Friday, August 31, 2012

Mark 1:35 “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

The days are getting shorter and the sun no longer lights up the sky during my quiet time.  The night time and pre-dawn feel different, quieter than when the sun peeks over the horizon.  In the quiet before dawn, there is a stillness that is hard to find any other time.  During these moments of prayer in the dark, I have found it easier to imagine just me and God being together with no one else.  My prayer time can take on a different level when there are not the interruptions of the busy day in the middle of it.  Of course it is very wonderful to know I can pray any time of day and He will hear me.  Let me tell you, I pray during the day, some days more than others!  When I saw this verse today, it reminded me how important time alone in prayer is.  Jesus came to earth to show us how to live and many times during his ministry, according to scripture, he took time away and alone to pray.  In my experience, it is not always easy.  There are days it is tempting to stay in bed and sleep a little longer, but I know when I sit in the stillness of the morning and in the presence of the Lord, I will receive the blessings I long for.  It gives me a start to the day that cannot be replaced with anything else.  Take a moment today; find a quiet place to sit in prayer and let the presence of the Lord bless you.

Thank you for the encouragement to take time out of our days for you.  Jesus shows us how important that renewing time is for each of us.  Help us follow his lead in prayer, in teachings and in service to you.  Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Acts 3:6 “But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’”

I have been reading a book about living the life of the beloved.  The chapter I just finished talks about giving.  It isn’t giving what we have but who we are.  God gives us gifts and we are called to share those gifts with others.  In church we hear about giving time, talents and treasure but there is a deeper, more personal level of giving that we can participate in.  There are days that I think this devotion is useless.  I am deceiving myself to think my ponderings and musings could touch someone’s life.  I thank the Lord for the times I get a little email back from someone encouraging me with words of thanks or a little story they share with me.  These are gifts to me from others and I write this devotion as a gift to this world, to whoever may see it and be touched by it.  What else can I give?  I, like Peter, have no silver or gold, but I will give what I have.  I may never heal a person from lame to walking but God may use my gifts to bring healing of another kind.  I trust the Lord to use my gifts to bring wholeness to others, and in turn, it brings blessings and wholeness back to me.  Ask the Lord to search your heart.  What gifts has he given you that you are sharing or need to share?  Gifts of love and friendship, kindness and compassion, hope and peace... there are many more.  Share your gifts, a piece of who you are, and everyone will be blessed by it.

What I have, I give.  Allow the gifts I share to be a blessing to others, never distracting from you but bringing you closer to each person I touch.  Thank you for making me who I am.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Deuteronomy 8:6-7 “Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him.  For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills,”

These verses are a part of the message to the Israelites just before they go into the Promised Land.  They had been released from slavery in Egypt and wandered in the desert for a lifetime.  In the desert, even with water and manna provided from heaven they did not remain faithful.  God’s chosen people built an idol from gold to worship.  They groaned and grumbled.  The desert would test anyone and it surely tested them.  As they finally came to the end of the arduous journey they are reminded to follow the laws given to them.  Fear the Lord and follow his commandments, He will bring you goodness and abundance, blessings beyond words.  When I read the Ten Commandments, the laws of God, I am aware that if we live in His love we keep all of those laws.   Jesus called us to love one another as God loves us.  If we live in this truth, we cannot break the commandments.  When we walk in love and grace, remembering our Lord and God, we walk into a good land.  It is a land with flowing streams, springs and underground water.  It is a land of refreshment and renewal, a land of sustenance.   Our Lord provides for our every need, we are blesses, indeed!

Thank you for your blessings poured on us so freely.  As we are renewed with your redeeming love, hear our praise and thanksgiving.  Living in your love is living in the Promised Land.  Thank you for leading us here.  Help us remain.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.”

I am on a quest.  Over the last few years I have been touched by the Divine and I want to know more.  In my quest I have sought to learn prayer and healing.  I have studied the words given to us by Divine inspiration.  I seek to share the grace I have received with others.  There are days that I get frustrated with myself because I have not got it right yet.  In grace, God provides people to remind me that my perfection is not the goal.  The journey of this life seems long but in the eyes of eternity, it is a blink.  While I am on this journey of life on earth I will continue to seek growth of spirit.  I will continue to seek grace and knowledge in our Divine Lord.  As I seek I pray that I will only find truth.  I trust the Spirit who guides me today to continue to guide my journey in grace and in truth.  Scripture says seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you.  There are many skeptics and many deceivers but the Spirit of the Lord is with us and if we seek His truth, if we seek His grace we can be secure in the knowledge that he will not lead us astray.  He desires for all of us to grow so when he comes it will not be a big change for us, we will already know him well.

