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Monthly Archives: February 2018

2 Timothy 1:6

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.

2 Timothy 1:6

Dear God, what is it that I bring to the table in terms of your Kingdom coming and your will being done on Earth as it is in Heaven? Am I missing opportunities that pass by me each day? Well, of course I am. But still, what is it i should be doing that you have given me to do?

I think one of my problems tends to be that I have some great thoughts (at least I think they are great) about how to address some of the ills of our community (e.g. early childhood development, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, etc.), but I get so overwhelmed by the work I have to do in front of me that I keep allowing days of inaction to go by. I have a hard time discipline myself to really engage in one or two of these problems in a timely way. In the meantime, days of people suffering keep slipping by.

Father, show me what you would have me to do today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. When something comes up, please whisper in my ear and don’t let me miss an opportunity that is of you because I only have so many days to be contribute to your Kingdom while I’m here on Earth. I don’t want to miss any of them.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in 1 Timothy

 

John 4:13-14

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 4:13-14

Dear God, I wonder how many Christians truly experience your living water. I wonder if I am experiencing it to the fullest.

I guess the first thing I would want to look at is what do I think someone fully experiencing your living water looks like? I guess the first place to go is the Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. The person exhibiting a natural flow of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control is probably getting it from this spring of water “bubbling” within them.

But Galatians 5:22-23 is only part of the equation. Is the person also naturally, through their relationship with you, NOT exhibiting the attributes from Galatians 5:19-21–sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, drunkenness, and wild parties. I can fake a lot of the Fruits of the Spirit, but evidence of your living water flowing from within me is also an absence of the others.

Father, please help me to continually pursue you. Too many times in my life I have had to endure hardship of some sort to go to the next level of working out my faith with you. I hope that always need to be—not because I expect an easy life, but because I would hope that my love for you and my gratitude to you would drive me onward and upward. That I would naturally give “My Utmost for [Your] Highest.”

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Galatians, John

 

1 John 4:7-10

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:7-10

Dear God, what is it about having children that brings out a different kind of love in the parent than they’ve ever known before? I mean, it’s completely psychological. There is just something in me that, when my child is on stage or out on the playing field along with several other children, fixes my eyes on them. I watch their every move. My video camera follows them everywhere they go. I’ve even consciously considered it in really time while I’m watching them.

And then there’s the forgiveness angle. They are so easy to forgive. Sometimes too easy, I fear. I say too easy because I had to really fight myself against spoiling them when they were young and I didn’t always find the right line for that. Even now, they are grown and out of the house, living in different cities, and they are still different to me than anyone else in the world.

I remember when they were little, thinking about my love and forgiveness for them and considering that I didn’t begin to understand your grace and love for me until I was a father myself. Your willingness to pursue us through Jesus’ sacrifices started to make sense. I am only one of billions, but it doesn’t matter. I’m still yours.

Father, help me to really accept that love and grace from you and to learn more and more how to return that love to you. Let that love for you be my guide and I make my daily decisions and determine how best to live my life.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in 1 John

 

Mark 9:2-10

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials —one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”

Mark 9:2-10

Dear God, I never before wondered why Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him, but I suppose this was a story that you/he wanted us to know. It makes me wonder how many more events like this Jesus had when there were no witnesses. Now that I think about it, I doubt this was the first time because it seems like Jesus knew what he was doing when he invited these three men to join him.

So why did they need to see this? Well, it was obviously for the post-resurrection experience because that’s what Jesus tells them. It’s not for comfort between the crucifixion and the resurrection. It’s for confirmation of who Jesus is AFTER the resurrection. And he didn’t take just one or two witnesses. He took three. He obviously wanted credibility for the men testifying that this event happened. He wanted people to know that there was something on an historical scale happening here.

Father, thank you for this story. Thank you for taking time to affirm who you are, who Jesus is as a part of the Trinity, and who I am as your child. Give me faith to see beyond what my eyes can see and patience to await your timing for the desires of my heart.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2018 in Mark

 

Jeremiah 29:4-14

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let your prophets and fortune-tellers who are with you in the land of Babylon trick you. Do not listen to their dreams, because they are telling you lies in my name. I have not sent them,” says the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Jeremiah 29:4-14

Dear God, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard verse 11 misapplied by people who don’t understand this passage. Along with “by his stripes we are healed” at my church when I lived in Waco, it’s probably one of the most misapplied verses I know. The key to verse eleven starts in verse 4. “Hold on. Don’t lose hope. Your eyes and other people will deceive you for the next 70 years and you’ll think I’ve abandoned you as my people, but I haven’t. Yes, most, if not all, of you will only know this situation for the rest of your lives, but for the good of the nation, keep living your life despite your circumstances. Build homes. Get married. Have children. Don’t wait for things to get better because for pretty much all of you they won’t. But for the sake of the nation, press on and do your part.” How’s that for a loose translation?

