children in a way we wouldn’t dare abide our own children be treated.

May God’s mercy, love and wisdom be with us all.

May we remember that there but for God’s grace goes each and every one of us.  We are blessed to live in the United States of America – and with great blessing comes great responsibility.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.” (Lk. 12:48)

We have been given much and our people have fought for and defended our freedoms and liberties.  Much is being asked of us and I have no doubt that we as a people are up to the challenge to protect the lives of these innocent and precious children.

Enforce the law with regard to immigration.  Follow the procedures for asylum seekers.

And protect the sanctity of the family in the process.

The world is watching.  Watching and waiting to see who we are, how we live.

Children are watching. Sitting in shelters, praying for a miracle, hoping to see their moms and dads.

Moms and dads are watching.  Held in detention centers, praying for a miracle, sobbing and hurting, grieving and aching, wanting only to hug their sons and daughters.

The American people are watching.  Wondering if the government takes these actions against strangers, could they do the very same things to citizens?  We are aware of a nagging and uncomfortable feeling that this just isn’t right.  Americans are questioning their leaders’ wisdom and humanity, wondering and worrying.


Someone else is watching.


God is watching.

He always has been and He always will be.  These are His children, after all.

We are all His children.

God is watching to see if the people who claim to know, love and serve Him and His people really do.

Or if that’s all just a show they put on for votes, for power, for riches, for attention.

United States of America, we’re on the clock.

The next move is ours.


1. What is your view of the practice of separating children from their families at border crossings in the United States?



2. Do you believe that this is a just and moral practice?  How does this practice align (or not align) with your faith and values?



3.  Do you think that it is ethical or just for an administration to use the separation of children from their parents at border crossings as a potential bargaining chip in future negotiations to build a border wall or for other immigration policy goals?




4. If you have children, how would you feel if something like this happened to your family?  What if the government tried to seize your children?  How would you respond?  What would you want strangers and friends to do on your behalf to help your family?




5. As Christians, what is our moral and ethical obligation regarding the issue of separating children from their families at border crossings?


Do you believe we have a duty to raise our concerns about these policies?  Do we have a duty to help these children and their families?


Do you think we will answer to God for things we failed to do when we knew we should have said something, done something?



6. Put yourself in the bare feet of one of these children.  Imagine the fear, sorrow, grief and desperation they are feeling.  Picture yourself ripped from your parents’ loving arms after a terrifying and arduous journey.  In a shelter with strange noises, foods and people.  There is potential for abuse and neglect.  Children apparently aren’t comforted and nobody can even hug you or hold your hand while you are crying for your mom and dad.  How would you feel if this happened to you?


Is this ethical?  Is this moral?  Is it Christlike?  Loving?  Acceptable?




7. If this issue concerns you, please make your voice heard and share your views about this practice of separating children from their families at our southern border.

Contact your congressional representative and your senators.  Contact the White House.  Contact the Department of Justice.  Contact the United States Citizen and Immigration Services.

Share your concerns with your elected representatives and the agencies with oversight on this issue.

Participate in a rally or discussion on the issue.

If you can, please consider donating money to the lawyers representing the children in these immigration cases.

And above all, pray.

Thoughts, Prayers AND Actions.

Let us be a people on our knees before Almighty God in the days ahead, asking for His wisdom, clarity and guidance so He would be able to use us as His hands and feet on earth.



“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”









Fruit of the Spirit:         


Spiritual Discipline:      




Prayer Focus:                

Disaster Relief – United States and Caribbean

Bible Memory Verse:   

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.””

(Jn. 13:34-35, NASB)


Today’s Reading:

1 Corinthians 13


Over the last week, there has been testimony in Washington, DC regarding social media.  In the last month, we have learned about how nearly 100 million peoples’ online activities may have been hacked, manipulated, infiltrated, covertly acquired and ultimately used for profit by politicians, rogue nations and corporations.  And in the last 18 months, there have been daily stories about how the 2016 elections may have been unduly affected through fake news, hackers, social media and bad actors.

Have you ever wondered the following questions?


Why do we post the most intimate, private and personal details of our lives online?

Why do we feel the need to share and overshare with complete strangers all over the world?

Why do we want to brag on social media, carefully curating a life designed to make others envious and covetous?

Why have we acquiesced the control and power over our lives to social networks?

Why do people bully, insult, attack, disparage and threaten others online, in tweets, comments and posts?

Why do people feel worse off after spending time online?

Why are some people so desperate for “likes” and “followers” that they will say and do anything just to get attention?

What is derived from endless posts on social media? 

How much time is wasted by the average person on social media each day?  Each month?  Each year?  How much time will the average person waste online over the course of their lives?

And this.


Why do some people feel the never-ending need to boast about their lives on social media, offering the most personal and private details for public consumption, gushing over their bountiful blessings and success?


In talking about what love is this week, we have to take a look at what love is not.

Which means a difficult look at the dark web.


No, not that dark web, where people are buying and selling all of our drivers licenses, social security numbers and credit card information after yet another security breach.


The dark web where people are boasting, bragging, insulting, attacking, and belittling each other.


THAT dark web.


In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote a chapter that is read at many weddings – the Love Chapter, as it is commonly known.


While it is often read at weddings, it’s not really about romantic love – it’s more about agape love.   Of course, selfless love is an excellent topic as a couple is preparing to wed, because marriage requires sacrifice, compromise and putting each other and the marriage first.

But the Apostle Paul wasn’t addressing two love-bird Corinthians who were standing at the altar on a sun dappled beach at their destination wedding on the Aegean Sea.

Instead, he was writing to the cranky, cantankerous and carnal Corinthians – a hot mess of a people who just couldn’t seem to get along and were constantly bickering and fussing, arguing over the nonessentials and not having a whole lot of love in their hearts for one another.  The Corinthians were definitely not the poster children of love and kindness. 

While we’ll talk about agape love a bit today, we’ll talk about the four main types of love we read about in the Bible next time we meet.  You may already know what they are, but here’s a brief look at what we’ll talk about next time.


Eros is romantic love, like the kind shared between a husband and wife.

Philia is brotherly love, like love that is shared between friends.  This is love that is concerned about each other’s well-being and supporting and helping each other.

Storge love is an affectionate love of empathy and nurturing.

Agape is selfless or unconditional love.  It is at its core and essence pure and gracious love.  It is not needing or asking for anything in return – it is simply giving and caring for another.  This is the love that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit show us and it is the love that we are to show one another.   It is love for the sake of love.  Agape love just is.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul wrote the following:

 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

(1 Cor. 13:4-7, NASB)


Paul briefly tells us what love IS – patient and kind.


But then, Paul provides us with a long list of what love IS NOT.


Love is not jealous.


Love does not brag.


Love is not arrogant.


Love does not act unbecomingly.


Love does not seek its own.


Love is not provoked.


Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.


Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.



If you would, I’d like you to picture a typical day of social media, and then re-read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.


I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time reconciling social media with the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.


It seems that social media is all about bragging, boasting, “wrecking,” attacking, insulting, twitter wars, humblebrags, frenemies, carefully curated collections of awesomeness, bullying, pranks, mean comments, callousness, cruelty and ad hominem jabs.


What would Jesus think about social media?  What would Jesus think about the back and forth shade throwing, the attacks, the brags, the superficial daily presentations of clothes, canines, couture and culinary creations?


What if Jesus were looking over all of our shoulders as we type tweets, post pics on Instagram, lob attacks on Snapchat and present a faux version of ourselves to the world?


Would we be so quick to post to social media if we had to read it aloud to God before we clicked?


Spoiler alert.

He is looking over our shoulders.   And He’s looking in our hearts and our minds.  And He’s already read it before we click it.  He already knows what’s in our thoughts before we say or type it.


We as followers of Christ should take a look at social media, our role in it and have a conversation about how we can and must lead by example.


As many have said in recent days, on social media, we are the product.  We generate the content with posts, updates, status reports, tweets, comments, pictures and conversations.  Without us, there is no content.  Perhaps then, we should examine the content of our online communications to see if they reflect a people after God’s own heart.


For far too many, social media has become a way to attack others, bully those who are different, brag about one’s self, present a falsified and embellished version of life, boast about one’s possessions with no concern for the suffering in the world, humblebrag about charity and philanthropic activities on fundraising sites and self-promote one’s self in the virtual world of the Internet.


Do you ever wonder what the world would be like if people boasted in real life like they do online?

Can you imagine someone walking up to you that you haven’t seen in months and they immediately begin to boast and brag about themselves, about their life, their spouse or significant other, showed you photos of their home remodel and vacation to Europe, humblebragged about how they had to buy a whole new wardrobe because of their epic gluten-free diet and ballet and spin class workout, told you about how they bought ten total strangers coffee in the drive-thru yesterday – like they do every Friday, talked about their nonstop volunteering all over the community and bragged about being Volunteer of the Year (again!), showed you all their fabulous photo memories for Throwback Thursday, talked about how their kids are winning at absolutely everything and how they are so exhausted from all the awards ceremonies they have to go to this year for their kiddos and flashed their jewelry/clothes/new car/tech gadgets/etc.

All before you could even say hello.

We don’t act like this in real life. (let’s hope!)

So, why do people act like this online?  Why is there such a fake, curated, perfect persona presented for all the world to see?

Why do people feel comfortable bragging and boasting online when they would be much less likely to do so in-person?

And why are a lot of those braggers and boasters people who call themselves followers of Christ – yet they are acting in a way so contrary to the meek, humble and loving lifestyle that Jesus calls us to?


What does God say we should boast in, anyway?


The cross.


According to God’s Word, we should boast in an instrument of torture that was used to crucify our Savior.


God tells us to boast only in Christ and in His death for our sins.

Not in our blessings, accomplishments, relationships with others, homes, jewelry, cars, careers, educations, appearances, volunteering, giving, serving, church attendance, trips, celebrities we have met, meals we prepared, fancy restaurants we ate at, the antics and accomplishments of our children, our latest acquisition unboxed for all to see, our intelligence, our personality, our front yards, our holiday celebrations, our elves on shelves, our extravagant birthdays, how wonderful our significant other is, our #epic life or how “A-mazing” our world looks.


God calls us to boast only in the cross of our Lord.


In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote the following:


“See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:11-14, NASB)


While others were boasting of their religiosity, Paul would not do so.  Over and over again, Paul’s letters drew the readers’ attention only to Jesus.  When his enemies and opponents would ridicule him, when they challenged and questioned his credentials, when they sought to antagonize him and draw him into a debate, Paul would note all that he could brag about – but then declare that all of that was nothing and it was nothing compared to Christ.


“although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:4-7, NASB)


We are to boast…

In Christ Alone.



Technology is an amazing tool we have to use in our society today.  The problem isn’t the technology.  It is merely a tool that can be used for good or bad.  It’s no different than any other tool.

The problem is in how we use technology.  The issue that is before us as a society right now is how we will use this very powerful tool going forward.

We can use it to encourage each other, to support each other, to inform, educate, and to communicate with one another.

In natural disasters, technology has proven itself to be a tremendous blessing with the power to help, heal and even save lives.

We saw it last year during the wildfires in California and the storms and hurricanes in Texas, Florida, the Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico.

Neighbors were able to help each other by sending out hundreds of boats to save people from flooding homes by using social media to coordinate rescues.  People were able to communicate and share critical information about evacuations, places to bring pets and livestock, updated fire escape routes and newly opened shelters throughout the affected regions in real time.

In these cases, people harnessed the power of technology and social media to help and support each other.

But sadly, technology was also used to attack the victims of the natural disasters.  People tweeted insults and attacks implying that the disaster was the result of who they voted for and many people politicized the natural disasters, including elected officials who tweeted attacks and played the blame game rather than offering condolences and making commitments to rebuild.

We now know a lot more about how social media works and how our information has been monetized and sold to applications and organizations literally all over the world.

After the recent revelations about social media firms, we now better understand that all those pictures, likes, clicks and posts were basically used by the social media companies to develop a totally gratis demographic picture of each of us so that they could sell our data and use us as a marketing tool available to both legitimate and unscrupulous individuals and companies seeking to target us for votes, purchases, support, etc.  They used all our information – freely and generously provided by us – to make billions of dollars, to sell their products, to target us for services and products, to glean information about us and possibly even to change the outcome of a presidential election.

We now can see that many of us were manipulated by fake news stories that were placed on social media sites and feeds and that we were bombarded with microtargeted advertising designed to appeal to segmented groups, often with the sole purpose being to divide and disrupt us.

It is increasingly clear that while many of us thought we were communicating our perfectly curated lives in a manipulative and prideful display of arrogance and abundance, we were in fact the ones being used and manipulated by companies that wanted to scrape our data and that of our friends, associates and family members.

The Bible says in the book of Proverbs that:

“Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.”

(Prov. 16:18, NASB)

It seems like now is a really good time for us to take a look at our social media and online behavior and ask ourselves some really difficult questions about why we post, what we post, what we hope to gain from our posts, to examine if our posts are made out of pride and arrogance – and even ask God what He thinks about our social media life.

According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism in response to the question of what the chief end of man is,

“A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”


It is time for us as followers of Christ to ask ourselves if our online behavior reflects our relationship with God, with Christ and with the Holy Spirit.  We must ask ourselves if our posts, tweets and chats are edifying to God and to one another.  We should consider if we are acting as good stewards of our time, talents and treasures in the time we spend online.

And perhaps most significantly and challenging of all, we must ask ourselves the very hard question of whether our social media lifestyle is bringing glory to God – or if it is merely bringing glory to ourselves.  Are we boasting in ourselves – or are we boasting only in the cross of Jesus Christ?

These are tough questions, but as Christ followers, we have a duty to ask and answer these questions and to live a life that draws people to Christ.

If we are bragging and boasting about our lives online and living selfish, indulgent and prideful lives, we may very well be repelling people from Christ rather than inviting and leading them to Him.

In Psalm 90, we are reminded of the brevity of life and the urgency of living out our calling and purpose.

“So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12 NASB)


Moses ends the psalm with the following petition to God:

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.” (Ps. 90:17, NASB)


May the favor of the Lord our God be upon us today.  And may God confirm the work of our hands.  May we use our hands to bless, to encourage, to build, to create, to nurture, to guide, to communicate, to lift up, to heal, to help, to hug and to love.  And when we use our hands to post, to tweet, to upload and to type, may we do so with love, humility and grace – seeking to bless and glorify God in all things, including our social media postings.




  1. How do you feel after you have read social media posts that are “braggy?” Why do you think some people like to post things on social media that are boastful and prideful?  What do you think the effect is on other people, particularly on those who are discouraged or struggling or going through a hard time?





Could these posts be hurting people?  If so, is the attention that one receives from bragging posts worth the pain it causes another in your social circle who reads your constantly bragging, boasting and self-centered posts?  Would you brag in-person about your latest shopping spree to a friend who just lost their job?  Would you boast of all your kids’ accomplishments and successes to someone whose child is struggling?  Would you go on and on about your awesome fitness regime and diet plan to a family member fighting cancer and going through chemo?  Would you argue nonstop about politics with a loved one in-person, each time you talk bringing up quotes, making attacks, insulting their beliefs and philosophies and ridiculing them?




If we wouldn’t act like this in-person, why might we think it is OK to do so online?





  1. How do you feel after you read posts or comments that are insulting or which bully other people?




  1. Have you ever regretted posting something on social media? What was it about your post(s) that you regretted sharing?




  1. Have your friendships or relationships with family members and loved ones changed as a result of social media posts? Have you ever unfriended or blocked someone as a result of their social media posts?  How did you feel about those relationships based on the conflict caused by social media?





  1. Do you think people overshare online? If so, why do you think people are prone to tell personal details with complete strangers?




  1. Read Ephesians 4:29-32.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4:29-32, NASB)

How should we apply these verses to our online and social media lives?



How can the words that come out of our mouths (and the words we type with our fingers) hurt both us and others?



Have you ever felt more negative after saying or writing unwholesome, angry, bitter, resentful or negative comments?



Do you think negativity is contagious?  Is hate contagious?



Is your social media life in obedience to Eph. 4:29-32?  If not, what steps can you take to ensure your social media presence honors and glorifies God?




  1. God’s Word teaches us that our giving should be done privately and that we should not give seeking attention, gratitude or recognition.


In the Beatitudes, Jesus said ““Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.  “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6:1-4, NASB)


Interestingly, Jesus also taught that we should:


“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16, NASB)


How can you reconcile these two lessons that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount?


How can we give in a way that is private and discreet and yet also let our light shine so that people will see our good works and glorify God?




Are public fundraising sites which announce who gave how much contradictory to Christ’s teachings about discreet philanthropy?  Do you think that some people give to be recognized?  Do you make your gifts on fundraising sites anonymously?  Why or why not?




If we aren’t to brag about how much we gave to which group or individual, then how do you think God wants us to let our light shine before men?  Is Jesus talking about a lifestyle that honors Him?  Do you think this is more of an every-day way of living rather than an online boasting presence?





Are there times when making a public pronouncement of our support for a person can be honoring to God and can be done in a way so we avoid seeking recognition for the amount of our contribution?





Does it sometimes feel like celebrity and public figure tweets or posts have become obligatory and rote and are being managed by social media teams?  If so, do these feel less authentic and organic than other types of more “real” social media posts?




  1. What does our society say that love is? Some examples might be the never-ending social media feed of prom-posals, elaborately staged engagement proposals taking over city streets and public squares, over-the-top first dances immediately posted online, extravagant gifts unboxed for all the world to envy, humblebrags about hubs or wifey or online declarations of the most perfect love and absolute happily ever after?






  1. What does God’s Word say love is? If you have ten minutes, do a brief word search of “love” either online or in a Bible concordance.  Look up some of the examples and write them down in the space below.  You can also begin with some of the verses cited in today’s study.







  • What do you say love is? What does romantic love look like? Brotherly love?  Familiarity/Empathy love?  Agape (selfless) love?





  • In Philippians 3:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul teaches us that as followers of Christ, we are citizens of heaven and ambassadors of Christ. How is your social media life representing Christ on earth? When people look at your posts, pics and tweets, do they see you as Christ’s ambassador?  Would you feel comfortable showing God your social media feed and/or comments you have made on articles or websites?





  • Do you recall reading or seeing social media posts about natural disasters in the last year in which the victims and survivors were mocked, ridiculed or even blamed for their situations based on how they voted? If you recall seeing these posts, how did they make you feel? How do you think these posts might have made victims and survivors feel as they tried to recover and rebuild their lives?




  • Do you think that as followers of Christ we can have an online presence that honors and glorifies God? If you could write a letter to your younger social media self, what would you advise yourself to do differently with regard to social media? What changes would you make to your social media presence and habits?





  • In light of your response to the above question, is there anything that you would like to change today about your social media habits and presence? If so, map out a plan and a list of things you want to do differently (more privacy, less bragging, kinder and gentler posts, fewer personal photos, friendlier comments, remembering the Golden Rule of treating people the way you want to be treated, thinking before typing, etc.) and keep it handy before your next post or update.


You may have learned the “True, Kind and Necessary” rule.  Before you say or post something, ask yourself if it is true AND kind AND necessary.  If it is all three things, then this is probably something that is appropriate to post and which will be edifying and helpful and will be kind and friendly.  If what you intend to post does not meet all three criteria, then it probably will not be edifying or helpful and it might hurt someone.  If it’s not true, kind and necessary, just don’t say or type it!






  1. If you haven’t already, consider downloading social media logs so you can review the dossiers being kept about you online. Is there anything you want to delete?  If you want to delete online profiles and posts, there have been many articles in recent weeks about downloading logs and deleting some or all of the information posted on various social media websites.  These can be found with a fairly quick search and can help you make the changes you want to make to your online profiles and histories.


