Wednesday, October 17th

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Jacob stole his brother's blessing and then ran for his life.  This is what happened next: " Jacob had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Dear God, who are you that you would give such pure unilateral promises to such a scoundrel like Jacob.  Why was there no scolding, no threats if he did not change, no "time outs"?  Who are you that you bless a sinner like him with such profound gifts in this life, in history and in heaven.  How do you expect us to respect your justice when you freely forgive and bless a guy like that?  Your prodigal love is too much to process.  If I were God, do you know what I would do?  I would .... I would ... uh .... I would make a mess out of everything because I would eventually judge all people to hell including myself.  Oh, God, you are the most incredible God of grace, who keeps his promises when we are not keeping ours.  I will let you be God and I will let you love me and the other stinkers around me.  I plead with you, make us as gracious and constant as you are.  Restore our relationships and renew our hearts in your purposeful life changing love.  AMEN  

"There is no power like God's love given freely to my heart when I least deserve it."

 

Tuesday, October 16th

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“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? - Luke 12:22-26

Lord Jesus, you ask me why I worry about my money, my possessions, my health and my life? It is because I easily fall into the temptation that it all depends on me.  I cannot see you and hear your voice.  But the bills keep coming.  The doctor's reports are real hard data.   My AC still breaks and my transmission goes out costing me unexpected 1000's.  I still have relationship challenges, no, I mean problems.  The birds live with all kinds of challenges too but they cannot think ahead like I can.  They just live for today.  I get your truth; you take care of us both.  The birds cannot see or hear you either but they don't worry and enjoy their lives more than I do.  My problem is that I know too much and I think too much.  But it is also that I know too little and think too little - I think too little about your love, your promises to provide, your absolute control of all things.  Help me to live in the peace that you are taking care of me and mine so that I live in joy as a bright light of what you can do when you free a heart from worry.  AMEN

 "God will take care of you.  So, care less about everything."

Monday, October 15th

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Be patient, bearing with one another in love." - Ephesians 4:2

Dear heavenly Father, you have been so patient for me to come to faith and then to change in this or that area. At any moment you could walk away from me but you haven't. That makes me want to be patient with everyone else like you are with me. Fill me with your love for the people closest to me, so when they think for me they wonder how I can be so patient them instead of wondering how I could so easily get upset. Help me to fill their empty tank with my overflowing patience. AMEN

 "Patience gives people more time than they deserve to correct their mistakes." - Stephen Kendrick

Sunday, October 14th

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“In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. - 1 Corinthians 11:18-19

Dear Jesus, this passage has both comforted and confronted me since the day I met it.  In the midst of decrying that his people were arguing, Paul admitted that the virtue of church debates is that they reveal who is really walking by truth, faith and love.  I wonder every time I'm caught in a conflict whether you see me acting in truth and love or selfish ambition and stubbornness.  It makes me stop and think, evaluate and then pray.  Thank you so much for this verse.  It changes everything about the debates that encircle me. And it reminds me of your stabilizing presence and oversight in every situation. AMEN

 "Winning the argument is not near as important as loving God and your adversary in the fray."

 

Saturday, October 13th

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Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18

Dear heavenly Father, I want that wisdom that produces good things, that changes bad situations to blessings, that helps me and others get along together and not walk away from each other as winners and losers.  I want that wisdom that makes us all laugh at past hang ups and irritations.  I want that wisdom that makes me forget past hurts and that turns enemies into trusted friends.  I want all this wisdom but on my own I do not possess it.  I am begging you for it.  By your cross, you turned me from enemy to friend now give me that power to love others back to you and me.  AMEN

"Shepherd me oh God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, beyond my complaints, from death into life." - John Michael Talbot

Thursday, October 11th

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Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1

Dear heavenly Father, sometimes I feel so vulnerable to the whims of disease or threats of bad weather or the undiscerned thoughts of crazy people.  It seems I must always be alert or I will not survive.  Then I read that I can find shelter in you.  Hide me in the shadow of your wings.  Be my protector from everything that can harm me or those I love.  Free me from worry so that I can spend my energy and strength building others up in the faith rather than trying to circle the wagons to protect myself. AMEN

“Worry is taking responsibility for things that God takes care of.”

