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A Passage and A Prayer 3/18/19



Here is a trustworthy saying, deserving of full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the foremost. [1 Timothy 1]

 
How often we see the speck in another person’s eye and miss the log in our own (Matthew 7). And we are quite content bringing judgment upon others, while failing to come to grips with what we deserve. We have committed every kind of sin for which we could judge another person. And we will be judged by the measure with which we judge. A little scary, right?
 
The scary thing is that we fail to come to grips with what we proclaim every week: Jesus died to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. Jesus came for broken, desperate, despondent people. That’s the first part. But the second is just as important. I am the worst of them. My need is greater than anyone else’s. And how can that be true for all us at the same time?? Because each of us is only responsible for our own decisions, and we know how poor our decisions have been. Let’s sit with that today, that we are the worst of the worst- and Jesus came to rescue us anyway.
 
Challenge: Repent. Take some time to reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve done and all the things you don’t want to be part of your story or life anymore. Hand it over to Jesus. He took it up in his hands and nailed it to the cross. They pulled Jesus off the cross and buried him in a tomb. All your baggage was left there in the tomb. Repent today, and turn, knowing that Jesus has forgiven you!
 
Jesus, I have messed up more times than I can count. I have been a terrible person to others and mean and neglectful toward you. Forgive me. Help me to trust in Your words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel!” I am trusting in You to rescue me, and I am turning from my self-reliance and trust in anything other than You. Allow me to experience the freedom that comes through Your forgiveness. Amen.


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A Passage and A Prayer 3/15/19



All the days of the oppressed are bad, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure with turmoil.  Better a dish of vegetables where there is love than a fattened ox with hatred. [Proverbs 15] 

More is always better, right? More toys, more money, more stuff. Jesus paints a different picture. Better to be with God than to be without God. No matter how much stuff we have, what matters is that we have Jesus with us. Fasting is an ancient practice of abstaining from our wants to focus on our needs. Fasting is giving up worldly goods for the sake of heavenly treasures.

I remember going to a third world country and seeing the smiles of pure joy on children’s faces, so glad to be alive even though they have nothing. Contrast that with the needy demands of children who have everything they want and more. We could all use the reminder of how deeply God is providing for all of our needs. We don’t *need* food and water every day, and we very rarely give thanks every day for these gifts. There is no better way to be reminded than to go without by fasting.
 
Challenge: Go on a fast today. It doesn’t have to be food, although food and water are the most basic. Give up something today, and every time you *want* it, pray to God, giving thanks that you have access to these things on a regular basis. You could give up your cell phone, television, news, or anything that you feel like you *need* to get through your day. And go to God in those times. You might just find much more satisfaction than you could have imagined.
 
Jesus, You provide for our needs- even the ones we don’t know we have. Give us grateful hearts for the abundant life You have given us. More than that, let our lives overflow with thankfulness, and strengthen us as we fast this day. In Your name, Amen.


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A Passage and A Prayer 3/14/19


“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place, and rest…” [Luke 6]

 
Try to go a day without saying the word “busy”, and you might just find you have no idea what to say when somebody asks you, “How are you?” Busy has become the stiff-arm of American life, a way of keeping people at a distance and from getting too close to what is going on in our lives.
Don’t we do the same thing to Jesus? “I’m too busy to take time for prayer or Scripture.” “I’d love to be able to get into some devotional material, but my schedule is just so crazy.” “If I could just get a couple things off my plate, I’d be able to spend more time doing church stuff.” But it is in these moments that we need Jesus the most. You are probably doing some very important things, but when Jesus is with you, you have the power of God on your side!
 
Challenge: Spend time in solitude with Jesus today. Get away from “busy”. Get away from chaos. Step outside the mess for 30 minutes, or longer if you can, to be with Jesus. Bring your Bible and spend some time in Scripture and prayer.
 
Dear Jesus, strike “busy” from our vocabulary. You came to the world, subjected Yourself to the same 24 hour day that we have. You accomplished all You had to do in three years. Help us to see the time You’ve given us first as Your time. We want to be with You, taking time away from our chaos to see You are in control of all things- even our schedules. In Your name, Amen.

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A Passage and A Prayer 3/13/19


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship, not conforming to the pattern of this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind. [Romans 12]

 
Everyone worships something. We were made to worship. This means it is part of human nature to put something on a pedestal and praise it, to uphold it as the highest good, and to revere it. God has placed this within us because God has called us to worship him- God is the One enthroned in heaven. But we put so many other things in God’s place.

You name it, somebody worships it. Our big ones in the United States are money, fame, sex, and self. We have become so low that we worship ourselves. Even Christians struggle. Why? Because worship is infectious. It gets in you, and it is hard to get out. And when we watch shows or listen to the news or shop or anything else in this world, we are tempted to take on the pattern of the world.

But we submit our bodies and souls to God, offering our very being as a sacrifice to Jesus. We (can/should) worship God in everything we do. Can you imagine what it would look like if you saw every moment of your life as an opportunity to worship Jesus, instead of one hour on Sunday?
 
Challenge: Worship God. Go for a walk and listen to praise or worship music. Or turn off your phone and read through some Psalms. Listen to a sermon or Christian radio station while driving around. You can access FIL’s livestream here: https://livestream.com/filministries or sermon audio here: https://www.filministries.org/sermon-audio/
 
Dear Jesus, we worship You. Be with us in every moment, guard us from conforming our lives to the world. We don’t want to become less human by worshiping anything less than God. Help us to see Your glory throughout our day and join in praising You at all times. In Your name, Amen.


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A Passage and A Prayer 3/12/19



“God… please… have mercy on me… I’m broken.” [Luke 18]

 
What does a good prayer sound like? It sounds like a real conversation with the real God of the universe. We don’t hide behind our words. We don’t try to make ourselves look better. We don’t try to impress God. Jesus has given us the privilege to pray, and He promises to pay attention.
 
I am a father; my toddler’s babble is just as meaningful as my older son’s “I love you.” And I know our conversations will get deeper and cover a greater range of topics, but for now I hear them no matter how they communicate. That’s what prayer is. It is communicating with our loving Daddy in heaven. So get talking- He wants to hear from you.
 
Challenge: Spend some time today in prayer. Feel free to use this model: ACTS. Adore- tell God why you appreciate him; Confess what is going wrong or where you are failing; Thanksgiving- share with God the blessings you’ve received and say “Thanks!”; Supplication- lift up anyone you know who is in need of God’s help or anything you yourself might be in need of.
 
Dear Triune God, I adore You because__________________________. I confess to You ___________________. I thank You for _____________________________. I ask that You supply these things in my life and in others’ _________________________________. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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