You are my Lord.  Please guide me in truth and grace.  Help me to pray and seek in clarity.  As I grow in grace and knowledge remind me that it is because of you, your call to me that I am on this quest at all.   May all glory and honor be yours forever and ever.  Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

There are so many songs and stories about love, it is clear that we are created to seek love and be filled by it.  Our society can easily skew the image of what love is and it is easy to fall into the misguiding of those images.  From the fairy tales of happily ever after to the focus on outward appearances and more, there is no depth in the love society shows us.  When a story arises about true love, sacrificial love; it is news worthy.  If someone sacrifices their life to save another they are called a hero.  Using this definition I ask you this: Is Jesus your hero?  People with a hero tend to know all about them.  They know their story, and they know what their hero stands for.  They try to be like their hero.  There is a phrase that comes to mind here; hero worship.  When I think about Jesus life, I cannot imagine a better hero to worship.   God sent Jesus to teach us, to show us how to live in love and he sacrificed his life for each of us because of love.  The difference in these heroes is that Jesus loves us.  He is not some person on the news or an athlete to look up to that does not know us. He wants to live with us.  He calls us to abide in his love.  Abide means to dwell, remain or stay.  We can love him because he loves us.  He paved the way for us to be in deep relationship with the Divine through his sacrificial love.  Open up to his love today; allow it to bless you and all those around you.  Spread the love!

You are my hero.  Thank you for your unending love.  Help me sense it each moment of the day, guide my steps so that I remain in your love.  As I live and breathe, let it be in your love.  Amen.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

John 21:5-6 “Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’  So they cast it and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.”

We are all creatures of habit when it comes right down to it.  We have things we are good at and we have certain ways we like to do things.  The disciples had seen Jesus crucified and buried and then seen him raised again.  What an experience!  Before all this started, these men were fishermen.  For reasons not explained they decide to go fishing, back to what they knew they were good at.  After an unsuccessful trip, catching no fish, they see Jesus as they come back in toward shore and these verses hold the conversation.  As I read this passage saw how like this we all are.  On occasion, we may have an incredible, life changing experience with our Lord and Savior but we live in this world and so we must go back to our daily lives.  We go back to what we know and what we do well.  Jesus calls us to do what we do but in a new and different way.  As we go through our day, we need to listen to the guidance of God.  He will lead us to new heights and a new perspective on things.  When we follow his guidance we will be blessed with overflowing nets.

Thank you for your word and your guidance.  Your teachings lead us to abundance yet our habits, how we like to do things, are hard to leave behind.  Open our hearts to hear your voice.  Give us courage to cast our nets to the other side, to the right side of the boat.  Thank you for the abundant blessings you give us every day.  Open our arms to receive.  Amen.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I was recently watching a bit of TV before going to sleep and I saw a few snippets of a show on happiness.  The man who was sharing his research seemed genuinely happy and never stopped smiling.  It was strange to watch but his smile did seem genuine.  One of the “tricks” he shared about being happier was thinking of three things that were really good about your day.  He said you need to be specific and think about why the things you chose were good.  Another “trick” was replaying a really happy situation in your mind so you could experience it again, making your mind happy again.  In a strange way, he was telling us the same thing Paul wrote so long ago.  If we focus our minds and our hearts on true and pure things, honorable and just things, things worthy of praise we would be better for it.  Instead of seeing clouds as a blocking of sunlight, see them as shade and relief.  As days get shorter find joy in the coolness of the mornings.  Instead of focusing on the bad news shared in our media, focus on the love and light of God shared in this world every moment.  Join me in the search for honor and justice, purity and truth.  Seek with me and we will find.  Then we will be able to join together to manifest these things further in our world.

Bring our sight into focus on the things you would have us see.  There is so much to see in our world, let our hearts and minds think on the things Paul teaches us to in this verse.  Lift our hearts in songs of praise to you today.  Amen.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I was recently watching a bit of TV before going to sleep and I saw a few snippets of a show on happiness.  The man who was sharing his research seemed genuinely happy and never stopped smiling.  It was strange to watch but his smile did seem genuine.  One of the “tricks” he shared about being happier was thinking of three things that were really good about your day.  He said you need to be specific and think about why the things you chose were good.  Another “trick” was replaying a really happy situation in your mind so you could experience it again, making your mind happy again.  In a strange way, he was telling us the same thing Paul wrote so long ago.  If we focus our minds and our hearts on true and pure things, honorable and just things, things worthy of praise we would be better for it.  Instead of seeing clouds as a blocking of sunlight, see them as shade and relief.  As days get shorter find joy in the coolness of the mornings.  Instead of focusing on the bad news shared in our media, focus on the love and light of God shared in this world every moment.  Join me in the search for honor and justice, purity and truth.  Seek with me and we will find.  Then we will be able to join together to manifest these things further in our world.

Bring our sight into focus on the things you would have us see.  There is so much to see in our world, let our hearts and minds think on the things Paul teaches us to in this verse.  Lift our hearts in songs of praise to you today.  Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

John 3:12 “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”

In this passage Jesus is speaking with Nicodemus, a Pharisee that has come to learn from him in the cover of night.  Jesus speaks truth to him but he does not understand Jesus’ teaching.  He asks questions to try to understand and seems to be truly seeking to believe.  How often do I come to Jesus in the same manner as Nicodemus?  I seek to understand, I want to believe but I struggle to wrap my mind around what truth I hear.  It is only when I let go of my thoughts and perceptions that I can begin to really hear and understand.  He teaches us with what we know but we cannot listen with our ears and understand.  Jesus is speaking to our hearts; our souls.  If we quiet the voice of our mind and seek to understand with our hearts, I believe we will begin to understand the word and believe His truth.  Nicodemus could not understand how a grown person could be born again.  When we see this teaching and hear it with our hearts we understand that Jesus is talking about spirit, not flesh.  Our spirits can be born again, transformed and continually transforming into new creations with God.  Search the words of our Lord.  Seek with your heart and mind and pray for wisdom to guide your lessons.  Through these teachings we strengthen our belief and live in communion with the Divine.

You teach us with so many stories and lessons, still we do not understand.  Open our minds and our hearts to hear your words with new ears.  Grant us true understanding so we may continue in our transformations to be new creatures in you.  Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Psalm 112:4 “They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.”

There are two planets in the eastern sky right now and they light up so bright before the sun rises.  One of my favorite activities is star gazing.  On a clear night with a dark sky the stars are innumerable and bright.  The planets Saturn and Venus are even brighter in the night sky because they are so much closer.  The planets do not have their own light; they reflect the light of the sun.  Each morning the sun rises and dispels all darkness bringing warmth and a new day.  Before we see the brightness of day, though; we sit in darkness.  This verse calls us to be the light in the midst of darkness, rising like the planets in the night sky.  As we walk in our journey with the Lord, we are filled with his light and love.  When we go forth we shine his light out to others as we show grace and mercy.  As we go into this day I encourage you to look for reflectors.   There are so many things in our world that reflect light back out to brighten something up more and to get our attention.  If you do not see yourself as a glowing planet in the night sky, maybe you can be a reflector.  Take the light and love of God in and shine it back out to brighten things up a bit more.  However you see it, let us be a light for God, filled with grace and mercy, walking in righteousness.

Let this little light of mine shine.  I know the love and mercy we share comes from you and spreads as light to others.  I give you praise and glory for all we can share.  As we see reflectors today, remind us of this verse and let us shine.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

James 1:5 “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you.”

As we begin the new school year, this verse brings me such peace of mind.  There are days that I question whether I should be homeschooling.  I question my ability and my motives.  Last night I went to a homeschooling Mom’s night out.  Once a month this group meets to support each other and fellowship with each other.  I came out of that meeting with much encouragement.  There are women in that group that have grown home schooled children.  One just took the bar exam to become a lawyer, another is studying at the School of Mines.  In my second year of homeschooling I am still unsure of a lot of things.  These women and this group I belong to will be such a strength and resource to me.  Teaching my children is something I am called to do.  Regardless of what your calling is, we can all benefit from wisdom.  I will seek wisdom from God as I go into this year of teaching and learning, knowing he has already given me much and will continue to bless me with more.  Take heart and encouragement from this verse as I did.  Seek wisdom from the Lord and he will pour it out to you generously.  I know I will benefit from His wisdom and I pray you will too.

Your word promises so much and brings us comfort and guidance to encourage us.  Let these words seep into our souls so that we are blessed by them.  Share your gift of wisdom with us today so as we go forward, we do so guided by you.  Thank you for your love and your guidance always.  Help us use these blessings to bless others.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

John 4:34 “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.’”

I am beginning to teach my 6 year old more about nutrition as part of our home schooling.  She has such a sweet tooth by nature; I am hoping that as she learns the balance of eating some of each food group, her sweet tooth will diminish some.  When we eat healthy foods, our bodies feel better and work better.  I know at times I eat too much fast food and not enough fruits and vegetables and I suffer for it.  I don’t have the energy I need and my whole body feels sluggish and weighed down.  I have not convinced myself to always eat right but I am working on it.  The passage from John that this verse comes from talks about the disciples trying to get Jesus to eat something.  It had been a busy day and they thought it would be best for him to get some nourishment.  Jesus knows true nourishment; food for the soul comes from God.  Our bodies need sustaining and who better to guide that than our Creator.  I know on the days I am doing his bidding, I am satisfied in a way that cannot be matched.  As we eat our meals today, let’s be mindful of the true nourishment we receive from God.  His word and Spirit give us what we need and we are called to act in thanksgiving for what he gives us.

