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Category Archives: Books of the Bible

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, my first thought when I read this passage this morning is that there are some totally pointless things about this world that I totally love and I give some of my resources of time and money to (e.g. college football). I really don’t want to give them up. Do I have to?

Then I thought about a Facebook post I read last night. A woman who is a little younger than me apparently has colon cancer that has spread. She said that that will operate on her colon, but she and her husband are praying and seeking your guidance on what they should do as far as treatment. I haven’t had to be part of a decision like this for myself or my wife, but I’ve always talked tough about my willingness to die and not fight with my last breath. It’s easy to say, but hard to do. The reality is that I can’t really imagine being in this couple’s situation. No one can unless they’ve been there. This verse makes me think that, if I ever am in this situation, I need to ask myself some hard questions about how much of my need to physically survive at any cost is because I love the things of this world too much.

Father, I’m not not saying there is never a time for treatment. Of course not. And I pray that this woman and her husband would find their answers from you. Give her peace and joy. Bring her healing and wholeness. I do pray that there would be a treatable path forward. And then when you are part of her healing, help them to use that gift for your glory. And if your plan is for her to be with you sooner, then please take care of those left behind. Boy this sounds like such a callous prayer. I really do want her healing. Father, be God to them, be powerful, and bring glory to yourself through this.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2019 in 1 John

 

Isaiah 1:10-20

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. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Isaiah 1:10-20

Dear God, this passage from Isaiah reminds me of a conversation I had at lunch yesterday. A friend is the president of a homeowners association and he inherited a situation where a lot of the restrictions have been allowed to slide for a while. Now, people are angry with their neighbors about violations of the covenants that everyone signed when they purchased their property, and those who are violating are angry that the association is enforcing the codes. This is what he walked into. So now he is trying to bring things into line/up to code, and trying to figure out how to get everyone back into harmony.

His first step is what reminds me of this passage. He told me that he sent out a letter a month or two ago that basically encouraged everyone to be respectful and kind to their neighbors. Yes, there is the letter of the law, but there is also the spirit of the law, and a lot of people are ignoring that too. Let’s start with kindness. While he was talking, I thought of the greatest two commandments: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Isaiah is telling the Israelites in this passage that it’s time for them to stop depending on all of their little rituals and ceremonies to save them and simply come back into relationship with you. “Come now, let’s settle this.” I love that line. It’s almost like you’re saying, let’s get back to what this was supposed to be. Our relationship is supposed to be loving and fun. It is supposed to be good and delightful. And all you have to do is do what you know is right and not do what you know is wrong.

Father, help me to not lose the spirit of the law in all of my theology. Help me to remember that this is about having the opportunity to be in communion with the most amazing “existence” in the universe. You are it. You are all. You are my all in all. As I go through this day, help me to look beyond the ceremony and simply look into your eyes.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2019 in Isaiah

 

Joshua 24:1-15

Then Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, including their elders, leaders, judges, and officers. So they came and presented themselves to God. Joshua said to the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. “Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought terrible plagues on Egypt; and afterward I brought you out as a free people. But when your ancestors arrived at the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after you with chariots and charioteers. When your ancestors cried out to the Lord, I put darkness between you and the Egyptians. I brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians, drowning them. With your very own eyes you saw what I did. Then you lived in the wilderness for many years. “Finally, I brought you into the land of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I destroyed them before you. I gave you victory over them, and you took possession of their land. Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to him. Instead, I made Balaam bless you, and so I rescued you from Balak. “When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them. “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord .”
Joshua 24:1-15

Dear God, it’s always important to remember what you’ve done and who you are as we try to figure out what you might be asking of us next. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. The most important one is that it reminds us of your faithfulness to us. It will strengthen our faith to remember what you’ve done before.
  2. It might show us a pattern as to what direction you’ve pushed us in the past and how you might be directing us for the future.
  3. It will stir gratitude and worship within us.
  4. If we share it with others, it will testify to them and hopefully increase their faith.

That’s just off of the top of my head. There are probably many other reasons. In this case, Joshua didn’t just get up and say, “Choose today whom you will serve…” He laid out his case with evidence of not only your faithfulness, but also of your ability to deliver. You not only love us, but you are awesome in every way.

