devotional thoughts

July 31, 2020

by Don Hesson


  • I Timothy 4:6-16


In Paul’s two letters to Timothy, the issues of doctrine- both pure, and false- as well as teaching, instructing, and correcting are a major theme. Collectively, these topics are brought up nearly twenty times. Paul’s repetitious discourse should give us pause. We should certainly be cognizant of the importance of sound doctrine, and an upholding of the standard of the word of God as the sole compass for being pleasing to the Father, for becoming more like the Son, and for being increasingly led by the Holy Spirit. However, in today”s passage, Paul shares some “secrets” that are perhaps oft overlooked. Today’s devotional peers into these disclosures.

At this point in the letter, Paul has already commanded Timothy as to the necessity of teaching sound doctrine, and the extinguishing of false doctrine in the Ephesian church (see I Timothy 1:3-4). He has also expressed the sole aim of the Father’s heart in doing so (see Timothy 1:5). He has expressed to Timothy that he has been uniquely gifted by God, in accordance with his calling to do exactly this (see I Timothy 1:18); this is a point that he reiterates (see I Timothy 4:14). Paul has also set forth some parameters by which Timothy was to be guided in appointing elders, and deacons in the church so that he had ministry “boots on the ground” to help him both directly, and indirectly with this endeavor (see I Timothy 3:1-13). He has summed up the central focal point of sound doctrine, and the essence of the Gospel in the Person, and finished work of Jesus Christ (see I Timothy 3:16). Finally, he has expressed, that as revealed by the Holy Spirit Himself, that there was a coming apostasy, or falling away (see I Timothy 4:1-5).

It is at this point that we begin to listen in on Paul to Timothy once again:

  • “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (I Timothy 4:6, NKJV).

The word “instruct” (which in the King James Version is rendered, “put into remembrance”), is the Greek word “hypotithemi.” It is used only one other time in the entire New Testament. In Paul’s parting words to the church in Rome, he uses this word to describe Priscilla, and Aquila, “... who risked their own necks for [his] life…” (Romans 16:4, NKJV). 

Paul’s choice of words here provides amazing insight into his charge to Timothy. He is not merely commanding that he hear the message, or even that he proclaim it. Paul is beseeching him to become the message. Like Paul, Timothy is to go all in, and risk his neck for the sake of the Gospel, and its practical, incarnational implications with regard to doctrine set forth by apostolic authority. He is calling for a transformation that is seen in the first few chapters of Isaiah. In Chapters One through Five, Isaiah receives the message. But in Chapter Six, God’s word consumes him, refines him and transforms him so that he completely identifies with the heart of God and embodies the message. And then, Isaiah receives, and releases sixty more chapters of prophetic utterance from God.

The amazing implication here is that with Timothy, as with Isaiah, this kind of response- an “undoneness,” before God, and an abandonment unto His word- is “win/win/win.” It was that which most honored God (see Psalm 138:1-2; Isaiah 66:1-2), and it was that which most blessed the Ephesian believers so that they could step into the fulfillment of that for which Paul had so fervently prayed (see Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21). But it was also God’s best for Timothy. Not only does Paul identify the standard of the Good Shepherd for servanthood, he also whets Timothy’s spiritual appetite. Sound doctrine is called “good” by Paul. This is the Greek word “kalos.” It is the same word Jesus used to describe both the favorable soil in His parable of the sower (see Matthew 13:1-52; Mark 4:1-34; Luke 8:4-18), and the fruit that is produced from it upon receiving the seed of the word (e.g., see Matthew 5:16; Luke 6:43).

  • “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (I Timothy 4:9-10, NKJV, emphases mine). 

Paul does not hang Timothy out to dry here. To the contrary, his words provide an imagery of unity in the faith; a sense of connectivity as, “... being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5, NKJV). Thus in the midst of a daunting task, and of the suffering of undue reproach, Paul is able to impart peace to Timothy. This too was Paul’s message to Timothy’s “home church” (see Ephesians 4:1-6).

  • “These things command and teach” (I Timothy 4:11, NKJV).

Finally, Paul underscores the importance of becoming the message in order to effectively teach it. Not only is Timothy to “teach” (“didaskalo”), he is to “command” (“paraggello”). This is a different word than that which is used in Chapter One (see verses 3-5). It is a word that takes on a meaning more in keeping with the connotation of our English word. “Paraggello” is a compound word in the original Greek. The first word means to be near or to be beside. The second word is the same used as for the angel who appeared to the shepherds with good tidings of great joy (see Luke 2:8-15). Together, these two words are a charge to Timothy to align with the message he brings, so that his life is in harmonic resonance with his message (Strong’s G3843, G32, G3853). Thus, it is not so much an admonishment to the recipients of the message as it is the one who delivers it. 

