Week of December 16th

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope, joy, and peace in my heart this Christmas.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 2:8-14

Do you like to sing?  Somehow in the human spirit, regardless of musical talent, when we encounter the mystery and wonder of God’s work; we want to sing.  The angels sang at the first Christmas.  That’s why we have sung at every Christmas since then.  Where have you encountered the mystery and wonder of God’s work?  How does your favorite Christmas carol reflect your Christmas encounters?

Tuesday – Ephesians 5:15-21

Paul is writing to people living in difficult times.  It would be easy to get drunk and sing.  Some people do, but Paul is encouraging them to be filled with the Spirit instead.  How would these songs be different?  What kinds of songs are you singing today?

Wednesday – Exodus 15:1-18

Talk about tough times….  The people of Israel were trapped against the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army behind them.  And God delivered them to safety.  No surprise they sang a song to remember the event.  Have you ever felt trapped between the “devil and the deep blue sea?”  What songs would you sing about how God has protected, provided for, and delivered you?

Thursday – 2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem, and it was the day to dedicate it.  What did they do?  (I mean besides the potluck!)  They sang God’s praises.  What did God do?  God filled the Temple.  Could it be that our praises open the door for God to fill us with God’s power and presence?  If we sang God’s praises every time we felt overwhelmed, how would it change us?  How will you sing today?

Friday – Colossians 3:12-17

Paul teaches the people to express grace and love towards one another.  Furthermore, the church is to let the message of the Messiah dwell in our hearts.  Then we will sing praises to God with gratitude in our hearts.  Not sure what to sing?  Let the message of the Messiah saturate your heart!

Saturday – Revelation 14:1-5

A lot of Revelation is symbolic, but an interesting piece here.  Only the redeemed knew the words of this song.  Why?  Because only the redeemed understood what it meant to be saved.  They were redeemed because they followed the Lamb (Jesus).  Ever notice how people who find Jesus begin to sing?  How is your singing?

Week of December 9th

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope, joy, and peace in my heart this Christmas.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 2:1-7

There is no mention of an innkeeper in the story, but there must have been someone pointing them to the stable.  What more humble surroundings could God have chosen for this miraculous moment?  A teenage girl, a simple carpenter, an unprepared innkeeper, and some rather surprised animals – all played a key part in the story.  If God likes to work this way, how might God work in your world?

Tuesday – Isaiah 9:2-7

The prophet understood the hope of “a light in the darkness.”  He was writing to a people who facing an overwhelming threat in a foreign army.  What is that hope, and how does Isaiah describe it in the birth of a child?  Can this child bring hope today? 

Wednesday – Psalm 119:105-112

What is the source of light in this song?  The writer is not experiencing a perfect world.  There are dangers and threats lurking everywhere, yet the composer of this song sticks to the source of light.  Where would we find this light today?  How can the light of Christmas protect you from lurking dangers?

Thursday – 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

The Apostle Paul faced his share of lurking danger.  What is the source of light for Paul?  What for him is the gospel?  Paul does not make much mention of Jesus’ birth or teachings or miracles.  For Paul it is all about the crucifixion and resurrection.  Christmas matters because it leads to the rugged cross, the empty tomb, and the victorious throne. 

Friday – 1 John 1:5-2:2

The epistle writer also uses the metaphors of light and darkness.  What is the determining test of walking in the light vs walking in darkness?  What is our hope if we find we are walking in darkness?  What is the role of Jesus I this dilemma?  And that is why we have Christmas!

Saturday – 1 John 5:6-13

The same epistle writer comes back to the heart of his message.What is it?How would you summarize it in your own words?And what is the net result for the one who believes?Christmas matters!It mattered in the first century and it matters in the 21st century!How will it matter for you this Christmas?

Week of December 2nd

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope and joy and peace in my heart this Christmas season.  Amen.

Monday – Luke 1:5-25

Christmas does not just happen.  Christmas involves lots of people who invest their lives in what God is doing.  How did Zechariah and Elizabeth invest their lives in God’s mission?  How do they become an example for us to prepare for Christmas this year?

Tuesday – Luke 1:26-38

Ah, the plot thickens!  Mary was an unmarried teen ager.  For her to embrace God’s call was a bold and risky act of faith.  She could not have imagined what it would mean for her hopes and dreams, for her life.  Yet, she responded with joy and faith.  How can you say “Yes” to God this Christmas?

Wednesday – Luke 1:39-56

Women seem to have this instinct for recognizing the mystery of God so quickly.  And remember, this is a patriarchal world.  So it was scandalous for Luke to report that the women played such an important role in God’s plan of salvation.  Elizabeth was one of the first to recognize God’s mission through Christmas!  How can you and me recognize God’s mission this Christmas?

Thursday – Luke 1:57-66

Back to speechless Zechariah…. How does he demonstrate his faith in God’s mission?  When Zechariah could speak, what did he do with this gift?  And what role did this baby play in God’s plan?  In God’s scheme of things, what role will you play in God’s plan?

Friday – Luke 1:67-80

Zechariah speaks, and it is memorable!  How does he retell the story of God’s plan of redemption in Christmas?  What phrase leap out at you?  How will you retell the story of God’s plan of redemption in this Christmas?

Saturday – Psalm 27

This song was likely written by King David, not Zechariah.But I suspect Zechariah knew the Psalm.How does Christmas bring light and salvation to your family and your world?What does it mean to dwell in the presence of the Lord?

Week of Nov 25th

Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.  God prepared for centuries to come to earth to reveal the heights and depths and breadth of God’s grace for all the world.  We have the privilege of living on this side of Christmas.  That means hope, joy, and peace!  Here are several passages pointing to God’s gifts in Christmas.

PRAYER

O God of gracious gifts, open the packages of hope and joy and peace in my heart this Christmas season.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 1:1-17

Tedious reading, eh?  It is not inspirational unless we dig a little deeper.  How many generations are included?  It seems God was preparing for a long time.  How many women are mentioned here?  How many nonJews are included in the list?  Scandalous family tree!  What does that reveal about the grace revealed in Christmas?  How far will you go to prepare for Christmas?