I have had difficult things in my life, but at the end of the day I don’t know what suffering is. I have experienced despair, but I’ll be the first to tell you that on a scale of 1-10, I’ve never exceeded a 5. So it’s difficult for me to sit here and say that people need to get realistic about this passage and stop treating it as something that is a promise by you that you’re ready to rescue them from their current predicament. If they want to say, “Sometime in the next 70 years I’ll be rescued,” then I’ll go with that because the only real rescue is in the new Heaven and the new Earth.

Father, this has been more of a rant this morning than a prayer for improving myself. I guess my prayer for myself is that you would find me faithful. Help me to look beyond my circumstances and to not judge a situation as being or not being of you based on what my eyes see. Help me to find my peace through my relationship with you, and help me to share THAT peace with others.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2018 in Jeremiah

 

Proverbs 14:22

If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.

Proverbs 14:22

Dear God, usually we think of this verse as being about our outward focused plans. Do I do good or evil in my community? Family? Work? But I think it is more aptly applied to our internal lives. Do I practice good and wise self care?

As I’m traveling right now, I am faced with a myriad of decisions all of the time. How will I eat? What will I watch on TV when I’m by myself? What will I read on my phone? Will I pray to you and spend time in Scripture while I’m here?

I talked about this idea of self care a couple of days ago. I’ve had trips in my life when I didn’t “plan to do good.” I’ve had times when I’m at home when I planned to do evil. My dad refers to it in battling addiction as healing his imagination. He would imagine himself enjoying his addiction to alcohol 40 years ago, and then he would follow through on that “plan.” But when he broke free and developed a new plan under your healing power, grace, and hope, he planned to do good and the path he has walked has been much more constructive and brought him life he didn’t know before.

Father, help me to embrace good self care. Give me your strength to me mindful of everything I consume and that I plan to do. Help me to be purposeful about not only my inward life, but about the choices I make as to how to enter and interact with the world around me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Proverbs

 

Purifying Hope

“Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. . .If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 22

Dear God, this was an interesting read this morning. I was uninspired by the “verse of the day” from Bible Gateway, so I went to my back-up source for daily inspirationMy Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I normally just read the verse he has for today and go from there, but today I was moved by his own words. That’s what I’ve quoted above.

I don’t think I had thought before about the idea of being afraid of Jesus losing. The idea that, in the end, good loses to evil. Not on an earthly level. Good loses to evil all of the time in my daily life. No, I’m talking about the heavenly realm where one day there will be no more tears. Where God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world. Where there is a joyful peace that is indescribable. That’s what I’ve really put my hope in. And not only for me. I’ve put my hope in that for all of the victims of evil in this world. “Hold on, sex trafficking victim. I’ll do what I can now, but your day will come.” “Hold on, victim of genocide in Syria. Your day will come.”

There are really two things that are happening in Mr. Chambers’ words above. First, there is the part about Jesus and “good” losing, but then there is the second part about our hopes being purified. In this case, I think purified means “made realistic” or “made true.” Especially as Americans, we are often taught that we can hope for anything material—career, money, power, fame, etc. And while that is true, it is foolishness to hope for those things and combine it with the hope that we have for joy and peace. “If our hopes seems to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified.” That disappointment is the process of you separating our hope for the material from our hope for peaceful joy. Ultimately, our hope for peaceful joy will not be in the ego of watching who our children become or what we accomplish here on earth. Our hope for peaceful joy will be solely focused around how tied in we are to you and our expectation that, in the very end, Jesus wins, God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world.

Father, thank you for purifying my heart. Thank you for guiding me through pain and being patient with me while I go through the agonizing death of my ego as it relates to my material accomplishments. My hope isn’t in my marriage, my kids, my job, my church, or my friends. My hope is simply in the fact that, in the end, you win. Help me to be faithful to that hope and whatever you want me to do as a part of your Kingdom.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen