DAILY
DEVOTIONALS







Friday, February 3, 2023

Verse

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. - Matthew 13:44-46

Meditation

Clearly the treasure and the pearl are the focal point of these two parables and most of us reading this today would skip over this section if reading in this chapter because we are presently experiencing the joy of the kingdom of heaven. But, what if. What if the point of us reading these two parables today is to understand that as followers of Christ we might be the field or the case where the treasure/pearl is located for someone still searching? Christ in us may be the treasure or pearl that leads someone to discovering a relationship with Christ for themselves and the kingdom of heaven. Living out our own relationship with Christ with humility in ways that honor Christ’s instructions for us is a greater testimony than any words we can speak. Don’t bypass the parables because you’ve already discovered the treasure, read them again and again knowing God is using you as a conduit of grace so others can have the pearl for themselves. Our life lived large for Christ may be the means of grace for just one person struggling to find hope, struggling to find real peace, struggling to find answers they’ve been searching for. We are fields with hidden treasure, Christ. We are jewelry cases displaying pearls, Christ. Allow God to use you to be the place where those searching can see Christ, the Son of the Living God. There is no greater honor we can be given by God. And then offer a shovel or a key so they can have for themselves the richest of all relationships.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, open our hearts to the blessing and joy of desiring to be the place where treasure is seen. Don’t let us fear that, let us embrace it. May we live each moment of our life reflecting the glory of Jesus Christ. Guide us to fulfillment of the challenge before us. In your Son’s name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Verse

12 In a loud voice they were singing:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” - Revelation 5:12

Meditation

I have no clue what the weather is like in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, today, but I know if Phil the groundhog lived in Alabama and if we could rely on the legend, we would start moving our short sleeve shirts and flip-flops to the front of our closet in anticipation of an early Spring. However, what we really know as the result of rain or shine in Pennsylvania today is that Spring will come. Sooner or later. What I know today is that one day we will stand before the throne of God and sing praise to the Lamb of God which declares all that He is worthy of. One day. Not a day I can predict according to the events of the world or from reading the smartest biblical scholars. I do know it will be one day and it is going to be a glorious day. Of greater value than moving our Spring and Summer clothes to the front of our closet in preparation of something that might or might not happen soon, is living our life in a manner worthy of standing before the throne of God and singing with the masses who have gathered alongside us. We don’t know when that day will be, but we do know it could be sooner or later. In fact, it will be right on time, God’s perfect timing. We don’t want to miss standing before the throne of God or waste one moment seeking to honor God while following Christ in the present. We want to live today in the fullness of all the blessings and favor of being a child of God with our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and at the same time be encouraged by the promise of worshiping Him with all the saints at His throne. Our faith is a now and then faith. There are blessings in both. We don’t know when the throne room worship will commence any more than we know when Spring will come, but I will prepare my heart and mind with much greater fervor than I will preparing for warm weather. Live in the now and then and get ready to worship!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help us live today with great anticipation of one day worshiping in the heavenly realms. May we instill a now and then understanding of our faith at the forefront of our minds. Lead us to a place of honoring you in every aspect of our life. Forgive us for being short sighted and not embracing the scene at the throne. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Verse

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Therefore, let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence (boldly), so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews 4:14-16

Meditation

If I were to update my devotion file and be able to count how many times I have written from these verses, I might be embarrassed. You might think I am stuck. What I am certain about is that we all need to be reminded and encouraged to go to God with confidence and lay before Him, who sits on a throne, our are weaknesses, our struggles, our heartache, yes, the things on our heart and mind. As followers of Christ we have many things in common, one of those being need. We all wake up every day with needs of various types and varying degrees of urgency. This context of these verses is clearly referencing our needs related to sin and our high priest who understands them all and will provide help. The whole of scripture provides us an understanding of our high priest which allows us to not only take our weaknesses related to sin to him, but in a broader sence he understands all our weaknesses and struggles regardless of the root cause. Our weaknesses, however defined, create our need for a high priest and I believe, without question, the writer is encouraging us to approach God’s throne with confidence and find help in our time of need. There are so many things in our life which we have no ability to do what God’s mercy and grace can do as it is poured out through the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Many people like to call Wednesday hump day. We woke up this morning with humps, things to get over or past, in which our only hope is for Jesus Christ to be our High Priest, who empathizes, understands, much more than just know about, every hump we have and is stretching out his hand to help us over them. Do not hesitate to approach the throne of grace with boldness in order that you will receive mercy, not getting what you deserve to get, and find grace, the undeserved favor of God beyond the blessing of mercy. Finally, thrones are places where kings sit. Do miss the opportunity today to walk with confidence and boldness and stand before the throne of the King of Kings! He has mercy and grace to impart into your life.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we stand before your throne and pause to pour out our weaknesses into your loving arms. We do this confidently and with confidence believing you will help us in our time of need. We believe our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, understands our every need and we claim the promise of help. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Verse

