Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Matthew 18:10 “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.”

There have been so many stories in the news lately about child abductions or attempted abductions.  One family in Colorado recently suffered the loss of their 10 year old little girl.  She was walking to school and was snatched away.  The story ended in tragedy when her body was found a few days later.  Since then, the abduction stories have been rampant.  When I read this verse I was startled.  These little ones have “their” angels?  Oh I wish I could read Greek so I could be sure the translation is true here.  I would love to know with my mind what I already know in my heart.  It would bring me a little more peace if I knew there was a guardian angel looking after each of my children.  In reality that is not quite what this verse says though, and it does not need to.  The message is clear.  God our Father loves each of us; we are all his little ones.  The verses that follow this one are the parable of the lost sheep.  He will go in search for one who has gone astray because it is His will that not even one would be lost.  He sent his Spirit to guide and protect us, He is our guardian.  I do believe in angels and I believe that they can guide and protect us and our children.  The truth here is that God and His Spirit never leave us.  We need to extend that protection and love to his children around us.

There is darkness in this world; your word clearly states it and we see it every day.  Help us hear your voice and feel your protection and guidance in light and love.  Give us courage to help others hear you and come to you so not one of your precious ones is lost.  Amen. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1 John 3:17 “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

My first words to God this morning were a prayer of thanks for the heat and warmth in my home.  I had barely uttered the thought when I pictured the many people living under bridges and in cardboard boxes.  Others are wrapped in tattered layers of old coats or grungy hats and scarves.  We occasionally donate our clothes and coats and nick knacks to some charity that calls.   We give money to church to help the poor.  We buy food for our church food bank and bring food donations to bible study.  All these things are for a brother or sister in need.  What about closer to home?  Do I see the needs of my spouse and children?  As I think more about this I realize I could give more to the brothers and sisters that live with me as well.  They deserve some sacrificial giving on my part.  Could I rearrange my focus a bit and not only cross the things off of my list that make me feel accomplished but also give in love?  I am given a nice home and warm clothes.  I have food in my pantry, my refrigerator and my freezer.  I have no needs that cannot be met with relative ease.  I need to turn my gaze around from looking at my needs and begin giving to meet the needs of those around me.  I need to meet the needs of my family as well as the brothers and sister who do not reside in my home.  In this, I will abide in God’s love.

Open my eyes to see my selfishness.  I cling to my needs like a warm blanket and yet, truly my needs are met.  Help me reach out in love; help me give more so all can abide in your love.  Amen.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Why do I go to church?  Is it the music, or the preaching?  Is it for my friends and catching up with them?  The answer is yes to all of these and more.  Depending on the week I may have different needs that I come to church with.  Sometimes I simply need to hear the word read out loud by someone other than me.  I need to hear the pondering of a learned teacher to stir up the word and help me hear a message that speaks to my heart and soul.  I need to laugh with my friends and sing praises to my Lord.  I need to sit in silence and just feel the Spirit in the sanctuary.  I need to remember the breaking of the bread on the Passover so many years ago and the sacrifice that represents to me each day.  I need to gaze upon that empty cross that hangs in front of the sanctuary to remember that Jesus did die but the cross is empty because he is resurrected.  His resurrection brings grace to the likes of me and you.  It is this grace that allows and compels me to keep coming back.  Do I need to go to a special building to have all this?  How do I know which one is the “right” one?  I know what I need to live in Love and so I go to church each week and I get up every morning to spend time alone with Love.  I share the grace I received and pray for myself, my family, my friends, the list goes on.  All these things help guide my feet in the journey of disciple.

Thank you for your apostles and your teaching.  Thank you for bread and fellowship.  Thank you for songs of praise and prayer.  Help each day be a day of worship and learning, a day of fellowship and a day of honoring you.  Amen.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deuteronomy 30:4, 6 “Even if you are exiled to the ends of the world, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will bring you back...Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.”

When I was young I lived on the edge, on the periphery of life.  I have always been an introvert and when I was a child I bordered on shy.  I still tend to sit back in the wings and watch rather that jump in and join the party with abandon.  It reminds me of swimming.  God gathers us from the very edge where we are dipping our little toes in the water and He plunges us into the deep cool water.  After the initial shock we realize it is refreshing and invigorating.  He wants us to join the party.  Dive into the water; get your hair wet and splash around.  Feel the smooth water gliding on your skin as you move stroke by stroke.  Swim and play with abandon.  Live your life in His love with abandon.  In John chapter ten, Jesus says He came that we may have life abundantly.  He doesn’t want us to be toe dippers; he wants us to take the plunge.  Feel God drawing you back in from the ends of the world.   Feel Him cleansing your heart so you may love and live for him with abandon, in abundance.