  1. This week, consider keeping a log of your online behavior, including comments and social media postings. This doesn’t have to be too specific – just a brief log of your habits to help you better understand how you spend your time online and to identify possible changes you want to make in your online behavior and habits.  Some information you may want to include could be the following:


Were you on a phone, computer or tablet?

Were you at home/work/school/somewhere else?

How much time did you spend each time you were online?

What sites did you visit?

Did you post anything while you were online (comments, status updates, pictures, tweet, etc.)?

How did you feel after being online each time?

Was there something you “should” have been doing while you were online (chores, paying attention to a class lecture, work, homework, etc.) but which you procrastinated doing so you could spend time online?

This can be like a food/exercise log and it may help you better account for your time and emotions each day.  Our online behaviors can affect our moods, feelings, attitudes and self-esteem.  Additionally, you may find that you spend more time online than you realized, which may help you make changes to your online behavior that will enable you to accomplish more of your goals and responsibilities.

You might want to write everything down on a piece of paper that you keep with you this week.  You don’t have to share it with anyone – it’s just for your learning and growing.  Be honest about your time and also about how you feel when you are online.


  1. During your time online this week, consider choosing one of the areas affected by natural disasters last year to research how things are now and how you can be in prayer for the people in that area. You might do a search for Houston and Hurricane Harvey, Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and Hurricane Irma and the wildfires in Ventura County/Ojai.  Look for current articles detailing the recovery and rebuilding process and articles and videos introducing you to survivors of the natural disasters and giving updates on their situation and recovery efforts.  You may want to add the people you read about to your prayer list this week and continue to be in prayer for the people in that region affected by the disaster as well as the groups helping them rebuild.  If you are financially able to do so, you may consider making a gift to one of the organizations or ministries continuing to serve and help the people of the region as they recover from last year’s natural disasters.  You could also send a note of encouragement to the people you read about and find a ministry or non-profit that may be able to pass along your note or card.  It might sound insignificant, but just knowing that people care about you and are praying for you is very powerful and often can infuse people with hope and encouragement to keep going in the midst of a long and difficult trial.


  1. Did you have a chance to show love to someone this past week? If so, how did you feel?  Do you feel like you made a difference?  If you didn’t have a chance this past week, could you share a kind word or do something nice for someone in the week ahead?



  1. If you are able, you may wish to enjoy some strawberries this week and as you do, be in prayer for the people who grow and harvest the strawberries. Strawberries grow abundantly in California and Texas, two of the places devastated by last year’s natural disasters.  Consider purchasing some berries at your local grocer or farmer’s market – and as you purchase, clean, prepare and enjoy them, be praying for the hands that have nurtured those strawberries so you might enjoy them.  You can enjoy something with fresh berries, or even strawberry ice cream, a strawberry smoothie, strawberry jam or strawberry yogurt!  This is just a tangible way for us to remember to pray for the people in our prayer focus and to seek to love and care for each other, loving all our neighbors as Jesus calls us to.



“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”


Fruit of the Spirit:         


Spiritual Discipline:      




Prayer Focus:                

Disaster Relief – United States and Caribbean

Bible Memory Verse:   

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.””

(Jn. 13:34-35, NASB)


Today’s Reading:


1 Jn. 4:7-21


No Fear in Love, No Love in Hate

Love > Fear

Love > Hate

Hate is not Innate



Earlier in the study, there was a question about what the opposite of each of the fruits of the Spirit is.

What do you think the opposite of love is?

Is it hate?  Indifference?  Fear?

Perhaps it is a combination of all of them.

This week, we are remembering the day fifty years ago that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. King left an enduring legacy of his determination and fight for peace, equality, justice and love to the world.  As Christians, we must seek to continue that legacy and we must look at the role of the church in addressing and rectifying civil and human rights issues in our towns, cities, across our nation and all over the world.

Later in this Bible Study, we are going to look at the church’s role in bringing healing and hope vis-à-vis issues of racial reconciliation.  We’ll look at some very uncomfortable statements and actions of Christians in order to better understand why some people outside of the church do not trust the church, especially with regard to racism, prejudice and bigotry.  Then, we’ll spend some time studying followers of Christ who are walking the talk and who have spoken out against injustice and who have fought alongside people of all nations, colors, creeds and beliefs in order to promote justice, love, freedom, equality and acceptance in America and across the world.

While we may have thought racism and prejudice were an ugly part of our nation’s past, recent years have shown that there are many in America who still harbor hate against people based solely on their skin color, country of origin, faith, gender or partisanship.

We’ll look at the hypocrisy we sometimes see in the world and, sadly, in the church.  Whether it’s related to immigration, police brutality, equality, sexual assault or hate crimes, bigotry, prejudice and hypocrisy continue to plague our nation and divide our communities and churches.

After looking at the past and present of racism, prejudice, discrimination and hypocrisy, we’ll talk about how we can build a better tomorrow by loving others as Christ commanded and as He loves us.  That study focus will be when we look at the spiritual fruit of peace, two weeks from now.

In today’s study, we will talk about how we must choose love – it is a choice that each of us must make every single day.  Will we show love, even in the face of ugliness?  Will we reject hate, fear and indifference?  The world is watching followers of Christ to see if we live out our faith – or if we say one thing and do another.  Many people are looking for hope in this dark world.  We can be hope and light to hurting people and we can guide people to make better choices and choose love and kindness simply by choosing to love God and love others.

Every day, we read stories in the news that should give us pause, break our hearts and stories that should move us to stand up and get involved to help people and make our world better, stronger, more loving – and to share the love of God with a hurting world.

It seems as though in virtually all of the dark and tragic news stories, the driving force of disunity is fear, hate and indifference.

Fear and Hate of those who…

look different from them

speak different from them

believe different from them

vote different from them

act different from them

live different from them


And Indifference..

to get involved,

to take a stand

to defend the weak

to help the needy

to speak up

to oppose the evil and hateful

to take a risk

to do something about the problems in our world.


Some people fear that others will take their jobs – an “other” that seems to be anybody other than someone who looks, talks and thinks just like them.

Some people fear that their old way of life is threatened – and so they fear whomever they perceive to be the cause of the changes in our culture.

Some people fear the future and fear that they may not have a place in tomorrow’s world.

Some people fear that others are better, smarter, richer, more attractive or more successful than they are – and so they try to destroy them instead of understanding, learning from, accepting and embracing them.

Some people fear that their best days are behind them, so they lash out in rage.

Some people fear that they will never be accepted and they feel angry, cast aside and unwanted.

Some people fear that they will never be loved, so they close themselves off to loving others and enter a world of anger, hate and rage – a world that will ultimately destroy them and others.

Yet we are so much more alike than we realize.  Though we may look, speak and think differently, we share much in common and we so desperately need each other.

We are one people, created and loved by God .  Each one of us was given life by the Creator of the universe.  Each of us has a unique story that tells of our history and experiences.  We all have hurts, struggles, love, memories, joy and sorrow within us.

Though we are many, in Christ we are one.

“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Rom. 12:4-5, NASB)

Jesus had the antidote to fear, hate and indifference.


It’s free and it is available to all of us, if we are simply willing to give and receive it.

It is an emotion that we are hardwired for – God made us to love others as He loves us.

We are literally born seeking love.  It is one of the first reflexes we have when we enter this world.  Babies almost immediately need and want to be fed, held and comforted by their parents.  A baby is born with a grasping reflex and there are countless pictures of newborns with their entire hand wrapped around their parent’s finger, holding love in their hand.

Babies are also born with a need and God-given reflex to eat, immediately seeking nourishment and sustenance.  We are born needing and wanting love.  Babies who have love in their early days and months thrive and grow, while babies who do not receive love and affection often struggle and suffer.   Love is our first reflex and our first need when we enter this world – to be held, loved, cared for and protected.

A newborn baby wants the simplest things of life – food, naps and to be held and loved.  Often a little one is soothed just by being held, rocked, quiet songs sung for them or sweet and gentle words spoken.

We all want to be loved, accepted and understood.

This is how God made us.

At our essence, this is what we as humans long for and want, even as adults – more than money, power, fame, prestige and success.  As the saying goes, you can’t buy love.  It has to be given away and we must choose to give and receive love to and from one another – and even to love and accept ourselves.

We all want to be known, loved and welcomed.

Somewhere along the way, though, it’s possible for us as humans to lose our way and stop loving each other and even stop loving ourselves.

Babies aren’t born racist.  They aren’t born bigoted or prejudiced.

Hate is a learned emotion.  It is taught and reinforced by others, by media messages, by music and movies, by television and internet programs, by friends and family members, teachers, religious leaders, athletes, celebrities, politicians and by those who are consumed by hate.

Babies don’t reject each other because of the color of their skin.

Hate is taught by those who hate.  Hate is learned by those who are not taught to love.

We must teach our children well.  We must teach them to love God and to love each other.

In the 1940s, two psychologists conducted studies to see how children perceived skin color and what character traits they assigned to dolls with different colored skin.  This husband and wife team, Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark, showed the young children four dolls who looked completely alike – except for their skin color.

They asked the children to tell them what race the dolls were and they asked the children which doll they preferred.

This experiment was eye-opening and life-changing for the psychologists.  Their findings were later used in the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown vs. Board of Education.  They found that African-American children perceived themselves as less than and they had shame and embarrassment about their identity as African-Americans.

Some young children had learned to hate themselves because of their skin color while others had learned to prejudge, rank and hate other children based on skin color.  These were the results of the messages those with power and control in those days were teaching them through segregation.  By separating students from each other based on ethnicity and race, the prejudiced and powerful of their time– and of many previous generations – had effectively taught that one group is better and more than and one group is worse and less than.

They found and proved that segregation had a debilitating effect on society as a whole – the message was hateful, hurtful, divisive and destructive.

To watch videos from the 1960s of white students protesting against integration in the schools is heartbreaking and stomach turning.  White students in elementary, middle and high school stood outside the schools protesting, carrying hateful and angry signs, throwing things at the African-American students, hurling anger and venom.

Hate is not innate.  We are not born hating anyone.

Hate is learned.  Hate does not come naturally.  We are not born hating other people.   Hate is taught by those who hate.  It can become a stubborn legacy, one generation to the next.

But, praise God, hate can be unlearned.  And fear can be unlearned.  And we can learn to love each other – we can even learn to love people who are full of anger, hate and ugliness.  This does not mean we allow those people to abuse or hurt us.  It just means that when racists and bigots attack and insult us, we don’t respond in kind.  We don’t hurl back angry words or spew hate online or in-person.  When we read angry, mean, racist and bigoted tweets, we don’t respond with the same anger and cruelty.

As Michelle Obama so eloquently and powerfully said, “When they go low, we go high.”

We must choose to love and we must choose to get involved and to do something to counter the hate and fear.  The only thing that will counter the hate and fear that is so prevalent in our society today is love.

We must choose to be loving, even when other people are not.  We must choose to forgive people, even when they don’t apologize.  And we must choose to continue to show love and act in a way that glorifies God, even when people all around us are not.

We are to hate two things in this life – we are to hate sin and we are to hate what is evil.  Anything that would separate us from God, we are called to hate and reject.

Other than that, God calls us to love.  To love Him, to love each other, to love others.

His own Son commanded us to love each other, so that people would know we are His disciples.

God made each of us.  We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps. 139:14)   To hate another human being is to hate God’s own creation.  If we have hate towards our brothers and sisters in our hearts, we are disobeying Christ’s commandment to love each other and we are rejecting God, because God is love, God loves us so much that He gave us Jesus and God gave us love. (1 Jn. 4:8, Jn. 3:16, 1 Jn. 4:7)

“ If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. 1 Jn. 4:20-21 NASB

We must choose to love.

As followers of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit living in us and He will give us the power, the strength and the ability to love others, to love everyone.

Jesus loved everyone.

And He calls us to love everyone.

Do you remember Chris Singleton, the son of Sharonda Singleton, a woman who was shot and killed in June 2015 while she was attending a Bible study at her church in South Carolina?

He chose to forgive and he chose even to love the man who killed his mom.

Chris Singleton said that “love is always stronger than hate.”

And love is stronger than fear.

Dr. King said that “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

The apostle John wrote that in love, there is no fear.

 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 Jn. 4:18 NASB

We must reject fear and hate.  Perfect love will cast out fear.

When the angels appeared to people when Jesus was to be born, after His birth and after His resurrection, they told the people they visited not to be afraid and they gave them words of encouragement and comfort.

It’s as though God knew we would have a predisposition and tendency to fear what we don’t know or understand. That people would have questions as they tried to make sense of this life.  That they would have fears, uncertainties and confusion. 

And God sent His angels to comfort and encourage His children, to dispel their fears and to assure them that He was with them, that He was in control, and that there was no reason to fear.


What might some of the questions have been?


What would people think of Joseph, marrying a woman pregnant before their wedding day?


“And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.””

(Matt. 1:19-21, NASB)


How could a woman past child-bearing age become pregnant?


 “And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will [give him the name John.”

(Lk. 1:11-13, NASB)


How could a virgin become pregnant?


“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 

(Lk 1:26-33, NASB)


What happened to Jesus?  Why wasn’t He in the tomb?  Where did He go?  How is it possible that He is alive?  How could He have died, but now be alive?


“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.  But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”

(Matt. 28:1-6, NASB)


As we ask questions of God, His Word teaches us that we must trust and obey.  That we must have faith – even faith the size of a mustard seed will be big enough faith.

He tells us not to fear, that He is with us and will never leave or forsake us.

And He commands us to love.

To love Him and to love His children.

All of His children.

Not just the ones who look, speak, sound, act, dress, worship, live, love, vote and think like we do.

He called us to love each other.  To love our brothers and sisters in Christ – and also to love the world just as He loves the world.

The whole world.

We are to be salt and light, pointing people to our hope in Christ.

Few people come to know Christ as a result of angry Christians full of hate, venom and hurtful words.

But many people have been loved into the arms of Jesus as a result of committed Christ-followers who loved others tangibly, authentically and unabashedly.

Fear is a dangerous emotion.  Often, it will cause us to behave in irrational ways.

Fear seems to be a precursor to hate.  When people fear what is different from them, they may begin to hate what is different from them.

Fear builds walls.  Love builds bridges.

Fear is a liar.

Fear separates us from others and it even separates us from ourselves and from our own humanity.  Fear separates us from God as we seek to control our lives rather than allowing God control over our lives.

Those who have hated people for their skin color, their religion, their voting habits, their lifestyle, their appearances, their wealth, their poverty, their homeland, their ancestors, their language, their disabilities, their imperfections – all of these hatreds have likely begun with fear, which transformed into hate, which metastasized into anger and then, sadly, has turned into violence and evil behaviors.

That little green Jedi Master from Dagobah had great wisdom when he said “Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.”

We must reject hate.

And we must reject fear of anything other than a reverential fear of God.

We must love each other.

Love is powerful.

Love changes the world.

It did on a hill in Calvary when, because of love, Christ laid down His life for us, so that we could be forgiven and reconciled to God.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13, NASB)

Love changed the world when Dr. King wrote letters, led marches and gave speeches, embracing others through his nonviolent calls for action and change.

Love continues to change the world everywhere and every time we see extravagant and simple acts of kindness.

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 Jn. 3:18, NASB)

We shall overcome someday.

God promises us an eternity with Him without fear, anger, death, sadness or pain.

But until we reach the other-worldly peace of heaven, let us seek to bring a bit of heaven down to earth as we love each other and others.  Let us allow God to pour love into us that we then extravagantly share with the world, letting our words and our deeds live out our faith and our love.

Let us change lives through love.




  1. Describe what love looks and feels like to you.



  1. Describe what hate looks and feels like to you.



  1. Why do you think people hate?




  1. Why do you think there has been an increase in hate, bigotry and prejudice in recent years?




  1. How can we show love to people who are hurtful or angry?




  1. What role do you think the church can play in loving the world?




  1. How diverse are your fellowship and friendship circles? Could you expand these circles so that you could know and be known by even more diverse groups of people?





  1. Have you ever felt feelings of hatred towards another, or have you ever felt hated by another?  If you feel comfortable doing so, briefly explain in the space below.





  1. Have you been able to make peace with yourself and with others, either for feeling hate or for being hated by another? If not, is there a way you can make peace today – either by forgiving them for their actions in hating you or in forgiving yourself for harboring anger or hate against another?  Satan would have you hold a grudge against someone for hurting you and he would condemn you for your sins and failures and suggest that you can’t possibly be a follower of Christ because you have had feelings of anger or hatred.  Yet the Bible teaches us that “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1, NASB).


Satan is a liar.  God has forgiven you and He loves you.  He wants us to walk with Him and talk with Him, knowing that we are forgiven and must forgive others in the same way that we have been lavishly forgiven.


If you have felt another’s hatred or you have harbored hate in your own heart, ask God to help you release that hatred, to release feelings of anger, to forgive others and to forgive yourself – and to experience the peace of God’s forgiveness and then to extend that same forgiveness to others.  Ask God to help you love the world – the whole world.  If you grew up in a prejudiced or bigoted home, if you were the victim of assault and feel hate towards the person who hurt you, if you have been abused, if you learned racism, sexism, intolerance or hatred, ask God to help you with whatever your feelings and experiences are.  Ask Him to bring healing, peace and hope to your life.


In the space below, offer a prayer to God asking Him to help you with whatever you have experienced and ask Him to guide you and to give you courage to speak up when you see injustice or hatred, to love others, to love even those who are full of hate, and to be a bright and strong light in this dark and lost world.














  1. Is there something you can do this week to show love to someone? It might be visiting with a neighbor, calling or emailing someone you’ve lost touch with over the years to catch up, asking a loved one how you can pray for them this week, encouraging someone you know who is going through a difficult time, giving a small gift or treat to coworker, neighbor, your child’s teacher, someone at church, etc., donating or volunteering with a nonprofit that is sharing love in your community, or just complimenting someone while you are standing in line at the store, at work or in your neighborhood.
  2. This week, we are going to talk about how to love and serve those in need, especially after disaster has entered their lives. Sometimes, that may be a natural disaster like a hurricane or wildfire.  At other times, those disasters can be health crises, financial hardships or other types of challenges.  If you feel led to do so, ask God if there is a place in your community where you can wash the feet of people in need.  Throughout this week, we will think and talk and consider what it means to love others and to wash their feet, as Jesus commanded us to.  As you pray this week, ask God to show you places where He may be calling you.
  3. Please be in prayer for the victims of last year’s hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida and California. Even though months have passed since these disasters, many people in these places continue to struggle as they seek to rebuild their homes, neighborhoods and lives.  This week we will be talking about people who have been “washing feet” by coming alongside the survivors in these places to be Christ’s hands and feet and to show them love, compassion, generosity and kindness.  We will talk about how we can pray for, support and encourage those serving and ministering to others as washers of feet as well as how we each can come alongside those enduring hardships in these areas as well as throughout our communities and all over the world so we can share very tangible and real examples of God’s love for them.
  4. If you are able, you may wish to enjoy some strawberries this week and as you do, be in prayer for the people who grow and harvest the strawberries. Strawberries grow abundantly in California and Texas, two of the places devastated by last year’s natural disasters.  Consider purchasing some berries at your local grocer or farmer’s market – and as you purchase, clean, prepare and enjoy them, be praying for the hands that have nurtured those strawberries so you might enjoy them.  You can enjoy something with fresh berries, or even strawberry ice cream, a strawberry smoothie, strawberry jam or strawberry yogurt!  This is just a tangible way for us to remember to pray for the people in our prayer focus and to seek to love and care for each other, loving all our neighbors as Jesus calls us to.



“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”


Fruit of the Spirit:         


Spiritual Discipline:      




Prayer Focus:                

Disaster Relief – United States and Caribbean

Bible Memory Verse:   

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.””

