Easter Newsletter

April Newsletter front


This newsletter is all about Easter. The chapter on Easter from my upcoming book, "32 days with God's Story" which should be coming out in June or July. As always, the books are available on Amazon.com for those who would like to buy them. You can also find a sampler of 3 devotions and a bible study that you can download for free on my website, 32daysdevotions.com. My goal is simply to offer some good bible studies and devotions that will help you grow and give you something to share with others.

The short devotion on Easter is from the blog at 32daysdevotions.com. It focuses on four words that Jesus said on Easter that changed lives. I have put a link below where you can download the whole sermon if you want to. Finally, there is a section on Jesus’ Easter appearances and the place of His tomb. I hope that they expand your horizons and teach you something new. Feel free to use the devotions in this newsletter or on the website for your ministry. 

The monthly newsletter is for you to share with others. Feel free to copy the PDF newsletter and share it with others that you think may enjoy it. Anyone can also sign up to receive an email with the newsletter embedded in it by registering here. I would ask for your suggestions so that we can make the newsletter better over time. Thank you for your time and interest. Feel free to send me suggestions at 32daysdevotions@gmail.com 

You are welcome to forward this email or the newsletter to anyone else who you think might enjoy the devotions. People are welcome to sign up for this email at my website: www.32daysdevotions.com. (You can click the chain link at the bottom of the page to take you there.) There is a form for this purpose on the front page of the newsletter. 

Feel free to make any comments about this email or the newsletter at 32daysdevotions@gmail.com 

Click here for the free Easter Newsletter in PDF form

Click here if you want the whole Easter sermon that the blog post found on the devotion page of this newsletter and this website. 

Click here if you want to register to receive this newsletter as a monthly email in the future. 

March Newsletter

Welcome!

This newsletter contains a devotion on the book of Daniel from my upcoming book, "32 days with God's Story" This devotion is for you as an intro to Daniel. Here are some questions that I would have gotten wrong before I wrote the devotion. 1) How old was Daniel when he was thrown into the lion’s den? 2) How much of an impact did Daniel have on the kings of Babylon and Persia and upon God keeping His promise to return the Jews after 70 years? The answers to all those questions are in the devotion and the sidebar to it.

The short devotion is from the blog. In the last chapters of Romans, Paul answers the question, “I am saved, so what!” The devotion lists three traits that Christian love has that worldly love can never demonstrate. There are also questions after the devotion challenging us to live with God’s love. Feel free to use the devotions in this newsletter or on the website for your ministry. 

The monthly newsletter is for you to share with others. Feel free to copy the PDF newsletter and share it with others that you think may enjoy it. Anyone can also sign up to receive an email with the newsletter embedded in it by registering here. I would ask for your suggestions so that we can make the newsletter better over time. Feel free to send me suggestions at 32daysdevotions@gmail.com
Thank you for your time and interest.

.You are welcome to forward this email or the newsletter to anyone else who you think might enjoy the devotions. People are welcome to sign up for this email at the front page of this website: www.32daysdevotions.com. (You can also just click on the link below to take you there.) There is a form for this purpose on the front page of the newsletter. 

Feel free to make any comments about this email or the newsletter at 32daysdevotions@gmail.com 

Click here to receive the March Newsletter 

Click here to be taken to the front page to register

Defending God's Honor

As persecution grows for the church, we seem to be as afraid as the Jews standing on the hillside looking at Goliath below. The story David and Goliath is not just a miracle. It is noteworthy because a teenage boy was willing to step up and defend God's honor. Here is a post that briefly looks at why that is important today. 

Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Observation: The Philistine Goliath mocked God as the people of God stood on the hill scared to death. He told them that the gods of the Philistines were greater than the true God. We often focus on the miracle that a young David could beat the great soldier Goliath. What we miss is that David did it for God’s honor. He was willing to fight because Goliath mocked God and thought God was nothing. That God chose to use a teenage boy to defeat the great giant was His way of letting everyone see the power of God in this victory. This was God’s battle and when David defeated Goliath, everyone knew who was the powerful God. The Jews suddenly found faith and chased the Philistines who were running for their life out of fear. All it took was one person who believed in God and who got angry when God was ridiculed to change the course of history.  