You tell us man cannot live by bread alone and I have experienced that many times during my life.  As I nourish my body today, help me be mindful to nourish my soul through you as well.  Guide me to share the food you give me with those who suffer true hunger.  Use me as you will, this is my deepest desire and satisfaction.  Amen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Psalm 95:1-2 “O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Last night I went to a little concert at a neighborhood church.  The music was fabulous, the songs were beautiful and the children that were there could not contain their joy.  The singer, Celia, encouraged the kids to dance.  She said all songs are dancing songs.  The kids sat (or danced) on the stairs going up to the stage and listened.  They flocked to her whenever they could.  There is nothing more beautiful than music that comes from the heart.  The love she shared when she sang was palatable.  She even got the adults out of their chairs to do the bump on one song.  Jesus told his disciples to let the little children come, do not hinder them...  Somewhere in our childhood our uncontainable energy and joy get tampered down.  Responsibility and worries lay burdens on us that make our hearts feel heavy and weighed down.  These verses call us to sing and make a joyful noise.  That is hard to do with heavy burdens on us.  Lay them down and join in the dance.   God loves you.  His light and love fill this world and he will fill you if you invite him to.  When we are filled with his love, we are like children, unable to contain our joy!

Thank you for your love that fills us to overflowing.  Thank you for music and words that allow us to share your love and praise your name.  Fill me with joy to share with my children and all those I see and let my day be filled with joyful noise in praise and thanksgiving for all you are and all you do.  Amen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord said: Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;”

I know I stopped the quote mid-sentence.  I thought about continuing on to verse 14 but I really felt like this was the verse of my focus so I stopped.  If it bothers you, feel free to pull out your bible and continue on in the reading of the word (wink, wink!).  This verse reminded me of the times I sit in church singing the songs and praying the prayers at the same time I am thinking about my plans for the afternoon or what I might be making for dinner.  Most of the prayers are easy to read, printed right there in the bulletin and the songs are usually pretty familiar too.  On occasion, I am able to set the many distractions aside and focus all my energy on true worship.  The songs we sing in church are prayers to God.  They praise and thank him, they petition and quote scripture.  We share concerns as a community, we pray for others far and near.  We break bread and share the cup in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation.  All these things can be done while planning the grocery list, quieting the children, running the little one to the bathroom, etc.  They can also be done in a truly worshipful way.  Allow the spirit of God to settle and remove the distractions from your worship.  Focus your energy and mind on the words and meanings of the prayers and songs sung in worship.  Allow the presence of God to do amazing things in you today.

Bless our worship today.  I come to you looking for amazing things, knowing that you amaze me every day.  May my day be a day of praise and worship to you, I pray.  Amen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mark 8:12 “And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign?  Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.’”

This is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees when they ask him for a sign from heaven to prove himself to them.  When I read this passage I thought to myself, “Really?”  He had turned water to wine, fed five thousand on 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, fed 4 thousand on 7 loaves of bread and healed numerous people.  He had cast out demons, preached and turned the hearts of many.  He had answered all their inquisitions with unquestionable wisdom, and yet they wanted a sign.  Still, don’t we ask for signs from him today?  In the midst of the chaos of the world, there is healing, there is uncounted love and mercy, there is goodness overriding evil every day.  In my personal life I have been transformed from living as a Sunday Christian to a fledgling disciple, striving daily to do the will of God in my life.  I have gone from living with blinders on to searching and seeing God in every day moments.  There are signs of God’s presence and signs of Jesus as the Messiah, a savior to the world, all around us.  I am certain I miss signs that are clearly in front of my face, just as the disciples that had Jesus in their presence did.  If we choose not to see the signs that are given, we will not be given more signs.  We simply need to open our eyes and our hearts to see more clearly.  Setting all sarcasm aside, I ask, do you see the signs? 

I come to you in thanksgiving for the changes and signs I see so clearly confirming your presence in this world.  Open our eyes and hearts even more to seeing your signs.  Remove our blinders so that we can truly see you as you are.  Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

1 Peter 1:14-16 “Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance.  Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

Yesterday I was watching my kids play and realized that my perfectionism has begun to rub off on them.  It has been handed down from generation to generation and I suspect I will not be able to curtail it in my kids.  These verses can easily lead me to believe that I am called to be perfect.  I see words like obedient and holy and it is so easy for me to interpret those as perfection.  God knows we are not perfect.  He created each of us and knows our purpose.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses.  Throughout the bible there are stories of God using humans in all their failures, to glorify and further the work of his kingdom.  Some days I am tempted to just quit trying.  I know I will never succeed so what is the point?  These verses reiterate the point to me.  As an obedient child, when I sin, confess and repent.  Live in love and holiness through Jesus and his redeeming blood.  Stand firm in that forgiveness and grace and take each day as a new day.  I will use the gifts I have been given by God to glorify him and further his kingdom in whatever way he would have it.  I have victory over my disobedience through Jesus as do you and I strive for holiness each new day.  Live in victory!

Your strength fills me up.  There are days I feel so weak and helpless, I feel like a failure.  Thank you for the reminder that we all fall short because we are human.  It is through Jesus, we are able to stand and try again.  Your strength renews my resolve each new day.  Help me be obedient and holy for your glory.  Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ezekiel 37:3-4, 10 “He said to me, ‘Mortal, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord God, you know.’  Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’  I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.”

Whenever I read this story of the dry bones I picture a desert in my mind.  I see dry cracked earth that has not seen rain in years.  Skeletons of trees and bushes are right alongside the skeletons of the Israelites in the story.  When I was a child, it was a strange story to me and I could not understand it.  Now, as I step closer to the word of God and as I walk closer to him, I see more clearly.  In times of sin and rebellion our spirits are slowly drained away and we become dry as the desert.  No rain or replenishment comes. We do not even realize it has happened, it is so gradual.  It is step by step that we go into the desert.  When we turn from our ways of selfishness and turn into the sunshine of God’s grace we will receive the rain and renewal he can give.  Through his word we receive renewal.  Our dry and brittle bones receive flesh again and the breath of life fills our lungs.  The land around us is lush and green, flowing with milk and honey.  This is a story filled with hope and grace.  God comes to us to renew and rebuild us.  Receive his gift and lift his name in praise!

Thank you for refreshing us.  Your grace and love are never ending and you wait endlessly for us to come to you for a drink.  Speak your word to our dry bones so that we may hear and become filled with your breath of life again.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Matthew 7:24-25 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock.”

I really like my house and my neighborhood.  There is a greenbelt that runs through just a block away so occasionally we see or hear wildlife.  Along with coyotes, hawks and foxes, we have rabbits.  These fuzzy little long-eared creatures have become a nuisance to some of us.  They are ruining lawns and one of my neighbors just hired a company to come eradicate them from his yard.  It seems those little rascals have dug down under the foundation of his house and, if left to their own devices, could eventually make the foundation of the house unstable.  Who knew?  The foundations are deep in the ground but apparently rabbits can dig deeper.  According to this parable our spiritual houses need to be built on solid rock.  If we build our faith on the rock of Jesus, we will not succumb.  Rabbits cannot dig through solid rock and neither can evil weaken the rock of Jesus.  If we build on the rock of Jesus, our foundation will remain solid and sure.  Let the rabbits dig in the fields to their hearts content but keep them from destroying your house.  Be like the wise man in Jesus’ parable and build your foundation on rock.

You speak and sometimes we hear.  Open our ears this morning so that we hear the message you have for us and then move our hearts and feet into action.  Help us to be wise, listening and obeying your word, building our foundation on you, the rock of ages.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Psalm 51:15 “O lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”

Music lives in my soul.  I would say there is almost always an undercurrent of song running in my heart.  Most mornings I wake up with a familiar song playing in my mind and even through the day, if I take time to notice, there is music in me and surrounding me.  All of nature sings the praises of its Creator.  As I drive down the road I can hear music playing in other cars and trucks, all different kinds of music.  We do not all carry the same song but I believe we all have a song to sing.  Just as God gives us each gifts to glorify his kingdom I believe he gives us a song to sing praises to his name.  Seek a quiet moment today and see if you can find the song in your heart.  What praises do you hold deep in your soul?  How often do we keep those praises locked inside for only God to hear?  This verse calls to us; it encourages us to open our lips and declare God’s praises.  Do not keep them quiet anymore but bless God and others around us by sharing our praises to our King.  The song can be shared in so many ways but any song of praise will be beautiful to the ears of our Creator.  When I consider all he has done and all he continues to do, how can I keep from singing?  Lift your voice with me today in praise to our God and King.

Your love and mercy abound.  Forgive my silence in response to your gifts of grace.  I lift my voice in praise and adoration this morning and ask you to guide my day to be a token of thanksgiving to you.  My hearts sings unending praise to you; open my mouth so I may share those praises and glorify you even more.  Amen.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

The voices of self-doubt and worthlessness have been pretty loud lately.  I am an easy target for these destructive shots because my worth is something I have struggled with for most of my life.  I beat myself up with the greatest of ease and of course there are others that will jump on that opportunity to feed the destruction.  As I looked back on the last few days of devotions, I could see clearly the struggle I have been experiencing.  This morning as I sat in devotion, I was praying for forgiveness and cleansing; praying for release of torment and I saw clearly again that I am my own worst enemy.  I allow the voices in and it only takes my still small voice to cry out to the Lord and he will help.  I am filled with hope and joy this morning as I write because in the midst of the voices of worthlessness and self-doubt, there is a song of love and hope in my heart.  I know despite these dark threads, there is strength in my faith.  I am helped and will be helped because beyond anything else, I trust in the Lord.  He is my strength and my shield.  I have been through these times of fire before and I know I come through them refined and stronger because of them.  I hold fast to my God and my faith and sing songs of praise to him for my salvation in him.

