June 10 – Be Ready – Ready to do Good

Read 2 Timothy 2:15-22

Be ready…be “prepared for every good work.”

When you read that statement, you likely begin to think in terms of having your eyes open for opportunity to serve people. To be sure, that is an important aspect of blessing others. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a Christ follower is the fact that he/she does good works (Matt. 5:14-16; Eph. 2:8-10).

Still, the thrust of this passage is less on having open eyes and more on having a clean heart. You probably noted how Paul is like a pendulum in his writing, swinging between a call to correct understanding of God’s word and its antithesis…false teaching. I am sure you saw how he contrasted ungodliness, iniquity, and youthful lusts on the one hand and righteousness, faith, and love on the other. Paul is concerned about what we believe and how we live…about faithful theology and God-honoring theopraxis. (The word theopraxis combines two Greek words: theos meaning God and praxis meaning practice.)

And with regard to the theopraxis, if we really want to be prepared for good works, we must experience cleansing.

The apostle’s illustration is clear, isn’t it? Your household has the kinds of containers that he describes. You have the fine china or dinner dishes that are only brought out for special occasions. They are used for honorable purposes. Meanwhile, there is also the trash bin…or maybe, even more graphic, the container that is carried around when a person feels nauseous. It serves a less honorable purpose. God’s children are to be like the first kind of container.

We are to be…

  • A vessel for honor
  • Useful for the Master
  • Truly prepared to do the good works that are part and parcel of the Christian life

In order to do any of those, Paul reminds us that we must cleanse ourselves from the dishonorable things of life. In fact, here is the way that the Apostle John describes our cleansing.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

Our role is that of confession…of acknowledging the shortcomings of our deeds, words, or thoughts to God. Then did you notice what He does? He forgives…He purifies.

Thank you, Jesus, for making us useful to the Master!

June 9 – Be Ready – Ready for Judgment

Read Revelation 20:11-15

Well, that wasn’t super encouraging…

However, when thinking of what is to come on judgement day, Revelation 20:11-15 is a very real part of it.

A scary, sad part, but the reality nonetheless. 

Being ready is what believers have been doing since Jesus walked the earth.

In The Chosen’s second season, Jesus and His disciples go to the house of a Samaritan, a man who has done much wrong in his life named Milek. Milek’s wife asked Jesus, “The Messiah is going to save us from all suffering and heartache…when will this be?” Jesus simply responded, “I’ve come to preach the gospel of the good news and teach about a kingdom that is far greater than this world. I make a way for people to access that kingdom. But in this world, bones will still break, hearts will still break, but in the end the light will overcome darkness.” 

Our number one goal as followers of Jesus is to spread the good news of the gospel while striving to live like Christ. As we strive to live like Christ, we look, act and speak differently, which will plant seeds to those who are not followers of Jesus to wonder, “Why are they so different?” The Lord works in those hearts. As we strive to live like Jesus, we are changed from the inside out and our life is lived in the light. 

Being ready doesn’t mean sit and wait for Jesus to return. It doesn’t mean condemning those around us to turn from their ways and it doesn’t mean to scare people with even the verses we have read above. We must be ready with our lives lived like Jesus because of the verses above. We want to win souls for Jesus – for the kingdom that is far greater than we can imagine because He is King. 

No matter where you are at in your walk with the Lord, whether baby believer who is trying to figure it out or a seasoned believer who can recite the word of God easily, Jesus asks us to be ready to spread the gospel, to be ready to take up our cross and follow Him, and to be ready for our true home that is to come. 

When you look at your life, are you ready? 

I know that I suffer from looking at the world around us and asking the Lord to return because there is so much hurt and suffering. I admit that I long to be home, our true home with Jesus because life here on earth is just hard. Then I remember that my calling in this world is far greater than just living. It’s living to make disciples who make disciples who will spread the good news of the gospel!

So, I challenge you to evaluate your life. When reading the verses of Revelation 20, are you scared? Are you determined? Are you encouraged to keep fighting the fight to bring people into the light? 

Are you ready?

June 8 – I Will Remember – The supremacy and superiority of Christ in unprecedented crisis

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center.

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Read Hebrews 1:1-6, 2:1-18, 12:28, and 13:14-15

We live in a day of instability. Crisis, whether it is a global pandemic, volatility in the markets, or an economic recession, can hit at any moment. When crisis hits, it humbly reminds us of the fragility of life and that nothing in our lives is supreme and sure—even those things we believe bring stability. 

However, the Bible teaches that there is something sure and supreme that brings stability in the midst of instability and uncertainty. 

The author of Hebrews, writing to a group of believers living in the midst of uncertainty, instability, and upheaval, reminds them of the supremacy and superiority of Christ. According to the author of Hebrews, Jesus is better and more superior than the angels as well as Moses, and what he accomplished through his death and resurrection is greater and surer than the covenant Moses mediated. 

