Take a devotional break for a moment and watch the beautiful words of Isaiah come to life.

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. —Isaiah 53:6

Sometimes I think God created particular creatures simply to provide potent metaphors He could use to teach us with. Picture yourself as one of these sheep—and the Lord as your shepherd.

We all have wandered. But the good news is our Good Shepherd sought us out—and died for our sins. Jesus Himself said:

If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? —Matthew 18:12

Question: How does seeing these words visually help you internalize their truths? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

(Video from SourceFlix.com)

How God Connected Passover, Redemption, and the Holy Land

God told the Hebrews when to observe the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. At first, to be honest, the command seems random. But now it makes total sense.

How God Connected Passover, Redemption, and the Holy Land

(Photo: Passover Seder cup, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The feasts were to occur at the appointed time of Abib, or Aviv (Exodus 23:15)—a Hebrew word that refers to the time in spring when the grain begins to ripen. The first Passover occurred on the fifteenth day of Nisan, which became the first month of the Jewish calendar.

This timing occurred for good reason. The Lord gave His people a plain explanation why the celebration should coincide with spring:

For [then] you came out of Egypt. —Exodus 23:15

God linked the Passover celebration with their redemption.

But why the springtime? There was a problem with the calendar that had to get fixed. Its fix offers a lasting lesson.

Even for us as Christians.

Click to continue reading »

Rosh Hashanah— It’s Time to Start Over

Everybody uses a calendar. Some hang it on the wall with pictures of puppies, landscapes, or old cars. Others use Google Calendar or carry their schedules on their smartphones. Some do all of these.

Man blowing shofar during Elul at Western Wall.

(Photo: Man blowing shofar during Elul at Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

In fact, most of us operate with several calendar systems at the same time. My calendar year begins in January, but I also march to a fiscal year, a school year, and occasionally, a leap year.

But as God’s people—just like the Hebrews of old—a calendar does much more than keep us on schedule. Especially on a New Year.

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins this evening and reminds us of essentials we mustn’t forget.

Click to continue reading »

A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?

I always get a kick out of the road tests automakers perform on one another. As objective as the tests claim to be, the goals remain clear. GM tests Ford to show Ford’s weaknesses. GM tests GM to show its strengths.

When Ford does the testing, however, the purpose completely reverses. (Funny how that works, you know?)

Actually, this type of testing is biblical. Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives.

But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?

Click to continue reading »

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

Did you have to teach your kids to disobey? Um, not hardly. In fact, they taught you! There were times when my daughters’ disobedience was hilarious.

I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK—But That’s Okay

(Photo by Photodune)

Years ago when one of my girls was only three, she snuck in the kitchen, climbed on the cabinet, found some candy, went to her room, closed the door, and hid under her bed to eat the sweets. How did she figure out how to do this?

My other daughter was not even two years old yet when she asked for a drink from a bottle. When I gave her a cup instead, she hurled it across the room and screamed, “NNOOO!!!!!” Just precious.

Like you, I never taught my children to disobey. It is in their nature. It’s in my nature too, by the way. And it’s in yours.

But that’s okay. Here’s why.

Click to continue reading »

When Life is Futile, Choose God’s Alternative

Groundhog Day always brings to mind the movie by the same name. In the film, Bill Murray’s character, Phil, travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to report on the same boring groundhog.

Phil views the annual observance as a sign that there is really no “to­morrow.” So the film depicts him living out this deception.

He wakes up every morning and experiences the same Groundhog Day over and over again.

  • At first, he gets reckless, figuring there are no consequences.
  • Eventually, he tries to escape the futility—even going so far to as to commit suicide (with the groundhog!)—but he still wakes up to the same Sonny and Cher song every day at 6 AM.

Film critic Richard Corliss notes: “He is trapped in time . . . Yet he can’t die, he can’t escape, he can only change.”

What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?

When Phil asks that question to his buddies, one of them confesses: “That sums it up for me.”

Does that sum it up for you?

Click to continue reading »

Some Things Never Change with God

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

Some Things Never Change with God (and Some Do)

(Photo by John Eckert via oomf)

When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

Click to continue reading »

The Ideal Life You Want Isn’t Enough

Most people live for dreams. It’s a quest, really. Clinging to ideals of how life could and “should” be, they chase those dreams like a carrot on a stick. Always within reach, but never gotten.

The Ideal Life You Want Isn't Enough

(Photo by Photodune)

I guess we’re all wired to pursue the ideal. The world calls it following “your heart,” and we Christians refer to it as “the will of God.”

But in truth, we generally settle for nothing less than our version of how life ought to be.

Any search for the ideal needs only to look at the Garden of Eden to see the futility of that pursuit.

God points us a different direction.

Click to continue reading »

The Jordan River—Your Place of Transition

Other rivers have more beauty. Many are longer. Most are cleaner. But none has garnered as much affection as the Jordan River.

The Jordan River—A Place of Transition

(Photo: The Jordan River, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

It wasn’t the beauty of the Jordan River that inspired centuries of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to include it in their verses.

Its significance began as a simple geographic barrier, which—practically speaking—represented a border (Joshua 22:18-25). In fact, the serpentine river still represents a border between Israel and the nation of Jordan.

In Scripture, however, the river’s presence on Israel’s eastern edge stood as an enduring metaphor of transitions.

Significant transitions, in fact.

Click to continue reading »

Blame Shifting our Blunders

Finger pointing is hard-wired into our hearts. In fact, it started early in human history. Like, really early.

Blame Shifting our Blunders

(Painting by Domenichino. Public domain)

In the Garden of Eden, God confronted Adam and Eve after they sinned, and their reaction set the course for an entire race of blame-shifters.

We’re still shifting the blame (and getting blamed).

The solution is the same today as it was then.

Click to continue reading »