Wednesday, June 1

Philippians 2:14-16

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

A long time ago – when our boys were quite young – Lorene and I had to go out somewhere so we had a babysitter come to take care of our boys while we were away. As I recall, just as she arrived, two of our boys got into some kind of conflict and we had to intervene so there would be no bloodshed before we left for the evening! It was actually a pretty small issue over a toy or something, so we quickly sat the boys down and got them to re-hash what had happened for us. When it became clear who had been the offended and who had been the offender, either my wife or I said something like, “Was that the right thing to do?” The boy who was guilty shook his head. We said, “What do you say?” And that particular boy turned and mumbled to his brother, “I’m sorry I took your toy.” To which his brother said quietly, “I forgive you.” And they both jumped up and ran off to play. As we turned back to the babysitter to assure her that the boys would behave – she said in amazement, “Wow! That would never happen in my house – no one ever says they are sorry!”

I share that little story not to claim that we always handle conflict perfectly in our family – we don’t! But I share it to show that something as simple as apology and forgiveness can have impact on others. Paul says,

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life –

If we look at these words from the context of “Faith @ Home” we see that we can have a powerful influence on the world around us simply by how we treat each other. Ask yourself this question: If my neighbors could observe my (our) home for a week – how we speak to each other, care about each other, treat each other, and how we forgive each other – would they be drawn closer to the God we say we serve – or pushed further away?

Ask God to make your home a “shining star in the universe”- and ask him to begin with you!

Brian Coffey

Tuesday, May 31

Joshua 24:14-15

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

These ancient words from the mouth of Joshua are surprisingly contemporary in three ways. First, everybody serves somebody! That’s true. It is in our very nature as human beings to serve someone or something – whether or not we are aware of our servitude. Second, there is no shortage of lesser gods (small “g”) that call out for our allegiance and seek to establish our priorities. Joshua refers to “the gods your forefathers served beyond the River” – meaning the false gods and idols of the surrounding pagan nations. But he may just as well have been talking about our modern cultural “gods” of wealth, celebrity, materialism and “success.” Third, Joshua clearly indicates that the center of spiritual life is the home! He says, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

When we apply these truths to our lives and our homes today we find ourselves asking a few questions. Whether we live in a “Leave it to Beaver” kind of home, a single parent home, an “empty nest” or even if we live alone, we have to ask ourselves:

Who or what does my home serve?

Is there any way in which my (our) home serves the cultural gods of entertainment or sports or materialism than the God who created us?

Is my (our) home the center of spiritual life in our family – or have we just assumed all that will happen at church?

“Faith @ Home” means that faith is not a once-a-week-Sunday-religious thing – but an everyday relationship. “Faith @ Home” means that we are intentional about inviting God to shape the values, conversation and habits of our homes more than we are shaped by the television or internet. “Faith @ Home” means we have decided, as Joshua says, that our house will serve the Lord rather than any of the other “gods” that surround us.

Take a few moments and think about the three questions listed above. Ask God to show you where, perhaps, other “gods” have crept in to steal the devotion and service of your home. Ask him to help you, and those who share your home, choose to serve the Lord in and through your home!

Brian Coffey

Monday, May 30

Matthew 5:13-16

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Just last week an 89 year old man named Harold Camping achieved his “15 minutes of fame!” His name and image were plastered all over the internet and on most television news shows. How did he do it? He predicted that the world was going to come to an end on what he called “Judgment Day” which, according to his calculations, would take place on May 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm. He also predicted that some 200 million Christians would be “raptured” in the process (“rapture” refers to those believers who are alive when Jesus returns who will be caught up with him and taken to heaven without experiencing death).

Well, we’re all still here – which, when you really stop to think about it – given what we believe as Christians, is both good news and bad news! But in all his muddled and confused thinking (in Matthew 24:36 Jesus said, “No one knows that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven…”) Mr. Camping may have gotten one thing right: influence.

Jesus said that his followers are to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. The analogies of salt and light, when properly understood, are about influence. In the ancient world, salt was seen primarily as a preservative. While salt was used as a flavor enhancer, it was deemed more valuable for its preservative qualities. In the pre-refrigeration world, the only way meat could be preserved for any length of time was to be packed in salt. Salt kept meat from rotting. So, when Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth…” he is saying that something about his followers is intended to preserve the world from corruption!

Light, then as now, is that which reveals – that which shows the way. As such, light becomes a metaphor for truth. When Jesus says, “You are the light of the world,” he is saying that by the way that we live, we can actually reveal the truth of Jesus and his gospel to those around us. Simply put, as followers of Jesus we are to have influence in the world in which we live.

It seems to me there are several applications for the analogy of salt and light. We can apply the analogy to our individual lives; as in, “I want to live my life in a way that is salt and light in the world.” We can apply it to the church; as in, the church is to have a preservative influence on the world. And finally, I believe we can also apply it to our homes, to our families.

Have you ever thought about your home – whether your home is a 4 bedroom suburban house or an efficiency apartment or a retirement center – as salt and light? Have you ever thought that Jesus wants your home to function as that which helps preserve from corruption; as that which reveals the truth and shows the way to Christ? If I understand what Jesus is saying, he is telling me that my home is not just a place that give me shelter, or a place for me to eat and sleep. He’s telling me that my home – and the people who dwell there – can be a positive and powerful influence in the world.

