Saturday, November 30, 2013

Acts 3:19-20 “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.”

This time of year can be busier than any other without much effort.  The stores are filled with gifts to buy for loved ones and decorations to put in your homes.  Christmas songs fill the air and the parties are not far off anymore.  This morning our church decorates for Christmas and tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent.  I have concerts coming up soon and even if you don’t play an instrument or sing, there are many concerts you could attend.  The hustle and bustle can push us right into Christmas Eve and Christmas Day without even a blink of an eye.  Peter is not talking of Christmas in this passage yet these verses can be used to remind us that we need to slow down and reflect so that we might be ready to receive the Messiah.  We celebrate his birth each year but he is with us whenever we turn to receive him.  Turn and rest in the presence of the Lord.  He will cleanse our sins away so we are ready to receive the most High, the Messiah; the true Christmas gift.

Search our hearts for sin that lurks within us.  Banish it from us so that we are free to come and free to receive Love from you. During this busy season, compel us to take moments to rest in your Holy presence for renewal and restoration so we are truly ready when the Christ child comes.  Amen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Isaiah 59:8 “The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths.  Their roads they have made crooked; no one who walks in them knows peace.”

As the voices of joyful fellowship fade into yesterday and the quiet of this morning comes, I move from a day of giving thanks and turn to seek peace.  We have a journey to embark on.  It is almost time to start the long journey to a faraway land.  It is on this journey that we may begin to find justice in our paths.  On this journey to a manger in Bethlehem our roads may become more straight than crooked and as we walk closer to the small town in the middle of a desert we may find a peace we have not found before.  We need not leave behind the feelings of love and thanksgiving we received yesterday.  I need not lay down any of the burdens we carry although we may.  We are welcome on this journey just as we are; joyful or sad, mended or broken, confused or focused.  Take my hand and let us begin this journey together.  Let us take the journey to find the way of peace and justice, a straight and beautiful road that leads us to the Prince of Peace.

Without you there is no peace.  Without you there is no justice.  Without you we cannot know either peace or justice.  Guide each of us as we seek the path out, as we begin to walk the road to peace.  Thank you for your promise to always be with us, for we need you on this journey.  Amen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Psalm 100:1 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  On this day of thanks let us all make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Today families and friends gather to visit, watch football and eat food.  My family gets together for a wonderful time each year.  The house is full of people, the kitchen especially.  There is chatter as we prepare the meal and the kids (big and small) are playing outside or in the other room.  When the meal is ready, we all gather together and after giving thanks, we eat!  All that prep work gone in a matter of minutes!  Dishes clang as we wash and coffee pots gurgle as they brew fresh coffee for drinking with pie.  I cannot imagine a much more joyful noise that this.  The fellowship of family and friends feeds the soul.  We gather on a special day of thanksgiving but it would be good to let this feeling flow into the next day and the next.  I think of those people who are estranged or separated from family and friends and I think of those who struggle to find anything to be thankful for on this day.  I pray they will see that they are not alone but that the Lord of all joins them on this day and every day.  I find they will find it in their hearts to be thankful to Him too.

Blessings of love abound and I thank you.  Let our homes be filled with joyful noises of thanksgiving to you on this day.  Bring comfort and peace, love and joy to those who have none and let us share ours with others until the world is filled with these, your blessings.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hosea 14:8 “O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?  It is I who answer and look after you.  I am like an evergreen cypress; your faithfulness comes from me.”

I love evergreen trees.  I have lived in Colorado all of my life and there is nothing like the smell of an evergreen tree warmed by the sun.  They stand tall and true and they do not change with the seasons like so much of nature does.  I had not heard this verse before but I like the analogy of the evergreen tree and God.  He is unchanging and always true.  He towers over us but brings shade and comfort.  During the season of winter in our souls, He is still there, tall and true, comforting and sheltering; unchanging.  There are not many things in life that are constant; God is.  When we finally lay down our idols, the works of our hands and our selfish desires and turn once more to the Lord, we see His grandeur and beauty anew.  We see with fresh eyes that He has always been there, constant and true, faithful to the end.  I hope when we go out into the world that whenever we see an evergreen tree we are reminded of God.  I know I can always use one more reminder through my day.

