Friday, April 19th, Good Friday

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“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? ... Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. “-Isaiah 53: 1, 4-6

 Dear Jesus, I love to meditate on your six hours on the cross for me. When I read these words from Isaiah that were written 600 years before you were born, I realize that, as the eternal God, your heart and soul has always been on the cross.  You are always there suffering, always risen, always sending the Holy Spirit, always loving me.  Thank you for taking away the thousand plus ways I have disappointed you.  Help me to let that same grace flow through me to those who have let me down.  I want to live in the shadow of the cross being forgiven and learning to forgive everyone.  AMEN

 Grace for me means grace through me.  Grace through me means grace from me to others.

 

 

Thursday, April 18th, Mauday Thursday

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While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”  Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” - Matthew 26:26-29

 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:34-35

 Dear Jesus, you are love personified and on the night before you died, you gave us two commands (mandates) that are natural desires for anyone changed by your love. The first was that we would draw near to you often in the Lord's Supper for a hug from heaven from you as we take your very body and blood shed for us.  The second is that we love one another as you have loved us. Both mandates given on Maundy Thursday are a delight for my redeemed soul.  I love drawing near to you and I love forgiving and loving those around me, both friend and foe.  Please deepen my understanding of how the Lord's Supper and the command to love are foundations for my life.  Give me insight into how I can reflect what you are teaching me to others in a simple and powerful way too.  AMEN

 The Lord’s Supper is the closest we get to heaven before we pass from this life to the next.

 

Wednesday, April 17th

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

O God, the questions that you ask are always so probing. Yes, the questions you ask are even so directing as they lead me to think about things you have told me. When you ask Joshua, “Have I not commanded you?” The answer is a simple “yes.” But there is more behind it. Because if God has commanded it, then Joshua knows he is on the right track no matter how hard it is. Because if God has promised to give success, then Joshua knows that God will bless it. Because if God is with me and even for me, Joshua cannot fail. O God, you have such a way of instilling confidence in me. You have commanded me and called me to my vocations. You have commanded me to parent, to be a spouse, to be a worker. You have put me in those places. You have commanded me to do various things. And now I know that you will bless what I do in your name and that you will be with me in every time and place. Lord God grant me courage to do the right thing even when it’s terrifying or scary. Grant me this courage because of your command and promise. Amen.

Tuesday, April 16th

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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. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18

Dear Jesus, Give me this wisdom from above. I cannot produce it on my own. Make me peace loving considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Help me see the supreme value of unity and togetherness. Produce this wisdom between others and me. Make it fun and peaceful for us to live and work together. I want to live in the peaceful fruit of righteousness and help others experience it too. Amen.

Godly wisdom always heals, always helps, always unites.

Monday, April 15th

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“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

Dear Heavenly Father, Worry is a constant companion that begs to talk to me. I try not to listen to her, but she keeps blabbing in my ears that I need to be concerned about this or that all the time. Often I get the best of her with a bible passage about how you take care of us, but like a dog she goes away for a little while and comes right back to her pestering ways. She dogs me to think long and hard about scenarios that never happen and about possibilities for disaster. This verse you have given me puts worry in a kennel. You gave up your only Son for me, therefore you will give me the health, wealth and safety I need. If you allow some struggle it will not be because you decided to quit. It will be for my good, the good of others and for the greater story to be completed. I will not worry. I will believe. In that strength I face the day. Amen.

God sold himself to loving us when he sold out his Son. He will never renege on that contract.

Sunday, April 14th, Palm Sunday

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The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna” in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:9

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, On Palm Sunday long ago the multitudes at Jerusalem hailed you with their glad “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” But a few days later those people shouted their angry “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Oh God, I pray that I should never be so unfaithful to you, my Savior! Abide in my heart, Lord Jesus, keep me also from living an unholy life. Above all the temptations of the unbelieving world, let me hear your gracious promise, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life.” Amen.

Saturday, April 13th

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“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:5-8

Dear Jesus, I see how serious you are about sin. I can almost hear you saying these words with urgency. There are no pet sins. Sin is no pet. It’s a wolf trying to kill me. You give me the love and strength to kick sin out of my life. I must confess that because my generation and the media it produces makes light of all sin, I am easily lulled into thinking that immorality and coarse language are not that bad. But they are bad. They destroy lives and distort humanity into something you never intended. I find it thought provoking and enlightening that you tell me here that all these sins are idolatry, that is worship of self, or humanity, or of sensuality instead of worship of you. You even call my proneness to anger a sin that I can avoid. I know I’m forgiven for falling into these sins. Your grace gives me peace and peace gives me strength to fight the good fight again today. I will say, “No” to my sins today and beg for your help seeing them for what they are and for the strength in your Spirit to kick them out of my life. Help my family and Christian friends to do the same. Amen.