Application: The world still mocks our God, but it is not protests and legislation that is going to change the tide. It is Christian men and women not being afraid of Satan and serving the Lord in their community and church. It is Christians who will speak what they believe in a loving way and defeat Satan in the lives of their neighbors and coworkers. Yes, it can be scary being Christian in a world that is more and more hostile to our faith. But, like David, if one person has the courage to take on the Goliath’s of Satan, others will follow in faith as well. It is time for the church to stop being a wimp. It is time for the church to trust the Lord and depend on the Lord. It is David who we must follow into the valley knowing that God is bigger than all the giants.

Prayer: Lord help our church to follow you and to show your will to the world around us. Amen

A Leader you can believe in

 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2

 The year is 701 BC and the Assyrians are coming down from the north. They have already come down the coastline and are coming back up from the south to finish Judea off. Hezekiah the king is powerless to save them. It would seem that Judea will be destroyed just like Israel was twenty years before. Why has this tragedy come? It is because the people worship idols and are filled with greed. The nation that once had been built around God has forgotten their God. They have caused this destruction by their evil practices and their denial of the Lord. The year is 2016 and our world seems to be in confusion. We have been through a terrible presidential campaign. Our nation is filled with rebellion on the streets and terror threats in our cities. Fortunately, God has not forgotten His people and offers the same solution – a king from Bethlehem.

 Who is this king? The ruler will be from Bethlehem. The prophecy was so clear that the Pharisees of Herod’s court could tell the magi exactly where to find the baby in the manger. In Micah’s day, it tells the people two things about the coming king. It tells them he is humble and of David’s line. He will be humble and be able to relate to people. He will not be born in a palace, but in the little crossroads of Bethlehem about ten miles south. Yet he will be of the royal family and fulfill the promises made to David about his line of kings continuing through the ages. We need a humble ruler. We need one who cares about the people, not wealthy millionaires who run for office and care more about their foundations and businesses than about the people. We need someone we can go to who will bring happiness to average people. We need Jesus.

 And when the King comes, there will be peace. He will shepherd his people and they will depend on him. He will lead them beside the quiet waters and he will restore their souls. This will be a king that will bring wholeness to people who live in chaos. We see it in Jesus as he heals the sick and as he brings answers to thousands sitting on the hillside. The people lived in the darkness of the age and yet His light shined so brightly that their world was changed and their lives came together. The world around them may be chaos, but Jesus gives order and light to their lives so that the pieces of life work together to build stronger families and friendships. He changes them from the inside out so that they have character and values. Life is Shalom with Jesus. It has real peace.

 Micah presents God’s encouragement to the people, but many did not get it. If they had, the nation would not have gone into the Babylonian Captivity only 100 years later. The wise will bow before this king and follow him with their life. They will put him first in their lives and hang on every word that he says in scripture and seek him out daily in prayer so that they may have his guidance and comfort. They will thrive in the chaos for Jesus will be their leader and light. The fool will try to live life with only a little of Jesus and his guidance. They will have the king, but not let him rule. They will hear his guidance and think that they are wise and don’t need it. They will seek comfort in other places and people. Their lives will not have the peace for they have not sought out Jesus. Wise men and women still seek Him. They bow before the child and make Him their own. 

Writing: Why did God take the people to Mt. Sinai?

How did God build a nation?

Imagine that you live a third world country where there are no rules and anarchy reigns. There is no organization that can help you or care for your needs. There is no recourse if someone steals or kills. It would be a terrible place to live. Such were the people of Israel as this mob of former slaves assemble and pour out into the desert following Moses. They have no rules and no real leadership as they leave the land of Egypt. They are now free, but they seem to have no plan and they are not a nation. How will they become the nation of Israel that God promised Abraham years ago? God’s answer is to lead them in love to the sacred mountain where He will plant three seeds that are needed to build a community. By the time that they get to the Promised Land, they will have the tools that they need to build a lasting society that will become a powerful people. This is the transformation of exodus exiles to one nation under God.

I have been working on my third book, “32 days with God’s story” and came to the chapter on the God taking the people of Israel to Mt. Sinai. I was pondering why God took them to Mt. Sinai before they went to the Promised Land. Then the picture came back to me out of the movie “The Ten Commandments” where the people march out of Egypt. It was a ragtag group of people who had been slaves and never ruled themselves. They were not a nation as much as a mob rioting and leaving civilization.

