June 23 – Names of Jesus – The King of the Jews

Read John 19:1-22

“Jesus the Nazarene. King of the Jews”

Written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek that sign above the head of our crucified Savior proclaimed His identity. Was it written tongue in cheek or did Pilate somehow write that as a personal conviction?

Good question.

People seemed to have been united around the idea that Jesus was from Nazareth. No one questioned the fact that Mary and Joseph had raised Him in that village. But “King of the Jews”? That was a title that the chief priests protested. They wanted it softened to make it clear that it was only a claim made by Jesus. “King of the Jews” had been a title that the soldiers used in jest. They dressed Him in a robe, pressed a crown of thorns on His head, and gave Him a staff to represent a scepter. They proceeded to mock Him as they knelt before Him and cried out “King of the Jews” (Matt. 27:27-31).

Still, Pilate stuck with the wording of the sign and demanded that it remain unchanged.
Is Jesus really “King of the Jews”?

The answer takes us as far back as the days of King David. David yearned to build a house for God that would later be called the temple. God responded by telling David that he was not to build it. Instead, his son, Solomon, would be the man. God did promise David, however, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16).” People call this promise the David Covenant. With that promise concerning the throne, God was pointing through the corridors of time to the eventual and eternal reign of Jesus Christ. He is the King of the Jews. His reign as king will be clear when He returns at His second coming (after a period of about seven years called the Tribulation).

Jesus is the King of the Jews! But His kingdom is not just one for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is one that all believers are to pray for (Matt. 6:10). Every believer has been transferred from a domain of darkness into Christ’s kingdom (Col. 1:13).

The important question for you now is one of whether you honor and surrender to Him daily. Does your life reflect day to day submission that places the sign over Him as your king?

Steve Kern

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean for you in your life?
  • Would you say that Jesus is King in your life?
  • Who are people that you know who need to place the sign over Him in their lives? How are you helping them see their need for a Savior?

June 19 – Christian Conduct

Read 1 Thess., 5:12-28
Through and through. Head to toe. Inside and out. Complete. Whole.

Blameless…if that word doesn’t send us to our knees, maybe onto our faces, we may have
forgotten grace. We may have forgotten just how wretched we once were.

Sometimes, we just need to pause and look in the mirror and remember who we were and what
we looked like before Jesus rescued us. Remember how we thought. Maybe we need to look
at how we’re still thinking… how we still look.

Are we different? Have we grown in our faith? Would onlookers know that we’re under

Salvation is a package deal. All inclusive. Not only do we receive forgiveness for our sins and
life now and forever with our Creator, we also get in on a renovation project more impressive
than anything Chip and Joanna Gaines have ever done.

Let’s look back in that mirror and recognize how impossible we were. How impossible we still
are. How impossible we feel.

I mean, how good are you at the list we read today? Do you honor those who are working hard
for your spiritual growth? Do they know you appreciate them? Are you living a life of peace and
unity? Are you an encourager? Does your life sharpen others or dull them? And are you loving
people that are different than you? Are you helpful? How’s your patience? Are you seeing the
best in people or the worst? Are you testing what you hear and are exposed to with the word of
God? Are you generous? Are you full of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving . . . always?

Wow, what a charge! This is sanctification. It’s a gift. It’s an opportunity. It’s abundant life. It’s
becoming an uncommon human, full of love and godliness.

It’s part of the package. And it’s the most humbling and beautiful thing to know that we can’t
do it on our own but that God can. And that God does. That He is the only one who gets us
through (and through).

He sees through our flimsy excuses. He sees through our thick skin to our pain,
disappointment, depression, and instability and says, ‘I want to get you through that. Walk with
me hand in hand. If you’ll just let me. If you’ll surrender, I will craft your ‘insides’ to look just like
me and then your ‘outsides’ will too. I am your faithful God. I called you into this life and I will
see it through.”

This renovation is full of all the upgrades and best. It’s the most expensive option. It’s the one
we would choose, if we could afford it. Ahhhh….and we CAN through the work of our precious
Jesus who paid for it all.

Go back to our passage and ask the Spirit to show you how you’re doing. Confess your
shortcomings. Ask for help. And trust that He will finish the work He started in you. And thank
Him often that you will be found blameless at His coming!

Shelly Eberly

May 28 – Tips for Everyday Life – Your Heart

Read James 4:1-3

Everyone loves a bargain! In our town a few years ago, we had what was called Dollar Days! Dollar Days was similar to the modern Black Fridays.

There really were some great bargains and being a young mom of two kids with a limited budget, I really loved going there and getting their school clothes.

Early in the morning, I would go down to wait in front of the store for a couple of hours until they opened. I wasn’t the only one there as some came in pairs and would plan their attack for the full 2 hours. It was like listening to generals planning the invasion on D Day! Once the doors opened, mayhem broke loose. People were running here and there. They would randomly grab stacks of items off of the shelves and out of each other’s arms.

Since then, my daughter and I have made it a sport to go Black Friday shopping, not so much for the bargains but just for something to do together. We are always amazed at some of the people’s behavior. People push, shove, grab items that they really aren’t even sure they want, but will buy simply  because it is on sale. People who are usually considered normal, calm, polite individuals turn into these crazed beings over sheets, pillows and coffee pots. Many of their purchases will wind up in a few months on garage sale tables, sometimes even with the tags still on them. Why?

People want what they don’t have. Advertisers make millions on that fact. Although Dollar Days and Black Fridays are modern events, this behavior had been around for thousands of years! The first sin was Eve taking what the serpent had talked her into wanting, even though she did not need it since she could have anything else in the garden.

Jail cells are full of people who see something they want and, instead of saving money to buy it, they steal it. Wars have been fought over dictators claiming to own what truly belongs to another country.

But doesn’t God want His children to be happy?  I think I might be really happy in a beautiful home with a fancy red convertible!  But would I REALLY?

Motives for wanting something might not be obviously known to man but they are to God.  God’s will for your life is that you will be with Him in Heaven.  He is never going to go against His own will for you by giving you something that will not help you reach that goal.

You want something that you THINK will be good for you?   Try this test. Have you earned it?  Does it belong to someone else? Will you having it bring you or someone else closer to God?

If your answer is no, you don’t need it!  For where your treasure is, so is your heart!

Pat Arnold

May 27 – Tips for Everyday Life – Humble Yourself

Read James 4:4-12

Have you tasted “humble pie” lately?  This is usually a pie no one likes to eat!

In recent days, I have been reminded of how easy my confidence in life has been humbled. I find myself entering an aisle at the store to grab an item and realize I am going the wrong way as the arrows on the floor tell me to turn around.  I have been known to walk backwards to get that one item.

At times like that, we may define humility as “An embarrassing event that causes us to feel badly and want to hide.”

How does this definition compare to our Scripture today? James asks a few tough questions that are important for us to answer. Do I have a heart of adultery? Am I a friend of this world or a friend of God? Do I judge or speak against a brother or sister? If I am offended at these questions, I may not see that this attitude can keep me from a healthy heart of humility.

Scripture is so clear that, when our hearts are yielding and choosing our way over God’s, it is adultery. When I choose a worldly mindset that is ME focused, that is friendship with the world. As I form judgments and criticisms against others, I am slandering and making myself the Judge! Selfish pride has taken root. What can transform my heart? Humility!

James 4:10 is the key. As I humble myself before the Lord, I recognize my need for Him and His GRACE. I can’t be good enough or give enough to earn His favor. He deserves first place in our lives and hearts. The kind of grace here is transforming.  As we draw near to God, we are cleansed and purified. The lament and mourning over our poor choices and prideful hearts is replaced with His joy as we humble ourselves before Him. .

Pursuing healthy humility is difficult. It is not a goal we typically talk about. In Philippians 2, we are told to put on the same mindset as Jesus who humbled himself to live on this earth and die a cruel death so that GRACE could be extended to you, to me. I can be humble but only because of His power working in me.

How can we honor our Heavenly Father in humility today? Worship Him! Serve with His Grace to those around you! Do whatever He is asking you to do! He will draw near to us!

Celeste Kern

May 26 – Tips for Everyday Life – Prayer Matters

Read James 5:13-20

“Please, please pray.”

Those were the three unexpected words from my son that came across my phone’s screen. Desperation and trust mixed together like oil and water. For the next two hours of silence, as we waited for the birth announcement of our first grandchild, we stormed the gates of heaven. Two hours became thirty days as our grandson fought for his life in the NICU. Prayer was our hope.

Prayer was his lifeline.

Prayer is one of the most mysterious of all the spiritual disciplines. How can something so simple as conversation become so difficult to understand? It definitely matters to God as prayer, or a derivative of the word, is used 375 times in the Bible. We are told to pray without ceasing and pray on all occasions. We even see the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus as he arose early in the morning to pray. (Mark 1:35)  In the hours before his crucifixion, what do we find Jesus doing?


Most of us, if we are honest, are quick to throw up a prayer when faced with a desperate situation. We are quick to say, “I’ll pray for you” to bring encouragement and comfort to others. Is that what prayer is?  A quick fix, a life line, a word of comfort?

Our passage in James today points us to another aspect of prayer that we can’t overlook. Faith. It’s an interwoven theme throughout the book of James, especially as he recalls the Old Testament story of Elijah. Read the account in 1 Kings 18:36-46.  The heavens had been shut so that it had not rained for 3 1/2 years in order to show the wicked Israel king, King Ahab, that God should be followed and worshiped, not Baal.

Following the miracle of God pouring down fire to consume the sacrifice and all the water in the surrounding trench, Elijah told King Ahab there was a “sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” (verse 41) What did Elijah do next? He put his face between his knees and prayed. Seven times he sent his servant to look for a cloud toward the sea. Without questioning, the servant obeyed, but returned with the same answer, “There is nothing.” Then at the seventh time, the servant saw a tiny cloud. If I was Elijah, I would have been very anxious at this point. A tiny cloud does not bring the roar of a heavy shower. But Elijah was a man of unwavering faith and perseverance. As Priscilla Shirer says:

“Even a little cloud of hope, when God’s Word is behind it, points toward a downpour of promise, potential, and possibility. Even His silence and seeming slowness are only the quiet buildup to a thunderous revelation of His glory.”

Wouldn’t we all love to have a prayer life like Elijah’s? Be encouraged, you can. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. (James 5:17) The key to his prayer life was faith. We see this stressed at the beginning and end of James’ book, like bookends. “But let him ask in faith, without any doubting.” (James 1:6) “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (James 5:16 MSG) Living right with God is living by faith. Hebrews tells us, without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Faith is trust and confidence that God is able and that God’s ways are higher than ours.

The faith of prayer warriors all over the world was ignited by my son’s plea. Each day of our precious grandson’s life, our barely visible cloud grew. Our faith grew too and God poured down showers of blessing and healing. “Please, please pray.” Three simple words that can change the forecast of our lives because prayer matters.

Charline Engle

May 7: The God Who Comes Through – He reveals His glory and transforms His people

Read Exodus 34:29-35 (cf 2 Cor 3:12-18)

Going back to school in the midst of a pandemic is tough.  I had been volunteering and subbing in a school since my retirement 8 years ago, so I knew many of the students who attended there.  We had talked, laughed, hugged and learned together throughout the years.  However, when I was required to wear a mask, my greetings were met with lots of quizzical looks as they searched their memories to recognize me, using only my eyes for clues. We could talk thorough the masks, but it wasn’t until I slipped the mask down and said, “It’s me!”  that the lights of recognition and smiles returned to their faces.

For so many years, Moses had talked to God.  He had seen His miraculous power.  He had followed God’s direction and God had heard his pleas.  But it was when God removed the mask and revealed His full glory that Moses was so filled with His glory that his face actually glowed!  It glowed so much that the other people were afraid.  Moses put a veil over his face until he was once again in the presence of God in the tabernacle.

Being in the presence of God was deemed to be way too much for any normal person and even the priests needed to stay behind a veil that separated the holy of holies within the tabernacle.

But that veil, that separated the normal people from God, was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross, giving you and me full access to God Himself. We are God’s children and, as such, we can boldly approach Him with our prayers, requests and thanksgiving. He is never too busy to chat with us. Being able to talk directly to God gives us comfort and strength. Through His guidance, anything is possible.

Our great nation was formed through His guidance.  The Pilgrims left the comfort of their homeland to sail across the ocean to an unknown land for the right to worship Him. 

