I once asked my pastor why it seemed as though my prayers hit the ceiling and bounced back at me without ever reaching heaven. He reminded me that unconfessed sin creates a barrier that needs to be removed so that communion is restored between the Creator and His creation.

As I read the verse for today, I was reminded of his words. Isaiah writes: “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (59:2)

The expression of the prophet reminded me of a series of messages I prepared recently for a ladies’ retreat and of a revision of that series that I am going to start today. In the first session we talk about seeking first God’s “face” rather than always looking for His “hand.” In other words, desiring God Himself more than we desire His gifts.

As I reviewed yesterday I was reminded that when the Scriptures speak of God’s “face” they are referring to His presence, to that intimacy of relationship that we need to crave ab…


David wrote: “…I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:14, 15a)

Few of us understand just how vulnerable it feels to be completely at the mercy of someone else. David understood. How often the shepherd/psalmist/king/fugitive was forced to run for his life, pursued by those who, had they been able, would have left him bleeding in the dust. I wonder if he ever wished for more control over the circumstances of his life?

Today, as we celebrate the resurrection, I marvel again at the One who has control over all things, giving over control to those who arrested, condemned, and crucified Him. But in the celebration of today, we are reminded that the control His enemies thought they had as they sealed the tomb and set a guard over it, was no control at all.

He had never lost it—appearances to the contrary—even on the cross.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be…

The Deadly Sin

I once corrected a now internationally famous Biblical scholar (he will remain nameless) when he misquoted this verse. It was mean of me—one of those temptations that I should have been able to resist, but chose not to!

All that is neither here nor there as they say.

The verse from Proverbs 16:18 is well-known: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

This is an example of parallelism, where the second phrase is another way of saying the first phrase. In essence, though the verse was misquoted by my eminent friend, what he said was something like a contraction of the original.

But aside from my secret (now not so secret) delight is getting “one up” on someone eons smarter than me, this verse reminds us of the very danger I succumbed to in taking pleasure in correcting him—pride.

We often don’t recognize pride for what it is. We attach friendly meanings to it, but it is what it is. I found it interesting that my dictionary actually misquoted the verse too. At the s…


This is one of those verses that prompts the question, “how?” every time.

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (Psalm 34:19)

No, He doesn’t—at least not always in the way we want Him to.

Yes, there are times when God acts as we anticipate He will, as we pray that He will.

But there are times when He does not. What then? Does that make this verse, along with others like it, a lie?

I remember back to the early days in Venezuela. Our church planting efforts got off to a slow start and we had very few new believers. One of those was a woman by the name of Betty. Her story was indeed one of God’s grace—from someone whose face scared the people sharing the elevator with her to someone whose face radiated forgiveness and joy and peace with God.

She was a walking, talking testimony to what God could do in a life.

Then she got cancer.

We prayed, pleaded, for her healing.

She died.

At the time, we were devastated. But thinking back we actually got what we a…

Good Companions, Good Deal

One of the first pieces of Scripture I memorized when I was a kid in Sunday School was Psalm 1. So well did I learn it that it remains cemented in my mind to this day. Mrs. Wood, the pastor’s wife and head of the Primary Department ,presented me with a bookmark as my prize—a bookmark I still have. I wish I could manage to memorize as well today as I did sixty years ago! Alas, it is not so easy.

In Psalm 119:11, the psalmist reminds his readers of the importance of memorizing God’s words. He says: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” What is hidden in the heart is what the Spirit of God brings to mind when we are faced with choices and temptations—something that happens every day.

My verse for today comes from Psalm 1:1 and is one of those that comes to mind when I am faced with who to choose as my closest companions. It remains a valuable piece of advice for anyone, young and old, when deciding who should become a close friend, a life-long companion,…

Fixing "Stupid"

Some of us are ready to swear off watching, reading, or listening to the news. Just when we think things couldn’t get worse, they do! You can’t fix stupid, and apparently stupidity is contagious. And it can be distressing, disturbing and dangerous to our mental and spiritual health to spend too much time focusing on the evil that men do. It’s enough to deal with my own evil let alone carry the burden of that which others engage in.

It is helpful instead to dwell on the great truth of Scripture. Here is one for today: “His eyes are on the ways of men; he sees their every step.” (Job 34:21)

We often live as though God isn’t aware of what is happening. We often live as though God doesn’t care. We often live as though He is powerless to do anything about the evils happening in this world. And that makes us anxious and upset. But in addition to reading the verse from Job this morning, I also read Romans 2 and the chilling words from verses 5, 6, 8, 9: “But because of your stubbornness and y…


I heard it second-hand so I can’t attest to exactly what the conversation was, or with whom. But the speaker apparently said that no one would ever marry me because I wasn’t submissive enough!

What was said may be true, but at the time I laughed—and am still laughing—

A. Because I have no particular interest in marrying, nor have I ever.

B. Because the speaker was annoyed at me for daring to ask too many questions about his actions.

I don’t usually share something quite this personal, but it came to mind as I read the verse for today.

Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.” —Job 22:21, 22

It isn’t always easy to submit to God—it should be if we truly trusted Him and believed Him to be good as well as powerful. When things don’t work out as we hope, or prayers aren’t answered as we anticipate, or He is silent when we want Him to speak, we wonder if He cares, if He is good, …