Excerpt for The Forever Notebook: Daily Quiet Time Devotions for Christians, Book 4, October - December by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Mary’s Little Sister

Hope of Cherry Blossom Lane

Miracle at Gabriel’s Rock

Alexandra’s Song

Farewell PFC Polk: The End of a Nightmare

In the Valley of Hope: Faith Conquers Fear

Fifth Sunday: The Loving Hands Murder


The Forever Notebook Devotionals

Book 1, January - March

Book 2, April - June

Book 3, July - September

Book 4, October - December

The Forever Notebook 365 Daily Prayer Journal

For a complete listing of books by Richard Weirich, visit the author’s website at Available in print and eBook editions.

The Forever Notebook

Daily Quiet Time Inspirational Devotions

Book 4: October - December


Copyright © 2017 Richard Weirich

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of very brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

All scripture references are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1974398188

First Edition: August 2017

ISBN-13: 978-1974398188


To the Godhead — my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who saved me and dwells within me, my Heavenly Father who loves me and helps me through every storm of life, and to the Holy Spirit who has illuminated God's word and enlightened my way. To God be the glory. Forever and ever. Amen.


Welcome to The Forever Notebook, Book 4. The devotions in this volume cover the months of October - December.

Each devotion begins with an anchor test and the message follows. Studies have been written to open your mind to the richness of God’s word, and to challenge you to grow in the Lord.

Some days the messages will encourage you to hang in, stay the course, and never give up. Other days you'll be exhorted to change some aspect of your behavior or challenged to strengthen your relationship with others.

In a sense, The Forever Notebook is like boot camp for the soul. It's an exercise regimen for those who desire a closer walk with God.

Think of the Forever Notebook as four 90-day challenges for spiritual growth. And although created chronologically, you can start whenever you want.

I sincerely hope your spiritual life will be enriched by my books. May God bless you and supply your every need in abundance through our great Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

The Forever Notebook

Daily Quiet Time Inspirational Devotions

Book 4: October - December



October 1 - Are You Missing Out On the Nearness of God?

October 2 - The Last Days are Here

October 3 - What it Means to Hope in the Lord

October 4 - Times of Refreshing

October 5 - Take Inventory of Your Rich Inheritance

October 6 - Don’t Let Anything Keep You from Eternal Life with Jesus

October 7 - Most Likely to Go to Heaven

October 8 - Giving that Means More than Receiving

October 9 - Freedom from a Guilty Conscience

October 10 - Nobody Knows the Trouble You’ve Seen

October 11 - What Will They Say about You when You’re Gone?

October 12 - Insults Aren’t All Bad

October 13 - The Danger of Abundant Living

October 14 - Keep Your Eyes On the Prize

October 15 - This Little Light of Mine

October 16 - Trust God No Matter What

October 17 - Strategy for Managing Fear

October 18 - Why Jesus Wept

October 19 - The First Heavenly Bank of Blessings

October 20 - How God Puts Us in the Right Place at the Right Time

October 21 - How to Make the Most of the Brevity of Life

October 22 - Let’s Go Fishing Again

October 23 - The House Built on the Solid Rock

October 24 - How to Keep God’s Blessings Flowing

October 25 - Are You Ready for Life’s Ultimate Battle?

October 26 - Worthy of His Calling

October 27 - Eyewitness News

October 28 - How to Rise Above Negative Feelings

October 29 - The Flip Side of Godly Wisdom, Part 1

October 30 - The Flip Side of Godly Wisdom, Part 2

October 31 - The Flip Side of Godly Wisdom, Part 3

November 1 - The Flip Side of Godly Wisdom, Part 4

November 2 - The Reward of Fools

November 3 - God Knows the Reality of Your Heart

November 4 - When You Think No One Cares

November 5 - Seated at the Kids’ Table of Faith

November 6 - Your Safe Place from the Storm

November 7 - Why We Should Acknowledge the Lord

November 8 - Why Every Christian Should Desire a Pure Heart

November 9 - Learn from the Sins of Your Past

November 10 - A Life Built on Holy Faith

November 11 - What in the World has Come Over You?

