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

Don’t forget to share your comments and takeaways every day!

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?

May 31 – I Will Remember – He makes everything beautiful in its time

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

Don’t forget to share your comments and takeaways every day!

Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, Psalms 30:5

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Verse 11 of Ecclesiastes 3 is the culmination of a set of contrasting pairs meant to assure us that everything that happens is pregnant with meaning: “He has made everything beautiful in his time.” A time to be born and a time to die, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time for war and a time for peace. What, though, is beautiful about war or death, or killing or giving up, or throwing away or tearing down? 

Those of us who have gone through difficult times on a personal scale, and now many of us dealing with uncertainty on a global scale, can attest to the fact that tragedy and loss are never pleasing. Over and over in the Psalms, we see David expressing the enormity of his grief, anger, fear, anxiety, and depression to God. But over and over, we see the culminating effect of this pouring out of emotion to God: praise and discovering yet another reason we need God.

What is beautiful about war and death and everything bad that comes our way is that we are allowed to go deeper in our faith than we ever could in good times. When we are financially stable and loved by others, when we are healthy and have job security, our tendencies are to stray from complete and utter dependence upon God. This is simply human nature.

We drift unless something—Someone—continually finds a way to pull us back to the anchor of our souls. How many of us, after all, can look back on difficult times and see marking points of when our faith was richer and deeper? 

We cannot go so far as to say that war itself is beautiful. Or that a natural disaster is. Or that cancer is. Or that mass disease is. What we can say is that through these ashes is the possibility of God doing things beyond what we “can ask or imagine.”

We are forced into a place of dependence, and when we do so, we find our God has been waiting for us to run into his arms the whole time. Thus begins a new level of trust and faith that we would have never experienced otherwise.

Questions for Reflection

In the brokenness of our world today, where can you see glimpses of the beauty of which Ecclesiastes 3 is speaking? 

How can you speak that beauty into the lives of those around you who are dealing with fear and anxiety?

May 10 – A Changing Culture – Handling Success

Read Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 16:3 and Psalm 101:5b

“Just bought a book on narcissism. It’s great. It’s all about me.”

Have you ever watched the old video segments of The Beatles in 1963 from The Ed Sullivan show? You would see that these guys were hungry for success and had worked hard to produce pleasant music. They were young and ready to make some money. They were enthusiastic, excited and singing love songs such as THIS BOY (my favorite), SHE LOVES YOU and I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND.

Then, as I watched old video segments from 1965 through 1969, their attitudes changed. A lot of my friends say that their music got even better but what I saw were guys who weren’t as hungry and excited. They were burnt out. How could they not have been burnt out with the fame they experienced?

As they approached 1970 when the band broke up, they became drug addicts. Their music changed from love songs to drug songs such as LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS, WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS and DAY TRIPPER. Many people liked the music better. I didn’t. What changed?

Then on March 4, 1966 The Beatles’ John Lennon said, “We are more popular than Jesus.”

Reactions included radio stations banning Beatles music and rallies of boys and girls stomping on their records and bonfires of Beatles material.

Audio Adrenaline, a band of 5 Christian men aged twentysomething, sang a song titled NEVER GONNA BE AS BIG AS JESUS in 1996. This song was a response to The Beatles’ claim that they were bigger than Jesus.

“Never gonna be as big as Jesus
Never gonna hold the world in my hands
Never gonna be as big as Jesus
Never gonna build the promise land
But that, that’s all right, O.K. with me.
I could build a tower to heaven
Get on top and touch the sky
I could write a million songs
All designed to glorify
I could be about as good
Good as any human could
But that won’t get me by.”

How do you handle success? Do you work to avoid arrogance? When you become successful, it is natural to become arrogant and not realize it – too much pride, personal superiority and thinking you are more important than others.

But Jesus said to seek Him first:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”Matthew 6:33

That is how to avoid arrogance and handle success in a modest way.

Today, we have a culture that has changed. Arrogance and narcissism seem to be common. Jesus said to seek Him first.

Pray for humility!

As Christians, many parts of our life are UPSIDE DOWN from the rest of the world.

Avoid arrogance.

Do you seek Him first in all that you do?

Tom Weckesser

May 9 – A Changing Culture – Heartache

Read Psalm 34:18

Do you ever feel like life just hits you where it hurts?

Like you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, just enjoying your day and, all of a sudden, life comes up and punches you in the gut? The punch was so hard you lost your breath and completely fell to your knees. You’ve forgotten where you were going and what you were doing.

