Thursday, October 7, 2021

Devotions: Grateful Service


Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.

1 Samuel 12:24 New American Standard Bible 1995


When the prophet Samuel said this, he had just crowned Saul king over Israel. The people had been begging for a king for years, not because they didn’t have good leadership, but because they wanted to be like the other nations who were ruled by a man rather than God. This grieved Samuel and God, for they knew that in this the people were ultimately rejecting God and desired worldliness more. Once Samuel anointed Saul, he warned the people what would happen if they or their king faltered. They were afraid so Samuel reassured them that he would teach them how to live. This was his answer.

Fear God. This does not mean to be afraid, but to have reverence, awe and respect. The people obviously did not fear God because they were trying to replace Him. If we truly fear God, then we will love Him and live as He commands (which is proof of our love.)

Serve Him in truth. It is hypocrisy to say we love God and then disobey Him or refuse to serve Him. Love without deed is fake. In serving Him, we are putting Him first; prioritizing His commands and will above our own. Service does not earn anything, but is proof of our love and devotion to Him. We need to do this with all our hearts. Anyone can tell when someone is just going through the motions rather than serving from the heart. This can be seen in any relationship, but especially in marriage. We can tell when our spouse is just doing something out of obligation rather than love. We need to love and serve God whole-heartedly and genuinely.

Why do we do all of this? Look at what God has done for us. It is so easy to take God and His blessings for granted, thinking that we somehow earned or deserved them, or made them happen ourselves. Yet every good gift comes from God. Everything. There is nothing good that we have that God did not give us, including every breath that we take. We have so much for which to be thankful. If we truly appreciated what we had and what God has done for us, we would fear and serve Him without a moment’s hesitation. He would have our whole heart.

Do you fear God? Do you serve Him whole-heartedly? Are you aware of the many blessings He has given you? Ask God to renew your love and gratitude for Him so that you can serve Him genuinely.



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Monday, September 20, 2021

Devotions: Honey to the Soul


Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24 New American Standard Bible 1995


Honey has long been used as a metaphor for the good life. The Promised Land was described as flowing with milk and honey. It is sweet and tasty but also revitalizing. It is often used in natural medicine to give strength and energy to women in labor. It is tasty and life giving. So too are pleasant words. The word pleasant can also mean agreeable, beautiful, suitable, or delightful. Words spoken that are agreeable, beautiful, suitable or delightful are sweet (satisfying) as well as life giving. Words have that power, to give life or destroy it. However, it is not enough to say that all agreeable or beautiful words give life. Sometimes those words are poison because they are manipulative or untrue. In order to be like honey, these pleasant words must also be wise (pr 24:13-14). They need to be saturated with God’s word, knowledge and guidance, both in what is said but also in the life of the one who says it. It is possible to give good advice and have it do more harm than good because the speaker said it at the wrong time or in the wrong way (i.e. it was unsuitable.) God’s judgment and truth is described as being sweeter than honey (ps 19:10) so our words must be steeped in His truth. They should also be pure (Pr 15:26.) Wisdom cannot be tainted by the world, especially by sin. The same goes for truth. If anything is to be pure, wise, or of God, it cannot have the world mixed in with it. Nothing of the world is truly beautiful or life giving. It only brings death. If our words are to be tasty and life giving, they must be wise, truthful and pure. Yet, our words cannot be that if our lives are not as well, for what proceeds out of the mouth is a reflection of the heart. If our words are to be like honey, then our hearts must be pure and saturated with God’s truth and wisdom. We cannot have that and live in sin or compromise. We have to seek godliness above all else.

How are your words? Do they speak life or death? Are they sweet or sour? Are they pleasant or ugly and unsuitable? Ask God to open your heart and reveal what needs to be cleansed and purged. Ask Him to make your heart pleasant like honeycomb so that the words you speak will give life and be pleasant to all who hear them.



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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from

Difficult Times

No one likes to suffer. Hard times are…hard. It is not something anyone looks or wishes for, or hopes will happen to them. It is our human nature to desire ease and comfort, to serve self rather than deny self and serve others. The closer we get to God, the more or a contrast there is between godliness and worldliness, and the more the world will hate us for being different. Life gets both harder and better at the same time.


2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13 New American Standard Bible 1995

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these…

But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.


Part of the reason why life will get harder is because humanity is getting worse. More and more, ungodliness and immorality will become more in vogue. As we can see in our world today, our society praises what it used to recognize as wrong just a few decades ago. All of the things in this list are beginning to be praised. As a result, they will become increasingly more critical of those who live godly lives and reject (in their own lifestyles) this kind of behavior.


