“A Radical Shift”


Mark 1:16-20 – Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, He (Jesus) saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed Him.

Imagine a young boy named James. As a boy he watched his father and others in a profession that had been in the family for generations. It was his destiny. He would be in the seafood business, and probably little else in the way of professions even crossed his mind.

It’s the story recorded in our Gospel text—the story of a great change in plans for James and his brother John, and for two others, Simon and Andrew, who were also called by Jesus into a whole new way of life. I’m not sure how God prepared these four to make such a radical shift in their lives, but they accepted Jesus’ invitation to join in the cause of proclaiming the Gospel of God. I don’t know how they did it, but I know God had a plan for them.

Well, God has a plan for you, too. Maybe God’s plan of salvation for you has yet to be fulfilled. If you have not yet received the gift of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior—that is, the greatest gift you could ever receive—Jesus is still calling (see Revelation 3:20). He cares. He wants you to be a part of His family. Once you receive God’s gift of faith, you can be sure He has a plan for you, and it may involve a change in your plans.

There are many with a wide variety of backgrounds, abilities, experiences, and degrees, who are now church workers because God had a plan for them—not unlike James and John and Simon and Andrew. Heeding God’s call you might volunteer at a women’s shelter or homeless facility. Maybe you can teach English as a second language. You might help landscape a nursing home, update an aging computer system, or play a cello at your church. Maybe you’ll work with those who are sick or in hospice care.

The list is endless. Still, some of you may be saying, “You know, I have thought about that, but I don’t have the courage or confidence to follow through.” Well, if you’re reluctant, think of Moses. He balked at being the one to lead God’s people out of Egypt. “Not me, God, I can’t even talk straight,” was his response. “You want me to do what!?” And yet the seemingly unprepared and stammering Moses accomplished great things—all by God’s grace.

Today, and in the days ahead, pray for the wisdom to grasp the plan God has for you. Pray for the courage to step out in faith. Pray that you may always be open to God’s leading. As God already knows, the plans He has for you are the best plans of all (see Jeremiah 29:11).

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, change our lives to follow You and be more like Jesus. In His Name. Amen.

Taken from “A Change in Plans,” a message excerpt by Rev. Dr. Paul Devantier

Reflection Questions:

1. As a kid did you have a decent idea what you wanted to be or do as an adult? Are you anywhere “in the ballpark” of that early aspiration?

2. How responsive do you think you would be to someone telling you to “Come, follow me”? What would you need to know first?

3. Have you ever wanted someone to follow you for his or her own benefit? Did the person do that?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 20-21    Psalms 34    Luke 21:20-38


“What Do You Think of Jesus?”


John 10:7-10 – So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Doors make a huge difference, don’t they? They keep people safe behind them. They open to allow you to come in, and then they shut to keep out trouble. A good door is a blessing.

People who come in through doors are usually considered legitimate, especially if a doorkeeper waves them through. They are there for a proper reason. But that’s not the case for people who climb over a wall or break through a window. We call the police as soon as we see that. They’re clearly up to no good!

Jesus calls Himself a door in this passage. He is our Protector, and He is the One through whom we come into God’s kingdom. While He is on duty, we don’t need to be afraid. He gives us life, freedom, and safety.

But there are people out there who try to mislead us, often on purpose. They may be trying to sell us the latest-and-greatest philosophy for changing our lives. They may be trying to recruit us to “special” Bible studies, or to attend a new church or lecture series. How can we tell if they are legitimate? Look at their attitude to the door—to Jesus.

Ask them: “What do you think of Jesus?” Their answer will tell you a lot about their hearts. If they say, “He is our Savior, and He died and rose again so we could be God’s children,” that’s good! They are coming to you through the true door. But what if they say something like this? “Jesus is a great teacher, and we should all follow His rules and teachings.” Or, “Jesus was a highly evolved soul, and we should follow His example to get to a higher plane of living.” Or even, “Jesus is okay for those who want to follow Him, but we have something more important to share with you.” Whoa! These are not good or safe people to be listening to. They are not entering through the true door: Jesus; they are climbing over the wall.

We know who Jesus is—not just a great teacher, like hundreds of other people. Not a highly evolved soul who serves as an example for us while we try to work our way to perfection. No, He is God Himself, born as a Man among us, born to rescue us from the powers of evil. He is the One who died on the cross to break the power of evil, and then rose from the dead three days later—never to die again. He is the One who offers free, joyful, everlasting life to everyone who trusts in Him and belongs to Him. He is our door. He is our safety.

THE PRAYER: Lord, keep us safe in Your care. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. Which is your favorite door, and why?

2. Who has the key to the door of your home? Why did you trust them with it?

3. How has Jesus kept you safe in your life?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 19    Psalms 23    Psalms 59    Luke 21:1-19


“¿Qué piensas de Jesús?”

Una vez más Jesús les dijo: «De cierto, de cierto les digo: Yo soy la puerta de las ovejas. Todos los que vinieron antes de mí, son ladrones y salteadores; pero las ovejas no los oyeron. Yo soy la puerta; el que por mí entra, será salvo; y entrará y saldrá, y hallará pastos. El ladrón no viene sino para hurtar, matar y destruir; yo he venido para que tengan vida, y para que la tengan en abundancia. Juan 10:7-10

Las puertas hacen una gran diferencia, ¿no? Mantienen a las personas seguras, se abren para permitir entrar a alguien, y luego se cierran para evitar problemas. Una buena puerta es una bendición.

A las personas que entran por la puerta se las consideran legítimas, especialmente si un portero las hace pasar; están allí por una razón adecuada. Pero con las personas que trepan por una pared o que rompen una ventana, las cosas son diferentes: de apuro llamamos a la policía pues sabemos que no están haciendo nada bueno.

En el texto de hoy, Jesús se llama a sí mismo una puerta. Él es nuestro protector, y es el único a través del cual entramos en el reino de Dios. Mientras esté de servicio, no debemos tener miedo. Nos da vida, libertad y seguridad. Pero hay personas que intentan engañarnos, a menudo a propósito. Quizás traten de vendernos la filosofía más reciente para cambiar nuestra vida, o quizás nos quieran reclutar para estudios bíblicos “especiales”, o para asistir a una nueva iglesia. ¿Cómo podemos saber si son legítimos? Fijándonos en su actitud hacia la puerta Jesús.

Si se les pregunta qué piensan de Jesús, su respuesta dirá mucho sobre lo que creen. Si dicen: “Él es nuestro Salvador que murió y resucitó para que pudiéramos ser hijos de Dios”, ¡es bueno! Quieren llevarte a través de la puerta verdadera. Pero, ¿y si dicen algo como esto? “Jesús es un gran maestro, y debemos seguir sus reglas y enseñanzas”. O, “Jesús era un alma altamente evolucionada, y deberíamos seguir su ejemplo para llegar a un plano superior de vida”. O, “Jesús está bien para quienes quieren seguirlo, pero tenemos algo más importante que compartir con ustedes”. ¡Cuidado! Estas personas no te están invitando a entrar por la puerta verdadera, sino a trepar por encima del muro.

Sabemos que Jesús no fue solo un gran maestro, como cientos de otras personas, ni tampoco un alma altamente evolucionada que nos sirve de ejemplo para tratar de llegar a la perfección. No, Él es Dios mismo, nacido como un hombre entre nosotros para rescatarnos de los poderes del mal. Él es quien murió en la cruz para destruir el poder del mal, y resucitó de la muerte para no morir nunca más. Él es quien ofrece vida libre, gozosa y eterna a todos los que confían en Él. Él es nuestra puerta segura.

ORACIÓN: Señor, mantennos a salvo bajo tu cuidado. Amén.

Dra. Kari Vo

Para reflexionar:

  1. ¿Quién tiene la llave de la puerta de tu casa? ¿Por qué se la has confiado?
  2. ¿Cómo te ha salvado Jesús en tu vida?


“Viviendo noblemente”

El soportar sufrimientos injustos es digno de elogio, si quien los soporta lo hace por motivos de conciencia delante de Dios. Porque ¿qué mérito hay en soportar malos tratos por hacer algo malo? Pero cuando se sufre por hacer el bien y se aguanta el castigo, entonces sí es meritorio ante Dios. Y ustedes fueron llamados para esto. Porque también Cristo sufrió por nosotros, con lo que nos dio un ejemplo para que sigamos sus pasos. Cristo no cometió ningún pecado, ni hubo engaño en su boca. Cuando lo maldecían, no respondía con maldición; cuando sufría, no amenazaba, sino que remitía su causa al que juzga con justicia. Él mismo llevó en su cuerpo nuestros pecados al madero, para que nosotros, muertos ya al pecado, vivamos para la justicia. Por sus heridas fueron ustedes sanados. Porque ustedes eran como ovejas descarriadas, pero ahora se han vuelto al Pastor que cuida de sus vidas. 1 Pedro 2:19-25

Es fácil olvidar que la mayoría de los libros de la Biblia fueron escritos por sus propios protagonistas. Los apóstoles escribieron viviendo en un mundo que, en su mayor parte, no simpatizaba para nada con su mensaje. Esa extraña secta de Jesús, vilipendiada por los judíos, incomprendida y oprimida por los romanos y burlada por los griegos, no era bien vista por nadie. Y el mensaje que compartían, que incluía soportar el sufrimiento y los castigos físicos, ciertamente no era el más apropiado para ganar conversos para su causa.

¿Cómo podía ser noble el mantenerse firme ante el ridículo injusto o el soportar la persecución? ¿Acaso no debemos reaccionar contra estas cosas, haciéndole frente al opresor? Después de todo, el Salvador ya sufrió suficiente. ¡Dios sabe que sufrió suficiente! ¿Cuándo podremos derribar a los que se burlan de Dios y nos rebajan por nuestra fe? ¿Cuándo es suficiente?

Podríamos pensar que ya hace mucho tiempo que fue suficiente, pero esa no es la forma en que Dios obra, ¿verdad? Dios no nos dio las verdades dichas por su Hijo para que las tergiversemos y las usemos según cómo creemos que debería ser la victoria con Dios.