Timothy’s “Romans Twelve gift” was teaching. That is without question (see I Timothy 4:6, 11, 13-16; II Timothy 2:2, 15; 4:2). As a teacher, Timothy was in scarce company, and this is in accordance with James’ admonition (see James 3:1-2). Does this mean that if we do not have the gift of teaching, or that if we do not function in the “Ephesians Four office” of “teacher” (see Ephesians 4:11), that we are absolved from any responsibility to adhere to that with which Paul charged Timothy? It absolutely does not! Take a look at what Paul wrote to a man (Epaphras) who was, in all likelihood, the founding pastor of the church in Colosse (see Colossians 1:7-8; 4:12-13). Paul had never been there, but this church was a second-generation outgrowth of his work in Ephesus (see Acts 19:10; 20:31). As such, he was just as committed to the Colossians as to the Ephesians, as well as to all his other direct, and indirect influences.

  • “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16, NKJV).

This certainly rings true and resonates with our Cornerstone vision. There is a strategy articulated as, “Leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Believing in Jesus. Belonging to family. Becoming a disciple. Building His kingdom” ( Part of the culture we wish to establish is that of becoming both bigger and smaller at the same time (see Cornerstone Growth Track- 201: Essentials). We believe this is to be accomplished through a “buy in” with regard to small groups or “Life Groups.” It is the perfect vehicle to practice and grow in the realization of Paul’s charge to Timothy, to the Ephesians, to the Colossians and others. 

This is both a ministry between members within the body, as well as a mission to those in the world. But most importantly, it is worship to the Lord.

  • “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:19-25, NKJV).

This passage is packed with admonitions as to relationship. First is God’s obligation to Himself in regard to the perfect unity of the Trinity. There was a tremendous price paid in the Person of Jesus Christ. All relationships originate from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 3:25-26; 8:9-11). Second, we see our personal obligation to avail ourselves of God’s redemptive offer. Next we see our value of, and investment in one another as being one in Christ (see John 17:20-23; Romans 12:3-5; I Peter 2:4-5). Finally there is our corporate relationship to God, as the Bride of Christ.

All this may seem a little overcooked. How can all of this be extracted from a small excerpt of Paul’s first letter to Timothy? And yet, that’s the beauty of it. In the creation narrative of Genesis, the only thing which God characterized as not good was that if man were to remain alone. Of course we know that this was the opening statement for the entrance of woman, and for the institution of marriage. Yet with equal clarity, we see the perils of separation in general. 

  • “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgement. A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Proverbs 18:1-2, NKJV)

The Father loves the Son; this has always been so. Infinitely so much so, that not only did He grant Him the Passion by which we can enter in, and become His church, but also that He would give her to Him as a Bride (see John 17:24). And the Son loves the Father; this too has always been the case. Infinitely so much so, that He carried out the Father’s will as His perfect, and exact representation (see John 1:18; John 14:31; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-4). All of this for the sake of us individually, and corporately as the church! God has gone to great lengths for us, and to protect His investment, He has installed quality assurance measures. One of these is that He has created, called and commissioned us to be in community.

Paul details to Timothy the importance of community-not only to him, but also to the Ephesian church as a whole; a church of which he is a part. With this passage, we close.

  • “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:12-16, NKJV).

July 28, 2020

II Corinthians 10:4-6 New King James Version (NKJV)

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity unto the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.


  • I Timothy 1:1-7


Having been set in as an elder at Cornerstone Church, I meditate and reflect a great deal on our stated vision, and what it means: “Leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Believing in Jesus. Belonging to family. Becoming a disciple. Building His kingdom” ( The  passage of Scripture above has stirred this up in me again by way of reminder. I see the model alive and well. Today’s devotional examines the parallel.

  • “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, to Timothy, a true son in the faith: grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Timothy 1:1-2, NKJV)

Of the New Testament Books to which Paul’s writing is ascribed, the majority of them make mention of his apostleship in what scholars term as the greetings of his letters. In some instances Paul’s authority as an apostle was challenged by members of his audience. But in this personal letter to Timothy, this is not the case. There is no need for a confrontation, and Paul makes no point of contention. On the contrary, Paul mentions his apostleship as a point of connectivity, for he refers to Timothy as a “true son in the faith.” 

In this short greeting, we can see that both the sender of the letter, and its recipient have caught a glimpse of the realization of a portion of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21, NKJV). Of course neither of them were present at Jesus’ praying of this prayer, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be privy to the realization of its answer. First, we see that the issue of identity in Christ for each of them is a settled one. Second, we see that Paul and Timothy are in it together, and they are in it to win it; their sole collective aim is for Jesus to be made famous. Jesus Christ is named as both their “Lord” and their “hope,” and in Him their destinies are divinely intertwined.

  • “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia- remain in Ephesus that you my charge [command] some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith” (I Timothy 1:3-4, NKJV, brackets from margin notes).

Paul has stepped into a life of “believing in Jesus.” His is one of the most, if not the most memorable, and amazing accounts of a salvation experience in all of Scripture (see Acts Chapters 9, 22, 26). Paul has also experienced, “belonging to family.” The onset of this was almost immediate upon his encounter with Jesus. Both those whom he had persecuted in Jerusalem, and those he was on his way to persecute in Damascus exemplified agape love (see Acts 9:10-30). Paul has grown in maturity in “becoming a disciple.” Though he began to preach Christ almost immediately, there was a season of seasoning (see Galatians 1:11-24).

Now. we see Paul “building His kingdom.” Paul, as an “apostle” - Greek: “apostolos” “... he that is sent” (Strong’s G652)- now sends Timothy, setting him in as Pastor at Ephesus. This was not a whim of Paul. Rather, it was the culmination of a great deal of training, and of sowing into Timothy; an apprenticeship in the faith (e.g.  Acts 16:1-5).

Of utmost concern to Paul was the issue of false doctrine. His charge, or command to Timothy was that there was to be neither any teaching, nor any receiving of anything contrary to sound doctrine as set forth in the prophecy of Old Testament Scripture, the life, teachings and finished work of Christ, and the standards of godliness issued by way of apostlic authority (see II Timothy 3:10-17).

Though not specifically included here, there appear to be three broad categories of false doctrine: 1.) Adding doctrine to the Gospel, which is legalism; 2.) Removing doctrine from the Gospel, which is lawlessness, and; 3.) Substituting doctrine for the Gospel, which is heresy. Examples abound (e.g., see Galatians, Colossians, and II Peter respectively).

  • “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith” (I Timothy 1:5, NKJV).

Here we see Paul’s heart motivation. It is the rhythm of a heart captured by God. His heart is in time, and in tune with the heart of God, and now he makes it known. Paul is not egomaniacal, or power drunk. He is not seeking his own agenda. There is just simply too much Kingdom business at stake for him to risk being soft on false teaching, or to be misunderstood as to his being so adamant about it. Not only was Paul, in a sense, “cleansing the temple,” but he was also stating his case for doing so (see John 2:12-17; Psalm 69:9).

Paul wanted for Timothy, and for the church at Ephesus what God wanted for them. In short He wanted them to know the love of God. Paul understood that love rejoices in the truth because truth brings freedom (see I Corinthains 13:6; John 8:32). That this was Paul’s heart was undeniable given the prayers offered by Paul on behalf of this church (e.g. Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21)

Paul expands on the ramifications of such freedom. Love from a pure heart: Paul wants them to know the freedom of receiving from, and responding to God in a level of intimacy that is ever growing. He knows this is an impossible possibility without a pure heart. Such a heart is said to be “katharos” which means, “ a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit…” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This is the same word used in Jesus’ Gethsemane discourse to the disciples, and it was inseparably linked to them abiding in Him, and to His word abiding in them (see John 15:1-8).

Love from a good conscience: Paul wants them to know the freedom of the rhythm; of being in the will of God. He wants them to “know the flow.” He wants them to walk in the joy, and the effortlessness of being led by the Holy Spirit. He wants them to know the essence of sonship (see Romans 8:14). He is acutely aware that for them to consistently, and accurately target the will of God- thus hitting the mark, as opposed to missing it- they will need to give equal attention to the Word of God, and the Spirit of God (see II Peter 1;20-21). Paul knew what John so aptly penned: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (I John 5:7, NKJV).

Love from a sincere faith: Paul wants them to know the freedom of an authentic, incarnational and operational life. This is a life in God expressed through us as the life of God. This is a theology, and an experience between which there is no dissonance. It is a belief and a walk that align with the life, the teachings, and the finished work of Jesus, and which seek to bring them about in others; generation upon generation. 

  • “From which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor the things which they affirm” (I Timothy 1:6-7, NKJV).

This is without a doubt the saddened side of today’s Scripture. Paul is zealous for God, but he is also grieved for the deceived. In the midst of his Spirit-controlled emotions, he is able to identify the point of departure for these individuals. The corrupting of their hearts, the searing of their consciences, and the shipwrecking of their faith began with their derailment from sound doctrine.

In the context of today’s passage, we see Paul’s discipleship coming full circle with Timothy. One of the earmarks of a disciple is that he/she actually makes disciples (see Matthew 28:16-20). They bear fruit; they reproduce what has been produced in them. Ananias and others in Damascus discipled Paul (see Acts 9:10-19). Paul discipled Timothy (see Acts 16:1-5). Timothy is now charged with discipling others, so that they in turn might make still other disciples (see I Timothy 4:6, 11, 13-16; II Timothy 2:2, 15; 4:2). All of these references are linked with sound doctrine according to the word of God.