Help me jump in with both feet even with my introverted personality in tow.  Help me set aside my shy tendencies so I swim deeply in the love and life you call us to.  Guide me into abundant, exuberant life within the person that you created me to be.  Fill my heart and soul to overflowing once more so I may be soaked with love for you and go deep into an abundant life.  Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

John 13:34 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

At first glance it seems Jesus is telling his disciples to love each other within their little circle of believers.  Certainly they would need each other as times went on and the persecution became rampant.  It would only be the love of Christ that could pull them back together after his death.  I believe this commandment is much deeper though.  Christ loves everyone.  When He commands us to love one another I believe He means every one.  I start close to home.  How does Christ call me to love my spouse and my children?  I am to love them as He loves me.  How am I to love my family of faith?  He tells me to love them as He loves me.  It is easy to love in Christ when you have a deep and happy bond with someone.  When there are hurts and frustrations in the way it becomes harder.  I know I cause Jesus hurt and frustration every time I sin.  He forgives us in unending grace and that is part of His love for us.  We need to forgive just as He does so that we may love as He loves.  Only through Christ are we able to do this.  It is His love shining in us that brings us the strength and ability to love others in grace as He does.  Seek out one person to love as He loves; someone that will stretch your growth in Christ.  If we each did that, how much more love would there be?

Clear our sight of pain and frustration so we can see others in your love.  Give us the courage and strength through your word and Spirit to reach out as love as you love us.  We know you command us to do this, help us follow your command.  As we follow and believe, we are blessed, thank you. Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Psalm 37:4-5 “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

When I read this passage it is so tempting to stop at verse four and not continue on.  It is so nice to picture God giving the desires of our hearts to us.  Would he grant anything we wish, like a genie in a bottle?  I even like to skip over the little words – take delight in the Lord, because it changes things.  The truth is when we delight in the Lord our desires change.  Our focus becomes clear and we are looking to the Lord of the Universe rather than at our small little world.  The desires change from what we think we need to what the Lord would give to us.  When we commit our way to the Lord we release control from our grasp and hand it over to the Almighty.  The words in the verses seem so easy.  Give it all to God; praise and delight in Him.  Let Him lead you trusting that your Creator will keep you right.  How hard can that be?  I, for one, find this a challenge.  I turn control over and then my wish for something to happen in my time and my way drives me to take control back.  I delight in the Lord and then I watch the news and it distracts me and weakens my trust.  People get in the way of God all the time yet He promises us His sovereign plan will unfold despite that.  Delight, commit and trust; the God of the Universe is at work and He knows what He is doing.  Praise God!

Forgive my arrogance when I try to take over for you.  I release my pretend control back to you knowing you are always in control.  Turn my heart to seek your desires always, for it is there I will find delight.  Help me grow in trusting you, you will act.  Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Psalm 113:2-3 “Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.”

A fresh blanket of snow covers the bushes and grass at my house.  Yesterday evening is started raining and turned to snow and as I wait for my children to wake up I can already hear their excitement and joy when they see it.  There are so many things each day that bring laughter and joy to the faces of my kids.  The days are getting shorter as we move into late fall and prepare for winter to set in.  The sun rises a little later each morning and sets a little earlier each evening.  If I spent each moment of the day blessing and praising the name of the Lord my smile would never fade.  Even on the shortest day of the year I would be filled beyond overflowing with blessings and joy.  Have you noticed that when you are in a time of praise and thanksgiving that your heart becomes filled even as you are giving from your heart to the Lord?  On the days were the world weighs heavily on your heart, reach out beyond that and sing one song of praise.  Then lift one prayer of thanksgiving to God.  Reach out once more and lift your heart a little more to the adoration of our Lord.  As you do these small things, the weight is lifted more and more.  Before you know it you are relieved, renewed and filled with praise and thanksgiving for the God of grace!

We come to you this morning all with different needs.  You know our hearts and I ask that you move within all those things and bring us to a time of praise and thanksgiving.  Lift our hearts and our eyes to see your glory so we may lift our voices in praise to you.  I dedicate this day to you and your glory.  Help me live in praise to you today.  Amen. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Daniel 6:13 “Then they responded to the king, ‘Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you O king, or to the interdict you have signed, but he is saying his prayers three times a day.’”

Honestly, I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a place where I could not worship in comfort.  There is no law here forbidding us to pray or worship our God and I have not suffered persecution, ever.  I know there are places even today that worship of God is forbidden.  Prayers and meetings must be done in secret and at the risk of lives.  Can you imagine it?  Daniel is an upright citizen, a truly righteous man and has been blessed because of his faithfulness and obedience.  He is not a rabble rouser but serves his God and his king.  His co-workers just couldn’t stand that he was succeeding so they found a way to make Daniel suffer.  Daniel was first and foremost faithful to God and all through his story that never changes.  The book tells us Daniel got down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him.  If we take the time to make prayer and praise intentional like that we would be blessed.  Since I have set aside each morning to pray, study and listen, I have been blessed and changed for the better.  Join me in this challenge: set time aside three times each day to sit in the presence of God, praying and praising his holy name, giving thanks for the gift of freedom we have to worship our God.