The danger is that we may be led astray by them, for some parade as pastors and evangelists and enslave those who are not solid in their faith, leading them astray with ungodly teaching that has just enough truth to make it seem good. Many pastors who once held to the truth are now falling away or being caught doing horrible things and destroying their ministries. They vocally speak against godliness and put down those who do not jump off the cliff with them.


2 Timothy 3:10-12 New American Standard Bible 1995

Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.


We need to hold fast to the truth and stay the course. We will be persecuted because we are not like them. God’s Word sheds light and reveals the darkness for what it is. That is why they hate it. And those who have turned from it hate it even more because they should know better. That is why they spread the lie that followers of God have easy, happy, successful lives. They are not persecuted by the world because they are of the world and not of God. Jesus said that just as the world hated Him; it will hate us as well. We are not better than He that we should be spared from it. I have actually received more persecution (mild as it is) from worldly Christians than I have from unbelievers because I “make [them] look bad.” They are convicted enough to be offended but not enough to change.


2 Timothy 3:14-17 New American Standard Bible 1995

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.


However, we should not be afraid of the persecution. We need to hold tight to what we have learned, to the Truth, because the Bible is absolute truth and it is trustworthy. It is everything we need. It is light, hope, encouragement, conviction, training, joy, and more. We can trust what God says, even when everyone says the opposite. We can stand confidently because we know that we will be judged by God and not by man, and we will overcome and receive the crown of life!


Stand strong! Take courage! The battle is the Lord’s and He has already won!

(sorry I forgot to publish this in time Monday morning)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Devotions: To Think Less of Self or of Self Less?


Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”

Romans 15:2-3 New American Standard Bible 1995


The word for “please” is more literally translated as “to accommodate oneself to the opinions, desires and interests of others.” Edification means to build up or metaphorically to promote another’s growth in Christ’s wisdom, piety, holiness and happiness. We are to put others before ourselves. Of course this does not mean we are to subject ourselves to abusive treatment. It also does not mean that we compromise or give in to wrong ideas. These ideas have definitely been misused, but in our society of “me first” we need a refresher on what it means to love and serve. Sometimes love means standing against someone for what is right, lovingly telling someone when they do wrong, but it needs to be done for their good and encouragement, to build them up not to promote ourselves or put them down. If we have differing opinions or preferences, it would be better to just not say anything rather than try to point out why they are wrong. We need to check our heart and motive before we embark on something like that. Look at Christ. Instead of making sure He was taken care of and had His needs met, He not only looked after the needs of others but also took on their punishment and shame so that they didn’t have to. That is love. Yes, there were times when He took a stand, but He did it in a godly way for the good of others. He never once did anything thinking of Himself. It was all for the good of others and the glory of the Father. He was perfectly selfless. Not completely abased so that He thought He was worthless, but He thought of Himself less. And there were times when He went off by himself to spend time with God so He could be recharged to continue His ministry. That is how we should be. Our every thought, motive, word and action should be focused on the good of others. This does require taking care of ourselves. As a mom and wife I can tell you that if I don’t take care of myself my family suffers. I can’t love and serve them if I am drained, but I shouldn’t selfishly serve myself either. I (try to) take time to spend with God and do things I enjoy so that I am charged enough to serve my family, taking care of my “self” as God’s temple. The point here is that our motives and intentions should be others focused, not self. We can take care of ourselves and still be others focused. But we cannot take care of others rightly if we are self focused. Why doesn’t it work both ways? Because God didn’t design it to work that way. He designed us to serve others in a healthy way. Notice the wording in the second verse: Christ did not please Himself. He didn’t live according to His opinions, desires or interests. This doesn’t say anything about denying one’s needs, and it doesn’t say that He never did anything He was interested in, but His priorities were correctly ordered. Someone who is truly seeking to live a godly life and love and serve others rightly will see the difference between needs and wants, and be able to draw that line between taking care of ourselves in a godly way and living selfishly. That is why it is important to be in constant communion with God in prayer and Bible study, and to have the influence of godly friends who can lovingly show us when we stray across that line.

Whom do you live to please? Is the building up of others a concern and desire you have? Do you seek to take care of yourself in a godly, not selfish or self-deprecating way? Ask God to help you see yourself and others rightly, to be filled with His truth and love, so that you can take care of others and yourself in a godly way.



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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from

Monday, September 13, 2021

Be Blessed

Everyone wants to be blessed. We all want to have happiness, peace and prosperity. Biblically, being blessed is not quite the same as being happy. Technically, being blessed is “the joyful spiritual condition of those who are right with God and the pleasure and satisfaction that is derived from that.” (Discovering Hope In the Psalms, p17) It is not dependant on situation or circumstance. It is even better. Yes, it means that life will not always be easy, it may even be painful, but it means we can have joy in the midst of that. We may not have every comfort, but we have the Comforter.