 

Wednesday, October 10th

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“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." - 1 Peter 1:6-7

Dear Jesus, I now know that you are not working to deliver to me my own personal definition of happiness.  You are working to change me into the image of your perfect son, who loved you and all people perfectly, who trusted you without flaw and could be trusted by every person.  Your agenda is to make me into a new person.  My agenda has been for you to make me a new life on earth that has no suffering.  I know heaven is that place where no one suffers.  I don't belong there yet.  I belong here in my present suffering in order to learn, grow and bless others who are on the same journey.  Make me a wise pilgrim who travels and learns how to follow you.  And thank you for redeeming me through the journey of suffering that your own Son took. AMEN

"God does not intend for our lives to be easy.  He intends for them to be challenging training grounds where he changes us from what we are to what he always intended us to be."

Tuesday, October 9th

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“Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies," - Ephesians 5:28

Dear heavenly Father, you gave my spouse to me in order to complete me. Help me not to forget that she is as much a part of me as my right hand. When she is hurt give me the concern for her that I have for an injured limb.  Help me to cherish her and take care of her and to give her the best opportunity to shine. And thank you for giving her to me as a best friend.  Help me to remember that she is my friend when she gently reproves me for my mistakes that anyone close to me is bound to see. Help both of us to live in grace for one another and not in a plethora of little rules.  For all those who do not have spouses, give them one or two very close friends with whom they can share their deeper thoughts and emotions, dreams and challenges, fears and triumphs.  AMEN

"A spouse is not a family car that you replace when you get tired of it.  He/she is a integral part of your own body and soul the second you say 'I do.'"

Monday, October 8th

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"Do not merely look out for your own interests but also for the interests of others." - Philippians 2:4

Dear Lord, I too easily filter everything I hear through my own perspective.  I want to put others first and their interests in front of mine.  Help me to see every choice that I make with family or friends as an opportunity to serve them and help them find happiness during their short journey on earth.  Make me give in where I can without compromising truth. Keep me from mistaking my own opinion for your unchangeable truth.  Get rid of stubbornness that makes me insist I have my schedule my own way.  Help me find joy in giving and in giving in.  All of this will take miraculous power on your part.  But I believe you can do it in me. If you did not spare your Son to save me, you can easily change my obdurate heart.   AMEN

 "There is nothing so sweet as being released from slavery to self."

Sunday, October 7th

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But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. - James 3:17

Dear Jesus, I know that I must have serious communication and even conflict with people on some occasions.  It seems inevitable that in order to uphold the truth I will collide with people.  But I want to reflect the gentleness and respect that come from love when I must stand up for the truth or stand down someone who is wrong.  I want to disagree with dignity and speak with a merciful tone.  Please give me your supernatural ability to build bridges when I must enter conflict instead of burning them down.  AMEN

"The Christ within us wins people not arguments." 

 

Saturday, October 6th

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"Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men." - Colossians 3:23

Dear Lord Jesus, this verse gives me a much better reason to do my best and with a good heart than I can usually think of myself.  I tend to need the affirmation of people in order to get excited about doing something.  Or I need to believe there is some hope for success by my standards.  And if someone gives me the least criticism I tend to get a flat tire in my heart. But when I do what I do for you, ah, then there is a resilient reason to do it.  You are always seeking my good.  You promise to bring good out of my "bad".  I can have hope of true success and will always know that your correction comes from a good heart.  Today (and as much as I can remember in the future) I will live my life enthusiastically for you.  After all, you lived yours enthusiastically for me and you still enthusiastically pursue me every day.  AMEN

 "When we live for the Lord we will live boldly in calm and in strife."

 

Friday, October 5th

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Jesus wept." - John 11:35

Dear Jesus, you wept deeply at the grave of your friend, Lazarus.  You feel all of our pain from every experience. You know what it feels like to be trapped in this world where loss is the order of things.  Thank you for not only winning for us a way out but for doing it by entering our entire grieving experience.  You are the God who knows and cares.  It makes me feel not so alone as I struggle to hang onto the gospel knot in my rope.  AMEN

"God knows.  God cares. God rescues."

 



Thursday, October 4th

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So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:26-29

Dear Jesus, I love how you have released me from looking at myself as a winner or loser at anything.  I am your child, chosen to play on your team and all my other Christian friends are the same.  No one wins or loses without the other.  I look at myself and them totally different when they are wearing your jersey.  When they fall, they take me with them.  When they succeed, they lift me up to the platform to share in their glory.  We are all one in you.  And truth is, because you are our best teammate as the player/coach, we all cash in on your victory.  Thank you for putting me on your team.   Help me to accept and love my teammates and help me play my position well.  AMEN

"God drafts us to his team along with many other players.  Wisdom is learning to accept and play along with those he has chosen to be with us."