Thank you for the gift of worship without persecution.  Help me remember and lift up those who still must risk their lives to worship you.  Strengthen me to be faithful regardless of circumstance, trusting in you at all times in all things.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Luke 4:33-34 “In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Let us alone!  What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’”

I believe in demons.  Bear with me on this, if you will.  Demons are not physical monsters like we have seen in the movies but they are real.  Spiritual warfare is real.  We are a people who struggle with believing what we cannot see.  Most of us like to see it to believe it, as the saying goes.  The bible has several stories about Jesus battling demons and even the disciples were given power and authority over demons.  Throughout time there is a big debate over who Jesus of Nazareth really was.  Was he a prophet or a rabbi?  Maybe he was a cult leader.  These verses confirm who Jesus of Nazareth is.  Even the demon, his adversary, knows without doubt who Jesus is and the power He holds.  In the book of Acts, chapter two, God sends his Spirit to dwell in the disciples and through Peter He promises to send His Spirit upon all flesh.  In Jesus sacrifice; His death and resurrection on the cross, he defeated the demons.  They no longer have power over us that we do not allow.  Cast the voices of doubt and darkness away from you today, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been given that strength!  Alleluia and Amen!

You are amazing!  I cannot begin to understand the power you have and then the love that you have for each and every one of us.  Encourage us with your words today.  Empower us with the knowledge of your Spirit in us.  Thank you for rescuing us from darkness, help us remain in your light and love.  Amen.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hosea 14:7 “They shall again live beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”

In so much of the bible the relationship between God and Israel reminds us of a parent child relationship.  How could it not?  God is our divine parent, not just to Israel but to all of us.  The book of Hosea, like other prophets, calls the child to come back from rebellion.  It calls them to turn back to God seeking forgiveness and restoration.  Then they can live beneath his shadow once more.  Sitting in the shade on a blazing hot summer day brings relief just like living beneath the shadow of God.  A garden needs sunshine and shade, balance so the plants can flourish and blossom and so do we.  God is a loving parent and we, like Israel, are his rebellious children.  We call to the Lord; repent and follow Him.  We strive to do our best but fall into relying on our own strength and desire to achieve things.  Before we know it, we are rebelling against God without even trying.  I know this is the cycle I live and I suspect we all do.  I am encouraged by verses like this one because it shows the truth of God’s mercy and grace.  I know as I go forth in faith, step by step, that by the grace of God I will stumble less often.  We will all flourish and blossom as we learn to live in the shadow; in the love of the Lord.

Forgive my selfish pride and guide me in humility today.  So often you remind me that I am NOT in control, thank you for your infinite patience in reminding me.  Help me release control to you and simply follow.  Let me live beneath your shadow so that I can flourish and blossom to your glory.  Amen.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Isaiah 40:18 “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?”

If you are like me you try to put a name with the face and a face with the name.  I like to know what people look like.  Growing up I really thought Jesus had pale skin, brown flowing hair and blue eyes.  People have figurines and crosses, all kinds of things that remind them of God.  We get into trouble when things take the place of God though.  When I gaze at the stars or a beautiful sunset in the sky, do I remember who created them or do I give glory to those beautiful things on their own?  When I look at the cross hanging in church, do I worship the cross or worship the God who hung on the cross?  All of creation sings to the glory of the Creator, who do I sing to?  Let’s not allow ritual or tokens become what we see.  Look beyond all of the visual things and search your heart for the true God.  God is everywhere and in everything He created but His creations are not Him.  See God in the things and people He made but do not worship the things He made.  They cannot compare to Him; they may reflect Him but they cannot be Him.  To see God we must search with our hearts, not our eyes.  We will know when we find Him because... nothing can compare!

So many things get in our way of see you in truth and in light.  Help my vision be guided by your spirit today.  As I look around at your creation, as I sit in church and pray, may all those things draw my heart nearer to you and not away from you.  You are my all and all, help my heart worship and live in that truth.  Amen.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2 Timothy 2:1 “You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

This morning I confess to you that I am suffering from what I call “distract-o-brain”.  I wrestled with what verse I was supposed to meditate on and beyond that, my mind was wandering well beyond the place of my meditation and focus on the Lord.  It went from reviewing the fall festival at church last night and the people I saw there to the kids in my neighborhood on to the groceries and chores that I need to consider.  Then I started wondering if I should even be doing this; writing this devotion for myself and others.  I mean, who am I to think I have anything of value to say?  Maybe my time is up, I have been doing this for a year now...  the message is redundant, there is nothing new that I could say that you haven’t already heard so many times, right?  Yet, I remembered in the midst of this chaos that the message bears repeating from now until the end of time.  I know I need to hear the same message over and over so that it seeps into the very depths of my soul renewing and strengthening me again to go into the world in love and grace.  It is Christ’s grace that frees me and I am compelled to share that freedom with others.  I am strengthened and I trust that somehow the words you read give you food for the soul as well.  Be strong in the grace of Christ.