Thank you for the beauty of nature and thank you for evergreen trees.  Use these trees and whatever else you can to keep our eyes and hearts focused on you and away from the idols that distract us so easily.  Give us hearts of faithfulness grown from your faithfulness to us.  I pray all this in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hosea 13:4 “Yet I have been the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.”

It is as plain as the nose on your face... this is the saying that came to mind as I read through this passage in Hosea.  His people continue to seek other gods and fall away from the Lord in sin.  They worship their kings and their idols and their lives self-destruct.  We humans are masters of deception.  We deceive others to get what we want or think we need but even more we deceive ourselves.  We go through our days seeking our own desires all the while telling ourselves we seek to serve others.  We worship other gods while telling ourselves we only do this to honor the one true God.  It is only when we take time to stop doing and truly listen that we find our way back to Yahweh.  Even through his righteous anger, He waits for his children to come back so He can pour love and compassion on them.  He remembers their sins but He remembers his love more.  As you prepare your hearts to come together with loved ones in Thanksgiving, take time to prepare your hearts to come in thanksgiving to the Lord, our God as well.  It is through Him that we have been blessed.

Why do we continue to miss the mark?  Why can we not just believe in your everlasting love and be content to live in it always?  You know us better than we know ourselves.  Change our hearts and open us to be thankful, truly thankful for the blessings you pour out on us every day.  Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hosea 11:4 “I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love.  I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.  I bent down to them and fed them.”

What a beautiful picture of tender, sweet love.  We have all seen parents gently holding their babies up, snuggling and nuzzling them in precious love.  I still remember the soft feeling of my babies’ cheeks on mine and their sweet baby smell.  I remember the warmth and tenderness that flowed between us as they lay on me, resting in comfort.  These are treasured intimacies.  When they lay in my lap nursing or drinking from a bottle, the feeling of nurturing love was so powerful.  When they started eating from a spoon and opened their little mouths like baby birds to receive the next bite... these are treasures of parenthood with an infant.  God’s words in this verse show a side of him we do not think about often.  I encourage you to think about them today.  He loves each of us like this.  He loves us with tenderness and precious love.  He nurtures us and takes joy in our resting in His arms.  He rejoices when we seek more from him like hungry baby birds.  We are a treasure to Him!

Thank you for these tender words of love that remind us you love us in all ways.  You are Lord of Lords and King of Kings; you are our tender loving Father and Mother.  Fill us with this love today so we are sure and true to you.  Let your treasured love for us guide us forth in love for each other.  I thank you and praise you for all you give us.  Amen.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

I know it is not time for New Year resolutions yet but it is always a good time to reflect on what we would change about ourselves if we could.  Is there some habit or characteristic you have that you wish you didn't?  Is there a characteristic you wish you had?  I use to wish I was thin, lean and perfectly in shape.  I have come to realize until I am willing to put some hard work in, this will not come to pass. I have also come to realize my spiritual health is more important than the measurement of my hips.  This verse clearly spells out that we must be willing to do some hard work to receive the blessings of righteousness.  Just as the toning of our bodies doesn't happen while sitting on the couch, neither does spiritual growth happen while our souls sleep.  Wake up soul, seek the Lord!  Sow, reap and break up ground, prepare yourself to receive a rain of righteousness from the one true God!

Forgive our idleness.  As we pray, open us to see your vision and how to achieve it.  Guide our prayers and our actions to bring your righteousness to us and to the world round us.  Through your steadfast love I pray.  Amen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;”

My friends and I have had discussions in the past about our lack of knowledge in the Lord.  I have gone to church since I was a baby and yet, I did not have knowledge.  How is that we go to worship and the hear scripture regularly but we do not seem to gain knowledge?  Somehow I missed the message that studying His word and learning to be in relationship with Him was of utmost importance.  I, like so many, went to church on Sunday and then when I walked out of that building I went back to my regularly scheduled life.  When I look back at that part of my life, there is much destruction for lack of knowledge.  By His grace, somehow I heard his word in the last few years and I am slowly growing in knowledge of Him.  We do not raise our kids and send them out into the world without gaining the skills they need to get a job and thrive in their adulthood.  Do we raise them with knowledge of the Lord?  What is more important than their everlasting souls?  Let us all strive to gain knowledge in the Lord and pray that knowledge will spread like wildfire to our families, our friends and our communities so we might live in His abundance.