24 “Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” - Mark 4:24-25

Meditation

It is easier to project meaning than discover meaning. It is much easier to project the rich get richer and the poor get poorer on this text and then totally blow it out of proportion. And unfortunately this text and similar ones are used by preachers to coerce people in one way or another. So let’s try to discover the meaning. Let me literally connect verses 23 and 24 and you will begin to see. “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Consider carefully what you hear, ...” The verses which follow would then be referencing the teaching on light and not hiding the lamp of Christ. These verses are more about growing and maturing in Christ than the rich and poor. If you are diligent to exercise for say one year then take a year off, what happens? You lose all the benefits of exercising for the year. But if you continue to exercise what happens? You get stronger and healthier. The more we allow the light of Christ to guide us and expose danger, the more knowledge and understanding and desire we will have to follow Him. When we hide our lamp, hide Jesus, we, for all practical purposes, lose what understanding we’ve obtained simply because we don’t use it. Consider what you hear.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, let your truth be my direction and let me be a lifelong carrier of the light of Christ. Increase in me knowledge and understanding of being a torch bearer. May your words infuse my life and fill me to greater measure. Help me to use all I know every moment. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Verse

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. 8 When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. 9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. - Mark 3:7-9

Meditation

It’s only 120 miles from Jerusalem to Capernaum. At a minimum it was several days worth of travel involved. The people were willing to make huge, very practical sacrifices to find Jesus. Families went along, jobs were left behind, budgets were squeezed. Friends made fun of them but they went anyway. Why? For the same reasons we seek Jesus. When people find themselves tired, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, something needs to change. They are tired of feeling hopeless, or tired of the chaos, or tired of hurting, or tired of one bad decision after another. They seek Jesus. When people hear of a better way of life and see it lived out in real human beings and see radical transformation, they seek Jesus. When people become keenly aware of eternity, they seek Jesus. Several days and 120 miles seems inconsequential when compared to continuing life which yields no joy or satisfaction. So many came, so many crowded around Jesus that he had to find relief from the sheer numbers. These people who forced Jesus into a boat weren’t as protective of their reputation as we are. They needed to be made new and they didn’t care who knew it. We seem to care much more. We tend to project a problem free life. We tend to want to look perfect to our friends. The reality is, we need to seek Jesus.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, do not let time or distance or risk come between us and an encounter with Jesus. We need to be made new and I come running to your arms. I seek you today to give you open space to do what needs to be done in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Verse

13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. - Mark 3:13-19

Meditation

Oh that we would be on the list. We crave being on the list, the invitation list, the Dean’s list, the “best of” list, the service award list, or the achievement list. And the list goes on. But there are lists we never want to be on. The most wanted list, the crime stopper’s list, the collector’s list, or the surgeon’s list. And the list goes on. Then there is the list we have no choice in the matter. The called list. The appointed list. The “Jesus is in charge of” list. Follow along with me as we follow Mark’s account for what may be a little different twist on the story. Mark records Jesus calling the first disciples. There were four. Simon, Andrew, James, John, and says follow me. He calls Levi and says follow me. Between the account of Levi and our text today, many followed and accepted Christ. Then, he selects twelve, calls twelve, appoints twelve, some translations say ordained twelve, as apostles. Among all the followers, disciples, he called twelve and gave them a specific task, to walk alongside him and preach, drive out demons, teach, heal. Those who choose to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are followers, disciples. Among the disciples he chooses people for specific tasks. For some it means a full time calling to a paid ministry. I believe for a majority it means finding your niche in his redemptive kingdom work. Teaching 3rd grade Sunday School. Leading a short term mission trip which leads to a love for missions of all types. Singing in the choir or praise team. I believe the church needs to rediscover the sense of God calling, appointing, people to work within the Body of Christ. The calling may be for a season of time or for your season of life. I believe your level of effectiveness is elevated when you discover a call to serve the kingdom instead of just saying yes to a job. Jesus still calls. It’s a list you want to be on!