We too are His disciples. We can probably all readily attest to the person or persons who sowed into and discipled us. They in turn can most likely do the same. As we grow and mature as His disciples, we too must adhere to the loving guidance of the commands of Scripture, for they are no less than the Shepherd’s guiding us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake (see Psalm 23). As the Holy Spirit unfolds and unpacks for us the intimacy He desires for us in the knowledge of Him through the Scriptures, we learn to discern  the Shepherd’s voice, and we are free to fervently follow Him (see John 10). As we make disciples, we are to do likewise. We must cultivate this capacity and proclivity in others. Freely we have received; freely we are to give (Matthew 10:8). 

As we become disciples, and make disciples, let us draw freely from His outpouring, let us move freely in an outgoing, and let us give freely for an ingathering. Are you ready, Cornerstone?

July 24, 2020

by Don Hesson


I Peter 4:7-11

I Peter 5:10

Matthew 4:17

Luke 18:29-30


As The First Epistle of Peter was written primarily with external pressures on the church in mind, its content deals in large part with suffering. For this reason, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he devotes a great deal of ink to the context of citizenship. In so doing, he encourages his readers in a way that urges them forward in the revelation of eternal perspective, and the attitudes/actions that such a perspective ought to elicit. Today’s devotional delves into these.

“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (I Peter 4:7, NKJV). 

Peter begins with an appeal to right-mindedness. He uses the word “serious” or “sophroneo,” which is the same word used to describe the man who had been possessed by a legion of demons (see Mark 5:9). There is an implication here. Peter has been driving home a point up to now; that of embracing Christ in the fullness of His example- even unto suffering. This is the eternal perspective of identity, citizenship and calling. Spirit-endued living of the difference we wish to make enables us to be delivered of the allure of this world, along with all its empty promises that never deliver.

Such right-mindedness spurs us on to be watchful. The connotation of “watchful” or “nepho” is one of spiritual sobriety, and circumspect temperament. This is not a disposition of fear, but one of hope; a hope that is not speculative, but rather, meditative. This is a prayerful contemplation that allows us to be in close communion with God; the deliberations whereby reverence paves the way for the disclosure of His secrets to us (see Psalm 25:14).

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8, NKJV). 

There are scripturally prescribed methods for dealing with those issues which have not yet been reconciled among the brethren (see Matthew 5, 18). Yet Peter, invoking Psalm 10:12, asserts that in light of the eternal perspective, it is both more expedient, and a more efficient use of time to proactively apply fervent love to the situation. This call for “ektenes agape” is literally a never ending regard for one another. Stated differently, as love never fails, it is preemptive as opposed to prescriptive. 

“... It [agape] expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects. Producing and fostering a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others seek the Giver…” (W. E. Vine, brackets mine). 

Having a sense of urgency, and regard for redeeming the time, we are governed by our Master’s command to love God and others so that it guides us according to the wisdom of His perspective (see Ephesians 5:15-16). When we are mature enough for strength to be perfected in weakness (see II Corinthians 12:9), we can, by the Spirit of God, allow ourselves to be overtaken by love. Therefore, such an allowance precludes the need for the Matthew 5 and/or Matthew 18 dynamic. 

“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:9, NKJV).

This short verse has a wealth perspective to be unpacked. First, the word for “hospitality” is actually a combination of two Greek words. “Philos” refers to the following: 

“... one of the bridegroom’s friends who on his behalf asked the hand of the bride and rendered him various services in closing the marriage and celebrating the nuptials…” (Blue Letter Bible, Outline of Biblical Usage; Edersheim, Jewish Social Life).

The imagery should be obvious, and Jesus unveiled, for the first time, this new designation for His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion (see John 15:15). “Xenos” refers to, “... a guest or (vice-versa) entertainer…” (Strong’s G3581). With the synthesis of these two words we again note an eternal perspective. We are to extend ourselves to one another, and receive from one another as friends of the Bridegroom in preparation for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. This is the essence of koinonia! 

“Without grumbling” is a literary punctuation of verse eight as it speaks to issues of the heart, and of the cleansings of hidden agendas. The Greek word “goggysmos” literally means, “... a secret debate… a secret displeasure not openly avowed” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). 

This is clearly a call to community, a call to be the body, to regard ourselves in context; “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5, NKJV). Answering such a call in a tangible way allows for the expression of the unique ways in which God has gifted us according to His purpose.

“As each one of us has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10, NKJV).

God’s grace is “manifold” or “poikilos.” It is diverse, multifaceted, expressible in an infinite number of ways. God is not lacking in anything, yet, as a matter of choice, He invites us into His plans as vessels through which to pour out His grace to others. His grace (“charis”) is manifest, and specifically expressed through His gifts (“charisma”). These motivational Holy Spirit hardwirings (see Romans 12:6-8) appear to be grouped into two broad categories: 

“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles [utterances] of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies…” (I Peter 4:11a, NKJV, brackets from margin notes). 

