Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings Sojourners!

It is my joy to continue studying God’s Word with you in 2022! And, in so doing, I am ecstatic to start with the epistle of Colossians – by looking at how Jesus is indeed over all, how He is preeminent and indeed everything.

Before we begin, I want to try something a bit different from our past normal. Just as we looked at the idea of Bible meditation last November, I believe that by meditating on Colossians before we begin studying it together we may glean more of what He – that is God through His Spirit – is saying to us than to hear my feeble words fumble around trying to help. We do not need me, but we absolutely need Him – to hear from Him and commune with Him and worship Him. So, let us look the letter that God sent to the church at Colossae through His apostle Paul (and thereby the letter that God sent His Church today at the same time).

It typically takes thirteen to fifteen minutes to read through Colossians. If you prefer to listen, there are many options available for your translation of choice (I use the Dwell app for Bible listening), or you can access my audio reading via the podcast feed above.


Greeting

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

Thanksgiving for the Colossian Believers

We give thanks always to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you, since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope reserved for you in heaven, which you have heard about beforehand in the word of truth, the gospel, that has come to you, just as also in all the world it is bearing fruit and increasing, just as also among you from the day you heard about and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow bondservant who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, who also made clear to us your love in the Spirit.

Prayer for Maturity Based on Christ’s Preeminence

Because of this also we, from the day we heard about it, did not cease praying for you, and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual insight, 10 so that you may live in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good deed and increasing in the knowledge of God, 11 enabled with all power, according to His glorious might, for all steadfastness and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you for a share of the inheritance of the saints in light, 13 who has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son He loves, 14 in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins, 15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, 16 because all things in the heavens and on the earth were created by Him, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things were created through Him and for Him, 17 and He Himself is before all things, and in Him all things are held together, 18 and He Himself is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself may become first in everything, 19 because He was well pleased for all the fullness of God to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to himself, by making peace through the blood of His cross, through Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and enemies in attitude, because of your evil deeds, 22 but now you have been reconciled by His physical body through death, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and steadfast and not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul’s Suffering and Stewardship

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings on behalf of you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ, on behalf of his body which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister, according to God’s stewardship which was given to me for you, to complete the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but has now been revealed to his saints, 27 to whom God wanted to make known what is the glorious wealth of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, 28 whom we proclaim, by admonishing every person and teaching every person with all wisdom, in order that we may present every person mature in Christ, 29 for which purpose also I labor, striving according to his working which is at work powerfully in me.

Christ, the Mystery of God

2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on behalf of you, and those in Laodicea, and all those who have not seen my face in person, so that their hearts may be encouraged, united in love and into all the wealth of the full assurance of insight into the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. I say this in order that no one will deceive you with persuasive speech, for even if I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing and seeing your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

Made Alive in Christ

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in Him, firmly rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness. Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ, because in Him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you are filled in Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority, 11 in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hands, by the removal of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which also you were raised together with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And although you were dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having destroyed the record of debt that stood against us, which was hostile to us, and removed it out of the way by nailing it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them in public, triumphing over them by it.

Do Not Be Judged by Human Religious Rules

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with reference to eating or drinking or participation in a feast or a new moon or a Sabbath, 17 which are a shadow of what is to come, but the reality is Christ. 18 Let no one condemn you, taking pleasure in humility and the worship of angels, going into detail about the things which he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by the ligaments and sinews, grows with the growth of God.

20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as if living in the world? 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch,” 22 which things are all meant for destruction by consuming according to human commandments and teachings, 23 which things although they have, to be sure, an appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and unsparing treatment of the body, do not have any value against the indulgence of the flesh.

Seek the Things Above

3:1 Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

Put Off the Old Behavior

Therefore put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustful passion, evil desire, and greediness, which is idolatry, because of which the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which also you once lived, when you used to live in them. But now you also lay aside all these things: anger, rage, wickedness, slander, abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, because you have taken off the old man together with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all, and in all.

Appeal for New Behavior

12 Therefore, as the chosen of God, holy and dearly loved, put on affection, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, 13 putting up with one another and forgiving one another. If anyone should have a complaint against anyone, just as also the Lord forgave you, thus also you do the same. 14 And to all these things add love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And the peace of Christ must rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another with all wisdom, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God, 17 and everything whatever you do in word or in deed, giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus to God the Father through Him.

Mutual Responsibilities in Christian Relationships

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they will not become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not while being watched, as people pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, accomplish it from the soul, as to the Lord, and not to people, 24 because you know that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. Serve the Lord Christ. 25 For the one who does wrong will receive back whatever wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

4:1 Masters, grant your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you also have a master in heaven.

Further Advice for the Christian Life

Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving, praying at the same time for us also, that God may open for us a door of the message, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which also I am a prisoner, so that I may reveal it, as it is necessary for me to speak. Live with wisdom toward those outside, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how it is necessary for you to answer each one.

Exhortations Regarding Fellow Workers

Tychicus, my dear brother and faithful servant and fellow slave in the Lord, will make known to you all my circumstances, whom I have sent to you for this very reason, in order that you may know our circumstances and He may encourage your hearts, together with Onesimus, my faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all the circumstances here.

10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions—if he should come to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only ones who are fellow workers for the kingdom of God from the circumcision, who have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, greets you, a bondservant of Christ always struggling on behalf of you in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify to him that he is working hard on behalf of you and those in Laodicea and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the physician, our dear friend, greets you, as does Demas. 15 Greet the brothers in Laodicea, and Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And whenever this letter is read among you, see to it that it is read also among the Laodicean church, and that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And tell Archippus, “Direct your attention to the ministry that you received in the Lord, in order that you may complete it.”

Final Greeting and Benediction

18 The greeting is by my hand, Paul’s. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.[1]


[1] W. Hall Harris III et al., eds., The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Col 1:1–4:18.

There are a few instances (1:19, 2:14) where the writer has chosen the rendering of certain phrases from the English Standard Version, as well as a differing in the rendering of the word doulos as “bondservant” where it refers to those redeemed by Christ and “slave” where it refers to that particular status – as there is a definite need for clarification between the two in Colossians and Philemon.

Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.[1]

1 Peter 5:5-7

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings Sojourners!

I am excited to begin writing again as we embark in 2022! I intended our first study together to be the book of Colossians, but a thought struck me yesterday and spurred today’s devotion and delayed our start of Colossians until next week.

We will begin with a question: what comes to mind when you think of the hand of God?

Some think of the picture above which has been adapted from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. In that painting, you see a depiction of Adam (the hand on the left) and God the Father (right hand) reaching out toward one another. You will notice that the hands just do not quite meet. Some argue that Adam is reaching out to God but unable to grasp his hand (because of sin or inability). Others argue that it symbolizes God trying to reach out to Adam but not quite making the grasp Himself.

But there are other perspectives on the hand of God than just Michelangelo’s mural.

There are some that see the hand of God as a tool of vengeance. They see it poised for a good smacking when all His little children get wayward. Some who hold this view wish for God to strike people down with a mix of Old Testament fury and some Zeus-like lightning bolts. This hand is hard, calloused, and ready to strike and represent a definitively angry and wrathful God.

There are some who view the hand of God like those of the European-looking Jesus shepherds – hands that have nothing but soft cushiony care as they caress the little lambs in their grasp. These hands would never strike, nor would they ever need to because they represent a God of only love and no anger whatsoever.

Yet when the image and thought of the hand of God came to my mind, it brought with it the Scripture above from 1 Peter. As we study this particular passage today, it is my prayer that you see God in accordance with His Word and not by any alternate points of view no matter how lofty they appear.