November 12 - The Difference Between Sins of Commission and Omission

November 13 - What It Means to Belong to Jesus

November 14 - How We Deceive Ourselves

November 15 - What It Means to be Yoked to Unbelievers

November 16 - Where to Find Peace for All of Life’s Storms

November 17 - God Can Still Use You

November 18 - Your Day in Court

November 19 - The Last Supper Wasn’t the Last

November 20 - Your Role in the Family of Faith

November 21 - He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands

November 22 - If Not for the Lord

November 23 - How to Expand Your Circle of Prayer

November 24 - Hindrances to Answered Prayer

November 25 - Thanksgiving Forever and Ever - Amen

November 26 - An Undivided Heart for God

November 27 - The Stress Reliever that Works

November 28 - A Simple Exercise Plan for Strengthening Your Walk with God

November 29 - The Someone Who Will Put Up With You

November 30 - How to Prepare for the Lord’s Return

December 1 - The Wow Factor of Faith

December 2 - You Have Got Mail

December 3 - Open the Door to Eternal Life

December 4 - Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

December 5 - The Road Best Traveled

December 6 - That is Just Like Him

December 7 - Overcoming the Impossibilities of Life

December 8 - God’s Eternal Navigation System

December 9 - Fruit Trees for Christ

December 10 - Selective Hearing Disorder

December 11 - The Christmas Sign from God

December 12 - Time is a Gift from God

December 13 - How to Handle Difficult People

December 14 - Angels Among Us

December 15 - Faith Conquers Fear

December 16 - The Greatest Worship Leader of All Time

December 17 - Overcoming Humiliation and Hurt

December 18 - How to Become a Forever Time Traveler

December 19 - Forgiveness for Then, for Now, and Forever

December 20 - Lessons Learned from Sleeping in a Stable

December 21 - The Greatest Against All Odds Story of All Time

December 22 - The Good News of the Day

December 23 - Your Ticket to the Greatest Performance

December 24 - Precious Memories to Flood Your Soul

December 25 - On this Day, Worship the Gift

December 26 - A Life Changing Encounter with God

December 27 - Christian Service Comes with Benefits

December 28 - Jesus’ Reliable Promise to Give Rest for the Weary

December 29 - Comforting Words of Substance

December 30 - When Christian Service Encounters Trouble

December 31 - Get Your Head Out of the Past and Into Tomorrow

October 1

Are You Missing Out On the Nearness of God?

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:8

On State Street in Bristol, you can straddle the state line between Tennessee and Virginia. So it really is possible to be two places at one time. But when it comes to being a Christian, you can’t live on both sides of the fence. There will be no fence-straddlers in heaven.

Double-minded means insincere, wavering, uncertain, not fully persuaded, and uncommitted. It’s on again — off again faith that vacillates between belief and unbelief.

In Navy boot camp, every recruit was required to pass a series of swim tests. The first assessment called for jumping from a tower, swimming to the other side, and then floating on your back for five minutes. No big deal IF you could swim. I couldn’t. And so I jumped and sunk to the bottom. When a pole hit me in the head, I grabbed onto it, and an instructor pulled me out of the water. After that I was labeled an NQS (non-qualified swimmer) and given swimming lessons. A week later, I passed the test.

Faith is like that. You jump into the deep end and trust the Lord will get you to the other side. In the process you will make mistakes, occasionally make a fool of yourself, but in the end you will succeed.

Christianity is not a hobby. It’s not something you occasionally do on Sundays to make you feel good about yourself. Jesus is not a designer label or a name to drop for impressing others. Real Christianity is all-in faith that trusts God no matter what. It’s swimming in the deep end of the pool even when you can’t swim.

Real faith relies on Christ and not on self. It doesn’t have to understand every jot and tittle of His word. It just trusts resulting in decisions and behavior that honor God.

Double-minded faith is self-centered. It places self on the throne and not Christ. It bows to your needs, whims, and desires. It’s like saying to the Lord, “Don’t call me — I’ll call you.”

When James observed the questionable faith in the early church, he called for repentance. “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” They were in no position to draw near to God, or to expect God to be near them. They had not sincerely embraced the faith.

His statement began with a wonderful promise. “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” They were missing out on the greatest benefit of believing — which is nearness to God. The presence of the Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is promised to all who are in Christ.

Yesterday, I watched a replay of a Bill Gaither program taped in Jerusalem. Songs I had heard many times took on new meaning when sung from the scene of Jesus’ earthly ministry. One of my favorites, Holy Ground, was particularly inspiring. But then it hit me. Holy ground is wherever God is.

Meeting with God anytime we want is a privilege and honor that should not be taken for granted. Even for those of us who are in the faith, we still need cleansing before approaching His throne of grace.

For years, I have included our focus verse in my prayers. “Draw near to me as I draw near to You.” But before making that request, I always seek His forgiveness. And then I thank Him for His faithfulness to forgive. I realize I don’t deserve admittance into God’s holy presence. I surely haven’t earned it. This high honor has been gained by the precious blood of Jesus and God’s unfathomable love, mercy, and grace.

If you haven’t immersed yourself in the pool of faith, won’t you trust Him now? Trust Him completely. Like that great hymn says, “I surrender all.”

October 2

The Last Days are Here

17 In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

Acts 2:17-18

Imagine gazing at a mountain from a valley. In the foreground, you see buildings, road signs, billboards, grass, and a highway. About midway, you see bushes, trees, and maybe smoke billowing from the chimney of a cabin. But in the distance, you see the purple mountain majesties we sing about in America the Beautiful.

So it is with prophecy. The prophet looks to the future, which means the revelation can cover a series of events strewn over a time. That results in short term fulfillment and other events yet to come. Thus was the case when the Apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel’s prophecy. (Joel 2:28-32) As Joel had predicted, “the last days” had arrived. Put another way, this was the beginning of the end.

