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In the night I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek you. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right. Isaiah 26:9

“How’d you sleep last night?”

“Terrible. My mind just wouldn’t shut down. Seems like I was up all night thinking about all I had to do.”

How many times has that conversation happened in your life? Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep is crucial to good health emotionally, physically and even spiritually. Yet many of us fail to get a good night sleep because life won’t leave us alone.

Some people say to pray. Others say to count sheep. Whatever the method, nothing seems to help. The prophet Isaiah had a tough calling. His church was the nation of Israel. They were stubborn, rebellious and completely sold out to their own selfish ambitions. Isaiah’s mission was to draw these people back to God.

Isaiah was like many of us though. He forgot that his job was to give the word, not change the people. Only God can change a heart, but too often those of us in ministry or in positions of authority take it upon ourselves to change people. The result is that we can grow frustrated under the burden of ministry.

Isaiah’s cure for sleepless nights was a constant view of God during the times of darkness (aka loneliness, hopelessness and despair) and in the morning (aka those times when we see the victory ahead).

The determining factor in all this is to keep our focus on God and his power and to realize that it is he who will bring the change, not us. Ours is only to constantly seek him in the dark times and the times of prosperity.

PRAYER: Father, too often I tend to lay the burden of living for you on my shoulders. It’s my power that will change me; It’s my power that will change others, etc. Forgive me for those times when I change my focus from you to myself. Empower me through your Spirit to see that it is you that works change every step of the way. In Jesus name, Amen.


When the Lord saw their change of heart, he gave this message to Shemaiah: “Since the people have humbled themselves, I will not completely destroy them and will soon give them some relief. I will not use Shishak to pour out my anger on Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 12:7

“I know it’s wrong but God will forgive me and I’ll be okay.”

I freely admit, I’m guilty of it myself at times. Somehow though, when I hear other people say it, it’s more ominous than when I say it myself. Yeah, I know, that’s a pretty shabby defense. Somehow, those of us who call ourselves believers buy into the lie however. We give our allegiance to Jesus. We proclaim his love, grace and mercy. We ‘take a stand against evil’ in our world, yet think nothing of doing little, unimportant  sins on a daily basis. You know the ones I mean. Our cursing, swearing, judgmental attitudes, the harboring of anger, bitterness or guilt and our greed are all displeasing to our heavenly Father.

Sometimes we assume that God’s forgiveness will remove us from the consequences of that sin, but nowhere in scripture is that the case. Israel, God’s chosen people, constantly strayed from his law and suffered the consequences for it. The story in 2 Chronicles is an example of that. King Rehoboam lived a sinful life and the people followed his example shamelessly right up until the Egyptian army was knocking on their door.

When the leadership saw that God’s punishment was imminent the repented of their sin. The Bible says they did more than ‘pray about it’. It was a change of heart. As a result God saved the nation from extinction. However, he didn’t completely remove the consequences of their behavior.

2 Chronicles 12:8 tells us that although God held back total destruction “… they will become his subjects, so they will know the difference between serving me and serving earthly rulers.”

God promises to forgive our guilt but sometimes He lets us endure consequences to teach us to rely on him. While we are blessed with the promise of forgiveness and eternity with Jesus, we should never take sin of any kind be taken lightly. Remember, the ground may be level under the cross, but there are no ‘little‘ sins. All sin should be taken very seriously in our lives.

PRAYER: Father God. My own words convict me as I’m aware of my tendency to diminish my sin in view of the sin of others. Forgive me for taking sin lightly and help me live in holiness before you by the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen.


“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his. Job 12:13

Jerry rarely missed a service. He was always early and, during the winter months, was more than willing to grab a shovel to clean up the sidewalks and walkways where the plow missed. He was a simple man and I use that as a compliment. Years of drug abuse mixed with mental health issues and a dysfunctional upbringing had taken its toll on Jerry. As a result he lived solely on his disability check. He was a prime example of surviving, but not really living.

One day I Jerry stopped by the church and I realized (quite to my shame) that I’d never really sat and talked with Jerry much. I was new to the church and had gotten taken up in many other things related to the ministry. That day was different. I pulled up a chair and sat down with Jerry to talk, or should I say, listen.

Our conversation turned to the ministry and I asked him, unaware of where it would lead, how he felt about how things were going at the church. That question was like a floodgate that opened to all sorts of ideas Jerry had about how we should ‘grow the worship services’ and ‘build the youth group.’ It didn’t stop there. I found out Jerry had ideas about virtually every aspect of the ministry.

But that wasn’t a surprise. Anyone in ministry knows that everyone has ideas about ‘how to do ministry.’ What caught me off guard is that many (if not all) of Jerry’s ideas were very good! This ‘simple man’ had loads of wisdom that no one chose to listen to.

When I asked him why he didn’t tell people his ideas, he bowed his head and said softly, ‘Aw, they don’t care. None of them listen to me. I’m just an old druggy.’

Jerry was an example of having wisdom but no power to act on his wisdom. Our churches are full of people like that. We tend to look past them because we are too busy fighting fires set by those who have the power but lack the wisdom. Wisdom without power is futility; power without wisdom is tyranny.

Job knew about those people. He knew all too well what it was like to be barraged with people who knew ‘just what to do’ but either plowed ahead recklessly leaving wounded lives in their wake and what it was like to see those people with great wisdom that weren’t listened to because of past poor choices.

What a blessing to realize our God had both the wisdom and the power to make things happen in our lives. When people fail you, remember that God has everything you need to succeed.

PRAYER: Father God, thank you that you have the power and the wisdom to help me make a difference. Give me courage to speak when I know your way and a listening ear for those who may not have the power but have wise words for me. Amen.


Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool. Ecclesiastes 7:9

When I was in high school many years ago, I remember a game our school played against one of our rivals. We knew each other well. Perhaps too well as a matter of fact. The opposing team had a player who was one of the best, if not the best, player in our area. He had one flaw though and that flaw evened the playing field considerably.

Even though he had the skills to beat any of us, he also had a temper. The coaches never told us to take advantage of that of course, but we all knew that an occasional push under the basket or a derogatory comment made under our breath would rile him up. If we could get him angry he would likely foul out or his anger would force him to make mistakes.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Those words reflect nicely the wisdom of Proverbs 7:9. Once we allow others to influence our attitudes it can affect how we function in our workplace, families or any other relationships.  Once that happens, it’s often ‘Game Over’.

The Bible is full of constant reminders and examples of people and situations that can attack our attitude. Once that happens we have a decision to make. Are we going to respond to the situation or react to the situation. Responding has the idea of taking the time to plan and wise and timely action. Reacting is more about quick (and often inappropriate) action.

Responding may require you to take time to think about next steps. The silence when you are pondering next steps may cause others to think you are a fool for not acting quickly. But it’s better to take your time and think things through than to prove to others that you are a fool by acting too quickly!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I have to confess to you that there are times I’ve hurt others, my reputation and most importantly, you, but rash actions. Forgive me for not taking the time to think wisely. Help me, by your Spirit, to show patience, mercy and grace in situations where wisdom is needed. Amen.

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