(Jn. 13:34-35, NASB)


As I Have Done For You

Washing Feet: A Commandment to Love


Today’s Reading: Jn. 13:3-15


Feet.  Dirty, smelly, funky feet.  Feet you don’t want to touch.  Feet that have walked on dusty, dirty, unpaved roads.  Feet exposed to the grime, muck and mud of Israel’s paths.  Feet that stepped in stuff you don’t want to step in and definitely don’t want to touch.

Filthy, nasty, stinky feet.

The feet of twelve men – twenty four dirty feet.

Two of which He knew were going to walk into a Garden just a few hours later to lead a crowd that would seize Him, put Him on trial, wrongfully convict Him, sentence Him to death and, less than 24 hours later, crucify Him.

Not likely pedicured, dainty, fresh-smelling, pleasant or clean.

Still, He washed each of those feet.  Even the betrayer’s feet.

He argued with the stubborn one – the one who claimed he would never fall away from following Jesus, but denied Him three times before the rooster crowed the next morning.  When Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet, Jesus gave him a choice – submit to the cleaning or have no part with Jesus.  Peter responded with a counter offer.  Clean his feet, his hands and his head.

Jesus reminded Peter that he had been washed but that just his feet were now dirty.

A lesson that when we have accepted Christ, we are cleansed and we are covered by His blood.  Yet we must daily deal with our dirty feet – confessing our sins each day, asking God to help us make better choices, being honest and authentic with God as we seek to live like Jesus and become more like Him each day.

Foot washing prior to eating was a custom of their time and place.  Either the host or the host’s servant would wash the feet of the guests.  A simple act of kindness meant to clean and refresh weary travelers before they enjoyed a meal.

Jesus, the Savior of the world and God’s own Son, chose to wash His disciples’ feet as His last “official” act before His crucifixion.  Knowing that His betrayal was imminent and that His hours on earth were few, Jesus chose to use this time to teach His disciples a tangible lesson on humility, service and love.

Maundy Thursday is a day to remember how Christ lived and to seek to live in the same way.  Some churches have services in which they take Holy Communion, much like they did at the Last Supper, in rememberance of Jesus.  And prior to this reverent and moving service, there may be an opportunity to wash one another’s feet, as Jesus instructed His disciples to do after He had washed their feet.

“So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”

Jn. 13:12-15, NASB

It is believed that the word “maundy” comes from John 13:34. Maundy is believed to be a variation of the Latin word for commandment or mandate (mandatum), which is what Jesus gave to the disciples after He had washed their feet and taught them to wash each other’s feet.  Later, He commanded them to love one another, as He had loved them.

 ““A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jn. 13:34-35, NASB

Before He died for them, Jesus gave the disciples one more Life Lesson.  It was a lesson in service and humility.

It was a lesson in love.

The very first Fruit of the Spirit is love.

Depending on your Bible’s translation, the word “love” appears in the Bible anywhere from 300 to more than 500 times.

Perhaps the most well-known Bible verse is John 3:16, which tells us how much God loves us – and what He did because of His love for us.

““For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Jn. 3:16, NASB

And in John’s epistles, he encouraged us to love one another and reminded us that love comes from God and that our love is the evidence that we know Him and we are His children.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

1 Jn. 4:7, NASB


This week, we will study love, the first of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul wrote about in Galatians 5:22-23.  Perhaps love is the first spiritual fruit listed by Paul because every other fruit of the Holy Spirit must flow out of our love for God and others.

When Jesus was tested by one of the Pharisees who asked Him what the greatest commandment of the Law was, He taught that it was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind.  He then instructed them that they also should love their neighbor as themselves.

“But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘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.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”” (Matt. 22:34-40, NASB)

Love God.  Love your Neighbor.

It is as simple and as difficult as that.

And the only way that we can hope to be able to love God and love our neighbor is by walking with God, talking with God, seeking Him, praying to Him, studying His Word and seeking to live as Jesus lived.

All of the other fruits of the Holy Spirit – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – they all flow out of love.

If we don’t have love in our hearts, we cannot be joyful, we will not have peace, it will be difficult to be kind, our faith will be tested and found wanting, we will not be able to be gentle and we won’t have self-control because we will act not out of love but out of greed, selfishness, gluttony and impulse.

A life following God and Jesus begins with love.

It begins with accepting the love He gave us when He gave us Jesus – and it continues in loving Him and loving our neighbors each and every day.

It means washing the feet of others – sometimes literally, but more often in a figurative sense of serving others, putting others before you, humbling ourselves for each other, giving selflessly, seeking to bless and help each other.

We need to lean on each other.  Help each other back up.  Encourage each other.

We must be in fellowship with each other, strengthening and supporting each other.

Being there for each other when hardships, trials and even disasters enter our lives.

In other words, we need to love each other.

In John 13:35, Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by our love for each other and others.

And in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus used a story about the suffering, the least and the neediest among us to show that when we love and care for others, it as though we are loving and caring for Him.

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matt. 25:40, NASB)

And the converse is that when we don’t care for each other and we don’t help someone we see in need, then it is as though we are rejecting Jesus and refusing to care for Him.

“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ “ (Matt. 25:45, NASB)

Today, let us commit ourselves to being washers of feet.  Both literal and figurative.

Let us care for the people in our lives – those we know and love as well as those we meet for the first and perhaps only time in this life, and let us ask God each day to place us in the path of those who need to know and see and feel His love.

Washing feet is dirty work.  We will most certainly get our hands dirty as we wash the feet of others.

It is messy, tiring, and at times it will try and test us.

Will we wash their feet?  Would God ask us to clean even the feet of our enemy, opponent or adversary?

And yet in the process, we will find cleansing and healing ourselves as we wash the feet of our brothers and sisters.  For you simply cannot wash another’s feet without the warm sudsy water cascading also on you, cleansing and refining you.

As you wash the feet of another, perhaps it may even remind you of the sacrament of baptism – a time when we choose to publicly proclaim our faith in Christ and tell the world that we have chosen to die to sin.  Whether the water is placed on your head or if you are plunged beneath its surface,  it is a tangible symbol of newness of life, of sin washed away, of Jesus’s payment for our sins, that we are given new life – and that we have chosen to receive new life, cleansed by His blood, dead to sin, alive in Christ!

-all glory to God-

Jesus commanded us to do for others as He had done for us.  We are to be His hands and feet – which means using our hands and feet to show His love to a lost and hurting world.

The last lesson Jesus offered to His disciples before He died for our sins was an object lesson of love.  He humbled Himself as a servant, just as was prophesied by Isaiah hundreds of years before His birth.

“But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.”

(Is. 53:10-11, NASB)

By God’s grace, mercy and love, we are redeemed, ransomed and reconciled by the love and obedience of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.

By Jesus’s offering of His body on Calvary’s hill as the payment for our sins, we know peace and forgiveness, right-standing with God.

And by Christ’s resurrection, we know the promise and hope of eternity with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God has called us to love Him and to love others.

It is both refreshingly simple and exceedingly difficult.

If we walk with Him and talk with Him, He will show us how to love Him and to love each other, just as He showed His love to us in saving us by giving us His Son to redeem us and return us to Him.

“He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?”

(Mic. 6:8, NASB)

Knowing that His hours on earth as a man were numbered and that He would soon conquer sin and death for all mankind, Jesus chose to teach His disciples one last lesson.

It was a lesson in love, which is a lesson we all can use, especially in today’s often loveless times.

It was a lesson in love as an action verb, not love as a theoretical concept or wishful ideal.

And so today, let us choose to wash each other’s feet.

Let us love God.

Let us choose to love each other.

And let us love the world like God and Jesus love the world.

Completely, Totally, Selflessly and Unapologetically.

Now more than ever, what the world needs is love.




  1. Why do you think Jesus called us to be washers of feet? What is it about washing another’s feet that might make us reluctant to do so?




  1. What are some figurative ways we can wash feet? What are some ways to serve that may be difficult and challenging – but which God calls us to?




  1. Has there been someone in your life who has shown love to you , perhaps who served you when you were in need and who gave you hope and kindness? Give thanks today for that person and, if possible, thank them for the difference they made in your life.




  1. God calls us to have fellowship with Him and with each other. Briefly, describe what your fellowship life is like right now with God and with others.  Do you have a church home?  If so, do you have a fellowship, small group, Sunday school or Bible study that you are able to participate in regularly?  If you aren’t attending a church regularly, could you begin to research and visit churches in your area?  If you do have a church home but aren’t involved in a fellowship group right now, could you make it a goal in the weeks ahead to visit different Sunday school classes and/or small groups?  Is there a Bible study that you could join?  Write in the area below about your current fellowship life and also about any hopes or goals to strengthen your walk and fellowship with God and others.





Do you have a fellow Christ-follower that you talk with regularly to encourage, support and help each other with the daily challenges of life?  Someone that can hold you accountable and vice-versa?   It might be a friend you email and talk with by phone regularly, possibly meeting for coffee or a meal on a monthly basis.

This should be a person of the same gender as you who is a Christ follower and who is able to relate to you in your walk of faith.  For those who have recently accepted Christ, you will want to seek an accountability partner whose faith is seasoned and mature so that they can disciple and encourage you.  Your church will likely be able to help you find a fellowship friend – you might call the men’s or women’s leadership or your church’s small group pastor.

For those who have been walking with Christ for some time, you might choose to both disciple someone newer in their faith and also have an accountability partner who is also mature in their faith so that you can strengthen each other in your spiritual walk.





  1. Can you wash the feet of someone in your life today? It might be the feet of your spouse or your children.  If possible, wash their feet one day this week and pray for them and ask God’s blessings on your loved one.
  2. This week, we are going to talk about how to love and serve those in need, especially after disaster has entered their lives. Sometimes, that may be a natural disaster like a hurricane or wildfire.  At other times, those disasters can be health crises, financial hardships or other types of challenges.  If you feel led to do so, ask God if there is a place in your community where you can wash the feet of people in need.  Throughout this week, we will think and talk and consider what it means to love others and to wash their feet, as Jesus commanded us to.  As you pray this week, ask God to show you places where He may be calling you.
  3. Please be in prayer for the victims of last year’s hurricanes, wildfires and flooding in Texas, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida and California. Even though months have passed since these disasters, many people in these places continue to struggle as they seek to rebuild their homes, neighborhoods and lives.  This week we will be talking about people who have been “washing feet” by coming alongside the survivors in these places to be Christ’s hands and feet and to show them love, compassion, generosity and kindness.  We will talk about how we can pray for, support and encourage those serving and ministering to others as washers of feet as well as how we each can come alongside those enduring hardships in these areas as well as throughout our communities and all over the world so we can share very tangible and real examples of God’s love for them.
  4. This week, consider enjoying something made with strawberries.  As you select them from the produce section, pray for the people who picked the strawberries and the farms where those strawberries grew.  Many strawberries are grown in California and Texas, places that were devastated last year by fires, flooding and hurricanes.  Be in prayer for the people affected by these natural disasters and for those who are ministering to them as they begin the difficult and lengthy process of rebuilding their lives.  Pray for the people in our prayer focus this week as well as those throughout the world enduring hardships, trials and disasters.  Ask God to show you how you can be love to these people – and then be obedient as He leads you to serve, love and bless someone in need this week – perhaps someone in our prayer focus area or in another region of the world.


Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us.  Thank you for coming down to earth to rescue us.  Thank You for demonstrating love to us so that we can love each other as You love us.

Lord, washing feet is not easy.  We often feel ill-prepared for the task and at times when we are honest with ourselves and You, we may not even want to wash another’s feet.

This world has grown cold and seems to grow colder and more loveless with each passing day.  There are some among us who call themselves followers of Christ, but they live lives of anger, hate and fear-mongering. 

Yet each day, we must choose love.  We must choose to follow Jesus and choose to follow His example and commandment – a life of love. 

We long to serve and love You and each other as You call us to, but all too often, we don’t know where to begin.  Our problems are so big, our challenges so great and our lives so busy and complicated that we may feel overwhelmed and underprepared.

Some days, we may strive just for our voices to be heard above the cacophony of cynicism, contempt and judgment that surrounds us. 

Our world is increasingly disconnected relationally, even as we are connected ever more technologically.  People rant and rave and yell and attack each other virtually yet more than ever, people are needing and wanting real connections, encouragement, hope and love.

Lord, let us be the love that this world needs.  God, help us to shine Your bright light in this dark place. 

Where others sow hate, help us to plant love. 

When some choose anger, help us to choose love.

When the world ridicules and mocks and rejects us as the world mocked Your Son, help us to choose love.

When we are condemned for our faith, help us to choose love.

When some try to bait and lure us into a heated argument or debate about You, help us to choose love.

Where the world declares it is too late or that a person is too far gone, help us to show the world that it is never too late for love and that no one is ever too far gone to be saved.

God, we want to be Your hands and feet in this world.  We want to do Your will, to fulfill Your Great Commission and to live out Your commandment that we wash each other’s feet, just as Your Son washed the feet of the disciples as He prepared to give His life as the payment for our sins.

Strengthen our hands that we may wash each other’s feet – that we may serve, encourage, help, nurture, sustain and love each other.  Help us to be each other’s keeper, to be friends to one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, the face of Jesus, the embodiment of love to a world so desperately needing and wanting love – whether or not they would dare admit such a need or want.

Help us to be humble and merciful, not boasting of our salvation and faith but remembering that we once were lost too, just as so many still are.  Grant us that we might have wisdom and kindness to share with those You place in our paths today, this week and throughout our lives.  Help us never to be arrogant or superior as we share our faith, but help us to point the hurting, the lost, the needy to You – as we love them as You love us.

Protect us as we share Your love.  Make us wise as serpents yet innocent as doves, knowing that some would try to take advantage of love and even try to harm those who are loving and gracious.  Help us to make wise choices in those we interact with, knowing that evil is present in this world and that we must be wise even as we are loving.

Help our hearts to remain tender in spite of the hate and anger that surrounds us.  Where others seek to hurt and tear down, help us to heal and build up.

Lord, use us, guide us and direct us to where You call us.

Help us to be obedient to go where You call us, to follow where You lead us and to love as You love us.

We pray for the lost today – for those who need You and those who don’t yet know You and for those who have rejected You.

Let us be Your hands and feet and let us be washers of feet.

Your Word teaches us that of faith, hope and love – the greatest of these is love.

So Lord, we pray that You would help us to love and that You would soften our hearts to love each other and others, that You would show us those desperately in need of love and that we would be faithful to love and care for the least and neediest and the suffering among us. 

Open our eyes, Lord, so that we might see this world as You see it.  Help us to see people who need You, who need love.

And then we pray that You would strengthen our hands and our hearts so that we would be willing to wash dirty feet, remembering that our Savior went to the cross and died for our sins, paying a debt He didn’t owe, a debt that we couldn’t pay, so that we could be redeemed and reconciled to You, O God.

Lord, help us to wash each other’s feet and to love each other as You have called us.  Let us be love to this world, and let that love be a sweet fragrant offering to You.  We pray that the warm and welcoming scent of love would draw the lost to You, to the One who loves us so much that You gave Your Son for us.

God, let our lives be a love letter to You, even as Your Word is a love letter to us.

Thank You for Jesus, God.  Thank You for Easter.  And thank You for Your life-giving, life-saving love.  Help us to tell the world about You and to tell them how very much You love the world.

In Christ’s name we pray,





“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”





All His.



“ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”  Rom. 11:36 NASB


“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” James 1:17-18, NASB


My house.  My health.  My job.  My money.  My family.  My stuff.  My hopes.  My dreams.  My life.


Sometimes, we forget that all we have comes from God.  Those many things before which we all too often place the pronoun “my” when, in reality, the pronoun “Yours” belongs.

It’s all God’s.

From the heart that beats and gives us life to the clothes we wear, the roof over our heads, the food we’re nourished by, the people we love and those who love us, the car we drive, the trinkets we treasure, the plans we make, the places we visit and the opportunities before us.  All of them.

All God’s.

We may try to hold tightly to those things.  We try to protect them.  We cling to them.  We want more of them.  At times, it seems as though we are never satisfied by them.  Striving for bigger and better, more than we have, keeping up with the Joneses.  It’s even possible to turn those things into idols.  Idols you love as much – or even more than – God.  And yet.

It’s all God’s.

We may be deceived into thinking that we have control over all those things.  That if we just plan carefully, those things will be safe.  That if we take the right steps and make the right moves, are cautious and careful — then nothing bad will happen to those things.  That if we simply play by the “right” set of rules, then we’ll win at the game of life with a perfect score and a Hollywood ending.  Still.

It’s all God’s.

We can begin to covet those things.  Never enough, ever wanting more.  Reading the social media posts of others and deciding we are less than because they appear more than. Looking at the news and comparing and contrasting ourselves to an invisible standard that doesn’t actually exist and feeling as though the train has passed us by because our things aren’t like “their” things, feeling as though our lives pale in comparison to “their” lives – whomever “they” might be.  Hoarding our things, clinging and clutching them and not enjoying or sharing them because we are afraid something could happen to them.  Too occupied with getting more, ever striving, always wanting, trying to fill a hole that forever demands more and is never satisfied.  Forgetting.

It’s all God’s.

Not being thankful, attitudes of ingratitude, wishing our things were different things, better things, nicer things.  Spending our days working for more things, buying new things, hating old things that are perfectly good, just not new, just not “good enough” things.  Afraid to share our things because we worry that if we give some away, we might not have enough.   Perhaps even refusing to give to God these things He has given to us, deciding that we need these things more and being scarce and stingy in our gifts, forgetting the blessings He has so richly poured out on us.  But.

It’s all God’s.

As we begin Holy Week and look to Easter Sunday, may our hearts and minds be reminded of God’s great love and gifts to us.  May we remember all we have is His.

I pray that we might remember all our blessings come from God.  As James wrote, every good and perfect gift comes from God.  (Jas. 1:7)  And Paul teaches us in Romans that from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. (Rom. 11:36)

When you were a little kid, did you ever ask your mom or dad to take you to the store to buy a Christmas or birthday present for them?  They drove you to the store, they gave you the money to buy their gift – either as an allowance or as shopping money, they waited for you as you picked out the perfect present, helped you count out your money as you paid the store clerk, they gave you the wrapping paper and ribbon and may have even helped you wrap it, promising that they weren’t looking at the gift, just helping you cut the paper and offering you pieces of tape as you proudly wrapped and decorated the gift in your own perfectly imperfect, uneven folds of paper, tape festooned masterpiece.

And then you presented your gift, beaming with happiness and excitement that you were able to give your mom or dad a special gift that you picked out and you paid for and you wrapped — “all by yourself”  — all to show them how much you loved and cared for them.

Do you ever picture the gifts we give to God as a little bit like that?

He gives us everything – our talents, time and treasures.

And then we get to give back to Him out of the abundance He has given us.

It’s all His.  But He has shared it with us so that we could enjoy it and then we are able to bless Him and others with His gifts.

God doesn’t need us to give to Him.  It’s all His, after all.

Instead, He simply wants us to want to give to Him.

He wants us to delight in blessing Him and others with the gifts He has given to us.

For some, that may mean using your gifts to make a difference in the world by serving others in your community or halfway around the world.

For others, it could be that God wants you to give your time – it could be time in prayer, in worship or time in service, time studying His Word or time just listening to a neighbor or loved one going through a difficult time, being a friend to someone in need.

It might mean giving of the resources and treasures God has brought into your life to make a difference in the lives of others through the spread of the Gospel and by meeting the very real and basic needs for people around the world and in your own backyard.

It could mean that you sacrifice something so that you can give it away to help others.

Like foregoing a favorite television show or hobby during Lent to spend time with God in study, worship or service.

Or giving up a favorite food or treat during Lent and donating the money you didn’t spend on it to an organization that is sharing God’s love.

It doesn’t have to be grand or epic.

