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God Does Not Change

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James 1:17  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

We change like shifting shadows.  At least, our emotions do, our feelings do, our attitudes do.  We go through some amazing ups and downs in our lives.  All of us are like this.  Think of Peter and his life during the ministry of Jesus.  On one occasion, Peter was bold and unstoppable, even to the point of stepping out on water, fully intending to walk on it toward Jesus.  On another occasion, he was sullen, defeated, even to the point of denying that he knew who Jesus was.  On one occasion, Peter was wise and full of faith as he made one of history’s most powerful and timely confessions, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  On another occasion he had to be rebuked by Paul because he had given in to the pressures of viewing Gentiles as inferior.

Those who have children who are full of drama know that one minute, your daughter might be on top of the world because things are going well for her.  The next minute a comment, a tweet, an overheard conversation can send her into an emotional tailspin. 

God does not change like shifting shadows.  He’s the constant.  He is always loving, always powerful, always present, always gracious…no matter how we are, no matter how we feel.

These last few months in our society have been full of ups and downs, perhaps for many of us, like no other time in our lives.  We get deflated by news of rising illnesses.  Then we become hopeful when it looks like things may return to some sort of normalcy.  Then we fall backwards when we see violence happening rampantly in our society.  Ups and downs, ups and downs.  This is normal and human and expected.  Maybe that’s why God wants us to know that there is something, actually, Someone in our lives that is not tossed about by the waves, discouraged by the latest news, or defeated by something somebody says…Someone we can count on.

O Lord God, you do not change.  Through our ups and downs, may we be comforted by your steadfastness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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Can I Trust Him?

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“If God is for us, who can be against us?  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 8:31-32

Can I trust Him?   God, that is.  Can I trust Him?  That’s the question we all struggle with.  Day by day, week by week.   Can I trust Him?

Can I trust Him to help me in the midst of this dying relationship.  Can I trust Him to see me through this illness.  Can I trust Him to help me accept the pain of this loss.  Can I trust Him to get me through the financial mess I’m in.  Can I trust Him when my perfect plans for life have been derailed.  Can I trust Him when I don’t understand why all of this bad stuff is happening.  Can I trust Him when I can’t see where I’m going in life…

Can I trust Him?

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also with Him graciously give us all things?”

You see, the cross of Jesus says so clearly:  Yep, I can trust Him.

Because God is all in on this relationship.   If He was willing to give up His Son into death for us – and He was – then don’t you think He’s going to take care of everything else for us?

It’s not easy to trust.  Our weak and frail sinful nature wants God to do things the way we want Him to do things.  But He knows better.  Always. 

Lord, help me to trust You.  Because I know that You are for me in Christ.  Always.  Forever.

Gracious Heavenly Father, You have shown Your eternal commitment to me in the giving up of your Son on the cross for my salvation.  When I struggle to trust, point me always to the cross as the undeniable truth that you are for me and with me.  Help me by Your Spirit to trust Your plans, whatever they are.  Because You always know best.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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Storms

Matt. 8:23-27: Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

This is not meant to take anything away from the miracle itself.  Jesus calming the storm was an amazing act; something only God could pull off.  And so certainly, part of the point of Jesus doing that was so that the disciples would have yet another glimpse into who they were dealing with.  More and more they were beginning to understand that this Jesus wasn’t just an average carpenter or preacher.  The storm wasn’t the only thing that Jesus calmed that day.  And perhaps as great a miracle is what went on inside of the disciples.  Jesus calmed them. 

The wind and the waves were not the only unrest happening out on the lake.  Inside the boat, there was a lot of anxiety, panic, uncertainty, anger, helplessness.  This, while Jesus was sleeping.  With a word, Jesus took care of the external elements.  The waves died down, the wind stilled.  As for the disciples, they were amazed.  “Who is this?  Even the winds and the waves obey Him.”  In an instant, the disciples’ state was transformed from panic to peace, from anxiety to amazement, from helplessness to hope.  That’s what Jesus does…whether the storms go away immediately or not.

To be sure, the physical calming of the storm was key to the transformation of the disciples, but it was accomplished by Jesus with a word.  That Word of Jesus is available to us all the time.  Sometimes the storms don’t dissipate immediately.  But the Word is still present.  “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no ill, for thou art with me.”  “I will be with you always until the end of the age.”  Those are Words that calm storms today; the storms inside of us.  As the world continues in its chaos, the Words of our Lord don’t necessarily cause all the external wind and waves to dissipate immediately, but inside of us, the Word has exactly that effect.

Lord Jesus, may we be attentive to your Word, especially in the midst of all the storms.  Amen.


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Prayer Life

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“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  Romans 8:26-27

If your prayer life is anything like mine, it’s a rollercoaster.  There are times when I seem to get it.  My prayers come more freely, and I actually feel like I know what to ask for, and what to thank Him for.   And there are other times…I don’t even know what to say.  Worse, there are times when I resist praying, almost as if something is blocking me from praying.  Like a stream that has dried up completely.  In those times especially I often just mutter the Kyrie:  Lord, Have Mercy, Christ Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy.

And here’s the thing:  He does have mercy!  And these verses explain it: “Even when we don’t know what to pray for (as we ought), the Spirit Himself intercedes…”  

Do you understand what that means?  When your prayer life appears to have dried up…it hasn’t.  “The Spirit Himself intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

What incredible comfort this is!  But so typical of God.  Never depending on us, He reminds us to depend on Him and trust Him.  

So when your prayer life is struggling, rejoice.  The Spirit is interceding for you.  You are indeed a saint, holy by virtue of Christ’s holiness covering you.  

Merciful Father, in those times when our prayer-life appears to have dried up, remind us that in our weakness Your Spirit is still interceding for us.  We thank and praise You that because of what Jesus has done for us, we are rightly called saints.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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Be Joyful

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1Thes. 5:16-18  Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus

Perhaps these verses of the Bible are as good as any to follow Independence Day weekend.  These have been strange and trying times for our nation.  Those who watch the news regularly are treated to bad circumstance after bad circumstance.  And I suppose a natural reaction to all that has been going on, and all that we’re told about it, is to conclude that we have much to be sad about when it comes to the United States.  If that is our reaction, 1 Thessalonians 5 might be a good place to look.

     “Be joyful always.”  No, this nation is not perfect.  There are many things about it that are far from perfect.  Yet, may we be joyful?  One of the great things about this country is that we can be joyful in public, praising God for all the blessings He has given us.  This will probably look odd to the onlooker.  In the midst of tensions, disease, division, we remain joyful because we know that there is so much more to this country than that.  And most of all, because we have a God who continually, richly blesses us.

     “Pray continually.”  This goes without saying.  Maybe in recent times more than most, you and I have been in prayer for this country and our leaders and our circumstances.  It is what God would have us do.  And the fact that we are guided by God’s Word and His will for right and wrong makes our prayers especially accurate and important.  Through the good and bad of this country, Christians like us will keep praying.

     “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  While we are treated daily to all that’s wrong, you and I know how much there is for which to be thankful regarding the United States.  Start naming those things.  A short devotion like this wouldn’t even begin to touch the surface of all with which God has blessed us.  And while others choose to wring their hands and declare the baseness of this nation, you and I know that while there is so much work to do to make it better, we are thankful.  God shed His grace on America, and He continues to do so. 

     So let others determine how they view our nation these days.  You and I will approach God with joy, in prayer, and full of thanksgiving.

Prayer: O Lord God, with joy, we thank you for this nation.  And we continually pray that you may be recognized more and more in it.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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