I grew up going to the lake with my family. When we would take the boat out, we would find a place to anchor so that we could play and swim. The anchor would stabilize the boat in the midst of a lake containing many boats that created many waves. 

Jesus is the anchor that can weather any storm or wave we encounter in this fallen world. For it is in Jesus we have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28). 

In a world where we aren’t promised tomorrow, which can create fear, worry, and anxiety, believers anchor themselves to the hope of Christ and thus fixate their eyes on the city that is to come (Heb. 13:14). Therefore, it is in Christ we can, “…continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb. 13:15). 

Today, I pray you will remember, and give thanks for, all that God has done, is doing, and will do in your life–if you only trust in him. 

Questions for Reflection

Who or what are you placing your confidence in? 

How can we remind those around us that there is something more important than money and things?

June 7 – I Will Remember – Don’t let the worship die

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center.

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Acts of the Apostles 16:25

According to one “60 Minutes” interview, roughly 80 years ago, Jozef Kropinski was caught working for the Polish resistance during WWII and was imprisoned for four years until his death by the Nazis at Auschwitz. 

A composer, Kropinski served as violinist in the camp orchestra. At night, Kropinski would sneak into the “pathology lab” (where the bodies of those killed were dismembered) in order to write pieces of music that would “help raise the spirits of fellow prisoners.” His desire was to encourage fellow prisoners by using music to help them remember previous, more happy times. 

For many in the Nazi camps, music provided a relief from the reality. Several millennia ago, two prisoners modeled a similar idea. Imprisoned for removing powers of divination from a girl—and thus depriving her owners of income—Paul and Silas were attacked, stripped of their clothes, beaten, and bound in an inner chamber of the prison. We cannot know what this was like, but we can have an idea—it was lonely and gloomy, and appeared quite bleak. 

And yet faith and hope rose to heaven as the two prayed and sang songs to God. Oh, to listen in on this moment! In our modern times, we can imagine the two singing songs like “It is Well” or “Holy, Holy, Holy” or “Amazing Grace.” The a cappella heart cry of someone in need is a sound like no other. It’s a holy moment between God and his child, between Jesus and his brothers and sisters and friends. 

In times of tragedy and distress, where anxiety and depression seek to capsize us, we must turn to worship and to song. This could be us singing, or us simply listening to or watching others worship. 

As praise arises, our hearts do as well. One way to practice this is to sing through the Psalms. Instead of reading them, sing them, choosing whatever melody that comes to mind. As your heart is stirred to life, it gives you courage to keep going, praising God even in the darkest of times.

Oh, and one other thing may happen—you will be a witness to those around you. As Paul and Silas prayed and sang, “the prisoners were listening to them.” Your praise is for your benefit, but it is also for the benefit of those around you. As you find joy, you can share joy. So today, sing loud and sing boldly. God reigns over all the earth, and he dwells within our hearts. 

Questions for Reflection

What songs come to mind as a heart-cry during this time of distress?  

How can we use praise and song to minister and care for those around us?

June 6 – I Will Remember – The power and intimacy of Jesus in our trials

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center.

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Read John 11:1-4, John 11:20-27, John 11:32-35, John 11:41-44

The story of the death and resurrection of Lazarus contains some of the most memorable verses in scripture. In it, John’s recount reveals a Jesus that is simultaneously powerful over death and intimate with those suffering. It is therefore not surprising that the passage has been a source of enduring comfort for those going through seasons of uncertainties and trials. 

At the outset, Jesus spoils the ending, revealing that Lazarus’ illness is not going to lead to death. While suffering is still coming, everything that is going to happen is “so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 

Through this, John provides the framework for entering into stories of suffering. Even as God is not the author of sin or suffering, he uses these seasons so that we might bring him glory. Surely, at many points in the story, this would seem foolish, particularly as Mary and Martha are weeping. Yet by the end, Jesus’ words are vindicated as he calls Lazarus from the tomb. 

We see why Jesus allows this pain and suffering at the deepest point in the story while talking with Martha. Comforting her, Jesus reveals not only who he is, but what that means for those who believe in him. Into her pain and loss, Jesus announces, “I am the resurrection and the life.” 

Through our pain, it is this truth that secures us as an anchor for a ship in a storm. Come what may, Christ has conquered death, and through him, we have life. 

At the same time, it is important not to miss the intimacy of the passage. In times of trial, we often run to God’s power and sovereignty. This is good, reminding us that he is in control when so many things seem to be out of our hands. Yet over time as crisis deepens, many Christians struggle to believe God is with them in their pain. John invites us to see Jesus’ humanity in his empathy for Mary and Martha. 

Moved in his spirit and visibly crying, Jesus models for us his teaching to mourn with those who mourn. 

Questions for Reflection

Just as Jesus entered into the pain of Mary and Martha, who in your community needs you to enter into their mourning? Reflect on signs of pain where you can share in their burden while bringing the message of Christ’s resurrection as the hope for their deliverance. 

June 5 – I Will Remember – Do this in remembrance of Me: The wonder of the Lord’s Supper

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Luke 22:14-23, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

One of my favorite times with the local church is when we observe the Lord’s Supper together. It is one of the most intimate, reflective, and celebratory times we have. Now I understand while some may call it communion, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist, the Lord’s supper is a sacrament (or an ordinance in some traditions) that all Christian faith traditions observe as it has been handed down to us from Christ himself. 

Go back in time to that first Lord’s Supper. Moments before Christ would be betrayed, arrested, beaten, mocked, flogged, and crucified, he gathered his disciples together for one last meal. But it wasn’t a normal meal—it was a deep, meaningful, and sacred one. 

What’s interesting about the institution of this meal is that it was replacing another deep, meaningful, and sacred meal that the Jews observed. That meal was called the Passover, a meal Jews shared to celebrate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. 

At Jesus’ meal with his disciples, he began by breaking bread and speaking about how this was his body given for them. Following the bread was the wine. He held up the glass and described this cup as the “new covenant” in his blood—blood poured out for all people. 

As you could imagine, for Jesus’ disciples, it was a weird meal to say the least. However, it would come to make total sense with Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. It was then they realized why Jesus uttered, “Do this in remembrance of me.” As a result, they continued to observe the meal. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 11:23–25, Paul describes how the early church observed the Lord’s Supper. He explains how the practice of the Lord’s Supper proclaims “the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

The institution of the Lord’s Supper wasn’t meant to be just a time of recalling Christ’s death. Sure, that is part of it. But as N.T. Wright suggests, “The present moment (whenever) somehow holds together the one-off past even (the Lord’s death) and the great future when God’s world will be remade under Jesus’ loving rule (until he comes).” 

Therefore, when God’s people observe the Lord’s Supper—remembering the death of Christ—there is a celebration (for what he has done), there is a consecration (for what he is doing in and through us now), and there is an anticipation (as we long for his coming when he will fully make all things new).This is the wonder of remembering Christ’s death and resurrection through the Eucharist with the saints. 

Questions for Reflection

Take a few moments to think through the implications of Christ’s death in your life. Thank him for what he has done. 

Now ask him what his death and resurrection mean for those around you.  

June 4 – I Will Remember – Resting in God’s power

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Mark 4:35-41, Mark 5:22-43

In times of trial, one of the most treasured passages in scripture is of Jesus calming the storm while out to sea with the disciples. Falling asleep, Jesus is awoken by disciples who are not only fearful of the storm, but disturbed by Jesus’ apparent lack of care for them. Into this chaos Jesus rebukes the wind and waves, causing them to immediately cease. 

This passage is the first of three stories in Mark that underscore Jesus’ power. Here, Jesus reveals his dominion over his creation, calming the storm. In Mark 5:1-21, Jesus casts a demon out of a man, revealing his dominion over the spiritual forces at work in the world. 

Finally, in Mark 5:22-43, Jesus heals a woman and servant of a chronic illness and death, respectively, revealing his dominion over even disease and death. 

In all, Mark reminds us that during seasons of trial and opposition, there is nothing that is beyond the power of Jesus. 

This is a hard lesson to remember when we are in the midst of storms, facing opposition, or dealing with illness or possible death. Yet how we react in the storm speaks to how well we understand who Jesus is and how he cares for us. 

Jesus rebukes the disciples because they don’t grasp these two points. They don’t know who he is as the creator and ruler of the universe, fearing the storm is greater than he is. They also don’t trust that he cares for them, going so far as to ask, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” 

As we try to navigate difficult seasons, we must continually refresh our faith in the answers to these two questions. Jesus is the lord of the universe, the second member of the trinity, to whom all dominion and power has been given. He is also our savior who endures with and has given to us his Spirit.  

Questions for Reflection

How are you responding to God as you are walking through this difficult time? Do you see him as asleep? Unaware, unable, and uncaring of your situation? 

Recognize that those who don’t know Jesus are like the disciples in the boat: fearful and uncertain. How can you share how Jesus has provided calmness in your life in the midst of the storm?

June 3 – I Will Remember – Because of God, the future is bright

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Psalms 27:13-14, Psalms 31:24, Psalms 121:1-2

He had lost everything, his family had been broken, and he had been imprisoned. And yet two centuries ago, when a reporter asked missionary Adoniram Judson what would happen to Burma (where he served for 40 years) after war had devastated the land, he exclaimed, “The future is as bright as the promises of God!”