It is devastating to watch people we love fall to destruction.  You watch your people fall every day.  I pray for all of humanity that we would open our eyes, ears and hearts to receive the knowledge you freely give.  Speak Lord, and let us hear, guide and let us follow.  Through Christ I pray, Amen.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hosea 3:1 “The Lord said to me again, ‘Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

The more I thought about this the more I struggled with it.  Could I do what Hosea does to show the love of God?  Could I go downtown, pick a male prostitute up and bring him home to be my husband?  What feelings of repulsion and anger, frustration and sorrow would fill my days?  What beauty and love would I find in the midst of all that other negativity if I allowed myself to see that person as a child of God?  God tells Hosea he loves the people even though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.  That statement seems absurd to me but then again... When we lavish other gods with worship and love is that different than lavishing our love on something as silly as a donut or a tart?  None of those gods will supply our needs or love us back in any way.  As God calls Hosea into relationship with a broken woman, He calls his broken people into relationship with him.  He takes us as we are and loves us into a new person, redeemed and restored through his steadfast love.  He calls us to be his love to other broken people so they, too may learn of his love.

Help me look past the repulsive behaviors and see that all people are loved by you.  I lift those lost souls up to you this morning knowing that I was lost and now am found.  I pray they will come and be found through your love.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hosea 2:14 “Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”

Ah, the wilderness.  When I was a child I was a little afraid of the wilderness and still, I would not want to get lost out in the middle of nowhere, but the wilderness can be a place of healing and renewal.  It can be a place of retreat and realignment.  I can still picture sitting in a canyon in New Mexico praying and following a ritual of release.  I went on a personal retreat years ago, a step in my faith journey I haven’t thought about in so long.  This verse in Hosea brings thoughts of love and peace to my heart.  Stepping away from the madness of the world with my deepest love for a time of one-on-one devotion, what could be better?  The reality is that scheduling that time is difficult at best.  Life gets in the way, kids need school, spouse has work, bills need to be paid, and obligations need to be met.  Knowing that I cannot step into the wilderness with the Lord for a length of time, I cherish the morning moments I have with Him.  It is a small oasis in the clutter of life.  I encourage you to go into the wilderness, feel His allure and follow Him.  He leads you out so you can hear His words of tenderness.

What a blessing your love is.  No matter what we have done, no matter who we are, you love us.  Create opportunity in our lives to step into the wilderness with you.  Open our ears to hear your alluring call and move us to follow.  I pray each of us would be blessed through time alone with you.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hosea 2:6 “Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns; and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.”

Back in the day, when I was a rebel without a cause (if you will) I would have balked at this verse.  My inclination would have been to say “you can’t make me” or something like that.  My kids don’t really like it when they receive stricter boundaries because of an infraction they committed; really who of us does?  We like to be free to go where we want, when we want and most of the time we do.  This verse is not a picture of prison or a cage to keep us contained, as I see it.  I picture hedges of green that are a boundary of beauty.  They designate boundaries of property or walls to keep unwanted things from entering into our space.  The thorns are reminders to us when we get too close to the edge that we are in for a bit of pain if we decide to go out that way.  I choose to look at these hedges from God and a protection of love.  He places them there to keep us from harm of others and harm from ourselves.  If we follow His path, there we will find no thorns at all.

You know the scratches and pokes we have received as we try to push our way out through the hedges.  Hold us safely in your arms and as we soak in your love, open our eyes to see the path that you have created just for us.  Keep us from harm and guide us to help and not harm others.  I ask these things in the name of Christ, the risen Lord of all.  Amen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hosea 1:9-10 “Then the Lord said, ‘Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God.’  Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.’”