Again, eternal perspective, and godly motivation are abundantly clear. Peter just does not let it go. What we say and do, and when, how and why we say and do it are to be expressions of God’s agenda. This is the essence of, “... Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27b, NKJV). 

“... that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 4:11b, NKJV). 

As Peter sums up this passage, he clearly has eternity in mind. Though the imagery is not used here, he undoubtedly writes in view of the Father’s uniting of Christ with His Bride. A Bride perfectly adorned is one who perfectly honors her Bridegroom.  

All of this seems quite daunting; a tall order indeed. But we must remember, “... that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, NKJV). Peter picked up on this thought expressed by Paul:

“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (I Peter 5:10, NKJV). 

If we’ll allow it, God can use even the grit of life’s sandpaper to uniquely, and effectively retool us for His Kingdom purposes. Not only is this a dynamic of the future great unknown, it is right here, and right now.

“From that time [John the Baptist’s imprisonment] Jesus began to preach and to day, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17, NKJV).

“So He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Luke 18:29-30, NKJV)

Be encouraged, equipped, empowered and engaged today. You matter to Him. Now, go and matter for Him! 

July 1, 2020

by Don Hesson


Titus 1:1-4

I Peter 1:1-2

II Peter 1:1-4

Have you ever purchased a new item? Maybe it was something long awaited. Maybe you had to save up for a long time. Maybe you just decided to treat yourself to something a little more luxurious than what you were previously accustomed to. It could have been a vehicle, a five-star hotel room, or maybe even a new Bible with all the commentaries, word meanings, cross references, etc. Regardless of what kind of item it might have been for you, I’d like you to reflect back on the initial experience, and consider your level of excitement, wonderment and perhaps even awe. You were probably more than a little amazed, beside yourself to a point, happy to be so blessed. As you began to explore, you took note of all the nuanced features, carefully thought out details and superb workmanship from individuals who simply must have “gotten it” when it came to knowing exactly what you wanted in a product or service. You may have said aloud, or perhaps just thought to yourself, “Wow, they thought of everything!” These are the memories and thoughts which are evoked when I think about the passages of Scripture for today.

“Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgement of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to the commandment of God our Saviour; To Titus, a true son in our common faith; grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 1:1-4, NKJV).

There it is! The excitement all over again! Before my time had ever come, before even time itself had ever come, God had thought of everything necessary on my behalf in order that I could be in relationship with Him! He created for me the plan of redemption through the blood of Christ Jesus shed for me (see Revelation 13:8). He supplied me with the faith required to appropriate this plan (see Ephesians 2:8). He empowered me according to the indwelling presence of Grace by His Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 3:20). And He hand crafted both me, and the good works by which I would honor Him, each with the other in mind. Wow, God thought of everything!

According to the Apostle Paul, those, who by the grace of God have by His gift of faith, availed themselves of His loving overtures, are known as the “elect.” The Apostle Peter made use of the same word in the opening of his First Epistle. 

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied” (I Peter 1:1-2, NKJV). 

This word “elect” is the Greek word “eklektos.” This word literally means, “... chosen by God…” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Thus, both Paul and Peter speak of God’s chosen plan, and so too those who have humbly acquiesced to it. This does not, of course, imply that some simply cannot be chosen; only that some will not, in accordance with God’s enduement of mankind with free will. To suggest otherwise would fly in the face in the preponderance of scriptural evidence to the contrary (e.g. John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8; II Peter 3:9).

In the passage above, we again see that not only did God think of everything, but that He thought of everything in advance; eternally in advance. In other words, the idea has been in existence, in its entirety as long as God has been around. Truly, it’s not accurate, and perhaps not even appropriate to infer that God had to think something up. As one of His names in Hebrew (“Yehovah”) tells us, He is the self-existent one (Strong’s H3068). Theological debates aside, it is comforting to know that we are in the hands of the Master. In fact, also in the passage above, we see that every member of the Trinity has eternally been an all-in stakeholder in His plan for us. 

Together, in perfect unity, all Members Of the Godhead operated out what is called “foreknowledge” or in Greek, “prognosis” or, “...pre-arrangement…” (Blue Letter Bible, Outline of Biblical Usage).

Finally, in the Apostle Peter’s Second Epistle, we see further confirmation of God’s having taken care of everything. Although the use of the word “elect” is not in use, it is clear that he is referring to the same called and chosen people.

“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:1-4, NKJV).

Note that in this passage, the word “given” (past tense) is used. The past tense is a matter of God’s finality. Our sense of lack- of not experiencing His divine power, of not walking experientally in the newness of abundant life, of not being caught up in the godliness of life in Christ- is a matter of our present reality.