Thank you for sun in the midst of rain.  Thank you for rainbows to bring beauty beyond words when things can look so bleak.  Help me hear your voice of love and peace so that I can sing praises to drown out the voices of darkness.  Thank you for your strength and protection.  I trust in you and you alone.  You put songs of joy in my heart and so I sing.  Amen.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Isaiah 58:9 “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.”

I had such a hard time choosing the verse to write about this morning.  This whole passage speaks to me today as I wrestle with the astounding brokenness in this world.  It is very easy to see when I look around me, there are people calling other people horrible names.  People dehumanizing others because of what they believe in.  My heart aches at the lack of love we humans, Christians included, show other humans.  Please don’t get me wrong here.  I am not above this either.  As I sit and wonder how others could do this I am only one step away from judging those very people.  We are all imperfect and thus come the selfish desires that take over and lead us all astray.  We cannot live in peace without God.   Join me this morning in a time of turning back.  Let’s ask the Lord to search our hearts once again for sin, short fallings, and ignorance; let’s ask him to search for anything that leads us away from his love and light.  This verse encourages us that if we call on him in true desire, he will answer.   If we cry for help in earnestness, He will be there.  I come to the Lord this morning, my heart crying for all humanity, myself included.  I ask for healing for our nations, our people, our communities, our neighborhoods, our homes and our hearts.

My soul sings praises while my heart is breaking.  I have seen so much division and exclusion.  I see judgment and unforgiving hearts.  I see all of this in me as well as in others.  Lord, please come.  Bring your healing and your guidance to us.  Change us into beings of light and love.  Make us whole so that we can go forth glorifying your holy name forever more.  Amen.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Titus 3:1-2 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone.”

What would our world be like if everyone lived like these verses call us to?  Can you imagine everyone working in obedience?  Can you see everyone blessing each other with kind and gentle words, accepting each other as children of God?  When I first read this passage I thought of rulers and authorities as my political leaders.  There are rules that I may not agree with but I am called to live in obedience.  Then a deeper meaning seeps in as I ask myself who my ultimate authority is? God is my true ruler and authority and so I am subject to him.  He calls us to love him first and with all that we are.  When we love like that the rest becomes much easier.  I know when I am filled with love for God I am unable to be quarrelsome or to speak evil words.  I am filled with gentleness and kindness and I am willing and able to serve doing good works because of the love and joy in my heart.  When I release that feeling of ultimate love and move into my humanness then I am more likely to speak evil and quarrel because my selfish desires are my focus, not my God and my king.  I end with this thought…
 “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”

It is only when I am walking in your law, loving you with all that I am, that I can succeed at this calling to love others as you do.  When I am in unity with you, I am able to be kind, love others and work to your glory in joy.  Fill me with love for you and your love for others.  Make your love manifest in me.  Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2012

John 6:34-35 “They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”

Some days I just can’t figure out what to eat.  Nothing in my pantry or refrigerator sounds appealing.  I end up eating because I know I should but I am not satisfied and I spend the day wandering into my kitchen looking for something to satisfy whatever my craving is.  My spiritual nourishment is like this too.  There are times I cannot find satisfaction in my meager prayers.  I start off well as I spend time every morning in the word of God.  It is easy for those words to slip away from me and I find myself restless.  I pray because I know I should but it is not satisfying and I find myself wandering around looking for something to satisfy my soul.  Jesus is the bread of life.  When I take the time to truly be in his presence, focus and digest the words he gives me, and pray in truth and honesty then I am filled.  As I spend more time studying the Word, learning to pray and meditate on Him, I find my soul is more and more satisfied.  The restless heart, the soul hunger is not so ravenous.  I crave knowing him more but I come knowing I will receive nourishment for my soul.  I know I walk this path of life with the living water and the bread of life.  I walk with Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

You fill me and complete me.  On the days that I struggle and do not feel satisfied remind me that, in you, I have everything I need.  It is when I lose focus on your truth that I start searching for something missing, something to complete me.  When I walk with you, hand in hand, I need nothing else.  You complete me.  Thank you for your Word.  Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Psalm 118:13-14 “I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.  The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.”