Hopefully you haven’t literally, randomly been punched in the gut that you dropped to your knees, but perhaps it sounds familiar because you’ve also had this feeling. Life is just hard. Sometimes it’s so painful and it was something you weren’t expecting. Those painful moments in life completely change everything.

Not just for that day, but forever.

Think about the most painful time in your life. For some of you, this thought comes quickly and maybe you think of many different excruciating times. For others, there might be one thing that stands out.

Personally, I can pin a few moments to be some of my most painful memories. Maybe you’re walking through this season right now, as we speak. So, do you have that most painful moment? Okay, now I want you to think about the people who willingly took the time to talk to you about that specific thing. Maybe they didn’t have the words, but they acknowledged it simply by giving you a hug and saying,, “I am here for you, and I love you.”

How much did that matter for your healing?

Perhaps you haven’t experienced that because maybe you haven’t talked about that painful thing. If that’s the case, imagine the pure freedom that would come with just simply talking to someone about it, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, a traumatic event that happened to you, a friend who broke your trust, or some type of abuse inflicted on you by someone in your life. Are you afraid to talk about it because you think people are going to judge you for feeling something? Are you afraid that it will be awkward?

What’s holding you back?

Here’s what I know, God promises us to be near to the broken hearted. Just like the friend you let into that painful space in your life, God wants you to let Him into that place. When you trust God to hold you in those moments, there will be such healing. I know it can be scary to be vulnerable with others and sometimes even with God, but, even when it’s hard, He will still be there. We’re not promised that life as a follower of Christ would be easy, but we have been promised that His presence will be there when times are tough.

What better love is that, for someone to be in the heartache with you? Maybe today you need to write it out and share with God what’s going on internally. Maybe you need to yell it out to Him. Whatever way you process things, be intentional this week to do just that and lay your pain and broken heart in His hand so He can save you as your spirit is crushed.

Michelle Perrino

March 25 – Faithfulness – He is always with us

Read Deuteronomy 31:6, Psalm 119:6-7 and Matthew 28:16-20

What a beautiful truth to remember and yet, how often do we forget that Jesus is always with us? Over the last 6 months, the Lord has taught me a great deal about His presence. He has taught me that He did not promise that we would not struggle or deal with heartache and scary times but that, through all of it, He is with me.

I am a follower of Jesus. The powerful effect of that is I have His Spirit within me, guiding, teaching, molding, ministering and prompting me into the direction that best reflects Him and His intent for my life.

Walking through life not knowing how to handle certain situations or how to navigate them can be extremely scary and by no means is it easy. However, we are promised peace through it all.  We are promised that, no matter the circumstance, no matter the situation, His presence is accessible.

As a worship leader, one of my favorite songs that I have the honor of leading is “Nothing Else” by Cory Asbury. In this song, he reflects on the conversations many of us have had. Apologizing for forgetting that He is first and foremost. Apologizing for going through the motions of maybe saying and doing the right things but not really doing it with the motive of honoring Him but doing it because it is what we should do.

He constantly asks to take him back to where He and the Lord started. Mostly to remind him of the powerful truths the Lord shared with him in the beginning of their relationship.

The majority of the song that Cory wrote was expressing his desire not to be away from the Lord’s presence, that he just wants to be still at His feet.

What I love, the visual that I often receive while leading, is that, in and of itself. But instead of setting aside a “time” for this to be active. I find myself realizing that this can be at any point in time.

As Moses, David and Matthew state, He is always with us. Once the veil was torn, His spirit was accessible and we are able to talk with, pray to, and worship the Lord whenever. He is there. All around us, surrounding us, keeping us in the palm of His hand.

Don’t forget – He is there, ready, willing and wanting you to come to Him.
But also, He is present for the hard times too.
We must remember, whatever the times, whatever the situation, He knows about them. He is not surprised by them and He will use them for His Glory. That we must cling to Him as we come into the upcoming days, weeks, months, and years.

He is ALWAYS with us.

Kelly Lawson

March 20 – Faithfulness – He heals us – One person’s story

Read Psalm 34:17-19, Isaiah 41:10 and 1 Peter 5:10

In February of 2016 I was diagnosed with MDS, sometimes referred to as pre-leukemia. Let’s just call it cancer. In 2003 my sister, my only sibling, died of cancer and, after a few months of watching cell levels go lower and lower, I have to say I was afraid. I was confident that, when I died, I would be in Heaven with Jesus but I was afraid of the process of dying. I just plain didn’t want to die.

A good friend heard about my situation and came over to encourage me. He took my Bible and marked Psalm 34:17 – 19. This meant so much to me because I was “crushed in spirit”. This caused me to start writing and reading encouraging verses every day, memorizing many of them. This, in conjunction with so many people praying for me, started making a positive difference.