Prayer

Jesus Messiah, if you have a calling for me please call with clarity. I know longer just want a job in your kingdom, I want an anointed calling as a result of an appointment. I surrender all to you and your kingdom. Get me and my humanness out of the way so I might serve the kingdom with effectiveness. Give me ears to hear your calling. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Verse
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) - John 4:5-8

Meditation

A chance encounter. The timing was perfect. Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Many years ago the strangest thing happened. A high school, college, and church friend of mine and I saw each other during the Thanksgiving holidays at a totally unplanned time while we were both in our hometown, Tuscumbia, visiting family. Not so strange until it happened three years in a row! We joked about it being some sort of sign but never came to any conclusions. There is no question why Jesus and the Samaritan woman met at that well. It would be the encounter that would change her life and the lives of many in her hometown. No one ever wondered why she met Jesus. Her meeting Jesus at high noon that day was born out of timing and social correctness. Not detailed planning. Not because she wanted to. Not because Jesus needed to add one more person to his transformed list. Encounters with Jesus can happen in the strangest places at the strangest times. Don’t dismiss them as unimportant because the circumstances aren’t religious or right in your eyes. This is not the first story recorded where Jesus spent time with the most unlikely person at the most unlikely time. Jesus just may initiate a conversation with you at any moment. He may need water. You may need a transforming moment with Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, orchestrate our steps today which lead us into your presence. May our spirit be sensitive in the most unsuspecting moments of our day. Help us to see you in the middle of the moment. Transform us into your likeness even if it’s at a well. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Verse

21 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. 22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” - Mark 2:21-22

Meditation

Remodeling never turns out to be just what was originally planned. The new makes the old look bad. The new master bathroom requires the master bedroom to be remodeled which makes the paint in the hallway look bad which exposes the kitchen. Before all is said and done building a new house was feasible. Jesus came to pour new wine into new wineskins. He came to make new, not remodel one or two rooms. His story was new. His redemption was new. The people he encountered were made new. The way he lived out the redemption story was new. He ate with sinners. He touched the unclean. There were those who wanted Jesus to protect the status quo and just keep pouring into old wineskins. Keep eating with the elite. Leaving the lepers to themselves. Everything about Jesus is new. New birth. New life. New relationship. Jesus is still pouring new wine into new wineskins. He is still going to all the trouble to pre-shrink the cloth before it’s sewn on. And yet we often behave and react like the status quo because we think we have encountered all the possibilities of new things. But in the mystery of God’s timing, we encounter a tax collector and receive an invitation to eat. Jesus is into new things. Seek a new thing to intersect with today. 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I boldly ask you to do something new in my life today. Strengthen my faith to gladly receive whatever you desire for me. Let me patiently live in the mystery of just praying for something new. All your ways are perfect and it will be perfect for me. Yes, open my eyes to see your new way for my life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Verse

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

Meditation

When Jesus came to be with us in human form, everything began to change including seeing the glory of God in His Son. Remember the Israelites were not allowed to see His glory, have access to His presence, etc. We can now see His glory, something very difficult to explain or define. The best I can do is to say something like this. It is all the awe and wonder of His spirit, His character. It is all of who God is and we will continually discover what that means over our lifetime. We will really never know the full scope and wonder of the character of God. It is the essence of God and it was manifested in His Son so we could get a glimpse of what it is. The glory of God is the context of heaven. Angels singing, elders worshiping, all of God being experienced. We’ve had moments when maybe we experienced the glory of God. Whether in worship or on a walk, it dawns on us that the glory of God was in our presence. When I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time I sensed the glory of God. The truth we need to live in is when the glory is in the room or in our presence, nothing else really matters because all of who God declares to be is all that matters. Songs don’t matter. Sermons don’t matter. The glory of God matters. We are able to see it in Jesus Christ and given the honor and privilege of experiencing it at moments we don’t plan or expect. But that is who God is and we should live with anticipation that His glory will be in the room or any place at any moment. It is an experience we cannot thank Him enough for.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for opening the windows of heaven and pouring out your glory through your Son. With Moses, we pray, show me your glory. Without your glory and presence going with us throughout this day we will be lost. Go before us and be all around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Verse

12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” - Acts 1:12-14, 23-25

Meditation

The eleven apostles returned to Jerusalem and without explanation they gathered others and for a period of time they prayed. And they prayed constantly. They were wise enough to know what was ahead of them was a monumental endeavor. A pressing need they recognized was to replace Judas. We are given an explanation of this need between verses fourteen and twenty-three. After Peter explained the reason behind the need, they prayed because they were wise enough to know this decision was critical. This is a good principle for all of us to learn and apply to our life. When what is in front of us seems gigantic and there arises needs which are immediately pressing, we need to pray. There are many reasons we might think we don’t have time to pray, but I want to suggest we can’t not pray in these situations. They are too important. Once we learn to bring the big, critical, important and urgent decisions to God in prayer, it will become natural and we will bring all of them to Him in prayer. