Friday, February 17, 2017

Lent devotionals - Daily prayers & reflections

            My latest Lent devotions e-book is now available on Amazon for Kindle readers. This is my fifth annual Lent e-book which hundreds of people from all kinds of denominations (and none) like to use in the lead-up to Easter. ‘Living Lent’ encourages Christian folks to take a short amount of time each day to focus on God and Christ. It’s a great spiritual practice and one that I personally recommend.

            Lent is a wonderful season which prepares people all over the world to get ready for the intense events of Holy Week. Ever since I was a pastor in Scotland, I’ve used this as a time to refocus my faith and strengthen my connection to Christ.

            In this book, you will find 47 daily devotions which start on Ash Wednesday and continue until Easter Day. The devotions are based on a short passage from the Gospel of Mark. If the readers go through the whole book, they will read the entire Gospel from beginning to end. This will help them really get to know who Jesus was and enable them to discover who Jesus is.

            Each day has a Gospel passage, a highlighted verse, a short devotion, a point to ponder, and a closing prayer. Setting aside five minutes each day will accomplish the reading of all of the above. The devotions can be used for personal prayers, family devotions, or small church groups.

            I hope that you will enjoy the devotions and that by Easter Day you will feel more confident about your faith in Christ. If you have any questions or comments to make on the devotions, please feel free to send me an email at I’ll be happy to correspond with you.

            May God bless all of your hopes and dreams, making your plans succeed.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Daily Lent Devotions for Kindle

Over the years, I've written several devotional e-books for Lent. They all have 40 daily devotions in them with unique devotions, drawings, and prayers. They are all available on Amazon and only cost 99 cents, which is a great price for a spiritual devotional book on preparing your heart, mind, and soul for Easter.

You can find all three books at the links below:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Staff devotion: Wonders of His Love - psalm 36:5

Psalm 36:5      Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. (NIV)

            Late last night, as I was taking the weekly garbage out, I looked up at the night sky. It was full of bright stars. I love this time of year because the skies at night are generally cloudless, so there is a vast array of planets, constellations, and even galaxies that can be seen with the naked eye.

            I always get thrilled when I see them so clearly. In response, I usually thank God for such a glorious sight and then I wish that I could actually travel through space to see the wonders of creation in close proximity.

            I also find myself closer to God through looking at His amazing handiwork. I feel His presence in a deep absorbent way that I never experience elsewhere. I guess it’s because I feel so tiny compared to the gigantic astral globes that beautifully sparkle across the heavens. I think to myself that if God could create all the vastness of the Universe, then how almighty and powerful He truly must be.

            Perhaps you are feeling downhearted or vulnerable today. Maybe you think that you’re not important or significant. Perhaps you’re depressed about your life or feel forgotten by everyone around you. Please know this: the One Who created the stars and calls them by name fully knows and loves you. You are not forsaken or abandoned; you are not unimportant or insignificant to Him. You are a child of His grace, made of the same stuff of the glorious stars, and given an everlasting soul that will always be loved, embraced, and known to God through Jesus Christ.

Question for reflection

When was the last time I looked at the stars? What does their existence tell me about God?

Prayer:            Lord God, You are the Creator of all things and the Lover of all living beings. Your power is majestically displayed across the heavens and also intimately felt within our souls. Thank You for allowing us life and letting us enjoy the wonders of Your making. In Jesus’ Name, we thankfully pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to John is always delighted to receive your feedback on these devotions.

Today’s image is John’s latest winter drawing. It shows the Oliver’s Cabin at Cades Cove in the heart of the Great Smoky mountains. John has signed 8x10 prints available. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Cabin

Monday, December 8, 2014

Teaching Devotion: A Woman's Touch - Mark 5:27-29

Mark 5:27-29            When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

            It’s one of the most remarkable healing stories in the New Testament. An elderly lady, completely unassisted and acting alone, secretly touches Christ’s robe and instantly she is healed of a chronic illness which has impoverished her. It’s a desperate act of a woman who has spent everything she owned to cure her blood disease. Jesus is her one last great hope, but she is so demeaned by her illness that she cannot bring herself to publicly ask for His help. She is ashamed of the disease which condemns her to being constantly ritually unclean by her religion. All that she wants to do is to be cured and go on her way. No one notices her; no one can help her with her plight. She is all alone in the midst of the people who are crowding Jesus. She is isolated from any act of compassion or kindness from her own community.