Tuesday – Matthew 1:18-25

Christmas was a disruption into the ordinary lives of ordinary people.  They had to lay aside their hopes and dreams to embrace God’s hopes and dreams for the world.  That was not easy.  What dreams do you think Joseph laid aside?  What dreams would you give up to participate in God’s gift of Christmas?

Wednesday – Isaiah 7:10-16

King Ahaz just did not trust God, and when the prophet Isaiah invited him to ask God for assurance; he refused.  God gave him a sign anyway.  And it came true just as Isaiah predicted.  But it had a deeper point.  It became a sign of God’s continued deliverance through the birth of Jesus.  Like King Ahaz, all we need do is trust.  How will you trust God this Christmas?

Thursday – John 3: 16-21

Jesus was talking to the religious teacher, Nicodemus.  Why did Jesus come?  How is Christmas a light in the darkness of our world?  How does Christmas bring the light of truth and wisdom into your world?

Friday – Psalm 43

Light is an important theme in Christmas.  Maybe that’s why we are so magically mesmerized by candles.  In this passage, the writer is anxious and dejected over something.  So, the writer appeals to God in prayer for “light and truth.”  How does Christmas bring light and truth for you today?

Saturday – Isaiah 60:1-3

The prophet is writing to a people in exile.But the words are a message of hope that the current trial is temporary.God’s hope is yet to be revealed.In Christmas we anticipate in faith that God’s hope will soon be revealed.For what do you hope?

Week of Nov 18th

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for overeating and sleeping through football games.  Thanksgiving is a spiritual discipline that leads to deeper maturity and greater strength in coping with the ever changing currents of life.  Here are some passages in the New Testament about giving thanks.

PRAYER

O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – John 6:1-13

Picture this.  There are thousands of people gathered around Jesus.  Jesus decides to feed them.  The disciples are incredulous!  This is impossible!  And Jesus takes what everyone knows is inadequate, and he gives thanks.  Most of our prayers complain where we don’t have enough, and Jesus gives thanks for what is insufficient.  And then, the miracle happens.  In Jesus’ hands, it is abundant, full, and free.  For what do you need to give thanks to God… even if it appears to inadequate?

Tuesday – Acts 16:16-40

Okay, a little longer than usual, but what a story.  Paul and Silas are thrown in to prison for what?  And while they are in chains in the dungeon, they do what?  And what happens?  And because of all that, whose lives were changed?  How can you learn to sing when everything            is going bad?  How will your thanksgiving faith shake the foundations of prisons everywhere?

Wednesday – Philippians 4:1-9

Scholars believe this might have been one of the last letters Paul wrote –  at least of the letters still in existence today.  They also believe Paul was  in prison when he wrote these words.  These are not the words I would expect to read.  What is the relationship between thanksgiving and peace in these verses?  How would Paul know about thanksgiving and peace?   On what do you focus your thinking?

Thursday – Colossians 2:4-15

Things were not going all that well in the Colossian church.  And Paul couldn’t be there to sort things out.  There were many confusing issues around circumcision, worship of angels, different holidays to observe, etc.  What did Paul teach?  (see vss 6-7).  What are the other pieces that fit with gratitude?  How can this bring order and wisdom to your world?

Friday – Ephesians 5:15-21

This is Paul’s formula for “making the most of time.”  What are the steps Paul encourages for following God’s will?  For what are we to give thanks?  Any exceptions?  What is the power of thanksgiving in transforming “everything” into God’s special blessings?

Saturday – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Paul often ended his letters with these rapid fire lists of how to live faithfully.What does he say about the spiritual discipline of giving thanks?How does this commitment connect with the other elements such as God’s gift of peace, comfort, help, and patience?How does giving thanks trigger God’s faithfulness?Does this have any impact on … say, … any special football games today?

Week of Nov 11th

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for overeating and sleeping through football games.  Thanksgiving is a spiritual discipline that leads to deeper maturity and greater strength in coping with the ever changing currents of life.  Here are some passages in the Psalms about giving thanks.

PRAYER

O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Psalm 30

This is not a generic “gotta sing something on Thanksgiving” kind of Psalm.  It comes out of the real life experience the song writer had.  We may not know the details, but it becomes clear something serious had happened.  Can you list the qualities of God for which the Psalmist is thankful?  Which ones help you to sing your thanksgiving?

Tuesday – Psalm 96

While this song is not as explicit to its immediate context, scholars link it to 1 Chronicles 16 we read last week.  King David is bringing the Ark of the Lord into the city of Jerusalem.  He dances so poorly, his wife is embarrassed (but that is another story.)  What are the qualities about God for which David gives thanks?  Can we still thank God for the same qualities today?

 

 

Wednesday – Psalm 107

Although scholars are not certain of the day and time this Psalm was sung, it is imagined it was composed as the people of Israel returned from exile to regather in the Land of Promise.  God gathered them from all directions to return home.  In their troubles and afflictions, God offered them grace.  What verses or phrases leap out at you?  How can you remind yourself of these words during the day?

Thursday – Psalm 92

Some scholars believe this song was used as part of an annual festival, perhaps like a new year festival where the composer is looking back over the past year and looking forward to the coming year.  The encounter with God in a time of worship has helped the writer see life through God’s eyes.  The writer no longer envies the wicked, but sees their inevitable conclusion. Instead the writer focuses faith on God who is forgiving and gracious.  How can you focus on faith in God today?

Friday – Psalm 145

This song is attributed to King David.  Even though David is King, it is clear to David who his King is.  In the midst of David’s praise of God’s power and authority, David shifts to another quality of God – see verses 8 & 9.  Those who do not read their Bibles very closely will miss this.  What is it?  How will you encounter this in God in your everyday routines?

Saturday – Psalm 100

How do you live to 100?Aunt Orie – as everyone called her – celebrated her 100th birthday.Every time I visited her, she would recite from memory these words.Her many years and depth of spirit were nurtured by a faith revealed in this Psalm.How might it extend your life?