Above is the first draft of the opening paragraph. It dawned on me that God had to give them three things if they were to be a nation. They needed organization, values, and a relationship with God. Without any of them, you just can’t be the holy nation that God had promised to Abraham. Click here if you want to see the whole first draft of this devotion.

I find that writing these devotions is a blessing to me for it makes me ask questions of the text and of the story of the Bible. Every author wants to get details like the history of the period or details about the city. As a devotional author, I want to get the stories right. If you find anything that doesn’t seem right in this devotion, please leave me a comment below or at 32daysdevotions@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you and I promise to write you back. 

Christmas wasn't what they expected

 

Scripture: Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Huh? While we routinely think of the baby at Christmas, it wasn’t what the Jews expected. The story of Jesus is not what even the Godly Jews of the Old Testament would have expected. Let’s look at three things that our unexpected from that day.

Manger: No one expected that the Messiah would be born in such a poor family that he would be laid in a manger. He was to be a king from David’s line and born in Jerusalem the capital so that He would be trained to lead the nation back to greatness. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, and was of the line of David. Yet, His birth showed that He was the king for all since it was shepherds and townspeople who surround Him at His birth.

Virgin Mother: An unmarried pregnant woman was not what the Jews had in mind for the mother of the Messiah. Mary probably bore the stigma of being a loose woman all of her life. Yet, we know that she was a virgin at Jesus’ birth. Only a sinless one could die for our sins on the cross. That would never happen if the child was born to a man and a woman. It was because the Holy Spirit conceived the child in her womb that the Messiah would be God and Man ready and able to do the ministry set before Him.

Vulnerable: Over the years, the church has promoted stories of the infant or toddler Jesus doing miracles. It is hard to think of the Messiah, yet alone the son of God, being vulnerable. Herod would try to kill Jesus and others might have tried if they saw a miracle working infant. Yet, God chose Joseph to protect Jesus for this reason. Through a series of dreams, God directed Joseph first to Egypt and then to Galilee so that Jesus could grow up in peace. The salvation of the world could have been destroyed, but God protected the child so that we might be saved.

God doesn’t always do things as we expect in our lives either. I think of the hardships that Mary and Joseph endured so that the birth of the Messiah could be done God’s way. Sometimes life takes us in unexpected ways. It can take us longer to get to our destination or be harder than we thought. Yet, God always has a reason. Jesus had to be born this way and not in any way that the church or Disney might imagine. He was to be the savior of all. He was to be a true man who was born with vulnerabilities and who lived among us all. Lord, I am ready to go wherever you take me. It may be hard, but I know that the destination will be more than I ever expected. 

Why Write? One perspective

Why Write? I write to make my relationship with God stronger. Several people have asked me why I write books like the one pictured here. The answer is simply that I enjoy the time listening to God and writing helps me make those thought my own. I remember years ago hearing that if you listen you learn a few things and if you write notes that you will learn more. I have always found that if you have to teach the material or if you want to organize it on the page for someone else to read that you learn even more.

The two books have been a time of discovery for me. I have “walked” through the alleys of Jerusalem by studying the Bible and spent time imagining what it was like to be there. I would never claim to be an expert, but I feel like I understand Jesus’ time in Gethsemane and the thoughts people had when they found the empty tomb better now than I did even a year ago.

My hope, like any writer, is that my books help you have the same experiences. I want you to know this wonderful person named Jesus and fully understand His passion for your salvation and mine. I want all of us to go beyond the slogans and see the real Jesus. If you want a free sample of the book click here. You will be taken to a place where you can download a pdf samples of both books. Enjoy them with my blessing and may they take you closer to Jesus.   

Here is a devotion just for you – “Not alone”:

Scripture: John 1:12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--

Observation: Jesus ministered to the Jews and they were God’s people, but so many of them did not recognize Him or honor Him. The religious leaders persecuted Jesus and many were disappointed when He was not the second King David ready to give them a perfect and easy life. Yet, there were those who followed Him and who would die for Him. They felt close to God and found in Jesus something that they would not give up even if they had to die to keep it. What did they find? They found a friend and found joy in being part of God’s family. They had someone they could believe in. They had someone who would never leave them or forsake them.

Application: Almost daily, I have someone who asks me to pray for them. Life has taken a sharp left turn and they don’t know what to do. A child knows where to go. They go to their parents for help whether it is advice, comfort or resources. God’s children know where to go as well. They don’t just ask others to pray, they spend time, hours if they need to, praying to God. Here is the one who has all the resources that are needed. Here is the one who will give us advice and comfort in His word. The wise will receive Christ and draw so close to Him that they become dependent on God. Like the disciples, they would rather die than lose Jesus. God is ready to take care of you as a valued child. Are you open to receiving Him into your life that deeply?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I commit my life to you. I will not let problems keep me away. I can’t solve them, but I know that you will help. I will not let my busy life keep me away from you. Nothing I do will benefit me as much as daily time with you. I don’t want the stress, the worry, and the pain of living life without you. I want to be your child and live in your family for the future is uncertain, but your grace and love is the one thing I can depend on. Amen. 

Christianity, a waste of time?

Scripture: Malachi 3:14 "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty?

Observation: The people in Nehemiah’s day, the people complained because they didn’t see any benefit from being a Christian. Many looked around and felt that the pagans were better off than the people of Judah. The wicked prospered while the Jews suffered. The problem wasn’t God, however, it was the Jews. God blesses His people throughout history when they honor and trust Him. This group wanted to have things their own way and complain when God didn’t give them what they wanted.

Application: To me, being a Christian is like camping. I have known a lot of people who went out one weekend without planning what they were going to do for food or shelter. They put no work into it and expected it to be a “grand experience”. The more you put into camping, the more you get out. The same is true with faith. The more time and effort you spend developing your relationship with God and fellow Christians, the more you get out of it. Spend time in the Bible and touch the heart of God. Dare to serve others and watch God do miracles right before your eyes. What you put into any experience determines what you get out of it. That is definitely true of our life with God and our service to others.

Prayer: Dear Lord, let me dare to embrace you with all my life so that you might fill me with joy and fill my life with the blessings from you. Teach me in your word so that I may know you and your character. Meet me in prayer so that I may share my fears and find your comfort. Give me an opportunity to serve so that I may feel your purpose in my life and see your miracles in the things that I do. It is never futile to serve or know you. Life is futile without you.

Writer’s Den: This passage hits my heart because so many are abandoning the church because they have more important things to do like kids soccer, sleeping in late and spending more time at work. Others just don’t think that the church is all that important. It is part of the motivation for my writing. I pray that, like a Gideon Bible, someone will pick up some of these books and come to see the importance of the Lord in their life.

With that bit of introduction, I am proud to announce that the second book, “32 days with Christ’s Passion” is now available at Amazon.com and the third book that will cover the Bible’s story has been started. Let me know what you think of the book. I will start putting some samples of the chapters on the devotion section of the blog soon. I hope that it is helpful.

I am serious about having some of you reply. I am not good at that, but I do find that it is sometimes hard to blog because, unlike Sunday morning, I have little response and don’t know you well. Let me know what I can share with you and please feel free to share with me. Thanks. 

Let Jesus Help You Out!

I will be adding a third day to the blog with a short devotion and some insights about my writing. Today we will be looking at the joy of letting Jesus help you in life as well as talking about how I write so that you can grow and have joy.

Scripture: Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Observation: As Jesus looked at the helpless and struggling that were sitting before him as he preached the Sermon on the Mount, he must have felt their great pains. They were worried about all the troubles that surrounded them. Here, He makes one of the greatest promises that we find in scripture. Seek a deep relationship with the Lord and God will take care of all the other things that you need. Be in worship and in bible study and prayer and let God take care of food and clothing. What a relief that promise is for the people who often didn’t know where their next meal was coming from.

Application: The promise is just as great for us as it was for the people back then. Seek the Lord and let Him take care of our needs. A child builds the relationship with their parents knowing that Mom and Dad will provide food, clothes, a home and all the other things they need. A child usually doesn’t worry where his/her next meal is coming from. How blessed we would be if we could have that kind of faith in God. Stay near God and don’t run away from home or spend long periods away from God and just expect that God has all your needs covered.

Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me for the times that I worry and stop trusting you. Forgive me for the times that I miss church or don’t take time for prayer because I am too busy trying to provide for myself. You have an abundant supply of all that I need and love me enough to want to take care of my needs. Teach me to depend on you and to trust you rather than worry.

Writer’s Den: I am going to start a new day in this devotional blog which starts with a short devotion and contains some personal thoughts from me as a writer. I pray that you will enjoy these for every writer’s fear is that no one will read or care about the things that he writes.