The present era of redemptive history began with the birth of Christ and will last until He returns. But Peter did not mean that God’s Spirit would be poured out on all mankind in this age. That part of the prophecy will be fulfilled when Christ returns and establishes His millennial reign. Only the redeemed will be admitted into the kingdom. Consequently, in that setting, all mankind will be beneficiaries of the outpouring of the Spirit. (Revelation 20:4-6)

We are about to enter the busiest holiday season of the year. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, the mad rush is underway. My family even has a few birthdays during that period to make it even more challenging. I get tired just thinking about all that preparation.

And so we watch the calendar, make our plans, and knock ourselves out for these annual events. But what are we doing to prepare for the biggest of all occasions, the return of Christ?

As a child, I worried that I wasn’t going to heaven. Many nights I lay awake wrestling with the issue of my salvation. I feared Jesus would come back before I had my life in order.

You might think it terrible for a child or anyone to be so troubled about their relationship to God. Later in life I learned that my problem resulted from the Holy Spirit making me aware of my sin and revealing my need for God’s saving grace through Christ.

My experience is not uncommon. In fact, the reaction was much the same when the church was born. We’re told that when Peter preached the first gospel message “…they were cut to the heart,” (Acts 2:37) and they were so moved by the Apostle’s words they asked, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

If you were to receive bad news from your doctor wouldn’t your question be similar to that of the first Christians? What shall I do? If your accountant told you that your business was about to fail, you would want to know what could be done to save it. Or if your mechanic announced the impending death of your auto engine, you would want to know if anything could be done.

We’re in the last days. The end is near. Jesus is coming back to claim those who are His. But His return will also spell disaster for those who have rejected Him. If you haven’t already done so, what will you do with this knowledge that the end is near?

Here’s Peter’s response to that question:

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

So in these last days, the first step is to settle the sin issue with God and surrender to Jesus. Is God calling? If the Spirit is contending with your heart don’t put this decision off. Give your heart to Jesus right now.

If you are saved, then take a few moments to pray for your unsaved loved ones and friends. Pray they will surrender to Christ before the end of the last days.

October 3

What it Means to Hope in the Lord

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24

“I hope the traffic isn’t tied up again this morning.”

“I hope the restaurant’s not busy.”

“I hope my boss is in a good mood today.”

“I hope the game doesn’t get rained out.”

HOPE expresses a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. And it comes in varying degrees of intensity. Hoping you don’t have leftover meatloaf for dinner is less concerning than hoping the mortgage company won’t foreclose on your house.

In fact, hope is just a word until we are threatened with a life challenge.

“I hope it’s not cancer.”

“I hope he doesn’t get orders to Afghanistan.”

“I hope the court rules in my favor.”

When things don’t turn out as we hoped, we can be disappointed. Based on the importance of the thing hoped for — we may become desperate, depressed, and hopeless.

As Christians, we are never without hope. But let’s be real. Those things we hope for often fall short of our positive expectations. Things go wrong. People we love die. Bad problems get worse. Bad things happen to good people.

Have you ever fervently prayed for something that ended badly? You may have even felt that God had let you down. You lived and prayed by the Book. Claimed every promise you could find. But instead of the blessing you were sure you were going to get, the result was more like a curse.

Let’s look at our focus text from Psalm 31:24. “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Consider the source of hope. It’s not the thing hoped for, but “the Lord.” We can “be strong and take heart” because we have placed our hope, not in the thing we need or want, but “the Lord.”

Hope that does not disappoint is rooted in God’s love. Check out the NKJV rendering of Romans 5:5.

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

As a young man, I wanted more than anything to find a girl to love and who would love me in return. It meant more than establishing a career or attaining a good income. My greatest need was love.

Ultimately, I found what I was looking for. And by the grace of God we’re still together. In that time, there have been many things I’ve hoped for that failed. But through it all, love has prevailed. Tough times have taught us to say, “We still have each other.” Paul’s instruction about love was spot on. “Love never fails.”(1 Corinthians 13:8)

Hope doesn’t disappoint because God’s love resides within us, “…poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” Our basic need for love has been met by God in a most amazing way.

If your hope is in God then you can “be strong and take heart” even in the midst of tragedy. The greatest love of all lives in you to comfort, console, encourage, counsel, and help through your darkest hours.

There’s an important key here regarding hope. As Christians, we hope FOR things — but we hope IN the Lord. Even when we are shaken by our circumstances, God always has everything under control. His indwelling love is a constant reminder He has our best interest at heart. Don’t be deceived by the appearances of your predicament. Be relieved by the certainty of God’s love.

Now, to be certain you have caught onto the subtlety of this spiritual truth, I’ll ask two questions:

(1) What are you hoping for?

(2) Who is your hope in?

Keep your focus on the second question. You will always be encouraged and strengthened when your primary focus is your hope IN the Lord. In it you will experience the truth of Philippians 4:7.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

October 4

Times of Refreshing

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Acts 3:19

What comes to mind when you hear the word refreshing? I’m reminded of the hot summer days of my youth. That was before video games when it was still safe to play outdoors. From early in the morning until dark we played baseball, relived the battles of WWII, road our bikes, and played cowboys and Indians. But many days, when we could get our hands on a nickel, we stopped at Art’s Service Station on Main Street for a bottle of Coke. The big red machine with a silver handle dispensed a perfectly chilled bottle of cola mixed with ice. For hot and thirsty kids, those frosty soft drinks were a little bit of heaven.