Take as much caution to protect your soul from sin as you do your home from intruders.

Friday, April 12th

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So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.” Joshua 11:23

Lord God, When you give victory, there is rest for your people. For 40 years the people were wandering in the wilderness with no place to settle down and set down roots. For weeks and years the people of Israel were fighting battle after battle, always on edge, always with a sword in hand, never able to rest from war. But when you gave them victory, they could finally rest. Lord God, you do the same for me. When you give victory, there I find my rest. Even as this week begins, dear Jesus, I find rest and victory in your cross and empty tomb. The greatest victory that I’ve experienced came when you took my sins and drowned them in the blood that flowed from your veins. And it’s not just there, dear Jesus. You have planted victory in your cross and empty tomb. The greatest victory that I’ve experienced came when you took my sins and drowned them in the blood that flowed from your veins. And it’s not just there, dear Jesus. You have planted me here and given me all that is in my life. My family. My church. My home. My job. My property and possessions. It’s all from you. And best of all, you have given me yourself. You are mine. You are my God. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. When you give me all of that, there I find rest. Help me to enjoy this rest even as I go to work and serve you and other people today. Amen.

Thursday, April 11th

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“Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ “ Matthew 19:27

Dear Jesus, I love Peter because he said what so many of us hide in our feelings. We all want something back for what we have given up to follow you. Our motives and devotion are flawed. It isn’t always tangible things that we expect. It’s often respect, gratitude, approval and encouragement. But you don’t want us to desire anything for our devotion. Conditional devotion isn’t really devotion at all. You have no conditional devotion for us when you lived and died to save us. No one needed to notice in order to give you the will to die sacrificially. Help me to live sacrificially without notice. To love without concern. to give freely without counting the cost. Make me a servant like you who lives the full life of love and devotion to others. Amen.

Love doesn’t notice that no one notices it’s dedication.

Wednesday, April 10th

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“God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.” Exodus 2:24-25

Lord God, I can only begin to imagine that after years and years of slavery in Egypt and years and years and years of crying out to you for help, the people of Israel must have begun to think that you didn’t even care. But God you were listening. God, you were hearing. God, you were remembering your promises to them. God, you were about to act. God, as I cry out to you today, help me to remember that you always hear my prayer in the moment in which I cry out to you. Help me to cry out to you with all the anguish and the zeal in y heart. And God, hear my prayer, and do what is the very best for me, for my good, for my salvation. Hear me Lord! Remember your promises to me Lord. And then, Lord, act! Amen.

Tuesday, April 9th

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“If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:6-10

Dear Jesus, My culture is addicted to self-improvement. Diets, exercise programs and self-help books are everywhere. I like the blessing you have brought to all of us through these things because they teach us to take better care of ourselves. But two things they do not do:

1) They do not make us live forever through grace.

2) They do not supply the proper motivation.

Very healthy people can maintain that health for selfish vain reasons. People who exercise can judge those who don’t. Give me the godliness of grace that leads me to take better care of myself while resting in the security of my acceptance from you. Help me not to exploit any success I have at better health by using it for a reason to be prideful in myself. Help me exercise love even more than my muscles. Amen.

Godliness produced by grace makes us do the right things for the right reasons at the right pace.

Monday, April 8th

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“Do not rebuke an older man harshly but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers and younger women as sisters in absolute purity.” Timothy 5:1-3

Dear Jesus, I love how you lead me to treat people. You have given me many older men as friends and mentors. They have looked into my soul and told me things about myself that I could not have understood without them. Help me to give them the love and respect I gave my own father. Cause me to be loyal to men more my age like a brother. Give me tenderness toward older women I would give my own mother. Make me pure around women my own age and those younger than me so that they feel safe and encouraged. I want all people to feel the family connection your Spirit creates. When I’m not getting it right get my attention and bump me back in line. I want to treat people like family just as you intend. Amen.

Love treats family like friends and friends like family.

Sunday, April 7th

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“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4

Dear Lord, I want that soothing tongue that puts salve on wounded souls, that puts wind in the sails of the discouraged, that builds up the value of those feeling worthless, that gently reproves and easily compliments. Give me the tongue that refuses to cut and cajole, that will not recklessly tease or put down someone just for fun. Give me the tongue that brings life and not death, joy not sadness and peace not conflict; a tongue that refuses to complains and gossip or let loose a rant. Give me the tone of song bird that makes others smile when they hear my voice. Touch my tongue and make it pure and sublime. Make me like you, for you bring life with all your words. Amen.

Love in any language sounds beautiful to tender hearts.