Ah, the chaos is frustrating.  Thank you for breaking through and whispering to my heart anyway.  You are so faithful and loving, even to me and my distract-o-brain.  Bring my heart to center on you and your love.  Help me drink in the grace you have given and the share it with others so we are all strengthened and live for your glory.  Amen.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Titus 2:14 “He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.”

When my kids were really little they didn't like having anything on their hands.  They would come to me right away and tell me their hands were dirty and they needed to be washed.  My three year old still loves to wash his hands (probably because it involves water).  After a long day working outside in the hot sun, getting a sweaty and dirty it feels so good to take a shower and get all that grime washed off, becoming clean again gives me new energy.  Jesus gave his life to redeem us from all iniquity and purify us.  Through his sacrifice we are clean and renewed again just like being freshly out of a nice shower.  After I shower I feel more alive, relaxed and ready to move forward and do more.  When we have bathed in the grace of God and allowed it to wash every spot of sin away from us, we are renewed and more alive in Him.  It is all I can do to keep from lifting my hands in praise to Him.  My heart rejoices and I am excited to serve my Lord and my King.  We are brand new creations in Him, through him we are redeemed.  Dance, sing and laugh.  Then turn to the Lord and be one who is zealous for good deeds.  In all we do today, let us do those good deeds in honor and praise to our Lord.

How can I keep from singing my songs of praise and thanksgiving?  I cannot!  My heart sings even when my voice does not.  Thank you for redeeming us and loving us always.  Let our words and deeds be joyfully dedicated to your today.  All glory, laud and honor to you, Redeemer; King.  Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Acts 6:7 “The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

Have you ever seen a mountain meadow filled with a blanket of wild flowers?  It is like an ocean, each flower adding a drop of color to complete the whole.   When the first flower pops up in the meadow it would be almost invisible in the midst of the meadow grasses but as time goes on more seeds are carried in and grow in the fertile earth.  The blanket of color and fragrance grows and spreads and eventually all you notice when you come upon the meadow is the beauty laid before you.  Flowers lift their heads to the sun and drink in the rain that falls to earth.  They receive all they need from the Lord as do we.  He gives us his word, food for the soul.  He restores our souls with living water.  Each of us is like a flower in the mountain meadow.  We are individual, with our own beauty and fragrance but we are also a part of the whole meadow.  When we share the love of the Lord with others, seeds are planted and through the nourishment given by God, new flowers will grow.  Those of us who were planted long ago still need the care and guidance of the Lord lest we become disobedient, like a weed instead of a wildflower.  Share, plant seeds and stay in the Word so you do not stray from the beautiful meadow of God’s love.

Your word is our guide as is your Spirit.  Help our hearts hear your Spirit and our minds read the truth in your word.  As we learn obedience, help us share your word with others to bring more beauty to your kingdom.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Have you ever spoken with someone about the gospel and seen this unbelieving look in their eyes?  They look at you either like you are a bit crazy or with pity because you are foolish to believe such nonsense.   Some say we are so unrealistic and live in a dream world.  I guess if your heart is hardened and you are not open to receiving Love, this gospel story would seem a bit far-fetched.  I know the love I feel for my children and I know that God loves his children in perfection, well beyond anything I could ever attain.  He loves all of us with an unending love and has reached out to us since the beginning of time.  The love and power behind the gospel message is unfathomable.  God’s own son was sacrificed on the cross to cleanse the world’s sins and break down the barrier between the Divine and us.  In His mighty power He defied death and rose again bringing His gift of salvation into reality.  When I read this story and think about the cross, His death and His sacrifice for my salvation ... I wish I could share the depth of love I feel.  I hope and pray that all will come to believe the message of the cross so that none will perish and we can all join together is praising the Almighty!

Your love is amazing to me.  Thank you for opening our hearts to the message of the cross and I ask that through my actions and prayers, through my words and deeds others will come to hear the message and be saved by your grace.  I praise you this morning, you are all powerful and Almighty and you love each one of us.  Thank you Lord!  Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Psalm 68:3 “But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy.”

I have a song in my heart this morning, what a blessing!  When I read this verse my first thought was this:  Who is righteous?  None of us can claim that except through the redemption of Jesus’ blood.  It is because of his sacrifice and his grace poured out for all that we can claim him and become righteous again.  When we have embraced God’s love and mercy, accepted his grace and healing, we are redeemed.  This process is not a one and done though.  We are human and our selfish desires draw us away from him again and again.  We need to come to him in humble repentance and through his love and forgiveness we can stand and begin anew.  I get so tired of the battle between God’s will and my human will.  It will be an ongoing struggle for as long as I live on this earth.  Yet, I take heart and hope in the knowledge that God is faithful.  Every time I come to him asking forgiveness, He forgives.  He gives me strength.  He is my shepherd and my king.  He is my redeemer and my deepest love.  His love for me gives me the right to stand before His throne in righteousness.  His eyes see me as a shining star in His kingdom.  He does not see the things of the past; they are as far as the east is from the west. 

I lift my voice and my heart in song of praise to you this morning.  You give so much and often, we do not see.  Open our eyes to see the blessings and gifts of love you bestow on us each day when we are filled with joy and even in the midst of hardship.   I love you and I pray that this day will be one filled with honoring your holy name.  Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Everyone I know is so very busy, we do so much that it seems we never stop “doing”.  I wake up some mornings knowing I worked all night in my dreams.  At first glance this verse seems to say that all those busy things we do need to be in the name of the Lord.  It does say that but there is something else to consider.  We do need time to rest and to pray.  We need to sit in the stillness and stop the chaos in our minds, the chatter in our heads and simply listen.  This takes some practice; at least it does for me.  So many mornings my first prayer is that the chaos and chatter would be gone so that I can be still and listen.  The next thing I know I am thinking about my tasks for the day, my friends and neighbors who need prayer, my home schooling work for the day.  How can I truly gain perspective and live all my moments in the name of the Lord if I can’t even hear him?  Even the deed of listening, the challenge of stillness in our hearts is a deed to be done with thanks to God.  The rest we receive, the battles we fight and the busy days;  give it all to the Lord.  All we do and say, every step we take or don’t take can be in glory to the Lord.

Our society does not embrace rest.  The Sabbath is long gone and we run non-stop from dawn to late at night.  Whether we are living in busy days like this or find a quiet time to spend with you in the midst of it all, let the things we do and say be glorifying you.  Thank you for sending Jesus as a teacher and Savior.  Help our words and deed s reflect his love to all those who we work with and for.  Amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

1 Timothy 1:14-15 “and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost.”

Yesterday I was telling my sister that I was jealous of the apostle Paul.  The fact that he had three solid years to step away from the world and spend all day every day steeped in the word and study of our Lord.  Today when I read this passage in his letter to Timothy I changed my mind.  Even after all his time seeking  and receiving the God of love and light, he still sees himself as the foremost sinner.  The burden of knowing we have sinned and caused pain and destruction in our own world can be heavy.  I get weighed down and overloaded carrying the heavy load of the souls I have wounded, including my own.  Verse 14 bears repeating though. “The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”  I am filled with a peace that cannot be described when I sit bathed in the love and grace of our Lord.  Only He can bring the healing we all need and redeem our sin and brokenness to bring us back to wholeness.  Take time today to sit in the healing presence of God.  Let us turn our eyes to the Lord.

We suffer and we cause suffering.  We do not understand yet we do not seek to understand.  In the midst of us sinners, you walk and pour out your grace and love to all.  Help us turn to you and receive this healing, overflowing grace and mercy.  There is no one; nothing that can give life as you do.  Give us courage to embrace the love and life you offer.  Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

John 5:39-40 “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.  Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

So many of us talk the talk but do we walk the walk?  I could not stop thinking about this all through my quiet time.  How often do I go to church, listen to the scriptures and sermon, sing the hymns and then go out and do my own will despite it all? Does my daily path truly follow in the footsteps of Christ?  Throughout scripture God calls us to abide in Him, trust in Him, and walk with Him.  He sent his Son to make that walk accessible to all, to you and to me.  I seem to walk through life with blinders on, caught in the vision of my own little world.  God changes hearts and lives and yet I turn my back on him and choose my own way over and over.  I am like a child that likes to take the hardest and most unreasonable path to get somewhere; I call it the path of most resistance.  I know I am not alone in this struggle; I have seen and heard it from others. When will we truly step out in faith?  When will we stop listening to the voice of “reason” and listen to the voice of God?  He gave us his Word and his Spirit.  He sent his Son, what more can He give?  Amazingly, grace abounds.  Let us humble our hearts and accept His grace; come to Him so that we may have true life.

Forgive us for choosing death and destruction so many times.  We refuse to hear you because we do not like what you say.  We forget that you are the Shepherd.  You guide and protect us; you bring us life, if only we would follow.  Open our ears and our hearts to hear you and know you so we may have true life in you.  Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

Hearts can be hardened like stone and we have all heard the term” heart of ice” to describe an uncaring or selfish person.  As I sat pondering this verse these are the things that came to me.  We are called to pour out our hearts before him but how can we do that if our heart is like ice or stone?  Ice can be warmed and melted with heat from the sun.  Stone can also be liquefied by a much higher heat from the center of the earth.  Melting ice or liquefying stone takes time; it is a process.  Then if they are allowed to get cold, they will harden once again.  Let the warmth of God’s love heat and melt your heart of ice, let the deep warmth of God’s love liquefy your heart of stone.  He is our refuge and trusting in him, we can become like a glass of clear refreshing water; his living water flowing in our hearts.  We can become like lava, liquid rock on fire with the love of our Lord God.  Soften your heart and allow God to cleanse and purify you.  When we put our trust in Him He is our refuge.  Whenever we need to come back into his loving arms for renewal, for forgiveness, for protection from the storms, He is there.  Come into His presence, trusting in Him.  Pour out your hearts as I pour out mine knowing we will be changed and blessed because of it.