Week of Nov 4th

Thanksgiving is not just a holiday for overeating and sleeping through football games.  Thanksgiving is a spiritual discipline that leads to deeper maturity and greater strength in coping with the ever changing currents of life.  Here are some passages in the Old Testament about giving thanks.

PRAYER:  O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 8:15-22

I have not grasped how traumatic it must have been for Noah and his family.  Surely, they had friends and neighbors, but they were obedient to God.  And when the flood was over, and dry ground reappeared, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices to God.  God was so delighted with Noah’s gratitude, God promised never to destroy the earth by flood again.  Could it be that your thanksgivings can inspire God to promise more blessings?  Could it be that your worship triggers God’s generosity?  How will you give thanks?

Tuesday – 1 Chronicles 16:8-24

The song goes farther than verse 24.  The Ark contains some of the most sacred relics to the Hebrew people.  Because they lost the Ark in battle, (see 1 Samuel 4) it had been in enemy hands for a long time.  Now King David wanted to bring it to the holy city, Jerusalem.  So it was truly a special occasion.  So David composes a song of Thanksgiving.  What are the qualities about God for which David gives thanks?  Can we still thank God for the same qualities today?

 

Wednesday – 2 Chronicles 5:2-14

Short song – apparently, King Solomon was not the song writer his father, King David, was.  King Solomon finishes the Temple and brings the ark into its holy place inside.  They celebrate in praise.  What do they give thanks to God for?  Are these appropriate for thanksgiving today?

Thursday – Isaiah 42:10-12

Scholars believe this part of Isaiah was composed after the people were conquered by Babylon troops and forced into exile.  Yet, these are words of hope, of faith, and even thanksgiving.  What is the power of thanksgiving when everything goes wrong?  How does the spiritual discipline of thanksgiving in difficult times transform our attitudes?

Friday - Nehemiah 9:1-8

Actually, the whole chapter is their song.  Nehemiah and the people celebrated the completion of the rebuilding of the wall, and the reading of the Law.  It was a national day of confession as well as thanksgiving for God’s blessings.  The song is a history of how God has dealt graciously with the people since the beginning.  What would happen if you put together a song of the history of God’s blessing for you and your family?

Saturday – Ezra 3:8-13

Nehemiah led the rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.  Ezra led the rebuilding of the Temple.  How did the people respond as the foundations were laid once again?  Why?  How do you respond when something valuable once lost, is rebuilt again?  Not only does God do the amazing thing, God accomplishes it through the commitment of people.  How can your commitment today honor God and bless others?

Week of October 28th

Leading Causes of Life 

Prayer

Dear God,  Thank You for the gift of love.  I pray that You would use me to share Your love with others.  May this world know real love and may they be moved by it.  Help me to live out love.  Help me to love my neighbor more,  …in Jesus’ name.   Amen! 

 

Monday – 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Can you think of a wedding that you’ve attended where these words have NOT been shared?  They’re enduring and poignant on wedding day celebrations, but they’re far more relevant in everyday life too.  This is a calling to love every day.  Not “everyday” love, but… love that’s exceeds our expectation and never makes mistakes.  We may mess this up from time to time, but it’s still an incredible goal to pursue.  …the way the father pursue us and sent his only son to die for us.  They’re a lot to God’s love!  Let’s explore that love together as a community of believers:  God’s Holy Church

 

Tuesday – 1 John 4:113-19 

Does living a life of love mean we can never get angry?To live in love is to live in God, and to live in God is to remain in God.We are to remain in a relationship with God that is characterized by Biblical love.Jesus was an example of someone who lived and breathed love.He gave himself for others, and he called us to do the same.True love is more than a feeling; it is consistent attitude of giving ourselves to God and to others.So… is anger ever needed?

Wednesday – 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

If love is so powerful, how does the Lord protect us from the “Evil One”?  The context of this scripture alludes to protection through prayer.  God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  The Lord also gives us the full armor of God so we can stand against the Devil’s schemes.  We can rely on the Scripture’s teaching and promises, just as Jesus did when he was under Satan’s attacks. 

 

Thursday – Ephesians 3:14-21

Can you possibly hate or dislike someone that you’re actively praying for?  Paul was in prisons for preaching the gospel to the Ephesians.  He put himself at risk so they might come to God.  Who can you actively be praying for that required more love and intention?  What might be the benefits of working through God to love others?  What could it hurt?

 

Friday – Romans 12:9-18

Everyone?!?!  Seriously?  A perfect example is one of the thieves who hung on the cross next to Jesus.  Both men jeered and gave Jesus difficulty, but Jesus still had enough love and care for those who persecuted them.  He even asked His father to “forgive them, for they know NOT what they do.”  Therefore… being more like Jesus can be VERY difficult.  Let’s pray that God’s not done using and reforming us. 

 

Saturday – 1 Peter 4:7-11

How does love cover sins?  Though this may refer to the way God’s love deals with our sins, the context of this verse speaks of the way love affects our relationships.  When we truly love someone, we are much more willing to overlook that person’s faults.  When we’re sinning against, love over rides our reflex for revenge.  Perhaps revenge is best not served cold.   …or ever.  

Week of October 21st

My daughter once taught me that one can be about as happy as they want to be.  A lot of that depends on our focus.  Do we focus on fears and troubles?  Or do we look for faith and blessings?  That is a choice all of us can make.  Here are some passages about blessings.

PRAYER

O Generous and Gracious God, thank you for the many ways you bless me.  May I be a blessing to others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 1:20-31

This is part of the creation story.  How many times in this first chapter did God do something and declared it good?  How many times did God bless what was created?  God is the source of all blessing.  It is an initiative of God’s creating work and a response of God to all that is created.  It is God’s preference to bless you.  And one of the ways God blesses you is to give you opportunities to bless others.  Who will you meet today that God will bless through you?

Tuesday – 2 Chronicles 1:1-13

Solomon was one of Israel’s greatest kings.  God wanted to bless Solomon when his father, David, passed on.  God even invited Solomon to request whatever he wanted.  (Have you ever dreamed of doing that?  What would you choose?)  What did Solomon choose?  And how did God respond to him?  What were the blessings Solomon received?  How would you pray that God would bless you?

Wednesday – Psalm 1

Sometimes the word “blessed” is translated as “happy.”  That is often true in this Psalm.  What are the sources of this blessing or happiness, according to this Psalm?  The songwriter compares the one who follows God with the wicked.  What happens to them?  How does God bless the righteous person?  How has God blessed you?

Thursday – 2 Corinthians 9:8-15

Paul is teaching the early church about generosity.  Generosity begins with God who has blessed us in lavish and luxurious ways – especially in the grace expressed through Jesus Christ.  Giving of our time, talents, and treasures is a very personal way that we practice that same spirit of generosity, and it is how we thank God for the blessings God has showered upon us.  Not giving means we get spiritually flabby.  We are not ready for the more serious work to which God is calling us.  How does God want to use you to bless others today?

Friday – Malachi 3:7-12

The prophet was concerned that the people were suffering because they were not putting God first in their lives.  It was not that God was punishing them.  It was that they put themselves in postures and positions that made it impossible for God to bless them; like giving the car keys to a 12-year-old.  They weren’t ready for what God wanted to give them.  So the prophet urges them to rearrange their priorities, even if just to test and see if God keeps promises.  Are you in the right place at the right time with the right attitude for God to bless you?

Saturday – Matthew 5:1-12

What is the right place at the right time with the right attitude for God to bless us?Jesus uses these “be-attitudes” at the beginning of the sermon on the mount to describe what it means to be blessed.It is not about comfort and convenience, is it?It is about mission and purpose for the Kingdom of God.How will God use you to bless others today?

Week of October 14th

Too soon old and too late smart.  It hit me a few weeks ago that some of my favorite stories in the Bible have a similar theme:  God invites us into partnership to announce the arrival of the Kingdom, because it gives God great joy and us significant purpose.  Here are some of my faves.

PRAYER

O God of hope, send your Spirit upon me that I may hear your call and respond with faithfulness for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Monday – Matthew 10:1-10

Okay, this is not one of my favorite stories, but it sets the stage for the rest of the readings this week.  Until a few weeks ago, I had not thought of this passage.  Sure, it names the disciples, but how significant is it that Jesus gave them the authority over disease, disaster, and death?  These are the things Jesus was doing, and Jesus shared that power with them … and with us?  How does God want to work through you today to help others overcome disease, disaster, and death?

Tuesday – Matthew 14:13-21

I continue to be amazed at this miracle.  But isn’t it interesting how Jesus responded to the disciples’ request to send the crowd away to get food.  Jesus said, “You feed them.”  Surely Jesus knew this was impossible … for them.  But they brought what they had.  Jesus blessed it.  Jesus gave it back to them to share with the crowds.  And it was more than enough.  What do you have that would be more than enough if you gave it to Jesus to bless?  How would Jesus have you share it with others?

Wednesday – John 11:38-44

I love this story.  It reveals Jesus’ compassion and the hopes of those who believed in him.  But it is also a clash of the reality of death in a life of faith.  What catches my imagination is that Jesus commands the witnesses to Lazarus’ resurrection to “Loose him and let him go.”  Why did Jesus need someone to unbind the mummy like bandages?  If he has the power of resurrection, he couldn’t dress him, too?  Or was it the privilege of others to participate in the miracle by helping set Lazarus free? Who can you help set free today?

Thursday – Judges 6:11-24

Gideon is so honest.  He complains that his people are being persecuted and wonders what God intends to do about it.  But when God reveals that Gideon is God’s answer to the problem, Gideon has all kinds of excuses.  God meets all of Gideon’s objections with the promise of God’s faithful presence and power.  Could it be that you and I are God’s answer to the problems of our world?  Could it be that God wants to use you and me today, and blesses us with God’s own presence and power?

Friday – Acts 1:1-8

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for those first followers of Jesus.  They witnessed his crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection.  What is he about to do next?  And when they asked the crystal ball question about God restoring the kingdom to Israel, Jesus taught them that they will receive power to be his witnesses – even to the ends of the earth!  We may not know much about the future, but we do know what role God wants us to play.  Be a witness!  Are you a witness!

Saturday – Jeremiah 29:11

Okay… this is just my favorite verse – because it was written to a people in exile who may have lost hope.  It is reassurance that even in the worst of circumstances, God is still engaged with us and will bring us through whatever we face.  What hopes and dreams does God have for you?

Week of October 7th

There is a kind of hope that sounds more like wishful thinking.  “I hope my favorite baseball team is better next year.”  But there is another kind of hope that is deeper and more influential.  “I hope my children will grow in faith and wisdom as they mature.”  That kind of hope is grounded in the faithfulness of God.  Here are some passages about hope.

PRAYER

O God of hope, send your Spirit upon me that I may live in hope because of the assurance of your grace in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Romans 8:18-30

This is not “Rookie” Paul.  He has been around the block a few times, and yet, he is confident of God’s grace.  In fact, he believes that God’s activity creates hope for all of creation.  What does Paul say about hope in vss 24-25?  How does Paul’s faith in vs 28 become a basis of hope?  What is your hope in life?  On what is your hope grounded?

Tuesday – Romans 5:1-5

Paul sees hope in even the most challenging and difficult times.  Why?  In chapter 4 he has talked about the example of Abraham and Sarah.  Their faith was accounted to them as righteousness – as if they had not sinned.  In God’s scheme of things, faith and hope matter!  Can you trace the line from afflictions to hope?  How do these things lead to hope?  Have you experienced that in your life?

Wednesday – Hebrews 6:9-20

The writer urges us to become imitators of those who will inherit the promises.  He cites the example of Abraham and Sarah.  The waited patiently for so long, but did so in hope.  And God fulfilled the promise.  In the meantime, they became the Patriarch and Matriarch God dreamed they would become.  What Jesus accomplished on the cross is a guarantee that God keeps promises.  In whom do you put your hope?  How will you live in hope today?

Thursday – Titus 2:11-15

Paul is writing to young Pastor Titus.  The point of this hope is the return of Jesus Christ and the completion of God’s redemption of all creation.  Paul’s hope in Christ sustained him through all kinds of difficulties and disasters.  And because of this conviction, he lived his life in a “sensible, righteous, and godly way.”  How does your hope in Christ’s return shape the way you live?