Psalm 128 New American Standard Bible 1995

How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands,
You will be happy and it will be well with you.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
Within your house,
Your children like olive plants
Around your table.
Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion,
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!


This blessing is available for everyone who fears God. This fear does not mean terror, but a reverential awe and respect for Him. That fear motivates a person to “walk in His ways”, i.e. live the way He says. Our actions and obedience do not save us, they prove that we are saved, and they also bring us blessing. It is a natural byproduct of a godly life.


The second verse has a twofold meaning: blessed, God-fearing people will have an honest living by which to provide for their families and it will be profitable. Again this does not mean that life will always be easy, or that hardship will never come. It doesn’t mean that they will have money flowing out of their ears or that they will never face financial trouble, but they will have what they need. God provides for the godly. It is often in those times of hardship that our faith is grown and we are better able to see God work.


Another blessing of fearing God is a fruitful family. Godly people attract godly people and so will be blessed by godly associations. People who fear the Lord treat each other as God would have them, and we are blessed to be around them. Godly people bless their spouses and children. This does not mean that if a person remains single, or a couple cannot have children that they are not godly. God’s plans are not always like ours and these psalms are not cut-in-stone promises, but things to live by. Maybe a person can’t have the family they want, but by submitting to God and living a godly life they can still bless others around them by being a friend and mentor. I have friends who are a blessing to my family even though they can’t have a family of their own because they choose to be fruitful and godly, and I hope they are blessed by us in the process.


This is how we are blessed: by fearing God, working hard, and blessing others. The final verses are a benediction of greatest blessing, and I pray that the Lord blesses from Zion so that you see prosperity and your children’s children, and that peace will surround you!

I apologize for being absent the last couple weeks. We start a new curriculum for homeschooling a couple weeks ago and it is a lot more involved than we are used to, so it has taken a little while to get our feet back under us. Blessings!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Devotions: Time to Heed the Warnings


Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
The tyrannical city!
She heeded no voice,
She accepted no instruction.
She did not trust in the Lord,
She did not draw near to her God.

Zephaniah 3:1-2 New American Standard Bible 1995


This book was written during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, who was probably the best king they ever had! Unfortunately, his father and grandfather were so evil that the consequences for their crimes against God and the people could not be avoided. Josiah instituted reforms and reinstated the proper temple functions and feasts and helped turn the people back to God, but it didn’t last. As was typical for Israel, once the leader died, so did their relationship with God. These verses were a warning for Jerusalem (the “she” referenced) about the sin they had already committed and would commit in the coming years. God gave them plenty of warning, since Zephaniah was written at least 100 years before the exile, and he was not the only prophet to warn them.

The Jews were rebellious. They disobeyed God and went after pagan idols and sought the aid of foreign countries, enslaving themselves to men rather than trusting in God. That is what was meant by defiled. Our spiritual relationship with God is often referred to in a marital sense, so turning away from Him to other religions is akin to adultery. God often referred to them as harlots because of this. They had been told what to do and how to live, but didn’t pay attention. They had been warned but would not listen. They ignored God’s guidance and discipline, and refused to trust Him to save them when trouble came. They rejected Him as God and Lord, even when things were bad. They went their way instead of His and refused to come back to Him. Largely this was due to the fact that their leaders, both political and spiritual, were corrupt and helped lead the people astray, but everyone is responsible for their own faith. God would discipline them severely for their sin and treason (against Him.)

The same warning applies to us. Just because we are under the covenant of grace does not mean that we can live however we want, but instead of being saved by our obedience we are proved to be saved by our obedience. It is evidence of our love, not a means of acquiring His. Jesus said that whoever loves Him will obey Him, but whoever walks in darkness is not His follower. We need to take heed to the warnings given and learn from history. The fate that befell Jerusalem will fall on us if we do not repent of the sins of ourselves and our country. We can avoid discipline if we will repent and turn back to God.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Devotions: Always Angry?


The Lord answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words.