In fact, Jesus taught us in the story of the widow’s mite that the greater sacrifice has less to do with the size of the gift and more to do with the heart of the giver.

As we stand before God with our lopsidedly wrapped, perfectly imperfect gifts of time, talent and treasure, can you picture Him beaming with the love and delight of a parent?   Knowing that His child chose to bless and honor Him with the gifts He has given us, seeing our excitement as we give our small yet special gift to the Giver of all, the Giver of life.

I’m reminded of the Doxology.


“Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Praise God, all creatures here below.

Praise God above ye heavenly host.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”



May we praise Him together, thanking Him for all He has done for us by giving to Him from all He has given to us.

And may we be ever mindful, at Easter and throughout the year, that He gave His Son to save us from sin, so that we could be redeemed, ransomed and reconciled to Him.

May our praise be offered up to Him today as a gift of love and gratitude and may we give to Him as we are able, all this for our King.

And today, may we join together in prayer for the students of Parkland and for all of the victims of gun violence.  As we remember the victims of school shootings and stand with the students who demonstrated this weekend — with all those who simply want their schools to be safe and to be able to attend school without fear of gun violence on their campus — may we offer love, encouragement and acceptance to these brave and inspiring young people.



1 – Do you have a favorite place?  It could be your hometown, somewhere you visited on vacation, a scenic road you love to drive, sitting by the ocean or lake, your neighborhood coffee place, watching your favorite team play or even just being at home with loved ones? In the space below. thank God for that place He has given you and for the memories and peace He gives you there.  Thank Him for all His many gifts to you, honoring and remembering Him and that all our gifts are from God.



2 – Do you have a favorite hymn or worship song?  If so, consider listening to that song today and giving thanks to God for all the gifts He has given to you and for His great love for you.  If you don’t have a favorite song right now, you could listen to a Christian radio station in your area or online and just enjoy a time of worship and thanksgiving.



3 – Is it possible that there is a “one thing” in your life that you are holding on to or always searching for more of that you want to entrust to God?  Something you are holding on to so tightly but God is calling you to give it to Him, assuring you that He can handle it?  Have you made an idol of a blessing God has given you?  Ask God to show you if there is anything in your life that He is calling you to hand over to Him and then ask for the strength to trust Him.  Ask Him to help you make Him your One Thing.




4 – As we near the end of Lent and await the joy and hope of Resurrection Sunday, we can look back on the season of Lent and on how God has worked in our lives through these 40 days.  Have you had the opportunity to offer and sacrifice to God during this time?  If so, how did it feel to offer a symbolic sacrifice to God at Lent?


If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, you could choose to dedicate something symbolic this week to God – maybe taking a break from social media or a favorite show or giving up sweets or eating out through the end of Lent.


Holy Week is a week of contrasts – the week began with joyful shouts of Hosanna and praise as Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem, the crowds laying down branches in the road before Jesus as He fulfilled prophecies of old and entered the city riding on a colt as He prepared to lay down His own life for them.

A solemn Passover meal spent with His disciples in a borrowed upper room, a New Covenant made with bread and wine which foreshadowed the sacrifice of the body and blood that Christ would soon offer for us, a plea to His Father to take this cup from Him, yet submitting Himself and His will to the Father, the painful yet predicted betrayal by one of His own disciples in a Garden where His disciples couldn’t keep watch for an hour, a disciple’s thrice denial of even knowing the Man as a rooster crowed and pierced the morning’s sunrise.

Angry shouts calling for His crucifixion by the same people who had sung Hosanna just days earlier, relentless demands made that Pontius Pilate release a violent and sinful criminal named Barabbas who had led an insurrection rather than the innocent, holy, righteous, sinless and loving Jesus.

The cruel taunts and mockings of Roman soldiers, Pilate washing his hands of this man’s blood – the very blood that would pay the price and ransom humanity, a crown of thorns painfully placed on His head, a heavy cross carried by Simon of Cyrene as Christ carried all of our sins upon Himself preparing to give His own life for ours, a hastily made sign placed above Him ridiculing His royalty, all the while He interceded on their behalf to His Heavenly Father – asking Him to forgive them their ignorance, two thieves on either side of Him – one choosing paradise, the other refusing it even in his final breath.

Jesus’s voice crying out asking God why He had forsaken Him, sour wine offered to Him on a sponge and yet more jeers from the voyeuristic crowd disbelieving and denying His deity.

And then our Savior’s cry rang out in the noonday darkened sky as the veil of the temple was torn in two.

It is Finished, He declared.

Grief, sorrow and despair from His followers, a tomb, burial preparations of myrrh to honor Him in His death – the same fragrant spice that wise men from the east gave to the newborn King of the Jews – the King of Kings –  as they honored Him in His birth, the stillness of the tomb from sundown to sundown on the Sabbath day.

Sun rising on an empty tomb, confusion and chaos, disciples running, women weeping, carefully folded grave clothes no longer needed, a heavy stone miraculously rolled away.

Angels declaring.

He is not here.

He is Risen.

Followers seeing Him.  Hearing Him.


Quickly running.

Sharing the Good News.

His followers celebrating.

Eyes opened on the road to Emmaus.

A doubting disciple, seeing and believing.

Rejoicing and worshipping.  Pharisees furious.

A seaside breakfast of grilled fish and bread.

Forgiveness for the disciple who had denied Him, a ministry and calling to tend His sheep.

A Great Commission given.

His heavenly ascension.

The Holy Spirit falling upon them, filling them, comforting and encouraging them for the days of wonder, worship and wandering ahead of them.

Their lives, our lives and all of the world would never be the same, Praise God!


This week we will begin studying the first of the Fruits of the Spirit – love.

Since there are nine fruits of the Spirit and we will study one fruit each week, we will continue with the study and devotionals through early summer.

You are in my prayers as we observe Palm Sunday, reflecting on the mixed emotions of Holy Week —  Sunday’s excitement and anticipation, Jesus driving out those who sullied His Father’s House and used it to enrich themselves, His days spent teaching in the temple, chief priests, scribes and elders confronting and challenging Him, Thursday’s betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, a kangaroo court, a crooked trial, lying witnesses, an unjust and undeserved death sentence that had been issued before the beginning of time as the only way to redeem humanity, Friday’s despair, Saturday’s sorrow – and then Sunday’s confusion, shock — and ultimately the celebration, joy and jubilation of our Savior’s resurrection!

How amazing God’s love and grace are that He came down to earth to give His life for ours.

How overwhelming it is that we can call the cross wonderful, knowing that it was upon that cross where our Savior died on Calvary’s hill, crying out for His Heavenly Father and Himself hearing the silence of God as God allowed Him to complete His rescue mission for all mankind.

What was meant for evil God used for good – for the forgiveness and atonement of our sins, for our eternal salvation and to bring us safely home to Him.

Just as He has done from the beginning of time and just as He will do for all of eternity.

Praising God with you as we walk through Passion Week, remembering God’s great love and reflecting and thanking Him for the wonderful cross – a Roman instrument of torture that God used to save us and to give us life and life eternal.

Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!

“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”

Week 1

Day 6: Life in a Fallen World: Where Is God in the Middle of Evil?









Have you ever asked any of these questions in response to a traumatic event that happened to you, someone you loved – or even one that did not happen directly to you, but you still felt its effects and hurt and grieved along with the victims?

It’s likely that we all have asked those questions of ourselves and God, either out loud or quietly in our own heads as we try to make sense of an often disordered and violent world.




For those who don’t know God and those who have rejected Him, the tragedies of life seem to support a flawed and fallacious conclusion that because there is evil, there is no God.  In the hours and days following a violent crime or natural disaster, we often hear atheists seek to justify their belief that God does not exist and that a good God would not allow such suffering and pain in His children.

However, for those who know and accept God and His Word, there is an understanding that we are living in a fallen world, one which is temporarily under Satan’s power as a result of a choice made by one woman and one man, tempted by a piece of fruit and deceived by a serpent in the Garden of Eden.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”” (Gen. 2:15-17, NASB)

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” (Gen. 3:1-7, NASB)

Like one domino falling and setting off a chain reaction of a million subsequent dominoes, that   one choice altered life as God intended it.  The Bible teaches us that sin entered the human race through the choice that Adam and Eve made to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—” (Rom. 5:12, NASB)

Since we know that God knows everything, Adam and Eve’s choice wouldn’t have surprised God – though it surely must have grieved Him knowing that His children would fail in their very first trial on earth.

Followers of Christ are not vaccinated against tragedy and trials.  Suffering and struggles are the reality of living in a fallen world for every single one of us.  Believers and unbelievers alike face the same adversaries – among them disease, death, divorce, depression and devastation. To live in this world is to experience loss, heartache, discouragement – and at times, defeat.

While at times it may seem unfair, God allows the good and bad of this life to affect each of us.

“ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:43-45, NASB)

If we trust God and obey Him through both the sunshine and storms, God will use the good and bad of this life to teach, refine and strengthen us as we are sanctified and become more like His Son and our Savior each day.

Jesus’s brother James taught in his epistle to his brothers and sisters in Christ that we should be grateful for our trials and that we should even count them as joyful blessings.   James was writing to  followers of The Way – some of the earliest Jewish converts to Christianity who had been scattered in different directions and who were experiencing persecution and hardship because of their faith and conversion as followers of Christ.

“ Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jas. 1:2-3, NASB)

As we persist and persevere through our trials, these trials will change us from the inside out, helping us to walk more closely with God, trust our Lord and Savior in every detail of our lives, and becoming more like Jesus in the process.  Further, our trust in God through the trials of our lives will serve as a testimony of who God is and what He is doing in us as people who don’t yet know Him see us trusting God, even in the heartbreaks and challenges that life on this earth brings to all of us.

When Jesus came down from heaven to live among us, He came to live as one of us.  The Creator of all subjected Himself to experience the same pains, griefs, sorrows and hardships as His children.  He came in human form so that He could suffer alongside us and teach us how to endure, to persevere and to trust our Heavenly Father.

While He could have come as an earthly king or aristocrat, He chose to be a carpenter – a builder.  It was prophesied by Isaiah that He would be the Prince of Peace and that the government would rest upon His shoulders (Is. 9:6-7) – yet He didn’t choose a castle or seat of power for His birthplace, but rather a manger in the town of Bethlehem. (Lk. 2:12; Mic. 5:2)

In such a fitting display of His great love for us, He chose to allow Himself to suffer for and with us, so that we might see Him as our Savior and our Friend.  As Emmanuel – God with us – Jesus left the peace and beauty of heaven on a rescue mission which would require Him to suffer and die if it were to be successfully completed.  He chose an earthly life of hardship and betrayal, knowing that His journey from Bethlehem to Calvary would be difficult, painful – but the only way to deliver us from sin’s terrifying grip.  As we look back on His earthly days, we can see how Jesus persevered and endured – and we are able to rely on His example as a way to choose to live.  Our God came down to suffer as we suffer so that we might know our High Priest chose to die for us so that we could live with Him and with our Heavenly Father forever.  And as we endure these days, we can take comfort and strength in His example, pressing on through the evil days and choosing a righteous and virtuous life rather than succumbing to sin and evil.

“ For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16, NASB)


The good news is, quite literally, The Good News.  Because while we will all go through the mud and muck of life on this earth, believers have a hope that lies beyond this world – a sure hope of God’s promise not only of eternal blessings in heaven but just as trustworthy a hope that God is with us in the temporal struggles we face in our often weak and weary earthly bodies.  Each day, He is with us as we endure, persevere and strive through what feels like an endless assortment of chores, to-do lists, conflicts and hardships.

Some days are better than others, of course.  But the reality is that even in the most perfect of days, challenges will arrive on each of our doorsteps, whether we invited them or not.  It may happen to us, a loved one or a complete stranger we read about in the news – but we can be certain that trouble finds all of us in one way and at one time or another.

And through it all, as followers of Christ we must be diligent to continue following Christ, we must continue on our walk of faith and we must make a conscious decision that we will not give up and we will not lose faith, no matter what.  We must seek to point people to our hope and encourage others to join us on this journey.

We need to be prepared for these types of days – mornings you’d rather stay in bed than face the leftovers of yesterday’s problems, moments of chaos, hours of heartache and nights spent tossing and turning as you try to make sense of it all.

In those days, we will need more than ever the kind of vision to see that God is with us, especially in moments of what feels like soul-shattering pain.  We may not feel that He is there – which is why we must trust that He is there.  It may feel like we are all alone and like the world is falling in on us.  That is exactly what Satan wants us to feel and believe.  Satan wants us to believe that God is angry with us, that He has abandoned us, that we are all alone and that we have no hope.  Those are the dark corners of the universe where Satan seeks to lure us in moments of despair and depression.

In the book of Job, Satan sought to destroy Job in his futile effort to persuade Job to turn from God.  While Satan ultimately failed, there were moments in Job’s days of suffering in which he questioned, challenged and doubted God’s plans.  It was in these times that Job was vulnerable to the lies of Satan – that God doesn’t care, that He isn’t with us, that He won’t help us, that He has abandoned us and that He is angry with us.

“ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:6-12, NASB)

Job’s initial response was faith and trust.

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said,

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:20-22, NASB)

Satan was then permitted to bring great pain and suffering into Job’s life.  God allowed Satan to try and test Job – though God commanded that Satan could not take Job’s life.  God had such confidence in His servant Job that He believed that Satan couldn’t take Job from God’s hands.  God knew that Satan would try to destroy and deceive Job, but God knew His faithful child and knew that Job would persevere and press through the trials.

In the midst of the evil – Job lost all his possessions, his livestock, his health and his children – Job did have days of questioning God and himself.  He wondered what he could have done to have brought upon such suffering and loss.  What Job couldn’t see was the invisible struggle between God and Satan, between good and evil.

Ultimately, that is the essence of this world.  It is as simple and complex as that.  Every day, there is a battle waged between forces of good and forces of evil.  It is a recurring showdown between light and darkness – between the Rebellion and the Empire for the Star Wars fans among us.

It doesn’t matter if you are righteous, loving, good and honest.  In fact, if you are, you have assured yourself a front row seat to the match.  It is because of your trust in and love of God that Satan wants you.  Satan’s focus is on deceiving those who are following and obeying God as they seek to live as God has called them and Satan wants to perpetuate the disobedience of those who have rejected God and turned to a life of sin, evil, hate and misery, albeit often hidden in a mirage of pleasure and indulgence.

Satan targets the faithful because he desires to draw people away from God.  Satan is jealous of God – it was his pride that caused him to fall from heaven and to be separated from God.  As they say, misery loves company.  And Satan – a fallen angel and demon – would love nothing more than to add any of us to his company of misery, separating us forever from our loving God and Creator.

God allowed Job his questions and wonderings.  He waited patiently while Job struggled with the whys and hows and what if’s as he reviewed the film of his life, trying to figure out where he had gone wrong and what he had done to provoke God’s anger and punishment.

Below is an example of the questions Job asked of God as he sat suffering and contemplating his situation.

““Have I rejoiced at the extinction of my enemy,
Or exulted when evil befell him?
“No, I have not allowed my mouth to sin
By asking for his life in a curse.
 “Have the men of my tent not said,
‘Who can find one who has not been satisfied with his meat’?
“The alien has not lodged outside,
For I have opened my doors to the traveler.
“Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,
Because I feared the great multitude,
And the contempt of families terrified me,
And kept silent and did not go out of doors?
 “Oh that I had one to hear me!
Behold, here is my signature;
Let the Almighty answer me!
And the indictment which my adversary has written,” (Job 31:29-35, NASB)


God patiently waited and listened to Job’s questions.

And then, God answered Job.

And what an answer it was.  For several chapters, God showed Job who He is, what He has done, all He has created and oversees.  And then, God turned the tables on Job and began to question him, asking unanswerable, rhetorical questions of Job in response to Job’s demands and requests that God show him why he was suffering.


“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
 “Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
 Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
 “On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
 When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:1-7, NASB)


In listening to God’s eloquent and awesome response, Job realized that he was talking with Almighty God – the Creator of the heavens and all the universe.  Job humbly realized that his Maker had been with him the entire time, that He was in control of all things, had made all things and was in all things.  Suddenly, Job came to his senses and remembered the goodness, the majesty and the power of God and was repentant and responded with love, gratitude and obedience, entrusting himself to an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God full of love and mercy towards Job through all of his entreaties and challenges.

“Then Job answered the Lord and said,

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
 Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6, NASB)


There will be days of struggle, suffering and sorrow in this life.  We will endure tests, trials and tribulations.  We may even feel like giving up and giving in.


Yet the Son of God calls us to take courage and He reminds us that He has overcome the world.  Jesus told us so much in the Gospel of John:


“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33, NASB)


For followers of Christ, we know how the story ends.


Death is defeated.


Satan is defeated.


Sin is defeated.


We are forgiven.


We are reconciled to God.


“But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:54-57, NASB)


And God’s Word teaches us that we will spend eternity with the triune God — our Creator, our Savior and our Comforter (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit).


There will be no more evil, no more death, no more mourning, crying or pain.


“ And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”” (Rev. 21:3-4, NASB)


I love the picture God paints for us in the book of Second Kings.  God has revealed to his prophet Elisha the evil plans and purposes of the king of Aram, who is seeking to destroy Israel.  God warns Elisha so that Elisha can warn the king of Israel.  Israel is able to take evasive action to avoid the Arameans.

The Aramean king is angry that he has been unable to fulfill his planned surprise attack on Israel and he believes there is a spy among the Arameans.  He asks which of them is on the side of the king of Israel, but his men tell him that Elisha is able to hear the plans and strategies the king is discussing.

In response, the king of Aram demands to know where Elisha is and sends his men to carry out a surprise attack against him.

That night, an Aramean army of horses, chariots and soldiers encircle Elisha in Dothan.

Elisha’s servant arises early the next morning to discover the Aramean army surrounding them.  Like most of us would likely be, Elisha’s servant is filled with fear and dread.

Here is the passage:


“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

(2 Kings 6:15-17, NASB)


Elisha’s servant essentially asks him “Now What?”

And Elisha tells his servant not to fear.  Elisha trusts God – and he wants his servant to trust God also.

He reassures his servant and tells him that their army is bigger than the Aramean army.  It wasn’t the Israelite army that was bigger – it was a heavenly army of God that was with them.

And then Elisha prays and asks God to show his servant what he saw.  God’s answered Elisha’s prayer and opened the servant’s eyes.  Immediately, Elisha’s servant saw the LORD’s army with them and he could see and feel God’s presence.

In the same manner that Elisha asked God to open the eyes of his servant, he then asked God to shut the eyes of the Aramean soldiers.  God again answered Elisha’s prayer and blinded the Arameans surrounding them.  Elisha told the Arameans that they weren’t the ones the Arameans were seeking and he offered to take them to the man that they were seeking.

Which reminds me of this…


He led the blinded Aramean army to Samaria and asked God to return sight to their eyes.

As the men looked around, they saw that it was none other than their enemy, the King of Israel.  He asked Elisha if he should kill them, but Elisha counseled the king instead to care for the Arameans and give them bread and water.

As the story concludes, we learn that the Arameans were sent back to their king and that they left Israel alone after that encounter with Elisha.

God gave Elisha the peace and assurance that He was with them – and Elisha asked that his servant might receive the same vision and be able to see God’s presence.

God also gave Elisha great wisdom to help him see how to handle the evil that was surrounding him.

Because of that, Elisha was able to defuse the situation and he was not drawn into a battle of attrition with the Aramean army.

When we are facing evil or uncertainty, we can remember Elisha’s prayer that his servant would be able to see God’s presence all around them.  We can pray for the same awareness and peace that Elisha asked for and ask God to help us rest and trust in Him.

While God may not literally show us His armies, He will give us a peace that He is with us and that He will not leave or forsake us.

And we can ask God to give us wisdom to know how to deal with the evil surrounding us so that we would make wise choices and live in a way that honors God.