Ask God to help you make your home just a little more salty – and a little brighter – as you grow “Faith @ Home.”

Friday, May 27


The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.  And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.  - Deuteronomy 6:24-25

This passage is both wonderfully encouraging and incredibly discouraging at the same time.  On the one hand, God tells us that if we keep His commands we will be blessed and righteous in God’s sight, that is wonderful!  On the other hand, which of us can keep God’s perfect law? 

In order to understand the significance of this, we have to understand what the term righteousness means.  To be righteous means to be in “right relationship with” God.  We are righteous (in a right relationship with) when we keep God’s commands.  We are unrighteous when we break any of God’s laws.  This really shouldn’t surprise us all that much, because it is how we view most of the relationships in our lives.  If a friend is faithful and honest and we would say that our relationship is strong (right).  If that friend lies to us, betrays our trust, or wounds us in some way, we would say that our relationship is broken (not right).  Many of us are willing to forgive some offenses because we know that we aren’t perfect either.  However, we are not talking about imperfect human relationships, we are talking about being in a right relationship with the One who is perfect and holy, the One who created the universe, and us as well.  I think it makes sense that God might have a different standard of righteousness than we do, don’t you? 

One of the best places in the Bible to understand what righteousness is and how we can have it is in the book of Romans.

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.  – Romans 2:13

Houston, we have a problem!  We cannot meet the righteous requirements of God’s law because are sinful.  We might be able to keep some His commands some of the time, but God does not grade us on the curve. 

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.  – Romans 3:20

The law of God points out our inability to keep it.  We are all spiritual lawbreakers, and therefore unrighteous (not in a right relationship) before God.  In the OT the people of God did their best to keep the commands of God, but they were continually dependant on the priests and sacrificial system to atone for their law-breaking ways.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  – Romans 3:21

This is amazing!  We cannot be in a right relationship with God because we cannot keep His perfect law.  But this verse tells us that God has made known righteousness apart from the law, and apparently all of the laws in the OT are pointing to a different kind of righteousness!

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  – Romans 3:22-24

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.  – Romans 10:4

Now this is Good News!  We cannot become righteous on our own.  So God sent His Son to live a perfect life and to die a perfect death in order that we might be made right before God.  In other words, Jesus, the Righteous One, takes on our unrighteousness on the cross, and He transfers His righteousness to us!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Lord Jesus, we praise you, our righteousness!

Jeff Frazier

Thursday, May 26


In the future, when your son asks you,  “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?”  tell him:  “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Before our eyes the LORD sent miraculous signs and wonders — great and terrible — upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.  But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers.   – Deuteronomy 6:20-23

“Every home a little church.”  This concept of the home as a little church was made famous by the Puritans over 300 years ago.  They believed the father should be the pastor in his home the same way an ordained minister pastors the church.  One writer called the home “the seminary of the church.”  The Puritans went so far as to publish elaborate directories of family worship.  They were so serious about this that if a father neglected the spiritual training of his family, he could be brought before the elders for church discipline and if he refused to take his proper leadership role, he could be disbarred from the Lord’s Table.  Such an idea seems extreme to us, which I, sometimes wonder, may say more about our laxness than it does about the strictness of the Puritans.

The first 19 verses of Deuteronomy 6 are all about what it means to love and to obey God.  Moses repeatedly urges God’s people to remain faithful to God, to obey His commands, to seek and do His will, to talk about and teach His law, and to love Him with their whole heart.  Then in verse 20 Moses makes a remarkable statement.  He says that there will come a time when your children will ask you about what all of this means. 

Did you catch that?  First of all Moses says, “In the future” – this means that it may not happen right away.  In fact, as many parents know, you may have to wait a long time for your child to “come around”.  Most of us (parents or not) would like a more immediate response.  We would like to think that if we love God and talk about Him, everybody around us will immediately and automatically want to do the same.  But this is rarely the case.

The second part of Moses’ statement is “when your son asks you, what is the meaning of all of the commands of the Lord?”  Notice, who does the asking?  It is the son, not the father.  Of course for the child to ask this kind of question, there must be something to ask about.  In other words, the question of the son is the result of his hearing the Word of God at home and observing the faith of his parents at home.  If there were no faith at home, there would be nothing to ask about!  Remember the command in Deut. 6:5, to love the Lord your God with of your heart, soul, and strength.  This is our first priority!  When this is in place, it is inevitable that there will eventually come opportunities to talk about this love.

This is what the apostle Peter meant when he wrote, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Finally, Moses tells God’s people how they should respond to questions about the meaning of God’s commands.  He says (in effect), “When they ask you…tell them the story of God’s deliverance.”  Moses does say that we should give them a summary of all of the religious rules.  He does not say that we should give them a theological lesson.  He says that we should tell them the story of how God has delivered His people (us)!  For the Israelites in Deuteronomy, that meant telling the story of the Exodus.  Telling the story of how God delivered them out of slavery and oppression in Egypt.  We however, because of Christ, have a more updated version of the story of God’s deliverance and salvation.  I have always been touched by the phrase in Deut. 6:23, “But he brought us out from there to bring us in…”  God, through Christ, has brought us out of slavery to sin and death and He has brought us in to His kingdom of grace and love! 

