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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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A Passage and A Prayer 3/11/19


“Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning… they were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off (from God), and said to Moses, ‘Please, you speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we are going to die.’” [Exodus 19]

 
You would probably love to hear from God, wouldn’t you? I have thought before, “God, please just speak with me. Let me know you are here. I need to know what you are up to, what you are thinking!” The people in the Old Testament had a lot they wanted to talk to God about, too. But when God actually spoke, they were overwhelmed. They were afraid they were going to die! Even though they knew who God was, they were not ready to hear him speak to them.
 
Are you ready to hear from God? Thanks to our relatives millennia ago, it is unlikely that God again will speak like he did on Mt. Sinai, but Jesus is the Word made flesh, and the Bible is the Word written down for all people. Are you turning to the Bible to hear what God has to say? We need to make ourselves available to hear from God, and God has chosen to speak to us today mainly through the Bible, which has been passed down from our ancestors so that we might know what God has to say.
 
Challenge: Open the Bible today and hear from God. If you don’t know where to start, begin with the book of John. Or the Psalms. But start. And keep going for the rest of the challenge. If you need help, go online and search for a Bible reading plan (like this one) or download the YouVersion Bible app. No more excuses: get in God’s word. Jesus has promised to meet you there.
 
Dear Jesus, we want to be with You. We want to hear from You. Speak to us, and bless us as we read the Bible. Show up and speak truth and life into our hearts and minds. Give us guidance and peace. We know that You are present in our lives; help make it even clearer as we read the Scriptures. In Your name we pray, Amen.


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