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Monthly Archives: December 2017

Isaiah 52:11-12

Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.

Isaiah 52:11-12

Dear God, I’ve always struggled with getting anything out of the passages from the prophets. It has always felt like if I take a couple of verses like this out of context and try to apply them to my current reality then I am being foolish. But both of my sources for daily scripture (Bible Gateway and “My Utmost for His Highest”) had passages from Isaiah today so I thought I would just talk to you about this concept.

I suppose just about anything I read in the Bible is is set in someone else’s context and not my own, but at least those contexts are usually presented in a smaller package so I can see what similarities there might be between my life and the situation about which I’m reading. But the prophets are usually a little more vague, and include prophecy that you’d have to be a biblical scholar to link to reality. So, whether it’s right or wrong, I’ve usually ignored the prophets to some extent.

I guess I will add that a couple of years ago I heard some good teaching out of Habakkuk at a retreat that, when a scholar opened up the context for me, really had a lot to teach me about a error in my own thinking. Maybe that will be my journal for tomorrow.

Father, help me to be who and what you need me to be today. Love through me. Please take care of my wife and me during our long drive. Ordain my steps and help me to turn loose of my own self-perceived wisdom and submit to your glory and grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

John 16:33

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Dear God, what did you tell them? You told them about your death and resurrection, and you did it to help them know that, no matter how bad things look, you’ve got this. Prophecy isn’t so we can know the future. It’s so that when the future unfolds we will be assured that you knew it was coming all along. So we can have peace in you.

There it is again—the word peace. I talked about that with you on Thursday. The line I use about you a lot is that you usually keep me on a need-to-know basis and I very rarely need to know. But there’s also the aspect of being able to look back on a period of time and see how your hand was moving. I can see you at work and even the benefits of some suffering. It’s these times that we need to set up monuments in our own lives like the Israelites did in the Old Testament so that we can remember your goodness the next time we face a trial.

Father, help me to be at peace. Help me to let go and love others beyond how they love me. Help me to simply keep myself pure and love everyone I can, for your glory’s sake.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2017 in John

 

John 6:53, 60, 66-67

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

John 6:53, 60, 66-67

Dear God, this passage still divides Christians today. In fact, it’s one of the key things that kept me from being confirmed Catholic with my wife. And I’ll confess that if I had been one of the ones who participated in this conversation 2,000 years ago then I would probably have walked away too.

So I guess my question is, when/where do I draw the line when it comes to discerning theological truths? How do I figure out when something is a deal breaker, when it’s something I can agree to disagree, and when it’s something for me to embrace? When my wife started to attend a Catholic church and I joined her, there were many things I could embrace because I readily agreed theologically. Then there were things that I decided I could agree to disagree on. Then there was this issue of Transubstantiation that I decided was an area they believed in to such a paramount extent that I simply couldn’t be confirmed if I didn’t embrace it as well. And now here Jesus is, using this issue to push His disciples and when they start to push back He doubles down.

Father, I’m not leaving, but I’m also not able to embrace the Catholic vision of your body and blood. But I have given you all of me that I intellectually, emotionally, and physically know to give. If there is more I need to give to show my love for you then please reveal it to me. I don’t want to hold anything back.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2017 in John

 

Fred’s Blog – Dollars & Scents

Fred’s Blog – Dollars & Scents

 

Dear God, there are several aspects to our lives as we work out our faith with fear and trembling. Time in scripture and prayer. Laying our sin before God and repenting. Serving others. Sharing our resources (time, talent, and treasure). I read this blog post this morning while I was still lying in bed. In the end, it made the point that when we hold back from you it starts to stink up our lives a bit: “Sometimes people wrestle with how much is enough and my answer is not ‘give until it hurts’ but give until the smell goes away. Give until you cannot detect anything dead in your life coming from a decision to hold back.” I think that statement not only applies to our money, but also to the other areas I mentioned above (and I’m sure there are some areas that I missed).

 

I’ve told you before that one of my favorite passages is Galatians 5:22-23, a.k.a. The Fruits of the Spirit. From memory they are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self control—against such things there is no law. I’ve also told you that I can fake most of these and make people think I have your fruit. I can fake love. I can fake joy. I can fake patience, gentleness, kindness, and self-control. I can will myself to do all of these things. What I can’t fake is peace. I think peace, or lack thereof, is the “smell” Fred is talking about here. I can always tell if there is something I’m not doing well if I an not experiencing your peace.

 

There have been times in my life when I have gone through difficult trials. Sometimes in those trials, I did not feel peace, but sometimes I did. What was the difference? Was it the circumstance? Had it changed? No, it was that I had gotten myself aligned with the Holy Spirit, and not only was I able to exhibit love, joy, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control, but I was also able to experience peace.

 

Father, help me to stay in the center of your will. Help my children to seek you and your will. Help me to husband my wife the way you need me to. Help me to know how to love my extended relatives, friends, and community in the way you need me to. Increase in my life and help me to decrease. Be glorified in me so that all around me will be drawn to you through the fruits of the Spirit that flow from me.

 

In Jesus’ name I pray,

 

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2017 in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

 

Psalm 103:1-2

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

Psalm 103:1-2

Dear God, I confess to you that I am too blind to see half of the good things you do. I’m sorry for that. You deserve so much more gratitude and worship than you get from me.

I’m off work for a few days, and one of the things I really struggle with is knowing how to handle unstructured time. When I wake up in the morning on a day with a plan (whether it be work or just something else to do—even if it’s to drive to Waco for a football game) then I am usually good to go. But if I wake up and the day is before me and I don’t have anything to do then I am pretty worthless. What does all of this have to do with this passage? Well, I can’t help but wonder if some of that time shouldn’t be spent with you trying to see what you are doing beyond what I can see.

Father, I really don’t want to lose as you. I really don’t want to miss the moments when I can praise you. And I don’t want to miss the opportunities to hear your still small voice and respond.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Psalms

 

Luke 2:25-35

25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Luke 2:25-35

 

Dear God, there is SO MUCH going on in this story.

  1. You have Simeon being close to you and given a promise he will see the Messiah before he dies. I wonder what his thoughts were at the time that that promise was given in terms of how that would be, where it would be, and what the Messiah would look like (he didn’t have to be a baby, after all).
  2. You have him in the temple and seeing Mary and Joseph. I wonder if that is when his heart started to get the idea that this Messiah wouldn’t be like any of them pictured.
  3. We have him holding the baby and worshiping you, with Mary and Joseph on the one hand being amazed at what Simeon was saying, and on the other hand being affirmed that their angel visits were legitimate and they weren’t alone in the supernatural aspect of this child being born to them.
  4. Finally, you have a prophecy that no mother wants to hear. This baby will cause many in Israel to fall while others rise (okay, that can be the bad guys falling and the good guys rising, so that might still be okay). Many will oppose him, and the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed (that might still be okay). But it ends with, “And a sword will pierce your very soul.” Is there any way Mary could possibly have known what those words meant?
  5. Anna is going to come along in a minute and do some more talking, but I’m not sure how helpful she was. She just raised up expectations that were probably inaccurate.

For Simeon, this must have been a weird day of having a promise kept, but maybe being surprised by how the promise was a little different than he expected. All of us understand so little about what you are actually doing.

And for Mary and Joseph, they were just trying to get through a tough day when you showed up to give them a little encouragement, and some words to remember later in their lives.

Father, help me to be in the moment and not try to get out in front of what is coming next. There are several areas of my life that are in flux right now. My children are both in flux. I have some extended family whose lives are in flux. The industry within which I work is always in flux. I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. So help me to worship you today and give you the standing and submission that you deserve.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

 

Isaiah 9:1-7

Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah 9:1-7

Dear God, I confess that I have no idea what this government looks like. All I really understand from these seven verses is that Jesus is the child. Other than that, I don’t get it. I don’t understand what it looks like to have the government referred to here. Is it Heaven? Is it some sort of Heaven on Earth? I don’t get it. Apparently, I don’t need to get it either.

Of course, today is Christmas. In my earnest belief, the child referred to here was born at some point (possibly the spring?), grew up poor and having to move around, lived and amazing life, and then put it all on a cross with the sole goal being to reconcile us to you. Of course, all of that would be useless without the resurrection. That’s what gives the sacrifice it’s power.

Father, I don’t understand your plan. Mary and Joseph had no idea what was to come. And I don’t know how all of the things going on in my life will shake out. But I know that this is another day that I need to use to worship you and represent you as well as I can.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Isaiah