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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Philippians 1:9-11

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Philippians 1:9-11

Dear God, I’ve been doing prayer journals for nearly 20 years, and when I read this passage this morning my first thought was, man, I’ve done this verse and this topic from other verse a lot. But then I had another thought. Much like a football team that goes through practice, there are times for new revelation and adding something to your development as a football player and there are times when you need to work on the fundamentals of blocking, tackling, throwing, and catching. These verses are that. They are fundamentals of which I need to be reminded.

What is the fundamental idea here? Knowing you more and more so that your love flows through me, my character becomes more righteous, and then others are drawn to you. You know–blocking and tackling.

I suppose it all starts with the self discipline of spending time with you. Spending time praying. Spending time meditating on the Word you have left us as our scripture. Then it involves making sure that the Holy Spirit has good soil in my soul in which it can grown and bear fruit. That means getting out the thorns of the sin that so easily entangles us–sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. (Galatians 5:19-21) Even if we try to self-righteously say we don’t have some of these things choking out the Spirit, all of us have at least a couple.

Father, help me to block and tackle well today. Help me to carry you with me all day. Be glorified through me. If I sin (when I sin), help me to repent and be humble enough to bring glory to you too.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in Galatians, Philippians

 

John 3:19-21

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
John 3:19-21

Dear God, there is nothing like a clear conscience. And when there is something to hide, there is nothing like confession and access to absolution.

I wonder if this is the source of peace when it comes to the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Can there be peace without repentance and forgiveness? When someone is hiding things and holding on to shame and guilt, can that also be thorns in the soil of the soul that keep the Holy Spirt from growing good fruit (Matthew 13:1-23) in us? I think the obvious answer is yes. Yes, it can and does.

It’s easy to sit here and wonder about others, but what am I hiding? Is there anything that is allowing Satan power over me? Is there anything of which, if Jesus’s light were to shine on it, I would be ashamed? There probably is.

Father, thank you for grace. Thank you for freedom. Help me to completely access what you have for me and to share your message of freedom with others. Help me to also give that mercy freely to others so that they might see at least a little of you in me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2019 in John

 

“Know Who You Are” (from Moana) by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina, and Opetaia Foa’i

“Know Who You Are” (from Moana)

Dear God, I got home from rehearsal last night and there was a gap between Friday night college football games so I flipped channels and landed on the movie Moana. It was towards the end so I rode it out until it was over. When it came up at the end, I remembered the reaction I had to this scene and song the first time I saw the movie.

I have an old friend I’ve know for over 20 years who, several years ago, chose to start going down a self-destructive path. In fact, at lunch yesterday, I was telling another friend about him and wondering what role you have for me to play in his life. Do I have a voice to speak into his life? If I said something, would he hear me? Would I come across as sanctimonious? Would it destroy the shreds of friendship we have left? On the other hand, am I failing him by not risking everything for him? And if I did say something, what would I say?

That’s where this song/scene comes in. I don’t know what happened to my friend that made him turn on a dime. I don’t know if he did something that caused him shame or if something shameful happened to him. Perhaps neither. Perhaps both. But there are times I feel like I know him in a way that he doesn’t. Or at least I remember something about him that he has forgotten. When I first saw this scene in 2016, I thought of him, and I thought of him again last night. Is it a coincidence that I was talking about him yesterday and then I saw this last night, or was it providence?

So, Father, if the green heart in this scene can represent the renewing mercy and grace you offer, show me how to carry it to my friend with this message.

I have crossed the horizon to find you

In other words, I’m willing to risk everything to bring you this message.

I know your name

I know you in a way and things about who you are that you’ve forgotten.

They have stolen the heart from inside you

Something happened that caused you shame. Whether it was self-inflicted or done to you, it stole and hid from you who you are.

But this does not define you

There is mercy and grace. You know God. I know you remember the mercy that is available. Don’t let the secret of whatever happened control you.

This is not who you are

This is the truth. You may not see it, but this is not who you are.

I know who you are

Please remember and cling to Jesus. Let him heal your wounds.