Context

To understand this passage, you need to look at the context of the book of 1 Peter and, especially, the context of the paragraph and chapter where it is found. 1 Peter is a letter to the “elect exiles of the Dispersion” (1 Peter 1:1), a group of people who were likely dispersed due to persecution – maybe even those who were forced to leave Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen when Paul was Saul (Acts 8:1). These were believers, many of which were probably Jewish, who had been forced to leave their homes and the land they had grown up in. They were afraid and felt alone. They needed to be reminded that God knew who they were and had a plan for their lives (1 Peter 1:3-5) and that, even in their suffering and troubles, He cared for them.

Peter lays out for them how to “conduct [themselves] with fear [of God] throughout the time of their exile” (1 Peter 1:17) and reminded them that even though they “were not a people” and had previously “not received mercy” that “now [they were] God’s people” and “now…received mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). It is a letter of good news in the midst of a lot of bad news.

He reminds them of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone and the hope of eternity with Him. And He reminds them through many specific instances that the gospel of Jesus Christ gives hope in every area of their lives from the tyrannical governments they were suffering under to their relationships and daily lives. That good news is for us, too.

Today’s passage is part of 1 Peter 5 which begins talking to the “elders” who were “shepherd[ing] the flock of God” where these exiles were living (1 Peter 5:1-2). He wrote to the pastors of their local churches and talked with them about how they should serve. He reminded them that they were to “shepherd” in such a way that, “when the chief Shepherd appears” (1 Peter 5:4) – when Jesus returns, they would have exhibited His love, care, instruction, and correction as He would have them: “not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). You see, the pastors were to be examples because the same sort of example (“likewise” – 1 Peter 5:5) is to be followed in the relationships of the generations in the church as the young are to “be subject” to the elders (both the pastors & older, more mature leaders/disciplers in their churches) following the same pattern.

The beautiful thing about this is God uses the imagery of the hand of God to show what this is like.

Humility v. Mighty

Sometimes there is a fine line between humility, being humbled, and humiliation. Many people who define themselves as humble are everything but that. Some people get too big for their proverbial britches and need to be humbled or brought back into reality. But for others there comes a time where their lives end up at a screeching halt because their pride has written a check too big for their…britches to cash. Then comes humiliation. A force greater than them applies pressure and knocks them down a peg. We often cheer at those who do the knocking down and jeer at those who find themselves in the humiliation that (in our humble opinions) is much needed and deserved.

Peter’s advice – really the Holy Spirit’s advice, since this is Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17) – is that the way the church needs “to be subject” to each other and especially to God is for them to “clothe [themselves] with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5). He clarifies that this is not just some or they thought should have to; no, he says to them “all of you” (1 Peter 5:5), which goes from the pastor to the back pew. To back this up, he quotes from Proverbs 3:34 and reminds them that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. That proverb sounds like a tough warning from stern God, but, really, it is a proverb of pleading. It is a reminder of our need of grace and how dangerous a distractor our pride is, especially when we need to repent of our sin. This is seen in the command that Peter follows up with in the next paragraph: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).

If we hold to one of the views of the hand of God that we looked at earlier, this is a frightening image. If it is the hand from the Sistine Chapel, we cannot reach it nor can He reach us, leaving us hopeless instead of humble. If it is the hand hurling lightning bolts and smacking sinners about, we can hope for humiliation and hurt instead of help. And the weak and soft hands of the European shepherd, the hero we need is nowhere to be found.

The “mighty hand of God” that Peter tells these exiles about is different altogether. The call is not to humble oneself out of fear or shame. The call is to humble oneself in recognition of the hand of the mighty God of the Bible. It is the “mighty hand” that Moses spoke over that represented His “greatness” and begged the question, “What god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours?” (Deuteronomy 3:24) It is the “hand of God” that was “on Judah to give them one heart to do [what was] commanded by the Word of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 30:12). It is the “good hands” of God that were on Ezra when he got to leave Babylon and come home to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:9). It is the hand of God that Nehemiah said had been upon him “for God” and gave strength to the hands of those involved in the “good work” of rebuilding Jerusalem after returning from Babylon (Nehemiah 2:18). It is the same hand that Israel was taught to sing of that God would “lift up [His] hand” and “forget not the afflicted” (Psalm 10:12).

Yet it was the same hand that was upon Jeremiah that “filled [him] with indignation” (Jeremiah 15:18). It is the same hand that was raised at His enemies to strike them down. Yes, the same hands that the writer of Hebrews wrote of when he said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Which hand is reaching out to the humbled in 1 Peter 5?

The reality is that it is the same hands. The hand that punishes is the same hand that protects; the same hand strikes and saves. All of God’s attributes work together in harmony. He is everything the Word says about Him. And this is the reason we humble ourselves. We recognize that He is greater. We recognize our sin as we recognize our need for a Savior.

We humble ourselves because our pride cannot earn us heaven as we have “fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and realize that “the wages of sin” – all that we can earn or accomplish – “is death” (Romans 6:23). And in that humbling, we submit to Him – are willing “subject to” (1 Peter 5:5) Him – as our Lord and Master (Romans 10:9).

Peter’s call for people to humble themselves “under the mighty hand of God” is to submit to Him that “He may exalt you” – to lay down their lives at the offer and promise of His Life and Righteousness (John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:21). And the hand that reaches out – the mighty hand of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness” (Titus 2:13-14).

Wrath and love are intertwined in that mighty hand. You see, the same hand that reaches out to the humbled was the same one what was “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). The God who people expect ready and waiting to smite the wicked with curses “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ (Galatians 3:13, cf. Deuteronomy 21:23). He is the God who loved us enough that He showed “His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), dying for us to pay for the forgiveness of our sin. He saves sinners “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands…nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

That’s good news!

God’s Mighty Hand & You

Look back at that picture from the Sistine Chapel. More frightening than any anger or weakness would be a God who would not or could not reach down at all. God not only reached down, He came down, “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He set the example in humility:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.”

Philippians 2:4-8

And that hand reaches out to us offering eternal life in the grandest gesture of love to ever be found. The hand that punishes wickedness and sin is the same hand that reaches out “at the proper time” to lift us up (1 Peter 5:7). It is not weak for forgiving but even stronger, the same hand of care still shows strength as Jesus said of those who are His, that He gives them “eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27).

The mighty hand of God is better than the Sistine Chapel. It is stretched out in love to those who repent and believe in Him. It represents the God who is not far off but close enough to cast your anxieties on. It is reached out “because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

That’s good news!


STARTING NEXT WEEK!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Pe 5:5–7.

Refresh & Restore — November 25, 2021


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.[1]

Philippians 4:8-9

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Happy Thanksgiving, Sojourner!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! It is so nice to have a day when people take the effort to focus on what they are thankful for instead of allowing themselves to look at things that cause stress or distress in our lives. What is interesting to me, especially as an adult (and one who must fight against jaded negativity), is that all of the things that cause trouble do not disappear, yet the forced focus on what one is thankful for gives a reprieve from all of the normal ills.

To a certain extent, that is what Biblical meditation is supposed to do. It is not a form of escapism where we ignore the ills of society. It is a show of trust in focusing on Him who is sovereign, focusing on the Savior. It is not us ignoring our problems but followers of Christ choosing His ways and His words over ignorance and submission to our troubles.

Another reason I love Thanksgiving is the food. There are dishes and desserts that I only get to eat at holidays. Some of these are just because of their difficulty to make and expense. Holidays justify both of these as labors of love. The primary reason is that many holiday foods, at least the ones I am hoping for as I type this, do not belong in our regular diets (and I’ll definitely need a regular diet by January). This brings to mind Don Whitney’s thoughts on Bible intake from Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life:

“There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture. The reasons for this are obvious. In the Bible God tells us about Himself, and especially about Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. The Bible unfolds the Law of God to us and shows us how we’ve all broken it. There we learn how Christ died as a sinless, willing Substitute for breakers of God’s Law and how we must repent and believe in Him to be right with God. In the Bible we learn the ways and will of the Lord. We find in Scripture how to live in a way that is pleasing to God as well as best and most fulfilling for ourselves. None of this eternally essential information can be found anywhere else except the Bible. Therefore if we would know God and be Godly, we must know the Word of God—intimately.”[2]

So, pies are tasty, but pies minus needed nutrition will kill me. The reasons for this are obvious, and there is no substitute for my soul, nothing that will or can satisfy the new heart Christ gave me, than the Word of God regularly.

Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor, put it like this: “The reason we come away so cold from reading the Word is, because we do not warm ourselves at the fire of meditation.”[3] It is my hope that the verses today – all of which center around being thankful for God, specifically His name – will warm you, fill you with His Spirit, and leave you thankful for Him above all else and to Him for everything else.


10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.[4]

1 Chronicles 29:10-13

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 7:17

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 54:6-7

We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 75:1

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

       “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:1-8

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:4-8 –

His Name is Jesus!

He is God!

He is Savior!

He is Lord.

And He is alive!

Hallelujah, and amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Col 3:1–4 & Php 4:8–9.

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 28.

[3] Thomas Watson, “How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit” (1674).

[4] ESV, 1 Ch 29:10–13.

Refresh & Restore — November 18, 2021

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-3

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.[1]

Philippians 4:8-9

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings, Sojourner!

I hope that our first look at the idea of Biblical meditation has been helpful. This week, I want to take it a bit deeper by looking at it in a historical sense to help us see that this is not a new idea but an idea that has been hijacked by the world and falsely-religious customs.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church describes meditation as “associated with prayer, because some of the favourite biblical texts are themselves prayers, and thinking about Christian truth sharpens a desire for God’s gifts, and thinking about life reveals man’s need of God”.[2] I think this is a particularly good description first because it helps us know what to do with what we are meditating on (pray), and, second, because it helps us gauge the appropriate end result (namely, a right view of God and a desire to worship/follow Him).

In that same article, there are four lenses through which meditation has been viewed throughout church history: 1) the memorization of Scripture to be used or recited, 2) holding onto verses/passages for reminders of truth and inspiration when needed, 3) thinking on the things of God to increase understanding and devotion to God, and 4) applying the truths found in Scripture to our various responses in our lives. I definitely think this is the scope of why various Sunday school teachers, pastors, and disciple-makers encourage the memorization of Scripture.

Those ideas fit so well with Psalm 119, the magnificent center chapter of the Bible that centers around the magnificence of the Bible. Psalm 119:9 asks and answers how a young man can “keep his way pure” by showing that it is in guarding that way – his life – “according to [God’s] Word”. Psalm 119:11 speaks of storing up God’s Word in one’s heart to keep from sinning against Him, which sounds a lot like meditation and memorization. Psalm 119:15 shows an effort to “meditate” on God’s precepts and “fix…eyes” on His ways. There are many more verses, just in that single chapter of the Bible that emphasize the same truth over and over, that we need God’s Word at the forefront of our minds if it will ever impact our lives (vv. 27, 30, 37, 43, 48, 52, 54, 59, 74, 78, 92-93, 97, 99, 105, 114, 116, 123, 133, 140, 143, 153, 164, 166, 174-176).

And that is our goal: to elevate God’s Word to its proper place by spending time in it and thereby elevate Him to where He should be if He is our Lord and Savior to stir our hearts up in worship and obedience to His Word as we forget this world and our desire to sin.

It is my prayer that, through our verses today, you will be able to “set your minds on things that are above” (Colossians 3:2), that you will be able to think and meditate on things that are “true”, “honorable”, “just”, “pure”, “lovely”, “commendable”, excellent, and “worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8) – His name is Jesus! Our verses for meditation today are on the hope that comes from “the blessed hope…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13-14[3]).


Matthew 11:25-30 –

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 53:4-6 –

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

John 3:16-21 –

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Philippians 2:5-11 –

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Ephesians 2:1-7 –

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Titus 3:4-7 –

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Colossians 2:13-15 –

13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Ephesians 2:8-10 –

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Romans 5:1-5 –

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

John 16:33 –

33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”[4]

Hallelujah, and amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Col 3:1–4 & Php 4:8–9.

[2] F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford;  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1072.

[3] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), Tt 2:13–14.

[4] ESV, Matt 11:25-30, Is 53:4–6, Jn 3:16–21, Eph 2:1–7, Phil 2:5-11, Tt 3:4–7, Col 2:13–15, Eph 2:8–10, Ro 5:1–5, Jn 16:33.

Refresh & Restore — November 11, 2021

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.[1]

Psalm 19:14

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.[2]

Hebrews 12:2-3

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings, Sojourner!

I am especially excited about this brief study because its contents and substance has helped me so much over this past year. At the same time, it has also been my joy during that time to get to share with you about our Savior and King Jesus Christ and how we can be refreshed by time spent in His presence through the study of the Word and restored to the purposes He has for us. Over the next few weeks, it is my hope that what has helped me will help you and that you can find solace in Him through meditating on His Word.

It may seem odd to take part in a Bible study looking at the value of meditation because of the way it is featured in Eastern mysticism. But Biblical meditation is much, much different. Traditional meditation has you look inside yourself, but Biblical meditation looks to God through His Word – and sees Him looking back at us to change us (Hebrews 4:12-13). Traditional meditation seeks to find one’s center inside themselves, but Biblical meditation helps us remember that Christ is at the center of everything (Colossians 1:15-20).

I love the way that Don Whitney describes this in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life:

“While some advocate a kind of meditation in which you do your best to empty your mind, Christian meditation involves filling your mind with God and truth. For some, meditation is an attempt to achieve complete mental passivity, but biblical meditation requires constructive mental activity. Worldly meditation employs visualization techniques intended to ‘create your own reality’. And while Christian history has always had a place for the sanctified use of our God-given imagination in meditation, imagination is our servant to help us meditate on things that are true (Philippians 4:8). Furthermore, instead of ‘creating our own reality’ through visualization, we link meditation with prayer to God and responsible, Spirit-filled human action to effect changes.”[3]

We see it in the words of David in Psalm 19, which is an entire psalm written in worship and celebration of God’s Word. Our first verse for today comes from Psalm 19. In it, David looks at the glory of God in creation and extends that glory to the Word, which is described as “perfect, reviving the soul” (v. 7a), “sure, making the wise simple” (v. 7b), “right, rejoicing the heart” (v. 8a), “pure, enlightening the eyes” (v. 8b), “clean, enduring forever” (v. 9a), “true, and righteous altogether” (v. 9b), and more valuable than any amount of gold while being sweeter than the most delicious honey (v. 10). It is only in that Word that those who serve the Lord will find “great reward” (v. 11) – Jesus, God Himself, is the reward! Meditating on this (v. 14) is how our words and hearts can be “acceptable in [God’s] sight”. Meditating on Him as our “rock” and “redeemer” will see that we are not moved.

So, today, I am going to stop talking and share with you some verses that focus us on our “great reward” – that “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV84). They are going to be bite sized chunks, short enough that you can read one several times and keep it in your mind throughout the day. Or, as I find helpful, you can read them or listen to them at various times throughout the day to “turn [your] eyes from looking at worthless things” and find “life in [His] ways” (Psalm 119:37). Either way, here are some precious verses that speak much of Jesus. May you find Him in them.


25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:25-30

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Colossians 1:15-20

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Titus 2:11-14

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.[4]

Hebrews 12:1-2

Hallelujah, and amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ps 19:14.

[2] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), Heb 12:2–3.

[3] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 47.

[4] ESV, Mt 11:25–30, Jn 1:1–5, Heb 1:1–4, Col 1:15–20, Php 2:5–11, Tt 2:11–14, Jn 1:14, Heb 12:1–2.