Zechariah 1:13 New American Standard Bible 1995


When this was written, Israel had been exiled for almost 70 years. They had sinned and God punished them, but that was not the end. During Zechariah’s vision, as he stood speaking to an angel, the angel asked God why He had no compassion on Israel. They had suffered horribly at the hands of the nations, and been displaced all over the world. These were His chosen people, the ones He chose from the beginning to bear His name. In response to the angle, God said that He would restore them and punish the nations who had harmed them, which is a satisfying “end” to the story, but I think the way He responded is even more important. He responded with good, beneficial, happy, compassionate, comforting words. Keep in mind that Zechariah and the angel had just been looking over the devastation of Israel. Zechariah had also seen first hand what his people had gone through. The angel’s question was not a flippant or indifferent question to pass the time. They were in distress over what they saw and what had happened. It was more a plea born of agony and long suffering. It would not be unreasonable to imagine God as still being angry, or even of being cruel or malicious. After all it had been almost 70 years, a lifetime. But God was gracious and compassionate. He didn’t recount everything they had done wrong to justify His actions or their discipline. He didn’t chide them for questioning Him. He had compassion. That is our God; though He disciplines, it is out of love, though He is angry, it is just and not over done. Not only would He end their exile and restore them, but the restoration would be so great it would wipe out memory of their exile. He longs to heal, restore, and be good to His people, but like a good Father, He does what is best for us and sometimes that includes discipline. It is important to remember that His love and goodness last forever, but His anger and discipline do not.

Are you feeling the weight of God’s discipline? Do you imagine that He is angry with you? First it is important to find out if that is true or not. Sometimes our suffering is from discipline, but not always. If He is not disciplining or angry with us, then we need to live in light of the truth and not our feelings. If He is disciplining us, we need to submit to His discipline so that we can learn to be obedient and remember that it will not last forever.




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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Devotions: Good vs Evil


‘These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. Also let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate,’ declares the Lord.

Zechariah 8:16-17 New American Standard Bible 1995


Here we have a comparison of what is good and what is evil or wrong. The main point in this text is truth. The truth, the real, absolute, undeniable, unchangeable truth, comes from God alone. Nothing which contradicts His truth is right, true or good. We need to speak His truth to others. We should not lie, manipulate, compromise or deceive. This speaks to our behavior as much as our words. What we say should not have the intent of deceiving or manipulating. We should also judge with truth, in our courts and in every day life. The truth should guide all of our decisions and understanding. We need to view the world and everything around us through the lens of God’s truth, based on His truth. The judgments we make should be for the purpose of peace, not for the sake of our desires or agenda. Granted this needs to be peace based on the truth and not compromise or deception. We should not make decisions for the purpose of promoting ourselves or for causing problems or drama. So these are the good things, truth and peace.

We should not plan evil. Desiring the harm or downfall of others (even our enemies) is wrong because it reveals evil intent within our hearts. There is no truth or peace, let alone love, in that. We should also hate perjury or swearing/vowing/promising falsely. Again, truth. What we say, what we promise or vow, what we testify, should be true. If we can’t speak the truth then we should be silent. Evil intent and lies are both things that God hates intensely because they are the opposite of Himself. He is love, goodness and truth perfectly and completely. If we are to be His children, to be like Him, then we must be people of truth and peace, not of lies, deception or evil intent.

When are you tempted to say something other than the truth? What is your motive in that? Do you desire good for all, not just your friends? Even for those who wrongfully treat you? Ask God to guide and instruct you in the truth, to help you seek peace for everyone, and to desire good for everyone.




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Translations of Greek and Hebrew words taken from

Monday, August 23, 2021

9 Lessons from Jonah

The story of Jonah is one of the more well known Bible stories, up with Noah’s ark, David and Goliath, and the birth of Christ. Unfortunately, that knowledge barely goes beyond the fact that he ran from God and was swallowed by a fish…Yet, there are several valuable lessons to be learned from this short book.


Jonah gets a pretty bad rap right off because God tells him to do something and he goes the other direction. While this is obviously wrong, most people judge without understanding the situation. God had told Jonah to go to Ninevah and warn the people that He would destroy them if they didn’t repent. Jonah didn’t want them to repent and be saved so he went to Tarshish instead. Again, God gave a clear command and Jonah disobeyed. That is wrong, but given the situation we may have been tempted to do the same.


Ninevah was a very wicked, evil city. They were the ones who perfected the “art” of skinning people alive…and they were Israel’s enemies. I am not condoning Jonah’s actions thus far, but I really can’t blame him for wanting to see them punished for their wickedness. Jonah knew that God is gracious and merciful, and He forgives those who repent, even horrible people like the Ninevites so he put himself in the place of God and thought he could prevent their destruction by refusing to go. He didn’t think about the fact that God could have just gotten someone else, so he could not delay or prevent the inevitable. He also did not consider the fact that his disobedience was just as wrong (though not as bad) as their wickedness, and he deserved to be punished just like them…and he was.