Those brief episodes of refreshing are long since gone and never to be repeated. But there is an incomparable refreshing that can be experienced forever.

For refreshing to occur there must be something from which we need relief; a tough day at work, fatigue from doing housework or mowing the grass, or stress from problems. God’s refreshing relieves us from the guilt and the penalty of sin. The new birth invigorates as nothing else.

But many lost people aren’t burdened by sin. They possess what the Bible refers to as hard hearts. God’s offer to wipe away their sins has no appeal to them. Jesus encountered this hardness of heart in His earthly ministry.

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15

I’m no expert on the various addictions, but it is my understanding that before healing can take place, there must be acknowledgement the problem exists. You must identify it, own up to it, and desire to be freed from it.

So it is with God’s gift of salvation. He heals when we acknowledge our sin guilt.

As Christians, it’s often difficult for us to understand why some people have no interest in the Lord or all He represents. They quickly shutdown any attempts at sharing our hope in Christ.

How sad to be deathly sick and not know it. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening with those who carry no burden for their sin. When their hearts are hard they can’t be helped.

When I first became involved in evangelism, I was frustrated by the lack of conversions and took it personally. Then one night, while visiting in the home of a young couple, I had barely gotten into my memorized presentation when they both said they wanted to pray to accept Christ. What happened? The Holy Spirit had prepared their hearts.

That’s the key for your hard-hearted loved ones. Even though they don’t want to hear what you have to say, they can’t stop you from praying for the Lord to warm their hearts. And when that happens the good news will be the healing balm they need.

Two instructions are given in our focus text. “Repent…and turn to God.” Both commands require turning. Turn away from sin and turn toward God.

Repentance involves awareness that things aren’t right between the sinner and God. It’s accompanied by remorse and a desire to change. Then it is followed by a willful choice to turn to God through Christ. The refreshing comes when the sin burden is lifted and the newly redeemed believer realizes they will be empowered by God to live a godly life. Righteousness previously unattainable can now be theirs through the help of the indwelling Spirit.

This refreshing from God is accessible every day in our walk with the Lord. That old sin burden is forever gone. And for those sins that popup along the way, the Lord is faithful to forgive when we approach His throne of grace. Burden lifted. Instant refreshment.

Do you need the Lord’s refreshing today? Then confess your sins now and have that burden lifted. Do you know someone whose heart is hard and unreceptive to the gospel? Then pray for God to warm their hearts to His good news.

October 5

Take Inventory of Your Rich Inheritance

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

Ephesians 1:18

He lived in the best neighborhood. He owned the best house, drove the finest car, and his kids were perfect. And it got to the point, I hated to see him coming.

Do you — or have you known someone like that? Always boasting. Let’s face it, some people weren’t blessed with the humility gene. Oh, and I forgot to mention. He went to the best church, had the best pastor, and belonged to the ONLY right denomination.

Okay. We all do it once in a while. It’s hard not to tout the praises of our grandkids. But most of us know bragging isn’t appropriate behavior for a Christian. However, it’s always acceptable — even encouraged — to boast about the Lord.

Even the act of becoming a Christian is no cause for boasting in self. Years ago, through the Evangelism Explosion program, Ephesians 5:8-9 made a huge impression on me. Especially the last line.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

There’s nothing to boast about because salvation is not based on our performance. God loved and gave His Son for us. It was the Lord’s work that made eternal life possible. His gift. His love. His sacrifice.

So if we’re to do any boasting, let it be about the wonders of God — which brings us back to our focus text. Paul wants us to open that precious gift from the Lord and take a close look at the magnificence of what we have received.

Extra insight into God’s gift was so important to the Apostle that he made it a subject of prayer. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…” What the Lord has given you is more than you know. It’s so great you need His help to understand and appreciate it. You’ll need more than head knowledge. You require heart knowledge.

In particular, Paul wants you to know “… the hope to which he has called you…” God’s hope is not any normal expectation that might or might not happen. It’s a done deal.

Saved by grace. Done!

Filled with the Spirit. Done!

Sealed for redemption. Done!

Heavenly home. Done!

24-7 access to God. Done!

And the Apostle is concerned that we grasp “… the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people…” We are heirs because we are His children. And we are holy, again not due to anything we have done, but because of the One to whom we belong.

Yes, Paul used the word “riches.” This is the wealth you can boast about (Matthew 16:19-21) that is stored for you in heaven and available forever.

Even if you had a rich relative on this earth who left you all their worldly possessions, in time you would either deplete those resources or bequeath them to someone else. The adage, “You can’t take it with you,” applies. However, your rich inheritance from God will always be yours to use, and it can never be exhausted or given away. It’s yours to keep for now and forever.

Even now while living on earth, the Lord allows frequent withdrawals, but you never have to worry about your account running low.

So how do you gain this deep understanding of your hope and inheritance in Christ? Pray for God to reveal it to you. Study His word consistently and apply the principles you learn to your life.

Take inventory of your rich inheritance in Christ. It’s so amazing you’ll want to boast about it.

October 6

Don’t Let Anything Keep You from Eternal Life with Jesus

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

John 12:25

Are you set in your ways? Do you have a specific and repetitive way of doing things?

When I was younger, I vowed never to be so predictable as my grandparents. We didn’t need a clock. I always knew what time it was by their daily routine.

If I smelled bacon or sausage cooking, it was 5 o’clock in the morning. Lunch was served promptly at 11 and served on TV trays in the living room. From there my grandmother could watch her soap operas. Supper was at 4, intentionally early so granddaddy could slop the hogs and feed his cattle before settling down for the Huntley-Brinkley Report. Then at 10, my grandmother said the words that caused my skin to crawl. “Climb the golden stairs.” The following day, rinse and repeat.

No way I would let that happen to me. Oh, but I was wrong. Pity the poor soul who attempts to sit in my recliner. In fact, I’m in it now, doing what I do at this time every day — writing. At supper time, I’ll return to my chair with my dinner plate in one hand and the TV remote in the other. Tomorrow, Lord willing, I’ll repeat the process.

If you’ve been around the block more than a few times, then chances are you’re locked into a routine and have no intention of making changes.

One of the first lessons I learned as a pastor is that most people don’t like change, especially the older saints. We’re like a dog settling into his pet bed circling and pawing until everything is just the way he likes it.

Actually, there’s nothing wrong with being set in your ways UNLESS it keeps you from salvation in Christ.

Jesus declared, “Anyone who loves their life will lose it.” No matter how much you like the way things are, they will not stay that way. In time, your life will change, so it’s better to turn loose of your favored sinful ways now than lose your opportunity for eternal life with the Lord.

People often put the wrong emphasis on what is involved in embracing Christianity. They’re concerned about what they’ll have to give up. But they miss the point that following Christ is not about what you give up but what you get.

One correct observation made by many lost people is that there is no way they could follow all of God’s rules. But neither can Christians, at least not by our own effort. God doesn’t just save you, He equips you and empowers you to live the life that was previously impossible.

Also in our focus text, Jesus makes a curious statement. “… anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Earlier, I was talking about how we fashion our lives to our liking. We grow into the routine that makes us comfortable and happy. But Jesus said we should “hate” our lives in this world. Did He mean we aren’t supposed to be happy in this earthly existence?

Jesus’ use of hate covers the beliefs, biases, and sinful thoughts and deeds to which we have sworn allegiance. There’s plentiful instruction in the Bible to indicate that God wants us to be happy. But don’t be so happy in your way of living you reject Christ and His good news.

In reality, we should hate anything that keeps us from surrendering to Christ. Paul said, “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) Don’t let the temporary evil pleasures of this life keep you from the incomparable rewards of eternal life.

Jesus also said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) He wasn’t being cruel or unreasonable. People of that time had strong religious allegiances. If a child followed Christ they could be ostracized from the family.

The Lord further amplified this instruction when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) Self-denial and death to the old sinful self is imperative to following Christ.

Believing in Christ is not just intellectual assent. It’s much more than that. Saving faith requires deep heartfelt commitment to the Lord, and all He represents. Put simply, don’t let anything keep you from eternal life with Jesus.

October 7

Most Likely to Go to Heaven

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:25-26

High school graduating classes vote to honor their outstanding classmates with titles like: Most Likely to Succeed, Best Athlete, Most Talented, etc. I don’t know when the custom began, but if it had been practiced in Jesus’ day, there would have been a candidate for Most Likely to Go to Heaven. You can read about him in Matthew 19:16-26.

This rich young man faithfully kept God’s commandments. And to the Jews, his wealth was a sign of God’s favor. He was a shoo-in for heaven. Or so they thought.

He asked Jesus a question that led to a teaching opportunity. “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) The Lord gave a simple answer. “Keep the commandments.” (v17)

I’ve always found the man’s reply astonishing. “Which ones?” he said. (v18) Was he asking, “Which sins can I get away with?” But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The man just wanted a specific list of things he needed to do to gain eternal life.

So Jesus laid it out for him. “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18-19)

“All these I have kept,” said the man. (v20) Possibly there was something in Jesus expression or the tone of His voice that caused the man to inquire further. “What do I still lack?” That’s when Jesus hit him with an unexpected demand.

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:21-22)

The Most Likely to Go to Heaven wasn’t going to make it. And if he couldn’t do it, who could?

The saddened man departed, and Jesus explained the unfortunate outcome to His disciples. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (v24)

In case you’re wondering, Jesus wasn’t saying rich people can’t go to heaven. He was using hyperbole to emphasize how difficult it is to put God above our worldly possessions and desires.