What I want to speak about today is that the purpose of the blog and the books is to help you grow. We are in such a busy society that people don’t seem to have the time for serious bible study. My hope is that you will read the 32 devotions in the books and read the weekly devotion and bible study on this website and grow in your faith. Let God help you experience the joy that comes from getting to know Him better.

I have been busy writing a second book, “32 days with Christ’s Passion”. The book has 32 devotions and 12 bible studies that cover Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter. The devotions will help to answer questions like why did Jesus go to Gethsemane and why did He not answer the Jews, but spoke to Pilate. The devotions have depth and are meant for you to apply them to your life. The bible studies allow you to copy the student guide so you can share them with others and help them to grow. “Christ’s Passion” should be on Amazon before the end of September. 

Bible Insights: Psalm 137

Is it ever right to pray for harm on someone who hurt you or others? Does God expect us to forget what people have done to us as well as forgive them?

Bible Insight: Psalm 137 is one of the imprecatory psalms. (Others are 35, 58, 69,83 and 109) In these Psalms, God’s people ask for judgment on their enemies. Psalm 137 asks for God to punish the Edomites who cheered when the Babylonians captured the Jews. Even more shocking is the call for repayment against the Babylonians who seized their babies and dashed them against the rocks. Why God would allow such language in the scriptures is not hard to understand. His people were in pain and they were asking for justice. They did not want to take justice into their own hands lest they become as evil as the people they were asking God to punish. Better to let God deal with evil while they lived out their lives following His ways.

Evil is still all around us and God wants us to lay evil’s fate in His hands. It is still all right to pray that God deals with the shady politician or the next door neighbor who treats you badly. If we try to bring justice, we often become as evil as they are and get caught up in a spiral of evil where each person retaliates for the wrong that was done against them until it spirals out of control. I would make one addition to our prayers. Maybe we should pray for the Lord to change their heart with the gospel when He has broken them with the law. How nice it would be if that enemy could one day be a fellow Christian friend because God broke their spirit and then healed their heart.

This and That: The book, “32 days with Abraham” is out and is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. I am thankful to all those who have let me know how the devotions are helping them. I have also heard of several who are going to use the free 12 study Bible study that is in the book for a small group in the fall. They like the advantage of being able to copy the student lessons for the members of the group so that only those who want to buy a book do so. That just warms my heart. The purpose of the book is to get people into the word of God and help them to get to know Abraham personally instead of just knowing him as a vague superman character in the Bible. If you want a sample of the book, just click here.

I am currently working on the second book which should be out in September. This book, “32 Days with Christ’s Passion” will have the same format of 32 devotions and 12 bible studies and cover Jesus’ life from Palm Sunday to Easter. The focus is to see that the cross was Jesus’ passion in life. He wanted to save us so much that He gladly devoted His life for that purpose. My hope is that if the book comes out this September, people can use the Bible studies and follow the devotions during lent. The 32 days of devotions could easily be covered in the time from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

Please feel free to comment below or on 32daysdevotions@gmail.com

Podcast: Chapter 26 Entrusting Your Children to God

Focus Passage: Gen. 22:1-19

Why would God call Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac? This podcast answers that question and discusses the great impact that this act would have on Abraham and Isaac.

Welcome, my name is Mark Etter. I am happy to read a chapter from my book 32 days with Abraham. Today’s selection is chapter 26 – Entrusting your children to God.

Below is a summary of this chapter. This chapter is also one of the 3 chapters included in the sampler which can be downloaded free on the website’s book and booklet page. Click below to begin listening to the podcast. The full book may be purchased on Amazon as a softback book. It is also available on Kindle. Please give me feedback on this podcast and on the book. Your comments are very valuable to me. 

As a pastor, I have always felt the strain of family versus ministry. How do we manage the times when God calls us to put Him first? Are we willing to give our precious time to God so that He can make life for us and others better?

Abraham had waited for 25 years for this son. He knew that all the promises of God depended on Isaac. God came to him with a command that no one wants to hear. “Take your son, your only son, Isaac. . . sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (v.2) It was a test to see how much Abraham loved his God.

It would have been easier to strike Isaac down quickly while you had your nerve. Abraham was called to make a long journey to the sacred mountain. It was “on the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” (v.4) The three-day journey gave Abraham plenty of time to turn back and refuse what must have seemed to be a cruel request.

In the end, he was willing to give back to the Lord the greatest gift that he had received. “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” (v.10) He believed in the promises of God so much that he trusted that God would give his son back to him somehow.

Abraham was willing to give up his most precious gift, his son, to the Lord. In that moment, God changed Abraham and Isaac. God will bless our lives as we dedicate them to Him so that they will be productive in ways that we cannot imagine. God will bless our children as we bring them to Him in faith.

I imagine that the teenage Isaac walked down the mountain a different person. He had heard the voice of God, seen God’s provision and seen the depth of his father’s love for God. When we entrust our children to God, it changes them. Giving our greatest gift to God does not mean that we lose them. Such action entrusts our children to the care and protection of the only one who can truly help them succeed.

What would you like your children to learn about God?

How would a closer relationship with the Lord impact their life and their future?

Bible Insights: John 12

Who is the woman who anoints Jesus feet with costly oil? What would have led her to make that sacrifice for Jesus?

Bible Insight: The Bible tells us that it was Mary who anointed Jesus’ head and feet with expensive perfume. It was probably the Friday before Palm Sunday and Jesus had come to Bethany to stay with Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus as He celebrated the Passover. If we remember that Jesus had only recently raised Mary’s brother from the dead (John 11), her actions become clearer. Her act would make sense as a way of thanking Jesus for returning her brother to her. Most of us would want to thank someone who healed a close family member, Jesus had done even more than that.

Her actions remind us to take the time to thank the Lord for His blessings in our life. We don’t have to spend a million dollars or become a missionary to Africa. We simply need to use whatever resources we have at hand and then seize the moment to praise Jesus. Like Mary, there will be some who will not understand our thanks. Just take any criticism in stride and know that the Lord will praise your heartfelt gift of love. We are wanting to please Him and not others. Lift up your gift whether it is your voice to sing or your hands to serve someone else and let everyone know how great your God really is and what He has done for you.

This and That: This Friday, I will be honored to lead worship at the Ohio District LWML convention and to be their song leader on Saturday during the convention. One of the gifts the Lord has given me is a strong voice and an ability to play the piano. It will be an honor to lead all the women from across Ohio, West Virginia and Northern Kentucky who will be at this conference. I also thank all of the people who have bought the book on Abraham. The thirty-two devotions span Abraham’s life from his call to his death. The twelve devotions with leader’s guides are meant to help you understand some important moments in the life of Abraham. Those who buy the book will be able to copy the bible studies off for church or small group use. My prayer is that people will come to know the great love of God as they see how God raised up an ordinary man to be the patriarch that we know and love. The book is available at Amazon in print or on kindle. A free sample of the book is still available by clicking here

Bible Insights: Luke 15

Who is Jesus speaking to when He tells the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost brother? What does that mean for each of us when we feel like no one cares about us?

 My new book "32 days with Abraham is now available. On the website is a free booklet sample of the book. 

My new book "32 days with Abraham is now available. On the website is a free booklet sample of the book. 

Jesus is speaking to tax collectors and sinners (Luke 15:1) while the Pharisees mutter because Jesus would even associate with such people. Jesus didn’t come for the self-righteous, he came to help those who felt an emptiness in their heart. He came to help people when they lose their way. Notice in the parable how the shepherd left the 99 sheep to go find the one. That speaks about how valuable that one sheep was to the shepherd. When he does find it alive, he takes the sheep back and calls people to rejoice with him that he has found this wayward sheep.

The stories are not only about being lost. They are just as much about being valued. I don’t think that people realize how much it impacts all of us when they are gone from the church. I know people get busy, but often one week turns into three or six that someone is gone. Friendships become lukewarm and the church doesn’t seem to be able to count on people for the ministry that we all expect. That is why I want everyone to know that they have value. You may feel like you are a tax collector or sinner and no one cares about you. That is Satan talking, not God. God always loves you and so do we.

This and That: The big news is that the book, “32 days devotions with Abraham” is now out in print. The book contains 32 devotions that will take you from Abraham's call to his death. It also has 12 bible studies with a leader's guide that highlight 12 important events in Abraham's life and match 12 of the devotions. You are free to copy the bible studies for your church or small group without getting books for everyone in the group. So feel free to buy one copy for your small group and let the whole group get to know Abraham. To celebrate this event, I am giving away a free sample of the book in PDF form on the website. Download the booklet of three devotions and one Bible study to get a flavor of what is available to you. You can download the free booklet by clicking here. You can be taken to the booklet page so you can buy the book on Amazon by clicking here. Thanks to all of the people who have been so supportive during the writing of this book. 

