Restored Failures

A guest band was leading praise and worship at our church, and their passion for the Lord was moving. We could see—and feel—their enthusiasm.

Then the musicians revealed that they were all ex-prisoners. Suddenly, their songs took on special meaning, and I saw why their words of praise meant so much to them. Their worship was a testimony of lives broken and restored.

The world may embrace success. But stories of failure offer people hope too. They assure us that God loves us no matter how many times we have failed. In his book Hearts of Iron, Feet of Clay, pastor Gary Inrig writes that what we call the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 could well be entitled God’s Hall of Reclaimed Failures. “There is scarcely an individual in that chapter without a serious blemish in his or her life,” he observes. “But God is in the business of restoring failures . . . . That is a great principle of God’s grace.”

I love the comfort of Psalm 145, which speaks of God’s wonderful works (vv. 5-6) and glorious kingdom (v. 11). It describes His compassion (vv. 8-9) and faithfulness (v. 13)—then immediately tells us that He lifts up those who have fallen (v. 14). All His attributes are expressed when He picks us up. He is indeed in the business of restoration.

Have you failed before? We all have. Have you been restored? All who have been redeemed are stories of God’s grace.

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Verse of the Day – Psalm 3:8

From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

Psalm 3:8

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Deliverance does come from the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our Father. So we ask him to bless us with his richest and greatest blessings. But, he has already given his people the very greatest blessing, the gift of his Son. Now if we will only acknowlege and appreciate that blessing.

My Prayer…

Thank you, O God, for the salvation you have given me in Jesus. Use me to spread this blessing to others so that the people I know and love will come to know your Son as their Savior and Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.


© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. Verseoftheday.com is part of the Heartlight Network. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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Outside In?

“Change: From the Inside Out or the Outside In?” the headline read, reflecting a popular trend today—the idea that outward changes like a makeover or better posture can be an easy way to change how we feel on the inside—and even change our lives.

It’s an appealing concept—who wouldn’t want improving our lives to be as easy as a new look? Many of us have learned the hard way that changing deep-rooted habits can seem nearly impossible. Focusing on simple external changes offers hope that there is a quicker path toward improving our lives.

But although such changes can improve our lives, Scripture invites us to seek a deeper transformation—one that is impossible on our own. In fact, in Galatians 3 Paul argued that even God’s law—a priceless gift that revealed His will—couldn’t heal the brokenness of God’s people (vv. 19–22). True healing and freedom required them to, through faith, be “clothed” in Christ (v. 27) through His Spirit (5:5). Sanctified and shaped through Him, they would find their true identity and worth—every believer equally an heir to all of God’s promises (3:28–29).

We could easily devote much energy to self-improvement techniques. But the deepest and most satisfying changes in our hearts come in knowing the love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:17–19)—the love that changes everything. 

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Verse of the Day – Philippians 2:10-11

…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

I love the fact that I do each day what everyone will one day do: bow before the majesty and proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ to honor the Father’s glory. How wonderful it is to be able to make that proclamation because of grace rather than in fear at the end of a life that has been spent in what is rebellion, denial, and waste.

My Prayer…

Father, I do praise you for the truth about Jesus that will one day be realized fully by everyone who has ever lived. May my life display that truth in the way I treat people today. May my lips suitably proclaim that truth so others can know Jesus as Lord today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.


© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. Verseoftheday.com is part of the Heartlight Network. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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Unexpected Grace

It was an early Saturday morning in my sophomore year of high school, and I was eager to get to my job at the local bowling lanes. The evening before, I had stayed late to mop the muddy tile floors because the janitor called in sick.  I hadn’t bothered to tell the boss about the janitor so I could surprise him.  After all, what could go wrong? I thought.

Plenty, as it turns out. 

Stepping in the door, I saw inches of standing water, with bowling pins, rolls of toilet paper and boxes of paper score-sheets bobbing on top. Then I realized what I had done: While doing the floors, I had left a large faucet running overnight! Incredibly, my boss greeted me with a huge hug and a big smile—“for trying,” he said.

Saul was actively punishing (Acts 8:1) and harassing Christians (Acts 9:1-2) when he came face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-4). Jesus confronted the soon-to-be-renamed apostle Paul with his sinful actions. Blinded by the experience, Saul/Paul would need a Christian—Ananias—to restore his sight to him in an act of courage and grace (Acts 9:17).

Both Saul and I received unexpected grace. 

Most people know they’re messed up. Instead of lectures, they need a hope for redemption. Stern faces or sharp words can block their view of that hope. Like Ananias, or even my boss, followers of Jesus must become the face of grace in these life-changing encounters with others.

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Verse of the Day – Philippians 2:9

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…

Philippians 2:9

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

For Jesus, Graciousness + Guts + Giving + Grit = Glory. Just one of those equations in salvation math that doesn’t make much human sense, but from the perspective of faith, it is powerful wisdom. Jesus came to our world because of the graciousness of God. Jesus had the “guts” to leave behind heaven and face the hardships of humanity, and give of himself to serve others. Jesus had the grit to endure the horrors and humiliation of the cross. So God has shared with Jesus his glory and placed him above all others. The apostle Paul wants to remind us that God doesn’t forget our sacrifices, our obedience, and our hardships. He does honor them with his pleasure and his glory because Jesus’ sacrifice has made us holy!

My Prayer…

Holy Father and Lord God, I believe that Jesus Christ is your Son and my Savior and Lord. I surrender my heart to have no rival interest to the lordship of your Son. Thank you for your wonderful gift of love in him. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.


© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. Verseoftheday.com is part of the Heartlight Network. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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First Things First

When you travel by air, before the flight takes off an airline employee presents a safety briefing, which explains what to do if there is a loss of cabin pressure. Passengers are told that oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above and they are to put one on themselves before helping others. Why? Because before you can help anyone else, you need to be physically alert yourself.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he stressed the importance of maintaining his own spiritual health before helping and serving others. He reminded Timothy of his many responsibilities as a pastor: There were false teachings to contend with (1 Tim. 4:1–5) and wrong doctrines to correct (vv. 6–8). But to discharge his duties well, what was most important was to “watch [his] life and doctrine closely [and] persevere in them” (v. 16). He must take care of his own relationship with the Lord first before he could attend to others.

What Paul told Timothy applies to us too. Each day we encounter people who do not know the Lord. When we tank up on our spiritual oxygen first through time in God’s Word, prayer, and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we will get our relationship right with God. Then we will be spiritually alert to help others. 

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Verse of the Day – Philippians 2:7-8

…but [Jesus] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:7-8

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Christianity is not for wimps or the faint of heart. Our example is described by words like… “made himself of no reputation” …”servant” …”humbled himself” …”became obedient” …”death on a cross!” That’s tough stuff. And that is our example. The story of the Jesus may begin with a sweet child, but it also begins with him being placed where animals ate their food. While it may be powerful and precious, it is not saccharine and fake sentiment. It is about the price paid to redeem and the people who are different because they know their Redeemer.

My Prayer…

Almighty God, loving Father, thank you for placing the Gospel story in the real world where I live. Jesus, thank you for being a Savior who has come into my world and faced its toughest edges. Help me as I learn to be sacrificial, obedient, and humble so that I can be used to help others find your grace. In the name of Jesus, the Lord. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.


© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. Verseoftheday.com is part of the Heartlight Network. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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Trusting God Even If

Due to an injury that occurred in 1992, I suffer from chronic pain in my upper back, shoulders, and neck. During the most excruciating and disheartening moments, it’s not always easy to trust or praise the Lord. But when my situation feels unbearable, God’s constant presence comforts me. He strengthens me and reassures me of His unchanging goodness, limitless power, and sustaining grace. And when I’m tempted to doubt my Lord, I’m encouraged by the determined faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They worshipped God and trusted He was with them, even when their situation seemed hopeless.

When King Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw them into a blazing furnace if they didn’t turn away from the true God to worship his golden statue (Dan. 3:13–15), these three men displayed courageous and confident faith. They never doubted the Lord was worthy of their worship (v. 17), “even if” He didn’t rescue them from their current predicament (v. 18). And God didn’t leave them alone in their time of need; He joined and protected them in the furnace (vv. 24–25).

God doesn’t leave us alone either. He remains with us through trials that can feel as destructive as Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. Even if our suffering doesn’t end on this side of eternity, God is and always will be mighty, trustworthy, and good. We can rely on His constant and loving presence.

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Verse of the Day – Philippians 2:5-6

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped…

Philippians 2:5-6

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Jesus did not hang on to his heavenly glory, but surrendered it to save us. Now he asks us to follow his example and share his heart. He wants us to treat each other as he has treated us, thinking of their needs and God’s will before our own. Now that’s one revolution I hope I get to see fully happen!

My Prayer…

O Father God, please transform my heart and mind by the power of your Holy Spirit. I want my thoughts to be your thoughts. I want my hearts desire to reflect the passions of your Son. I want my will to be guided by your Spirit. Please forgive my tendency to ruthlessly hang on to my own importance, my own will, and my own self-justification, even when I know it is not right or best. Make my mind more like the mind of your Son. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@verseoftheday.com.


© 1998-2017, Heartlight, Inc. Verseoftheday.com is part of the Heartlight Network. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

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Non-denominational Church located in York PA