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Praying

man holding his hands on open book
 
Colossians 4:2-3  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…
 
Paul gives us an idea of something we should add to our prayers.  And perhaps you already do this regularly.  These days, God’s people are doing a lot of praying.  We’re praying for those who are suffering.  We’re praying for ourselves that we may remain healthy.  We’re praying for more effective treatments and even a vaccine.  We’re praying a lot these days.  But here’s something we might add.  In Colossians 4, Paul is asking for prayers that doors might be opened for the proclamation of the Word.

Paul had a lot to pray for too.  He was writing to the Colossians from prison.  Paul was probably praying for release.  He was probably praying for the long awaited audience with Caesar.  He was probably praying for himself, that he might have strength.  But here, he is encouraging people, when they pray for him, to pray for opportunities.  He wanted opportunities to share the Gospel.

There are so many Christians who are like this.  There are those Christians in the hospital who hope for a roommate in their hospital room.  A roommate?  Yes, they want a roommate so that they could lean toward that person and give good news of Christ.  A faithful woman named Judy, confined to a wheelchair would get a new caregiver every few months on purpose.  Why?  So that she’d have someone new with whom to share Christ. 

In our current environment, there is much to pray for.  But how uniquely you and I are positioned to bring Christ into such confusing times.  Perhaps the opportunity to do that could be added to our daily prayers.
 
Prayer: O Lord God, in the midst of all we are asking from you, please open a door for us so that we may share the Good News of Christ with others…especially now.  Amen.

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How Are You Spending Your Time?

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones
 
“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3
 
How have you been spending your time during the “safer at home” period? Early during the shutdown, my wife and I thought it might be the perfect time to clean out closets and other storage spaces. I don’t mean some light rearranging, but rather a complete emptying of the space and going through everything to decide what to keep and what to let go. In the end, we ended up with bags and boxes of things to take to Goodwill. Unfortunately, Goodwill was closed so everything is still sitting in those same bags and boxes in our living room.
 
What have you been doing this past month? Based on news reports, many people have been using their time to binge watch their favorite programs or view other shows that the networks are showing to fill the time previously allocated to live sports.
 
But what about you? How have you been spending the time? Are you pleased and satisfied that your use of time has been God-pleasing and honoring of Him? Time, like everything we have, is a gift from God to us. How we use it is our gift to Him. How are we using it?
 
Throughout scripture, God calls us to feed on His Word and by it grow in His grace and truth. In His Word, God makes clear the reality of our natural state in sin, but also affirms His love for us as shown through His Son Jesus. That good news pours out as we journey through the scriptures and in it we find forgiveness, hope, and a strengthening of our faith.
 
As we continue through this the current pandemic, may you give yourself to feeding on God’s word and coming to Him in prayer. He is there to meet you and bless you for Jesus’ sake.
 
Prayer: Dear Father, while there is so much uncertainty in the world today, I am certain of Your love and promises. Your Word brings the truth of forgiveness of sins and a new life now and forever. Draw me ever closer to You until the day when we meet face to face. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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What Does Love Look Like?

Love decor on the window
 
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”  I John 3:16-18

What does love look like? 

I have a crucifix in my house in the living room.  It was carved in Ghana out of one piece of teak wood.  It’s beautiful.  Of all earthly possessions, that ranks right near the top for me.

And I think it’s so important to me because every time I see it, I’m reminded what love looks like.  Love looks like Jesus willingly dying on the cross for us.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

So, we know love, because Jesus died for us.  That’s what love looks like.  But love is not confined to what Jesus did for us.  His love compels us to lay down our lives for our brothers.  And John says, in very concrete terms, that helping our brothers who are in need is a way of showing love to others.

Love looks like Christians helping fellow Christians who are in need.  Love is sacrifice.  Jesus sacrificing Himself for us.  Christians willing to sacrifice ourselves for our brothers in need.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Dear Father, we thank You for the gift of Love, Jesus our Savior.  We thank You that You sent Him to die for us, that we might have forgiveness and new life.  Help us to share that Love with our brothers and sisters in the faith, as we meet their needs.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


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Heroes

black and pink love me printed textile
 
 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
 
Do you have a hero? Is there someone who you look up to? Many people do. There are those individuals who impact our lives and inspire us, they may even cause us to do more than we ever thought possible because we have seen it in them.
 
During the current pandemic, there are those in our society who are being called heroes. Frontline workers and first responders, doctors, nurses, and many others who continue to do their jobs despite the personal risk that they might be facing. We owe them our thanks, but especially thanks to God for those who are so willing to serve.
 
The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that we are constantly surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, or examples, of faith. These models, or heroes, of faith have gone before us and shown us what a life that focuses on God can be like. And that most perfect of all examples is, of course, Jesus. Much more than just an example or model though, Jesus is the very founder and perfecter of our faith. It is Jesus who, more than anyone else, we need to keep our eyes on as we continue this race of life.
 
Easier said than done. Our sinful, wandering eyes, so often drift away from Jesus and onto so many other distractions in life. But even when we lose sight of Him, Jesus never takes His eyes off us. He continues to pursue us and draw us back to Himself. He forgives us when we sin and helps us carry on toward the finish.
 
During these challenging days when so many activities have been canceled and businesses are closed, there is perhaps more opportunity than ever to give time to the reading of God’s Word and time in prayer. With all the uncertainty that now surrounds us, the certainty of God’s love will see us through.
 
Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for sending Jesus to go before us and to be even more than an example, but to be our Savior. May the forgiveness that He brings fill us with hope and peace to face the challenges of our time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Passing Judgement

be kind sign

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.  For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”  Romans 2:1

Few things come as naturally to us sinful human beings as judging others.  It’s so easy.  Doesn’t matter if we’re judging behavior or personality, hair style or work performance.  And, of course, when we judge others we’re instinctively trying to lift ourselves up, make ourselves feel better or superior in some way.

It’s sad, really.

And most of us our pretty good at justifying our judging.  We may even consider it a godly thing,that we’re recognizing and pointing out sin.  But it’s the motivation that condemns us.  We rarely are wishing for the good of those we’re judging.   We just want to put them down because it makes us feel good.

But Paul in our passage presents an even more damning problem with our judging.  We do the very same things as those we’re judging.  Check yourself.  Who have you been judging lately, and for what “sin.”  Are you struggling with the same sin?  I checked myself while writing this…and repented quickly as I realized Paul was exactly right.

Of course the good news is exactly what we need to hear.  Jesus absorbed all the judgment of the Father that we rightly deserved.  Instead of deflecting it to us who earned it, he let it fall on Him – and it killed Him.  But death could not contain Jesus, and sin cannot contain us.  So repent, rejoice that you are forgiven, and leave the judging to God.
 
Dear Father in Heaven:  I confess today that I often judge others.  Forgive me, for Your Word has condemned me so completely.  And help me, that in my relationships with others, I might be one who lifts up and encourages.  In Jesus my Savior’s name I pray, Amen.


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