There are moments and days that I would shake my hands clean of my kids too.  They get wrapped up in their own games and it doesn't take long for things to get out of hand.  They can play well but it grows out of control quickly and then they stop listening and inevitably someone or both get hurt.  God is watching his children and trying to get their attention but they are too wrapped up in their own games and are not interested in His ways.  Are we still doing this today?  Do we truly follow Him as we are called to or are we distracted with our games and toys, our idols and gods; are we losing control?  Even as He tells Hosea He is turning his back on them he gives him hope that it is not forever.  Even as he tells Hosea “you are not my people” He also says they will be called “Children of the living God.”  I as start a new day with hugs and love for my kids I remember God’s grace to his children and pray to be filled with grace as well.

Thank you for grace in the midst of correction.  Whatever we are doing, let your grace complete us so that we may do it for you.  Call us back away from our idols and into your loving arms so that we know again we are your children.  Amen. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This verse has been rattling around in my head for a few days now so I feel I must share it again.  I have many people that I pray for every day and if I look at my prayer journal filling up it could be harder to be thankful.  Here are some of the prayers I have and how I try to be thankful under their circumstances:  Several people have gone through treatment of cancer, I am thankful they have survived and are thriving again.  One person is incarcerated, I am thankful he is in the United States where the prisons system takes such good care of its inmates comparing to almost anywhere else in the world.  People are suffering medical issues of various types, I am thankful we have stellar medical technology at our fingertips.  I pray for many who mourn the loss of loved ones and I am thankful that they have friends and family to support and uphold them on the hard and sad days.  The youth in our church have started writing gratitude journals and I hope that through this process they will learn at some level to give thanks in all circumstances.  As we all know, sometimes it is much easier said than done. 

We come to you with our hearts laid open.  You know the heartaches, the concerns, the burdens we bring.  You know the joys and the celebrations we carry as well.  Help us see through your eyes so no matter what we are going through we are able to give thanks to you through Christ.  Amen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hosea 1:2 “When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.’”

I was just talking to my daughter about leading by example the other day.  She was doing something at the lunch table that I didn't appreciate much and of course my son and his friend followed her immediately.  It was a small thing but I wanted her to understand that she is looked up to and teaches things to her brother even when she is not trying to.  I have always shied away from this story in Hosea.  It is hard to wrap my mind around such an extreme example.  Hosea is told to live out the life that Israel has been living to show them how badly they have fallen away.  As I read this I was thankful that I have not heard any such message from the Lord.  Hosea marries a prostitute to show that God has married Israel, who also prostitutes herself to other gods.   He has children with his prostitute wife to show how Israel has had children prostituting with other gods.  I never noticed the little word at the beginning of this verse “through.”

Let the message of Hosea from long ago speak loud and clear to us today.  Let the audacity of his story show us how we need to change.  Guide our steps to lead by example in the way you would have us do.  Thank you for your steadfast love and forgiveness for all your children.  Amen.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Psalm 133:1 “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!”

Last Sunday I was driving home from a potluck lunch at a friend’s house.  My kids were with me and we had to come home so they could get ready to go to their Christian kids club.  I was thinking about the day.  We started it out by going to Sunday school and then church.  Right after church we headed to our friend’s home for lunch and spent the afternoon eating and visiting with Christian friends.  After that, my kids were going to learn bible verses and play with more Christian friends.  The whole day was filled with kindred spirits enjoying each other’s company.  I never thought I’d be one of those people who is steeped so deeply in religion that it takes over everything.  I used to go to church on Sunday and then the rest of the week was mine.  As I grow older (and hopefully wiser) I see the days are blended together and nothing is separate.  Our hearts belong to the Lord every day and spending those days in unity with kindred is, indeed, a good and pleasant thing.  I encourage you to join in and be a part of it, you will be blessed by it!

Thank you for friends and family who encourage, challenge and love us so deeply.  Sometimes they are a window to you and your love.  Help us not take these moments for granted but instead open our hearts to receive fully the blessings that come with living in unity and in love.  Guide us to find unity within ourselves and within our families through you.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ruth 3:5 “She said to her, ‘All that you tell me I will do.’”