Father, help me to do this as I face different crossroads at home, in the community, and at work. Remind me of your faithfulness to me and the blessings you have put on the work I do. Guide me in your way. Love through me. Lead through me. And I can tell you, without reservation, as for my wife and me, we will serve you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2019 in Joshua

 

1 Timothy 2:1-4

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 2:1-4

Dear God, I prayed just the other day about Christians complaining about perceived persecution. And maybe I don’t appreciate what might be happening it other parts of our country that I don’t see, but it feels like we 1.) don’t know what real persecution is and 2.) don’t follow the example of our persecuted biblical ancestors when we experience it. They considered it all joy. We whine and complain.

I think the same can be true for our leaders. I’ve never prayed for our leaders as much as I should. I’ve grumbled about them plenty. I’ve insulted them to others. I think we all have, on either side of the aisle, Christian and non-Christian. I’ve judged. I’ve even hated. I’m so sorry.

Father, I commit to you right now to pray for leaders across the spectrum. From my local ones to the national and international ones. I pray for those who conduct the actual business under them. My prayer is Proverbs 21:1 for everyone from our local city council to the president.

The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.
Proverbs 21:1

Whether they know they are being led or not, let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And show me my role in your plan.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2019 in 1 Timothy, Proverbs

 

Ephesians 1:9-14

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. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Ephesians 1:9-14

Dear God, context is so important. Some would take verse 10 out of context and say that “everything” refers to the second coming and that you never did this. But I read the verse in context and see that everything simply refers to adding the Gentiles (me) to the Jews. The new covenant is more than grace over works. It’s also about uniting us all as your children. We are all part of your kingdom now. Theologically, I’m not sure how you handled all of that (Gentiles) under the old covenant, but I’m grateful to be counted as your child now.

But Satan doesn’t want us united. I’ve said many times before that dividing us from each other is his Plan A, and it’s so effective that he rarely needs a Plan B. There’s something about the sin in our hearts, even among the holiest of us, that has a need to put ourselves above others and be convinced that we are better than them, “righter” than them, etc. I suppose that’s why your two greatest commandments are the antidote to this plan: Love the Lord your God with all your strength, heart, and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Your command unites us. Satan’s plan divides us.

Father, be glorified in me. Forgive me of my sin and my desire (need) to be better than others. Replace my insecurity with love for others. Replace the shame I have with acceptance of grace. And help me to joyfully extend that grace to others and unite with them.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2019 in Ephesians

 

Romans 13:6-7

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.
Romans 13:6-7

Dear God, I think one way to look at this whole set of verses from Paul, including the ones before it, is him telling us to lighten up, do what’s right, be part of society, and stop being so hostile out of selfishness.

Hostile. It’s actually Election Day in our town/state (and probably in most or all states around the country). I voted early last week. There were about 10 things to come on, and about half of them involved taxation. There was one to prohibit a state income tax ever. There was one about taxing the value gained on precious metals stored in a place where you store them (that one seemed weird). There is this constant push/pull in our society around taxes. And I understand the desire to pay as little in taxes as possible. I feel that way too. But there are times when I feel like we start holding onto our money so tightly (I start holding onto my money so tightly) that it steals our (my) joy. That’s why it’s important to be a generous giver to others. I think the more I turn loose of my money in that way the more I can let go of all of it.

Father, first, thank you for providing me taxable income. Thank you for generously giving my wife and me the resources to cover emergency needs (like a new appliance that just broke) as well as enough money to help those around us. Second, help me to continue to turn loose and consider it all joy so that the money I have is not my own, but all yours. If that means paying taxes to support the common good, so be it.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2019 in Romans

 

2 Corinthians 3:6

He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:6

Dear God, I prayed recently about works/grace and how James (brother of Jesus) and Paul might have debated the issue. I think this verse gives an insight into Paul’s perspective. Paul was very in tune with the role of the Holy Spirit. It’s something I’ve been seeing more and more lately as I pray for myself and others.

This “new covenant” Paul refers to is such a paradigm shift that I can imagine there was a lot of debate and rejection over it. The old covenant still kept you at a distance from the individual, but this new brings you inside. That is radical. I wonder if that is something I don’t appreciate enough as a difference between Christianity and other religions such as Islam.

Father, help me to fully understand what all of this means. Help me to internalize (no pun intended) this concept and share it with others as appropriate. And as I pray for others, such as family and friends, make me mindful of this concept.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in 2 Corinthians