Saturday, June 23rd

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Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. - Psalm 73:1-2

Dear God,

I was born wanting my own way and measuring every experience as good or bad based on that desire. But you came and freed me from playing God and have adopted me into the kingdom of your love and grace. Now I have the choice to be content that I am redeemed, forgiven, and guided by you.  Now, every circumstance is a good one, because you promise to work good through them.  I have your power to free me from envy of the wicked who succeed so well, even if it is just for a time. Today, I will live in the freedom of not keeping score about anything.  I will just live for love and faith.

AMEN

Envying a successful pagan is like a school boy envying his friend who has a bigger stick of cotton candy. Both big and small cotton candy dissolved in a matter of seconds and give no lasting nutrition.

Additional Reading: Proverbs 24:1-7, Galatians 5:13-21

 

Friday, June 22nd

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If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are all of people most to be pitied." - 1 Corinthians 15:19.

Dear Lord Jesus,

I pray for you to change so many things in the here and now. I seek happiness that comes from relief from suffering and success over struggles. I long to see you act in full view of my five senses. But if you rescue me only for temporary safety, my prayers and your responses are pitifully small. Instead, you give me hope that redefines my whole life and all of my prayers. You come to give me life that never perishes. I have hope in you that will never disappoint me. My life is richer today when it is lived as part of the eternity that is already mine. With a heavenly view of my present life, everything takes on different meaning and purpose. Cure me oh Christ, from the eternity amnesia to which I often fall victim. I trust you will answer my daily prayers. But I also trust that if your answer is "no" to any earthly plea, that you still have my seat reserved on the bus to heaven.

AMEN

Jesus came to fix my biggest problem and then to work every other problem for my good.  Not until I believe this one dual sided truth can I even begin to understand the meaning of his life or mine.

Additional Reading: Romans 8:18-25, 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10

Thursday, June 21st

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— Ephesians 2:8

Dear Jesus, I often thank you for grace, but I do not as often thank you for the gift of faith in your grace.  Faith is not natural for me or anyone else.  It’s a gift from you.  When it comes, I receive peace and confidence to live my life without constant worry and stress.  Oh, how often I have fallen from faith and you have used my circumstances and your Holy Spirit to fill me back up.  It’s a kindness that I cherish from your heart to mine.  By your grace I will live by faith today.  I'm asking for a new measure of faith today so that I filter every situation I face through the faith grid in my heart and learn to find joy even under the crosses I bear, just as you did when your life was thrust headlong to the cross.  AMEN

Keep running as strongly as you can in your weakness while you beg for God to send you life changing faith.

Additional Readings: Psalm 130, Romans 10:10-17

 

Wednesday, June 20th

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“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Isaiah 55:8-9

Dear heavenly Father, I have dealt with disappointment so often because my plans for my life didn't become a reality.  In those moments, I don't first think that you are doing something good for me that is far above my own reasoning.  But you are.  This passage helps me let go and let you be God.  It leads me to trust that the way my puzzle piece fits into your masterpiece is far better than the way I try to press your plans into mine.  Thank you for graciously forgiving me for being angry with you for not cooperating with me and my dreams.  Your gracious rule is much better than my selfish ambition.  AMEN

Don’t speak or squirm too soon when you get disappointed.  What looks bad now will eventually become very good in God’s masterful hand.

Additional Readings: Romans 8:28-39, Isaiah 55:8-13, Ephesians 1:11-12

Tuesday, June 19th

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"I the LORD search the heart and mind to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve." - Jeremiah 17:10

Dear Jesus, this passage confronts me because I know what you will find when you search my heart.  I want to live well and for the right reasons.  But right there with me is a force, even a very strong force, that pushes me to be selfish and self-pleasing.  It's sin living in me!  I'm glad you tell me that you’re searching my mind, because it makes me deal with the sin in me.  But I need your help. First, I need your forgiveness. Then, I need the power to turn my back on the temper tantrums that sin pitches whenever I deny my natural inclinations.  Be my Savior today from the guilt and power of this ugly force that challenges me.  I trust you will be there for me and so by grace I will have a good day.  AMEN

The Lord knows my heart and still rescues me.  That's amazing grace!