How can the two peacefully coincide? Quite simply, they can’t. In each of the three passages for today, there is a blessing of peace. This is actually an invitation to be relieved of all those things which so easily entangle us (see Hebrews 12:1). All those insufficient, and inadequate things that just don’t stand up to the trials with which our faith is tested in order for patience to have its perfect work, that we may inherit the promises (see James 1:2-4; Hebrews 6:12).

Finding our way from ownership to occupancy is an ongoing work of sanctification. Jesus spoke of Himself as the true vine and of others as the branches. No branch was exempt from being cut; some branches are cut off while others are cut on or pruned (see John 15). Some may recall an oft used contemporary example of a sculptor: When asked how he was able to do such masterful work (perhaps a sculpture of an elephant), he merely replied, “I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like an elephant.” The writer of Hebrews sums up this thought as follows: “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14, NKJV).

To make our way from ownership to occupancy, or to accept the invitation to peace is to submit to the Father as the Vinedresser. It is to submit as clay unto the Potter’s hands. It is to defer to the Creator as to what we, as His workmanship are to look like. Oh, what a tall order! Oh how painful! Oh, the so-called comforts we must give up! But let us take comfort in this:

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, NKJV).

Remember friends: “Wow, He thought of everything!” Be encouraged today, Blessings-Don!

June 1, 2020

by Don Hesson


II Corinthians 4:8-9

James 1:2-4

Hebrews 6:11-12

Romans 8:28

I was raised in the church, received Christ as a young child, and was filled with the Holy Spirit as a teenager. I had the benefit of some tremendous teachers who patiently guided me through the written word of God, and lovingly maintained the importance of hearing, and responding to the Lord’s voice. This is proof of the grace of God extended to me. With that kind of background, and upbringing, one gets to hear a lot of truth and wisdom. Yet many of those seeds planted very early in my experience are only now sending forth tender shoots so that they may bear fruit in my life. Today’s devotional is a testimony of how God’s word is becoming clearer to me in the midst of a very difficult, and challenging time in my life and in that of my family.  

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-” (II Corinthians 4:8-9, NKJV). 

Has anything ever rocked your world; shaken you to the core? I am going through something like that right now. I’m certain the issues to which the Apostle Paul refers in the passage above are not the same as which I am currently experiencing, but the imagery created from his choice of words certainly resonates with my present reality. I call these things the thunderbolts of life. We live in a world that is in a fallen state. The god of this world is alive and well, at work in the lives of the sons of disobedience. These sons of the evil one are knowingly complicit in a world system that is an outworking of the spirit of antichrist. Because of any one of these realities, or any combination thereof, life is filled with thunderbolts.  

Yes, life’s thunderbolts are inevitable, and while it’s been said that the enemy always overplays his hand, I am only now beginning to see how this plays out. 

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).

This passage is one that I’ve heard, and studied many times, and in combination with several other Scriptures. I had a neat, and tidy little doctrine all packaged up, ready to proudly produce and use like some pseudo-spiritual swiss army knife whenever the opportunity presented itself. But recently, I feel the Lord has given me a new perspective on this; His perspective!

When we take a direct hit from one of life’s thunderbolts, the things that we tend to rely on just don’t stand up. I’m talking about things like education, college degrees, training, and the initials that may come behind our names on some framed certificate on our wall. I’m talking about things like our intellect, reason, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. I’m talking about our experience, skill sets, and natural talents, or abilities. I’m talking about things like emotional stability, maintaining an even keel, being able to hold a course of direction, able to keep our heads when all about us are losing theirs. Truth be told, none of these can insulate us from, or elevate us above life’s thunderbolts. They all have their point of origin in the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They all have their authorship in the father of lies. Consequently, they collectively represent the sewing together of a garment made from the fig leaves of futility. This is a garment that neither covers, nor comforts; it is a garment that controls us as we rely on it in an attempt to gain control over our thunderbolted lives.

But what if we willingly let go of all of those things? What if we realize that those things are exploding off of us, and away from us like so much bark on a tree that was targeted by lightning? James writes that in the midst of these thunderbolts, the only thing that remains is that which God has placed within us; that thing called faith. We are told that we have each been given a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). We are told that God-given faith is the only way in which we receive from Him (see James 1:5-8). Further, we are told that this faith is the only way we can respond to Him (see Hebrews 11:6). James also writes that it is by faith that patience is produced in our lives. This testing, or refining of our faith is concurrent with patience having its perfect work in our lives. It helps us to grow, mature, and progressively become more and more pleasing to the Father (see Ephesians 5:10), become more and more like the Son (see II Corinthians 3:18), and become more and more led by the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:14). The Apostle Paul wrote of this spiritual dynamic as well (see Romans 5:1-5).