Father, show me the way to him that I might carry your message to him and to others around me as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2019 in Hymns and Songs

 

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Matthew 6:31-34

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:31-34

Dear God, the verse of the day was the “seek first part,” but I want to focus on the line, “Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Yes, it is.

A lot of what I’m about to say (and remind myself of) is what you taught me through C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters--the 15th letter, to be precise. He has a couple of lines in there that you used to change my life. It’s all about the future and the demon trying to preoccupy his human “patient” with it based on the argument that the present is the one point in time that interfaces with eternity (and you).

The biggest problem (and there are many) with being anxious about the future (which is exactly what I prayed to you about a week ago this morning) is that I will likely miss your calling for what you want me to do today. But I have enough to solve today. I have work to do for my day-job. I have a wife to love. I have children, family and friends to pray for. I have rehearsal for the play I’m in.

One of the tricks for me today is getting caught up in the latest headlines regarding President Trump. My life can have zero effect on the outcome of what’s happening in D.C. right now, but I’m allowing myself to be distracted by the news this week more than I normally am. Sure, I could say that I could contact my senator or congressman, but I don’t even know what I’d like them to do today. But Satan uses these distractions and divisions to keep our hearts out of this present moment and away from you.

Father, help me to stay in the moment today. Love through me. Live through me. Speak to others and bless/serve them through me. And thank you for everything.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Matthew

 

Just Praise

No verse.

Dear God, I come to you this morning just in worship. You have done so much for me, but even if you hadn’t, you would still be my God. You would still the God. You aren’t worthy of my praise because of what you do for me. You are worthy of praise because you are. You told Moses to refer to you to Pharaoh as “I Am.” Well, yes, Father, you are and I love you for it.

Thank you for life. Thank you for giving me a role to play in your world. Thank you for giving me people to love, work to do, and mercy for when I fail you. Thank you for an unbelievably amazing planet on which to live. Even in drought we can have food to eat. Even in floods there is a place to go.

Thank you for the people you have put into my life. Thank you for how you have made me better through my wife, my son, my daughter, my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, my in-laws, my grandparents, my friends, my coworkers over the years, pastors and Bible teachers through the years, and your Holy Spirit.

I am not the man I was yesterday, nor am I yet who I will be tomorrow. Thank you for your patience with me. Thank you, Father.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2019 in Miscellaneous

 

1 John 1:8-2:2

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
1 John 2:1-2

Dear God, thank you. The “verse of the day was actually just 1 John 2:1. I just wanted to keep the others around it for context, but my first thought when I read verse 2:1 this morning was, “Thank you!” Thank you, Jesus, for pleading my case.

Funny, but I just got this song going on my head by For King and Country. It’s called “Priceless” and pretty much describes how you see me thanks to Jesus. I’m just so grateful. Thank you.

Now, here’s an interesting question: Why don’t I share more with others this thing for which I’m so grateful? Maybe I’m not as grateful as I think I am.

Father, first, thank you. Second, I’m sorry. Help me to take your message into my day and share it with others and give them the joy and peace you give me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in 1 John

 

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Hebrews 10:31-39

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.
Hebrews 10:31-39

Dear God, the other night I heard a woman say that she was tired of all of the persecution the church is under right now. I’ve got to tell you, at least living in this part of the country, I feel zero persecution. There is certainly nothing happening in our entire country that rises to the level of what is described here. We are absolutely soft.

But what I want to look at are the first words of this passage: “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Why is it terrible? I think the author is saying that I am no longer my own. When I submit my will and my life then I am yours and sometimes that will lead me to places I don’t want to go. I have to deny some things that bring me immediate gratification and exchange them for humility and service. I have to love you and other things more than myself. I must discipline myself to throw off the sin that entangles me and press on towards the goal you have set for me.

What do I get in exchange? Mercy and freedom. Peace. Joy. There is no other source for such things.

Father, no, for me it is not a terrible thing to be in your hands. You are good and I am grateful for you. My life has not turned out as I had hoped or dreamed, really in any way. But I wouldn’t trade it. I have it better than I deserve. Please reveal to me how you would like to use me today to love others and serve you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Hebrews