Through His guidance, a small fledgling group of states dared to challenge the powerful English military to build a country whose motto is “In God We Trust.” Through His guidance that same country has been the beacon of life and liberty to the rest of the world!

When God reveals Himself, He can empower the meek. He can bring hope to the injured.  He can comfort the lonely and frightened. He can bring healing to the sick. We just need to be bold enough to ask.

Do you recognize God when He speaks to you? Or are you still seeing Him through a mask of doubt?  Maybe you need to pull down your mask and say,” Hey, God!  It’s me! Can we talk?”

Trust me – you will never be the same!

Pat Arnold

May 6: The God Who Comes Through – He keeps His covenant

Read Exodus 32:1-35

In a conversation I had last week, a friend said something that got me thinking. She said, “Sometimes I try so hard to manipulate my circumstances so that, in the end, things turn out the way I think is best.” I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of living like this. So often, we carelessly throw God’s plans and promises for our lives out the window. We think we know what is best for ourselves and will do just about anything to try and make sure things end up that way. This issue is not unique to us today. In fact, there’s a story recorded in Exodus 32:1-35 where we see God’s people manipulate their circumstances and even break their covenant with God, in order to get what they want.

Moses was leading the Israelites at the time this story took place. The Israelites were settled near Mt. Sinai and there was a period of 40 days where God called Moses up onto the mountain to meet with Him. While Moses was up on the mountain meeting with God, the Israelites grew impatient and questioned where their leader was. They wanted to keep moving on to the land God had promised them and Moses was taking too long! So, they asked Moses’s brother, Aaron, to make them gods who would go before them and lead them. Aaron listened to the people and created a god for them, an idol made out of gold. In creating this idol, the people broke their covenant with God by disobeying His commandment given to them in Exodus 20:4. They manipulated their circumstances by taking the control that belonged to God.

In Exodus 32:10, God responds to what His people have done. He said to Moses, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” Because God is just, righteous, and holy, disobedience angers Him. In His power, He could have wiped the Israelites out right away. But, there is a beautiful truth about God that is put on display in this story. While the Israelites sought their own favor, Moses sought the favor of God and, in faith, asked Him to turn from His anger. Verse 14 says, “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” Even though God’s people deliberately broke their covenant with Him, He does not break His covenant with them.

The same God keeps His promises to us today. His promises for us can be found in His Word. Even though we continually try and take control from Him, He will never cut off His promises to us. We don’t deserve the kind of faithfulness He shows us, but that is why we can praise Him for who He is.

Sidney Rupp

May 5: The God Who Comes Through – He gave His law so that we might know our sin

Read Exodus 20:1-19

The God of heaven is indeed the God who comes through!

By this point in the book of Exodus, He has protected His people, provided a leader to bring them out of bondage, and miraculously guided them by cloud and fire…even through a sea! If you have followed along in the reading, you have also identified the fact that He can come through in your life.

The setting for today’s story is a mountaintop. With the people of Israel gathered in the valley below, the peak was covered in a cloud as thunder bellowed and lightning flashed. As if that wasn’t enough, the ground quaked as God captured the nation’s attention in holy fear. The God who comes through wanted to clearly communicate His expectations for His people…the 10 Commandments.

What were God’s intentions in giving these famous words? Of course, they communicate His desires for mankind, giving us instruction for life, but here are some of His broader intentions:

  1. These commandments remind us of the simplicity of the Christian life. In total, the Old Testament Law consisted of 613 commandments. Here we have 10 that serve as a summary of God’s two-dimensional plan for living. You can mentally divide these 10 into “two tablets.” The first four commandments remind us how to love God and God alone. The last six commandments point out how to love our neighbor as we relate to them.
  2. These commandments point out the impossibility of measuring up. That’s right, it is through the law that we gain an awareness of sin. By defining what the bullseye is, we understand how we have missed the mark. The God who comes through intentionally outlined His righteousness demands for us (Rom. 3:20-23).
  3. The commandments lead us to the necessity for faith in Christ. We can be so grateful that God does not leave us in a position of sin, guilt, and judgment. No, the God who comes through uses the Law to point us to our need for the grace of God, extended to us in the person of Jesus (Gal. 3:23-25). That was part of His purpose in giving us the Commandments.