I needed a bone marrow transplant but the doctors couldn’t find an appropriate donor. They finally decided to use my youngest daughter and set a transplant date.

I had been battling depression through this process and knew I needed to hand it all over to Jesus, trusting Him completely. November of 2017, 3 months before the transplant, I was listening to a message on fully trusting Jesus. He said the first step was to have a pure heart. This caused me to literally get on my knees and start taking responsibility for things in my past, confessing and asking for forgiveness in a way I had never done before. It was literally as though a tremendous weight was lifted from my shoulders. I was no longer so down and I had much more hope. I since have prayed hundreds of times that He would lift me up and He always does (Isaiah 41:10).

This is really just the beginning of the story. I would love to spend hours giving much more detail of God’s faithfulness during my healing but here is the abbreviated version.

February 2018, I had the transplant, which requires a lengthy recovery period and a lot of faith as they wipe out your immune system and your body’s ability to produce blood cells. God brought me through the transplant and recovery amazingly well with few side effects. I was able to start working some about the middle of May.

All was well until early July when I contracted pneumonia and spent several weeks in the hospital. I found out later that all of the doctors but one had given up on me when I was in the ICU. But God healed me so quickly that they were amazed and couldn’t explain it. We knew it was God.

Another bout of pneumonia came in Jan of 2020 that had me back on quite a bit of oxygen. I left the hospital and came home, still needing oxygen. God did it again and I’ve experienced a complete 180 over the past year in spite of COVID. Praise God!

So, my advice, when you’re in trouble, is to turn to our Heavenly Father and trust Him completely. You may have to turn to Him every hour of every day but that’s OK. He will never leave you or forsake you (1 Peter 5:10).

I don’t know God’s timing on this for you, maybe not even in this life. But, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I know He will fulfill this promise for you!

Mike Molter

March 19 – Faithfulness – He heals us

Read Psalm 41:3

“The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.”

Psalm 41:1

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…”

Psalm 103:2 – 3

Does God still heal people?

Let’s start by looking at just a couple of His promises.

First, we need to look at who this was written to – It was written to Israel (God’s children). So, does this apply to followers of Jesus Christ? I believe it does. The Bible tells us that Christians have been “in-grafted” into the family of God and become adopted children of God (Romans 11:11-24).

So how does God do the healing?

There are many ways, one of which would be direct healing.

Another way, which I’m familiar with, is by using doctors and other medical professionals and what we think of as modern medicine.

I’ve also seen how God uses other people to help in the healing process. This can be as simple as just taking a meal, visiting someone and certainly praying for people. I’ve experienced God’s love through the caring and service of just “ordinary” people.

So why doesn’t God heal all of His children?

Well, I don’t know.

But what I do know is we can trust in His love and His plan. I completely believe He can take anything and use it for His glory and the good of those who love Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who i have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

I’ve seen how God can use the trouble in my life to help others. When people know you have been through or are going through something similar to what they are going through, you can often be a much more effective helper, encourager and prayer. I also find that I’m lifted up when I’m helping someone else.

Another “benefit” of not being healed right away is growing much closer to God. My trust in God has really increased as a result of a recent and serious illness. This has been especially true when I didn’t know if I was going to be healed.

Something else is how I view the focus and purpose of my life. I’ve wrestled with Paul’s view of his life. “To live is Christ and to die is gain”. I’m closer to understanding that statement on a personal level.

So, if you’re in need of healing, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual, please turn to Jesus. He went through much rejection and suffering so He can relate to your situation.

I believe He will lift you up.

If you’re doing well, please pray about who you can help and how.

You could be an instrument of God’s love!

Mike Molter

March 14 – Hard Questions 2.0 – “Why can’t I be left alone to make my own choices for my own body?”

Read Genesis 1:26-27 and Psalm 139:13-17

We live in a world where we are told we can be whoever we want to be and can change our bodies however we feel fit. Whether it be social media, news or television, this notion of “do whatever makes you happy or makes you feel like your authentic self” is such a loud message.

When answering the question, “Why can’t I be left alone to make my own choices for my own body?”, we have to remember that our bodies are not our own and so much more is at stake.

When you are a follower of Jesus, His Word is our guiding light in this broken world and there are certain standards set before us.

Observing what is written in Genesis and Psalms, we have to notice that there is a sense of authority which begs this question:

“Whose are you?”

There is such power in both of these verses because the Lord looks at His creation and, after calling it good, acknowledges there is need for more. He creates man with a standard, a purpose and authority over His creation. With creating man, Psalm 139 reminds us that He knew us before we were even a thought in our parents’ minds.

There is such care and love in these perspectives that it is hard to not see that God knows us best. With knowing us best, He also sees the purpose that our lives hold.

I remember sitting in Bible school when studying Leviticus 19 and the topic of tattoos came up.

Our pastor and teacher went on to give us the perspective contextually what the Lord was telling Moses, but gave us a principle from that passage that stays with me to this day.

He stated, “We must understand that every choice we make with our body will have consequences. Good or bad. We need to remember that our definition of good and bad is different than God’s. If you were called to be a missionary in a certain country and you had tattoos, that would cause a barrier between you and the purpose God called for your life. It limits what He can do with you.”

Think about that. If we did whatever we wanted with our bodies, it has the potential to limit what the Lord’s intent on our life is.

When you look at your body without the perspective of the Lord’s authority, it can very easily be difficult to not understand that His standards for your life and your body are holy.

So, I ask again, whose are you?

Who holds authority over your life, your choices, your body? Are you being a good steward of it?

Kelly Lawson

March 9 – Hard Questions 2.0 – “What makes you so sure God exists?”

Read Psalm 19:1 and Isaiah 40:25-26, 28.

“What makes you so sure God exists?”

This is a question as old as time. If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself this question and have probably also been asked this question. 

For me, personally, I have seen the ways that God has come through. The times that He has protected my family or opened an opportunity. The people that He has brought into my life who point me to Him. I’ve also seen His majesty through His magnificent sunsets and the intricate nature of an insect. 

God exists because He says so. This can be hard to take, because we tend to like detailed reasoning, but with God – who created the heavens and the earth – there is no need. He exists because He is the great I AM (Genesis 3:14-15). Jesus then reaffirms this in the New Testament, saying “Before Abraham was, I Am” (John 8:58).

The beauty of the Bible is that proof of God is woven throughout every line.

While faith is trusting in what we cannot see, God knows the people that He has created. He does not have to give us proof, but He knows that we like evidence. So, while we cannot know or see everything, His evidence is all around. He has made Himself abundantly clear to those who are willing to look. His handiwork is everywhere, from the amount of hairs on a head (Luke 12:7) to the vast skies and the unique sunrises and sunsets (Psalm 19:1). He uses every little – or big – thing to proclaim His glory. The key is, you have to be willing to look. 

Next time you get a chance, look up at the sky. Think about the billions of stars. Isaiah 40 says that they are like an army. God knows each one by name. He is strong in power and does not miss a thing. Isaiah 40:28 tells us that He is everlasting and created the ends of the earth. His understanding is unsearchable, but He gives us what we need in order to trust. 

As you go about your day, where can you see God’s handiwork? Where is the evidence in your life that God exists? 

God loves us so much that He has given us more than enough evidence to know that He not only exists, but that He loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His son to live, die and come back to life so that we can be united with Him (1 John 4:10). And the life of Jesus has been historically proven. 

What impact does God’s existence have in your life? Your faith? The world?

God is real and alive, friends. Live in that power today. 

Chloe Boucher

February 19 – ReGen – Continue

Read Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

How does somebody live a tortuous life for 39 years, then have a spiritual experience and begin to recover from the sin struggle of alcoholism? And then continue to live a sober and honorable life for 32 years? By turning his life and his will over to the care of God through Jesus Christ and continuing it, Bill began to change.

It is pretty amazing that the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were written by an untrustworthy drunk who had created adversity in his life through his drinking choices.

Lois (co-founder of Al-Anon) Wilson’s devotion to Bill W never ended. But her anxious thoughts were probably constant. Her unending love for her husband became the trigger for one of the greatest movements of this past century – AA. Lois’ love and forgiveness of her husband is inspiring and a role-model for everyone.

To continue – means to take personal inventory every day. It means to ask God to search your life for anything that is offensive and to ask God to know your heart and anxious thoughts.

Do you ask God to help you with anxious thoughts?

“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalms 139:24

To continue – you are now at the point where you have made a moral inventory of yourself. You have admitted to God and others the nature of your sin struggle. Do you have the peace of God in your heart?

To continue – is to ask God to remove any character defects that you might be experiencing. You are willing to make amends to all the people you have harmed and you continue to take personal inventory. When you are wrong, you promptly admit it. You have asked God for forgiveness and you have forgiven yourself. You are living God’s way.

You are continuing.

Are you being led by God? Have you placed your faith in Christ?

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:6

In what way are you setting yourself up for continued success in your recovery journey? How are you going to continually grow closer to God?

Tom Weckesser