Strengthen my trust in you.  Sometimes I come in trepidation and fear; you are an awesome God.  Your word tells us over and over about your love for us.  Soften my heart, remove the fear and damage, and melt me completely so you can transform me.  Liquefy my heart for you Lord.  Amen.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing”

What do you think the aroma of Christ smells like?  As I read these verses I thought about some of my favorite aromas.  I love the smell of brownies or bread baking in the oven and a savory meat and tomato sauce simmering on the stove.  As I thought about flowers I could not think of any I love the aroma of.  My six year old woke up and brought a tiny perfume bottle from her Grandma for me to smell and asked me what my favorite flower smell is.  Ironic?  I love the smell of vanilla (kind of cheating, I know).  I like lilacs, lavender and roses in moderation, not too potent, please.  I love the smell of evergreen trees warmed by the sun.  There are so many aromas to consider... but what does Love smell like?  An aroma can fill a room and bring good feelings with it.  Maybe this is what Paul is talking about.  We need to allow the love of Christ to fill the space around us; to permeate the air we breathe.  Then the people we are around cannot help but to breathe in the sweet aroma of Christ.

Your blessings never end and I thank you for that.  Thank you for the joy of aroma and the gift of smell. I pray that your love will flow from me, like an enticing aroma, filling the space surrounding me so that all will be filled with the love of Christ.  Let your love change the world, one breath at a time.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “So we do not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure”

I know I say this a lot but it is true and it is revealed to me over and over:  God is so gracious!  I came to him this morning with a cloud of despair hanging over me.  I don’t even really know why it was there except just to drag me down.  Like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh stories, the rain cloud just followed me around yesterday and was still there this morning.  When I prayed I was led to this passage in 2 Corinthians.  It amazes me, though it shouldn’t, that God speaks and gives me exactly what I need.  I as work through this struggle of accepting my humanness and moving beyond it into my spiritual life, this verse gives me food for the soul.  I am reminded once again that I am, in fact, human.  The blessing is that I am not only this human shell.  This shell; this human that my soul resides in will not live forever.  The struggles I experience because of it are simply a tool to strengthen my soul and to draw me closer to the Divine.  He made me and I am wonderful.  I am not perfect and I will continue to fail.  I seek to embrace these failings so that I may learn to embrace the way God made me and move into a new depth of grace and glory.

We seek and you come.  Thank you for the afflictions that strengthen us and for giving us what we need.  You renew our souls and encourage us to keep going.  The prize of living in Glory will come, and we are blest to receive tastes of it in the here and now.  Thank you Father.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Matthew 4:29-30 “He said, ‘Come.’  So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.  But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord save me!’”

Stepping out in faith feels so risky.  Can you imagine being Peter in this story?  The disciples were already afraid, thinking Jesus was a ghost on the water.  When Peter challenged the ghost to prove he was Jesus this is what took place.  Jesus called to him and Peter, in faith, stepped out of the boat.  As long as his fear did not overtake him he was doing great.  The minute he lost focus on Jesus and his trust in him, he started sinking.  Of course Jesus was right there to rescue him the moment he needed it.  How true is this story in our lives?  First, we find the courage to listen and step out in faith only to find ourselves questioning what we are doing and allowing fear to overcome our faith.  We have a faithful God who never leaves our side and when we falter, when we begin to sink, we simply call out and he is there to rescue us too.  In verse 31 Jesus asks Peter ‘why did you doubt?’  Ah, the human nature in us strikes again.  Let Jesus wipe the doubt away, strengthen our faith and give us the courage to step out with him again.

You speak and I question.  You guide and I do not follow.  Forgive my trepidation and disobedience.  Give my heart the courage needed to trust in you always.  You will not leave me or let me down, let this knowledge seep into every part of my being so that I step out in faith without hesitation.  Keep my eyes focused on you in all things so I do not sink, but walk by your side.  Amen.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mark 10:16 “And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.”

When I read this verse I am filled with joy and anticipation.  There is something special about being held in the arms of love and having a hand laid on you in blessing.  In my church, there are occasions where we lay hands on one of our own.  During a prayer service, the pastor or another leader might lightly place a hand on your head or on your shoulder and say a prayer.  Touch is something our society is not very good at.  We stand farther apart from each other than other societies and are very good at giving each other plenty of space.  Touch brings intimacy and closeness.  It can make us feel vulnerable.  The joy and anticipation I feel when I think about this verse is because I can be vulnerable in the arms of Jesus without fear.  He will never harm or hurt me in any way.  When he takes me up in his arms I know I will only receive love and grace.  I will receive blessings and tenderness.  Have you sat in the quiet, calm arms of Jesus lately?  I highly recommend it!  Find a quiet place today and sit for a few minutes.  Let the Lord take you in His arms, lay His hands on you and bless you today.