As Elisha prayed, so may we pray when we face evil in our lives.  May we seek and take comfort in God’s presence, surrounding us with love, power and strength.  May we know that God is with us in everything we go through.  May we always remember that God loves us and will see us through each battle until He brings us home to Him.





When evil enters our lives, we sometimes ask where God was and why He let the evil happen to us.

When we don’t hear God, we wonder why He is silent and why He is not speaking to us.

We are not unique in asking these questions.

In the times of the judges, Gideon asked these same questions.  When the angel of the Lord came to Gideon to give him an important assignment from God, the angel of the Lord told him the Lord was with him, Gideon’s response was to question if God really was with them – and if so, why had all these bad things happened to them at the hands of the Midianites.

“ “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:13-14, NASB)

More than a thousand years later, the sisters of Lazarus would also ask if God really was with them when they told Jesus that if He had been there, then their brother would not have died.  Unable to see that Jesus was with them even though they couldn’t physically see His presence, Mary and Martha couldn’t understand why Jesus had not come to heal his friend Lazarus, especially in light of the fact that Jesus had healed total strangers all over Israel.

What the sisters could not have known is that Jesus would resurrect Lazarus and would call him out of death and into life, from the darkness of grave cloths to the bright light of the living.

During those several days while Lazarus was ill and in the days after his death when he was placed in the tomb, Mary and Martha heard only the silence of God, punctuated by the wailing and weeping of mourners.

 “So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off;and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.””

(Jn. 11:14- 22, NASB)

Even in the silence of God, we must remember that God is with us.  In the same way that we may not physically see God’s presence, we also may not hear God’s presence.  We may go through seasons when we do not feel as though God is speaking with us or responding to our prayers.  We may feel as though we are crying out to God in vain and we may worry that He is not listening or that He won’t answer our prayers.

It is in those times that we must know for certain that God is with us and that He hears us and is answering our prayers in His timing and in His ways.  Just as Jesus had a purpose and a plan in delaying His visit to Lazarus, so does He have a purpose and a plan in our lives.

There may be days when we suffer and grieve and mourn.  There will be losses, struggles and sorrows.  But through it all, we must hold on to the hope that God loves us, that He is with us and that He will help us through each day.  We must know and believe that God will never let go of us.

While we do have the hope of heaven even as we live here on earth, we will still face dark and difficult days.  There will be incidents in our lives that will shake us to our core.  We will read stories and hear of violence and hate and evil – across the globe, throughout our nation and even in our own neighborhoods.

You may have experienced or witnessed these kinds of days – of heartbreak, illness, betrayal and even death.  You may wonder why God allowed you to suffer and why He allowed someone you love to be taken from you.  You may question why God allows cancer, abuse and injuries.  You might have seen violence, war and suffering.  Perhaps in your own life you have seen the toll of physical pain, addiction, bullying or financial devastation.

You may have cried out to God, raged at Him and demanded answers from Him.  If He didn’t answer prayers as you asked them, you may have felt disappointed, discouraged and even destroyed.

Please know that God loves you and that He always will love you.

He is big enough to handle all of our questions, our cries and even our screams.

In our days of questioning and suffering, God is the same God as He is in our days of salvation, joy, triumph and comfort.

God does not change.  The world around us changes, our health and fortunes change, people whom we trusted may change and they may even betray us – but God never changes.

Our lives can change in the blink of an eye.  Our lives can and may and will change in the time it takes for a person to arm themselves with weapons and ammunition and enter a school, hotel or movie theatre, in the time it takes for a terrorist to board a plane or train determined to kill and destroy, in the time it takes for a drunk or distracted driver to take the life of a loved one.

But God does not change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8, NASB)

“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal. 3:6, NASB)

In the days when we face evil and its consequences, we must cling to our faith in God, our hope in Christ and to each other.  We must decide each day that we will continue to trust and obey God and love each other, even when we cannot see where we are going, when we cannot make sense of what appears to be madness all around us and especially when we see evil lurking and prowling, seeking to consume and destroy us.

The Bible teaches us “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” (2 Cor. 5:7, NASB).

There will be days of natural disasters, personal tragedies, global sufferings and unspeakable evil, even for followers of Christ.

The reality is that while God could change the heart of man and He could have chosen to make us love and follow Him, He wanted us to seek Him and want to love Him.

In giving us free will, God gave us the choice to love Him and others – or not.

None of us can make that choice for another person; we can only make that choice for ourselves.  Sadly, some will reject God and they will reject Christ.

Some will choose to live lives of evil, hate and anger.  This world is under the temporary control of the Enemy.  At a time in the future that only God knows, the power will transfer completely and eternally to Jesus Christ.  But for now, we live in a fallen and broken world in which bad things can and do happen to good people.

However, we can take comfort and refuge in our Savior who offers us rest, healing and hope.  He is the antithesis to the evil and hate of the Enemy.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (Jn. 10:10, NASB)

In days like 9/11, Sandy Hook, the Las Vegas shooting, the Parkland school shooting, Columbine and all of these other evil days, we must hold on to God, hold on to Jesus and hold on to each other, helping each other through these tragedies and being the hands and feet of Jesus to one another.  We cannot become  bitter, cruel, resentful or revengeful.  We must walk through these days with God and with each other, living out the fruits of the Holy Spirit and tenderly caring for each other, encouraging each other and helping each other – and then working together to live out the Gospel and change this world with love and life, telling people the Good News of Jesus, helping them to break the chains of sin binding them, which once bound us before we knew of Christ’s liberating love.

I pray that we may feel and see the presence of God.  I pray that even in what feels like God’s silence, we would know He is with us and He is walking with us.  May we know God’s love and may we have peace in our hearts that He created us, He has a purpose and a plan for us and He will never leave us or let go of us.  May we see God as Abba – Daddy.  I pray that God would bind up our wounds, that He would show us tender mercy and grace and help us to press on and continue in our walk with Him.  I pray for those who don’t yet know Christ as Savior and I pray that today, you might take your very first step of faith towards Him.

I pray for those who are learning of God’s love, grace and mercy and whom the Holy Spirit is calling to follow Christ.  Like a baby taking a very first step with mom and dad right there to help and catch their precious child, may you see your Heavenly Father calling you to come to Him, promising that He will catch you, He will protect you, He will be with you and He will help you through your walk of faith, every single day in every single way.

May we not lose hope in the face of evil and tragedy, but may we be reminded of and trust in His promises to us through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.






  1. Why do you think there is evil in our world?





  1. Can you think of a time when you asked God why He allowed something tragic or evil to happen in our world? If so, briefly describe the time, your feelings, and your conversation with God.




  1. As a follow-up to the above question, how did you talk with God during this time? You may have gone to church, prayed, read your Bible, read books about faith and God, listened to faith-oriented music, spent time outdoors experiencing God’s creation, fellowship with loved ones, etc.





  1. How do you respond to stories of injustice, crime, tragedy and violence? Some people get angry, others feel sad, many people feel powerless or hopeless, and some people feel motivated to take action to counter the wrongdoings in our world.  You may feel all of these emotions at different times, depending on the situation.   For example, you may not feel capable or qualified to take on crime, violence or suffering in a city far from where you live, but you may be moved by a story and decide to get involved in your own community as a mentor or volunteer.





  1. Has there ever been a time in your life or the life of a loved one when God seemed to be silent during a struggle, trial or hardship? How do you respond when God is silent?  Are you able to see that God is present with us, even when we go through trials and difficult days?


A verse you might think about during those days is the following:


“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6, NASB)


Always  remember that God is with you and that He will never fail you, leave you or forsake you.  You may feel alone – but you never are alone.  God is always with you.


  1. There is an expression we often hear about how we should “lean-in” to a situation. While that can be helpful and push us to get more involved, there are times when we may need to “step back” or “lean out.”  Some examples of when we need to lean out is when things are getting too heated or our emotions are running too hot and we run the risk of saying or doing something we will regret.


James wrote about the dangers of our words and he cautioned us that the tongue is very small, but it can cause so much damage – and often damage which will be difficult to repair and heal.   In our day and age, this would apply to things we speak as well as things we type (texts, tweets, social media posts, etc.)


“And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” (Jas. 3:6-8, NASB)


Can you think of a time when you have regretted speaking (or texting, tweeting, emailing, etc.) in the moment?  Has there been a time when you wish you would have waited before you spoke?  If so, what could you have done differently before you spoke or typed?  Could you have prayed?  Counted to 10 (or 100!)?  Wrote out what you wanted to say, then prayed about it, entrusted it to God and asked for understanding and peace and either deleted it or thrown it away, never saying it?



  1. Passages of Evil. Select one or more of the below passages in the Bible and describe what the nature of the conflict was in the passage.  For example, was it man vs. man; man vs. self; man vs. God; man vs. nature; man vs. society, etc.  What was the evil choice that the person made?  What were the consequences of that evil choice?  How far did the consequences travel?


  1. Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:3-12)
  2. Sibling rivalry between Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37)
  3. Pharaoh killing the baby boys of the Israelites (Ex. 1)
  4. David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11)
  5. Herod’s decree to kill Jewish babies after the birth of Jesus (Matt. 2:16-18)
  6. Judas’s betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:14-18; Matt. 27:1-10; Jn. 14:21-30; Jn. 18:1-6)
  7. Jesus’s death (Lk. 23:13-25; Lk. 23:33-49)
  8. Sapphira and Ananias (Acts 5:1-11)
  9. Stephen’s death (Acts 7:54-60)





  1. There is an expression that people sometimes use when talking about someone who has done something or gone through something devastating or destructive — “There but for the grace of God go I.”   This phrase is attributed to John Bradford, a chaplain of the Church of England who died a martyr’s death for his faith in 1555.  The common understanding of the expression is that any one of us has the potential for evil, given our sinful nature, but that it is God’s grace that has protected us and that it is God’s grace, teaching and protection that helps us make good, wise and right choices.


“The pious Martyr Bradford, when he saw a poor criminal led to execution, exclaimed, “there, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford”. He knew that the same evil principles were in his own heart which had brought the criminal to that shameful end.”

A Treatise on prayer,  Edward Bickersteth, 1822 p. 60.


In the Beatitudes, Jesus talked about how our thoughts and feelings can become destructive and dangerous.  He taught that hate and lust powerful and disastrous emotions and that these emotions have the potential to lead to sinful choices if we don’t guard our hearts and minds. Jesus taught His disciples to be forgiving, merciful, righteous, holy and to be peace makers.  When we harbor hate or anger in our heart, we sin against God and others and risk acting out of those angry feelings.  Jesus taught that we must guard our hearts and minds against sinful thoughts because they are a step on the road to sinful actions. (Matt. 5)



In light of that, what helps you to guard yourself against evil?   How do you protect your heart, soul and mind from evil thoughts which could lead to evil actions?




The Bible teaches us that we should put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17) to help us deal with Satan’s schemes and evil plans.   James wrote that we should “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (Jas. 4:7, NASB)


Read Ephesians 6:10-17 and think about whether you are currently putting on God’s armor each day.  Is there a piece of the armor you may be forgetting to put on?  Commit to putting on God’s armor each day to help you be prepared for the challenges and trials you will face.



When you have faced temptation in the past, how have you responded?





How could you modify your strategy (or is there a new strategy you could take) to ensure that you make a choice that honors God, follows Christ’s example and which will protect your heart and guard your life?




  1. Look at the word “EVIL”


What do you think of when you see that word?  It could be historical figures, events, behaviors, situations or visceral feelings.




Now, write EVIL backwards.




What do you think of when you see that word?


It’s interesting that the L-I-V-E spelled backwards means the opposite of E-V-I-L.  Apparently, that is called a semordnilap (which is palindrome spelled backwards).

I don’t know how to pronounce semordnilap, but I guess that counts as my (our?) “You learn something new every day” for today.   Thanks, Internet!

It may be just a linguistics twist for us to think about, but still it’s thought-provoking and worthy of our consideration that the opposite of evil is to live and that Jesus so many times talked about giving us life and contrasted the hope, peace and love that God offered vis-à-vis the hate, evil and horror that Satan inflicts on our lives.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10, NASB)


The Irish politician and philosopher Edmund Burke is quoted as saying that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”


Is there an example that you can think of in the world in which there is evil – but in which we can get involved and make a difference to stop that evil?


How do you think God wants us to deal with evil?  Is there something that is evil (human trafficking, violence, abuse, etc.) that you want to pray about and perhaps even get involved to address and bring about change?


Is there something you can do in the days ahead to make a difference and confront the evil in our world, countering it with love, righteousness and grace?


It could be serving as a prayer warrior, volunteering in your community, running for office or volunteering for a candidate who you believe is honest and ethical, speaking out against evil and hate, becoming involved with a group that is working to combat evil in the world and addressing important issues like violence, clean drinking water, hunger, access to health care, literacy, human trafficking, race relations, etc.

It may be something totally different – something specific and unique and for which God is calling you to get involved with and make a difference today.


God called Esther, an exiled Jew, to be the Queen of Persia so that He could use her to help save the Jewish people from Haman’s wicked scheme of genocide and destruction.

Because of her role as queen, Esther was able to influence the king and she helped save the Jewish people from certain death.  As she was trying to decide what to do regarding Haman’s evil plan, her cousin Mordecai counseled her that she must be brave and bold and fulfill her destiny, using her position as queen to counter Haman’s evil plot against the Jewish people. Mordecai suggested that God had put her in that time and place for His purposes and plans and that if she did not obey God and take action, then He would bring about deliverance and relief through another way.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”” (Est. 4:14, NASB)


For what has God placed you here in His world today?  Spend some time asking Him to show you His plans and purposes for you – and then seek to serve Him and others as He leads you.


This Week’s Prayer Focus:             

Please continue to pray for the Parkland community and all those who have been affected by gun violence.

Bible Memory Verse:        

Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit of the Week:                            

Oranges, a fruit grown in Florida, to remind us to pray for all those affected by the school shooting in Florida, including the families, the students, first responders and all of the community.


Sacrifice during Lent – Why do we sacrifice to God  during Lent and at other times in the year?

Action Item:                                      

1 – Sometime this week, try to visit the produce section of your market.  Look at the fruits there and consider God’s creativity and goodness in giving us these foods to nurture and nourish us.  Thank Him for His goodness and select a fruit to enjoy this week, such as oranges from Florida.  If possible, make this a weekly habit during the Bible study as a way to be mindful and intentional about celebrating the fruits of the Spirit.


2 – Make a commitment to pray each day for the Prayer Focus.  If you already pray daily, find time to include the prayer focus in your prayers.  If you don’t currently pray each day, try to find a time when you can spend a few minutes seeking God, interceding for the prayer focus and seek to begin to incorporate a regular prayer time into each day. 


“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”






Week 1 – Fruits of the Spirit Introduction

Day 5 – Known by our Fruits

“ “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Matt. 7:15 – 20 (NASB)

Have you ever had the chance to pick fresh fruit, right off the vine or tree?  Maybe at a local orchard or berry picking farm, or maybe even your own backyard?  Or a weekly Farmer’s Market that offered just-harvested locally grown fruits and vegetables?

Maybe you live where apple trees are in abundance and fall harvest is one of your favorite times of the year.  You might be in an area where the summer months are spent picking berries or buying them at your favorite roadside produce stand.  Perhaps you live in a region that is blessed with fresh citrus fruits in the middle of winter.  Or, maybe you don’t have an abundance of fresh fruits growing near your home, but you savor the bounty of apples, oranges, melons, grapes and berries that are found in your local market.

Most of us enjoy fruits and you probably even have a favorite fruit or two.  You might have sweet memories associated with fruit – watermelons and fireworks on the Fourth of July, juicy grapes, ruby red strawberries and sweet cherries ushering in the slower days of summer, bananas or apples packed in your lunch bag as you headed back to school, a bowl of wiggly cranberry jelly on the Thanksgiving table or perhaps an orange in your Christmas stocking!

Yet have you ever had a piece of fruit that was either not yet ripe or that was spoiled and not good to eat?  It’s always a bit discouraging when you think you have the perfect apple only to see that it’s discolored and rotten on the inside.  Or to peel an orange and discover that it is unripe and nearly absent of flavor and juice.

It’s a frustrating contradiction that the fruit often looks healthy and edible from the outside and it is only when we see the inside of the fruit that we realize the fruit is bad and neither fit nor wise to be eaten.

In one of the parables that Jesus used to teach the disciples about false prophets, He likened them to ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing and compared them to fruit trees which yield bad fruit.  He asked the disciples a rhetorical question that encouraged them to think of the abundant fruits in their area – grapes and figs.

Grapes grow on the vine, not in thorn bushes and figs ripen on trees, not thistles.  Jesus reminded the disciples that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. (Matt. 7:15-20)

His teaching, revealed to the disciples and Christ’s followers in an allegorical parable, is as relevant today as it was then.

In the parable of good and bad fruit, Jesus is reminding us that a good and healthy tree will bear good and healthy fruit that will bless and nourish people.  Yet an unhealthy, diseased or distressed fruit tree is not able to bear anything other than bad and unhealthy fruit that is not suitable for eating.

Jesus compares human beings to fruit trees and uses this analogy to help us understand that we can only bear good fruit if we are living a life that pleases and honors God.  If we are disobeying God, living outside of His will and refusing to follow Christ, we cannot expect that our life will reflect the goodness and hope that we find only in Christ and we cannot expect to bear good fruit.

We need to remember that appearances can be deceiving.  A fruit that looks good on the outside can be rotten and dead on the inside.

A fruit tree that looks like a healthy and normal fruit tree may in fact be diseased or may have been planted in soil that prevents it from producing good, nurturing fruit.

God calls us to look within ourselves so that we can be certain we are healthy and able to grow  fruit that is beneficial to us and others.  We must be living in obedience to God for the Holy Spirit to grow good fruit in us.

Jesus does not want us to be hypocrites – to look one way on the outside but to be different on the inside.  He doesn’t want us to look good for the sake of appearance and status.

He wants to change us from the inside out – to reconcile our outside and inside with His plan for our lives.

He wants us to be planted in the nutrient-rich soil of the Trinity – to be grounded in Him and to have deep roots in our Heavenly Father, in Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

Just as fruit trees need good soil, life-sustaining water, abundant sunshine and regular pruning and tending, so do we need God’s provisions to grow strong and healthy.

Jesus wants us to receive His Living Water – water that will refresh and restore us so that we can grow abundant fruit that will bless Him and all of the world.

He wants us to receive His Son’s light – the life-changing light of His Son.  Just as a fruit tree, vine or plant needs the sun to grow strong and healthy, so do we need the light of God’s Son to grow and thrive.  We need time spent in prayer, fellowship, worship and studying God’s Word on a regular and consistent basis.

And we must allow ourselves to be regularly pruned, refined and tended to by God, the Master Gardener.  He knows what we need and what we don’t need.  At times, He may prune us in ways that feel painful and difficult.  We may not understand why He is allowing a trial or challenge in our lives – and yet, He knows what He is doing and we must trust Him.  He has a purpose for each of us and there are fruits He wants to grow in us that He knows will be useful to others and will glorify Him.  And He knows that at times, He must prune, trim and train us to grow strong and useful, able to bear good fruit.

In John 15, Jesus compares Himself to the vine and His followers to the branches of the vine.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:1-5 NASB)

We must choose to abide in Jesus and allow Him to abide in us if we are to bear fruit.  The Holy Spirit will teach us and help us make choices in our lives that allow us to grow and thrive in ways that will glorify God and be a blessing to others – and create a place in us for the Holy Spirit to cultivate His fruits of the Spirit.

God wants to grow healthy, strong and nourishing fruit in us.  He knows that we need the fruits of the Spirit – these are characters and qualities that are reflective of God’s nature.  When these fruits are growing in us, it is visible evidence of the power of God in us through His Son.