I confess when I read this section of the story the instructions that Naomi gives to Ruth make no sense to me at all.  I wonder if they made more sense to Ruth or if she was as confused as I am.  The thing is she didn't think about it for a second.  Naomi gave her instructions and this was her response.  How often do I receive instructions from God and my response is more along the lines of “Are you sure?  I don’t think I can do that...”  The immediate agreement to follow directions regardless of understanding is a sign of trust.  Ruth trusted Naomi with her life.  Do I trust the Lord with mine?  I say I do and I know I want to but there is still a part of me that holds back from giving him carte blanche with my life.  Why?  He created me; He loves me faithfully and abundantly.  He wants only what is best for me and because He is all knowing and all powerful He knows much better than I do what is best.  It is time to lay down my pride and self-desires again and lean fully on the desires of the Lord.  He speaks and I will strive to listen and obey remembering this story in Ruth.

Forgive me for questioning, hesitating and not truly trusting in you.  Please write this verse on my heart so when I begin to wane in trust and obedience again this will pull me back into your loving arms quickly.  Help me set aside my worries and concerns and lay my heart and life fully in your hands.  I ask this all through Jesus, Lord of all.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ruth 2:5 “Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, ‘To whom does this young woman belong?’”

On the surface it is not clear why Boaz might be asking about Ruth.  Here is this foreigner gleaning from his fields, is he concerned that a foreigner is in his fields?  Or does he find her intriguing and wants to know where she comes from in order to find her again?  Is he asking to make sure this young woman has someone to take care of her?  We are not told his intentions but we do know He is a man of God.  He greets his workers with a blessing and has the best interest of Ruth in mind as he takes her under his wing.  It is nice to belong to someone; we are blessed to have family and friends that we belong to.  As cold weather comes more often I pray for those who do not belong to anyone.  They live in shelters or under bridges.  They are ostracized by their blood relatives and feel alone.  As God’s children we are called to love each other.  Instead of cringing at the people on the exits of highways maybe I should ask myself who they belong to.  Would a simple act of love, a gift of food or money help them feel love?  Let the words of Boaz encourage us to open our eyes and see, then care for those who do not belong yet.

We all belong to you but we do not all know it or acknowledge it.  Help us to see each person we come across today as a child of yours, help us remember they belong to you just as we belong to you.  In that realization move us to care for others so they will feel your love for them.  Amen. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

2 Thessalonians 2:15 “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.”

Hold fast to the traditions... we are coming into a season filled with traditions that are handed down from generation to generation.  Thanksgiving has been a tradition since the beginning of our nation when the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sat at table together sharing what they had to eat.  We still gather at table with family and friends sharing in the bounty and the fellowship we have.  Christmas is steeped in tradition much older and even deeper.  Why do we hold fast to traditions?  We keep them because they mean something to us.  We don’t cook a turkey and invite people over if there is no value in it for us.  We don’t decorate a tree and exchange gifts with loved ones if it means nothing to us.  It is the feelings that the traditions bring to us that keep us strong in them.  This is what Paul is encouraging these believers in.  They were taught that God loves them, Jesus came to teach and redeem them, the Spirit guides them and Christ will come again.  We still hold fast to these traditions today, praise be to God!

Thank you for teachers and letters that have passed down these treasured traditions from generation to generation. As we continue on guide our words to share these traditions with others and spread the message until you come in all glory.  Let these words give us hope in you.  Amen.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ruth 1:21 “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty; why call me Naomi when the Lord has dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

Looking from the outside in I could tell Naomi that the Lord did not bring calamity on her and that her life is actually filled with blessings even in the hardships she experienced.  How different is our perspective when we are the ones suffering so deeply though?  She lost her husband and both sons and is left with only her daughter-in-law Ruth to accompany her back to her home of Bethlehem.  She is a widow with nothing; she is truly empty.  What things or people do we grasp onto in order to feel fulfilled?  We have full pantries and full garages and maybe even a full bank account and we rest easy, right?  Still, even then there is a nagging feeling of want.  We experience deep struggles and feel empty regardless of what our possessions are.  It is only when we release all these things and become empty that we can receive the full blessings of the Lord.  I do not wish for anyone to experience what Naomi did but I do wish for us to see the blessings she received in the midst of her suffering.  She was not alone.  Ruth gave her something to live for and God was faithful to them both.

