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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Halloween - Fear

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Fear. Its something we all deal with at different times in our lives and in different ways. For one person, fear might come in the form of math tests. Another might fear speaking in front of large groups of people. Whatever it is that scares you, its good to know that fear is something that you can overcome.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Its really easy to fall into the trap of fear. Fear can creep into your life without you knowing it. It can come into your life by watching the news. Perhaps you hear all the talk of ebola on TV and are afraid that you might get it. Maybe you watch scary movies on TV for Halloween and you’re now not able to sleep. If you’re not on guard against fear, it will creep into your life before you even realize it.

The good news is that you don’t have to be afraid of anything. God has the answer to everything you face that scares you. If you’re afraid of disease, God says in Psalm 91 that he will protect you. Whatever it is that you’re afraid of, God has the answer to that fear. Its just up to you to get into God’s word and find that answer. Dig into the word and find out what God has to say about being afraid.

God’s word is one of the best ways to combat fear. By getting into His word, by thinking about it, by speaking it out over your life, you’ll find that fear will leave. What once was a huge fear in your life will become small once you see it in the light of the Bible.

So challenge yourself this Halloween to not be a Halloweenie. Challenge yourself to find out what God’s word says about your fear. Find a great scripture that deals with what you’re afraid of. Speak it and think about it. You’ll find that when you do, fear will leave your life!

Dear Lord, we thank You that we don’t have to fear. We thank You for the Bible verses you give us to encourage us and help us to not fear. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Nothing is to hard for God

Genesis 18:14 (ESV)
Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Why did it take so long? Why didn't God give Abraham and Sarah a child as soon as he promised it?

The ways of God are above our ways. God's thoughts are beyond our thoughts. God's timing is not our timing. We might even agree that God's sense of humor is not the same as ours.

Instead of striking down Sarah for her laughter, God smiled and said, in effect, "You'll see." Before this visit from the Lord, Sarah had relied on a scheme of her own for having children. But now she knew that it would only be because of God that she would ever have a child. As you might have noticed yesterday, Abraham had also laughed earlier when God had renamed Sarah and repeated his promise to give her and Abraham a son.

Why did it take so long? Lessons had to be learned. One lesson that Abraham and Sarah learned was that the Lord's ways are often far different from ours. We need to learn this too. God was willing to have his Son go to the cross--for us. God was willing to face--and overcome--death. God was willing to combine his justice and his love--for us. God was willing to be patient in molding and shaping us for himself.

Is anything too hard for God? No! Whatever you face today, remember the lesson of God--for us.

Dear Lord, thank You for taking the hard way for us. Thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross and Your love for us. Thank You for the gift of life, given to us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 28, 2019

People of integrity

Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Tiger Woods might be the most famous golfer today. He stands out because he was a gifted winner of competitions for many years. But Tiger Woods’s life fell apart because of various indiscretions. His success in public did not match his failures at home.

As image bearers of God, we are designed to be people of integrity and character. A person of integrity is one who does right in all areas of life, one who can be trusted. If people compromise in one area, they cannot be trusted in others.

As we look at God’s image and see his character, we find that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. In Malachi 3:6 the Lord says, “I . . . do not change.” He is completely stable and trustworthy. We can trust God because he is faithful and true to his character. As a result of his integrity, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

God expects us, his image bearers, to be people of integrity. James speaks of people who are double-minded and unstable in all they do. He says they are “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” If we lack character in one area of our life, it will affect the other areas of our life. But by Christ’s Spirit, we can find the strength to live as God desires us to live.

Dear Lord, thank You for making us in Your image. Help us to live in a way that always reflects Your character and honors You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 27, 2019


Colossians 1:3-4 (ESV)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.

Frederick Robertson, a young nineteenth-century preacher, defined love in two phrases: the desire to give, and the desire to bless.

Love desires to give. Robertson says that when you examine that mysterious thing called love, you will find this yearning to give. It may be as simple as giving money, or some of your time, or a word of encouragement. In marriage, it involves giving your whole self. Giving can take the form of praise: "It is so good that you exist, that you are in my life."

God expressed His love to us not only by giving us life and this astonishing universe but also by giving his Son.

Love not only yearns to give; it also wants to bless. We give in order to bless. This separates the giving that is done for selfish reasons. There is a giving, for example, that seeks to put others in our debt. Love gives not to manipulate but to bless the other.