The God who comes through does more than define the target. He makes every provision for all who cannot hit it!

Steve Kern

May 4: The God Who Comes Through – He satisfies our hunger

Read Exodus 16:1-35

“It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.” (v.15b)

It had been two months and fifteen days since the Israelites had walked through the middle of the Red Sea. These people had walked straight down God’s miracle mile into liberated life apart from the Egyptians. But new life started in a desert. They’d spent their first two-and-a-half months of freedom camping out, walking from desert to desert. 

The Israelites had seen God do amazing things for them. But now they were hungry. And hunger has a way of bringing out the worst in people. It has a way of revealing true character, showing what a person is really made of. And what God’s people, the Israelites, were made of was less than stellar. They blamed Moses and Aaron for letting them starve, as if they were the providers. They forgot who’d dried up the dirt for their walk down Red Sea Lane. They lost track of who had turned the bitter water they found into the drinkable water only He could offer. Yes, hunger has a way of showing off the true state of someone’s soul and what they really think.

I wonder if that’s why God let them get so hungry before He served up the manna and quail.

I wonder if that’s why sometimes God lets us walk wilderness miles before raining down the only kind of bread that’ll satisfy our hunger. Maybe it’s the only way we’ll see who actually provides what we need for real life. Does God sometimes lead us into brokenness so we can see how much we lack, how incredibly unable we are to provide for ourselves any true kind of soul-sustenance?

These people had just walked to freedom by the leading of a God whose words made ocean water step aside, dry up, then wash the bad guys away. Only the one true God could do that. So when the manna bread came, they couldn’t deny whose hand it was that made it. Always exactly as much as they needed. Never more, never less. 

In the same way, only God can provide exactly what we need. Even when we’re walking from desert to desert. Even when we feel like we’re lost, without purpose. Even when we’re so hungry for something to satisfy that we forget who He is, God will always provide what He knows we need. And it will always be enough.

 Bria Wasson

May 3: The God Who Comes Through – He quenches our thirst

Read Exodus 15:22-27 (cf. Jn. 4 and Jer. 2:13)

In these verses the people were physically thirsty but didn’t have any water that was fit to drink.  Once again, Moses prayed and God supplied their needs by having Moses put a piece of wood into the water to make it drinkable. God took care of their physical thirst. 

However, there are more ways people can be thirsty.  There is the physical thirst, but there are also emotional and spiritual thirsts that people don’t often recognize.  There is a thirst to be accepted, to be loved, to be wanted, to be recognized.  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talked about people who would hunger and thirst for righteousness. With all the complaining that the Israelites were doing to Moses even after experiencing God’s miraculous power, maybe they were thirsty for something other than just water.

The woman at the well, who met Jesus, was, as the old song title says, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. She had been married 5 times and the man she was living with wasn’t her husband.  Since she was at the well in the afternoon instead of the morning like all the other women in the village would have been, she was probably rejected by them and was thirsty to be accepted. She probably put on a “good face” and pretended that their insults and looks didn’t hurt, but they did. She was emotionally thirsty!

Jesus saw through all of it and offered her living water that would quench her thirst, and she would never be thirsty for love and acceptance again.

Just like Moses took the piece of a tree that God had provided out in the desert to make the water sweet again, He supplied a branch off of His own family tree, His son Jesus, to quench her spiritual thirst.

And Jesus is here to quench our thirsts too, if we will let Him.

The Lyrics of the song, Come to the Well, by Casting Crowns says it all:

“I have what you need
But you keep on searchin’
I’ve done all the work
But you keep on workin’
When you’re runnin’ on empty
And you can’t find the remedy
Just come to the well

You can spend your whole life
Chasin’ what’s missing
But that empty inside
It just ain’t gonna listen
When nothing can satisfy
And the world leaves you high and dry
Just come to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more
And all who search will find what their souls long for

The world will try, but it can never fill
Leave it all behind, and come to the well

So, bring me your heart
No matter how broken
Just come as you are
When your last prayer is spoken
Just rest in my arms a while
You’ll feel the change my child
When you come to the well”

What are you thirsty for? Be honest!  Leave it all behind and just come to the well of Living Water, take a deep drink and thirst no more!

Pat Arnold