Naturally, His disciples were perplexed and wondered who could be saved? Jesus’ answer is vital to understanding the path to eternal life. “With man this is impossible…” (v26)

No one can work their way to heaven. It is humanly impossible. You can spend a lifetime doing good and obeying the Ten Commandments — but still fall short. And unlike here on earth where wealth buys prestige, you can’t buy your way into heaven. You can’t earn it and you don’t deserve it. Like Jesus said, it’s “impossible.”

But God is not bound by man’s limitations. He can do what we can’t. “… with God all things are possible.”

You can’t save yourself, but God can save you.

God is a miracle worker. And if you have surrendered your life to Christ, then you are the recipient of the greatest of all miracles. God has accomplished in you what you could never do for yourself. You are on the highway to heaven.

October 8

Giving that Means More than Receiving

But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

1 Samuel 12:24

Last Christmas, Janet created a seasonal floral arrangement and gave it to a neighbor. Several days later, the neighbor responded with a gift to show her gratitude. That exchange caused me to think about the motivation for giving.

My wife’s incentive for giving to our neighbor was kindness. Nothing was expected in return.

The reciprocal gift from the neighbor was motivated by appreciation. Sometimes those “back-at-you” gifts are offered from a feeling of obligation. You did something nice for me, therefore I must do something to repay the favor.

Another type of obligatory giving occurs on special occasions when we scour the malls or the internet attempting to find suitable gifts for those on a list. Sometimes we hit the mark with these “guess-what-they-want” gifts. When we fail there are eBay and yard sales for discarding the rejects.

There are many motivations for giving, but the greatest is love. The greater the love, the more thoughtful the gift. When we give to the people who mean most in our lives, giving means more than receiving.

But it’s also extraordinarily special to be on the receiving end of a love gift. You understand the heartfelt sentiment that went into it. The giver knows you better than anyone, wants to see your joyous reaction as you open your perfect gift.

The motivation for God’s gift to us is revealed in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” Jesus clarified the extent of that love when He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

So when our 1 Samuel focus text tells us to “consider what great things he has done,” we must understand God’s great works in the light of His unconditional love.

But just as God gives good gifts to those He loves, the gratitude the Lord expects from us is rooted in the same motivation. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) If we love God with such fervency then our hearts will always be filled with genuine thanksgiving.

It is from sincere love and thanksgiving you can effectively “fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.”

Think for a moment about the people who mean the most to you. You treasure their relationships, couldn’t live without them. Just as you give love, they love in return. They give. You give.

I want to brag on my granddaughter a little. She has been my pride and joy ever since she came into the world. I love to give her gifts. She’s too young to have a job, therefore she can’t buy me gifts in return. But her sweet spirit, love, and heartfelt gratitude always make me feel as if I have received more than I’ve given. When I give to my wife or my sons, I feel the same way.

Now let’s go back to the opening words of our focus text. “But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart…” To fear God is to give Him respect, to revere His supreme authority. This fear is not motivated by dread — but by honor. And we are to serve Him faithfully from the heart, which brings us back to love. The directive in 1 Samuel 12:24 comes naturally for those who truly love the Lord. It’s giving that means more than receiving.

October 9

Freedom from a Guilty Conscience

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:14

God has blessed us with an onboard monitoring system to keep our behavior in check. It’s called a conscience. When we step outside the boundaries of good conduct a guilt alarm sounds. The inner voice of a guilty conscience chides us for our inappropriate thoughts or deeds.

Our boundaries of conscience are based on a moral code of values impressed upon us by parents, teachers, religious leaders, laws of the land, and culture.

Even animals have a conscience, or so it seems. Recently, I volunteered to dog-sit for my oldest son while his family was on vacation. Occasionally, I had to reprimand the German shepherd, Roxie, for barking at the cat. After ordering her to “lay down” she would recline on her bed and stare at me with sad eyes. Moments later she would trot across the room and sit at my feet with her head down. In dog talk that meant “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

I’m all too familiar with that nagging feeling from a guilty conscience. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a tinge of “I shouldn’t have done that.” But when it becomes a long-lasting problem, it’s like a pain that won’t go away.

A guilty conscience is often the result of rash behavior in response to frustration or provocation. A recent news story reported about a Florida man who became agitated by a neighbor’s loud outdoor party. The occasion was the birthday of a 2-year-old and involved a bunch of small children. What really ticked the guy off was the loud music from a DJ. He decided to put an end to the annoyance by unplugging the sound system, but unwittingly shut off the power to a Moonwalk where children were playing. The blow-up fun palace deflated trapping the little ones inside. One child sustained a minor injury, and the others were traumatized. Anger led to a dumb decision, chaos, and an unfortunate rift between neighbors. Hopefully, the man experienced a guilty conscience for his foolish act. And if he responded rightly to it, he learned a lesson, sought forgiveness, and vowed to never repeat such unacceptable behavior.

Have you ever lost your cool and said or done something you deeply regretted? If you haven’t, you’re an exception to the rule. Bad behavior, regardless of what triggered it, results in a guilty conscience.

