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Monthly Archives: November 2021

1 John 2:15-16

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
1 John 2:15-16

Dear God, I’ve noticed something in me lately that’s disturbing and goes along these lines. I’ve found that I’ve been wanting credit for accomplishments. A few weeks ago, I saw a story in our local paper that I was actually the person who drove it behind the scenes. It was my idea and I got it going. But my name wasn’t attached to it at all. That must have bothered me a little because I was sure to point it out to my wife and tell her, in short, “I did that.”

I was talking to a coworker yesterday about my accomplishments in another organization and I was doing it very pridefully. There is obviously something in my spirit right now that is needing stroked. I’m reverting to the sinful cravings John references here.

Father, I’m grateful for this passage this morning. Thank you for speaking to me and gently reminding me that there is no satisfaction or peace at the end of this trail. If I follow it, I will not find what I’m looking for. I will only find it through worshiping you and experiencing your love and acceptance. I’m sorry for the glory I try to grab for myself that belongs only to you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2021 in 1 John

 

Isaiah 1:10-17

Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the Lord. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting— they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:10-17

Dear God, it’s interesting to see your frustration and message to the Israelites through Isaiah: Stop doing evil things and love others! Don’t try to impress me because I’m not to be mocked or fooled. I can see beneath your veneer. I see who you really are.

So who do you see when you look at me? I know what I hope you see. Is that reality?

Father, I know I’m flawed. I’m sorry for that. I really am. To quote a hymn, “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee.”

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2021 in Isaiah

 

Joshua 24:23-24

“All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.”
Joshua 24:23-24

Dear God, it’s always good to do a repeated inventory of my idols. They slip in when I’m not looking. I think they fall into two major categories: things that take my time and attention and things that make me feel secure and safe.

The problem with the things that take my time and attention is that they keep me from doing the things you have for me to do. For example, watching too many videos on YouTube is probably an idol to some extent. That habit keeps me from loving you with all of my heart, mind, and strength. How productive could I be in the things you lay on my heart if I were to remove that idol?

Then there are the idols that bring me false senses of security. I’ve talked about these before. They range from my bank accounts, to my job and the money it provides my wife and me, to the economy, to law and order, to our military. Then there are the cultural things that can threaten me and my sense of security. If I wonder what exactly they are, all I have to do is watch any news channel of any political persuasion and identify what they want me to fear at any given moment. It is those things that can become my idols. They include either side of issues like racism, the border, crime, political power (I probably should have led with that one), abortion/right to choose, etc. The news organizations have identified the things that will attract our eyeballs, and those things are usually idols.

Father, I know I have idols in both categories. I’m sorry. Please help me to identify them one by one and purge them from my life. I want to love you with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I also want to love my neighbor as myself. Please be gentle with me as I go through this process.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2021 in Joshua

 

1 Timothy 1:18-2:4

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God. I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
1 Timothy 1:18-2:4

Dear God, the passage today for Bible Gateway was verses 1 and 2, where Paul urges Timothy to pray for all people and leaders. But it’s another instance where we’ve been given false barriers between scriptures for the sake of chapter separations and section headings. They meant well, but they can really change the meaning of a piece.

This one is a good example. Paul wrote these words as one. He connected clinging to faith and being careful about people who blaspheme you with praying for others. He is encouraging Timothy to “fight well in the Lord’s battles.” Do this by:

  • Clinging to your faith
  • Keeping you conscience clear
  • Praying for all people
  • Giving thanks for people
  • Praying for “kings” and those in authority
  • Praying for peaceful and quiet lives (although I have to wonder if sometimes you don’t give us this so we will not be lulled into slumber)

I was speaking Friday morning with a friend and he told me that he has trouble praying for our current president and his administration because he vehemently disagrees with his policies. Now, full disclosure, I don’t pray for any of our leaders very well or often, regardless of whether or not I agree with them, but in this case he intimated that he prayed for the previous president and his administration. I asked him why it was harder for this administration. If anything, I would have thought the parts of this administration that bother him would make praying for them easier.