God gave his Son in order to bless us with eternal life. The desire to bless includes seeking what's best for another. So giving is not always a simple matter, as any parent knows. At times, love struggles mightily to find the best way to give in order to bless, to help another person become more fully alive to God.

As members of the church, we seek to give whatever gifts we have in order to bless others.

Dear Lord, as You love us, may we love one another. Help us to follow Your example by desiring to give in order to bless. Help us to build one another up for Your sake. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Longing for Jesus

Psalm 63:1 (ESV)
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

In prayer we express our longings. We utter our deepest needs. We ache. We hurt. We cry. We wait.

In a sense all our longings are the same, even though we are all different people with unique lives and individual feelings. But our longings, our friends’ longings, and even our enemy’s longings point in the same direction. The objective of all our longings is God.

God designed us to long for him. Every hunger pang, every craving to buy, to belong, or even to right a wrong shows that in our deepest heart we long for God. We want to know and be known by him, to love and be loved by him.

One day Jesus met a woman carrying a water jug. She was thirsty for God but didn’t know it. Divorced five times and ostracized by her community, she avoided people, preferring to draw water alone. She tried dodging Jesus’ conversation with religious chit–chat.

But the more he talked, the more she craved what He had. Soon the woman with the water jar found herself asking Jesus for a drink. Who could guess that the living water He was talking about was the gift of His own blood by which her life could be redeemed?

This woman didn’t know she had been praying, but she was. Going from husband to husband, from fad to fad, she was pleading. She was searching for God.

Dear Lord, our hearts are restless until we find our rest in You. Thank You for finding us in our need and for filling us with Your love and giving us life. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A new heart

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

"I guess I was born that way--that's just the way I am." Some people say things like this to claim that any tendency is okay as long as you were born with it. They figure you can't help the way God made you. If you are stubborn or hot-tempered, you might claim that's just a family trait.

Such thinking ignores a basic teaching of the Bible. There is more to each human being than divinely created innocence. We are created in God's image with many marvelous capabilities, but we have also been born with a fallen, sinful nature. Sin twists our identity and personality from our very first moments of life. The fact that some of my desires and habits go back as far as I can remember does not make them right. I was born with a stone-cold heart, and my natural tendency is to center on what I want rather than on what God wants.

I can't change the way I am. But God can change me. God's Spirit has given me a heart transplant. I was born sinful, but through God's work I have been born again. I have a new life and a new identity in Jesus Christ. Now I don't need to make excuses for the way I was born. Instead I must live like someone who has been born again.

Dear Lord, we have never been innocent. Help us to stop making excuses. Help us to leave our hard heart at the foot of Your cross, and rejoice in the new heart You have given to us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

God will do it

Romans 4:3 (ESV)
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

In today’s verses Paul expands on his thoughts about how we can get right with God. Paul brings the Old Testament patriarch Abraham into the picture. He notes that Abraham became okay with God because he trusted God to take care of the process. Abraham knew he couldn’t do that himself. In the words of The Message: “He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”

When my truck breaks down, it can’t fix itself. In order to get fixed, it needs someone who knows all about it.

Someone might give me some tools to try to fix it. I can start pulling things apart under the hood and looking carefully at the pieces, but that won’t go far, because I don’t know enough in order to fix it. What my car needs is someone who can figure out what is wrong and do the right thing to fix the problem. That’s why I go to my expert mechanic. I trust him to set it right rather than trying to set it right on my own.

Similarly, I can’t fix myself. Only God can fix me. He wants me to trust him to fix what is broken in my life. Jesus paid the price, once for all, to fix my brokenness, and God credits me with Jesus’ righteousness. Then he calls me to live for him!

Dear Lord, sometimes pride, or maybe guilt, puts us in the position where we need to be fixed.  At those times we think we can fix our self for you. But we can’t. Help us to trust You to set us right. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

We are children of God

John 1:12 (ESV)
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Homer, the ancient Greek poet, tells the story of Odysseus, conqueror of Troy. After twenty years of war, shipwreck, and wandering, Odysseus returned to his home in Ithaca only to find that a host of rude, unworthy men were making themselves at home on his own property, trying to pressure his wife to marry one of them. The hero came into his own hall disguised as a ragged beggar to check things out, but he was received with blows and insults by the suitors. Later he returned, not as a beggar, but with a bow and a quiver full of arrows.

