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Always Present

Love scrabble tiles on book page

“And behold, I am with you always, until the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Have you ever had someone who was always there for you? Maybe it was a friend you could trust with anything, or a parent who would listen no matter what, or a grandparent who would tell you constantly how loved you were. A coworker, neighbor: someone who was always there.

I can think of a few in my own life, and we should all make sure to thank God for those people- and also thank them for their faithful friendships. But we always run into issues even with our most faithful friends: they cannot be always there.

Whether it’s a transfer to a different city, a death in the family, internal strife, a breach of trust, etc., we can’t rely on another person to be present always. It just doesn’t work that way. We are finite people. We have a beginning and an end, and so do the people around us.

There’s only one Person to whom we can turn who will be always present. It is the One who is, was, and always will be. The One who promised never to leave us nor forsake us. The One who promised to be with us always, to the very end of the age.

Jesus is always present, the only person we can turn to no matter what, who will never fail us or let us down. He has made a promise to us, and he has proven faithful.

We can and should be present for others like Jesus has made himself present for us. And part of the task of being there for others is to point them to the One will always be there for them, no matter what. Faithfulness is being always present. Let’s join with Jesus, as he proves faithful to us.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, You are always with us. You never let us down. We cling to your promises. We hold tightly to Your Word and Your presence. Make us aware of your daily presence in our lives, and help us to see who in our lives needs us to be present for them. In Your name we pray, AMEN.

Faithfulness is always being present.


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Become Like Children

boy sitting on bench while holding a book

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:1-4

“Become like children.” 

This must have been quite an ego-buster for the disciples.  After a hearty discussion of who is the greatest, Jesus picks a random child, puts him in the middle of them all, and says:  “Become like children.”

Now, before you laud your own personal immaturity as a faith virtue, let’s talk about what Jesus had in mind with this comparison.  Children are trusting.  They’re unassuming.  And they generally are less interested in being the “greatest” than adults are.  In short, Jesus says that they’re humble.

Humility is becoming a rare virtue in our culture.  Self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, and self-obsession are not only accepted these days, but are encouraged.

But in the Kingdom of God, humility never goes out of style.  Maybe that’s because our Leader has shown what true humility is: becoming like us, suffering in our place, dying for our sins.  Jesus doesn’t just tell us to be humble, He shows us how.

The world’s disdain for humility will continue, no doubt.  But that just means that a truly humble, Christ-like person will stand out in this world that much more as a beacon for Jesus. 

What a joy to be given a child-like faith by our God.  May He grant us the strength to live in true humility, that others might see the love of Jesus in us!

Gracious Heavenly Father, give us child-like faith!  Help us to trust in You, take away our egos and arrogance, and focus our eyes on Jesus and only Jesus.   In His name, Amen.


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Following Through

brown leather cover bible book
 
If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. [2 Timothy 2:12-13]
 
Did you get it done? Did you do it yet? BUT YOU SAID YOU WOULD!
 
We humans come in with a built-in promise detector. If someone gives us their word, we remember. If somebody makes a promise we remember. And when they fail to follow through, we remember.
 
What was the last promise you failed to keep? What was the last task you failed to get done? Who was the last person to hold you accountable for not following through? I know these things happen with way too much regularity in my life. I confess, and I seek to repent.
 
The problem is we can’t even judge others for failing to follow through for us, because we ourselves have done the same thing. We are a bunch of let-downs in many ways, not living out the words we speak.
 
But our God functions on a whole different level. What he says- it happens. “Be light!” and there was light. “Be well!” and there was healing. Promises made, and promises kept. Our God follows through. He is faithful.
 
God even promised to rescue us from death, and he sent Jesus to be our deliverer. Even though it meant giving himself as a sacrifice, he followed through. Even though it meant pain and humiliation, he followed through. Even though it meant death, he followed through.
 
Because Jesus followed through, we have life. And we have renewed conviction to be like him, to endure with him, to remain faithful with him. So remain faithful. Look at the example of Jesus, who has never failed to follow through for you. And follow through for those people in your life. Follow through on your promises. Live out the faithfulness of God.
 
Prayer: Dear God, you never let us go. You never let us down. Not one of your words has failed or fallen. Thank you for supporting and providing for us for our whole lives. And help us, dear Lord, to be faithful, too. Fill us with Your Spirit, that we might live out our faith by word and deed. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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Be In The Word

white printer paper with kanji text

97 Oh, how I love your law!
    I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands are always with me
    and make me wiser than my enemies.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
    for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
    for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
    so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws,
    for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts;
    therefore I hate every wrong path.

105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path  (Psalm 119:97-105  ESV).

 
Maybe you are different than me.  I hope you are!  I often feel that I have the best plans for my life and for the people around me.  I use my reason and my intelligence, my experience and expertise to plan out a vision for the future.  Many times, my plans, my ideas, my machinations just don’t pan out as desired.

Many times I find the reason for failure is that I haven’t been in the Word like I should.  Poor choices are often a result of an egotistical existence; arrogant attitudes; misplaced priorities.

What preserves us from such dangers is being in the Word of God which centers us on loving Him above anything else and loving others more than ourselves.  Of course, the Bible will not tell you whether to accept that job offer, whether you should buy a new home, or whether you should invest in the stock market.  What the Word will do is assist you in developing a life that is based on the Lord’s morals, values and standards.  The Word will draw you to see the eternal is more important than the temporal and that relationships are more valuable than possessions.  Then we can make decisions that are healthy and helpful to ourselves and those around us.

Father of all mercy and grace, we thank You for Your Holy Word, which gives light to our lives.  May Your Holy Spirit, who caused Your Word to be written, allow our hearts and minds to understand Your truths and to live them to your glory.  We pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.


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The Little Things

 
boy in grey crew-neck t-shirt plays LEGO bricks with white manual book
 
The steps of a man are established by the LORD when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. [Psalm 37:23-25]

Children are great at making messes. Toys get left scattered across the room. Dirty clothes are left by the door. Lunch is left half-finished at the table. Books are strewn at the base of the bookshelf. While we teach children to begin doing these things for themselves, there is a period where parents just intervene. They do the little things. 

More than that, they have made the little things possible. They have bought the toys, laundered the clothes, cooked the food, read the books. Not only do young children not realize this, they cannot comprehend the level to which they are indebted to their parents. Even as we age, it is a slow process of realizing how much others have done for us. 

Isn’t it the same in our relationship with God? Daily, God is providing for us- things we often take for granted and wouldn’t even consider thanking God for doing. Clothes to wear. Safe roads. A vehicle to drive. Food in the pantry. Indoor plumbing. Family. 

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes us losing some of these things to see the Lord’s blessing in giving them to us. We need our heavenly Daddy to take away the toys we leave scattered around, to have us skip a meal because we haven’t appreciated the physical and spiritual blessings. 

What little thing do you need to thank God for today? Chances are, if you are reading this, you know that God has accomplished the biggest thing for you- eternal life- through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Thank you, God, for making us part of your heavenly family! But even when we thank God for the big and the obvious, we can miss the little things that God continually does to bless us and sustain us. Today, thank God for the little things. 

And, even if no one is going to thank you, today is a good day for you to do all those little things, too.

Prayer: Dear God, You have organized all of life and daily protect and provide for us. Often we fail to acknowledge or notice what You are up to. Through your Spirit, give us eyes to see and hearts to perceive Your gracious work, even in the little things. And strengthen our hands to do the little things you have entrusted to us. We pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN!

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