Jeff Frazier 

Wednesday, May 25


When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you — a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant — then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.  Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you.  – Deuteronomy 6:10-14

Although this passage was written over 3,500 years ago, it is amazingly relevant for Christians living in American culture today.

Notice that Moses doesn’t say “if God brings into the land”, he says it is going to happen – no question.  Moses tells the Israelites that God is going to make good on His promise to bring them into the “promised land”.  God is going to bless them and provide for them in ways they cannot even imagine.  Remember that this is being written to people who were slaves in Egypt for generations, and they have been wandering in the wilderness for forty years.  It might seem ridiculous to us think that they could possibly forget God after all of the miraculous ways that God had protected and provided for them. 

Many of these people had seen the plagues and witnessed the parting of the Red Sea.  They had eaten the manna from heaven and seen the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, which symbolized the guiding presence of God with them.  So how could they possibly forget about God?  The same way that you and forget about Him when we feel that we no longer need Him.  Moses is warning the people of Israel about a natural phenomenon in the human heart – we may cry out to God when we are in trouble, but we will forget about Him when things are going well.  This is just as true today as it was then.

As a pastor I have met with many people who are reaching out to God in the midst of their pain and/or need.  In fact most of the people who come to see me are hurting in some way and they feel the acute need for God in their life.  Some want God to heal a broken relationship, some want God to provide for a specific material need, some are asking for God to heal a friend or loved one, etc.  But I have never had somebody call or meet with me simply to praise God for how good He has been.  I have never had somebody ask me to help him/her NOT to forget Him in a time of blessing.  Hmmmm, come to think of it I rarely do this either.

So Moses warns the people of Israel (and God warns us) not to forget Him! 

Moses also gives us some clues as to how we can remember God.  In the beginning of the passage, he says you did not build these cities, you did not dig these wells, and you did not plant these vineyards.  God is giving them to you, they are not yours by right.  God was giving them what they did not earn or deserve. Can you imagine being given a house for free?  Full of furniture, a stocked fridge, all of the appliances, utilities all paid for life?  I remember reading about an Oprah Winfrey show that had a contest which gave the winner a brand new 3,00 square foot, 1/4 million dollar house, full of appliances and furniture.  God was doing that for all of the Israelites. They were moving into a land where the inhabitants were judged by God, driven out and destroyed.  Now, God has not promised Christians material blessings, but spiritual ones which are far superior.  He has not promised us undeserved land, wells, and houses, but undeserved salvation!

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  God's grace is the free gift He's given to us. It will outlast every house in the land of Canaan and in the Fox Valley!

The principle here is simple but profound – You have nothing good in your life that is not a gift from God!  Your home, your family, your job, your car, the food you eat, the air you breathe, you don’t deserve any of it.  So, right now, take a moment to make a mental list of all of the undeserved blessings in your life (go ahead)…Now go through that list and thank your God for each one!  Ask Him to help you never to forget Him. 

Jeff Frazier 

Tuesday, May 24


Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. - Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Do you want to make an impact for Christ on the people in your life?  Do you want to influence your children, your spouse, your neighbor, your co-worker, etc. to know and love God?  This passage tells us how that happens.  The context of this passage in Deuteronomy is clearly the family, however, we can make broader applications to almost every aspect and relationship in our lives.

The first component of living a life of influence is to keep the first priority first!  (see yesterday’s devotional) Deut. 6:5 – “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  In other words, you cannot give what you do not have.  The very best gift you can give to the people in your life is to obey this command – Love God!

There are many contemporary Christians who have an immediate negative reaction when they hear words like “obey” and “commands”.  There is an assumption that this will automatically lead to legalism.  Obedience can become legalistic when people do it outwardly to look good before others, but their hearts are far from devotion to God.  Some of the Jews, for example, obeyed verses 8 and 9 quite literally.  They wore these verses in little boxes strapped to their hands and foreheads, and they put them in a little box by their doors and on their gateposts.  But they missed the true heart of the passage, which is that the Word of God is to permeate every area of life. 

However, the Scriptures tell us to love God with all of our heart, soul and strength.  In Biblical language, the heart was the center of who a person, the soul encompassed the entire person, and strength implied willful intention and effort.  So, loving God does not mean feeling sentimental about Him.  It does not mean having a warm fuzzy feeling during Sunday morning worship.  Loving God means obeying Him.  Loving God means putting forth the effort to learn about Him and to understand what pleases Him. 

This is why we are told to talk about the commands of God…

“When you sit at home” – this means your private life.

“When you walk along the road” – this means your public life.

“When you lie down and when you get up” – this means your entire waking life!

This is why we are told to…

“tie them as symbols on your hands” – this means your actions.

“Bind them on your foreheads” – this means your thoughts.

“Write them on the doorframes of your houses” – domestic life
“and on your gates” – civic life (the implication is city gates)

Look over the above list and try to answer the following question…

Where should we NOT be thinking about, talking about and trying to apply the commands of God?

The answer is – Nowhere!  There is no place in our life that God’s law and God’s love do not apply.

Now here is a tougher question – What area of your life is currently not being brought under the influence of the commands of God? 

Oh Lord God, help us not to live compartmentalized lives, but to open ourselves entirely to You and to Your Word – Amen.

Jeff Frazier

Monday, May 23


Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
– Deuteronomy 6:4-5

This verse is known as the Shema, it means "hear" in Hebrew.  The whole sentence reads, "Shaw-MAH Yis-raw-ALE! YAH-weh El-o-HEEM, YAH-weh Ekh-AWD!"  To translate, "YAH-weh" is the proper name of God. "Hear, oh Israel! Yahweh is Elohim, Yahweh is one!"  This is the central prayer of the Jewish faith.  It was, and still is, the first portion of the OT that a Jewish boy or girl commits to memory.  As Christians, we have been taught about the Trinity - that God is one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some people have claimed that this verse denies any notion of the trinityYou see, the singular word for "god" in Hebrew is "El." When two gods are being referred to, the word used is the dual form, "Ella." When speaking of three or more, the word is "Elohim."

Rabbi Simeon ben Joachim, commenting on the word Elohim: "Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other." Martin Luther commented on this verse "He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words."

The Hebrew clearly states that God is one, yet several. How does that work?  No one can explain it adequately, because any physical description we use - or concept that our human minds can grasp will inevitably diminish the truth of God.  God is not like an egg or an ice cube or a three leaf clover!

All we can truly say is this:
1.        The Bible clearly shows that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God.
2.        The Bible clearly shows that the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are not the same Person.
3.        The Bible clearly says that God is one God.
Now, if you are able to put all of those facts together into an easily understandable equation, you probably haven't thought about it hard enough!

Why does all of this talk about who and what God is really matter?

Because knowing who God is enables us to love Him well and to act towards Him rightly: We must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.  God wants a complete love for us; a love that is appropriate, because He loved us completely: We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).  He doesn’t want us to love our confused and half-baked ideas of who He is.  God wants us to know Him as He is and to love Him as He has revealed Himself to us in His word and through Jesus! 

What God most wants from us is our love.  We often think God demands a hundred other things from us - our money, our time, our effort, our will, our submission, and so forth - but what God really wants is our love.  When we really love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind, then everything else is freely given to the Lord.  If we give the Lord all the rest - money, time, effort, will, and so forth - without giving Him our love, it is all wasted - and perhaps, is even lost. 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.    - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Jesus called this the great commandment (Matthew 22:37-38); and He said the second commandment was like the first, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. When we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, we will find it much easier to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

BUT, the first command must come first!  There is a very important principle for us here.  Our first priority as Christians is to love God with all that we are!  The moment we begin to neglect this, we go wrong in our hearts and in our lives.

C.S. Lewis called this the principle of “First Things” – “You can’t get second things by putting them first. You get second things only by putting first things first. Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”  God is first, and everything else is second to Him!

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)

Oh God, help to keep you first above all else in our hearts - Amen.

 Jeff Frazier

Friday, May 20

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Proverbs 25:28
Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

Just last weekend I watched a man become “like a city whose walls are broken down.” I was watching one of my sons play in a baseball tournament when a boy on the other team was called “out” by the umpire in a very close play at first base. One of the coaches of the other team, who I assume was the father of one of the boys on the team, immediately complained about the umpires call. I couldn’t quite hear what he said, but my son, who was standing nearby on the field, later told me that what he said and at least one of the words would not be appropriate to quote here! The young umpire – who was half of the man’s age – turned and asked the coach what he had said. Evidently the man repeated the phrase and, to his credit, the umpire ejected the man from the game and threatened to forfeit the game if he said another word. As I watched the man walk off the field I wondered how his son felt knowing his father had been thrown out of the park. I wondered what that man would tell his son after the game, and I thought about those words from Proverbs:

Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.

The Apostle Paul lists nine spiritual characteristics that mark the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, and he concludes the list with “self-control.” What is “self-control”? It strikes me that “self-control” is one of those qualities that is difficult to define but easy to recognize! It also strikes me that without self-control the other “fruit of the Spirit” lose their effectiveness.

For instance;

What do love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and gentleness look like when a father does not control his tongue?

What do they look like when a mother flies into a rage when things aren’t done just right?

What does faithfulness look like when a man fails to control his desires?

See what I mean?

Paul presents the “fruit of the Spirit” as a package deal. There is no loophole for  those of us who are more naturally impatient, or have more impulsive personalities! God wants to grow ALL of the fruit ALL of the time in ALL of us.

Ask God to not only do his work in your heart through the Holy Spirit – but to turn your home into a “greenhouse of the Spirit!”

 Brian Coffey

Thursday, May 19

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

A number of years ago I flew to Ohio to share in my father’s 65th birthday celebration. We had a big party for him on Saturday night; I spoke at his church on Sunday morning, and we had a big family dinner afterwards. It was a great time! My return flight to Chicago was at 3:50 in the afternoon – and I had scheduled that time very intentionally so I could get back home in time to see my own family before the boys went to bed so I could give them the surprise I promised them (which I often did whenever I traveled). So, after our family dinner I asked my Dad, “My flight is at 3:50 – how long does it take to get to the airport from here?” Without hesitation he said, “Forty minutes.”

