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Category Archives: Books of the Bible

Acts 20:24

24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

Acts 20:24

Dear God, this verse has been important to me for almost 35 years. I mentioned to my wife this morning that it was the verse of the day on Bible Gateway, and she asked if it still means as much to me as it did then. I said it does. What I see in this verse is that Paul was willing to walk the path of almost certain destruction (arrest, incarceration, and, ultimately, death) because that was the path you had for him as part of your will being done and your kingdom coming to earth. Should I be any different. If I have life circumstances that are seemingly unfavorable to me or even tragic, maybe that’s just the path you require in my life to mold me into who you need me to be and to mold the lives of others around me to mold them as well.

I was listening to a commentary this morning on Solomon. They talked about his the contradiction in how he asked for wisdom but then did not walk the path of the wise. The speaker suggested that his mistake was that he used his wisdom for his own glory and not for yours. He used it to amass his own fortune, even to the point of disobeying old commands from Deuteronomy about not bringing in horses from Egypt, so that he could have the best. He had the wisdom, but he did not have the humility. Ultimately, all of it corrupted him.

Father, I really don’t want my heart to be corrupted. I want any shred of wisdom I have to be directed towards you and your glory. I want to be at peace in the Holy Spirit regardless of my circumstances. I want to use any privilege I have, whether it be the unspoken privilege of my race or place in society or the financial and time resources you’ve given to me, to worship you with all my heart and love my neighbor as myself. My utmost for your highest, oh, Lord.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2022 in Acts

 

John 3:16-21

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 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 3:16-21

Dear God, there is so much to emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually process from the last two days. It’s seems like there are different levels of evil, but it’s hard to know when it’s gone too far. The young man in Uvalde—the evil drove him too far. I don’t know what his motivations were. I don’t know what drove him to crave destruction of so many innocents. I have grieved over the last two days. I’m sure the grief has been terrible for you.

Of course, you grieve like this every day, I’m sure. You see the Uvalde equivalent but on a much larger scale in Ukraine. You see the Uvalde equivalent on a smaller scale in individual homes. You see what we do to each other online. In person. Through our words. Through our actions. Through our silence. You see your children give into hatred and let it feed them. I’ve certainly let anger in me turn into some form of hatred. And all of this just grows in darkness.

Father, help me to really be a source of light—your light—in this world. Help me to experience your complete freedom and joy and then share the opportunity to experience that joy with others. I am your Plan A. Your church is your Plan A. There is no Plan B. Help us to be a light that is willing to shine in the shadows so that your presence might go into all the world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2022 in John

 

Hebrews 6:1-6

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

Dear God, this is an interesting passage when you consider the arguments of “once saved always saved” vs. “maintaining your salvation through works.” Of course, I’m not going to get into that here today because I have no idea what, exactly, it takes for any given human to get into heaven, and it feels like it would be arrogant of me to think I know that answer. However, I would like to dive a little into this idea that “it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance.” That seems like a very short-sighted argument. Frankly, I would love to be able to unpack the author’s thoughts here a little more with him. Maybe I’ll get to do that one day.

I guess my thought has been that it is easier to reach someone who has already experienced the joy of letting go and surrendering to you, even if they’ve backslidden and taken their lives back from you, than it is to convince someone to submit to you and repent who has never done it before. Everyone has to have a breaking point before they decide to come to you. For some of us, that point is pretty easy to reach. They know the joy in humility, repentance, forgiveness, grace, etc. They know what it’s like, if only for a moment, to touch the Holy Spirit and begin to experience the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness, and self control. It’s the person who doesn’t trust it and has never allowed themselves to let go of their own rights and agendas who will have to come to a breaking point at some level.

Father, there are people in my life who are currently worshipping you. There are people who used to worship you and have now walked away. And there are some who have never worshipped you and never plan to. First, help me to be someone who worships you. Help me to repent when necessary, extend mercy when necessary, and worship always. And then show me what you would have me do and who you would have me be for those who are walking their paths. Show me how to encourage the worshipper, kindle the embers of the one who walked away, and be part of your invitation to the one who doesn’t know you. Use me as you will. Let y our kingdom come and your will be done on earth through me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2022 in Hebrews

 

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

Dear God, I just don’t know anything, and, yet, I tend to think I know so much. I was thinking yesterday about the woman who founded our nonprofit 30 years ago. She didn’t know what would happen after you inspired her. She just knew she was supposed to come home from that Christian conference and get some doctors and nurses to volunteer to give people a free clinic. You grew the seed from there.

I just got word yesterday that a man I know is facing the end of life with a cancer diagnosis. His family is facing it too, obviously. I wish I knew what to do. He is a good man, and he has kept busy. I pray that he will be at peace and he and his family will have the strength to endure the next few weeks. I pray that you will use this pain to touch them and reveal yourself to them in a new way. And use it in the lives of others as well. Please don’t let it be wasted. And please help him to not suffer. And for their daughter as well. She is a special needs young woman and I don’t know if that will make this harder or easier for her, but I pray that you will walk with her.

Father, show me the work you have for me to do today. Help me to keep busy under your guidance and leadership. Bless the work I do so that it might multiply for your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2022 in Ecclesiastes

 

Acts 1:20-22

20 Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’

21 “So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus— 22 from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us. Whoever is chosen will join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.”

Acts 1:20-22

Dear God, I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s a good reminder to be patient. I think (and every theologian in the world might disagree with me, and maybe I am, indeed, wrong) that Peter jumped the gun here. He’s on his own for the first time in three years–without Jesus and in seemingly in charge. So he is looking for something to do and I think he is using his head instead of praying about what to do next. I think that he should have been waiting patiently for what ended up being Pentecost and the Holy Spirit coming over him in chapter 2 and then addressing the crowd in verse 2:14.

How does this play into my life now? My tendency right now is to force some things that I don’t like in my life. To be impatient. But even this morning, my job is to wait. It’s to pray, seek your presence and wait. Part of seeking your presence and being in your presence is becoming aware of sin I’ve allowed into my life. Idols. Selfishness. Lethargy. Whatever it might be, as I sit with you I cannot be in your presence without being aware of how sullied I am and inadequate to be with you. So I take an inventory, I repent, and I commit to you to do better.

Father, as I wait on you and your timing, I thank you for loving me and being here with me right now. I thank you for the bridge that Jesus is between you and me. I thank you for the peace you give me. For the joy. Please forgive me for my selfishness and for the times when I turn away from you. Forgive me for when I indulge my own desires instead of following your call. Forgive me for my impatience and my lack of faith in you, your timing, and your plan. Give me this day my daily bread. Help me to extend to others the grace you’ve given to me. Use my life to bring your kingdom and your will into this world.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2022 in Acts

 

Ephesians 4:31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

Dear God, like all sin, whether it’s anything from lying, to lust, to intoxication, to the things listed in verse 31 above, they feel so so good in the moment, but the good feeling is hollow and short-lived. Then we are faced with a choice as we sit there in emptiness: Do we keep chasing the good feeling through diving deeper into these things or do we turn, repent, take the time to rebuild the damage caused by these things and then embrace the things you have said are good for us?

The rebuild is always harder than the teardown. Trust is something that is lost over a moment, but only regained with time and experience. I had someone I trusted completely at one point. After only a few betrayals and lies, my trust for them was shattered and it’s still not completely back. Am I bitter against them? No, I’ve gotten over a lot of my bitterness (although there is still some anger and deep hurt remaining). But I am also careful about how much I expose myself to them and make myself vulnerable to them. I am still have tenderness in my heart for them. I forgive them. But I still have up some walls.

Father, show me the path forward with all of those in my life whom I do not trust. Show me how to be the kind, tenderhearted, forgiving man you have called me to be. Do all of this for the sake of my soul and peace and for your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2022 in Ephesians

 

Matthew 18:15-17

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17

Dear God, there are some people who have things against me, yet I have no idea what they are. I guess my prayer today is simple. Somehow, show them this verse and encourage them to follow it. And when they do, give me the grace to receive it and repent of whatever I did or continue to do wrong.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2022 in Matthew

 

Luke 15:12-13a

The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land…”
Luke 15:12-13a

Dear God, I know this is a parable to describe your relationship with us, but I still want to sit with the father in this moment. Until the son showed back up, this is where the father’s knowledge stops. He doesn’t know the boy blew all of the money. He doesn’t know how he spent it. He doesn’t know he’s broke and starving. For all he knows, the boy could be out living a good life, being responsible, and he will never be seen again.