So what about me? What am I to do about praying for our leaders? Whether they be local community leaders, the members of my board of directors at work (for whom I almost never pray), and then state, federal and worldwide leaders. Also leaders within our church. Even this morning our church asked that we pray for our two main priests as they go to a conference this week. After having read this passage before church, I took note of it and thought that I do need to pray for them regarding this trip and conference. I need to honor that request.

Father, the truth is, I’m terrible about intercessory prayer. It is just not a priority for me and it’s something I do not make a priority. I make times like this a priority, but I do not make other times and types of prayer a priority. Guide me in that. Help me to be better and please help me to also cling strongly to my faith and keep my conscience clear.

In Jesus’s name I pray

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2021 in 1 Timothy

 

Ephesians 1:9-11

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
Ephesians 1:9-11

Dear God, there are times when I doubt that Paul was right. It’s been 2,000 years, and I have a difficult time seeing how you are bringing “everything together under the authority of Christ.” Frankly, I think Paul would be shocked to know 2,000 years have passed and Jesus hasn’t returned in a way that Paul envisioned he would.

With that said, I do believe that you have your “own good plan.” I do believe that you ultimately want us to all be in relationship with you somehow. I believe you want to love us. I believe you want to grow us and even stretch us. I believe you want to make me better. That’s the interesting thing about your plan. It appears to be macro and micro at the same time. In fact, it actually seems to be more micro than macro—at least from my perspective, which is very limited. What I mean by micro is that you care about me individually and while you are not necessarily about my comfort and luxury, you are about growth. You are about refining me. I prayed the other day that I wanted you to break me, melt me, mold me and fill me. It’s the breaking, melting, and molding that are hard. And to do it you need the hammer, the fire, and the rough power of the potter’s hands. But when my vessel is ready, you can fill me. In fact, you find a way to fill me even when you haven’t completed me yet.

Father, those words are from a praise chorus called “Spirit of the Living God.” I pray that song now: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Break me. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2021 in Ephesians

 

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Romans 13:1-7

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:1-7

Dear God, our modern Christianity seems to have lost this passage. At least in America. Sometime in the 70s (maybe is was after Roe v. Wade), we decided that we would not submit to our government but ensure we controlled our Christian agenda from the top down. Then the moral majority came in the 80s and we were off and running. Now, it seems that we have made an idol out of ruling from above instead of serving from below.

So what do I need to do to be a better servant? What do I need to do to be better at serving from below? I received an email from an organization that helps sex trafficking victims yesterday. I shared it with my wife. Yes, it is important that we legislate against sex trafficking, but the truth is that we can petition our lawmakers while, as individuals, we seek to make a difference at a grassroots level.

I often have people tell me I should run for a local political office. I always laugh and tell them that there is no prize for doing that, and I can get more done as a private citizen than I can from a governmental level. So I have friends in the government. I talk with them and let them know about some problems I see and how the government might come alongside us to solve some of them. But my calling is not to be part of the government.

Father, it would be easy to say that Paul didn’t understand what it was like to live under a bad, harsh government that was doing corrupt things, but I guarantee living under our government was better than living under his. He apparently understood just fine. So if I am to take his words to heart, I need to submit to you and seek your will for me. Help me to hear your voice and worship you well today.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Romans

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:8-10

Dear God, “masterpiece?” That’s a little generous of the NLT translators. The NASB calls us your workmanship. The NIV says handiwork. The translation must be difficult to find a direct correlation in English. But let’s at least say that we are a particular pet project for you, you paid close attention to what you were doing when you formed and engaged with us, and you do good work. In this case, your plan for redeeming us and creating us new and in Jesus’s image is good so we should maybe consider it an honor to be let of it and take up the responsibility that comes with being the subject of your affection and redemption.

I’ve been fairly disengaged from you this last week. Not totally. It’s been hit and miss. But you certainly have not been my first love. I have not loved you with all of my soul, heart, and strength.

Father, I embrace the idea that what you have done for me through Jesus is a masterpiece. I take no credit for it or anything good in my life. You are my God. I and yours. I will worship you, follow you, and submit my own gain for yours.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2021 in Ephesians