Friday – 1 John 2:28-3:3

What does hope in Christ do for us today?  What did it do for believers in the writer’s day?  We do not know a lot of details about what that time will look like or what it will mean.  But we do believe that living as God’s children forms, reforms, and transforms our lives into a likeness of Jesus.  How is God working in and through your life?

Saturday – Lamentations 3:22-24

This Old Testament passage is the basis for that favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  We believe the writer may have been the prophet Jeremiah, or a close friend of his.  This writer’s hope is based on the faithfulness of God.  No matter the outward circumstances, the writer sees the faithfulness of God.  How do you focus on God’s faithfulness towards you?  On what do you base your hope?

Week of September 16th

It was a holy pilgrimage to travel to Jerusalem and visit the holy Temple.  And from pictures and models I have seen, it must have been impressive to climb the hills to the city with the gleaming Temple shining in the sun.  Here are several Psalms people sang as they ascended to the holy city.

PRAYER

O God who still invites us to enter into your holy presence:  focus our attention on the power and presence of your Holy Spirit in our crazy world today.  May we never lose sight of your hand at work in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Psalm 121

This is a “Song of Ascents.”  Often the pilgrims visiting the city of Jerusalem would sing these songs as they ascended up the hills and mountains towards the holy city and the Temple.  So when they lifted their eyes toward the mountains, where did they acknowledge their help came from?  God is eager to help you.  How will you look toward the Lord today?

Tuesday - Psalm 122

This is another “Song of Ascents.”  Why would it be so meaningful to go to the Temple?  For them, the Temple represented the place where God dwelled among the people.  The Temple was a reminder of God’s faithful presence with them.  Today, we live on this side of Jesus and the cross.  We know God is not limited to one space and time.  What symbols do you have to remind you of God’s faithful presence?

Wednesday - Psalm 128

Again, one of King David’s “Song of Ascents.”  To fear the Lord is the secret sauce of happiness.  What does it mean to fear the Lord in this context?  How will blessings come to those live in this “fear” of the Lord?  How have you been blessed to “fear” the Lord?

Thursday – Psalm 130

Living the life of a believer does not mean we are immune to difficulties.  God is not a magic genie.  But God does provide hope and grace.  How does this song celebrate that hope and grace?  How do you celebrate hope and grace in your daily routine?

 Friday – Psalm 131

This is a fascinating idea.  In our crazy chaotic world, we are yearning for moments of peace and meditation.  But this is a discipline that has spiritual roots for us.  A child who is calm and quiet in the arms of his/her mother, because he/she trusts in Mom.  Can we place ourselves in God’s loving and faithful arms because we trust God?  How would a moment of peace and quiet bless you today?

Saturday – Psalm 132

King David had his moments of hardship.  Some were brought on by himself.  At other times he was the victim of the choices of others.  Yet, he kept his faith in God.  He made sure he had a place in his life to worship God.  It is difficult today to make space for God.  There are so many things tugging at our shirt sleeves for our attention.  And many of them are good things.  But when and where do you create space for God?  Where is your “resting place” with God?

Week of September 9th

In our lives and in our families, there are often stories or metaphors that become significant and memorable because they reveal something about who we are.  Often the details become enhanced so we never forget the meaning.  It may be a birth, a death, or some other life-turning event.  When we answer the call to follow Jesus, His story becomes part of our story.  God’s past actions become part of our future destiny.  So here are some significant stories of God’s actions.  How do they shape your destiny? 

PRAYER

O God who still calls acts to offer men and women destinies of hope and purpose in our world today.  Speak through your Word to form and transform my life in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 17:1-8

This is the Covenant that Pastor Phil and I preached about this summer.  But what is remarkable about this passage is that God is renewing the covenant – after the Ishmael debacle, after the Egypt scandal, and after all the fuzzy confusion about Lot and his family.  Still God chooses to change the names of Abraham and Sarah to reflect God’s steadfast commitment to grace.  How has God steadfastly revealed grace to you?

Tuesday – Exodus 14:5-31

Spectacular drama, but even more important:  This defining moment is celebrated by Jews and Christians every year.  It is the history of how God has come to the rescue of people, despite their fears and lack of faith.  How has God come to your rescue in the past?  Where will God come to your rescue in the days and years to come?

Wednesday – 1 Kings 18:20-39

Showdown on Mt Carmel.  Elijah stood alone against the King and Queen, and the 450 prophets of Baal.  With boldness Elijah called upon the power of God to reveal truth to the people.  And God always shows up.  Sometimes God shows off.  And the people remembered who really is God.  When has God shown up in your history?  When do you need God to show off in your future?

Thursday – Luke 23:32-49; Romans 5:6-11

The previous passages are part of Israel’s Hebrew scriptures.  These next three become unique to our identity as Christians.  Jesus’ death is not just a tragic end to a noble life, his death is a divine sacrifice on our behalf to put us right with God.  It is a gift of grace, of hope, of joy and peace.  How do you embrace this grace?  How do you accept this gift?

Friday – Luke 24:13-34

Not only is Jesus’ death on the cross formative in our lives, but also Jesus’ resurrection.  The witnesses in this story and others saw him physically alive and well.  Such is the testimony of God’s power over death, and God’s gift of life abundant and eternal.  If one does not believe this, we are – as Paul says – to be most pitied.  Easter is our hope in a crazy and chaotic world.  How does Easter give you hope every season of the year?

Saturday – Acts 1:1-8

The story of Pentecost is recorded in Acts 2, but these verses reveal that the coming of the Holy Spirit to every believer is actually a promise of Jesus.  This is a promise of power, and a purpose of mission and witness.  The rest of the story of Acts is how the believers moved from Jerusalem to Rome, the center of the empire.  Jesus declared that promise not just for the disciples of 1st century, but for all Christians.  How is the promise of the Spirit part of your history, and how is the Spirit part of your destiny?