I live in a small town that just finished a year of celebrating its 175th year of settlement. 176 years ago, a group of Prussians (now Germans) left everything behind to come to start fresh in America. I’d never thought about their individual motivations before going to a worship service last Thursday, but most of them were saying goodbye to family forever, never to be seen or heard from again. Some of them were probably alone in the world with nothing to lose, but I’m sure there were some who were like the boy in the parable: “I’ve had it with you people. I’m out of here.” Then those that loved them were left. It was like a death.

I’ve experienced this kind of pain. It’s probably why I’m unwilling to inflict it upon others even though that is certainly my temptation. But I know the depths to which it cuts. I can’t do that to someone else. After all, you would never abandon me. How can I completely abandon someone else.

Father, I’m sorry I turn my back on you. I’m sorry I’ve allowed myself to turn my back on others at times. And I don’t mind telling you that my current pain is great. Be in my multiple situations and heal it all. And if this pain must be experienced, please make it count.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2022 in Luke

 

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 10 He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Dear God, I think it can be said of me that I have an earnest heart, but not a bold one. I do wonder sometimes if I wasn’t designed by you to be more of a #2 and not a #1 on the org chart. For example, I would never pray this prayer. I’ve never prayed it before, and I have no intention of praying it now. I don’t know how I would separate it out from making an idol out of me and the things I want. To expect you to bless me, expand my territory (power, influence, possessions, etc.). To think that I would be presumptuous enough to ask you to keep me from all trouble and pain. Who am I to ask such a thing?!? You have granted me so much more than I deserve. How could I possibly ask for more.

So that’s the noble side of my personality. But there is a cautious, maybe even lazy side as well. I don’t push. I don’t boldly pursue new opportunities–neither for myself nor for the organization for which I work. I look for natural opportunities. I let things develop organically. But I don’t rush to plant new fields. I don’t sod a new area and then let it take root. I’m more the type that lets the existing grass grow into the blank space naturally. Yes, taking care of the existing grass takes work and effort, but it’s just a completely different philosophy than I carry naturally.

Father, as I go through this day and the days to come, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. And in the spirit of this passage, give me the courage to change the things I can. And above all, give me the wisdom to know the difference. And when it is time to grow, please bring your blessing to it and raise up people who will work with me to fill the holes I have in my own being. You didn’t make me to be 100% capable. If you did then I wouldn’t need your or anyone else. But I am flawed. I have shortcomings. I need you. I need others. Thank you for being with me so faithfully. And I do have specific requests. You know what they are.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2022 in 1 Chronicles

 

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1 John 5:13-15

I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
1 John 5:13-15

Dear God, I’ve gotten to the point in my life we’re I try to be careful about what I ask of you. I know that my requests can be foolish. I might pray for an outcome that is out of your plan. I might want something for myself or my children that will get in the way of what you are trying to do. The same goes for my work, my community, my country and even the world. I don’t know what you’re doing or how it all works out. There are things in my life that, to the human eye, look like complete failure. But I have prayed to you about them incessantly. My wife has prayed about them. So now I am just trusting that this is the path you need us to walk to accomplish what you have to accomplish. After all, Jesus taught us to pray, “YOUR kingdom come and YOUR will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I have a big event tonight for the nonprofit where I work. It’s a fundraising event and my temptation is to go into it wanting to hit our revenue goal and impress the board of directors. I want to be able to point to how “good” I am at my job and use it to make me feel good about myself. The truth, however, is that you might have completely different goals for tonight, and none of them might pertain to money or my reputation. There might be one person in the audience who needs to see you and what you can do in their life. There might be one person who is inspired to work with us or some other nonprofit in town. There might be someone who decides they have missed you and wants to repent before you.

Father, my request of you for this dinner is that you will do with it what you want. We are spending $25,000 to put this thing on. Be glorified in all of it. Use it. Use it to help us raise money for our work and help us to be good stewards of that money. Use it to touch lives. Use it to bless our staff. Use it to let your will be done and your kingdom to come on earth and in our town as it is in heaven. Give us the daily bread that we need as an organization to do the work you have for us to do, and give us a vision for what that work is.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2022 in 1 John