After they set sail a great storm arose so that the sailors were afraid and eventually realized the storm was caused by someone on the ship who had offended a god. When the truth came out, they were appalled that Jonah could act like that (remember these were not Jewish people who believed in the one true God.) He told them that throwing him into the sea would stop the storm, but they delayed until they had no other choice. Instantly, the storm abated and they praised God. God caused a fish to swallow Jonah, he repented and was carried to shore where he heard again from God and this time did as commanded. The people fasted, prayed and changed their ways so God relented.


Lesson 1: we should not judge those we do not understand. There is a difference between judging and calling something sin. Jonah’s disobedience was sin, but we have no right to judge him, especially if we don’t understand the full situation.


Lesson 2: God is to be obeyed, no matter what we think. His ways are better than ours, He knows more than we do, and has much greater wisdom and knowledge than we do. It is not a debate or a suggestion.


Lesson 3: disobedience meets with consequences. All disobedience is sin, and all sin has consequences. For believers, this comes in the form of loving discipline, designed to help us learn from our mistakes and follow God. We do not always receive the consequences our actions deserve, but there is always a result to our actions.


Lesson 4: along with not judging what we don’t understand, we should not count others’ sins as worse than ours. God does not compare us to others, but to His own perfection. That is the standard by which He measures us. If we want God to punish others for their sin then we should expect Him to punish us for ours.


Lesson 5: following that, we should desire the salvation of all, regardless of what they have done, because we have received it. No one deserves it, so we should not begrudge any what we ourselves have received. No matter what anyone has done, we are no better than they.


Lesson 6: God is gracious, merciful, compassionate and faithful. The Ninevites repented so He relented true to His word. He had mercy on them because they turned from their wickedness and pleaded for Him to relent. This same mercy and compassion is available to all who repent. No one is past the point of salvation until they die.


Lesson 7: However, God does punish wickedness. While Ninevah did repent, destruction was only delayed. Years later, they went back to their wickedness and were utterly destroyed. God is just as well and merciful, and we cannot think that because He forgives He lets people get away with sin. Only He knows how to do both in perfect balance and justice.


Lesson 8: we can get second chances. Not always, but sometimes if we disobey, God gives us a chance to make good. He gave Jonah a chance to repent just like Ninevah, and I believe that Jonah may have had a little more compassion on them as a result. God’s commands have as much to do with our hearts as the act itself.


Lesson 9: we need to be aware of God’s work. Not all storms are the result of someone’s sin, but we need to be sensitive to the Spirit so that we are aware of the times when they are. I think a lot of people do not realize the discipline they receive was the result of their actions because they were numb to the Spirit. The more sensitive we are, the more we will learn and the better we will become.


Which lesson spoke to you the most? Which one do you need to implement? What is one way this story can impact the way you live this week?

Monday, August 16, 2021

Words of Life

It is said that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me,” but that is just not true. Some claim that words have never hurt them, but anyone who knows them see the fallacy. Words can be very powerful, especially depending on who says them and how. Some can give life, others bring death. They affect some people more than others, but no one is completely immune to their impact. Just because we are numb on the outside does not mean that they do not affect us, we are simply unaware of it. It is important that we focus on words that give life, rather than bringing death, both in what we say and what we hear and believe.


Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life;
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty
Teach me faith and duty.


Words of life are worth repeating and dwelling on. They are things we should seek to hear and realize. There is more to it than just hearing, we need to believe and see them with our mind’s eye. The reason these words are so important is because they teach us faith and duty. They guide us on the right path, in a life of beauty.


Christ, the blessed one, gives to all
Wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call,
Wonderful words of life;
All so freely given,
Wooing us to heaven.


These wonderful, life-giving words come from Christ. He is the Word of God, and offers them to all who will hear and yield. None is so bad that His words cannot bring them life. Born as sinners, we are all dead spiritually, but Christ can bring us to life if we will heed His words, believing and acting upon them. We don’t have to earn them, and we could never deserve them. He offers them freely because He wants us to go to heaven, but we have to accept them.


Sweetly echo the gospel call,
Wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all,
Wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
Sanctify forever.


These wonderful words are the gospel, the Good News that Jesus died in our place for our sins so that we may gain His righteousness and become children of God. We all deserve death, but a pardon has been offered making peace between us and the God we have offended. This comes only through Jesus as Lord and Savior, surrendering our lives to Him. Then He takes on the process of sanctification, making us more and more like Him every day until we reach heaven and perfection.


Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life;
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.


These words, the Word of God, are beautiful and wonderful. They bring life to the dead and beauty to the barren and broken. They are worth repeating and meditating on every day of our lives, to remind ourselves of their beauty and wonder. Who could help but sing such life giving words!

Hymn by Philip Bliss, taken from