What faith has to offer us is the ability to see and to believe that our reality today will not last forever. When all is dark around us and those near us cry “We are perishing!” we can lift our eyes up to the hills as the Psalmist did and repeat, “…where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2).

None of us knows what the future holds. None of us can say that after great tragedy life will be the same. ‘Normal’ becomes relative and sometimes must be drastically redefined. 

What we do know is that we have a God who promises to be with us, throughout all generations, who never changes, and who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Psalm 27:13 says, “I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” It’s a radical faith that looks at God’s work throughout history and remembers that after all tragedy, life continues. It is a radical faith that accepts that ‘normal’ may be difficult for a while, but nonetheless believes that difficult does not mean ‘absent from God’s goodness.’ 

The tragedy of this moment screams at us that this is all there is. It mocks us and woos us into thinking that tomorrow is but a darkened room where none can enter. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a tomorrow, and despite what our hearts keep telling us, it is bright. Because God is in it. His goodness is in it. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).

Questions for Reflection

Do you believe that the future is as bright as the promises of God? What does this mean on a day-to-day basis for you? 

How can we remind those around us that the goodness of the Lord will come, and in fact, has come?

June 2 – I Will Remember – Two-way communication

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Habakkuk 2:1-20, Genesis 32:22-32

A quick glance at the Old Testament prophets tells us that although each played a critical role in speaking truth to God’s people—often prior to or during times of tragedy and crisis—prophets had hard lives. Most were the target of persecution and attack. They were sometimes beaten, imprisoned, and mocked. 

However, each also possessed a quality which we can demonstrate during times of personal or global crisis—open communication. Habbukuk, the 7th-century prophet who prophesied an imminent Chaldean invasion to the people of Judah, is a fascinating example of what it looks like to communicate openly with God during times of uncertainty and fear. 

Meaning “embracer,” his very name foretells what we will see as we read through the three chapters of Habbakuk. It’s a back-and-forth conversation which goes something like this: Habbakuk cries out to God for help and God responds with reminders of what he is doing. 

In one moving verse, Habbakuk exclaims, “I will take my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me” (2:1). Can you just imagine? It’s the picture of stubbornness—of complete trust that God will answer and that Habbakuk will wait as long as necessary to receive that answer. Only a few verses later, the Lord does respond; but in his response, he tells Habbukuk that his answer will not come now: “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (2:3). 

Perhaps this conjures up images of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32 and his cry that “I won’t let you go unless you bless me” (v. 26). In times of difficulty, we keep pressing forward with God. We believe and trust that the more we press into him, the more he will offer back to us. 

Crisis reveals a communication channel that is two-way. We cry out to God, and he responds. We wait upon God, and he answers. It’s time to sit on our watchposts and see what God is trying to say to us. 

Questions for Reflection

Cry out to God. And then wait. Believe he will answer. And be in awe of his response. 

How can we speak the truth to those around us that communication with God can be a two-way street?

June 1 – I Will Remember – He takes my right hand and then I take His

The following is a YouVersion plan written by the Billy Graham Center. To participate with this plan on YouVersion, download the app, create an account and click on the link here to participate:

I Will Remember – YouVersion Plan

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Read Isaiah 41:13, Romans 5:8

Many of us have heard the concept of the “upside-down kingdom.” Often, this is referencing key truths such as the weak will be made strong and the humble will be raised up, and vice versa. Whereas the world loves those who are powerful and successful, God’s eye is on the marginalized, the widow, the poor, the powerless. His eye is on the sparrow—that which is utterly dependent upon him. 

Isaiah 41:13, however, teaches us another way in which God’s kingdom is upside down: “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,’ declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (italics for emphasis).

God reaches down to take our hand and whisper words of comfort. We don’t just lift up our hands. He first reaches down. This is akin to the idea of a parent holding a child’s hand while they cross the street. Although the child is holding on, who is doing all the work? The parent. This is true with us as well. As we go through difficult seasons of life, we must not run away from God. We must reach out to him and hold on as best we can to his big, strong hand. But don’t be deceived. It is God who is doing all the work. 

We go through life thinking that we have to reach out to God and that we have to do better and be better for him to hear us and to help us. The better we are, we muse, the more God will love us

This, of course, is anathema and goes counter to the very message of the cross. Romans 5 in fact tells us that even when we were sinners, Christ died for us. 

Sometimes, the first step in walking through tragedy and trauma isn’t about us at all or anything we do. Sometimes, the first step is to simply close our eyes and to consider what it means that God is taking hold of our right hand. Our powerful, omniscient, all-knowing God calls to us, “I’ve got you. Do not fear.” Only then do we grab back, believing that he will never let go, in good times and in bad. 

Questions for Reflection

What are the implications for you as you consider the fact that God reaches out to comfort you even before you are reaching out to him? 

How can you offer this truth to those around you today?