Thank you for your love and your blessing.  Thank you for the knowledge deep within me that I can be vulnerable in your presence without any fear.  Thank you for your healing touch and the grace that flows through me in that time of intimacy.  Give me the courage and spirit to bring that healing touch to others so they may experience the depth of your love and grace as well.  Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ruth 2:12 “May the Lord reward you for your deeds, and may you have a full reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!”

Motive... I read this verse yesterday and have been pondering it off and on since then.  When I came back to it this morning I realized that at this moment in time, this verse is speaking to me about motive.  What is the motivation for the things I do each day?  Do I seek to be praised or do I seek to praise God with my tasks?  It became clear to me that I have actually become derailed; completely off the track lately.  I do not seek praise but I have lost my motivation to do anything in praise either.  When I look at what I have on my list of “to do” I do not know where to begin and I become derailed.  If I keep this verse in my heart, I know my motivation and ability will return and I will be able to serve in praise to the Lord.  These times of derailment happen to me on occasion and it is frustrating for everyone in my home, I am sure.  I know I am not alone in spinning my wheels only to find that I am not even on the track.  It is time for me to seek refuge in the Lord, be placed gently back on track and then move forward again, one chug-a- chug-a at a time, in service to the Lord.

Renew my servant heart.  You know it has been broken and needs repair.  I long to serve you and somehow I lost the drive to do my tasks in honor to you.  As I clean my house, teach my children and cook meals, let all those things and more be in service to you.  When I do this, I know I receive all the reward I could ever desire.  You are a gracious and loving God; help me praise you in my service.  Amen.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Titus 1:16 “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions.  They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

Actions speak louder than words.  I remember hearing this growing up and as I grow older and “wiser” it is easy to see this old adage is true.  Our mouths are easily led to speak deceitful words.  We do not want others to know our truth.  We can even deceive ourselves without too much effort.   There have been many times when I sat in quiet meditation asking to be forgiven of things I knew I needed redemption for.  Then, God in His wisdom and grace showed how my actions did not speak to my faith or my love of the Lord.  Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.”  I know this to be true because when I call on Him, He is always ready to come to my aid.  He will not aid my selfish will.  I need to come, in humility, ready to submit to His will for me.  It is not easy but I want my actions to show my love for God.  I do not want to be detestable and disobedient!  I know He redeems us when we are ready.  He will give us the strength we need to walk with Him.  He is faithful to his disciples, what a gift of love!

Please forgive my actions and my inaction that have drawn me away from you and your love.  Help the words of my mouth speak the truth of my heart and guide my heart in your truth.  Help me rely on your strength to do your will in my life.  I pray this for myself and all who read this.  Amen.

Friday, October 5, 2012

John 2:5-6 “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’  Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.”

These verses are part of the story in which Jesus turns water to wine at a wedding.  The thing that struck me first when I read this passage was this statement of Mary’s.  How easy is that instruction?  All we have to do is follow directions from Him and he will take care of the rest.  I know I am guilty of making things harder than they need to be.  Some things seem so simple and it just can’t be that easy in my mind.  Then there are the purification jars ... I never realized that the jars used to hold the wine were for purification in the Jewish tradition.  Jesus takes those jars and uses them to bring communion and celebration to the wedding.  He takes the old and turns it into something new and better.  Is it ironic that he uses the water in purification jars and turns it to wine in purification jars?  Then just a few years later he uses wine to symbolize his blood being given for the purification of our sins?  He takes the mundane and makes it holy.  He asks us to do mundane things at times but he uses those tasks to do holy things.  Draw some water and fill up the water jugs.  Allow Him to use those simple things to his glory.

You ask us to love.  You ask us to listen and follow.  These things seem so easy but we still struggle to do as you ask.  Help us realize the mundane things we are led to do are simply a means to an end.  You know the plan, help us follow your guidance and trust in you.  Help us to love, listen and follow.  Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Isaiah 58:6-7 "Is not this the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?"

Years ago my oldest daughter rode the city bus to and from school.  One day I received a call from her while I was at work.  She brought a homeless woman and her two children home with her so she could feed them and give them some of her old games and toys to take with them.  Of course, I raced home to make sure my 14 year old was safe and as kindly as possible usher these strangers from our home.  As I read this passage I was horrified at my reaction in the past.  I know keeping my daughters safety in the front of my mind was not a bad thing but I suspect I did not make that Mom feel loved or welcomed very well.  I will do my best to make a better impact now that I am more aware. I will do my best with the help of God to share with my kin and my neighbor; with all who are in need.  We are all being called to make this world a better, more loving and giving place to live.