When healthy and abundant fruits of the Spirit are growing in us, the world can tangibly see God’s love as we share the spiritual fruits God is developing in us.  Just like good fruit that is healthy, nutritious and delicious, these spiritual fruits can then bless and nourish a world hungry and in need of good and nurturing fruits.

As we walk with God, follow Christ and obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance, God works in us to grow good fruit that blesses those around us and which encourages others to draw close to God and which invites them to learn more about who God is and how He is working in our lives.

When we live in a way that is different from the way the world lives, people notice.

When our spiritual fruit is available to a hurting world in the form of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, the world sees that there is something different in us.

Imagine the opposite of each of the fruits of the Spirit – those are the fruits of this world and of Satan.  It is bad fruit that will destroy, discourage and devastate.  Sadly, this is the fruit that we so often see in the news, in social media, around the world and even in our own communities.

Our healthy, good and delicious fruit offers the world a glimpse of God’s goodness.  When the world sees us living for God and others, people want to know more.  They want to know how we can persevere and be glad, even when we face struggles and challenges.  When we respond gently and extend grace and mercy to others, God will use that to draw the lost and hurting to Him.  When we live with peace and joy, we are able to show people who Christ is in us and how His Holy Spirit is changing and growing us into fruit that gives life and hope.

When Jesus was explaining the parable of the Vine and branches, He said this:

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

(Jn. 15:8 NASB)

As we bear good fruit, this fruit can then be shared with a hurting world as we serve God and others.  We bring glory to God when we bear abundant fruit and we represent Jesus and prove ourselves to be His disciples when we allow the Holy Spirit to grow His fruit in us.  Our plentiful spiritual harvest of fruit may look like the face of Jesus to a lost soul, to someone who is looking for hope and peace and seeking to know God personally.

What about fruit that looks good on the outside – but on the inside it is rotten and bad?  You thought it was one thing, but after you were able to see the inside of the fruit, you were disappointed to find it wasn’t what you expected at all.

How amazing it is to consider that God anticipated these questions we might have – and He gave us His Word in which He speaks to us to encourage, comfort and help us through His parables, prophecies, history, poetry, wisdom, epistles and Gospels.

God knew that there would be hypocrites and Pharisees – those who say one thing and do another, people who look healthy and good on the outside, but on the inside they are filled with evil and hate.  Jesus repeatedly confronted their hypocrisy and fancy fruit attitudes.  Over and over again, He called them out when they were acting holy and pious yet really were filled with judgment, envy and contempt.  He exposed them and revealed their hearts, as only God can do.

““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt. 23:27-28, NASB)

We must be vigilant to walk in a way that honors God and which follows Christ’s teachings.  We are to be a city on the hill, a light shining brightly in a dark world, showing people the way to Jesus. (Matt. 5:14-16)

To be the City on the Hill, we must be a City on our Knees – a people praying and seeking God’s will and purposing to love and serve God and others.  We should endeavor each day to ask God how He wants to use us and ask that He would send us where He needs and wants us to go, that He would give us our assignments for that day and that we would be faithful to fulfill them.

As Billy Graham said so many times at his crusades, none of us knows if God will call us home this very day.  We may not get another chance to share the Gospel with someone.  God directs our steps and He may choose to place us in the path of someone who needs directions to the Highway to Heaven before the sun sets this evening.

We must be prepared to share our hope in Christ with others in a loving and respectful way.  God doesn’t want us to be obnoxious or rude in sharing Christ – He wants us to be filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit so that we can tell people about Him using the talents and gifts He has given us and so that we are equipped to share His truth in love.

Even in the most mundane activities of our days, God wants to use us to be His hands and feet to encourage, edify and strengthen fellow believers while also pointing the lost to our hope in Christ.

We as followers of Christ must be diligent to live honorably and righteously.

People are watching us.  They want to know that we are different – that we practice what we preach, that we walk the talk.

When the world sees people who call themselves Christians acting sinfully, ugly, selfishly, judgmentally, with hate-filled hearts, hurtfully and callously – in a word, hypocritically – the world often responds with contempt and disgust and may even choose to reject Christ because of how people who claim to be His followers act and live.

In Proverbs, there is a verse that reminds us that we have a calling of holiness, righteousness, integrity and character as children of God and as followers of Christ. We must be ever mindful that the world is watching us.

 “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well
Is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” (Prov. 25:26 NASB)


We must live lives above reproach and we must consistently make righteous and honorable choices.  We must be willing and able to share Jesus’s Living Water with a thirsty world.  Nobody would give a filthy cup of water filled with dirt and bacteria for drinking water.  Yet, if as followers of Christ our lives and witnesses are polluted with unrighteous attitudes, words, lifestyles and behaviors, we will not be able to offer the Living Water of Christ to a world thirsty for God’s righteousness.

To share the Gospel, we must live the Gospel.

If we are in the habit of saying one thing and doing another, our witness becomes dirty, contaminated and unhealthy to share with others, just as a trampled spring or polluted well offers only filthy water that will not refresh or restore, and may even cause damage and destruction to those who drink from it.

If people who call themselves Christians fail to obey God’s leading, ignore Christ’s teachings and lead lives in which the Holy Spirit is not able to grow mature spiritual fruit, the world will take notice.

Unfortunately, the world will likely decide that it doesn’t want anything to do with Christianity because of the actions of a handful of people who call themselves Christians but don’t live like Christ or follow His teachings.

Have you heard or read the quote below?  It’s at the beginning of DC Talk’s “What If I Stumble?” and it so perfectly captures the great need for us to make sure we walk the talk and practice what we preach.


“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” — Brennan Manning



In one of His final teachings before His crucifixion, death and resurrection, Jesus specifically taught His followers to be aware of and careful with regard to the Pharisees and hypocrites among them.  Throughout Matthew 23, Jesus condemns the Pharisees and exposes their hearts so that His followers can see them as He sees them.

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” (Matt. 23:1-3, NASB)

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:23-24, NASB)


We have a responsibility as Christ-followers to make sure that we consider our words and deeds, knowing that the world is watching.

The lost want to know how we handle conflict, loss, grief, trials, temptations and disappointment.

In all things – big and small – the world is watching followers of Christ.

When they see a car with an Icthys sticker cut in line or drive recklessly, they are watching.

When they see church members insult and attack entire groups of people in prejudiced and bigoted ways, they are watching.

When they see church people say one thing and do another, they are watching.

When they see churchgoers excuse and justify the sexual sins of elected officials, athletes and entertainers, they are watching.

When they hear Christians slander, insult, disparage and attack the vulnerable, the hurting and the lost, they are listening.

When they hear and see religious folks living lives filled with hate and racism, they are listening and watching – and quite rightly, they don’t like what they hear or see.

This is a weighty and difficult subject.  It breaks our hearts.  And it seems that it would break the heart of God to see His children hurting each other and failing to live the life of love that He commanded us to when Jesus taught that we are to love God and love our neighbor.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘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.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:36-40 NASB)

We must live like followers of Christ if we are going to call ourselves followers of Christ.

If that means we all need to take a closer look at the red words Jesus said, then we will all be better, stronger and wiser for it.

We must realize that the world is watching and listening to us.

They want to know why following Jesus changes lives.

They want to see that we are different, perhaps because they desperately want to know a different way of life.

We must show them why Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (Jn. 14:6)

We need to be salt and light to this lost world and our deeds must match our words.

We must ask the Holy Spirit to so fill our lives, hearts, souls and minds that He is able to grow a harvest of abundant, healthy and good fruit – fruit that we can then offer to the world with open hearts and open hands.

We must make a declaration and invitation to the world as David did in Psalm 34,

“O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8, NASB)

We must live as though not only the world is watching us, but as though Jesus is watching us.  Because He is.

Together, let us seek to bring glory to our Father in heaven by choosing to follow Christ and by obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Let us pray that God would change our hearts from the inside out, that His Holy Spirit would grow abundant, good and healthy spiritual fruits in our lives and that God would use these fruits of the Spirit to encourage others, and most importantly, to draw the lost and the hurting to the love and peace we find only in our Savior.



This Week’s Prayer Focus:             

Please continue to pray for the Parkland community and all those who have been affected by gun violence.

Bible Memory Verse:                       

Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit of the Week:                            

Oranges, a fruit grown in Florida, to remind us to pray for all those affected by the school shooting in Florida, including the families, the students, first responders and all of the community.


Sacrifice during Lent – Why do we sacrifice to God         during Lent and at other times in the year?



1.What do you think the opposite of each of the Fruits of the Spirit is?

Write them across from the spiritual fruits listed below:


Spiritual Fruit                                                                    Opposite




















  1. Look at the list of spiritual fruits. Ask God to show you some fruits that are healthy and good in your life.  List those under “Ripe Fruits.”


Ask God to reveal to you fruits that He is growing in you but aren’t yet completely ripe.  List these under “Still Growing.”


Finally, ask God to show you at least one fruit that He wants to grow in your life but which is not yet visible for the world to see and benefit from this spiritual fruit in your life.  List this fruit(s) under “Time to Plant.”


Ripe Fruits



Still Growing



Time to Plant





  1. What is one thing you can do right now and over the next month that would prepare your heart for the Holy Spirit to plant and grow new spiritual fruit in you?





Just as a farmer prepares the soil of his land for planting, so God prepares the soil of our souls so that the fruit He plants in us can grow strong and healthy.

Is there something you can do to prepare your heart and soul for the continued growth of spiritual fruit?  Is there a behavior God is calling you to let go of?  Perhaps there is a habit of prayer or Bible study that God is calling you to add to your life?  Are there any lifestyle changes that God is using the Holy Spirit to convict you about so that he can remove the rocks and weeds and/or add life-giving nutrients so as to cultivate and prepare healthy soil in which to plant His spiritual fruit?  As God leads you, consider writing down some changes He may be calling you to make in your life today so that strong and good spiritual fruit can grow in the days ahead.



Spend a few minutes in prayer with God and ask Him if there is a specific fruit that He wants to grow in you at this time.  Ask Him to help you see your soul through His eyes – to see a place where He wants to grow and strengthen you and plant an abundant crop of spiritual fruit in you so that He can be made more visible to the people in your life.  Ask Him to show you how He wants to use you in the months and years ahead – and if there is a Fruit of the Spirit that He wants to strengthen in you so that you can be more useful and glorifying to Him.

Ask Him to help you make the changes He is calling you to and ask Him for His power and strength to obey Him, even when it is difficult.

We will talk more about seeking this “new” spiritual fruit in the weeks ahead, so please continue to be in prayer with God about whether there is something new that He wants to do in and through you – and which spiritual fruit He might be seeking to plant today so that you would yield a harvest of blessings for God and His Kingdom in the days ahead.


  1. What is your response to hypocrisy in the church? How can we as Christ-followers make sure that we live a life that is above reproach so that the world sees Christ-followers living a life that seeks to honor God?  None of us is perfect and all of us will make mistakes.  But God does call us to seek to obey and follow Him and to confess our sins, to repent and return to Him and make restitution when appropriate.  He wants us to ask Him for His help so that we can get back up and continue on our journey with Him when we do fall.

Where do you see hypocrisy in the church and in the world today?



Can you think of any recent news story as an example of hypocrisy – a person saying one thing and doing another, or claiming to live one way but in reality they were doing the opposite and just wearing a mask?




When we see hypocrisy in the church, how do you think we should address it?



Often in the Bible, we see how Jesus asked questions of the Pharisees when they tried to trick and trap Him.  Christ was often gentle, even in confrontations with the religious leaders who sought to destroy Him.

Below are some verses that are examples of how Jesus questioned Pharisees when He confronted them.  Choose at least one of these Scripture passages to read.

In the space below, write how Jesus confronted the Pharisees in this situation in your selected verses.

Matt. 12:1-7


Matt. 12:8-21


Matt. 15:1-9


Matt. 21:23-27


Mk. 3:1-6


Mk. 11:27-33


Mk. 12:13-17


Lk. 5:21-26


Lk. 6:1-11


Lk. 13:10-17


Jn. 8:1-11


Jn. 9:1-7


Jn. 10:22-42


How can we as followers of Christ ask questions as a way to further understanding and awareness?   Using Christ’s model of asking questions rather than debating or making accusations, how can we as Christ-followers engage with unbelievers and/or fellow Christians who are living and acting in ways that contradict Christ’s teachings?



  1. What do you think is the most important issue in our society right now? Is there a role for Christians in helping to address, discuss and assist with resolving this issue?  How can the church play a role in improving this issue?



Is there a role that God is calling you to take in this issue?  Are there steps you could take to get involved and make a difference in our community and culture?


  1. How is God calling you to get more involved in His world today? It may be getting more involved in your marriage and family, taking a leadership role at work or in the community, serving at your church, volunteering for a cause or issue that is important to you, confronting a fear or insecurity that you struggle with or some other way God is speaking to you to bring about change in the world today.



Spend some time in the next few days asking God for clarity and confirmation about how He might be leading you today.  The Bible teaches us that when we pray in God’s will (not for what we want, but submitting to what He wants and trusting Him, even if we don’t understand what He is doing), He answers and helps us.  God wants to use each of us and the spiritual fruits He is growing in us to bless others, glorify Him and equip us to be ambassadors of the King of Kings to this world.


Ask God to show you steps you can take in the short term and long term to get more involved and allow spiritual fruit He has planted and is growing in you to be made available for others to grow from as well!




“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”






Week 1 –The Fruits of the Spirit Introduction

Days 3 and 4


There is an expression we sometimes use in the church to describe someone who is full of the Holy Spirit, living in obedience to God and living out their faith in Jesus.

You’ll often hear them called Spirit-filled.

And if you’re in the church and used to hearing this, you probably intellectually know that it means someone who has submitted their life to God and their life is bearing fruit and how they live is the evidence that their faith is genuine, and the Holy Spirit is in them.


What does being Spirit-filled really mean?  And what does that mean to our neighbors who may not have accepted Christ and really don’t understand who the Holy Spirit is or why it is important to be filled with the Spirit?

In today’s study, we’re going to take a closer look at the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  Since this is a more involved study, this will be a two-day lesson for reading, prayer time and response questions.   However, I know that two days is still not a lot of time to really study the Holy Spirit in detail, so I would encourage you join me in spending time in prayer in the days ahead asking God to reveal His Holy Spirit in a very tangible and personal way.  I am also including a resource list of books about the Holy Spirit in case you would like to do further reading about the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives. Also, we can turn to our best primary source, God’s Word, to do in-depth topic studies and focusing on verses about the Holy Spirit, which are also included below.

Even if you already know a great deal about the Holy Spirit, please consider joining us in asking God to help us see His Holy Spirit with fresh eyes.  Sometimes, we can become complacent or so familiar with our routine that we miss opportunities to grow, learn and experience life in a more vibrant and complete way.

Have you ever found yourself praying and you realize it often sounds a lot like the last time you talked with God?  Or maybe you always go through the grocery store the exact same way, buying the exact same brands over and over again – quite possibly missing something new or just something you’ve never purchased before?  So, for today’s lesson, I would encourage you to ask God to reveal His Holy Spirit to you and help you see Him and His majesty and glory through fresh eyes that enable you to see the Holy Spirit’s possibilities, perspectives and power in your life!

Before we get started on our lesson, though, I’d like to ask you to join me in prayer for two groups of people.

First, please continue praying for the students in Florida who are grieving and mourning and who are working through their own sorrow and loss even as they work to effect change in legislation and awareness about gun violence.  Please lift them up in prayer – together, we can pray for them to be encouraged, blessed and strengthened.  Pray that God would bless their sweet, precious hearts and that they wouldn’t become disheartened or disillusioned by the people insulting or arguing with them.

I don’t know where these young people have found the strength to organize and mobilize after all that they have already endured in the last two weeks.  I am amazed by their fortitude and faith and they are such a bright hope for our nation as they commit to honoring their fallen classmates and teachers through activism and calling on our nation’s citizens and legislators to write, discuss and vote on legislation that would protect young people in their schools as well as protect all of us from those who seek only to harm and kill.

Sadly, there are some who are insulting, mocking and disparaging these brave young students from Florida as they have rallied for safer schools and communities.

Even those who do not support their proposed legislation should be able to find it in themselves to treat them with dignity, respect and courtesy.  These are brave young people who have already been through so much grief, stress, fear and sorrow.  Each of these young people is someone’s son or daughter.  They all have been injured by the trauma they went through on February 14 in their high school – some of them wounded physically and visibly, but all of them carrying internal scars that will likely remain with them through the rest of their lives, a reminder of the loss and trauma they experienced that day.  We can do no less than to treat them with gentleness, love, peace and kindness – some of the fruits of the Spirit that we will be studying in the weeks ahead – and we must stand up for them when others seek to insult or mock them and gently rebuke those who would insult these young students, showing their critics the importance of showing respect and courtesy to each other.

Let us pray that they would consider the words of Paul to Timothy when he told him  “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” (1 Tim. 4:12 NASB)

Ask God to use them in a mighty and life-changing way for our world.  Pray that they would respond to the hate and insults with love and grace.  And please, let us pray for the healing for each of the children, all of the families affected by this tragedy and that God would comfort and be with each of them.  These are brave young men and women and they are worthy of our respect and admiration and greatly in need of our prayers to God on behalf of them, their families and their community.

Later this week, we are going to talk about evil in the world and the challenges of living in a fallen world.  That day’s study will take us to the second chapter of Genesis, where we will see a story about a serpent, a fruit and a decision that would change the course of events for eternity.

The second group of people I would like to invite you lift up in prayer are those who are ridiculing and insulting the students and families of Parkland. I know it is hard to pray for people who are not acting with love or grace.  It is difficult to pray for people when they are hurting others.

But when we think about it, there are two simple reasons why we must pray for all people, including our enemies.


The most important reason is that Jesus told us to love and pray for our enemies.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus said,

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:44-45 NASB)

Jesus wants us to love our enemies and pray for them.  If we are to walk in obedience to God, we must obey Him.  It will be hard, but we are called to obedience in all things – not just the comfortable and convenient things.  If God told us to love and pray for our enemies, He must have a good reason.  We may not understand Him, but we must choose to obey Him.

We should pray for these people for another reason.  Prayer literally changes things.  It can change people’s hearts, it can turn people around, it can bring hope and healing.  And when we pray together, imagine the beautiful chorus of prayers rising up to God, asking for Him to come down and bring change in the hearts of those who are so desperately in need of Him.  If ever there was a person who needed Christ, it is the person who is so filled with hate, venom and hurt that they spew it at the innocent and hurting.

Jesus said this in the Gospel of Matthew: “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”” (Matt. 18:19 NASB)

God calls us to lift our voices in prayer together, as followers of Christ seeking God together, as one Body of believers.  Jesus promises that His Father – our Heavenly Father – hears our prayers and that when we pray for His will, that He listens to us and He hears our prayers – the ones we speak and the ones that we aren’t even able to utter, but are deep within our heart, soul and mind.  He may not answer them exactly as we envision or would like Him to, but God does answer our prayers.

Can God change a man’s heart?  The answer, as we’ll find out through the weeks ahead, is not that easy.  God can change a man’s heart – but He wants a man to want his heart changed, which is why He gave us free will.  Our enemies may never change.  But, if we are praying for them and seeking healing and recovery, we will be guarding our own hearts from becoming bitter, angry and ugly.

These people, as angry and cruel as they may be, desperately need our prayers as much as anyone.  As the expression goes, hurting people hurt people.

So, as difficult as it may be, I hope you will join me in praying for these people – that their hearts would be changed, that the scales would fall off their eyes and they could see the hurt they are causing to the victims as well as to so many other people, and that ultimately, they would seek God and ask Him to take their stone heart and replace it with a beating heart of love and mercy, as the prophet Ezekiel shared what God revealed to him when he wrote,  “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26)

In the days ahead, let’s continue to lift our voices in prayer for the students of Parkland, Florida and across our nation and around the world and let’s also commit to pray even for those who have chosen to ridicule and mock the students.  We can pray that God would use each of us as His instruments of peace and love in a world desperate for more of both.

And if you find that you don’t know what to pray for or can’t find the words to talk with God about the grief and sadness in your heart as a result of the tragedy in Florida, we can take comfort that one of the reasons God gave us the Holy Spirit is so that He can help us pray – and at times, even pray for us when we can’t find the words or will to pray about the pain or sorrow in our hearts.

In Romans, Paul teaches us that the Holy Spirit is with us to help us pray and that He helps us in our human frailty and weakness to call out to God.  Even when we can’t form the words or make the sounds to cry out to our God, the Holy Spirit is with us, interceding for us as a lifeline to God, praying for us and advocating for us in our moments of sorrow and despair.

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27 NASB)

In this two day lesson, we will look closer at the Holy Spirit to help us better understand who the Holy Spirit is, what the Holy Spirit does, where the Holy Spirit lives, how we can be filled with the Spirit – and why the Holy Spirit works in us to cultivate fruits that are then used to nourish and bless us, our loved ones, and people all over the world!

Below is a brief summary about the Holy Spirit.  There are many reference verses that you can use to learn more about the Holy Spirit.  You may find these helpful if you are learning more about the Holy Spirit as you ask God to grow the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you so that He can use you in a unique and important way in His world today.

If you are already familiar with the Spirit, perhaps there is an area or specific verse you can select that may be useful in studying a certain function or characteristic about the Holy Spirit in greater detail.   Perhaps there is an area of your life in which God is leading you to walk closer with the Spirit or maybe you intellectually and theologically understand who the Holy Spirit is, but you don’t know the Holy Spirit as personally as you would like or there are details of your life that you want to entrust to the Holy Spirit.

Maybe you wonder if God is really with you or if He cares about you.  The Holy Spirit answers that question for us.  He reminds us that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus so we could be forgiven, and we could be reconciled to God.  And Jesus loves us so much that He knew we would need a Helper to walk with us through this world as His followers.  So Jesus asked God to send the Holy Spirit to live inside of us as we walk with Christ – to help us, convict us, encourage us and even pray for us.  The Holy Spirit is the evidence that God is with us always and that He goes with us everywhere we go.  We are never alone, because God is always with us.  Perhaps God is calling you to walk closer with His Holy Spirit – to be still and know that He is God, to listen for the leading and teaching of the Spirit and to simply trust and obey and follow as the Holy Spirit teaches, convicts and guides you in the big and little details of life.

I find that God shows me new things each time I study His Word.  It may be that I notice a detail I hadn’t seen before, or I gain a new perspective that God uses to give me greater insight to apply His Word in my life or even just that God is doing a new thing in my life and He is using a verse I have read many times before but allowing me to see it and understand it through His wisdom in a greater and new way.

The Bible teaches us that God’s Word is alive and that through careful study of His Scriptures, we can gain discernment, wisdom and understanding so that we can live our lives in a way that pleases and honors God – and which will bless us and those around us!  The Bible really is our Instruction Manual for Life, praise God!

“ For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12)







The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 13:14, Matt. 28:19)

The Holy Spirit is a person, not an inanimate object.  We have fellowship with the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 13:14)

The Holy Spirit was with Jesus when He came to earth. (Matt. 12:18, Mark 1:19)

God’s Holy Spirit is at work all around us, and He works through us and in us.  (Jn. 15:25-26; Jn. 16:13)

Jesus asked God to send the Holy Spirit after His death and resurrection when Jesus returned to the Father in heaven. (Jn. 14:16-17; Jn. 14:25-27; Jn. 15:26-27; Jn. 16:7)

God pours out His Holy Spirit on all mankind – though we only receive and are filled with the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Teacher when we accept Christ as our Savior. (Joel 2:28-29; Jn. 14-16; Acts 2:17)


The Holy Spirit is our Helper and Friend. (Jn. 14 – 16)

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:26-27)

He teaches and guides us. (Jn. 14:26)

The Holy Spirit leads us. (Ezek. 3:14)

He testifies to us about who Jesus is. (Jn. 15:26 – 27)

He acts as a conscience to convict us and show us God’s truth. (Jn. 14:16-17; Jn. 15:26-27; Jn. 16:8-11; Jn. 16:12-13)

He prays for us when we aren’t able to pray. (Rom. 8:26-27)

We have fellowship with the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 13:14)

We are to walk by the Spirit to help us make good choices in our lives. (Gal. 5:16)

We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 5:18)

As the Body of Christ, we are united in the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:4)

The Holy Spirit testifies to us; He is the truth and His is the way in which we should walk. (1 Jn. 5:6)

We are not to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19)


Like all parts of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is everywhere at all times and He is with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (Jn. 16:13-15)

He lives in each follower of Christ. (Jn. 14:16-17)

He talks with both the followers of Christ and those who haven’t yet followed Christ – but He lives eternally in the followers of Christ. (Jn. 14:16; Jn. 16:8-11)


The Holy Spirit has always been and always will be.  The Holy Spirit was with God the Father and God the Son when the world was created.  The Holy Spirit has been present throughout all time.  (Gen. 1:2)

God made man in the image of the Trinity — God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Gen. 1:26)

When we accept Christ, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and born again. (Jn. 3:5-6)

Jesus asked God to send His followers the Holy Spirit to be our Helper after His death and resurrection, when Jesus returned to heaven. (Jn. 14:16-17; Jn. 14:25-26; Jn. 16:7-13)

God will pour forth His Holy Spirit in the last days. (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17)


The Holy Spirit was sent by God when Jesus asked Him to send us a Helper to walk with us through this life. (Jn. 14:16-17; Jn. 14:25-26; Jn. 16:13)

The Holy Spirit is able to convict, encourage, guide, teach, train, correct and help us through all the trials and challenges we will face each day. (Jn. 14:25-27; Jn. 16:8-12)

To serve as an intermediary between God and man.  He intercedes for us to God when we cannot find the words to pray.  He is able to search and know our hearts and pray on our behalf to God, our Heavenly Father. (Rom. 8:26-27)


He helps us walk so that we do not sin.  The Holy Spirit helps us to make good choices that honor God and which reflect how Christ lived when He was on earth.  The Holy Spirit helps us as we are sanctified through our lives, becoming each day more like Christ.  (Gal. 5:16)

We are to be baptized in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – and then we are to go and make disciples of all nations and baptize others in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt. 28:19)

God uses the Holy Spirit to give us spiritual gifts that we can use to serve Him and others. (1 Cor. 12:4-13; Rom. 12:6-8)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to teach, preach, share the Gospel and make good choices in our lives. (Rom. 15:9)


Study Questions – Day 3 and 4

  1. Jesus said in John 14:16 that He would ask His Father to send the Holy Spirit to the disciples (and to all followers of Jesus) and that the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called a “Helper,” would abide with His followers and would live inside them.


When we accept Christ, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and He is given to us as our Helper to walk with us throughout our lives.  The Holy Spirit continues to walk with us and speaks to us and for us to God all of our days. 

Read John 14:16 and consider your relationship with the Holy Spirit.  Have you been filled with the Holy Spirit? 


Can you think of an instance when the Holy Spirit has convicted you about something and about how God is calling you to live?   Perhaps it was a decision you were making in which you were seeking God’s will – or an attitude or behavior that you realized was not in line with God’s will. 

Briefly describe how the Holy Spirit convicted, taught, encouraged or guided you through that time or experience.


Has there been a time when you felt a nudge of the Holy Spirit about serving God – maybe about sharing your faith or serving in your church or spending more time with God in prayer or studying His Word?  What was your response?  


Are there any times you can recall where the Holy Spirit has spoken to you but you haven’t responded in the way God was leading you?    If so, you can use this space to confess to God that you, like all of us, have fallen short of His glory and holiness.  Ask Him to help you learn from this time so that you can make better choices in the situations that present themselves in days ahead.  Ask God to guide you and ask Him to help you hear and listen to His Holy Spirit.  You might want to use this time to write a prayer to God, thanking Him for His Holy Spirit and asking Him to help you continue to obey His Spirit – or, perhaps even to begin to listen and obey His Holy Spirit today. 



Satan may use your confession to shame you – even in your own mind.  Just thinking about where we have fallen short can make us feel weak or unqualified to serve God.  If you feel discouraged by areas in your life where God is still working on you as He works through you, answer Satan with God’s Word and speak aloud the truth of God’s love for you.

Here are some verses that you might want to reflect on to help you respond to Satan’s lies:

“As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom. 3:23

“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor. 7:1

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.” Ps. 145:18

“ I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20 NASB)


Nothing you wrote surprises God.  And here’s the most amazing part.  Nothing you wrote changes God’s love for you.  He loves you with an everlasting, unchanging love.  You are His son or daughter.  He doesn’t see your failures.  He sees His Son, who gave His life for you, and He sees your worth, beauty and value.  Today, rest in the assurance of His love for you and your forgiveness and reconciliation to God through the atoning blood of Christ.  Ask God to help you walk and talk with Him, trusting and obeying Him and listening to His Holy Spirit.

How do you think you can respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading the next time He speaks to you?  Could you spend time in prayer and ask God to confirm what you believe the Holy Spirit is telling you?  Perhaps time in the Bible or seeking wise counsel from a Christian friend? 



How do you think that you can be more open to listening and obeying the Holy Spirit the next time God uses the Spirit to convict or teach you?






  1. “I CAN’T EVEN.”


You’ve probably said or heard those words more times than you can (even) count in the last few years.  It’s something about those three little words – they just capture our speechlessness, our shock, our inability to know what to say or do.


But don’t worry.  Because when you don’t know what to say or do, there is Someone who does.


God sent Him to you, because He knew we’d have moments of despair, confusion and just not even having the words.


How can we know that? 


Because it’s in the Bible, in Romans 8:26-27.


Paul teaches us in Romans that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we “can’t even” – when we don’t even have the words to speak our prayers and we’re just thinking and wondering and overwhelmed.


It says in Romans that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (that means the Holy Spirit speaks on our behalf with God) with groanings too deep for words.


It also says that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints “according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:27 NASB)


Take a moment to read Romans 8:26-27 or look it up here.


Can you think of a time recently when you “couldn’t even” – when you didn’t have the words to pray – or perhaps when you were facing a seemingly impossible situation and didn’t know what to do or where to turn?  Briefly write about the situation and what you did in response.  What happened in the days that followed? 





Have you ever been so overwhelmed with your situation – either positively or negatively – that your initial response wasn’t praise or prayer?  While God wants us to always go to Him in prayer for the blessings and challenges in our lives, we can take comfort that even in those times when we can’t find the words to pray or we are overwhelmed, fatigued or confused by our situations, that the Holy Spirit is ever-present with us and that He knows the thoughts and questions of our hearts and is interceding with God our Father for you, and for all of us! 




  1. How does it make you feel to know that the Holy Spirit can live within you, helping you, convicting you about sin, guiding you to make good choices, encouraging you – and even praying for you and your needs to God the Father?



Do you believe the Holy Spirit is with you today as a follower of Christ?    Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?   


If you have, thank God even right now for the gift His Son gave to us on the cross.  If you would like, you can read along through this question and reflect on when you accepted Christ as your Savior.  Would you please pray for those who don’t yet know Christ as their Savior – perhaps a person who may be reading this study or maybe a loved one, friend, coworker, neighbor, a person in the news or someone in your community?



If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior yet, do you want to know how you can be saved by Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit?


If you haven’t asked Christ to be your Savior and you want to trust Him and have the assurance of salvation and be filled with His Holy Spirit, here is a link to the Billy Graham Ministries page that will help you learn more about salvation and why we need Jesus.

Also, below is the ABC’s of Salvation which helps to explain who we are, who Jesus is, why we need Jesus, what Jesus did for us on the cross, and how we can be saved.


A – Admit you are a sinner and in need of a Savior

B – Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to earth, died for your sins on the cross, rose again after three days, ascended into heaven where He sits at the right hand of God – and believe that His death paid the price for your sins when you admit you are a sinner, that you need Him, that He is the only way for you to be forgiven and reconciled to God.

C – Confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Pray to God and tell Him that you are a sinner and you need a Savior.  Tell God that you believe Jesus died for your sins and that you want to be forgiven and that you want Jesus to be Lord of your life.  Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and ask Him to be with you and forgive you and help you.


When you pray that prayer, God will answer you and accept you into His family.  You can have the assurance that you are forgiven, that Christ is your Savior and that you will spend eternity with God in heaven. 


And you can know that God will fill you with His Holy Spirit to help you each and every day.  And that the Holy Spirit will help to grow spiritual fruits in you so that you can become mature and strong in your faith, and then be able to bless others with those fruits!


  1. Take a moment to look at Galatians 5:22-23 again. When you look at the verses, take a few moments to pray and ask God to show you at least one fruit that is growing in you – and another fruit that perhaps is still just a small blossom and not yet a strong fruit in you.



“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 NASB)



What fruit has God been growing and strengthening in you which you feel is mature and able to be shared with others?  Pray that God would continue to grow this fruit in you and thank Him for all that He has given you with this spiritual fruit.




How are you sharing or “living out“ this fruit at this time in your life?




What fruit might God be calling you to seek Him and His will and to seek the Holy Spirit to continue cultivating and growing in you? 




Is there an area in your life that you would like to see God mature and strengthen you through His Holy Spirit?  Ask God to show you where He wants to grow stronger, more mature spiritual fruit in your life. 




In prayer over the next week, ask Him if there are areas where He is seeking to prune or trim so that you can grow and become stronger in Him.  Perhaps there are nutrients you need – just as plants need good soil, the right amount of water and plenty of sunshine, we need time in God’s Word, regular time talking with God in prayer, fellowship, time for praise and worship and time to rest in His goodness and grace through Sabbath times of rest and recharging.  How might God be pruning or strengthening you today so that this fruit might be able to grow strong in your life in the days ahead?





How might your life and the lives of others be changed if this fruit were to become more mature and could be shared as a ripe and abundant fruit?




I am praying that God would reveal to you a specific area where He is calling you to growth and greater obedience and understanding.  I am joining with you in asking and seeking God to show us where He wants to mature and strengthen us so that we can be more useful and greater blessings to Him and those He places in our paths each day!


  1. When you have a few moments today or tomorrow, I hope you will listen to this song, “Holy Spirit,” by Francesca Battistelli. Take a few moments to close your eyes and make this the prayer of your heart today.  Just listen to the words, or read the words if you find that helpful.  Think about how the Holy Spirit is with followers of Christ – literally dwelling and abiding in us.  Think about the power of the Holy Spirit – and what power He offers to you as you follow Christ.

In the song, she sings “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here…”  As you listen to the song and reflect on the words, perhaps you can invite God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be welcome in your life and offer gratitude for God’s constant presence in your life through the Holy Spirit. 

Take a few minutes out of your busy day just to worship God and declare that His Holy Spirit is welcome in your life and that you want Him to be with you, to guide you  – and to know the peace that the Holy Spirit gives us as He intervenes, intercedes and advocates for us, even (especially) on the days when we “can’t even.”


May God bless and keep you and may He bring us together to study and worship Him again!


Additional Resources:


Flying Closer to the Flame, Charles Swindoll

Holy Spirit, Billy Graham

The Helper, Catherine Marshall

The Spirit-Filled Life, Charles Stanley


This Week’s Prayer Focus:             

Please pray for the Parkland community and all those who have been affected by gun violence.

Bible Memory Verse:                        Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit of the Week:                            

Oranges, a fruit grown in Florida, to remind us to pray for all those affected by the school shooting in Florida, including the families, the students, first responders and all of the community.


Sacrifice during Lent – Why do we sacrifice to God         during Lent and at other times in the year?


Action Items:       

Visit the produce section of your market and purchase some oranges to remind you to pray for the people of Parkland and all victims of gun violence.


Be in prayer for our Prayer Focus, the people of Parkland and all victims of fun violence.                                                        

“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”


Week 1 – The Fruits of the Spirit Introduction

Day 2 – Goodbye, PyeongChang

안녕히 계세요.

Anyoung hee gyeseyo

(Goodbye in Korean)


Scripture Reference:      Acts 2:1-13

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4, NASB)

Do you ever wonder what Heaven looks like?  The Bible tells us a bit about heaven in Revelation, but there is much that remains a mystery.  If you want to read more, you can look at Revelation 21 – 22 and read about the city of pure gold, the jeweled walls and the 12 gates, each made with a single pearl, which is where we likely have gotten the expression “Pearly Gates.”


But today, we’re going to consider what Heaven sounds like.

The first followers of Jesus Christ likely spoke some combination of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.   As Paul, Silas, Barnabas and the other apostles carried the Gospel near and far, people in other nations were able to hear of the hope and promise of Jesus and many accepted Him as their Lord and Savior and the Gospel message was shared across towns, nations and continents.

Today, missionaries serve in all corners of the world and the Bible is translated in digital, audio and print formats to bring God’s Word in people’s native “heart languages” to even the most remote village or isolated island.

Can you just imagine how beautiful heaven is going to look and sound?  All of God’s creativity, love and majesty poured into His children, and then all of His children gathered around His throne, praising and worshiping our Heavenly Father, His Son and our Savior, all of us filled with the Holy Spirit of God, casting our crowns around His throne and pouring back all His love and joy to worship and honor Him!

Today is the Closing Ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang and we’ll be invited to watch the athletes from the participating nations walking together into the arena, celebrating their victories, courage and sportsmanship.  They come from divergent backgrounds, their socioeconomic statuses likely vary considerably and their native clothing and traditions are each unique and meaningful.  They may have learned how to say a few words in the language of the host country and perhaps they have made friends from around the world, teaching each other how to say some common greetings in each other’s languages.

In some ways, the Olympics could be a bit of a sneak peek into what heaven might look and sound like.  The beauty of many tribes and tongues gathered together, the chorus of languages being spoken, the diversity of cultures and histories being shared and celebrated.

In our Bible reading for today, we learn about what happened when the first followers of Christ received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.   They were gathered in Jerusalem, along with other Jewish people who were observing Shavuot (Pentecost), the Jewish holiday observed 50 days after Passover to commemorate the day 50 days after their Exodus and deliverance from Egypt, when Moses received the Torah (also known as the Ten Commandments and the Law) from God on Mount Sinai.

Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus instructed His followers, the apostles, to wait in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 1, Jesus told them,

“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

(Acts 1:4-8, NASB)

Just as Jesus had promised them, the day arrived when they were to receive the Holy Spirit.  And as they were gathered together, suddenly the Holy Spirit fell down upon them, like tongues of fire, and God inexplicably and mysteriously gave each of them the ability to speak other languages – languages from distant lands which they may have never even heard, let alone learned how to speak.

And the Jewish people who were gathered in Jerusalem for Shavuot (Pentecost) were amazed to hear these Galileans speaking languages from around the world.  By the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power, these simple people were suddenly able to speak in languages far from their homeland – in languages native to Rome, Egypt, Libya, Asia, Mesopotamia and Medes!

Imagine what it might have been like to be given the ability to speak a language that you have never studied or even heard a single phrase or word.  Yet just as He promised, God sent the Holy Spirit to the followers of Christ, to help them, equip them, guide and convict them, intercede for them and be their Helper on their own journey of sanctification on earth, until they went to be with their Heavenly Father and Savior in heaven.  And the very first thing the Holy Spirit did when He was sent to the apostles was to give each of them the ability to share Christ with people quite different from them – from a different nation, tongue and tribe.