Have you ever watched a squirrel run along the top of a fence?  The balance they display amazes me.  I know they have their sharp claws to help cling to the fence but I am still amazed at their agility.  I often picture myself walking this life journey on the precipice of darkness so much of the time.  The danger of falling seems so real to me and yet I know that the Lord walks with me.  When I am pushed and begin to fall the Lord is there to help me every time.  He catches me and saves me.  Verse 5 in this passage says the Lord set me in a broad place.  I see the Lord catching me as I fall from the precarious balance on the top of the fence and placing me gently down onto solid ground.  As I look with a new perspective I see that I have always been on solid ground, walking with the Lord.  It was only my imagination that I was in such danger of falling into an abyss of darkness.  The Lord is my strength and my might.  His love is steadfast and as I walk with him, he will not forsake me.  I give thanks to the Lord for he is good, indeed.  I praise him because his steadfast love endures forever!

How often do I come to you with much ado about nothing?  Thank you for calming my fears, real or imagined.  Thank you for being my strength when I am weak and thank you for the knowledge that you are always there.  You are my spotter waiting and watching lest I fall.  I praise you today and I go into this day blessed by your love and salvation.  Amen. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Micah 7:8 “Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.”

The last couple of days have been interesting.  I just started writing a blog, posting Word for Today out on the internet.  Then I noticed I could post it on Google + with just a click of a button so with trepidation I post my blog to the Google + public as well.  I knew when I chose to wage battle against darkness, sharing the light and love of Christ with whoever will read it; I was setting myself up for attack.  Yesterday I had so much restlessness in my heart.  There were selfish, thoughtless feelings roaming freely causing all sorts of mayhem in my day.  It wasn’t until late in the afternoon, in the midst of my wandering darkening thoughts, that I realized this was an attack.  Darkness crept in so easily and began derailing me piece by piece.  God is gracious and He is Almighty.  Once he showed me what was happening, I began to pray, I called on his protection and all the darkness vanished.  I have never experienced such rapid and complete release before.  This verse sums up my experience and my hope.  I know when I fall I will rise and God’s light will shine for me dispersing any darkness that is enveloping me.

Thank you for your protection and redemption.  I know I can call on your name and you will come, you are there before I even utter a sound.  I rejoice in your strength.  When darkness rejoices in my fall, you snatch victory away bringing me into your light and love once more.  You lift me up and give me strength to persevere.  I praise you and thank you for all you have given and continue to give to me.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Romans 5:6, 8 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us.”

Wow.  There are times that I am just speechless when I think about the grace and the sacrifice God gave so that we may have life in him.  While we lived in complete darkness, oblivious to him, he loved us.  He tried in so many ways to get our attention so that we would be in relationship with him.  Even when we would not turn to him, when we continued to live in sin, he loved us.  He sent Christ to die and live for us, not so that he would love us more but so we could love him in wholeness.  Once we accept the love and grace of Jesus Christ and believe in him, we are able to come to the foot of the throne.  We are clean and whole so that we can present ourselves in confidence and humility to the Almighty.  It is because of the love of God that we are able to have a relationship with him, one on one.  The Almighty God of the universe, the Creator of all wants a relationship with me and with you.  I continue to find that astounding every time I think about it.  Who am I that God would have any desire to be with me?  I am his child.  The perfect parent that he is, he loves me and wants to be with me.  He desires the best things for me and would give his very life for me.  Even in my disobedience, he loves me.  When I repent, he rejoices and celebrates with me.  His grace is everlasting.  Wow!

I can only begin to fathom your love for me and all of your children.  Help me love my brothers and sisters in Christ as deeply as I love the ones of my heart.  I pray that the grace you pour on me will flow from me to others bringing blessings to everyone.  Amen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Acts 4:29-30 “And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant, Jesus.”

These verses come at the end of a tale about persecution.  The chief priests and elders had pulled some of the disciples in for preaching and healing in Jesus’ name.  They had to acknowledge that the healing was true and they knew to be careful in how they treated the disciples because all of the people praised God for what had happened.  As I read these verses today I realized not much has changed since this story.  As long as people stay within the boundaries of “normal” worship, we are blessed to be free of persecution.  There are some who are more on the fringes of normal that we tend to raise an eyebrow at or choose not to be associated with.  Groups that participate in laying on of hands for healing, speaking in and interpretation of tongues; these are outside of my personal experience.   They are not the “norm”. As I study these words in Acts, I wonder if we haven’t stepped too close to being in line with the chief priests and elders.  If we spoke his word in boldness, what would happen?  What incredible wonders are we missing out on because we do not speak?  Do we disregard or mock the very ones who are living out this calling?

I live my life with blinders on.  I see what I want to see and go only where my limited sight leads me.  Give me courage and sight to live in boldness.  I have received amazing healing through your word and your grace.  Help my sharing, in boldness, bring healing to others.  Amen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.”

