Impossible to Hold

Swimming with friends in the Gulf of Mexico, Caitlyn encountered a shark, which grabbed her legs and pulled at her body. To counter the attack, Caitlyn punched the shark in the nose. The predator unclenched its jaws and swam away in defeat. Although its bite caused multiple wounds, which required over 100 stitches, the shark was unable to keep Caitlyn in its grasp.

This story reminds me of the fact that Jesus delivered a blow to death, ending its power to intimidate and defeat His followers. According to Peter, “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on [Jesus]” (Acts 2:24).

Peter said these words to a crowd in Jerusalem. Perhaps many of them had been the ones yelling out, “Crucify him!” to condemn Jesus (Matthew 27:23). As a result, Roman soldiers fastened Him to a cross where He hung until they confirmed He was dead. Jesus’s body was carried to a tomb where it stayed for three days until God resurrected Him. After His resurrection, Peter and others spoke and ate with Him, and after forty days they watched Him ascend into heaven (v. 32).

Jesus’s life on earth ended amidst physical suffering and mental anguish, yet God’s power defeated the grave. Because of this, death—or any other struggle—lacks the ability to keep us in its grip forever. One day all believers will experience everlasting life and wholeness in God’s presence. Focusing on this future can help us find freedom today.

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Verse of the Day – Proverbs 15:23

A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word!

Proverbs 15:23

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Knowing the right word at the right time is a great gift. But even the best of speakers has to admit that the best of his or her words are not nearly as good as those the Spirit gives. Nevertheless, we must not excuse ourselves for our insensitive speech, unkindness, or missed opportunities. Not paying attention to what was said is no excuse. Not being spiritually in tune with the needs of our companions is a cop out. Simply not knowing Scripture well enough to bless others with gracious speech at the appropriate time is self-deception. Listening to others after having listened to God in his Word is what tunes our ears and our hearts to bless others.

My Prayer…

Loving Shepherd, I will spend much of my time today with people. Some of them know you, but most do not. Please give me wisdom to say things that lead people closer to you. Give me words of help and hope for the broken. Give me words of tenderness for the fainting. Give me words of direction for the confused. Father, I pray that whatever words I do say today may reflect your will and may be led by your purposes to bless others. 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.


© 1998-2018, 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. | Privacy Policy

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Choosing the Trail

I have a beautiful autumn photograph of a young man on horseback in the Colorado mountains as he contemplates which trail ahead to follow. It reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” In it, Frost ponders two pathways that lie before him. Both are equally inviting, but he doubts he will return to this place again, and he must choose one. Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  

In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), the Lord told His listeners, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14).

On our journey through life, we face many choices about which road to travel. Many pathways seem promising and attractive but only one is the pathway of life. Jesus calls us to travel the road of discipleship and obedience to God’s Word—to follow Him instead of the crowd.  

As we ponder the road ahead, may God give us wisdom and courage to follow His way—the road of life. It will make all the difference for us and those we love!

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Verse of the Day – Galatians 6:2

Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

I feel so burdened myself, that sometimes I can’t even see others burdens. But Jesus reminds me that if I am to be like him, I will be a burden carrier. This is why he came, why he died, and why his resurrection is so important — to lift from us the burdens of sin, death, and depravity. He has blessed us by carrying our heaviest burdens so that we might lighten the load of those around us.

My Prayer…

Compassionate Father, help me to see the burdens in the lives of others around me and then respond to those burdens with help. I want to be a blessing to the broken and discouraged, so please help me find my place and my way of serving to your glory. 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.


© 1998-2018, 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. | Privacy Policy

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Treasure in a Pumpkin

As a young mother, I was determined to document my daughter’s first year of life. Each month, I took photos of her to illustrate how she had changed and grown. In one of my favorite pictures, she is gleefully sitting in the belly of a hollowed-out pumpkin I purchased from a local farmer. There she sat, the delight of my heart, contained in an overgrown squash. The pumpkin withered in the ensuing weeks, but my daughter continued to grow and thrive.

The way Paul describes knowing the truth of who Jesus is reminds me of that photo. He likens the knowledge of Jesus in our heart to a treasure stored in a clay pot. Remembering what Jesus did for us gives us the courage and strength to persevere through struggles in spite of being “hard-pressed on every side” (2 Corinthians 4:8). Because of God’s power in our lives, when we are “struck down but not destroyed,” we reveal the life of Jesus (v. 9).