Odysseus’s story is similar to Jesus’ story: Jesus “was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” There was no guest room available in Bethlehem, so the Lord of glory was born in a stable. The young teacher from Nazareth tested the hearts of many as he healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached the kingdom of God. Society’s respected leaders connived to kill Jesus, but many who were despised and lowly loved and believed in him. He still tests people’s hearts today.

Dear Lord, test us and try us and examine our heart and our mind. We pray You will crack open our stony heart so we can be the people You would have for us to be.  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Living God's way

Psalm 119:112 (ESV)
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
    forever, to the end.

As you drive around town you find very few drivers that come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Maybe they think the sign is only a suggestion.

Are God’s laws merely suggestions? The psalmist treats God’s law with the utmost seriousness. He declares, “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.”

Jesus taught his listeners how serious God’s law is. He explained that he did not come to abolish the law or any of God’s commands; he came to fulfill them. And he said that not even the smallest letter (a reference to yodh, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet) or the least stroke of a pen would be eliminated from the law. Moreover, Jesus says there will be great rewards for keeping God’s laws and great penalties for not keeping them.

The problem, though, is that none of us can keep God’s law perfectly because—at heart—we are all in rebellion against God and his Word. What can we do?

We need the grace that only Jesus can provide through his death and resurrection. Once God has forgiven and redeemed us, we see his laws and words differently. The Spirit of God helps us to see them not as a source of condemnation but as a call to love both God and our neighbors. And by the Spirit’s power we understand they are not a mere suggestion, and we follow them as a guide for thankful, obedient living.

Dear Lord, give us understanding, Lord, so that we may live in gratitude for all You do for us. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Trusting God with the timing

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.

A good story in a movie or book can make us nervous—even anxious. As the characters find themselves in trouble or nerve racking conditions, we fear for them.

But when the story is our story, we really don’t like to see trouble coming. That’s what Saul, the first king of Israel, discovered. God had chosen him as king and was prepared to bless him. But the vast Philistine army was headed straight toward the Israelite forces. Everyone was nervous, especially the young King Saul. The prophet Samuel had given him God’s instructions: wait for seven days and then Samuel would lead in a sacrifice to pray for success in battle. But as tensions rose, the king took matters into his own hands: he offered up the sacrifice himself, despite God’s clear instructions.

Samuel’s voice rang out just as Saul finished making the offering: “What have you done?” Saul tried to explain that he felt compelled to offer the sacrifice because the enemy was near and his men were scattering.

“‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said.” It turns out that this had been a test, a chance for Saul to decide in whom he would trust for his security. Saul’s nervousness showed that when it came right down to it, he trusted in his own efforts more than in God. That day proved to be the beginning of the end for Saul.

When God is “slow to show up” in your life, do you get nervous? What does that show? Are you willing to wait for him?

Dear Lord, forgive us when we trust in our resources more than we trust in You. Help us to have the faith to trust and an You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Anger is the first recorded deadly sin after Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden of Eden. Because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, Cain became angry and killed his brother. Anger and murder have been sinister cousins ever since. When Cain became angry, God warned him: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” But Cain let his anger rule him, and that led to murder.

Though anger doesn’t always lead to murder, it is nonetheless a powerful emotion. Few of us have escaped anger’s destructive effects on our self-discipline. Anger shows that hatred of God and neighbor are tightly interwoven.

“In your anger, do not sin.” That’s easier said than done, even though it’s possible to be angry and not sin. When we do become angry, we need to ask God’s help in dealing with it and letting it go. Cain refused God’s instruction, opened the door to sin, and killed his brother.

A lifetime of Christian self-discipline knows the truth about the primal sin of anger. But we also know that along with our other sins, our anger was crucified through Christ’s death on the cross. And we know that with Christ’s help, we can curb and control our anger and seek the higher good of others. Following the Lord’s example, we can even forgive.

Dear Lord, forgive us the sin of letting anger affect our actions. Guard us from giving the devil a foothold. May your love fill our life, keeping anger and hatred out. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 18, 2019

You are loved

Ephesians 1:16 (ESV)
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

When we write letters or emails today, we place our signature at the end. And, depending on whom we are writing, we adjust the way we sign. You don’t sign an email to your boss with “Love, George.” And you don’t treat your spouse aloofly by signing “Regards, Jane.”