Week of September 2nd

It is Labor Day week, and I suspect most of us will celebrate the Labor Day holiday by doing as little labor as possible.  But there is another work to which all of us are called.  It is God’s work of the Kingdom, which we celebrate in our baptism.  We may not be called to lead as pastor, but all of us called to discipleship of Jesus Christ through which God may transform the world.  Here are some stories of others whom God called.

PRAYER

O God who still calls men and women into the Kingdom:  point me to where I can serve you faithfully and effectively.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Isaiah 6:1-13

Apparently, Isaiah was a priest serving in the Temple when he encountered the power and presence of God in an awesome way.  And in the encounter God called him to a special ministry – one in which he would not likely experience much success.  Yet, his ministry continues to instruct and inspire us yet today.  When and where do you encounter God’s power and presence?  How is God calling you?

Tuesday – Mark 1:16-20

Mark tells stories so concisely, one wonders if he is paying per word.  Yet, in the midst of an ordinary day, Jesus appears and calls these first disciples.  And they answer.  Their lives are turned upside down, and in turn their witness has turned our world upside down.  Where do you encounter Jesus in your ordinary routines?  How does Jesus call you from ordinary routines into extraordinary life-changing opportunities?

Wednesday – 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Samuel was just a boy.  He did not even recognize the voice of the Lord.  Yet, he learned to listen and became one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our world.  Could it be that God is calling you in ways that you do not yet recognize?  How might God use your spiritual leadership in your family, your place of work or school, your neighborhood?

Thursday – Jeremiah 1:1-10

Jeremiah’s excuse was that he was too young.  Who would listen to just a young boy?  But God does not always wait until it is convenient.  Those whom God calls, God also equips.  And God used Jeremiah in a powerful way – in a season of crises in Israel’s history.  How can God use you in a season of crises to bring hope and healing to our world?

Friday – Exodus 3:1-15

Moses was the master of excuses.  More of the story continues in Exodus 4.  But God’s call is compelling.  God’s wisdom sees a much bigger picture than we do.  And God’s purposes are sometimes mysterious to us.  Moses eventually answered God’s call and became one of Israel’s greatest leaders.  What excuses do you use when God calls you?  Are they compelling … in God’s mind?  What might happen if you simply trusted God?

Saturday – Genesis 12:1-9

We don’t know what kind of history Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) had with God.  It appears it comes out of the blue.  But God called them to a great adventure.  God offers a promise of blessing for the purpose of blessing.  How has God blessed you?  For what purpose has God given you these blessings?  How are your blessings an answer to someone else’s prayers?

Week of August 26th

Acts: What Jesus Started

Philip’s interactions with the magician Simon (Acts 8:1-19) and Paul with Elymas (Acts 13:4-12)

Prayer

Draw me close, Holy Spirit, as I read the Scriptures and reflect on your Word.  Let the word of faith be on my lips and in my heart, and let all other words slip away.  May there be one voice I hear today — the voice of truth and grace.  Amen.

Monday – Acts 8:1-3  The Church Persecuted and Scattered

Did God have to use persecution to get the Church to do what Jesus had commanded?  Scripture doesn’t say.  The use of Judea and Samaria in this verse is reminiscent of Jesus’ instruction in Acts 1:8 to take the gospel to all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  The most we can say is that God used this persecution for his own purpose:  to spread the gospel.  How does this make you feel in response to God’s action (or perceived lack of action)?

Tuesday – Acts 8:4-8  Philip in Samaria

Why weren’t the Apostles scattered?  The Jewish authorities undoubtedly put pressure on the apostles, thinking that if they could weaken the leaders of the church, they could weaken the entire movement.  Because Jerusalem was the Jewish religious center, the apostles may have felt compelled to stay where they could have the most influence.  What’s your first response to pressure?  After a bit of time and prayer, does you response sometimes change?

Wednesday – Acts 8:9-13

Did Simon possess actual power?  Sorcerer’s included a wide array of spiritualists, con artists, magicians, astrologers, and showmen who earned a living with their abilities.  Whether Simon’s powers were occult or natural illusions, they were clearly inferior to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Simon confused the power of the Spirit with a stronger version of his own kind of powers.  But the Holy Spirit’s power, power in the name of Jesus, is radically different from the power Simon had. 

Thursday – Acts 8:14-19

How could baptized believers not have the Holy Spirit?  The Samaritans were apparently baptized with little or no mention of the Holy Spirit.  Some think this shows that life-changing encounters with the Holy Spirit can occur even after initial faith in Jesus.  Others believe this merely shows the link between the Spirit and baptism, for the Spirit was given soon after baptism when Peter and John arrived and portrayed over the Samaritans.

Friday – Acts 8:20-25

What did Simon want?  Simon was in the power business.  He didn’t care what the source of his power was, as long as he had power.  Spiritual, occult, or magic powers were all the same to Simon- they were a means to earn a living, commodities to be bought and sold.  When he witnessed the power of the Spirit, unleased when the apostles placed their hands-on people, Simon wanted to purchase that power.  However, the Holy Spirit is a gift, not merchandise to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.  How would the world respond today, if they witnessed the miracles of the Holy Spirit? 

Saturday – Acts 13:6-11 How can we tell if a miracle is of God? 

  1. The miracle glorifies God
  2. The miracle stems from a righteous source
  3. The miracle rings true to the Holy Spirit

Paul demonstrated this gift when he told Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, that he was a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right. 

Week of August 19th

Acts: What Jesus Started

Prayer

Lord God.  I am sometimes at a loss for words.  I’m not sure how to pray for some difficult situations.  But… I know you promise that you hear our prayers.  So, I’m praying now.  Amen

Monday – Matthew 14:1-12   John the Baptist Beheaded

The first New Testament martyr that we know of is John the Baptizer.  He was killed by Herod the Tetrach in Matthew 14:1-12. Herod had imprisoned John because of John’s disapproval of the king’s divorce for the purpose of marrying his sister-in-law.  At Herod’s drunken birthday party, he offered to his new step daughter a gift of anything she wanted. Herodius (the new wife of Herod), told the step daughter that she should ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Herod beheaded John.  How does a story like this make you feel?  Would God allow this to happen to someone like John? 

Tuesday – Acts 12:1-19   James is Executed and Peter Escapes

We do not frequently talk about this particular story in Sunday worship, yet it’s an important reminder that God does and frequently intervenes to our benefit.  Have you ever experienced God in powerful ways that remind you of His power?

Wednesday – Proverbs 3:1-6

Putting our trust in God is sometime difficult if we’re still longing for a personal relationship with God, yet we know that God deeply desires to be in a relationship with us.  How are you working to establish a relationship with God? 

Thursday – Mark 14:66-72, Peter Disowns Jesus Three Times

God takes the man who publicly denied Jesus three times and uses him to point 3000 people to Jesus in his first sermon.  Don’t you think he can use people like me and you?

Friday – Acts 22:2-5   Paul, Zealot for God

Clearly, Paul was a bad man for those who followed Jesus Christ and His believers.  He showed a “Zeal” and willingness to use violence to defend the Torah.  Although his passion was misplaced, we sometimes see people in the church work to defend things that are counter to Jesus’ teachings.  How can we ensure that we’re following God’s “true” teachings? 

Saturday – Joshua 1:9-10

The book of Joshua begins with the death of Moses. The man used by God to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity and to the promised land has now died. The Israelites have not yet possessed the land that the Lord had given them. But now Moses is dead and a new leader must emerge. That new leader is Joshua.  The first chapter of the Book of Joshua is the Lord’s charge to Israel’s new leader, Joshua. Three times in the first nine verses Joshua is commanded to “be strong and courageous”.  When you hear/see something multiple times in scripture, we’re likely to take notice and follow.   So… “be strong and courageous.”  God is with you!

Week of July 29th

Acts: What Jesus Started

Prayer-Psalm 43

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass,give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
    to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp,magnificent God, my God.


Monday –Acts 27:13-15 

Was this storm a natural occurrence or a judgement from God?  We should not be quick to distinguish between natural occurrences and sovereign acts of God.  God was, in some sense, responsible for this storm, but there is no indication this was an expression of judgement.  In fact, we repeatedly find God working to protect the life of every person on the ship.  

Tuesday – Acts 27:21-26

Paul is speaking with quite a bit of authority here in these passages.  He’s spoken to an angel and he’s commanding those in charge to run their ship around.   That’s quite impressive.  Paul’s courage is clearly from God.   How can we also gather this same courage?  …or should we begin to ask God to grant us courage in simple and difficult times?  

Wednesday – Acts 27:27-32

Paul was a religious man who repaired tents.  He was NOT a fisherman or sailor, yet with God’s help, he spoke with great authority. Could you image standing in Paul’s shoes and suggesting that the lifeboat be cut away?  How does one gain a faith like that?

Thursday – Acts 27:33-38

Why did Paul’s captors listen to him?  Paul’s court appearance in Jerusalem and Caesarea showed him to be a cordial, persuasive personality.  His reputation preceded him.  In the course of their journey, Paul had warned the ship’s officers not to sail from Crete because of the harsh seasonal storms.  Although ignored, his advice was valid.  As the journey progressed, Paul’s credibility climbed.   Might there be strong argument to use love and kindness with those who disagree with you?   How would you want to be treated?  Golden Rule? 

Friday – Acts 28:1-10  

Admittedly, THIS is an interesting bit of scripture, accounting for the strength of Paul’s faith and the power of God.  So… did God miraculously protect Paul from the snakebite?  Why not?!?!  Paul’s confidence in God protecting him was evident from accounts in Acts previously. Are there times in your life when friends or family look at you in disbelieve because you live your life with confidence in a saving God?  Have you ever witnessed an extreme situation that miraculously ended positively? Frequently we hear people use words like, “you were lucky.”  True?  Or… blessed?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Saturday – Jonah 1:1-16

Although Jonah was not shipwrecked, he certainly had an interesting story that took place upon the sea.  God sometimes allows us to respond to him in dramatic ways.  …and sometimes they are small and seemingly insignificant. Do you think that God sometimes uses large and small moments in life to make significant impacts on your life? We don’t want to take either for granted.  Make a list. Share with a friend or loved one some moments where God challenged you and made a difference for you or others

Week of July 22

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, how we thank and praise you for the young men and women who have trusted in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and we ask that You would work in the lives of all young people who have stepped out in faith in the Son of God. 

Draw ever closer to those who have made a commitment to You and we pray that they would grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus in the days that lie ahead. May they learn to walk in spirit and truth and to trust in Your word, knowing that Your grace in sufficient for all their needs and requirements.   Amen


Monday –Luke 12:22-34,  Do Not Worry

Do not worry about what you will eat?  Seriously?!?!  Sometimes it may sound like Jesus is callous, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Jesus is reminding us that without our heavenly father, we’re nothing.  We’re missing something we desire and need.  For where our treasure is stored, there will be our heart’s desires.

Tuesday –Hebrews 10:19-25,  Building Each Other Up

The regular meeting and gathering with other believers is something that shouldn’t be neglected.  We all know examples of people who have fallen away because of their choices.  Who could you reach out to and re-invite back to the body of Christ?  Who may have done the same for you?

Wednesday –I Peter 3:8-22,  Sacrificing for the Kingdom

I don’t know about you… but suffering is not my preferred Wednesday activity. ;-)  Yet today’s scripture is a careful reminder of God’s calling for us.  We’re not called to “play it safe” or “ride out to pasture in retirement and faith.”  We all have important Kingdome work to do.  Where’s God calling you today?  How can God use you?

Thursday –Matthew 5:1-12,  A Different Kind of Blessing

Jesus calls us to join a radical kingdom. He gives us a radical vision to match, that the kingdom of heaven infiltrates our present. We can continue fishing for people, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom at great cost to ourselves, fighting oppressive powers in Jesus' name. We can suffer for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, with the assurance that God has the last word. When we see people receiving the word of God, and finding healing and freedom in Jesus' name we can announce, "the kingdom of heaven has drawn near."  

