Thursday, May 3, 2018


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

My friend called it “the best surprise ever!” For the past several months, I have been making plans for my wife’s birthday. It is a significant one (today) and I wanted to make it special. So I arranged for her twin sister to fly from South Africa last week to surprise her. And was she ever surprised! Shocked, is how she described it later. I can honestly say I have never been more pleased to see the two of them together and enjoying one another’s company as they mark a milestone in their lives.

Not all surprises are welcomed ones, of course. The unexpected news of a death, an accident, or a marital affair, to name a few, are ones we never want to experience. But a good surprise is one that can bring more joy than almost anything else. And while I may have pulled off a great surprise, contrary to my friend’s claim, it is not among the greatest. There is One who is in a category all His own—Jesus. He was always pulling surprises on folks.

Think about it. He was God, yet became a human, beginning His life on earth in a cattle stall in a “one stoplight town.” He was considered a religious leader, but He confounded those who were religious. He was sinless, but spent all of His time with sinners. He was the Messiah, but He did not pursue earthly power. His disciples were surprised by His death and even more surprised by His resurrection. He was full of surprises. He still is.

I am continually surprised by my life and what Jesus has done with it. I could not have imagined it, even in my wildest dreams! More than 40 years since I first stepped on the path of following my Lord, He has transformed my life into something I would not have recognized or dreamed of when I was 19. I could write pages about what He has done, but suffice it to say, I continue to be surprised by His work in my life.

The reality for many of us is we have a very narrow view of what to expect out of life, and, more importantly, from God. Our imaginations, and therefore our desires, are small. It is our human nature. We bring the Lord down to our size and expectations. But He is oh so much bigger and grander than what we think or can imagine! Immeasurably so. 

Today, know that life can be filled with so many good surprises if you place your life in the hands of the Lord and trust Him with it. He wants to transform you in ways you can’t even imagine. He is full of surprises and He still has many in store for you.

© Jim Musser 2018

Author's Note: Due to the aforementioned birthday of my wife, this will be my final devotion for the school year as we are traveling to celebrate it. This may also be my last Words from the Well, or maybe not. I am still processing whether, after 21 years, I want to continue writing it. That decision will be made later this summer. I know I want to continue writing, but I may want to branch out more into areas about which I have become passionate and write more in-depthly, rather than 3-5 paragraphs.  So we'll see what the future holds.  I am indeed open to another surprise!  

Have a blessed summer or winter, depending on your location!  Jim

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Embracing Tests

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:2-4,12 NIV)

It is the week where students begin taking their final exams.  I have never met a student who enjoys taking exams.  They are always anxious just to be done with them.  

They are really no different than the rest of us.  None of us enjoy the tests that life brings.  In fact, many of us will go to great lengths to avoid being tested.  We avoid situations where we might risk being put to the test, such as living far away from where we grew up, going on a mission trip to a foreign country, or interacting with people we consider different from us.  

The reality is, however, no matter how much we seek to avoid being tested, living in a fallen world will eventually bring trials to us.  But James says rather than dreading them, we should embrace them because through testing we can mature and be rewarded.  

I can attest to this truth.  I have experienced some heavy trials in my life.  Both my parents died after long illnesses when I was in my 20’s.  A woman I loved broke my heart around the same time, and years later my first wife left me.  Those trials were all extremely painful and I would never have chosen them on my own, but I can truly say I grew more in my walk with the Lord during those times than at any other in my life.  

The fact is growth and maturity is produced by hardship, yet we live in a culture determined to avoid it at all costs.  Although it is an older article, this piece in Psychology Today is still accurate in arguing that because parents are so overprotective of their children, they are raising kids incapable of coping with the rigors of life.  They want their children to have lives without tests.

It is natural to want to avoid painful circumstances, but we need to embrace the truth that these difficult times help us to grow and mature. To avoid them is merely hurting ourselves.

Today, recognize life is full of painful and difficult circumstances. Instead of trying to avoid them, embrace them and let the Lord use them to grow and mature you.  If you persevere, you will be greatly rewarded.

© Jim Musser 2018

Tuesday, May 1, 2018


“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.

He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:7-11 NIV)

There is an old saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” If we pay close attention, we will see that lived out in small ways on a regular basis. On campus, I see it with students desperate to complete an assignment or in need of a reference messaging me or others to acquire what they need. Others frantically email a professor asking for extra time to turn in an assignment.

In the world at-large, we often desperately need people to help us out in a crisis—a doctor, a plumber, someone with money or a car, or someone with knowledge who can help us out of a dilemma. When we have a desperate need, we will do whatever, use whomever, we need to fulfill it. That is just human nature. 

The problem lies when we make use of people, but with little or no gratitude for what they provide beyond the moment when our need is fulfilled. Like children, often we are much more grateful for our need being met than for those who meet it. I once knew a young woman who despised her adoptive father, but who often sought him out when she was in need. She was grateful for having her needs met by him, but was not grateful for him.

There are many stories in the Bible of people who are grateful for their needs being met but who lack appreciation for the person responsible. Joseph interpreted a dream for the king’s cupbearer while in prison, but once released, the man forgot about him (Genesis 40:23). The Israelites many times were glad when their burdens were lifted, but quickly retreated into complaining to Moses about their next plight (Numbers 14:2-4). When Jesus healed the ten lepers, nine of them went on their way without expressing any gratitude to the Lord for their healing (Luke 17:11-19).  The lesson is it is natural to be grateful for our own satisfaction, but easy to forget the ones who supply it.

What about you? Are you grateful for the people who have supplied the many needs in your life? If so, have you made that known to them? And what about the Lord, who is the ultimate supplier of all our needs? Do you regularly acknowledge your gratefulness to Him for all that He has given you and continues to give? 

Today, be grateful for the people who sacrifice for you and get into the habit of freely expressing it. And always be grateful to the Lord, for all that you have comes from His hands.

© Jim Musser 2018