Back in Paul’s day, people signed their letters at the beginning, and the greeting often gave a preview of what was to come. In Philippians we can tell right away that this letter is going to be full of love and warmth. Paul calls his readers saints, “God’s holy people,” and showers them with grace and peace “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Then he makes clear how thankful he is for them. They are gospel partners, coworkers in whom God is doing a great thing—and this comes with a promise that God will bring his work to completion. Paul reveals his pastor’s heart here by offering great encouragement and displaying deep care and affection for the Christians living and working in Philippi.

We all need to know that we’re loved, and we all need encouragement. We need someone to see God’s work in our lives, call it out for us, name it, and give thanks for it.

The Philippians needed that kind of encouragement. So Paul makes sure it is the first thing they receive in this loving, pastoral letter.

Dear Lord, thanks You for loving us and for encouraging. Thanks You for giving us Your grace and each and every day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 14, 2019


John 20:19-20 (ESV)
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

There is a story behind every scar that we have. Maybe it’s a reminder of back surgery that has helped to walk again. Perhaps a scar reminds you of an accident, and you’re thankful for the recovery you have experienced. Some scars are emotional and psychological, reminding us of deep hurts inflicted by others.

When appropriate, we should be willing to share the stories of our scars. As we do that, we can show our gratitude, humility, and need for community. A drawback to the popularity of social media today is that people often portray their life as a bed of roses. It’s easy to share news about vacations, happy family gatherings, and celebrations. But true fellowship emerges when our scars are exposed in personal communication with others.

Today we see Jesus in one of his post-resurrection visits to his disciples. And when “he showed them his hands and side,” his followers were overjoyed as they recognized the Lord.

And what a story His wounds tell! He was not some comic-book superhero who easily accomplished great feats. Rather, as we see in Isaiah 53, Christ’s victory came through deep personal sacrifice. We are also reminded of our sins, our transgressions. When we embrace these two realities—Jesus’ wounds and our need—we find healing. Indeed, “by his wounds we are healed”!

Dear Lord, our scars remind us of how vulnerable we are. Thank You, Jesus, for making Yourself vulnerable for our sake and for providing us healing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sharing with people in need

Ephesians 4:28 (ESV)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Again and again, the Bible calls us to share with people in need: in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, in Jesus’ teaching, and here in the letters of Paul.

The command to work hard, “doing something useful with [our] own hands,” earning enough that something might be left over, goes hand in hand with being compassionate.

What’s more, Paul presents working and sharing as a way to climb out of a dishonest way of life. There’s something clean and good about doing something useful—and then giving the surplus away. It reverses the old way of life in which a person would steal from unsuspecting, innocent passers-by, often by lurking in dark places and waiting to prey on them.

Paul calls us back from the abyss of a corrupt life to the truth that our first ancestors had God-given work to do. How good to plant seeds, water them, and see them send up shoots; how good to tend and prune and sweep, taking care of the garden of creation we were given (Genesis 2:15).

Paul shows us a way of life that is characterized by growth in Christ, in a loving community of believers who do something good and useful—not sitting around idly gossiping, sniping at each other, fueling conflict and bitterness. How wonderful is the fellowship of loving, kind, compassionate people redeemed by Christ!

Dear Lord, we long to grow into a loving community in Christ.  Help us to be useful and compassionate to people around us in need. We pray that You will Guide us, In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Proverbs 13:22 (ESV)
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children,
    but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.

Lawyers are often needed to ensure that a large inheritance is divided properly—as stated in a legal will. Without that framework, the people in some families would tear each other apart over the money or things they expect to get as their entitlement.

Inheritance issues can be controversial, but, in the Bible, inheritance is also a great example of a good gift: it’s given by grace— not earned—a windfall received from God, who loves us. Psalm 136 celebrates the way God gave the promised land to Israel “as an inheritance.” Again and again the refrain echoes, “His love endures forever.” As history shows, Israel had done nothing to earn that inheritance. God was creating a new nation that would bless all nations by providing a Savior.

The tribe of Levi, though, did not receive land as their inheritance. They served in the ceremonial worship of God as priests and teachers and temple workers. And because of this intimate relationship with God, it was said, “The Lord is their inheritance” (Deuteronomy 10:9).