Wednesday, October 3rd

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"Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." - 3 John 2.

Dear Jesus, I love this verse because it teaches me to pray for my friends and family more than engage them.  Please help me not to make every flaw I see in one of them as a challenge for me to "fix" them.  I will give my observations and concerns to you and trust how you will work your miracles in their hearts and lives.  And when you want me to say a timely word to them, please make it obvious to me and give me the courage and love to say it well.  Now, having prayed this; I will relax and serve you with a cheerful heart today. AMEN

"Letting God lead your loved ones while you support them is the right way to play the game."

 

Tuesday, October 2nd

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“Forgive as the Lord forgave you." - Colossians 3:13

 Dear Lord Jesus, It is perhaps the greatest example of how far humanity fell in the beginning, that we struggle to forgive. And you talk about it all over your book and it was the only part of the Lord's Prayer about which you expanded afterward. With forgiveness you challenged your disciples and with forgiveness you test us to see whether we are in the faith. I know that forgiveness is ...the hardest virtue for me to practice and I sense that others have a hard time forgiving me too. Oh, Jesus, fill us with your redeeming grace and help us forgive each other from the heart. AMEN

 "Life is too short to be squandered in un-forgiveness."

 

Monday, October 1st

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"We boast in the hope of the glory of God." - Romans 5:2

 Dear Lord, most of the time we look back and find things to boast about.  I like how you make us look forward to heaven in this verse.  We haven't seen anything yet!  What we will be and what we will get in heaven will be amazing.  We will talk about it for centuries.  Since we know that heaven is real, help us to live in hope.  When I am tempted to look back at glory days, help me to be thankful but to remember that the best is yet to come. And Jesus, I glory in heaven for just one reason: you paid my ticket to fly there when all my earthly glory fades.  Thanks for giving me a hope I cannot lose.  AMEN

"Jesus has given us a hope that cannot be outshined by earthly glories or overwhelmed by earthly darkness."

 

Sunday, September 30th

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"I will marry you in faithfulness.  Then you will know the Lord." - Hosea 2:20

 Dear Lord Jesus, in divine love you married yourself to me knowing full well my wayward trends.  You knew exactly what you were getting yourself into and you married me anyway.  I am too often surprised by the weakness of those I chose to love.  I struggle with a conditional heart.  Oh, take away the taker in me.  Make me a giver like you and I will help you change the world by your gospel love.  In your name, I forgive everyone who has ever let me down and I chose to love them again with a heart charged with your unconditional grace and mercy.  Amen

 "We cannot receive love from God without being led to give love like God.  His love never lies dormant in the soul."

 

Saturday, September 29th

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“Love always protects." - 1 Corinthians 13:7

Dear Lord, I remember my father and mother protecting me against troubling influences that they saw creeping up around me when I was in my teens.  They intervened and challenged me to walk with you and them in the right way.  I understand more clearly today how much energy and effort it cost them.  It is not easy to protect other people.  It is hard and sometimes thankless work.  But it is the true way to live.  You say it simply, "Love protects."  You perfectly protected your disciples and you have perfectly protected me.  I take responsibility for venturing outside of that protection too often.  Give me the desire and the ability to effectively protect those whom you have given to me to love.  AMEN

 "God chose whom we would love by planting them in the garden next to us.  He will give us the strength to be their shade."

 

Friday, September 28th

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"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." - 1 Peter 1:3

Dear heavenly Father, having spent many hours, days and weeks, trying to secure a future for myself and others only to be surprised by sickness, troubles and the tentacles of death stealing away my loved ones, I find great peace and joy in your promise of a real future beyond this temporary "Olympic" struggle.  You raised Christ from the dead to give me the same hope, my own resurrection to life.  I accept your gift and I will let it give me hope today no matter what earthly disappointments and challenges I face.  My hope is in you and my future is secure.  Therefore, today is going to be a good day.  AMEN

"God has already written the last chapter of our lives.  It is a better end than we could ever imagine.  So, smile through the large middle earth where you tread."