 Additional Readings: Psalm 19, Psalm 1, Hebrews 4:12

Monday, June 18th

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"Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” - John 11:41-42

Dear Jesus, I see here that you understand one of my biggest challenges; I doubt that you and the Father are listening when I cry out to you in prayer from my suffering. Sometimes, the silence from heaven is deafening to my faith. But when I read in the above verse that you stood outside of the grave of your friends, Lazarus, and said, “I knew that you always hear me.” that’s when I knew that you know how hard it is for us sinners who live in front of the curtain blocking us from heaven. You know how we feel so lost when we suffer and pray and the relief comes so slowly.  I will cling to your words here because they assure me that you understand my doubts that your Father is listening to me.  Even so, you still want me as your brother in heaven even though I am weak and troubled.  Your love and understanding is my strength.  AMEN

It is more powerful to be understood and loved by God than to be relieved by him.

Additional Readings: Psalm 50, Psalm 121, Isaiah 65:17-25, Luke 11:1-13

Sunday, June 17th

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“What are we accomplishing?” the Pharisees asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.” - John 11:47-53

Dear heavenly Father,

How painful it must have been for you to watch the unbelieving leadership of your own people plot to kill your Son!  The irony of Caiaphas speaking the gospel without even realizing it, must have been a dagger that pierced your soul.  Most of the time I do not think of the great pain and sacrifice it was for you as the perfect Father to watch puny human beings intoxicated with their own fabricated importance play devilishly with Jesus.  Seeing this now, I know that you feel everything we parents and grandparents feel when we see our children and their children suffer.  You know. You feel. You understand a parent's heart.  Be my friend today and guide my parental heart to trust your plans to bring good out of every difficulty my children or grandchildren face just as you knew that the greatest good would come out of the greatest evil done to your own Son.  AMEN

You will never be more concerned for the outcome of your children's lives than God is.

Additional Readings: Psalm 23, John 10:27-30, 1 John 3:1-3

 

Saturday, June 16th

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Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. - Colossians 3:1-4

Dear heavenly Father, you did not leave me with your commandments and then say, "Go now and do your best to please me."  Instead, you gave me your Son, Jesus. You put him on the cross and then after his resurrection, you sent him to live in my heart through the gospel.  Now, he lives in me and leads me to do the right things for the right reasons.  Help me to lean on these heavenly realities today and not my own morbid strength.  What I get from heaven now and what I will have in heaven when this short life is over, is enough to fill my day with peace and joy. AMEN

If you are in Christ you have endless resources from heaven at your beckoned call.  Stop living as if you are a destitute beggar.  Everyone in Christ is rich!

Additional Readings: Romans 6,  2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10, Philippians 3, 2 Peter 1:3-11, Revelation 1:4-8

Friday, June 15th

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Those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. - Proverbs 14:22

Dear Jesus, from eternity you planned the greatest good and because of that you have found love and faithfulness in the hearts of your people.  This is a great core value for me to follow.  I will look at all my plans for my day, week, and life and ask, "Is this a plan to bring good to others and glory to God?"  Then I will quietly trust that what will come in return from the people I touch is love and faithfulness.  I know it won't be perfectly given back to me.  But it will be there.  There will be good will and loyalty in the hearts of those I serve selflessly. It's because your love and grace work!  Because I believe this, I will set my heart on being a conduit of your good will for humanity.  Give me long suffering and endurance to love others consistently even when they do immediately give me love in return. AMEN

You can forget a face or a name.  But you can never forget being loved.

 Additional Readings: Psalm 34, 2 Corinthians 9

 

Thursday, June 14th

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Whoever says, “I know God,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. - 1 John 2:4-6

Dear Jesus, I don't want to be the liar that you expose in this passage, that is; someone who says, "I know God but I don't need to follow his will."  I know you and your love.  And I love you.  I want to live a peaceful, loving life like you did.  I want to love God the Father so much that I resist all peer pressure to conform to the impurities of this world.  I want to be honest, fair, and generous toward everyone.  But as much as I want to keep every command, evil is right there with me.  I still stumble into selfish thoughts and desires. So, be my strength and shield.  Even when I fall, make your renewed grace the reason I get it right the next time.  AMEN

Two indelible marks of Christian faith are: A) honesty about one’s sins and B) a determination to fight those sins with God’s help. 

Additional Readings: James 1:19-27, 1 John 3

Tuesday, June 12th

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Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. - Mark 6:45-52

Lord Jesus, I see that after miraculously feeding over 5,000 people right before your disciples' eyes, you made them get into a boat that would be tossed about in a terrible storm.  For years I didn't see why you did this, but now I do.  Their hearts were hardened and would not let go of thinking that everything depended on them.  So, you cracked their hearts to break them open and find the child within who would trust that you are always with us and will be our living, loving God in every trial.  Now I see a reason why you would make me ride in a life tossed around by unexpected struggle and tragedy.  You are breaking the hard shell on distrusting heart.  Oh Jesus, come get into my boat and calm the child within me even before you calm the storm.  Help me trust you Lord Jesus.  I believe some.  But I want to believe a lot!  I want to be so confident in your presence that I can share the comfort it brings with others, not just from your book or from my head, but from my heart.  AMEN

In trials remember that God is changing everything you think about him, yourself your life.

Additional Readings: Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 6:25-34, Mark 8:14-21

 

Wednesday, June 13th

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When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” - Matthew 26:1-5

Lord Jesus, I see the irony in these verses. While you were planning to give the greatest gift for me as the defect-less Lamb of God during the great feast of deliverance, evil men were plotting to take your life. However, they hoped to avoid that feast so as not to cause a riot!  Your gift happened when and where you wanted it to. The riot you caused in humanity has dwarfed the one that they feared in Israel. What perfect love!  What perfect plan, to die by and for one's enemies all at the same time. I was killed and raised to life in the riot you have caused. And now I live with peace and forgiveness to share with a lonely and selfish race.  Help me freely give of myself to stamp out loneliness among sinners as you have freely given to liberate me from my solitary confinement caused by guilt and shame.  AMEN

Jesus died to set the world ablaze with a message than cannot be smothered until it has touched every soul with the truth about God’s burning love for all human stubble.

Additional Readings: John 12:20-36, Revelation 5

 

Monday, June 11th

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And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.” - Genesis 1:4

Dear heavenly Father, there is grace in the orderly calendar you have established for all humankind.  Friends and enemies alike count the same days, weeks, months and years.  The biological clocks in animals revolve around the same four seasons.  Plants react to your variance of light and dark in predictable annual patterns.  Our lives make more sense because we can add year upon year and celebrate anniversaries.  Thank you for the gift of time and the stars that help us mark time for our own benefits.  They are another testimony to your sustaining grace in and around our lives.  AMEN

Every day of his created universe is its own unique gift from a generous Creator and Redeemer.  Like snowflakes, each day is to be appreciated for its own beauty.

Additional Readings: Psalm 90, Psalm 139, Ecclesiastes 3:1-22, Isaiah 40:27-31

 

Sunday June 10th

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While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. ... Jesus said, "When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." - Matthew 26:6-13

Dear Jesus, what an amazing inner connection you and Mary must have had. She heard and understood that you were going to willingly exchange your life for hers, so that she could survive death forever. How small her own gift must have seemed compared to yours. She gave a year's worth of wages of perfume. You gave up your entire being. I marvel at her gift and the faith that made her give it. But I marvel ten times more at the gift that you were giving for her and me. Take my life and let it be an alabaster flask for thee. This story causes me to ask myself, "What can I give that shows I understand and appreciate how much you have given me?"  I will start by giving you my heart and my obedience today.  AMEN

The only way to truly know Jesus, is to know the magnitude of his gift for you.

Additional Readings: Psalm 51:10-17, Romans 12

 

Saturday, June 9th

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“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:36

Lord, if it were not for your mercies that are new every morning my life would be over.  I depend on your mercy to remove my guilt and shame and give me a respectable identity when I stand in front of the mirror, or lay my head on my pillow after another fallible day, or when I bear the accurate criticism of others.  Why do I not always think to extend that same mercy to those around me?  Instead, I am tempted to pick and choose those whom I will forgive.  I am a choosy forgiver and I live among people who are choosy forgivers too.  I have two requests: 1) Give me your supernatural mercy for my lack of mercy and 2) Make me merciful to everyone else I know or meet.  By your grace, I will mentally burn the note cards in my mind that I have on people who have hurt me.  Today starts with a clean record for me and everyone else.  AMEN

What would it be like if we all rushed to find mercy the way people rushed to find gold?