In the New Testament, Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). And 1 Peter 1:4 describes salvation as “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”

What a heavenly treasure we have in Christ! All by grace, through faith!

Dear Lord, thank You that You are our inheritance, and that to know You, and the Son whom You sent, is eternal life, greater than all earthly treasure. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Heaven a treasure hidden

Matthew 13:44 (ESV)
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is a story about pirate gold, stolen from Spanish sailors, who had stolen it from the Incas in South America, who had invaded the lands of other people and had built an empire in the Andes Mountains. The pirates had buried the gold on a Caribbean island. After the treasure map was lost and later found, people from England went in search of it. This is a tale of mutiny, bloodshed, and—in the end—untold riches. It is a parable about people’s ill-gotten gains and the trouble it brings.

In Jesus’ parable about hidden treasure, our Lord doesn’t focus on where the treasure came from, who might have known about it in the past, and so on. That isn’t why he told the parable. The important points here are that (1) the kingdom of heaven is a treasure worth more than anything else we could have, and (2) sometimes people stumble upon it unexpectedly.

How easy it is to be utterly wrapped up in the struggles of life: getting an education, landing a job, finding a spouse, raising kids, fending off health problems, growing old, and, eventually, facing death. How easy it would be to brush off eternal life as vague religious stuff, and to listen to the sneers of people who call it “pie in the sky.” But what a surprise to find that Jesus came to show God’s love for us sinners! Eternal life and the kingdom of heaven are as solid as treasure found in a field.

Dear Lord, thank You for the surprise of Your love for us, which makes all of life worthwhile. Amen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Doing life together

Acts 2:42 (ESV)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

We learn a lot about what community looked like in the early church. It included things like sharing meals, caring for one another, worshiping together, and praying together. The early church took community seriously. It wasn’t just an occasional event or gathering. It was regular and ongoing. They valued spending quality time together, and they did it often.

We see in the early church a focus on what matters—the Word of God, fellowship, worship, and prayer. We see who matters—the body of Christ doing life together. And we see that it isn’t just a once-a-week event. It also isn’t about being a church in one place or even in a building. The Bible says the Lord added to their number every day. There was room for others—more and more.

In our culture of focusing so much on individual desires, biblical community can seem a bit strange to us. But it’s all about relationships, and that is something we can grasp even in this “me first” world. Relationships always involve sharing—time, experiences, material goods, and more—and sharing requires an ongoing personal investment. It endures through joys and struggles over the long haul. Doing life together is one of the strengths of biblical community. The gift we share always has room for others, even when it is messy.

In what ways can you invest more in your relationships with God and others today?

Dear Lord, with You, we want to live fully together as Your people, wherever You have placed us. Thank you for this gift. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Noah and God's promise

Genesis 9:13 (ESV)
I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

The last two days have been rainy days. As I went out to check on the ladies of Egg Valley, I saw a rainbow in the sky.  It looked close and so dramatic that I almost felt I could touch it. How startling the rainbow must have been to Noah, and how amazing the promise of God it represented!

In the story of Noah and the flood we see the devastating consequences of human evil and God’s wrath against it. God hates sin and will punish it. But we also see God’s gracious deliverance of Noah’s family and the animals in the ark. We see God’s faithfulness to his promise to deliver his people.

After the flood, it didn’t take long for wickedness to spread again. How did Noah keep trusting God’s promise? And, indeed, how do we? God knows that our frail hearts need a sign, a reminder of his promise. God’s sign to all is the rainbow. And what is the fulfillment of the promise, God’s ultimate delivery? The sign for that is a star over a baby born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:9).

When you next see a rainbow or a bright star, let them flood you with joy and gratitude, reminding you of God’s promise and fulfillment of delivery, God’s promise of life to the full.

Dear Lord, creator of the heavens and the earth, You give us the rainbow to remind and comfort us with Your love and promised presence. Help us to live fully in sharing your love with the world each and every day. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Monday, October 7, 2019

When goodbyes come

John 14:28 (ESV)
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Goodbyes can be difficult. When family members visit from far away, we are always disappointed to see them leave. “Why can’t they stay longer?” Or when family moves to a new location, it leaves a hole in our life. “Why did they have to move?”

Jesus’ disciples were similarly troubled by the prospect of his going away. Who would now teach them about God’s kingdom? Yet Jesus insists that his going away will be good for them.