Refresh & Restore — November 4, 2021


…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect….[1]

1 Peter 3:15

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings, Sojourner!

I’m excited to share this week’s devotion with you because it was written by one of my friends and former students, Reid Viner!

He originally wrote this as a profile essay in his English Comp class. It is a profile of Christianity and reads like the appeal of an apologist making a defense for the hope he finds in Christ and in His Word. I am thankful for his heart to share Christ, especially using his platform as a student, and wanted to share it with y’all today!


In a world where people fight to convert other people to their religion, one religion stands out the most: Christianity. 

     Christianity is a religion that wants people to know that what Jesus has done is true and available for them. There’s a great narrative in Acts 3 where Peter and John meet this poor man who has been paralyzed his entire life while they are on the way to the temple. He is looking for money, but they don’t have any. This guy is being passed over again and again. Some are likely casually tossing money his way. But Peter and John stop and get his attention – again, they do not have the money he needs – to share with him something money can’t buy. Peter says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you”, and then tells the man that he has been healed by “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” – to “rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6)! Had they given him money, he would have still been paralyzed, but he offered the man Jesus. That same Jesus is what Christians want others to know about their faith.

The Uniqueness of Christianity

     Christianity’s fundamental aspect of faith being Who that faith is in. Ultimately, the object of worship is more important than the act – which is how worship is inspired in the first place. The Who for Christians is Jesus. And the worship is inspired by what He has done and is doing (which is called the gospel, a word meaning to tell the good news). Basically, the gospel of Jesus Christ is that He is fully God yet also fully man; He came to dwell among us to bring us to Him rather than us seek to work our way to Him; He lived a perfect life in order to sacrifice Himself to pay for our sins; He made that sacrifice willingly to be our propitiation (fancy word that means He bore our sin to give us His favor), and He rose from the grave, living forevermore. So, Jesus – who He is and what He has done/is doing – Himself is that most fundamental aspect of faith.

     Christianity is quite a unique religion, and I believe that the Bible speaks to what is most unique about Christianity. The Bible teaches about Jesus being Emmanuel – a word meaning God with us. John 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 speak to this beautifully. In John, we see God coming as a human to dwell among mankind. The 2 Corinthians passage tells us why: “for our sake”. He came to dwell among men because men needed Him to make a way to heaven. He traded His sinless life for the sinful life of any and all who would believe in Him. He would trade His righteousness for our shame – and our death.

     This is different from other religions. Here is an analogy I have heard used to explain all world religions. Life is a journey up a steep mountain. The mountain represents all the insurmountable tasks we need to complete to make our way to the positive option of an afterlife. Failure to make it up the mountain leads to the negative option. Basically, all religions would be summed up as journeying up the mountain, overcoming obstacles and trials, to make one’s way to heaven. Yet the Bible teaches us that what is known as Christianity is unique because our God – who Christians believe to be the one and only true God – came down the mountain in the person of Jesus to carry those who trust in Him up the mountain. He overcomes the obstacles. His strength defeats the trials. He just chooses to share the victory with those He saves and loves.

Christianity & Societal Issues

     All religions have their thoughts on societal issues, but Christianity’s are pretty interesting. And rather than looking at ways how Christianity has renounced issues surrounding societal issues, I would like to look at what God intended in the first place. All the way back in the beginning of what we know of as time, God created a man named Adam. He made him in His own image. And He noticed that Adam was alone. Deciding that it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), God sought to make him a helper. 

The first companions were animals, but, other than keeping Adam busy naming them, they were not suitable. God had a better plan. Rather than starting from scratch like He did with Adam, He put Adam to sleep, took one of His ribs, and formed the woman who would be named Eve. Adam was impressed. He immediately responded in gladness that she was “bone of [his] bone” and “flesh of [his] flesh” (Genesis 2:23). And in that act of creation, God set the precedent for marriage. Man would “leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Some people want this to be ambiguous, but it is right there on page three (at least in my copy) of the Bible: one man and one woman to become one flesh. 

The so-called “societal issues” become issues where people try to take different paths than God originally intended. So, let us briefly look at (they all really require longer, more personal conversations) these issues.

Premarital sex, what the Bible calls fornication, takes issue with the “one flesh” aspect of marriage. Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman is a deeper level of intimacy than casual relationships can bear. Think about how complicated sex makes things between people who are not ready for the level of commitment needed to accompany sex. This goes against the original design, and trouble follows. Teen pregnancy would be another result of this. I struggle with the wording of this because pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous thing. Why is it not a source of joy in this situation but instead is a source of stress and, sometimes, causes people to despair? It is because the casual “one flesh” produced a blessing that the people were not equipped or ready to receive. Kids are not ready to raise kids. Deviating from God’s plan takes that which was meant to be a blessing and makes the baby feel like a burden. It messes with His original design. 

Now, we move on to the “issues” dealing with marriage. Rather than heap on verses that some use to condemn, let me move on to another passage that shows us God’s design. In Ephesians 5:32, Paul says that marriage is a “mystery” that “refers to Christ and the Church”, meaning that marriage is supposed to be a picture of God and His Church. What if God were to respond to His Bride, the Church, with divorce the first time we messed up? Then, He would not be the God that He says He is from the beginning – that He is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (Numbers 14:18). So, our willingness to divorce (Malachi 2:16) rather than reconcile (and, yes, there are extenuating circumstances in which divorce is allowed – see Mark 10:1-12 for context and the following quote) is because of our own “hardness of heart”. Ultimately, Christians believe the God who reconciled His enemies to Himself to become a part of His church (Romans 10:10) – a part of His bride – wants to see that reconciliation in the lives of His church.

As far as intermarriage (people of different religions marrying each other), this largely is the scope of Old Testament passages prohibiting marrying people outside of the nation of Israel. These were not racial prohibitions but religious. The best example of the issues that can come from marrying people of a different faith (other than the logical reality that opposing religions are not compatible) is Solomon. God gave Solomon great wisdom and riches, but He also warned Solomon about the consequences of sin and serving/worshiping other gods (1 Kings 9:6). Solomon then entered into a multitude – I think 700 wives and 300 concubines makes multitude a bit of an understatement – of marriage relationships. The result was that “his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4). I think a divided heart speaks for itself. 

Wrapping Up

To get back to the essence of what I want to say here, it is important to understand that God – the Creator of everything – has a distinct plan for how things work best. Any time we deviate from that is sin, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

     Lots of religions nowadays require you to be perfect, no room for sin, but that’s how Christianity is different. Now it is going to come down to how we define “Christian” to answer this. If by Christian we mean those who are born again (John 3) or made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2), then Hell is off the table. Paul clearly says in Romans 8:1 that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Jesus died in our place and rose from the grave, and all who have faith in Him are covered by His sacrifice because He has “forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us” by “nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14). Jesus Himself says in John 10:28 that those who are His – those He has given “eternal life” – “will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of [His] hand”. On the other hand, there is nothing about the label of Christianity that protects against sin. One cannot invoke the name or be a registered evangelical Christian and get into heaven. God is checking whether or not we have been covered by His blood, not checking membership cards. 
To get back to the essence of what I want to say here, Christians believe that it is important to understand that God – the Creator of everything – has a distinct plan for how things work best. Any time we deviate from that is sin, and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We can look at all the ways we sin and heap condemnation, or we can point people to the Savior who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Everyone who “calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Pe 3:15.

Refresh & Restore — October 21, 2021

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.[1]

2 Timothy 2:14-26

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings, Sojourner!

I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at these But GOD moments in this series. We have seen them be as simple as trusting Christ in salvation and as beautifully complex as Him bringing those who are dead in their sins to life in Christ. We have seen God change the trajectory of men – change their entire lives by saving them and working through their lives. We have seen those men share Him with others and God give life to the seeds of their work by changing the trajectory of future generations, even unto our own.