Now, when my Dad said, “Forty minutes,” I believed him. I had no reason not to. After all, this was the same man who, to my knowledge, had never intentionally misled me, and had been a pillar of truth and wisdom my whole life. He is as utterly dependable as any man I have ever known, so when he said “forty minutes” – I trusted him.

So I added 20-25 minutes to that 40 – counted backward from 3:50 and said, “So, let’s leave your house about 2:45 then – that will give us plenty of time.” I was thinking that this time frame would allow me maximum time with my Mom and Dad before heading to the airport in time to catch my flight without too much hurry. “Forty minutes,” he had said.

We left at 2:45 pm sharp and after 55 minutes driving 60 MPH we saw the first sign for the Cleveland airport, which said, “Airport 5 miles.” My Dad asked, “What time is your flight again?” I said, with a clipped tone, “3:50 Dad, my flight is at 3:50.” He replied, “Well, the flight will probably be late – you’ll be fine.” At that moment, whatever “Fruit of the Spirit” I had growing in the greenhouse of my heart began to wilt – badly.

As I recall, the first to go was patience. I began looking at my watch every 30 seconds or so and saying helpful things like, “It’s 3:41 Dad.” Or, “We’re not going to make it.” The second to go was peace; then joy, and so on right down the list.

We rolled up to “departures” at 3:47 and I leapt out of the car.  But before shutting the door I said, “Happy birthday Dad, thanks for the ride, and just for the record – it takes you an hour and five minutes to get to the airport!”

Even though I sprinted through the airport like O.J. Simpson (O.K. – bad analogy), I missed my flight. I sat in the airport for the next four hours stewing over how it could be that my Dad didn’t know how long it took to get to the airport. When I finally straggled home around 11:00 pm, I realized that in all my frustration and self-pity I had forgotten to get my boys the treat I had promised. Faithfulness, it turns out, was the last of the fruit to bite the dust!

It seems to me that sometimes the fruit of the Spirit can be most difficult at home with the people we know best and love most. Why is that so? First, it’s difficult because they are the people we are around the most – and therefore we see each other at both our best and our worst. Second, I think we tend to expect more from our family than we do everyone else. And when we expect more we are more easily disappointed and/or hurt. Finally, I think we tend to assume that things like love, joy and peace should happen kind of “automatically” at home – without much effort – because, after all, we are family!

The truth is that very often home is the most difficult place to live out the “fruit of the Spirit” It is also true that home is, by far, the most important place to grow fruit! Ask God to help you identify which of the fruit Paul mentions is most lacking in your home – and ask him to add some fertilizer to your heart!

 Brian Coffey

Wednesday, May 18

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

John 15:11
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Most of us have become almost numb to the relentless torrent of advertising we see and hear through our TVs or over the internet. Unless the ad is humorous or very creative, we tend to kind of “zone out” during commercials – or at least I do. But when I do pay attention, I almost always notice that what is being sold is not the product at all but rather something far more significant and spiritual. The product might be a car, but I am being sold “peace of mind.” The product might be a soft drink, but I am being sold “happiness” (Coca Cola’s marketing slogan is “Open Happiness”). I am being lured to try a restaurant buffet – but I am promised that same experience of happiness (the marketing slogan for Golden Corral restaurants is “Help Yourself to Happiness”).

The problem is, of course, that the kind of happiness that can be experienced through a soft drink or plate-full of food is temporary at best (and might actually produce dismay and pain later when we look at the bathroom scale!). The greater problem is that our culture substitutes temporary happiness for joy.

The truth is that joy cannot be bought, nor can it be found by seeking it in and of itself! You cannot manufacture joy and you cannot try to be more joyful – joy is always the by-product of something else. Joy is what happens to us when we love and are loved. We experience joy when we live in a way that honors and pleases God, and joy invades our lives when we invite Christ to make his home in our hearts through the Holy Spirit – who then begins to produce his fruit in us. 

That’s why Paul teaches that joy is a “fruit of the Spirit” – and not the fruit of Coca-cola, or Golden Corral, or a fine Lexus automobile! So what’s your “joy quotient?” Would you say that joy is the predominant atmosphere in your home? If so – appreciate and celebrate! If, however, the atmosphere of your home is marked more by tension, conflict or stress – remember that joy is what God wants for you, and that joy is the by-product of a combination of the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart as well as your obedience to him.

Ask God, through his Spirit, to show you how and where joy is leaking from your life – and ask him to begin to grow his fruit in your home.

 Brian Coffey

Tuesday, May 17

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“My old man loves his lawn more than he loves me.”

That statement was made by a 17 year old boy as he sat eating pizza with a table-full of his peers. I was a Youth Pastor at the time and was leading a small group of students on a ministry trip. We had gathered for a meal and the conversation had turned to parents. The kids were taking turns talking about their respective relationships with their parents, and most were surprisingly positive. This particular young man had been a quiet observer for most of the conversation – until he finally spoke up and said, “My old man loves his lawn more than he loves me.”

As the young man continued on to explain his comment – it became clear that, while his father did indeed love him as his son, he certainly did not know how to communicate that love in a way his son could understand or feel it.

Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love…” That is, the very first sign that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts is the capacity to love. Now it is easy to think about “love” – and the rest of the “fruit of the Spirit” - in a kind of abstract way. We think to ourselves, “Sure I believe that love is important!”, or, “Sure, I love my family!” But we rarely ask ourselves, “How have I demonstrated my love; how have I communicated my love; how have I shared my love so that my wife, husband or children can know without a doubt that I do, in fact, love them?”

This is why Paul also takes the time to teach us about what love is and what love does in 1 Corinthians 13. We most often hear this text during wedding ceremonies – but take a moment to read it in the context of “Faith @ Home.”

 I am patient and kind at home – with my wife and children. I make a point not to be proud or rude at home – and I seek to care for and serve my family before myself. I am not easily angered, and do not keep track of times when I feel hurt or disrespected by my family. I do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. The love I have for my family leads me to always act to protect those I love, to trust and to be trustworthy, to hope for God’s best and to persevere in love even when it is difficult to do so. (my paraphrase)

Like most of scripture, it sounds just a bit different when applied directly to our own lives! So let’s end today with a question; is the kind of love Paul is talking about in both Galatians and 1 Corinthians real in your home – or is it just an idea?

Ask the Holy Spirit to grow love in your home!

Brian Coffey

Monday, May 16

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

I like analogies. A good one can deepen and stretch our understanding of things that we assume we already understand. I read a great analogy (or more technically, a metaphor) the other day in the sports section of the newspaper. A writer described defending Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose as being like “a raindrop trying to defend a prairie fire.” I liked that one!

Think for a moment about the word “home.” All of us had – and have – a home, but not all homes are the same! If you had to come up with an analogy for the home you grew up in, what would it be?

A restaurant?
A hotel?
A school?
A courtroom?
A prison?
A bank?
A gas station?
An airport?
A barn – as in “your room looks like a pig-sty!”

All of these might work in one way or another as analogies for home. But the analogy I might like best would be “greenhouse.” It is the nature of living things to grow, and a home is a place where living things are supposed to grow and thrive in every way. From the marks on the wall that measure a child’s increasing height to the vehicles in the garage that morph from wagon and bicycles to mini-vans and first cars – a home is a place where people grow. Or at least it should be!

The question is, what are we growing at home? Are we growing fruit or weeds? Are we growing spiritually equipped and mature people shaped by the influence of the Holy Spirit, or are we growing perfect little consumers shaped by the values of our culture?

Paul tells us in no uncertain terms what God wants to grow in our homes. He writes,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.”

In other words, God wants to grow all nine of these spiritual qualities in every single one of us – and in every one of our homes! Think about that for a moment. I have often heard people ask questions like, “What is God’s will for my life?” And, to a large degree, the answer is right here. God’s will, God’s deepest desire, for each one of us is that we surrender our hearts to the work of the Holy Spirit so that our lives will increasingly reflect all nine of these qualities. That’s it. That’s what God wants for me and that’s what he wants for you. And I believe that’s what he wants for our homes!

Take a few moments to thank God for the work of his Holy Spirit in your life and to commit yourself and your home to becoming a place where the Fruit of the Spirit grows!

Brian Coffey

Friday, May 13

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. – 2 Timothy 4:2-5

Paul warns Timothy that the time will come when people (in the church is the implication) will not endure sound doctrine, but rather, wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate (literally “heap up”) teachers in accordance with their own desires. They will find teachers who tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

“Sound doctrine” is one of Paul’s frequent themes in the pastoral letters (1 Timothy 1:10, 6:3, 2 Timothy 1:13, 4:3). “Sound” means healthy (we derive our word “hygienic” from it). Sound teaching results in healthy Christian living. Note that such healthy teaching is set in contrast to what people like and this is why Paul says it must be “endured”! This implies that, like health food, it doesn’t always feel good or taste good at the moment, because it confronts our selfish desires, but in the long run it leads to healthy Christianity. (Sometimes I wonder why didn’t God make spinach bad for us and ice cream good for us, but that is beside the point.) This also implies that we do not always know what is good for us and we need someone (God) outside of ourselves to tell us what is true and right.

In 2 Timothy 4:4 Paul says that people will turn aside from the truth to myths - the religious ideas and opinions of men that are opposed to the truth of God’s Word. You don’t have to look very hard to see that Paul’s prediction has come true in our culture (actually it has been true of just about every time and culture in human history).

During the late 1930’s, the German pastor and theologian Karl Barth was preaching in his native country on John 3:16. Even though many in his German audience professed to be Christians, they were going along with the Nazi party and the persecution of Jews. Barth made the point that Jesus was a Jew, that He had died for all the world, and that the Jews were part of that world. Thus anyone who loves Christ would not participate in the widespread ill treatment of the Jews. It sounds ridiculous to us now, but in Germany at that time, Barth was preaching boldly against the cultural currents of his day. Many in his own congregation walked out in disgust before he finished the sermon. One elder in his church wrote a scathing letter denouncing him. Barth’s reply was a single sentence: “It was in the text.” That kind of preaching takes courage!

I have to admit that as a preacher, it is often tempting to want to be liked over wanting to be faithful to the Word of God. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this text only applies to those who preach publicly. We are all called to be faithful to the truth of Scripture, and Paul tells Timothy, me, and you that faithfulness to the truth of Scripture is pretty much a guarantee that at some point we will be unpopular, un-liked, or at the very least considered foolish or out of touch.