Like the pumpkin that withered, we may feel the wear and tear of our trials. But the joy of Jesus in us can continue to grow in spite of those challenges. Our knowledge of Him—His power at work in our lives—is the treasure stored in our frail clay bodies. We can flourish in the face of hardship because of His power at work within us.

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Verse of the Day – Psalm 40:8

I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.

Psalm 40:8

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Too many of us are paranoid about the word law and find it hard to hear a scripture like this. But we must recognize that the goal of the New Covenant of grace and the gift of the Spirit is that God’s law is written on our hearts and demonstrated in our lives. God is not concerened that it be written on tablets of stone. Jeremiah prophesied of such a day when the focus of God’s people would be their desire to do God’s will — a passion to love the things our Father loves and despise the things he despises.

My Prayer…

Abba Father, I do want to do your will. I want to please you, glorify you, and lead others to you. Give me spiritual discernment to know your will and spiritual courage to do it today. I want your character and righteousness to inform my heart when I am tempted by Satan not to live for you. Humble me gently when I am wrong or have lost my way. In the mighty name of Jesus 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.


© 1998-2018, 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. | Privacy Policy

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My Real Face

For years, feelings of unworthiness and shame over my less-than-godly past had an adverse impact on every aspect of my life. What if others discovered the extent of my blemished reputation? Though God helped me muster up courage to invite a ministry leader to lunch, I strived to seem perfect. I scrubbed my house spotless, whipped up a three-course meal, and donned my best jeans and blouse.

I rushed to turn off the front-yard sprinklers. Twisting the leaking nozzle, I screamed when a gush of water drenched me. With towel-dried hair and smeared makeup, I changed into dry sweats and a T-shirt . . . just in time to hear the doorbell. Frustrated, I confessed my morning’s antics and motives. My friend shared her battles with fear and insecurity stemming from guilt over past failings. After we prayed, she welcomed me to her team of God’s imperfect servants.

The apostle Paul accepted his new life in Christ, refusing to deny his past or let it stop him from serving the Lord (1 Timothy 1:12­–14). Because Paul knew Jesus’s work on the cross saved and changed him—the worst of sinners—he praised God and encouraged others to honor and obey Him (vv. 15–17).

When we accept God’s grace and forgiveness, we’re freed from our past. Flawed but fiercely loved, we have no reason to be ashamed of our real faces as we serve others with our God-given gifts.

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Verse of the Day – Psalm 51:12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:12

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

In the face of sin and separation from God, grace is a refreshing stream that restores salvation. But the joy of salvation is found only when we realize and accept the forgiveness, grace, and restoration God has given us — when we drink from the stream of grace. The joy of salvation is sustained in a changed lifestyle and an ongoing recognition that we walk with God.

My Prayer…

Holy and Righteous Father, I long for the outbreak of joy in your salvation like I see in the book of Acts. I pray for your Spirit to lead us into another era of outreach, conversion, and celebration. I pray for wisdom to know and for eyes to see those around me who are most open to the Gospel. I want to be a partner with you in your ongoing work of salvation. 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.


© 1998-2018, 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. | Privacy Policy

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Always Accepted

After several years of struggling to keep up in her studies, Angie was finally taken out of her elite primary school and transferred to a “normal” one. In Singapore’s intensely competitive education landscape, where being in a “good” school can improve one’s future prospects, many would see this as a failure.

Angie’s parents were disappointed, and Angie herself felt as if she had been demoted. But soon after joining her new school, the nine year old realized what it meant to be in a class of average students. “Mummy, I belong here,” she said. “I’m finally accepted!”

It reminded me of how excited Zacchaeus must have felt when Jesus invited Himself to the tax collector’s home (Luke 19:5). Christ was interested in dining with those who knew they were flawed and didn’t deserve God’s grace (v. 10). Having found us—and loved us—as we were, Jesus gives us the promise of perfection through His death and resurrection. We are made perfect through His grace alone.

I’ve often found my spiritual journey to be one of constant struggle, knowing that my life falls far short of God’s ideal. How comforting it is know that we are always accepted, for the Holy Spirit is in the business of molding us to be like Jesus.

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