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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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Contentment

Holy Bible under pink tulips
 
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” Philippians 4:12
 
When do you say, “That’s enough? We don’t need any more.” This is a huge step of discovery in a relationship. Go grocery shopping together with your spouse or with your adult child who is now living on their own. How much milk is enough? How many frozen pizzas do we need? Are two boxes of chocolate brownie mix going to do it? There are surprising discussions waiting to happen right there on aisle five.
 
Peace is having enough. And having enough means having a lot. And having a lot can mean you’re backing up to the door of the store and asking someone to help you load this all in the bed of your pickup. If peace is having enough, then you can never have too much.
 
We all naturally seek peace in plenty. Paul could understand that as he said that he knew what it was to have plenty. He had had good days with food, shelter and safety. But he didn’t define peace in those ways. He also knew the lack of all that. He was writing to the Philippians in our text from prison. He spoke of being the apostle in chains. And yet, he says repeatedly, “Rejoice!” 

What kind of peace is found when what you have is nowhere near enough? Those are the days when our saying of the Lord’s Prayer lingers on “Give us this day our daily bread.” We may have today’s bread, but we’re sure worried about tomorrow’s. To that Jesus reminds us that our heavenly Father knows what we need before we even ask. He feeds the birds and not one falls without his knowledge. We are worth far more than the sparrows. So, pray to the Father who knows what you need and has proven his love through the cross. The cupboard might not have as many boxes in it as you planned, but his promises still abound. His listening never ends and his love lasts for every day. With that, there’s enough.

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, thank you that you give us enough. You feed us, clothe us, shelter us and protect us. Give us more than enough trust in your promises, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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God’s Free Gift

view of cross during golden hour

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 ESV)

Martin Luther struggled.  He fully understood he wasn’t perfect.  He also knew that he could not measure up to God’s standards.  Wanting to be restored to the heavenly Father, Luther sought paths to the approval of God.  He tried good works, but how many good works would be needed to cover his sin?  He sought to punish himself, but what punishment would be sufficient to pay his debt before a perfect God?

We were created for a relationship with the Lord.  When we sinned we broke that relationship.  What still remains deep within us is the desire to be one with God.

This is why the religions of the world have developed methods and requirements to appease their gods.  Living up to certain standards will move one farther up the mountain to where their god resides.

Christianity is different.  The truth of Christianity is that God came down to us because we cannot work our way up to Him.  Jesus, God in the flesh, did all that was required of us for reconciliation with the heavenly Father.  Having obeyed the Law of God perfectly for the 33 years He walked our world, He took the guilt of our sins to the cross.  We are reminded by God’s Word that “The wages of sin is death.”  Not just a physical death—eternal death—HELL.  What Jesus experiences on the cross is a separation from the Father in heaven—which is HELL.  Jesus suffered hell on the cross so we do not have to.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for taking my place on the cross.  Thank You for sacrificing Yourself that I would be the forgiven child of God.  Allow Your Holy Spirit free reign within my heart and mind that I may be ever grateful for Your mercy and grace.  Amen.


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