In plenty or in want what we really need is you and your love.  Help us see and know this.  Empty our hearts of stuff so that we can receive you in fullness and truth.  Thank you for the blessings you give us, help us to see them clearly.  Amen.

Friday, November 8, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:5 “for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.”

Yesterday evening my son and I walked over to the neighbor’s house to retrieve one of his toys he had left.  When we went out the front door a sliver of the moon and the bright glow of Venus were there to greet us.  The stars were all beginning to pop out and reveal their light in the darkening sky.  This is how I see us, the children of light.  We may be surrounded by darkness but we are not of the darkness.  We may be in the night but we are not of the night.  Just as the stars, the moon and the planets glow all of the time so does our light, it is just more noticed in the darkness.  There will be a day when darkness is banished forever and the light will prevail over it completely.  Until then we are beacons of light, we shine our light, the light of Love as a comfort, as a guide, as a testimony to our God.  Today the forecast is for sun in the morning and some clouds to roll in later.  I hope the sun will remind us all of the eternal light and love of God and that the clouds will remind us that the light and love of God always shines, even if we cannot clearly see it. Let us shine on with Him!

Thank you for the heavens that are so beautiful to gaze at.  Thank you for the sunshine and the azure sky during the day and for the bright points of light that come from the stars at night.  Let them remind us of the light you have placed in us so we can shine on for you just as stars in the night.  Amen.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land, and a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live in the country of Moab, he and his wife and two sons.”

Thus a new journey begins... I am certain Naomi and Elimelech never saw what was going to unfold when they started this leg of their journey.  They were simply trying to find a place where they could survive the famine.  Who knew that things would get worse before they got better?  As I review the story of Ruth in my head I remember the struggles that Naomi experienced in the land of Moab but even in her struggles and terrible times she was never alone.  She had Ruth who became her companion through thick and through thin.  When I step back and think about the journeys I have been on both physical and spiritual I can see many blessings I received through them.  Even when I think I took a wrong turn or must have heard wrong because things couldn't possibly go this badly, God has redeemed the road and blessings have been poured out.  I do not know where my road leads but I take courage in the story of Ruth.  I continue on knowing that the Lord guides my steps and He will lead me home.

As we embark on our journeys for today, I lift our steps into your hands.  Guide us, lead us and open our eyes to see you in every moment.  Just as you cared for Naomi and Ruth I know you care for us.  Thank you, Lord.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ephesians 5:20 “giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As we approach the national day of Thanksgiving I know several people to write about being thankful each day this month on their Facebook pages.  I have seen thanks for warm houses and shelter on these c old nights and thanks for love of family and friends.  There has been thanks given for health and healing as well.  I am thankful for songs and music, the laughter of children and warmth of their hugs.  I am thankful for my family and the love we share with each other.  I could go on and on about the blessings I am thankful for.  Where I struggle is in the phrase “at all times and for everything”.  When my day is filled with strife and my heart is heavy it is difficult to give thanks but this is what Paul says we are to do.  When tears of despair or the pain of illness overtakes us we are to give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  When I look back at past trials I am able to be thankful but I confess, when I am in the midst of it all, there is room to grow in this for me.  This morning I lift a prayer to the Lord for those who struggle with giving thanks.

I thank you for all you give to us; you are gracious beyond understanding.  Please lift the hearts and heads of your children who suffer.  Help them feel your love and peace filling them so they are able to give thanks to you wherever they are and whatever they go through.  I come and ask all these things through Christ, our Lord.   Amen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2 Timothy 2:16-17 “Avoid profane chatter for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene...”

