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Galatians 5:13-16

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

Galatians 5:13-16

Dear God, letting the Holy Spirit guide my life isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds. There are time when it is. Usually it is time when I’ve been in community with other Christians and we have been thinking and talking about you. Outside of that, I have to be pretty intentional about spending my alone time thinking about you and praying to you. Like this Daily time I get with you is pretty intentional, it is good, but if I’m not getting time in Christian community then I am missing something and not acknowledging the Holy Spirit’s place in my life like I should.

Father, help me to be intentional about spending time with you and your Holy Spirit when I am alone, help me to be intentional about bringing him into my everyday conversations, and help me to be intentional about seeking out Christian community. I cannot do my marriage, parenting, work, or friendships without you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on January 16, 2018 in Galatians

 

John 8:31-34

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.

John 8:31-34

Dear God, I don’t think people usually link “the truth will set you free” to being a slave to sin. But that’s the whole idea of Jesus’ grace. Cutting the knot of our sin and setting us free. But when I have a sin that is hidden and protected then that sin has a power over me.

Although I worship in a Catholic Church, I am not Catholic. And although I don’t believe reconciliation (a.k.a. confession) is necessary theologically, I do think there is something to be said for it psychologically. One, it forces someone to consider what exactly their sins are and name them, and, two, it helps the person articulate it and confess it to someone else.

Father, in my life, my wife’s life, and in my children’s lives, I pray against the secrets and ask that you free all of us from the different types of slavery we might have allowed ourselves to be subject to. Give us the courage to confess our sin to you and to others, and help us to turn to you as our savior and redeemer.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in John

 

Appropriate Vulnerability

No verse

Dear God, what will you have for me today? Of what I heard yesterday at this retreat, my favorite part was when the guy telling his story mentioned the letters we all get from friends at Christmas talking about their perfect lives. As he mentioned it in a snide tone, everyone, including me, laughed. In fact, he probably got the biggest laugh of the weekend so far with that. There was truth there and we all knew it.

It left me wondering how to communicate truthfully with people while still respecting my family’s privacy. Is there a way to let my distant friends and family, those whom I don’t see but every few years, know that they are not alone? That, if nothing else, at least the Fredericksburg Willomes can relate to any struggles they might have? That we are not to be revered because of our perfection, but approached for the love and acceptance we can offer?

Father, help me to be an instrument of your peace and encouragement. Help me to be appropriately vulnerable with others. Help me to be the husband and father I need to be. And help me to be the best worshipper of you that I can.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Fred’s Blog – The Impossible Will of God

“Who doesn’t want to know the will of God? As a young man, that topic occupied me as much as any other. I recall reading Alan Redpath’s guidance that discerning the will of God is done best by aligning the lights of three beacons. First is circumstances. Second is the truth of Scripture. Last, the counsel of wise friends. If those line up there is good reason to believe you are in the will of God and your decision, while not guaranteed, will more likely be the right one.

“But, I have discovered over the course of my life that discerning the will of God is not always that clean and neat. In fact, there are times when the will of God seems to go against all three guides. There are moments when God asks for the unimaginable that contradicts our understanding of Scripture, only confuses our circumstances and flies in the face of our trusted friends.”

Fred Smith, Excerpt from “The Impossible Will of God”

Dear God, I read the first paragraph of this friend’s blog post this morning and thought, “Oh, I totally disagree with that!” And then I saw his second paragraph. YES! “There are times when [your] will asks for the unimaginable that contradicts [my] understanding of Scripture, only confuses [my] circumstances and flies in the face of [my] trusted friends.” YES!

I have a relative right now who is really facing some trials. I know my advice to her, but is it the right advice? How do I really know? I’m using my logic and wisdom, but, in the end, I am a fool and my knowledge and perspective are limited. I would hate to steer her wrong.

In thinking about this first paragraph (and granted, Redpath says, “not guaranteed,” so he has some cover here), I am left to consider Job and his friends. I don’t know if he had Scripture to review, but he was certainly seeking your wisdom, he was seeking his friends’ counsel. He just couldn’t make his spiritual wisdom and his friends’ counsel match up with his circumstances.

Father, there is almost too much here for a prayer to you this morning. It’s worth an essay at a minimum. So let me just say that I agree with my friend’s blog. I pray that you will speak to me through my friends, my circumstances, and through scripture, but I also pray that you will give me peace in my trials, teach me, bring me to repentance when I need to, and speak to me in your still small voice that says, John, what are you doing here?

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2018 in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

 

Acts 26:17b-18

Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

Acts 26:17b-18

Dear God, what is it about our souls that needs to be forgiven by you? Yes, I know that this passage is about being forgiven so I can be set apart for you as well, but it’s undeniable that there is something in my souls that needs forgiveness from you for the things I’ve done.

I think there are very few truly evil people in the world. I think most that do bad things and even appear evil from the outside are acting out of their own damage, but if you reveal their sin to them then forgiveness will free them. I wonder if the difference with a truly evil person is that they have somehow internally died to the need for your forgiveness and they lack the ability to feel remorse for anything. That is the person about whom I need to be concerned and fearful.

Father, thank you for the freedom you give me through the forgiveness available to me through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thank you for giving me access to a relationship with you and a pathway to peace and wholeness. And thank you for welcoming me into to your Kingdom, both here on Earth and in Heaven.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

Matthew 6:19-21

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Matthew 6:19-21

Dear God, this is one of those verses we talk about a lot as humans. Even if we don’t know these particular verses we will try to teach our children that there are more important things than money. But do we really believe that?

If you read stories of lottery winners, it seems an overwhelming majority end up worse off after winning millions of dollars than they were before when they had little. And yet, a lot of people but lottery tickets hoping to be the one. A lot of people will completely judge how our country is doing based on the stock market’s performance even though there are so many other aspects to a society (crime, Healthcare, foreign relations, etc.) that directly impact people as opposed to this one measure. Even everyday people like me tend to compare ourselves to others financially and try to figure out how we measure up to the person next door. We even cover their money, not realizing that their spiritual life is nonexistent and that they have no peace (I’m not saying rich people can’t have fulfilled lives—I’m saying that we tend to only use their money as our basis for comparing ourselves with them).

Father, I want to turn loose of any love of Money that remains me me. Usually, a good cure for that is to give it away, but what I’m talking about is a little different. I’m not talking about trying to put the stockpiling of money my priority. I’m talking about not letting Money be part of my evaluation regarding how someone or our society is doing. I want to see the world with your eyes. I want to have your wisdom and vision. I want to love with your love.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Matthew

 

Amos 5:14-15

Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

Amos 5:14-15

Dear God, it seems that your commands are consistent—Hey, just do what’s right. Love God. Embrace righteousness and reject evil. Be fair and reject corruption. Do these things and you’ll be in the center of my will. Reject these things and you will leave my presence, and in my presence is peace.

I think that’s the big thing. Our human eyes will sometimes trick us and make us think that corruption and selfishness or self-indulgence pays. There are plenty of billionaires who are corrupt and pursue their own selfish whims. From the outside it looks like they have it all. But only someone who knows your peace can understand what that person is missing.

Father, help me to live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. Love through me. Encourage through me. Be glorified through me. And help me to know you and your presence just a little better today.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Amos