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Romans 12:15

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Dear God, this seems like a pretty simple statement from Paul, but it can be harder than it seems. Of course, this is the middle of a section where Paul is encouraging the readers to be loving. And this is what love looks like.

I have to say, this passage is actually not a strength of mine. I don’t mind addressing problems and serving others on a macro level, but I don’t often enough reach out to people individually. I have a former coworker who is going through some serious health issues right now, and I have gone over to visit him quite a bit, but that is certainly the exception. I can still be very selfish with my time.

Father, help me to be aware of the needs around me, and help me respond to your still small voice when you have work for me to do in the lives of individuals who are either mourning or rejoicing. Live through me so that your glory might be not only in my life, but also in their lives as well.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Romans

 

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Galatians 5:13

Galatians 5:13
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Dear God, when I was younger, my friends and I used to reference this verse and say that someone who said they were Christians but living worldly lives were “living in their grace.” Of course, we were saying it sarcastically. How could they just blatantly do that? Of course, as I aged you revealed to me how much I do that in my own life. I am certainly not pure, and I still have sinful parts of me that I’ve either not realized need purging or have intentionally allowed to stick around.

So what IS the freedom Paul references here? Well, in the verse leading up to this, Paul is referencing circumcision and how it’s no longer important because of what Jesus’s death and resurrection did for us. So Jesus and what he did bring us freedom from the legalistic laws and ushers us into a realm where we have some flexibility to show love and grace. For the person who is not yet free because they haven’t experienced the grace Jesus offers, it can be hard, if not impossible, to offer that freedom to others.

Father, if I’m allowing anything sinful in my life right now that is holding me back, or, better said, holding you back from living more fully through me, please show it to me and help me to purge it. And help me to take the freedom Jesus gives me and use it to offer others freedom. Help me know how to be an encouragement to others. Right now, I have a young man on my heart who is in juvenile detention and just going through hell. I don’t know that I have anything to offer him, but I know he’s on my heart. Show me what to do for him and how to offer him Jesus’s freedom.

I pray all of this in Jesus’s name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Galatians

 

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Romans 15:5-7

Romans 15:5-7
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.

Dear God, last night, as our church group wrapped up, we started talking about dissension within our church. There is apparently a vocal segment of our church (I have zero idea how large) that has started a letter writing campaign to the diocese complaining about the local congregation’ leadership. Assuming that there are some complaints that are legitimate, some that are frivolous, and some that are ridiculous, it has left me wondering what is the proper way to handle this tension. I’m pretty sure that all of us, including me, are not living up to Paul’s admonition here in Romans 15.

Obviously, the trickiest situation right now is for the lead reverend. I want to pray for him this morning that he will really hear you and receive your guidance. Whether it is the decisions he is making about how things should be done or how he is selling and implementing those changes, he needs you. He needs to completely feel your love and acceptance. And he needs to hear your call on how to love this congregation.

Then there are those in lay leadership. They need to work honestly with him and help to guide the relationship between him and the church. They need to help him find his footing and he needs to allow them to do it.

Of course, there is the bishop. He needs to make some hard decisions. He needs your wisdom and discernment. Please be with him and guide him. Give him the wisdom you gave to Solomon.

And finally there is the rest of us. Help us to love our leadership as ourselves. Help us to want the best for him and to help him grow in his relationship with you. And help us to Major in the majors and only care about what you consider important.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Romans

 

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Peter & John — 2 John

2 John [NLT]
1 This letter is from John, the elder.
I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth— 2 because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.
3 Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.
4 How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.
5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.
12 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.
13 Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.

Dear God, as I look at all of these passages the either reference Peter and/or John or were written by them, I am trying to figure out what I can learn about them and myself through who they were and how they fit into your kingdom and plan. In this case, 2 John is pretty short and has two main messages: Love others and reject deceivers. What a very succinct message. It must have been very much on his heart and important to him because he took the time to sit down and write it and send it on ahead of his visit.

One of the hard things to know is if I have been deceived or am deceiving others. Is my theology errant in any way that is material to your kingdom and your plan? Do I espouse beliefs that cause harm to your children? Are my thoughts on homosexuality, denominations, politics, or salvation in any way against your will? Do I ever cause harm to others when I share them?

Father, teach me. Help me to learn about you. I believe in you. I believe in the risen Christ. I do my best to love others, offer grace, and represent you to those around me. Raise up people/books/articles/etc. in my life that you will use to teach me your truth. Give me ears to hear. Give me eyes to see. Give me the words you want me to speak.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2019 in 2 John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — 1 Peter 1:22-25

1 Peter 1:22-25 NIV
[22] Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. [23] For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. [24] For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, [25] but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

Dear God, so it seems that Peter’s message to the Gentiles church so far is to appreciate their faith in what they didn’t see with their own eyes, encourage them to take their grace and use it to live holy lives, and now, with this passage, to love others richly.

Yes, if I were him and I wanted to get a message out to Gentiles new to Jewish/Christian faith I can see where those would have been my leadoff messages. So what does it mean to love one another deeply from the heart and how am I doing?

I suppose loving others deeply from the heart means to first consider others with empathy and to not just extend kindness, mercy or live for selfish gain. For example, I have a staff member who go injured this week while she was at home. She is fairly new to our staff and this is going to require us to work around her a little. I think it has really pleased her to see that our style is to do what we need to do to ensure that she is cared for first and then figure out how to have as little impact on our clients as possible. I have another staff person who experienced some trauma over the Christmas break. I’ve spent some time with her this week to try to help get her some access to counseling. Not because it benefits our organization, but because I care about her and it’s what she needs.

Okay, so those are the good examples. What about when I fail others? I would really like to improve in the area of taking my personal time to reach out and bless others. I tend to be pretty protective of my time outside of work even though I end up wasting a lot of it watching TV or whatever. My wife and I have also talked about the need to improve our hospitality.

Father, help me to love others deeply and from the heart. Touch them through me and touch me through them. Help me to experience all of this growth so that I might descend deeper into your presence and that my heart might grow closer to yours.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2019 in 1 Peter, Peter and John

 

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