We see also that as we are able to let go, and let God, we are graciously equipped with exactly what we need in order to receive the inheritance of His promises; faith and patience.

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:11-12, NKJV).

Finally, let me share that God has given me a glimpse of His actual workings with regard to one last passage of Scripture. It is a passage that is often quoted, and many times misappropriated as a tool of those who simply do not have a true idea about Who God is, and His disposition toward us. I know full well the philosophical platitudes of poetic waxing that are contrived by those who mean well, but simply do not align their encouragements up with sound doctrine. How do I know this so well? I was one of those well meaning, but misinformed people! Perhaps in some ways, I still am. Thanks be to God, by His loving grace, and mercy, I am learning!

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

“Well now, you know that everything happens for a reason; sometimes God just…” Yes, of course everything happens for a reason; it’s called a cause-effect relationship. But thunderbolts come, and shake us to the core, not because God wants to punish us, or even to get our attention. Rather, they come because the world currently exists in a fallen state, and is under the direction of the father of lies, who seeks only to kill, steal and destroy (see John 8:44; 10:10a). Jesus described Himself as the “Good Shepherd” who came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (see John 10:10b). A good, abundant life-giving shepherd is not one who abuses the sheep. A good, abundant life-giving shepherd does not hurl thunderbolts at us in order to get our attention. Jesus said, “... I Know My sheep, and am known by them… My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14, 27, NKJV).

When life throws the kitchen sink at us, these thunderbolts meant for evil can bring about God’s good in our lives. That’s how great our God is. Not only can He make something out of nothing, He can turn a bad situation completely around, and ultimately bring about His best on our behalf. It’s called redemption, and it’s been in play from the foundation of the world (see Revelation 13:8). But this can only happen with our consent; a consent that is not only obedient, but also willing (see Isaiah 1:19). This willing, and obedient consent, is demonstrated in the midst of the blast zone of the thunderbolts. Discarding our garments- made from the fig leaves of futility- so that we stand by grace alone, walking by faith alone, we approach Him, naked and unashamed. Tender, raw, completely exposed at the point of spiritual intimacy before God- this is what He can work with. This is what is meant by circumcision of the heart. It is in this way that our faith is refined, producing the patience required to inherit the promise of being perfected and completed in Christ Jesus. It is in this way that all things work together for good. It is in this way that our purpose is fulfilled in accordance with our calling.

In the midst of life’s thunderbolts, let us eliminate our fig leaves, expose our faith and experience His freedom in our lives!

May 19, 2020

by Don Hesson



Romans 8:26, 27, 34

Hebrews 7:25

Today’s devotional is about the power of intercession. I’m not referring to our intercession and prayers to God on behalf of others; that is for another time. I am referring to the intercession of God on our behalf. 

Recently, as a product of the world’s fallen state, my family was dealt what could be termed a very poor and untimely hand of cards. Both of my parents are hospitalized at the time of my writing this. One has been diagnosed with cancer, and the other is awaiting results. As my wife and I continue to share the unfolding of news with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are receiving various encouragements. One of those came in the form of a song entitled “I STILL BELIEVE.” This very morning (05-19-2020), I sat and listened to the recording of this song in the parking lot prior to entering the hospital to split my time between the rooms of my folks.  

As I listened, and worshiped, I joined in the refrain, and sang to the dashboard of my parents’ Prius. I’m known in some circles as “the voice” due to my booming reverberations when handed a microphone in order to address our congregation. The production team in control of sound can readily attest to this, and I’m sure they are doing some fancy technological footwork, scrambling to adjust whenever I approach the platform. 

Today was as polar opposite from that as one could imagine. As I sang in the car, it was a feeble, and faint whisper, barely audible to even myself, and mingled with subtle tears and blubbering. I like to sing, and I like to sing LOUD; and in the moment, I admitted to myself that “loud” this was NOT. At exactly THAT moment, the Holy Spirit interjected His thoughts on the matter. The knowing impression given to me was in the form of a word; the word was “amplify.”

As I pondered this, I was immediately aware of what He was saying. In essence, it was this: “Don, your words, your worship and your prayers may seem nearly inaudible to you, but rest assured, they are ringing like a bell at the throne of grace!” Further contemplation led me to this conclusion of perspective: As loud as I may seem to myself, and to others with a microphone in my hand, it is nothing in comparison to the amplification of my heart's cry by God unto Himself. 

THIS is the power of intercession. Not only does the Holy Spirit make sense of our prayers, he also makes them sound aloud, clarion clear as they are taken to our Heavenly Father (see Romans 8:26). The Father of course is able, willing and ready to act upon what He receives (see Romans 8:27). And as those heart cries arrive, there too sits Jesus, also making intercession (see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). 