Saturday, April 6th

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“Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Dear Jesus, It’s easy to make my Christian faith a hobby in my life while I major in making money, recreation, and exercise. But you urge me to persevere in my faith. You even tell me to watch my life closely to make sure it reflects my faith in you. You tell me to be careful about what I believe and teach others to believe too. Oh, Jesus, make me a serious albeit not somber Christian. Make me someone who values your word more than anything else in the world. Make me diligent in faith and deliberate in living. All so my life has the impact you want and not just the toys I want. Amen.

The kind of faith the Holy Spirit inspires is ardent, intentional and thought consuming.

Friday, April 5th

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“Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death. Psalm 13:3

Dear Heavenly Father, your eyes are always on me, always paying attention to me always caring for me. Worry, striving and fretting are not from you, because you care for my every need. Please give me the grace to trust you with all that’s weighing on my mind and heavy on my heart. When my anxiety becomes overwhelming, give me the peace of Christ that transcends my understanding. Look on me with favor and shine on me. Give me your light and life that I might live for you. Thank you for promising to never leave me nor forsake me. Amen.

Thursday, April 4th

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1 Timothy 5:24-25

Dear Jesus, I cannot see everything good and bad as it’s happening. So, slow me down from making quick judgments about matters and people. It’s comforting to know that although I am often surprised by what “goes down” without my knowledge, you’re never surprised. You always saw the thought, word, and action from afar. I want to be busy making things happen but not so quickly that I make huge mistakes in whom I trust as partners in ministry. Give me the faith to readily forgive and grant grace to those who disappoint me, without interrupting their opportunity to learn the process. Because of these words, “good deeds, …that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever”, I have hope that I will soon see some good deeds that I cannot see today when I am discouraged by other’s failures. If it’s all the same to you, show me the good deeds sooner so I can rejoice with you and the person who did them before I get to heaven.

A good deed is like a hidden seed. It will germinate and grow a blessing long after you are gone.

Wednesday, April 3rd

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“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” 1 Timothy 5:22

Dear Jesus, Oh how many mistakes are made when we do not practice discernment before giving leadership in the church to people! God give me a patient and loving eye that sizes up the potential leaders for my congregation. Help me to be cautiously optimistic as I think through who is best for what job. Keep me from just looking for warm bodies and people to whom I can delegate things I don’t like doing. If someone has disqualified themselves as a leader, make me brave enough to remove them and loving enough to support them as they rehabilitate. Help me to remember to grant forgiveness and to keep grace separate from temporal consequences. And help church leaders everywhere to protect their flocks from the wolves that creep in and devour the saints with scandalous living, bad teaching and selfish agendas. Amen.

Responsible leadership in the church is the reward for sincere faith working itself out in love.

Tuesday, April 2nd

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“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:3-8

Dear Jesus, Our nation with it’s work ethic, economic prowess, government programs and resort style living for the elderly, makes all of us think that parents and grandparents have to take care of themselves. Then comes your word that lays care for the elderly at the feet of the family and the church. Help us to fully embrace the rich spiritual experience of caring for our family until you call them home. Make us people who won’t leave them lonely and afraid. Help us to give them friendship, provisions, rides and encouragement. Make your churches everywhere places that honor the experience and tenderness forged by years of living with our elderly members. And give the elderly courage to tell of their needs and to share their perspectives with the next generation. Thank you Lord for the privilege to live with people of all ages in our short sojourn on earth. Amen.

Having a friend who is long in the tooth will slow you down long enough to enjoy the deeper meanings of life.

Monday, April 1st

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“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.” 1 Timothy 6:1-2a

Dear Jesus, Too often we view our employment as a contractual agreement between us and others without any spiritual ramifications. That’s why we get discontent and snarky about our jobs. Our jobs are a place you sent us to shine for you. If you put someone over me, give me the humility and faith to follow your word here and honor their wishes in everything. If I must disagree, help me to check my motives to see if I’m thinking out of selfishness. Help me to plan my appeal so I speak clearly and with respect. And give me the faith to follow my boss’s decision with joy no matter how he or she leads me. All this, because I know you are at my job with me as much as you are at home or church with me too. Amen.

God works as mightily through us at work as he does in the choir loft, so sing well in that choir too.

Sunday, March 31st

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“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession. I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will ring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. 1 Timothy 6:11-16

Dear Jesus, You tell me here the true riches I am to pursue; righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. That is enough to fill each day with holy striving that brings with it peace and increased, fulfillment in relationships. Give me the desire to seek these virtues with a dedicated heart, not out of fear but out of thanksgiving that comes from believing in grace. You have totally changed my life from worldly striving to heavenly dedication. My life is yours, you made it and you bought it with your own blood. Please direct it to be a spiritual blessing to everyone who knows me. Amen.

People can tell your net worth in Christ. You wear it on your heart, face, and life.