The children’s song “Jesus loves me” ran through my mind as I was contemplating this verse.  The phrase “they are weak but he is strong” makes me stop and think.  Who is weak?  When I sing this song to my kids I have changed that to say we are weak but he is strong.  In my life journey I have come to see that we are all weak.  In our humanness, we are imperfect, faltering and weak.  We are easily led astray and become idle, we give up without a fight.  It is only through the life of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can receive strong hearts.  As we grow in our walk with God, he calls us out of idleness into action.  He builds our strength and trust in him so we can encourage others.  A story was shared with me recently and I pass it along to you, in part.  An agnostic person came to church one morning.  She looked different than the conservative Christians expect people to look, with piercings and tattoos and such.  When she sat in the pew, the people close by crossed their legs the other way and turned their torsos to face a little bit away from her.  She told her friend she will never set foot in a church again because this is how Christians are and she wants no part of it.  Take courage from this story; be patient with each other and if you are able, encourage the faint-hearted, admonish the idlers and help the weak.

Help me to love as you love.  Guide me to action and give me strength to persevere.  Open my eyes to see the struggles of others and let me be an encouragement, not a deterrent.   Help us embrace all who need your love.  Amen. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hebrews 3: 13 “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

When I began studying the word of God on a daily basis my life was transformed.  I have always gone to church, even as a child.  I have listened to sermons, sang hymns and had fellowship with believers for years.  I changed when I made the conscious effort to take time every day to sit in the presence of our Lord and study his word.  It is because of this transformation that I write my daily devotions to share with others.  I cannot contain the blessing of being in his word every day; I will share with all who will receive it.  This is my small way to “exhort one another every day”.  I know how easy it is to leave the bible on the shelf, collecting dust.  I know how busy life gets and even with good intentions, days and weeks can go by without taking time to be with God.  I used to be that way.  I cannot tell you how long my bible sat on the shelf without so much as a glance.  I do not know how many years I would start my day and the next thing I knew I was falling in to bed exhausted with never a thought or prayer to God entering my heart.  I know I am no better than anyone else regardless of how their days play out.  I also know that I have been blessed by the word of God, and through his grace, I strive to share this blessing with others so that we can all be free of sin’s deceit.  Will you take this blessing and encourage others as well?

It seems it only takes a moment for sin to creep in and begin turning my heart to stone.  Help me listen for your voice in every moment, so that my heart stays in your presence and so that I can be a source of encouragement for others.  Keep my heart soft and clean for your glory.  Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Galatians 4:9 “Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits?  How can you want to be enslaved to them again?”

Two steps forward and one step back; when I look at my life with God this is what I see.  Paul writes about beggarly elemental spirits that are pulling the Galatian Christians back into spiritual slavery.  As I was meditating on this I thought of people who are battered or abused.  How many stories have I heard over the years about people who finally leave an abusive situation only to go back or to get into another one?  It is heart breaking and hard to understand when I hear these stories.  Yet, spiritual slavery is no different.  When we slide back into practices or patterns in life that pull us away from God, we are putting ourselves back into an “abusive” situation.  We are enticed by the comfort that familiarity brings and so when the going gets tough, we are tempted to step back into our comfort zone even if it is into enslavement.  Take another step forward.   If we can continue to take two steps forward we will walk more and more in the light and love of God.  The call of enslavement will become less and less comfortable because we receive comfort and love, blessings and forgiveness when we live with God.  Join me in the walk to know God and be known by God.  Let’s be free in His embrace!

Quiet the voices of enslavement that call us back to the familiarity of darkness.  Help us cling to you when the going gets tough and guide our steps, each one, closer and closer to knowing you and being known by you.  Draw us to you in light and love so we can live in your freedom.  Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.”

I am always amazed at the amount of discipline some people have.  Certain vocations take tremendous amounts of discipline.  As I think about the athletes that compete in the world championships or the Olympics I cannot imagine the amount of discipline they have to achieve the level of excellence they do.  They focus their mind on what they want to accomplish and then set their daily routine to meet those goals.  It is like this with our lives in Christ too.  If we set our minds on the goal of living in the love and grace of our Lord forever, then we need to have discipline in our daily routine to help us achieve that goal.  As Christians we can set our hope on the grace of God, through Jesus.  Each day is a new day in Christ and until the day he comes again I will strive to prepare my mind and discipline my heart, keeping the ultimate goal of unity with Christ in my sights.  I put my hope in the Lord and with his help I can prepare my mind for action and discipline myself.

Thank you for your grace that is never ending and always waiting to be poured out on me.  Help me prepare my mind with your words and knowledge; guide me in discipline to stay the course.  Forgive me when I falter and renew my hope in you each day.  Amen.