The picture this paints in my mind is powerful and not pleasant at all.  Gangrene is the dying of our bodily tissue and if not stopped it will kill us.  Paul pulls no punches, as usual, in this text.  I stop to think about what my chatter consists of when I am having coffee with friends, sitting and visiting after church or catching up at the mailbox.  Do I fall into the trap of profane or ungodly chatter?  Do I gossip or whisper about others behind their backs or say things that would cause others to judge without knowledge?  Do my words cut people down or build them up?  I hear the words in Psalm 19:14 echoing in my heart...”let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  As we prepare to dive into another day let these verses in 2 Timothy call us to pause before we speak.  Let our words be words of love, healing, building up, restoration and encouragement.  Let our words be words of truth.  In this way we can spread life and banish death.

Please forgive any words I have spoken that have spread lies or death to others.  Bring healing to our hearts and souls so that we are restored in you once more.  Guide our thoughts and words so that we speak only life giving words and in this, we spread your truth and love around the world.  Through Jesus, our rock and redeemer we pray.  Amen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

1 Corinthians 3:3 “for you are still of the flesh.  For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?”

Yesterday morning and again this morning my four year old was up before the sun and it took me a few minutes each time to remember that he is waking up at the same time he always does, my clock is what has changed.  I could feel the grumbling in my heart for those of us who have small children and animals that are not benefiting at all from this daylight savings thing.  It is easy to look at others and wish for what they have instead of what we have.  It is easy to look at others and condemn what they do or what they believe rather than to love them regardless of their actions or beliefs.  Paul calls the church to set aside our human inclinations and to seek relationship with God.  Their arguing with each other may not be the same argument we hold but both arguments are of the flesh.  If we can set aside our selfish human nature we are better able to embrace the holy presence and guidance of our Lord.  He will help us move from flesh to spirit if we will strive to live in his spirit.  As I sip my coffee, I feel the warmth of it and remember the warmth of the spirit of the Lord.

Thank you for the sunrise to signal a new day.  As it comes over the horizon let it remind us to banish human selfishness and seek your love and light.  In this way we can live in your spirit and grow in your ways.  Amen.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”

Whew, a rough night of sleep often gives me a downcast spirit and last night was one of those.  A movie I just saw was running through my mind, concerns I hold in my heart about my young daughter and the many tasks I have to do were just a few of the things keeping me from sleeping soundly.  When I woke up my son was already awake and so my quiet time was less than quiet and I was less than cheerful.  I struggled to hear the Lord or find a scripture reading that would work for me so I stepped away for a few minutes.  When I practically tripped over this verse I knew the Lord was nudging me.  I could choose to feel tired and grumpy or I can choose to look for the sunshine in the day.  I can choose to allow every little annoyance to push me or I can choose to let the grace of God flow into and through me.  It is only the love of the Lord that will give me a cheerful heart under any circumstance.  Allow a cheerful heart to fill your chest and bring that good medicine to your soul.  Only then can you spread that love to others and bring the medicine of cheer to them as well.


Lift the sleep from my eyes and allow me to bask in your love and light.  Remove the clouds of downcast spirit and fill my heart with the medicine of good cheer from your Spirit.  I ask these things so I can remain your faithful disciple and so I can bring that good medicine to others.  Amen.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

1 Thessalonians 3:12 “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.”

There are certain people that just rub me the wrong way, you know what I mean?  Generally speaking I let things roll off of me but once in a while a person comes along and I just have to step away.  When I read scripture like this passage in Thessalonians I am convicted.  I have not read anywhere in scripture that I am called to love those I like and ignore those I don’t.  It is easy to love the people we like and get along with.  How on earth can I move beyond the annoyances and love others, those who are abrasive to me, those who wish harm on me, those who harm this world and the kingdom of God?  Paul hit the nail on the head: may the Lord make me increase and abound in love.  It is only His love that can change my heart and soul to love others as he asks me to.  Stepping away may not be a bad thing but stepping forward in love would be better.  In this season of giving thanks I seek to be thankful for the thorns in my side and the annoyances that get my attention.  Those things keep me alert and draw me out of the fog of complacency.  With God’s help maybe they will help me increase and abound in love.

Your wisdom humbles my heart this morning.  Open my heart to receive your love in abundance and strengthen me to share your love with all other people.  Through Christ I pray, Amen.