            But her act of faith does not go unnoticed. For some strange reason, Jesus feels His divine power being drained from Him by her act of faith. He knows that someone has touched Him seeking healing. He has felt God’s power being channeled out of His own body. Perhaps it felt like an electric current passing through Him to her. Perhaps she felt a wave of energy coming out of Christ to her. Whatever the case and however it occurred, one thing was certain: Jesus knew.

            The woman is scared out of her wits when she is discovered. She has tried to avoid public shame by keeping her disease a secret. Now she is being exposed as someone who has stolen God’s gift from Jesus. She fears humiliation and punishment, but instead she receives mercy, grace, and encouragement from Christ. He is not angry that she has taken something holy from Him; instead, He is glad that her faith in Him has made her well. He does not chide or condemn; instead, Jesus praises and blesses her. He has restored her to God’s favor, as well as the community. He has given her back her life by commending her faith. Christ has blessed her with a new beginning.

            Perhaps you are seeking a blessing from God, a hurt to be healed, a situation to be sorted, or something painful to be resolved. Maybe you don’t know how to put your request into words; perhaps you cannot even voice a prayer. As Jesus would often say, “Fear not! I am with you.” Allow His Spirit to enter you; permit His comfort to support you; let His love sustain you. He has God’s power to protect you, direct you, and even correct you because He totally accepts you. Your faith in Him can make you well; your belief in Him can grant you a new beginning. Take it, receive it, and be renewed.

Questions for personal reflection

What would I like Jesus to do for me? What would He like me to do for Him?

Prayer:           Lord Jesus, heal us of all that harms us in body, mind, heart, and soul. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest Blue Christmas Candle drawings, simply called “Blue Christmas.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Blue Christmas

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Devotions for Teacher: Street Corners - Matthew 22:9

Matthew 22:9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 

            When I first became a Christian, I wanted to tell everybody about Jesus. He filled my heart and my life with an amazing and wonderful joy. It was a liberating experience for me because from the moment that I gave my heart to Jesus, my life changed.

            On some Saturday nights, instead of going to the city pubs, I joined a group of young folks who stood on street corners in the city center, preaching the Gospel to any passers-by. Sometimes we were jeered and mocked; on other occasions, people stopped to listen, although most of them were drunk. I don’t know if we changed any lives, but it did change us. It made us more connected to Christ and more willing to serve Him wherever He sent us.

            When I look back on those times I often envy those young free-spirited Christians. These days, I preach from the safety of behind a pulpit or a laptop. The message is still the same, but it doesn’t have that raw and wild component to it. There’s a lack of spontaneity, and sometimes a lack of spirit.

            I think this is why Presbyterians are losing ground across the world. We don’t like chaos or improvisation; we feel compelled to present the message decently and with order. We want to lecture people about the faith instead of living it. We want to safely control the Spirit and keep things cozily contained, instead of being moved by the Spirit and sent out into the shopping malls and city streets.

            Perhaps the real point of today’s parable (Matthew 22:1-14) is that Christians are meant to invite people to participate in God’s Kingdom. We get too focused on church attendance and denominational concerns that we forget that Christ’s real work is out there on the city streets and in the busy malls.

Questions for personal reflection

Have I shared my faith with someone else recently? Have I displayed the reality of God’s Kingdom where I live, where I work, and where I shop?

Prayer:           Lord Jesus, You want to invite everyone to come to Your Kingdom and celebrate with God. Forgive us for being focused on too many other things, as well as for forgetting that Your ministry takes place mainly in the world, outside of the church. Grant us the courage and wisdom to share our Christian beliefs humbly and joyfully. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to make a comment or ask a question about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s popular Fall drawings. It features a wee chipmunk eating an acorn and is called “Fall Break.” If you would like to view a larger version of the drawing, click on the following link: Chipmunk.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Devotion for Teachers: Real Faith - Matthew 9:29-30a

Matthew 9:29-30a   Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored.