May my home and my heart always have space for those who need help and love.  You have blessed me and I am called to bless others with that abundance.  Help me follow your will in this and in all ways so that I am an instrument used to bring your love and grace to others.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hosea 6:3 “Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

I love the rain.  The sound of the drops on my house and the smell of the rain are soothing to me.  We had a rain just a couple of mornings ago and rain in the morning is pretty unusual in Colorado. If we start the day with clouds and rain it is likely that it will just be a rainy and cloudy day all day.  On this particular morning the sun broke through for a few minutes and the result of the sunshine on the wet earth was so beautiful.  All the colors were brighter; vivid.  The green of the trees and the grass, the black of the street and the dark sky as a backdrop were all striking.  This is how I feel after I have spent time with God.  When I come away from my devotion time, I have been forgiven and cleansed.  His love and grace have showered down on me like the spring rains and I shine brighter, my soul is more vivid.  It is this renewal, this cleansing and grace that keeps me coming back to know the Lord more and more.  As I know more of the Lord, I feel his grace more deeply and I can walk in better step with Him.  It is so easy to stumble on the path.  An enticing little temptation on the side of the road can lead us astray in a heartbeat.  We are human and we will fail.  This verse calls us to press on.  Press on to know the Lord, He will come and He will shower his love and grace on each of us when we come in truth and humility.  Thank you Lord!

Thank you for rain and thank you for the sun that always follows.  You are as sure as the dawn and your promise to come to us in love and forgiveness is humbling.  Search our hearts for dust and grime; for sin and darkness.  Help us release those things to you so that we can receive your grace like a shower of spring rain.  It is in this exchange, this blessed time with you, that we will know you.  You are ever a mystery, give us the desire to press on and know you more.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 Corinthians 5:15 "And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them."

Yesterday was a crazy day and today is filled to the brim with things too.  One of my friends asked me when I could have coffee this week and I have no time on my calendar until Friday!  How can this be true?  I stay at home and home school, I should have all kinds of free time, right?  As I thought about my schedule today in light of this verse I realized all the things I am doing today can be done in glory to my Lord.  I take my 3 year old to a Christian preschool so he can learn social skills in a wholesome environment.  I home school my 6 year old so I can teach her in the ways of the Lord as she learns the skills of reading, writing and arithmetic.  I buy grass fed beef and go to the chiropractor in an attempt of a more holistic way of living.  I need to buy a computer part so that my computer can be fixed, give this loaner back to my very generous friend and still write my devotions.  We are closing on our refinance today so that we are better stewards of the gifts God has given us.  I can run around like a chicken with my head cut off, feeling stressed and overwhelmed with tasks but it seems that if I go through my day with this frame of mind, I am living for me.  If I can keep the mindset that all I am doing is in glory to the Lord, I live in the hope that peace and grace will fill my day despite all I am doing.  To God be the glory!

Thank you for the refreshing view of my day and the reminder that all I do is done to honor you.  I pray for the peace that passes all understanding to fill all those who are reading this today in the midst of all they are doing today.  We carry a heavy load but if we can carry it in honor of you, it is much lighter.  Open our eyes to see if we are living for you or for ourselves so that we can change our lives where needed.  We are created to glorify you in all we do, help us do what we are created to do.  Amen.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

How many times have I taken heart in this verse without really taking the time to understand it fully?  I cannot count them!  This verse is filled with hope for all who believe, this is so true.  What does it really mean though?  To be in Christ Jesus is to be in full communion with Him; walking with him and abiding in him.  To abide with the Lord we need to be following him as his disciples.  We can say we believe but do our actions back up our words?  I know many times I have said I believe and I really have believed in Jesus as my savior for a very long time.  Yet, as the passage before this discusses, the flesh is weak and when I have relied on my own strength and my own desires, it has invariably been disaster in the making.  When I finally let go of the reins again and turn it all over to the one with true strength, good things beyond my imagination are in the making.  I shake my head at myself when I think of all the times I have been rescued from my disasters only to thank the Lord and then turn right around and start relying on myself again!  Will I never learn?  I know this to be true:  I am weak, He is strong.  He loves me and when I walk in his way, he sets me free and his grace is indescribable.  Release your desires, accept your weakness and embrace the strength and grace of living in Christ Jesus.  It is not easy at times, but it is rewarding and we cannot be condemned when we are doing this. Blessed assurance!


When I come to take the reins of control again, gently remind me of the pain and suffering I have caused because of my actions in the past.  Remind me that it is only in you, that I can show strength, your strength.  I come in humble knowledge that I am weak because I am human.  We are designed to need you and we deny you over and over again.  Break down our arrogance, bring us to our knees and when we finally accept and embrace you fully, allow us to walk in your grace.  Amen.