Misconduct of any kind should produce guilt in the heart of the believer. It’s a reminder from God we need to get our act together.

The mamas of those children trapped in the Moonwalk were likely reluctant to forgive the neighbor who spoiled the party. Thankfully, God doesn’t respond to our sinful behavior that way. When we experience remorse and confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive.

Even more, as we see in our focus text, the Lord cleanses our consciences. I’m reminded of what Jesus said to the woman who was caught in sin. “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

The short-term remedy for a guilty conscience is to confess your sins and seek the Lord’s forgiveness. If there’s someone you’ve wronged, approach them with a contrite spirit and request to be forgiven. The long-term remedy for a guilty conscience is, as the old saying goes, “Keep your nose clean.” In other words, “Behave yourself.”

Jesus’ blood cleanses our sins AND our guilt. But the conscience remains for our benefit. Let the Bible and the Spirit be your guide and your conscience your onboard warning system.

Remember, Jesus forgives all your sins. Follow His lead and forgive yourself. And if guilt remains make it a matter of prayer. Receive God’s cleansing completely for your sin and a guilty conscience.

October 10

Nobody Knows the Trouble You’ve Seen

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

2 Corinthians 4:17

All of us have experienced troubles. Some more than others. I would like to tell you that from this moment forward you will be problem free, but that would be a lie.

Troubles come big and small without invitation. They are no respecter of persons, and they target all socioeconomic classes.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression, “Look on the bright side.” That’s something we say to make a troubled friend feel better about their dismal circumstances. And that’s exactly the tact taken by the Apostle Paul in our focus text. He even categorized his troubles as “light and momentary.”

Paul wasn’t being flippant or overly optimistic. This wasn’t a Pollyanna response to hardship. He was well aware of the difficulties he faced and the pain he had already endured. He was looking beyond troubled waters to the destination that awaited on the other side.

My first duty station in the Navy was in Hawaii. When I received orders to transfer to Norfolk, I decided to have my car shipped to the mainland where I would pick it up and drive cross-country to my home in Virginia. It’s a long way from San Francisco to Strasburg, especially in a rusty 1961 Chevy Impala.

On the second day of my journey it conked out in a small desert town. Alternator or regulator maybe. Credit cards hadn’t become mainstream in my world of 1969, consequently I had to pay the bill with cash. My motel fund was depleted. I would either have to sleep in the car or keep driving until I completed the 2,800 mile journey. I elected the latter. Oh, I forgot to mention. The old Chevy had no heat. I suppose it was accustomed to the Hawaiian climate. And since I had been living in Hawaii, I didn’t have a coat with me. I grabbed my wool Navy uniform from the back seat and wrapped it around me. Then in the middle of the night, I got lost in the Ozark Mountains. By daylight, I was back on track, but lacked the funds to buy food. All I could think about was home sweet home. So I pressed on, stopping only for gas. A thousand miles later, I arrived at my destination just as my family was sitting down for Sunday dinner.

That dreadful journey seemed to last forever, but actually lasted three days. In retrospect it wasn’t nearly as bad as it seemed at the time. Once I was home and looking back, I realized that my ordeal was “light and momentary.” In fact, it was thoughts of home that gave me the wherewithal to keep on going.

Paul was driven by the vision of a perfect place where there would be no more troubles or sorrows. Great joy awaited on the other side. He knew the burdens experienced here were trivial compared to the eternal glory that awaited with the Lord in His heaven. Faith puts the problems of life in proper perspective.

We’ll close with a review of Paul’s “light and momentary troubles” that he recaps in Chapter 11. Remember as you read the inspiring Christian perspective that awaits “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 2 Corinthians 11:23-27

October 11

What Will They Say about You when You’re Gone?

The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot.

Proverbs 10:7

Who has been a blessing to you? What name (s) comes to mind? Possibly your parents, a close family member or friend, a sibling, or your spouse.

In my role as pastor, I often sat with the bereaved soon after losing loved ones. In those times, much was said about the character and behavior of the deceased. Favorite memories were shared on the positive qualities of the dearly departed.

I recall an occasion at a viewing (wake) for a church member when there was more laughing than crying. That’s because the elderly man who had died brought so much joy and laughter to his family and friends. It became so raucous that his sister whistled loudly and called them down. She apparently realized that silence was an inappropriate remembrance of a man who had a knack for making people laugh. The sister shed a few tears and then burst out laughing as she recalled something he had done. The crowd went back to honoring the man who had often blessed them by lifting their spirits.

Once I was called upon by a member of the community to preside over a funeral for his son, a member of a biker gang. He apologized in advance for the unknown circumstances I might encounter. And yes, his friends arrived on bikes. It was the only time I witnessed a rowdy crowd at a viewing or a beer party in the parking lot. But the next day at the funeral they were stoic and quiet as if at a loss for words. After the service, they followed the procession to the cemetery on their motorcycles. When the graveside ceremony concluded they stayed and watched as the casket was lowered into the ground and covered with dirt. They sat there for the longest, silently staring at the grave. Obviously, their friend had impacted their lives.