            Faith is a very rare commodity these days. I’m not talking about a religious notion, or a spiritual feeling, or even a mystical experience. I’m talking about real solid faith in Jesus. I've been a pastor for almost thirty years and during that time I've seen many people mistakenly think that what they believe in is faith. What they actually hold on to is wishful thinking, just like in the old Peter Pan stories, where if you think good thoughts and add some pixie dust, you can really fly.

            Faith isn't a feeling, nor is it a daydream. Faith in Jesus actually requires focus, commitment, service, and humility. Because people are so one dimensional in their thinking, they naively believe that just thinking good thoughts about Jesus is all that is required. They delude themselves into the notion that being nice is what counts, and they wrongly equate that with being faithful.

            Faith is much more than a spiritual trivial pursuit; it is the life quest that we are all given from the moment we are born to the day that we die. We have one opportunity to get it right, to be found by God through faith in Jesus. If we set Him aside or falsely think that everything we do is blessed, approved, and condoned by Christ, then we’re tragically and eternally fooling ourselves.

            Faith, real faith, is not just something that we live for, it’s also a divine gift that we die with. If we go to meet our Savior without following, worshipping, or serving Him, then we won’t find Him at all. The Gospels give us all of the material, resources, and clues that we need about what real faith looks like; if we think that we can make it up for ourselves and wing it through life, then we’ll end up on the wrong side of glory. Faith requires commitment, but commitment is so inconvenient at times.

            So, let’s all truly, sincerely, and honestly ask ourselves this today: to whom am I being faithful? To Christ or myself, to His teachings or my own ideas? We cannot hide the truth from ourselves, and we certainly cannot fool Jesus either.

Questions for personal reflection

Am I faithful to Christ or am I just living a lie? Am I committed to His Church or am I just committed to myself?

Prayer:          Lord Jesus, we all want to have real faith in You. We really want to be Your followers and servants, disciples and messengers. Forgive us for playing at religion, or for feigning spirituality. Challenge our choices when they conflict with Your guidance. Change our lives when we contradict Your Word. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest artworks. It’s called ‘Chalice,’ and it was made using paper sculpting and crayons. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Chalice.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Youth devotion: Passing On The Faith - 1 Kings 19:19

1 Kings 19:19           So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

            Yesterday, both of our Middle School and Senior High Youth groups led the worship service. They presented to the congregation their own music choices, their own prayers, and their own messages. Their words were wonderful and their enthusiasm was inspiring. They were confident about their Christian faith and they were effective with their combined witness. It was amazing to see the level of Christian maturity that they all have, so my heart was almost bursting with the joy I was feeling.

            Over the years, our wee church has heavily invested in the life and faith of our young people. Through our Planet Worship programs on Sundays, they get to know the rubrics of worship, so they always feel connected to God when we sing, pray, and glorify Him. With our Creative Expression’s ministries, we build up their confidence for public speaking, singing, and acting. And with the faithfulness, reliability, and leadership of our Youth Director, we have grown a superb bunch of church kids who are now becoming spiritual leaders to their own peers. It has been a long process, but the fruits that they are bearing are worth all of the time, effort, and resources that we’ve used to get them this far in faith.

            As I was reading today’s Old Testament passage (1 Kings 19:19-21) concerning Elijah’s appointment of Elisha as his successor, I could not help but thinking about the mantel of Christian faith that our church has placed over our young people. The experiences that they have had in the past will bear a lot of fruit in the years to come. Wherever they go, I think that they will remain strongly connected through the faith events that they have shared together. The Church is in good hands, so my hope and prayer for them is simple: “Lord Jesus, bless them all.”

Questions for personal reflection

Do I have any special faith-forming memories from my youth? How can I encourage the youth in my church?

Prayer:          Lord Jesus, thank You for Your message which still continues to inspire people from one generation to the next. Thank You also for the future of faith among our young people and the tasks that You are going to set them. Bless them for the many ministries and missions which they will undertake, accomplish, and fulfill. Be with them and help them to boldly take our faith to new heights and ways. In Your Holy Name, we thankfully pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s psalm drawings. It depicts a verse from Psalm 67. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Psalm 67.