Bible Insights: John 19

Where is Joseph on Good Friday? We hear about Mary, but never hear about Joseph? What does Mary’s appearance at the cross teach us about Jesus’ love.

Bible Insight: When Mary comes to the cross with John, Joseph is no where to be seen. The reality is that he is probably already dead. Jesus’s brothers (James, Joseph, Simon and Judas – Matthew 13:55) also do not believe yet, although they will after the resurrection. It is for this reason that Jesus gives responsibility for His mother to John. As His closest disciple, John who does believe in Jesus as Messiah is to care for Mary. What I find amazing is that Jesus, in the midst of His own pain, is thinking about others and showing His love. Mary and John will be a big comfort for one another in this time of grief.

Sometimes when we are faced with crisis, we fold in on ourselves and don’t think of others who may be hurting. Jesus shows us that love calls us to care for others. It can also give us comfort as we share our grief with others by caring for them. There will always be others who will be affected by our hurt, we should not forget their pain in the midst of our own.  

This and That: The first book in the series, 32 days devotions is at the printers. This book, 32 days with Abraham, has a special feature that you will love. The book not only has 32 devotions, but also includes 12 reproducible bible studies that connect with 12 events in Abraham’s life. The student guides have copy write permission so that you can freely copy them for your church or small group. You don’t have to buy a book for every person. The leader can buy a book for them and copy the student bible studies and then use the leader’s guides that are in the book. You will find that the bible studies match one of the 32 devotions so that the devotion will also give you added insights into the Bible text.

The book will soon be out on Amazon as a print book and should be on kindle as well. The book with devotions and bible studies (including the leader’s guide) will be priced at $9.99 to make it affordable for small groups and Bible leaders. My prayer is that people have an opportunity to learn about Abraham as I have and see the miracle of God that was this man’s life. 

Bible Insights: Genesis 25

How many children did Abraham have? Was it 1, 2, 6 or 8 children? Why is this an important lesson for us as we think about the legacy that we leave?

Biblical Insight: The Bible mentions eight children born to Abraham. Most of us know about Ishmael and Isaac, but there are six more children born to Abraham and his second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-4). Abraham was 137 years old when Sarah died (Genesis 23:1) and could have just retired from life at that point. By taking a new wife and having half a dozen children, it shows that Abraham had an active life during the last 38 years of his life. His life didn’t just stop just because Sarah was grown or Isaac was now a man.

We don’t have to retire from life just because we grow old. Our retirement income may allow us to take on a second career or to volunteer in the community in a way that we just couldn’t have done while we were still working. It can also mean for grandparents that they have the opportunity to have a larger part in mentoring and teaching their grandchildren. The time to think about what retirement is all about is five to ten years before we retire. That is one of the big reasons that I have begun the blog and am ready to publish my first new book in twenty years. I would like to be a writer in retirement. Starting now gives me several years to work into this second career and publish five to seven books before the time of retirement has come. What can you do for God and others with your retirement? Abraham shows us that there is no reason that our “golden years” need to be wasted away.

This and That: With the publishing of “32 days with Abraham” next month, I am considering a podcast of one of the chapters. This website has the capability of letting you download a podcast and get a feel for what the book is like. I am curious if anyone has thoughts about what that podcast should contain. If you have any thoughts, please write them to 32daysdevotions@gmail.com or make a comment in the comment section of this website. I would really like to hear from you. As for me, this coming Sunday is the retirement of a dear pastor friend. Paul and I have been friends for over 40 years and this Sunday is his retirement as pastor of a church in Kansas City. We see what he has in mind for his retirement. 

Biblical Insights: Daniel 6

 

How old was Daniel when he was placed in the lion’s den? Was he a young man, middle aged man or an old man? What insight does that give us into the story?

Since Darius is the king who puts Daniel in the lion’s den and Darius is one of the last kings that Daniel served in Babylon/Persia (538-536 BC), Daniel is probably around 80 years old. Picture Daniel as a senior statesman among the Jews who was well respected by Jew and Gentile (Dan. 6:14). He was also well known for his faith (Dan. 6:5). Daniel’s willingness to die rather than to cease praying, even for a short time, was an example of the Jew and Gentile alike. It brought praise to God from the Gentile king and was an encouragement for the Jews to cling to their God. His story reminds us that our actions are being watched by others and will lead people closer to the Lord or cause disrespect for the Lord.

Writer’s Bench: The devotions that appear in this blog fit in a genre called “Creative Non-Fiction”. Unlike fiction books, the devotions cannot invent characters or story lines in the way that a fiction writer does. Yet, I don’t want these devotions to be dry recitations of the bible facts. I want us to picture what it must have been like for characters like Daniel, Abraham or Peter. In the story above. I picture an old Daniel looking back at his life and seeing all the blessings that the Lord has brought to him. He was a captive taken by the Babylonians who has risen in the government so that Darius wants to make Daniel second in command (Daniel 6:3). Such a man would not put his trust in kings of the earth and would rather die than give up his relationship with the Lord. None of that is in scripture, but it brings life to the story.

This and That: On the author page is a picture of my family. Over Memorial Day weekend, we will have the joy of camping together. The group will include my children, my parents, and my brother’s families. I consider myself blessed beyond belief by my God. He has given me a loving family and the weekend will be a great joy for all of us. I pray that you have a wonderful weekend as well. Also, the final version of the Abraham book is now at the publisher’s and is in the final edit. The book should be out on Amazon as a print book and on Kindle next month. 

Free devotional book on Old Testament

Free booklet of six devotions on Old Testament Characters is now available on the website – www.32daysdevotions. This devotional book in PDF form can be downloaded and shared as my gift to you. You don’t even have to register or give your name to get it. Just click here to get the free devotional booklet

Verse: 2 Samuel 22:31 – As for God, His way is perfect, the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is to spend time with God. Most people don’t really know God like King David did when he wrote these words. It causes them to miss out on so many blessings. It causes them to miss out on real joy.

News: So why am I giving you a free devotional book? I am crazy. Well, that may be true, but it really has to do with letting you get to know the Lord like King David does. Each month, there will be a free devotional booklet of four to six devotions that you can download as a PDF and I give you permission to give it away to all your friends. I want people to be in God's word. If you miss a month, the last three or four booklets (since I am just starting, there are only two right now) will be on the book and booklet page of the website for you to download. Enjoy them and please let me know if they are helpful or if you hate them or if you think that I could improve them. Just give me feedback on the comment page of this blog. Thanks and may the devotional books be helpful to you.

Also, I have submitted a book to a Christian publisher and it will be available in June on Amazon. The book, “32 days with Abraham”, has thirty-two devotions that cover the span of Abraham’s life. As a bonus, there are 12 Bible study lessons that you will be free to copy and use for your small group or church. A leader’s guide is included in the book to make a small group or personal study easier. I will let you know when the book is available with a link from this site.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I ask your blessing on all the people who come to this blog. May the devotions on Tuesday and the booklets and other material that we feature on Thursday draw them closer to you. I pray that we all can know you like David did so that we have the confidence to pray to you in our times of joy and sadness. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Welcome to the new Website

Verse Rom. 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the gentile.

Paul said those words centuries ago and I want to claim them as the heart of this website. I pray that the Lord help me to never shy away from his truth even if some don’t like it. I pray that I may be a blessing to those who come to this site. May this be a place you walk with God.

News: As you can see, the site is up and it will take over for the blog that was on blogger. I have so many things planned for you on this site. My goal is to let this page be a look into my heart and to give you news about my writing and samples of that writing. We will include podcasts of devotions that you can listen to on a monthly basis and free devotional booklets that you can download and study at your leisure.

Take a look at the site. There are still things to be added, but you will already find devotions on the weekly devotion page and free booklets on the book and booklet page. You will also see some information about who I am. I promise that pictures will be added to that page so you can see as well as read about who I am.

Finally, I have a book, “32 days with Abraham” coming out next month. I will give you more information about it and tell you when it is released. The 32 devotions cover the life of Abraham in the book of Genesis from start to finish. There are also 12 bible studies with leader’s guides. The student copy of the Bible study is yours to copy and use with your small group or church. Feel free to do so with my blessing. I want people to know this wonderful man of God.

Prayer: Please pray with me. Dear Lord, I ask Your blessing on every person who comes to this site. May this be a place where they dig deeply into the word and where they grow in their faith so that they can have your values and character. You are the greatest person that we could ever know. Help us to know you better by being in your word. Amen.