Every member of the Trinity is actively creating the best that could be offered! It comes in the form of His love, it is delivered in the perfect balance of grace and truth, and it manifests in ways and means that are above our pay grade, and certainly beyond our understanding. Of course, some are easily distinguishable; encouraging words, prayers, Scriptures, or even songs attached in a text or an email. Other packages of power, provision and peace may not be as readily recognizable, or as easy to unwrap. Nevertheless, God is always actively accepting our worship and our prayers; and He is just as readily responding, and releasing His answers.

We need not concern ourselves with how loud, or how lucid our cries to the Living God may seem to us; or to anyone else for that matter. Our weaknesses serve to move us out of the way of ourselves in order to receive from Him (see Romans 8:26; II Corinthians 12:9-11). God hears, God sees, God knows, God cares, and most importantly, God loves! God IS love, and it is from the resources of His unlimited self that He answers, intercedes and intervenes.   

When I don’t understand, when my emotions are at once both raw, and completely numb, when I can’t be loud, or lucid, when I can’t pray with ease, or eloquence, because God is God, I STILL BELIEVE! 




May 16, 2020

by Don Hesson


Numbers 9:15-23


Today’s devotion is particularly relevant as we continue to play the waiting game with government imposed restrictions, medical quarantines, self isolation discretions, and social distancing observances. The space required for the full text of the passage above does not allow for its inclusion here. Nevertheless, as one reads, there are a number of small realities that have their consummation in one universal truth. Please take a moment to read this Scripture before moving on with the reading of this devotional...

... This seems to be a passage that is quite redundant in its message. Perhaps that fact alone is enough to give us pause in the context of our present COVID-19 reality. We’ve heard a great deal about getting back to “normal.” Perhaps a slightly more enlightened phrase, which we are also hearing,  speaks of the “new normal.” To be sure, as we emerge from the corona virus crisis, there will be prudent, and perhaps mandatory adjustments to the rhythms of our physical existence. But today’s focus is on the spiritual counterparts or parallels to those tangible variants.

If you’ve read and pondered the passage for today, no doubt you’re picking up on the tenor of the message. First, night and day variation did not matter to the children of Israel. Second, location was not a point of emphasis. Whether they were in the camp or on the road was irrelevant. Third, duration was of no consequence. One day, or several, there was no blip registering on their radar. Day or night, staying or going, a day, a week, a month or even a year- none of these details held any significance.

What was the compelling factor, and what was the issue that was utmost on the minds, and in the hearts of the Israelites? It was the cloud and the fire. Whether it was the cloud by day, or the fire by night, this was the manifestation of the Presence of the Lord. As a single, living, breathing organism, the whole nation of Israel acted according to the Presence of God. They were committed to sanctification; the setting apart of themselves unto the Lord. A single, living, breathing organism; sound familiar? I hope so. This is a picture of the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Church. Wherever He goes, we are to go. Whatever He speaks, we are to say. Whatever He does, we are to do. Day or night, stay or go, for a brief moment or an extended season, we are to be in His Presence, taking our lead from Him. 

Truly, dwelling in the Presence of the Lord is its own reward. David understood this well. Two passages of Scripture come immediately to mind.

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4, NKJV).

“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1, NKJV).

In both of these passages, David was writing of being in intimate communion, fellowship and deliberation with God. In fact, at the time of the latter of these two passages, the tabernacle was not the one described in Exodus as the tent of meeting which was a forerunner of the temple to be built by Solomon. Rather, this tabernacle was closer in size to a tipi. There were no formalities, no religious rituals; it was a one room dwelling, and a person was either in or out with no progression or degrees of intimacy.

God knows our human frailties; the mortality of our bodies, the limits of our understanding, the fragility of our emotions and the invalidity of our wills- He knows them all, and He is gracious in picking up the pieces and taking care of the details. David knew this too!

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV).

Centuries later, Jesus, known as the Son of David, spoke to this as well in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 6:25-34), which He summarized with, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).

COVID-19 is real. Both it, and the peripheral issues it presents are real, and they affect real people! There is no excusing insensitivity to this fact. The intent of today’s message is not to minimize the realities of anyone’s difficulties. Rather it is to magnify for everyone the power, provision and peace manifested in the Presence of the Living God.

We are experiencing something new in the form of this virus. No, it is not pleasant, and this is a gross understatement. But God is bringing us through something new because He is calling us to something new. The “new normal” is a return to the old normal. Modeled, patterned and taught to us by the Israelites in Numbers Chapter Nine, King David, and the King of Kings, we are being drawn into the Presence, the Passion and the Purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not walk, but RUN toward the event horizon, the point of no return with Jesus, as wise virgins in waiting for the Bridegroom, with Holy Spirit oil to burn, and then some! This IS our “new normal!”

As a final encouragement, let us return to the familiar words of a hymn written by Helen Howarth Lemmel:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.”




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