I do not know whether or not I realized it when I set out to write this series, but I think – deep down – it has always been my goal to emphasize that there must be a change in the lives of those who profess that they were once lost but GOD saved them. If one’s testimony is that they are in Christ, it is that they were once dead but God made them alive. Remember that the conjunction “but” means that all before it is cancelled out by what comes after. So, if all of our past life is cancelled out by God, what comes after should be characterized by Him – we should be different. Our trajectory should be heavenward, even while still on the earth.

A Worker for Christ: Unashamedly Handling the Word

Paul’s second letter to Timothy is markedly different than his first. This is largely because both Timothy and Paul were different. They were both older. Timothy was no longer the young pastor who needed a guidebook for starting out. He had blossomed beyond needing to be reminded to not let his flock “despise [him] for [his] youth” to one whose “example” needed a bit of correcting (1 Timothy 4:12). Paul was at the end of his life and ministry in Rome, having “fought the good fight”, “finished the race”, “kept the faith”, and ready to accept that which was “laid up for [him by] the righteous judge [with] all who loved His appearing” (1 Timothy 6:7-8). He loved Timothy like a father loves a son and wanted to remind him to continue in what he had “learned and…firmly believed, knowing from whom [he] learned” it (2 Timothy 3:10, 14).

We need to be reminded that – despite the trials, tribulations, and trip-ups – God brings us from death to life to live for Him (Ephesians 2:10)! So, let us look at the reminders that Paul gave to Timothy and see how the Holy Spirit wants to remind us. Just as Paul wanted to remind his spiritual son of who he was in Christ, let us be reminded that we are sons and daughters of the King and we are who He says we are!

How we talk matters!

He mentions this several ways in this passage: “not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (v. 14), “avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene” (vv. 16-17), “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies [which] breed quarrels” (v. 23), “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach” (v. 24), and “correcting his opponents with gentleness” (v. 25). All of these point to how difficult it is to control our speech; so much so that James says that if “anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (James 3:2) and that “the tongue is a fire” that sets the whole life afire via hellfire and “staining the whole body” (James 3:6)! It is no accident that Paul emphasizes it so much here.

If we are going to profess that God has changed our lives, our speech will be the first to betray the depravity of our hearts. We can see how Jesus condemned the Pharisees with the same evidence in Matthew 12:34 and 37:

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…. …[F]or by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I realize that this concept seems harsh, but the fact remains that if one’s life has been changed by Jesus there should be evidence in that life of it.

In the earlier years of my marriage, my wife would be quick to tell me that “I’m sorry” loses its meaning if there is no change to follow it. How can repentance mean anything if our speech is still as quarrelsome as those who do not profess Christ? How can we “speak…all the words of life” (Acts 5:20) if our irreverent talk spreads like an infection through the body of Christ?

How we handle the Word matters!

Just as how we talk illustrates the reality of our heart, the place we give to the Word of God shows our hearts, too. I know that I have been guilty of proclaiming that I believe the Bible to be inerrant, infallible, and inspired, yet only following it on a level that was visible to church-folks around me. There was a certain amount of acting that was not being a doer of the word and deceiving myself and others (James 1:22).

Our lives will indeed reflect what we believe about the Bible. Several things that Paul reminds Timothy of in this passage reflect this: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (v. 15), “let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity” (v. 19; cf. Isaiah 26:13), and to be “able to teach” so that “God may perhaps grant…repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (vv. 24-25). I can already hear the counterarguments of how no one will be able to be perfect and that all of us sin. Yes, and yes. I agree with you wholeheartedly and see the same difficulties in my own life. But I will respond with the same question I have to ask myself: what is God doing in your life, and what evidence is there that He has worked in it and is working in it now?

When Paul tells Timothy that he should do his best to be an unashamed worker, it is not a command to act a certain way or simply not to fail. No! It is a testament to following Christ. It is a testimony to the fact that repentance is necessary to continue following Christ despite our hang-ups and mis-steps. He is not telling Timothy to seek to earn his salvation but reminding him that the esteem given to the Word – the respect, focus, and usage (mileage, even) that it holds – will impact his following. Just as David wrote in Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word.” – if we, like Timothy, will be willing to rightly handle the Word of truth, we will have no need to be ashamed because we will end up face-to-face with our Savior before His throne.

Usable Vessels and Willing Doulos-es

If God has changed our lives, we will actively follow Him. I do not believe that the Bible leaves room for a fruitless, evidence-less Christianity. Now, you could argue faith versus works and pull you a few proof texts (Ephesians 2:8-9 v. James 2:14-17), but, if we are rightly handling the Word and believe that all of it is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), we need to recognize that all of its teachings are true and let its reproof and correction bring us to repentance. So, if you claim to belong to Christ, you must be willing to be His vessel.

Paul uses the illustration here of a house and the different kinds of vessels that can be found in it: gold and silver for honorable use, wood and clay for dishonorable. Much of Churchianity (a made-up word for churchy-religion in the place of biblical Christianity), gets caught up in who gets to be an honorable vessel and who gets to be dishonorable. In fact, too much focus is given to whether we are being honored at all. I want to help us all with a bit of perspective: 1) none of us are honorable until Jesus saves and redeems us, 2) this means that we are all wood/clay until Jesus gives us the value (His value) of gold/silver, and 3) it is much better to be a terracotta chamber pot in the household of King Jesus than a golden toilet in any kingdom of this world (yes, I went there).

If you are in Christ, be thankful for His cleansing (1 John 1:9)! Be thankful that He takes the dishonorable and gives it honorable usage (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)! Be thankful to be set apart, useful to Him, and excited for the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10)! But there is more to Paul’s reminder than we are comfortable with. Not only do we need to be willing to be His vessel; we also must be willing to be His doulos.

In verse 24, we see the phrase “the Lord’s servant”. Before I dive into the original Greek word translated “servant” in the ESV, I believe that the best place to begin is with the meaning of the Greek word for “Lord” in that same phrase. The word “Lord” is kurios, and it means Lord, master, or owner. It speaks of one who has authority over the entire life of another and goes beyond the realm of employer. In the context, doulos would refer to one who is in bondage to serve the kurios. This goes beyond being willing to be used – it recognizes that if we are in Christ that we “are not [our] own, for [we] were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This is uncomfortable because of all the – rightful – negative connotations that go with slavery (both in the historical sense with early America and Britain and in the modern sense with human trafficking). But this ain’t that.

This concept goes back to the beginnings of salvation. In these devotions, we often quote Romans 10:9 as a guide to help us see what needs to happen to come to faith in Christ: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. This is the submission that takes place. He is Lord/kurios, and we submit and lay down our lives to become His/His doulos. This is a willing submission that sees us go from death to life, from lost to saved, from bound to hell to bound up in His love, grace, and mercy. This sort of submission means that we entrust our past, present, and future to Him. It means that we step out of the driver’s seat and trust Him to lead, and, in that trusting, submitting to live like He has called us to live.

For many, this is a deal-breaker. This is why many people reject Christ and do not follow Him. They do not want to submit to His will. This is also why many who follow cultural Christianity eventually fall away; they simply cannot abide with Christ being Lord and walk away when their will conflicts with His. This is also why I am bringing this up to you today, dear Sojourner. It is not a minor detail that can be dealt with later. It is foundational to who we are in Him – or not.