Goodbyes come to us in various forms. We can experience the loss of a career. We can move away from friends or family. We can lose a loved one to death.

Jesus teaches that even in the face of such goodbyes, we can experience peace and hope. The “prince of this world,” the devil, wants us to be defined by our losses. But the Father is greater than all things. And when we love Jesus, our lives are directed toward the Father rather than our losses.

After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the Spirit would remind the disciples of these words. And then Jesus’ words about “going back to the Father” made sense. Not death, but glory, is the future of those who obey the Father’s will.

Jesus’ words point us to his destination—and to ours: full life in the presence of God. We may still experience sorrow in the face of loss. But we can rejoice as we see even death as a doorway to our heavenly Father.

Dear Lord, remind us of Jesus’ words. Help us in the face of loss to see our destiny with the Father, and to rejoice in the ruling power of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

A good night's sleep

Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

One of life’s simplest and best pleasures is a good night’s sleep. We can go to bed tired and worn, and we can wake up in the morning re-energized. But is that all that happens in our sleep?

This ancient psalm was sung by God’s people as they traveled each year to a festival of worship at the temple in Jerusalem. Yet it deals with issues that still ring true in today’s world. Our lives are consumed with our jobs, families, and concerns about security. “I’m so busy” is a mantra in our world today. But this psalm reminds us that unless the Lord is an active participant in all we do, our efforts will be in vain.

The psalm writer underscores this point by making a reference to sleep. We read that God “grants sleep to those he loves.” This phrase can also be translated as “while they sleep, he provides for those he loves.” This picture may remind us of plants in nature and crops that keep growing while we are busy with other things—and even while we are asleep! Describing the kingdom of God in a way like seed sown by a farmer, Jesus says, “Night and day, whether the farmer sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:27).

Are we involved in activities in which the Lord is working and providing? Or are we feverishly engaged in things that have nothing to do with God’s kingdom? Let’s be mindful of serving God in all we do each day, and we can rest peacefully while the Lord keeps providing for us and building his kingdom.

Dear Lord, give us the rest and energy we need in order to serve You, and help us to see where You are at work in our lives and in this world. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The greatest storyteller

Luke 15:20 (ESV)
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

I remember growing up at night when my brothers and I would gather at the top of the stairs for my dad to read or tell us a story and then pray before we got into bed. Stories are something that help us all learn and imagine and wonder. Jesus told great stories, and many of them are parables about living as part of God’s family in this world.

One of the best-known parables of Jesus is this story in Luke 15 about the lost son, often called the “prodigal son.” But this story could also be called the parable of the loving Father.

A young man looking for adventure takes his dad’s money, his inheritance, and leaves home. He wastes the money foolishly and loses everything. He learns that the adventure he wanted didn’t really satisfy, and that people can be shallow and harsh. He also learns what it means to be hungry. The young man turns toward home, not really believing anyone will want him. But he is willing to work as a hired servant. What he discovers is the love and forgiveness of his father and a genuine, gracious welcome.

There are times in our lives when we crave adventure. We jump into something that we think will bring us pleasure, only to find ourselves alone and afraid. As he tells this parable, Jesus invites us all to come home to God’s forgiveness.

Dear Lord, thank You for forgiveness and for the reminder that You open Your arms wide and run to us. Help us to turn around from wherever we find our self and come home to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The TACO prayer

Colossians 4:2 (ESV)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

I used to really struggle with praying, do you struggle with praying? When my mind draws a blank and I don’t know what to say or what to pray for, I think about TACOS: Let us take a look at how TACOS can help us when we pray.

Thanksgiving: What are you thankful for? Family, friends, your home, your church — the list goes on. Start by thanking God.

Adoration: God is awesome! Adoration means “worship” or “great and profound love.” Let Jesus know how much you love him.

Confession: Prayer is a lot easier when we get rid of the barriers between God and us. We all sin. In prayer, we can confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness.

Others: So many people we know (and even those we don’t) could use our prayers. Praying means taking the focus off of ourselves and lifting up the needs of others.

Supplication: Pray for yourself and your own needs. These prayers should come last. Otherwise, we are tempted to spend all of our prayer time talking about ourselves.

If you love tacos what a great way to help you when you pray. With TACOS, prayer will seem a whole lot easier — and delicious.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we can openly talk with You through prayer. We pray that we would practice our special time with You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.