RSS

Monthly Archives: January 2018

Nehemiah 1:1-4

These are the memoirs of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:1-4

Dear God, I have gotten a lot of inspiration out of these verses in the past, and I am coming back to them this morning because I am going to use them to speak to a bunch of private school children today during their chapel time. My task is to somehow make affordable healthcare for low-income, uninsured people relevant to children who probably have very few material needs in their home lives. I love this story because it shows a touching of Nehemiah’s heart and his inspiration for accomplishing something in your name. An inspiration his brother or no one else really seems to share. But the other unique thing about Nehemiah is that, as the cupbearer to the king, he seems to be in a unique position to do something about it.

Ever since I first prayed to you over this passage in February 2003, I have looked back on it as a turning point for me. You used that journal to lead me into an entirely new career path. You led me to a cause that touched my heart and inspired me to start volunteering at a nonprofit. Then you led me into working for the nonprofit and now, 15 years later, almost to the day, I am not only working for one nonprofit, but I am in a position to help other causes in town that touch my heart as well.

Father, help me to communicate well to the children, their teachers, and everyone else in the room today. Help me to bring you glory. Give me good seeds to plant and prepare good soil in the hearts of the children so that any lesson that you might have for the children might not be stolen by Satan. And use it to re-inspire me as well. Be glorified through my life, and make the world a little bit better through the ways you use me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 31, 2018 in Nehemiah

 

Ephesians 4:2-3

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Ephesians 4:2-3

Dear God, the New Testament is full of admonitions and even prayers about unity. I told some people recently that Satan has on play he’s been using since the beginning of time. From Adam and Eve, to wars, to church splits, to parents and children, his Plan A is to cause divisions between us, and he very rarely needs a Plan B because Plan A is so effective.

I suppose the thing about us that makes divisions so prevalent is pride. We all have this great sense of needing to be right or look good to others, not being able to reveal our weaknesses. When I try to look at any relationships I have right now that are strained or divided, the common denominator is that at least one person in the relationship (but usually, at least to some extent, both) has staked out a position about either their rights or protecting something in their life that needs to be turned loose but they won’t. We make Satan’s work easy.

Father, help me to legitimately examine my own life and relationships with others. Help me to recognize and repent of my own sin. Help me to make amends and help me to bring you glory in the process. And for those I love who might need to do the same thing, I ask that you please guide them and help any healing that happens between us to bring you glory.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 30, 2018 in Ephesians

 

Mark 9:33-34

After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest.

Mark 9:33-34

Dear God, there’s a part of me that has a hard time understanding this conversation between the disciples, but then again I kind of get it because this kind of thing came up with my coworkers recently. Jesus had to deal with it like a manager. It was basically the same kind of personnel issue that I had.

I would imagine this was a difficult group to manage. You had very different personalities. They ranged from Peter (probably ADD at some level) to Judas (a malcontent). You had the more thoughtful ones who might not as readily jump into action like John.

My biggest struggle as a leader is dealing with personnel issues. I like this example here of getting everyone to sit down together, challenge the with what is seemingly a rhetorical question and then giving them a truth that breaks the paradigm of their argument—greatest works against you.

Father, help me to be a better leader of people. Help me to find the balance of leading and serving. Help me to decrease while you increase. Help me to bring you glory in everything I do.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 29, 2018 in Mark

 

John 4:19-24

“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

John 4:19-24

Dear God, were you bigger than being worshipped in Jerusalem all along? Did the Jews have it wrong?

I wonder what parameters I’ve put on my theology (or I’ve been taught by others) that are just wrong. I’ve told people before that I’m pretty sure that when I get to Heaven I will learn that 90% of my theology was wrong. That’s where your grace comes in. That’s where praying like this and working out my faith with fear and trembling comes in. That’s why I need to pay attention to your still small voice, while being careful that my own wisdom and humanity to pose as your voice and lead me away.

Father, thank you that I’m able to worship you anywhere and anytime. Thank you that you accept my worship. Thank you that you accept my sacrifices. Thank you for forgiving me of the sins I commit and for redeeming me through your sacrifice.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 28, 2018 in John

 

Matthew 6:24-25

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:24-25

Dear God, some translation separate these two verses from each other and act like Jesus is starting a new thought in His sermon. For example, the NIV puts a heading between them that says, “Do Not Worry.” But they need to go together. The worship of money becomes worrying about money. The worship of relationship becomes worrying about relationship, becomes co-dependency, becomes jealousy, etc. Substitute whatever god you want for money and the result is the same. Worship of your god becomes worry in how to keep your god.

All of this is true except when it comes to my real God. I never worry about losing you. Sure, a perverted view of you might make someone get angry if they perceive you are doing more for someone else than you are for them, but, overall, a life spent truly worshiping you will give peace.

Father, as I examine the things in my life that worry me, I guess the first thing I should ask myself is if I am worshiping them. Now the answer isn’t always yes. There are legitimate things that should concern me like caring for relatives or neighbors in need. But I need to be careful to not become codependent with those things. I have a relative going through an extremely difficult situation right now. It would be easy to deep dive into their problems at an unhealthy level, but I think my wife and I are keeping each other healthy and balanced through the process. But help me to recognize when I turn my worship from you and place it on something or someone else. You are the only God who truly loves me and can bring me peace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 27, 2018 in Matthew

 

James 4:4-10

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

James 4:4-10

Dear God, I wonder why James follows all of this humility talk with honor. It seems counter productive to make honor my motivation for being humble. That probably shouldn’t be the prize that I see at the end of my pursuits.

I will say, however, that some of the most humble people I know are the most honored. When I start to think of the people I know, from family members, to people in the community, to celebrities, the most admired are the most humble. I can’t think of one off of the top of my head who is arrogant. At least the ones I admire. But I suppose there are people who really like those who are arrogant. But I would say they are likely people who aren’t after your heart.

So, Father, please give me eyes for humility. I confess that I love to be honored. I love admiration. But that’s just my own sickness. I don’t want to pursue honor through acting humble. I simply recognize that I am a flawed person who needs a savior. I recognize the truth. Help me to live that truth authentically.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 26, 2018 in James

 

Galatians 1:13-17

You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.

Galatians 1:13-17

Dear God, this is the passage for Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest today, but it also really fits with today’s blog from Fred Smith. Since there seems to be a consistency of message here, I’m wondering if you don’t have something for me to see about breaking away from my own paradigms and seeing your reality instead of my own.

In this particular passage, Paul describes how you basically have him no choice but to break away from the religion of presuppositions of his childhood and see who you really are and what you are doing. So that brings me to the question of what errant paradigms and lenses do I use when I filter the world around me into my mind? Do I allow whether a politician has an R or a D next to their name influence how I hear what they are saying or evaluate what they are doing? Do I prejudge people regularly based on their appearance? Do I reject some good ideas because I deem them too risky or unconventional? The list could go on and on.

Father, help me to simply see what you see. Help me to interpret the world around me with your filters and not my own. Help me to do what you need me to do in any given situation, regardless of my own “wisdom.” Make my life count for your glory and the peace of others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 25, 2018 in Galatians