This is why Paul finishes by urging Timothy to…

Keep your head in all situations – In other words - Think! Don’t get swept away by popular opinion or cultural trends, but evaluate everything by the Word of God.

Endure hardship – It will not always be easy or comfortable to follow Christ. Prepare yourself for opposition now, so that you won’t be discouraged when it comes.

Do the work of an evangelist – This doesn’t mean we all have to be Billy Graham, but it does mean that we all have opportunity to communicate God’s truth to others.

Discharge the duties of your ministry – This might sound like official instructions for some special servant of God, but the truth is that we all have a job to do and a role to play in God’s kingdom. Some of us preach the Word on a stage in front of crowds, some of us teach a third grade boys Sunday School class, some of us serve behind the scenes, but all of us are called to live in faithfulness to the Word of God!
Jeff Frazier

Thursday, May 12


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Yesterday we looked at the doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture.  Today we are going to get a bit more practical as we examine the second half of this passage.
Actually, the truth is that if theology = the study of God, and doctrine = the teaching of God’s Word, then they should be of great practical significance in our lives!  This is why Paul immediately follows up his statement of what Scripture is (“God-breathed”) by telling us what Scripture does.  Paul gives us a little list of the ways in which God’s Word shapes our thoughts and actions.

Let’s take each of these functions of God’s word and consider how this may or may not be happening in our lives.

Teaching – God’s Word teaches us.  The word for teaching means to instruct.  God’s Word instructs us in what is true. God is a God of truth (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18; Ps. 119:160).  God breathed out (originated) all the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).  The Scriptures are God’s truth (John 17:17).  So here is the question – Is the Bible teaching you?  Is God’s Word the place you turn to determine what is true? 

Rebuking – The Greek word here comes from a root word that means “to cut away” or “to expose”.  The idea here is that God’s word is intended to expose our faults and to cut certain things out of our lives.  The writer of the book of Hebrews says that the Word of God is sharper than any double edged sword (Heb. 4:12).  Sometimes the truth hurts.  So, the question is – does God’s Word ever pierce, convict and cut you to the heart?

Correcting – Once again, the original language can help us gain a deeper understanding, this word means “to set right” or to restore.  So not only does God’s Word tell us what is wrong, it also goes on to tell us what is right!  It is one thing to be told what not to do, it another thing to be told what to do.  A good coach does not just tell his or her athletes what they are doing wrong, he shows them how they should be doing it correctly.  God’s word restores us and corrects us in that it shows us the path that God desires us to walk in!

Training – Actually Paul says that the Scripture trains us in righteousness.  This means that God’s Word prepares us for the life that God has called us to live.  None of us are fully mature or fully prepared for what life may throw our way, but God’s Word promises that if we will continue in it, we will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” that God has for us!  So, the question is – Are you in training?  Are you being trained and prepared and equipped for life by the Word of God?

In his book, In the Heavenlies, H. A. Ironside, told a story of a saintly old Irishman, Andrew Frazer, who had come to California to recover from tuberculosis. The old man could barely speak because his lungs were almost gone. But he opened his worn Bible and, until his strength was gone, he simply, sweetly opened up truth after truth in a way that Ironside had never heard before.  Before he knew it, Ironside had tears running down his cheeks.  He asked Frazer, “Where did you get all these things?  Could you tell me where I could find a book that would open them up to me?  Did you learn these things in some seminary or college?”

Frazer answered, “My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland.  There with my Bible open before me, I used to kneel for hours at a time, and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart.  He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world.”

Jeff Frazier

Wednesday, May 11


All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

(Are you all ready for some theology today??)

In these two sentences, Paul is telling Timothy (and us) why the Bible is to be authoritative and trustworthy in every area of our lives.  He says that it is “God breathed”, this is what theologians call the doctrine of the Inspiration of Scripture.  Simply put, this means that it comes from God!  The Bible did not come from the best religious ideas of the apostles or prophets, it is not a collection of the best human wisdom through the ages.  It originated when God spoke to them and they wrote down the words of Scripture.  This is not to say that God dictated the words of the Bible. Obviously He used the personalities and styles of the various human authors, but God originated it and preserved it, and thus the final product is preserved from error.

The only verse which gives us a hint of how God accomplished the process of inspiration is 2 Peter 1:21: “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy spirit spoke from God.”  The word “moved” is used in Acts (27:15, 17) to describe the effect of strong winds upon Paul’s ship.  Luke says that the ship was “driven along” by the wind, meaning that it was no longer under the control of the sailors, but of the wind.  But just as the sailors were active, though not in control, so the human authors of Scripture were active, but not in control.  The Holy Spirit moved the authors so that the words they wrote were the words God intended.  God was in control of the whole process.

Closely tied to the doctrine of Inspiration is the doctrine of Inerrancy.  This is the belief that the Bible is without error or contradiction.  This is a difficult issue.  Anyone who has read through all or part of the Bible will likely have noticed that there are more than a few difficult passages and even some apparent contradictions.  Yet the Bible itself claims to be inspired, true, perfect, trustworthy, and sure. 