Friday –Galatians 5:16-26,  Changed Hearts

Today, take a moment and stop to focus on God. Ask Him to guide you to know if you have walked away from your close relationship with Him. Return to your quiet time with Him reading His Word, praying for closeness and guidance, and walking from that quiet time with His Spirit guiding you. Focus more on being in relationship with God and less on doing. Your relationship with God and with other people will be renewed so that you follow the two greatest commandments as Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-38.

Saturday –Luke 5:12-15

We can and should follow Jesus’ example. Make prayer a high priority in your life! Use time alone with God to build your relationship with Him.  I love my quiet times with God in the morning.  Do I have a quiet time every morning?  No, I miss some mornings.  But normally I take 20-30 minutes each morning to read the Word, pray and enjoy fellowship with God.  I believe these times have a cumulative effect; over time, they build my relationship with God gradually.  Make Prayer an important part of your life.

Week of July 15

This week concludes the series, “Dare to See Clearly.”  The stories of Abraham and Sarah teach us much about following God’s call and seeing God’s preferred future.  The readings this week are a summary of the stories of the past several weeks.

PRAYER

Lord of all times and places:  Thank you for the example and witness of Abraham and Sarah.  As they learned to trust you more deeply than before, help me to continue to grow in my faith that I may serve faithfully in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Monday – Genesis 12:1-9

God calls Abraham and Sarah to embark on this exciting adventure.  In this call is a promise and a purpose.  What are they?  Are these examples of promises and purposes in God’s call to us?  We may not make the trip in the same way, but how do we live out the faith journey today?

Tuesday – Genesis 14:1-16

Abraham and Sarah followed God’s call and journeyed a long distance to this land of promise.  But this land of promise was not safe.  They faced danger.  Kings went to war.  Lot’s family was captured and held prisoner.  How did God rescue Lot?  Are there challenges you face that threaten to overwhelm you?  How will God use you to respond to the crisis?  And what will God grow and groom in you through the adventure?

Wednesday – Genesis 15:1-21

God once again renews the covenant with Abraham and Sarah.  The writer tells us that Abraham believed God, and God honored that trust.  Abraham’s trust in God was credited as righteousness.  That means God viewed Abraham as in a whole and right relationship with God.  Pastor Phil explained how the divided sacrificed animals were a sign of God’s commitment to this covenant.  Today we have the cross to remind us of God’s faithfulness to the covenant.  What does the cross mean to you?

Thursday – Genesis 16:1-16

Abraham and Sarah grew tired of waiting for God to keep the promise.  It was not only weeks and months, it was years and decades.  Still they waited.  They conceived their own solution.  It brought disaster and has been a point of conflict in human history ever since.  How was this an example of planning for God’s failure?  Have you grown tired of waiting for one of God’s promises?  What will you do to keep the faith?

Friday – Genesis 18:16-33

Fascinating story about God revealing to Abraham the plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  Life had seriously declined in those towns, but that is where Lot – Abraham’s nephew – lived.  In the conversation Abraham “argues” with God about the fairness of God’s plan.  What does this story reveal about the character of God?  What does it reveal about the kind of man Abraham has become?  And what does it reveal about the importance and power of prayer?

Saturday – Romans 4:9-25

Paul uses the example of Abraham and Sarah (as does the writer of Hebrews) to illustrate the role of faith.  Because Abraham trusted God, God looked upon Abraham the same as if Abraham had never sinned.  His faith was credited as righteousness.  In the same way, as we trust in the grace of God revealed through Jesus Christ, we will be credited as righteous – true to the faith.  How can you walk in faith today?

Week of July 8th

Sermon Series:  Dare to See Clearly

Prayer-  James 1:12 (NIV)

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Monday –Joshua 1:7-9,  Joshua Installed as Leader

Does God promise health and wealth to those who follow him?  It may appear so, at least in the Old Testament, where God’s promises were linked to the land.  But God’s kingdom is not essentially geographic, it is spiritual and eternal.  Some who are called to serve the Lord may have to endure poverty and deprivation (Romans 8:35-39).

Tuesday –Philippians 4:8-9,  Final Exhortations

Can we choose to think lovely thought?  How can we control the thoughts that come uninvited into our minds?  Paul was not talking about fleeting impressions that invate our thinking.  Thought of temptation or discouragement can come unannounced.  But we can discipline ourselves, making conscious choices to contemplate good things.  Reading uplifting Bible verses and meditating on them, making a mental checklist of God’s attributes, counting our blessings- these types of things can get our thought on the right track. 

Wednesday –Romans 10:9-10,   Salvation

What does it mean to be “saved”?  Salvation comes by faith, but faith is not just knowledge of the facts.  Genuine faith is evident in a loving relationship with God.  Even though sin broke this relationship, God provided reconciliation through His son Jesus Christ.  We are saved when we believe Jesus died and was resurrected, and when we sincerely trust in him as our only way to eternal life.  We cement this through confession of words and way of living.  How’s your walk with God?  Are you sharing your salvation too?  There’s a world that we’re called to share with.  Go share Jesus! 

Thursday –Philippians 4:6-7,   Final Exhortations

Seriously?  Do NOT be anxious?  Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking.  God created me this way, so why shouldn’t I be anxious?  Well… God has called us to care and have concern, but we’re not called to be so concerned that we’re paralyzed and unable to do God will.  Unhealthy anxiety is toxic and keeps us from following God with a glad and open heart.   So… don’t sweat it.  God’s god plans!

Friday – Matthew 6:31-33,   Do Not Worry

Do not worry again?!?!  Does Jesus command us NOT to worry?  This is not so much a command as it is an invitation to rest in the arms of our loving Father.  As humans, we will at times cross the line and fret when we should trust.  But only when we allow ourselves to constantly focus on ourselves instead of God do we violate Jesus’ principle.  His invitation is liberating principle, not another law to be obeyed. 

Saturday – Ephesians 5:19-20,   Do Not Worry Part II

Can we honestly give thanks for everything?  Seriously?  Giving thanks is an act of worship.  Despite difficult circumstances, we can give thanks, knowing that God’s love and concern are unfailing.  That’s amazing Grace!  That’s amazing Love!  Praise God!