Additional Readings: Matthew 5:48, Matthew 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:31-32, 1 John 1:5-10, 1 John 4:7-21

 

Friday, June 8th

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One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:13-14

Dear Jesus, sometimes I think that Satan, that great accuser, should be called the god of the past. How quickly a quiet moment of reflection on great moments in my life can be interrupted with reminders of mistakes and moral failures. It's like he is the big memory spoiler.  I need help remembering that you have redeemed me from the past.  Every one of those sins has been forgiven and in your presence I have peace about the past.  Now I am free to look forward to the rest of my life with purpose.  So, Jesus keep my eyes on the present and future opportunity to love you and people with all my heart. Keep me from looking over my shoulder in guilt or shame. Turn my head in freedom toward the wonderful challenge to live a God-pleasing life.  I want to run my race not to overcome my past or my neighbor but to overcome myself with your redeeming grace.  AMEN

If Jesus really did for me what he says he did, then I have all I need to live in peace with purpose.

Additional Readings: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Thursday, June 7th

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So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. - Colossians 2:6-7

Dear Jesus, I remember several times in my life when all the complexities of the human condition were blown away and it seemed that there was only you and me standing together.  Each time this happened, it was an overwhelming experience of peace and purity.  I left each experience with renewed strength to face anything that came my way because I was fully aware that I was rooted in you.  It made me feel strong.  I want to live my life in you.  It is the secret to my spirituality.  It is the true Christian faith.  So, today, I ask you again, please remind me of your presence, renew me in your words, strengthen my soul to live by your grace. Otherwise, I will be blown away when the storms life come my way.  AMEN

We are no match for the challenges of earthly life without Christ. We must build our lives on Christ and his word in order to whether the storms.

Additional Readings: Matthew 7:24-29, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:4-10, 2 Peter 1:3-11

Wednesday, June 6th

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“I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." - John 17:4-5

Dear Jesus, I love seeing you pray these words because I have so much unfinished business and so many unchangeable mistakes and sins from the past.  You finished everything well for our Father in my place.  You are the best big brother that anyone could ever hope to have.  You did everything needed to keep me in your family.  Since I am a deeply loved child of God through faith in you, I will do everything I can to extend mercy to people around me just as you do.  Without worry over what I do not finish, I will do my best to finish the right things with my remaining days and strength.  AMEN

Every moment of Jesus' life was lived for you and not himself. Show him how grateful you are by returning the favor.  

Additional Readings: Esther 4:12-16, Romans 14:7-9, Romans 1:1-3, Galatians 2:19-21

Tuesday, June 5th

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Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room (where Dorcas' body was). All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. - Acts 9:39

Dear Jesus, when a loved one passes we remember  the blessings they brought to others.  We even minimize their  weaknesses.  It's strange how families and friends seem to cope better with our weaknesses after we are gone.  But it is a testimony of how your grace makes it easy to not count people's sins against them. These widows in the passage above said nothing to Peter about Dorcas' weaknesses. In their grief, they marveled at the blessings she had created.  Give my family and friends the freedom to forget the weaknesses of their loved ones who have gone to glory and comfort them with the reminder that you blessed their lives with that loved one and will keep blessing it with others.  AMEN

Every person is a blessing to others.  We just need  the grace to see and enjoy what those blessings are.

 

Monday, June 4th

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“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." - John 10:10

Dear Jesus, my life is full of hope, peace, and love because you have made me your own. Whenever I try to find my meaning and purpose in the passing pleasures of this world it always seems like the "good life" is coming or going but never sticking around for me. But with you in my life I have a contentment that makes me relax and think of others and how I can bless them. My life is full of you, full of love, and full of people. Thank you for keeping me rich!  Amen

Only our souls will survive this present struggle. Our bodies will not.  So, true wealth is only what redeems and sustains the soul.

Additional Readings: Psalm 73, Psalm 121, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 17:5-11, Matthew 16:25-27