At this point an astute skeptic might accuse me of begging the question. I’m saying that the Bible is the inspired Word of God because the Bible says so.  But anybody can make a claim like that and it doesn’t prove a thing.  So how do we verify whether or not the Bible’s claim is true? 

This is an incredibly important question.  Can we trust the Word of God?

There isn’t enough space or time here to go into all of the reasons for why the Bible is trustworthy and inspired by God.  But here a brief outline of what I think is the strongest reason for the reliability of the Bible

Jesus Christ believed and taught that the Bible is trustworthy and without error.  I believe in and follow Jesus Christ. Conclusion: I must believe that the Bible is trustworthy and without error. Everything that Jesus Christ said with reference to the Scriptures shows that He had implicit trust in the totality of Scripture as the authoritative and reliable Word of God.

The Bible says that God scoffs at scoffers (Prov. 3:34). If you do not humble yourself before God and ask Him to open your spiritually blind eyes, you won’t be able to understand His truth (2 Cor. 4:4, 2 Thess. 2:11-12). Jesus said “If any man is willing to do God’s will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”  In other words, the issue is being willing to submit to God.  If you come to the Bible to find fault with it and to provide yourself with excuses to continue in rebellion against God, you will find supposed errors.  But if you come in submission to God, with the desire to follow His ways, you will find solutions to most of the difficulties and your life will be blessed beyond measure!

Jeff Frazier

Tuesday, May 10


But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  
– 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Yesterday we saw in the passage above that Paul tells Timothy to “continue” in what he has learned – the truth of the holy Scriptures.  But how or from whom did Timothy learn this?  It would be natural to assume that Paul was the one who taught him about the truth of God’s word.  After all, Paul took Timothy with him on several missionary journeys and no doubt instructed him along the way.  However, the Bible tells us that it was actually Timothy’s mother and grandmother that first introduced him to the Scriptures and taught him about God’s word. 

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 
      2 Timothy 1:5

Think about this, two ordinary women raising a young boy and teaching him about who God is and what God wants for his life!  Just in case any moms out there are wondering if raising kids and trying to teach them what is good and true really matters, grandma Lois and mom Eunice got to have their names mentioned in the Bible for their efforts with Timothy! 
So Paul says to Timothy (in effect) “your momma and gramma raised you right and taught you about God, but you must continue with what they started in you.”  It is not enough for any of us to rest on the lessons we learned at home or in Sunday School or youth group when we were younger.  We must continue on and grow in the knowledge and practice of God’s Word.

My college football coach used to say; “Men, today you are either getting better or you are gonna get worse, there is no such thing as staying the same!”  I admit that at the time I really didn’t get it, I thought he was just trying to motivate us to work hard.  Now I see the principle he was trying to impress on us; that doing nothing is a guarantee that you will begin to regress.  I think he was right, and I think his words apply to our spiritual growth as well.  Far too many Christians are resting on what they used to know, they are not progressing, they are not continuing in what they have learned.  They have stopped reading God’s word and when their spiritual lives grow stale they wonder why God doesn’t seem real to them anymore.

Okay, so Paul says that we should “continue” in the reading and study of God’s word.  Most of us already have a vague sense that we should know God’s word better, or at least that we would like to.  But many of us just aren’t quite sure how to get started.  It might sound a little silly, but really, the Bible is a pretty big book with a lot of stuff going on in it (some of it is pretty hard to understand), how should you start reading it?  Is there a right way?  Is there a wrong way?  Should you just start at the beginning in Genesis?  Should you start with Jesus in the Gospels?  Can you just jump in anywhere?

The truth is that any Bible reading is better than none at all.  However, there are some good principles that will help you if you are new to regular Bible reading.

If you’re digging in for the very first time, my suggestion is that you start with the Gospel of Mark and then go on to John.  Why start in the New Testament?  Martin Luther said that the Bible is the “cradle of Christ.” All biblical history and prophecy ultimately point to Jesus. The book of Mark is quick and fast-paced, while John focuses on the things Jesus claimed about himself. Mark tells about what Jesus did, while John tells about what Jesus said.

Obtain a whole Bible in a version you are comfortable reading. You can do a lot of short reading stints online or on your iphone, but you will want to have your own actual book copy.  I like to read and preach out of the New International Version (NIV).   However, the New Living Translation (NLT), The English Standard Version (ESV), The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), are all good translations.  In fact there are a myriad of translations available to the Bible reader.  It is important to choose a translation that combines both readability and accuracy.  A translation designed for readability and the best general meaning can get you through large chunks quickly, while a more literal translation lends itself to word accuracy at the price of smooth reading.

Get some handy help - Use a study Bible or a simple Bible handbook that offers an outline and a brief introduction to each book of the Bible library.

Don’t read alone!  Find a friend or join in with a group of people who are also interested. Find a small-group Bible study that is serious about digging into these books and other parts of the Bible.  Read with your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, etc.

Get organized - Find a routine. Here is a link to a few Bible reading plans to get you started.

One final note of encouragement: as exciting as the Bible is, staying fresh can become a problem for many readers, especially when they find themselves in the middle of long lists of genealogies and ceremonial laws. Don’t worry; God isn’t grading you on your ability to recall detail. He wants you to meet him in his Word.

Jeff Frazier