Now this is Life

Psalm 39:4-7

A psalm of David.

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.

Acts 17:24-28

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[b] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[c]

John 17:3

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

As humans, we can’t not worship. We need to look no further than this weekend’s football game. What else, but our innate desire to worship, will compel grown men to strip off their clothing and paint their bodies in team colors? It’s fun. It’s freeing. And at a deeper level, we long to give ourselves to something greater.

We become like what we worship. This devotional series has been designed to turn our hearts toward Jesus–that we would be more and more conformed to his image. At the end of the day, we want to be a movement of men and women who are constantly exclaiming, “Isn’t Jesus beautiful?”

Jesus is life. When we imagine our lives in such a way that he is neither the center nor the ultimate goal, we settle for less.

“Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world … That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.”
― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense



The root of courage

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Ephesians 6:19-20

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Maybe this has happened to you. An opportunity to talk to someone about Christ presents itself, and you freeze. You aren’t sure what to say and you’re scared to speak. Afterward, you felt like something was wrong with you. Certainly strong Christians don’t struggle with sharing their faith the way you do. Or do they?

Paul experienced the same fears that we do. That’s one reason he enlisted others to pray for him. We would be wise to follow his example.

We have at least two needs as we seek to be ambassadors for Christ to others. First, we need God to give us the words to share the gospel in a clear and relevant manner. Second, we need him to supply the courage to share it. Courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear. Courage is the strength to act despite our fears. If Paul needed prayer for boldness, so do we.

For whom are you currently praying? Who is praying for you right now?



Matthew 4:1-11 Temptation of Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Often this passage is used as a model for living the Christian life: resist the devil, memorize Scripture in order to better fight temptation, etc. These things are true and good, but this passage is primarily about Jesus’s victory. The whole of Scripture points to our inability to overcome Satan and temptation; the Good News about Jesus is not that He came to say, “Hey, I did it, now try harder.” Rather the Good News is that He overcame Satan and the world so that through Him we might be victors as well. Consider areas of your life where you fall to sin. Think carefully if you really desire to be free of that sin and if you really believe that life in Jesus is better than life with that sin present. If so, ask Him to give you victory in His power and not yours.


My First Love

John 12:24-26

24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

Revelation 2:3-5

(Jesus speaking to the church in Ephesus)

3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

A body by its weight tends to move towards its proper place. The weight’s movement is not necessarily downwards, but to its appropriate position: fire tends to move upwards, a stone downwards, They are acted on by their respective weights; they seek their own place. Oil poured under water is drawn up to the surface on top of the water. Water poured on top of oil sinks below the oil. They are acted on by their respective densities, they seek their own place. Things which are not in their intended position are restless. Once they are in their ordered position, they are at rest.

My weight is my love. Wherever I am carried, my love is carrying me. By your gift we are set on fire and and carried upwards: We grow red hot and ascend.

St. Augustine, Confessions

Where is the weight of your love directed?


When I Confess

Psalm 32

A psalm of David.
1 Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,[b]
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
3 When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude
5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude
6 Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
7 For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude
8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

James 5:16

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

This is where Christianity gets painful: In order to find life and healing, we must first confess that we are sick. Here’s a great way to understand what confession is all about:

In prayer we, first, agree with God that we have sinned. Second, we agree with God that Christ’s death paid for that specific sin. And last, we agree with God to turn away from that sin and ask him to empower us to do so (this is called repentance).

Confession and repentance shouldn’t just happen on Sundays. It’s a moment by moment thing we should do when we become aware of sin in our life. Many of the Psalms (like the one above) offer us a wonderful way to lead us in this direction.

Eugene Peterson says “When we pray, we immerse ourselves in the living presence of God. When we pray the Psalms we pray through all the parts of our lives and our history and cover the ground of our guiltiness in sin. We acquire a colorful lexicon of words by which we recognize our detailed involvement in the race’s catastrophic separation from God: rebel, wanderer, lawless, evildoer, guilty, liar, fool, corrupt, wicked.

On this Sabbath day, rejoice with the Psalmist (David) that despite our disobedience, God will faithfully guide us on the best pathway for our life. We can sing for joy with pure hearts, surrounded by his unfailing love.


Do Not Forget

Deuteronomy 8:11-18

11-16 Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up—make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God,

the God who delivered you from Egyptian slavery;
the God who led you through that huge and fearsome wilderness,
those desolate, arid badlands crawling with fiery snakes and scorpions;
the God who gave you water gushing from hard rock;
the God who gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never heard of, in order to give you a taste of the hard life, to test you so that you would be prepared to live well in the days ahead of you.

17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all by myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

Luke 22:19-20

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.[a]


Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is chronically forgetful. Hard times come. They cry out in their distress. God delivers them from their troubles in unexpected ways. Israel turns away and forgets God. The cycle continues again, and again, and again like a bad commercial. 

Are we any different? We can easily become caught up in the things of this life that we forget the many ways that God has brought us out of trouble. We begin to believe that the good things we have in life have more to do with our talents than God’s provision.

Hopefully you’ve found a good church in Boone. Sundays are great days to gather together with God’s people to remember our salvation and to worship God as our faithful provider–even in the midst of our disobedience. The next time you take communion, remember that this sacrament is meant to serve as a tangible reminder of God’s love and faithfulness to forgetful people.

When God doesn’t give us what we want.

Mark 5:1-20

“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.

When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

What a strange story. The demons beg and get what they ask for–let us go to the pigs! The man who no longer has demons also begs–let me go on mission with you Jesus! It sounds like a great request. Of course Jesus would want this, right? But Jesus seems to shut him down and denies his request.

Why does Jesus says no? The man’s response was good, natural, and understandable– but Jesus has greater plans for him.  It’s like Jesus is saying,  “Your declaration of me being the Son of God is good and true. But look at this whole region who used to know you when you were good as dead! These people need to hear that and see that I have the power to transform lives. You are the one to show them.”

Sometimes what makes sense to us isn’t what we are called to do. Sometimes our requests that are understandable and good aren’t granted because Jesus sees something greater. Maybe this wasn’t your first choice for school and you want to transfer. Maybe you feel like you have the wrong roommate and you absolutely dread going back to your dorm room each day. Perhaps you feel like you have your circle of good, solid Christian friends and all you want to do is stick tight to them.

Or perhaps Jesus is saying, “Look around and tell people how much I’ve done for you. Tell people of your old life that was hopeless and without God, and now tell them how much I’ve done for you. Tell the people who seem distracted and uncaring towards you how much I’ve done for you. Tell the people who knew you back in the day how your life was changed and what I’ve done for you.”

Are you willing to have the plans that you thought were best redirected by God?