Perhaps this is because Jesus didn’t call us to keep the Good News to ourselves.  In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, He commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations and to teach them about who Jesus is and what He has done for all of us.  Before He ascended to heaven after His death and resurrection, Jesus commissioned us to tell the world about Him – and then He sent His Holy Spirit to fill us, equip us and teach us so that we could go and do all that He has called us to for His glory, honor and praise.

And because of the Great Commission that Christ gave to us and the Holy Spirit living in us who helps us each day in so many ways, we are able to share Christ with others and lead the lost to our Savior.  Just as someone once shared Christ with us, so we are to then go and tell others about Him, sort of like the 1970s and 1980s shampoo commercial – we tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on!

Even though we may be uncomfortable or uncertain sharing our faith at first, God wants us to tell others about Jesus so that they too can know the hope we have in Him and they too can accept Him as Savior.

You may be bold and outgoing or quiet and introverted — but as a follower of Christ, each of us is equipped by the Holy Spirit to tell others about Jesus and point them to Him.

Just like the first followers of Christ, (sometimes referred to as the first fruits), we are called to go and make disciples of all nations.  That may mean you travel to the ends of the earth to bring the Gospel to an unreached area or to an urban city full of earthly riches and opportunities but where the Good News is rarely heard, or it may simply mean you share the hope you have in Christ with a neighbor, a family member, a coworker or a friend.

We are all called to tell others about Jesus and to give a reason for the hope we have in Him.  (1 Pet. 3:15).  God may use us in different ways and different places, but He wants each of us to know and follow His Son, and then tell others about our great and awesome God.

And one day, we will all be gathered in heaven in an endless and glorious time of worship of our God and King.

The book of Revelation offers us a glimpse of what worship in heaven might look like.

“ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.””

(Rev. 4:9-11 NASB)

You may have heard Chris Tomlin’s song, “How Great Is Our God” – maybe you’ve sung it at church or heard it online or on the radio.  As you may know, there are two versions of the song – the original and the “World Edition,” which includes some of the lyrics sung in languages from around the world.

When I hear this song, I get goosebumps thinking about how it might sound to God when we worship Him with all our different voices, dialects, accents and languages.  I wonder if this is what it will sound like in heaven, all of us worshipping together, the heavens filled with the melody of awe, wonder and peace.

To our ears, the voices are all different and we hear the multitude of tongues and translations.  Yet to God, there is just one beautiful choir, singing praises to our God and Savior, filled with the Holy Spirit, rejoicing in how great our God is, in one accord, worshiping the One True God.

Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!


Today’s Study

  1. If you have time tonight or this week, watch the Closing Ceremony from the 2018 Olympic Games. As you watch the athletes from all the different nations, be in prayer for them as they return home – for safety in their travels and for comfort and rest after their competitions.  Consider choosing one nation that you don’t know much about and be in prayer for the people of that nation in the days ahead.  Pray for those who don’t know Christ, for missionaries serving there, for Bible translators working to bring God’s Word to their nation.  Pray that the Good News of Jesus would reach all the peoples of that country.  You could google the country and learn a bit more about the people there. If you keep a prayer notebook, add the people of this nation to your prayer list to remember to keep them in prayer.
  2. Watch the World Edition of “How Great Is Our God” and imagine what heaven will be like, when we gather to worship and praise our God and Savior! Allow yourself time to listen to the song and watch the video and just think about the amazing and wonderful world God has given us to live in, the beauty and diversity of our world and how He wants us to love and serve Him, and love and serve our neighbors all over the world, so they will know His love.
  3. This week, try to be deliberate in living out your faith. Ask God to show you someone that you can be the hands and feet of Jesus to.  It may just be an encouraging word to someone or perhaps God will open a door for you to share your faith with someone you talk with this week.

Ask God to show you how to share your faith in Christ with someone and ask Him for courage to be bold in telling someone the hope you have in Christ!  You might invite someone to a church service during this Easter season or share something you have been learning or reading about God that has encouraged or helped you – or even just ask a friend or family member what they believe about God and Jesus, and then share your faith with them also.

You could also write their name in your spiral notebook or binder and continue to pray for them in the days and weeks ahead, asking God to show you ways to share your faith with them and others.

  1. Do you want to learn how to say goodbye in Korean? Here’s a short audio clip that will teach you how!


This Week’s Prayer Focus:             

Please continue to pray for the Parkland community and all those who have been affected by gun violence.

Bible Memory Verse:                        Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit of the Week:                            

Oranges, a fruit grown in Florida, to remind us to pray for all those affected by the school shooting in Florida, including the families, the students, first responders and all of the community.


Sacrifice during Lent – Why do we sacrifice to God during Lent and at other times in the year?

Action Item:                                      

1 – Sometime this week, try to visit the produce section of your market.  Look at the fruits there and consider God’s creativity and goodness in giving us these foods to nurture and nourish us.  Thank Him for His goodness and select a fruit to enjoy this week, such as oranges from Florida.  If possible, make this a weekly habit during the Bible study as a way to be mindful and intentional about celebrating the fruits of the Spirit.

 2 – Make a commitment to pray each day for the Prayer Focus.  If you already pray daily, find time to include the prayer focus in your prayers.  If you don’t currently pray each day, try to find a time when you can spend a few minutes seeking God, interceding for the prayer focus and seek to begin to incorporate a regular prayer time into each day. 


“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”


I would like to invite you to draw closer to God in this Lenten Season.


Perhaps now, more than ever, we desperately need to reconnect with God and with each other.  We are living fragmented lives, lives that are supposed to be easier and faster and simpler – yet seem to offer us less joy, peace and love.

During a morning quiet time recently, God reminded me of the immeasurable value and beauty of the fruits of the Spirit that Paul wrote about in the book of Galatians.  In my prayer time over the next several weeks, He showed me the possibilities and benefits of studying the Fruits of the Spirit – and He helped me to see how the growth and maturity of these fruits of the Spirit in each of us could be healing and such a blessing for the world and for all of us.

You may have memorized Galatians 5:22-23, read these verses in the Bible, heard them in a sermon or even seen them on a print or artwork.  I am including Galatians 5:22-23 below.

If you can, take a moment to read the verses out loud, really thinking about each of the fruits of the Spirit and what they look like when we are living them out.  What would the world look like if we were all living filled with these fruits, treating each other as God calls us to?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

(Gal. 5:22-23 NASB)

In thinking about the fruits of the Spirit, I wondered what our world and individual lives might look like if we asked God to use the Holy Spirit to grow these fruits in us through seeking Him, following Christ and loving and serving God and each other.  I thought about which fruits are growing in me that I am able to share and bless others with – and which fruits are not yet mature, not yet of benefit and blessing to those in my life as well as my own soul and spirit.

Bit by bit, in morning quiet times and in meditation and prayer, God helped me to envision what this study might look like and slowly, I tried to put the pieces together to create a study that would be honoring to God, engaging for people from all walks of life and in different places in their journey with God and Jesus — as well as a Bible study that is realistic about time constraints in our busy lives, practical and applicable, but still challenging and inspiring.

I continued seeking God and asking Him to help me design this study and all its different components, and I am very hopeful that it will be a blessing and encouragement for you!  I know it will not be perfect and I sincerely ask for your grace and mercy in advance, knowing there will be days that the questions may not be applicable to your situation or that I will have typos or ramble a bit!  I promise you, I will try my very best to accurately share God’s Word and seek to both teach AND learn from all of you as we fellowship and study together!

We see fruit used as a metaphor throughout the Bible, literally from the first chapters of Genesis through the final verses of Revelation.  In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus taught the disciples that we can know people by their fruit – and that good trees bear good fruit, but bad trees bear bad fruit. (see Matt. 7:15-20)

During the Bible study, we will spend time looking at the fruits of the Spirit and we’ll have the opportunity to spend time with God and in honest examination of how we are doing in bearing the fruits that God wants to grow in us so that they can be shared with the world in a real demonstration of His love and power in us.

There will likely be areas where we are walking in obedience and the Holy Spirit has been working in our lives which has resulted in healthy, strong fruit growing in our lives.  And there will be some places where we still have room to grow – where the fruit may be in the early stages of blossoming and where God is calling us to sacrifice and submit so that He can more fully use us to impact and bless this world through these fruits of His Holy Spirit.

I hope and pray that this may be a special study during Lent to focus on how God calls us to live and a time that each of us can spend studying His Word, seeking His will and purposing to live more like Christ, walking with the Father day by day.

Along with each week’s fruit of the Spirit, you’ll be encouraged to pray for a different issue or group of people.  In addition, we will learn about a spiritual discipline that is associated with the Lenten season and/or discipleship (prayer, worship, sacrifice, offering/alms giving, fellowship, memorizing Bible verses, holiness, etc.) 

I thought it might be helpful to select a fruit that is symbolic for the people we will be praying for as well as connected to the spiritual fruit we will be asking God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to cultivate and grow in us.  If you would like to do so, you could incorporate the fruit of the week into your meals as a reminder to pray for our weekly prayer focus, read God’s Word in our study and just enjoy the goodness of God’s provisions in our lives!

We will also have the opportunity to complete Action Item(s) each week.   This is not required, of course.  It’s just an opportunity for each of us to live out the Fruits of the Spirit in a tangible and real way, asking God to show us how we can share His love with others in our family, community and world.

Finally, there will be a Bible verse that we can memorize together each week that relates to that week’s Fruit of the Spirit.  If you already know the verse for that week, you could do a search for another verse about that week’s fruit and memorize that verse in its place.  Please feel free to share ideas and tips about how to memorize Scripture so we can encourage and motivate each other!

I am also including songs related to the different themes that I hope will be an encouragement to you.  The Book of Psalms is kind of like a hymnal in the middle of the Bible, containing the songs of God’s children.  Some of them are joyful, others sorrowful.  Some of them are repentant and seeking God’s forgiveness while others of the psalms are petitions and praises.  Music is very powerful and often helps us to understand or express strong emotions in a very real and personal way.  Most of the songs I will include in the daily lessons are hymns, worship and Christian music, but I will also include appropriate secular music that I hope will also bless our studies.

I will post the study daily, but you can complete the questions as your schedule allows.  If you are joining the study after it has started, feel free to catch up at your own pace.  There is no rush and it is never too late to join the study.  You can continue to go through the lessons in the weeks and months ahead.

Including the Bible reading passages and response questions, there will be about 15 minutes of reading and writing each day, but it can be adjusted for your schedule.  I know today’s entry is quite long since there is a lot of introductory material and information about the study.  Going forward, the entries will be much briefer, I promise!

In terms of supplies, here’s what you will need:

  1. A heart that wants to know God more fully and personally and to grow in your walk with Him.
  2. A desire to live a life that honors and pleases God – and out of which will flow even more love and grace to those around you.
  3. A spiral notebook or binder to write your responses and prayers, for reflection, to write down questions or further study you would like to do, and just for your own meditations and wisdom God is revealing to you.
  4. A Bible, either printed or online. I will often quote from the NASB or ESV translations, but please use the translation you are most comfortable with.

Perhaps you will answer the call to ask, seek and knock this Lenten Season.  To ask God questions that are on your heart.  To seek His will and His power in your life.  And for some, for the first time ever, to knock on the door of heaven and invite Him into your life and follow Christ.

I accepted Christ when I was in high school 31 years ago, during the Easter season.  At the time, I didn’t know what Lent was or why it was observed.  I didn’t know the Lord’s Prayer – and I wasn’t even sure how to pray and talk with God.  I didn’t know the books of the Bible and I got nervous when the pastor directed us to turn here or there in the Bible – and I frantically turned to the Table of Contents, hoping nobody noticed.  I didn’t know most of the words to the hymns and I couldn’t have told you the difference between the disciple John and John the Baptist.

Looking back, there was so much I didn’t know.

There was really only one thing that I did know about God back then.

I knew that I needed God – that I was literally and figuratively lost without Him.

I remember one Thursday evening after I had visited my friend’s church several times, a pastor and a small group of church members came to my house for Visitation.  Together, we looked at God’s Word and talked about who God is and how we can know Him.  The Good News of Jesus Christ was shared with me – and I was given the opportunity to accept Christ as my Savior and be born again.

I learned a lot that evening.

I learned that I am a sinner.  That the payment for my sins is death.  That my sins offend our  holy and righteous God.  That Jesus is our Savior, sent by God to save the world.  That He was with God in the beginning and always has been, that He came to earth, died on the cross, was buried and rose again in three days and that He is now with God in heaven and will one day return and reign for eternity – a mystery I admit that I don’t fully understand, but I fully accept and believe.  That Jesus is the Son of God, perfect, holy and without sin.  That He came down to earth to live as a man, being both fully man and fully God.  That He died to rescue us, redeem us, ransom us and reconcile us to God – and that He is the only acceptable payment for my sins.

Quite simply, I knew that I needed Jesus.

When my friend’s pastor asked if I wanted Jesus to be my Savior, I knew for sure that I did.  I said yes – and then he led me through the Sinner’s Prayer.

Humbly and completely, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  And when I did, I remember this sense of peace washing over me – like I was home, I was safe and I was loved.

And you know what?  That same simple and basic knowledge of God’s love and Jesus’s gift is what I carry with me as I walk with God through each good, bad and ugly day.  Because even though I am a follower of Christ, I still have bad days (we all will – it’s just the way life is in a fallen and broken world) but God’s love is what sustains me, guides me and helps me as I press on each day.

I will share more of my testimony with you in the days and weeks ahead and I would be honored to hear about your testimony and how you came to know and accept Christ as your Lord and Savior.

You may have been raised in the church and it feels like you’ve been following Christ forever.

Or you may have come to know Him later in life, after struggles and searching.

Perhaps today you don’t yet know Him personally and you haven’t trusted Him with your life.  I pray that as we draw closer to God in this study, that you too might be able to declare on Resurrection Sunday in a very real and personal way,

“He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!”

I am looking forward to meeting with you in the weeks ahead as we study God’s Word and seek His will together.  I will be praying for each of you and praying that God would work in all our lives so that we might share His love even more fully and richly with the world around us, pointing people to our only hope, Jesus Christ!


This Week’s Prayer Focus:             

Please pray for the Parkland community and all those who have been affected by gun violence.

Bible Memory Verse:                       

Galatians 5:22-23

Fruit of the Week:                            

Oranges, a fruit grown in Florida, to remind us to pray for all those affected by the school shooting in Florida, including the families, the students, first responders and all of the community.


Sacrifice during Lent – Why do we sacrifice to God during Lent and at other times in the year?

Action Items:                                       

  1. Sometime this week, try to visit the produce section of your market.  Look at the fruits there and consider God’s creativity and goodness in giving us these foods to nurture and nourish us.  Thank Him for His goodness and select a fruit to enjoy this week, such as oranges from Florida.  If possible, make this a weekly habit during the Bible study as a way to be mindful and intentional about celebrating the fruits of the Spirit.
  2. Make a commitment to pray each day for the Prayer Focus.  If you already pray daily, perhaps you can find time to include our weekly prayer focus in your prayers.  If you don’t currently pray each day, try to find a time when you can spend a few minutes seeking God, interceding for the prayer focus and just seeking to begin to incorporate a regular prayer time into each day.   We’ll talk about how to talk to God in the weeks ahead – but for now, just talk to Him however He leads you.  Talk to Him like your best friend, because that’s really who He is!  You don’t have to worry about fancy words – the best news is that He loves you and He would love nothing more than to talk with His precious child!

Study Questions:

If you have a spiral notebook or a binder with notebook paper, that would be a great place to write your responses to the daily study questions. 

  1. If you have time, watch this video by Matt Maher, 40 Days. The video is about the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert as a time of preparation at the beginning of His earthly ministry.    

Here are some things to think about/answer:

Did Jesus look strong or vulnerable – or both – in the video? 


How did Jesus’s appearance change over the 40 days? 


Did Satan attack and tempt Jesus at the beginning – or did he tempt Jesus at the end of His time in the desert? 


Why do you think God allowed Jesus to suffer as a man when He was on earth?


  1. Read Matthew 4:1-11.

Who led Jesus into the desert to be tempted?


Who tempted Jesus?


Jesus was tempted by the enemy with food (the suggestion that rocks could be turned into bread, in response to Jesus’s hunger), safety and pride (daring Jesus to fall and prove that He is the Son of God, suggesting that the angels would catch Him) and power (dominion over the world if He would worship Satan).   

What does Satan use to tempt and deceive you in his effort to draw you away from God?  Some examples could be love, acceptance, security, popularity, fame, power, money, glory, recognition, beauty, career growth, etc.?


How did Jesus respond to Satan?  What did He use to rebut Satan’s temptations?


Why might God have allowed Jesus to endure this temptation and trial in the desert? 


Why do you think it was important for Jesus to experience human emotions like hunger, fatigue, betrayal, worry and sorrow?


Does Jesus’s 40 day trial in the desert encourage you knowing that He suffered and was tempted just as we are today?   Do you believe Jesus knew what it was to suffer and struggle while He was on earth as a man, yet still fully God?  


  1. When does Satan tempt and distract you? Is it when you are weary, tired and discouraged and he seeks to dilute your faith and trust in God?  Or is it when you are on the mountain top and feeling strong and capable, and Satan seeks to make you proud, arrogant and instill a sense of invincibility in you, as though you don’t need God?


Ask God to help you see the patterns of Satan’s temptations so that you can be prepared for the lies Satan uses and you can guard your heart, soul and mind.

Also, ask God to help you use His Word to rebut and respond to Satan’s lies and to protect yourself.

  1. Is there a lie that Satan is speaking into your life even today?  If so, consider doing a search for a verse that might help you to answer Satan with God’s Word, just as Jesus did.  Ask God to show you His truth to rebut and respond to the lies of Satan.  When Satan speaks that lie to you, respond with God’s Word, speaking the hope and promise of God.  
  2. Is there something God is calling you to sacrifice during Lent? It may be a television program, an attitude, how you spend your free time, gossip or cursing, a favorite snack, a hobby or something similar.

Even though Lent has already begun, it is not too late to sacrifice for Lent.  While sacrifice is not necessary during Lent, it can be a powerful way to draw closer to God, to seek His power and strength, to commit to obedience, and to ask the Holy Spirit to develop and grow the spiritual fruits in you that will bless you and the world around you.

By giving up something you enjoy (e.g., chocolate, a favorite tv show, a weekly manicure) or giving up something that you know is bad but you have fallen into a pattern of doing (gossip, cursing, too much time on social media, watching shows that are negative or contrary to God’s teaching), you will be giving control of your life back where it belongs – with God. 

Prayerfully ask God to show you if there is anything you can sacrifice during the Lenten season in an effort to draw closer to Him and to live in submission and obedience to Him.  It may be a good thing which you are choosing to forego during Lent as a sacrifice or it may be a thing which you know is distracting you from God and worship and which you choose to yield to Him and ask Him to take away the power of this activity or substance to make you more like Christ.

This is not meant to be a New Year’s Resolution or a diet plan.  It can be just one small item that is tangible (e.g., soda or ice cream) or even an intangible behavior (e.g., social media, gossiping, watching a weekly tv show). 

If you have any health conditions or are pregnant or under the care of a physician, please check with them before you make any alterations to your diet or fitness plan.  Please do not stop taking medications or give up important food items that you need.  This is not meant to be a total fast from food or beverage.

The idea is simply to sacrifice something – it could be a food or behavior – as a symbol of the sacrifice that Christ made in an effort to draw closer to God and honor Him.  It should not be dangerous or harmful to your health or well-being. 

This is not required during Lent – some people choose to sacrifice, while others do not.  Prayerfully seek God and His leading regarding sacrifice.  If He is not leading you to sacrifice during Lent, He will show you this and you should honor that.  Many people do not sacrifice during Lent – that does not change their love for God or God’s love for them.  It is totally a personal decision and there is not a right or wrong answer to the question. 

As in all things, God will lead you to what is right and best for you.

I look forward to meeting you here tomorrow as we study God’s Word together!


“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”