It’s not just church-going folks who have fond memories of their deceased friends. And you don’t have to be a Christian to be a blessing to someone. However, a closer look at our focus text reveals how we should aspire to bless others. “The name of the righteous is used in blessings…” (Proverbs 10:7a)

To be a blessing, in a general sense, is to make a person happy or content. Anybody can do that. But the blessing God desires from His people is rooted in righteousness. More specifically, for the Christian it means to be set apart unto the Lord for His good purposes. We live to honor Him and thus become a blessing to others.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What will they say about me when I’m gone?” You have control over the answer to the question by the way you live your life and touch others. Righteous living produces a positive report that honors God.

Notice what our focus verse says about those who embrace a wicked lifestyle. “…the name of the wicked will rot.” Not a flattering picture of the outcome of one’s life.

My wife and I recently had a discussion about how it seems that a good name is no longer desirable as it once was. The emphasis is no longer on BUILDING character, but on BEING a character. Our culture honors the deeds of the wicked and deplores the actions of righteousness.

Back to the question, “What will they say about me when I’m gone?” If you’re like me, you hope they’ll say good things. But more important is what the Lord has to say. Matthew 25:23 comes to mind. “Well done, good and faithful servant... Come and share your master's happiness!”

More important than pleasing man is pleasing God. And the first step toward gaining His good pleasure is accepting the gift of His Son as your Savior. Without that, all the accolades of man will, as our focus text says, “rot.”

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

October 12

Insults Aren’t All Bad

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

1 Peter 4:14

As I write this, the president of the United States is Donald Trump. It’s no secret that some people don’t like him and become enraged at the mention of his name. To wear a t-shirt or hat displaying his name is an invitation for insults.

In the early days of my radio career, I worked at teen-oriented radio stations. Young listeners were often vocal about their listening preferences, and whenever I wore a t-shirt emblazoned with my station’s call letters, it drew attention. Sometimes positive. Other times, not so much.

When we’re passionate about something, we don’t mind making it known. And we don’t really care what others think about it.

If you’re a sports fan, you may wear a shirt or ball cap to show your pride in your favorite team. That will often get a rise out of somebody; positive or negative, friend or competitor. When I wear my Alabama sweatshirt, it’s not uncommon to be greeted sarcastically with “War Eagle,” the battle cry for Auburn fans.

A few years ago, a Texas Longhorns’ fan was buried in his burnt orange and white (school colors) Cadillac. He had adorned the vehicle with a rack of longhorns on the grill.

Packers football fans wear cheese on their heads to display their team spirit, and they proudly call themselves “Cheese-heads.” Who am I to criticize their behavior when some of my fellow Alabama Crimson Tide fans carry giant Tide laundry detergent boxes on sticks to every game?

And how about those crazy guys who strip off their shirts, paint their bodies, and cheer for their team in freezing temperatures and snow?

I say all that to get you to think about your passion for Christ. Is there enough love for the Lord showing to invite insult?

Many of us feel compelled to hide our faith. “It’s a private thing,” we say. “Just between me and God. No one has to know.”

To be fair, many of us are shy and avoid calling attention to ourselves. But we all have a responsibility to let our faith be known. Jesus said:

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16

Notice what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t say let them see your big Bible, boast about the number of trips you make to the Christian book store, or act like you’re spiritually superior to others. The Lord wants others to see our “good deeds” that bring glory to the Father. God hasn’t called us to be spiritual snobs, but reflectors of His light onto others. That light shines brightest in good works that demonstrate the compassion and love of Christ.

Back to our 1 Peter 4:14 focus text. “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” To be insulted for serving Christ is never pleasant, but it proves “the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” It’s a blessing to know you are the real deal, in Christ, serving God, redeemed, and headed for heaven.

Nobody likes to be ridiculed, picked on, put down, or humiliated. But if such treatment results from your service for the Lord, so be it. Like Peter said, “you are blessed.”

There’s nothing wrong with being a fool for Christ. Paul put it this way:

We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ... (1 Corinthians 4:9-10)

Real faith invites insults. When it happens, see it for what it is. Proof you belong to Christ.

October 13

The Danger of Abundant Living

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Revelation 3:17

With the approach of holidays it always happens. Our sons ask us what we want? Janet’s response is always the same. “I don’t need a thing.” I take a similar approach to the question. “Get me a shirt or socks, something cheap.”

What we really mean is we don’t want our sons spending their hard earned money on us. The Lord has abundantly supplied all our needs. Philippians 4:19 comes to mind. “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

He is our supplier both now and forever. If you have Jesus, you have all you need.

Sadly, people who lack a saving relationship with Jesus are needy. No matter the size of their bank account, investment portfolio, or estate, if they don’t have the Lord, they remain “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

You recall Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler: “…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:25) Jesus didn’t say it was impossible for the rich to be saved. In fact, He added, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

To be saved, you must be needy. Even rich people can experience the kind of poverty that opens the heart to God’s free gift of eternal life. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)

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