No, los caminos de Dios son totalmente diferentes de los nuestros, ¡y por eso le damos gracias!

Pablo, el colega de Pedro, lo dijo bien: “Porque Dios no permitió que el mundo lo conociera mediante la sabiduría, sino que dispuso salvar a los creyentes por la locura de la predicación. Los judíos piden señales, y los griegos van tras la sabiduría, pero nosotros predicamos a Cristo crucificado, que para los judíos es ciertamente un tropezadero, y para los no judíos una locura, pero para los llamados, tanto judíos como griegos, Cristo es poder de Dios, y sabiduría de Dios. Porque lo insensato de Dios es más sabio que los hombres, y lo débil de Dios es más fuerte que los hombres” (1 Corintios 1: 21-25).

ORACIÓN: Padre celestial, danos tu Espíritu Santo para levantarnos bajo la tensión de la vida para que podamos vivir como tu pueblo. En el nombre de Jesús oramos. Amén.

Paul Schreiber

Para reflexionar:

  1. ¿Cómo reaccionas cuando alguien te ofende?
  2. ¿Cómo puede Dios ayudarnos a superar las reacciones negativas?


“Living More Nobly”


1 Peter 2:19-25 – For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

It’s easy to forget the books of the Bible were written by those who were in the thick of it. The apostles wrote from inside a world that, for the most part, was anything but thrilled with their message. This weird Jesus sect—reviled by the Jews, misunderstood and oppressed by the Romans, scoffed at by the Greeks—was not in the good graces of anyone. And the message they shared—one of enduring through sorrow and physical suffering—was certainly not the stuff to win converts to their cause.

How could remaining steadfast in the face of unjust ridicule or bearing up under persecution be in any way noble, even honorable? Aren’t these things to react against, standing one’s ground in the face of his or her oppressor, even letting it come to blows if it has to? After all, the Savior suffered enough. God knows He suffered enough! When do we get to bring the hammer down on those who mock God and demean us for our faith? When is enough enough?

One might think it was enough a long time ago, but that’s not the way God works, is it? His Son-spoken truths haven’t been given to us for us to wedge them into our perverse way of thinking, jamming them into our mistaken ideas of what we think victory with God should look like.

No, God’s ways are a radical departure from our own, and let us thank Him for that!

Peter’s colleague Paul said it well when he wrote, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, give us Your Holy Spirit to lift us up under life’s strain so we might live as Your people. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.

Reflection Questions:

1. Have you ever had to square off with a bully? How did that turn out for you?

2. Are you able to keep from lashing out at others who offend you? What’s the secret to your success?

3. How can we get beyond the knee-jerk reaction we might have toward people or circumstances that irritate us? It is all willpower? Can God help us overcome these negative reactions? How?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 17-18    Luke 20:27-47

Daily Devotions

“A Tiny Adventure”


Acts 2:42-47 – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The family I married into has many Vietnamese pastors in it. In Vietnam and in America as well, the pastor’s home is—well, sort of a community help center. It’s where people go who have nowhere else to live. It’s where the hungry can find food and the sad or confused find counseling. If you’re being abused by a family member, that’s where you run to. If they can’t help you themselves, they’ll find someone who can.

When I was twenty, I was basically in terrified awe of my brother-in-law’s home in Southern California and all the people they were caring for. I could never, ever do that, I felt. It made me want to run. I think a lot of people feel that way about the earliest church in this passage we’ve just read. Look at them—selling their property, sharing the money, eating together, making major life changes—yikes!

And with the fear comes the guilt. Shouldn’t I be doing that? a little voice bugs me. But guilt misses the point.

What motivates people to do this stuff is not guilt, but love—well, and joy, and maybe some pleasure in adventure, too. Plain duty doesn’t get you very far. It was love that motivated Jesus to give Himself for us on the cross and make us His own forever. God the Father didn’t have to push Him. So if you’re looking to expand your own service horizons, maybe the place to start is with love—not duty. Start with love—with the compassion, concern, and care that God has already placed in your heart.

Then ask the Lord to send you something to do that is well within your capabilities—a good first step, a tiny adventure, especially if you are a beginner. That might mean taking dinner to a sick neighbor, or picking up the phone to call a lonely friend. It might mean offering a ride to the doctor to someone you know and care about who has advanced cancer. Start with what you’ve got. I think you’ll enjoy your tiny adventure!

THE PRAYER: Dear Father, please show me a way to pass on Your love, and make it one that fits my capabilities right now. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. What is the greatest act of love and kindness you have ever heard of? (No fair saying “Jesus.”)

2. What is the tiniest act of love and kindness you can imagine?

3. What is one thing, however, tiny, you could do today to express your love for God and His people?

Today’s Bible Readings: 1 Samuel 15-16    Luke 20:1-26

2nd Sunday of Easter 2020

The word “peace” is central for God’s people to hear time and again as part of worship. The peace of the Lord is exchanged between pastor and congregation and often also spoken among the people of the congregation. It is our blessing to hear that word of peace from our Lord once again today in our world—which also has unrest and challenges.

Today’s text is from John 20:19–31   (Jesus appears to His disciples who are behind locked doors.) .