Look at how Paul shows how much this submission is going to cost Timothy. It is going to cost him some earthly comfort, respect, and put him in a position to receive some dishonor as he serves out his honorable purpose in Christ. To illustrate, let us walk through verses 24-26 to see why. There will be times where a quarrel will seem logical (or even right) and potentially personally-satisfying, but Timothy will have to choose to be kind and endure the evil. There will be times where his opponents will need clear correction, but Timothy will need to remember that kindness is commanded rather than seeking retribution as he corrects. There will be times that call for harshness, but Timothy will have to respond in gentleness. Why? First, because that is exactly what Jesus would have done (and does for us). Second, there is more at stake than Timothy’s (or our) honor – those who oppose him and are currently enemies of his and God’s are people who need Christ. And they are people that God allowed Timothy to be the honorable vessel to preach Christ to them.

Where do we go from here?

There was a time in my life where, if you had asked me what my life verses were, I would have given you 2 Timothy 2:24-26. They were my way of showing how humble I believed I was at the time. I first encountered them in a seminary class, and I felt that I was receiving more dishonor than I thought I could bear. I was encountering more opponents than I could count and used this as my mantra to show how much better I was than them. But, rather than seeking for God to grant them repentance, I became more and more self-righteous and highlighted and bemoaned my trials rather than preaching Christ to them.

I eventually dropped out of seminary and quit on those life verses. I even quit preaching Christ entirely for a time. During that time, I found myself clinging to that self-righteousness. I wore what I perceived to be mistreatment by “church-folks” and the dishonor that I felt I had suffered to be my reason for burning out and walking away. But GOD was not done with me!

God allowed my dishonorable vessel to be cleansed and filled once more. He reminded me of these things not through quarreling but His kindness. He gently corrected me, loved me because I am His, and granted me repentance that lead “to a knowledge of the truth” and allowed me to come to my senses and “escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (vv. 25-26).

He can do the same for you, and that’s good news! I do not know where you are in your walk with Him, but I would be willing to wager that you could desperately use a but GOD moment in your life.

Maybe you realize that you do not know Him and want to come to faith in Him. I would love to talk with you or help point you to a Bible-preaching/believing church where you live!

Maybe your vessel has gotten dirty and been used for the wrong tasks. I would love to pray with you and help you seek God in His Word and find cleansing in Him.

No matter your situation, know that you are loveA close up of a logo

Description automatically generatedd, prayed for, and not alone! No matter what is going on in your life, if you are in Christ, Paul’s reminder to Timothy is both an encouragement and a challenge to us today:

But GOD’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.’” (v. 19)

Hallelujah, and amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Ti 2:14–26.

Refresh & Restore — October 14, 2021

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.[1]

1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Greetings, Sojourner!

Our But GOD series is about to come to a close next week. It has been good for us to look at how God interjects Himself into our lives, our timelines, to change our futures as only He can.

If we are saved, it is only because He brought us from death to life. We can look back on our lives and see how we were once following after the course of this world and spiritually dead but God made us alive and gave us eternal life (Ephesians 2:4, Romans 6:23). Had God not interrupted our life with His grace, mercy, and love, we would still be dead and without hope.

If we are followers of God, there have been (and will be more and more in the future) situations that are difficult. There have been and will be battles, sorrows, tribulations, trials, and even suffering. But God stays true to Himself and His promises to care for those who are His (Nahum 1:7).

Yet with all the but God moments in our lives, we seem to suffer from spiritual amnesia. We allow good times and seeming successes to fool ourselves into thinking that we got here because of our own efforts – our own steam. In our amnesia, we re-write our history to make ourselves the hero. Sometimes, our re-writing the narrative makes others the heroes of our spiritual journey, but, while God definitely does use His people to meet the needs of others and point people to Him, there is no hope in human effort unless God interjects Himself and His power into the situation.

Paul, Apollos, or Jesus?

As I write this, it is Columbus Day – or Indigenous Peoples Day – or maybe it is the day we are supposed to remember that the Vikings landed centuries before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred-ninety-two (and that the Native Americans were, well, already native). There seems to be a discrepancy in who we attribute this holiday to or what we are supposed to be remembering. But where are those protesting the wrong attribution by going to work?!?!

Today’s passage shows that there were people whose testimonies (church word meant to describe one’s personal testimony regarding how they once were lost sinners but God saved them) had attribution problems, too. Rather than sharing what God had done in their lives, they argued over the celebrity preachers of their day – Apollos or Paul.

Thankfully, Paul sets a good precedent for us in that he seeks only to glorify Jesus and the work done by His Spirit to bring people to the Father! Paul genuinely believed what he wrote to the church at Galatia: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). He reminds the Corinthian church of their spiritual immaturity (vv. 1-2) and highlights that their problems are not spiritual but merely human (vv. 3-4).

I love the way that Paul explains it and the way his questions show how ridiculous it is to even consider himself or Apollos in regard to salvation (v. 5): “What then is Apollos? What is Paul?” He then answers his rhetorical questions: they are just servants (v. 5) and nothing compared to Christ (v. 7).

When the church at Corinth had testimony issues, Paul chose to remind them more about what Jesus had done than his meager efforts in serving Christ and spreading His gospel. He does not defend his efforts. He also does not diminish Apollos’ work, either. He simply seeks to magnify Jesus. One of them planted the gospel through preaching, sure. The other watered the seed through additional preaching and discipleship, absolutely.  But the only sure thing in the entire equation – the Son’s Light to the sowing and watering – is that “God gave the growth” (v. 6).

He continues on to discuss the work of Christ in making believers His temple and how that temple is built up through the effort of God’s servants, yet the attribution remains consistent – followers of Christ carry out the mission He has given (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8) but God alone saves, God alone brings people from death to life, God alone blesses the work and grows believers into the image of His Son (Romans 12:2).

What About Us?

It would be easy to turn this around and make it all about us – our problems, our difficulties, our spiritual mistakes and foolishness, but I want to zero in on what Paul shared with the Corinthians: “but God gave the growth”.

As you look at your life and think through your testimony, to whom can you attribute the spiritual growth in your life?

Maybe you look back at your life and you find a string of your own efforts and failures instead of seeing the hand of God working things out. You may even find that you do not have a testimony because you might not be saved (born again, regenerated). In that case, rejoice because the seed of the gospel has been planted. Someone preached and you heard. Hopefully, you feel God’s Spirit convicting your heart of sin and drawing you to His grace, mercy, and love through what God has done for you in Jesus. If that is the case, all you must do is “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead” and “you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Once a lost sinner cries out to God, praying for Him to save them, their testimony begins with that but God moment.

Maybe you are saved, but you have found yourself caught up in what you have done or what others have done. We must remember that, just as our works cannot save ourselves, our works and efforts cannot save others. We cannot follow after celebrity and find the same solace as following Christ. We cannot celebrate plans and methods over trusting in God to complete His saving work as only He can because even the best of human wisdom – as much as we might try to redeem it – is “folly with God” (v. 19). Rather than boast in men, let us boast in Christ and what He has done, and, when we see God’s people doing God’s work, let us rejoice in Him all the more that He is working through His people – that those who once were dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) are now living and working through the new life that God gave them through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10)!

So, this week as you go through life, be thankful for the work of the Apolloses, Pauls, and Cephases in your life. Be thankful for those who pointed you to Christ. There are more in my life than I could hope to mention. But they do not want their names listed here. Many of them have gone on from this world and are worshiping the Savior they pointed me toward in their lives.

Hopefully, you will get to plant the seed of the gospel in some lives this week or get to water some that have been planted by others. Most importantly, I hope we get the opportunity to point some people to Jesus who is so wonderful that those who find Him forget about us entirely.

As for me, I hope to be like this quote from Count Nikolaus Zinzendorf – who I know nothing of save this quote: “Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten”. Forgotten because I pale in comparison to the One I seek to point to. Yet remembered by Him when I come into His Kingdom because He “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)!

Hallelujah, and Amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 3:1–23.

Refresh & Restore — October 7, 2021

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.[1]

Romans 6:20-23

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings, Sojourner!

Check out this week’s devotion from Jamie Harrison. Jamie has been working behind the scenes with all of the writings and projects you see here on the website (editing, proofreading, encouraging, exhorting), and I was finally able to coax him into writing. He also joined in for a conversation in the podcast (link above)!


I’ve been to a lot of funerals in my lifetime. While the principal at Charleston Middle School, I attended funerals for two of my students; I’ve been to several friends’ and mentors’ funerals; and I’ve been to several family members funerals.

Most recently, I attended the funeral of one of my former basketball players. Listening to family members weeping for lost loved ones, preachers doing their best to give comfort, and many, many stories about how “good of a person” they were has driven me to my knees pondering what really is important in this life. Is it being a good person? Is it being financially stable? What about being known by everyone? Or is there something greater? What will have an eternal impact on me, you, and those we come into contact with?

The answers to these questions start in Genesis 2. God tells Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:16-17). In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve do exactly what God warned Adam not to do. Immediately, their eyes were opened to good and evil, and they realized they were naked (Gen. 3:6-7).

In verse 3:8, they hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hide from Him. You read that right: God Himself used to come down for walks in the garden with His creation! We used to have direct access to the King of kings and Lord of lords! What an amazing picture of our Father! BUT we did what we do best by totally screwing it up. Instead of walking with the Father, we chose to walk away and try things on our own. We figured we must know better than God and caused a rift between Him and us. That rift could only be temporarily fixed through blood sacrifices in the Old Testament, with God Himself performing the first one to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (sin) in Genesis 3:21.

Fast forward to today where each and every one of us is born into sin, and “death spread to all people, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Everyone has sinned against a holy and perfect God. Our reward for that sin is death. The part we sometimes miss is that, yes, this is an earthly death, but also a spiritual death. And there are no more stories of God walking with Adam and Eve after they are removed from the garden (Gen. 3:23).

This leads us back to our verses for today. Look back at Romans 6:20-21. The spiritual death we are born into causes us to literally become “slaves to sin”. We don’t like to look at it in that context, but we all know how hard it is to walk away from sin. That slavery leads to rotten fruit being produced by the sinner. In other words, a trail of bad choices: constant anger, sexual sin, deceitfulness, envy, gossiping, slander, arrogance, etc. (cf. Rom. 1:29-31, Gal. 5:19-21). Verse 21 tells us “the outcome of those things is death”. To put it plainly, every person on the face of the earth has a rift between them and God due to their sin. That sin earns all of us an eternity separated from God in hell.

Verse 23 drives the point home by telling us that “the wages of sin is death”. How long would we work for a company that, instead of a paycheck, gave us a free vacation for eternity…in hell?! I can imagine a game show host saying, “Tell them what they’ve won Johnny,” and Johnny saying (loud and proud), “you’ve won a vacation that is sure to keep you warm, tormented, and separated from the God of the universe for all eternity!” When put like that, I don’t know many people that would be interested. But that is exactly what is meant by the “wages of sin”. We did it to ourselves, and we make choices each day that drive ourselves further and further from God.

BUT this is when it gets good! This is where God’s BUT comes in. We all know the word “but” cancels out everything that was said before it. Can you imagine how much more powerful GOD’S BUT is?! “The wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 23). Yes, we have earned death. Yes, we will receive our due reward of death. Yes, we deserve every bit of that because of our sin, BUT GOD offers life instead!

Who else but a holy, perfect, righteous, unblemished, sinless, matchless, and indescribable God could offer us such a gift? Matthew Henry put it like this:

“There is no proportion between the glory of heaven and our obedience; we must thank God, and not ourselves, if ever we get to heaven. And this gift is through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is Christ that purchased it, prepared it, prepares us for it, preserves us to it; he is the Alpha and Omega, All in all in our salvation.”

What a gift it is! And this gift is free, unmerited, and available to all. I always think back to Christmas morning and all the gifts under the tree. I didn’t do anything to deserve them (honestly, I deserved coal…every year). Those gifts were freely given by my parents because I was their son. Matthew 7:9-11 says,

“Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?”

But God’s gift is eternally better than any wrapped under a tree.

I challenge you to take some time and read Romans 8:31-39. This passage spells out the gift provided by our Father in heaven. Verse 32 says, “He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all”. Verses 38-39 explain (very thoroughly) that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 4:1-7 illustrates this point even further calling those that have a relationship with Christ “sons” and not “slaves” and verse 5 telling us that we “receive adoption as sons”. THAT’S GOOD NEWS!!

Let’s circle back to where we began. We know, based on scripture, that everyone will die. We also know that we will spend eternity in hell if we do not have a relationship with Christ. This means that you don’t become an angel when you die (saved or unsaved). Only being adopted as a son/daughter of almighty God will bring you into His family forever.

If you are reading this and know that you don’t have a RELATIONSHIP with Christ, it’s not too late. Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. Right here, right now, IT IS TIME!

In the introduction, I asked several questions: Is being a good person important? Is being financially stable important? Is being known by everyone important? Or is there something greater? Is there something that will have an eternal impact on me/you and those we come into contact with?

The answer is YES, there is something greater. There is something that will have an eternal impact on myself/yourself and those we come into contact with. Verse 22 tells us that, “but now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification-and the outcome is eternal life!” Once we are adopted as sons/daughters, the Spirit of almighty God abides within us and begins to produce fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23 says,

“but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.”

As these fruits become more prevalent in our lives, more and more people will be drawn to the love of Christ. My prayer is that each of us will become broken and poured out to the Spirit and allow Him to lead us.

As I think back on all the funerals I’ve been to, there is one question that keeps playing over and over in my mind: “Did I love them enough to share Christ with them?” Friends, if we truly love our family, friends, and those around us, we would be quick to share the love of Christ with them and a little less quick to share the latest gossip, financial tips, etc. with them. Penn Jillette, of the magician duo Penn & Teller and self-professing athiest, said it this way:

“If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me alone and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Let’s not wait until a funeral to pretend our loved ones are angels in heaven and that “God needed them more than we did”. Let’s share that love with them HERE and NOW. After all, what better story to tell than a story of BUT GOD!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 6:20–23.

Refresh & Restore – September 30, 2021

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Genesis 50:15-21

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.[1]

Acts 7:9-10

Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1) Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast

In today's episode, we kick off our study of the book of Colossians entitled Jesus Over All. We will kick off our study by reading all the way through Colossians and meditating on it before we dive in fully next week. You can find the full text here: https://justkeithharris.com/2022/01/19/refresh-restore-january-20-2022/
  1. Refresh & Restore — January 20, 2022 (Jesus Over All 1)
  2. Refresh & Restore — January 13, 2022 (Under the Mighty Hand of God)
  3. Merry Christmas!
  4. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — Christmas Eve, December 24
  5. Christmas to Calvary (Advent Readings through Luke's Gospel) — December 23

Greetings, Sojourner!

I took a well-needed break last week and am thankful for two reasons: 1) God made our bodies in such a way that we are built to know when we need rest (it has taken me this long to learn to listen to it instead of reaping consequences of ignoring), and 2) I needed more time to process the story of Joseph.

Last week, during the time I would normally be working on the weekly devotion, I just happened to start a new Bible reading plan. The plan is via the YouVersion Bible app and is called “Look Up: 35 Days to Finding Hope in Dark Places”. It is not a self-help, psychology devotional. It follows people in the Bible as they walked through “Dark Places” in their lives while they followed the Lord. The first person to walk with was Joseph, the focus of today’s passages.

I have told you before that I am an English teacher. One of the ways I help my students is to train them to notice things that “just happen” in a text because nothing can merely happen without it being part of the author’s plan (can I get an RL.5 amen?). Well, I do not believe that it was an accident that I started reading that Bible plan when I did; I believe it was God’s providence. Just like in one of the texts I give my students, the author’s intent was evident. Jesus, the “Author of Life” (Acts 3:15) and the “Founder and Perfector of our Faith” (Hebrews 12:2), gave me the help my soul and body needed when I sought Him – His help – in His Word. After all, His same Spirit dwells in me when I walk through dark places is the same Spirit who penned the promises of Psalm 119 through David (who is also featured in that Bible reading plan) as he walked through His:

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word! (v. 28)

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your Promise gives me life. (v. 50)

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Your Statutes. (v. 71)

If Your Law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (v. 92)

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your Word. (v. 114)

Trouble and anguish have found me out, but Your Commandments are my delight. (v. 143)

But You are near, O Lord, and all Your Commandments are true. (v. 151)

Let my cry come before You, O Lord; give me understanding according to Your Word! Let my plea come before You; deliver me according to Your Word. (vv. 169-170)

For me, my dark place of late has been depression because chemicals in my brain are doing their own thing instead what they are supposed to do. I find myself focusing on all the wrong things “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” instead of shining the Light of Christ as He has called me to do while “holding fast to the Word of Life” (Philippians 2:15-16). So, today, I hope to help you seek help from God in His Word by looking at the example of Joseph.

Meet Joseph
(Brief Summary of Genesis 30, 37, 39-50)

Like many of the Old Testament “heroes”, Joseph’s life was complicated. His story began in one of the strangest and most complicated family situations that one could be born into. He was the oldest son of Rachel (2nd wife of Jacob – and the only wife he loved/intended to marry – check out Genesis 29), and he was his father’s favorite child, largely because of his mother.

You might think that life as the favorite might be – well, favorable, but a good portion of Joseph’s life was the opposite. Being Jacob’s favorite caused a rift between him and his brothers. The family dynamics were already bad since Jacob had children with two wives and two of their handmaidens. In fact his entire clan was born out of the rivalry between his wives Leah and Rachel – over who was loved most and who could most successfully provide sons for Jacob. Add to that the fact that Joseph “brought a bad report [of his brothers] to their father” (Genesis 37:2), was given a “robe of many colors” when the others were not (Genesis 37:3), and multiple dreams that seemed to indicate they (even Jacob) would end up bowing down to him at some point (Genesis 37:5-10) – there is no wonder that his brothers “hated him and could not speak peacefully to him” (Genesis 37:4) and “were jealous of him” (Genesis 37:11). Their jealousy and hatred may seem to be warranted from a human perspective, at the very least it seems understandable, but what happens next is horrific.

Genesis 37:12-36 tells us what happened. Jacob took advantage of Joseph’s willingness to be honest about his brothers’ transgressions and sent him to spy on them. Joseph had to run all over to find them which made them able to see him coming. Rather than be glad to see their brother, their jealousy and hatred won out as they decided to tear his special robe from his arms, throw him into an empty pit, and kill him. Reuben tried to hatch a plan where he could eventually rescue Joseph instead of standing up to their wickedness, so it inevitably failed. Judah saw that there was more profit in selling him into slavery than simply killing him, and the brothers decided to hand him over to Ishmaelite traders for twenty shekels of silver. A little goat blood on his robe and a lie left Joseph secretly on the way to slavery in Egypt and Jacob distraught at the death of his favorite son.

One part of Joseph’s life that his brothers could not see was how God had been working in his life up to that point. God was responsible for Joseph’s mother no longer being barren and conceiving him (Genesis 30:22). He gave Joseph the dreams that showed his future (the ability to interpret would come later). And the “Lord was with Joseph” in Egypt (Genesis 39:2), so much so that his master Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire household; Potiphar recognized the “blessing of the Lord” on Joseph (Genesis 39:5). He was even blessed to be “handsome in form and appearance” (Genesis 39:6). But, as with all his blessings, the blessings in Egypt welcomed trouble, too.

Potiphar’s wife was attracted to him and tried multiple times to seduce him. While this was no doubt tempting, he recognized that it was wrong because, as he told her, “you are his wife” and it would be a “sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). This only increased her efforts. She eventually orchestrated a situation where it would be just the two of them in the house. Before Joseph realized what was happening, he was removed from his robe once more; this time leaving it behind in his her grabbing hands. He ran from temptation and sin (like we all should) and found himself in prison when she, angry from her spurned affections, lied to lied to Potiphar.

I could go on, but I believe this gives the necessary context. Genesis 40 tells of his time in prison where God continued to bless him by giving him the ability to interpret dreams. That ability ended up freeing him from all bondage when Pharaoh himself was having nightmares in Genesis 41, proving that, throughout all of his dark times, God never left him – he was never forsaken (Hebrews 13:5).

It is strange to think that we could be right where God wants us when things are not going well. This goes against much of the teachings of churches in America where we like our best life now and all tribulation for those who do not get raptured. But Joseph was right where he was supposed to be: in position to be used by God to rescue Israel, His chosen people yet far from where he would have chosen. But there is no better place than in the will of God!

In Genesis 42-43, famine struck Egypt and the rest of the known world at that time – including the land where Jacob and his family lived and according to Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. His post-prison job was basically vice-Pharaoh where he headed up salvage and storage operations to keep people fed during the famine. Jacob sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to by grain. And none of them realized that God’s providence in Joseph’s life, despite their wickedness and sin toward him and God, would save their lives and the lives of their families.

Genesis 44-45 sees Joseph interacting with his brothers to test them and ultimately provide them with the grain they needed. Genesis 46-47 shows how Joseph planned to bring all his family to Egypt and set the stage for all that God would do through Moses in the Exodus. I cannot help but wonder how much the joy of Joseph being reunited with his father overshadowed his darker days. But imagine what it was like for him to meet the God he had followed and trusted through those times – unspeakable, indescribable joy!

What Does This Mean for Us Today?

I spoke earlier about how I believe that it was God’s providence that I read about Joseph’s experiences when I found myself struggling, especially reading through Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7-8 when he mentions Joseph. Maybe you are not familiar with the idea of providence – the protective care of God.

I believe one of the most providential things that God has done for His people is the gift of His Word. In it we find everything that can be known about God. So, I want to close out with some specific application; I would like to point you to some of the same passages of Scripture that reading about Joseph brought to my mind with brief statements to help organize them.

1) I do not have to be strong like Joseph for God to love me. God loves me despite my weaknesses.

  • John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
  • Romans 5:8 – …but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2) God has a plan for my life to point to Him despite the evil that exists in the world.

  • Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
  • Philippians 2:14-15 – Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
  • Romans 8:28 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

3) God has a long track-record of taking care of His people, and none of them could see it until He carried them all the way through (for this, you can look at anyone who followed God/Christ and had trouble, which was all of them all the way through the Bible – He never fails).

4) What God has done for us in Jesus – the hope He gives us through the eternal life in Him He bought with His death and resurrection – is better than our worst days are bad.

  • John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
  • Philippians 3:8-9 – Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith….
  • Revelation 21:3-4 – And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5) We will never see what God is doing if we do not lift our eyes off the world and turn them to Him.

  • Psalm 119:37 – Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
  • Colossians 3:1-4 – If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

At the end of Genesis, it is shocking for us to see Joseph tell his brothers: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Having walked through the dark times, he recognized that God had never left him at all; after all, “even the darkness is not dark” to Him (Psalm 139:12).

Then, to see Stephen preach about Joseph in the sermon that would cost his life to say that “the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him and rescued him out of all his afflictions” (Acts 7:9-10). That same truth he preached to those who would murder him was what he lived out. Jesus was the last face that Stephen saw before he died and the first he would see when he awoke in heaven.

Maybe you are going through dark times right now and do not know where to turn. I would suggest you turn to a page in the Bible and seek Christ. It is my prayer that you find Him in His Word.

Hallelujah, and Amen!


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 50:15–21 & Ac 7:9–10.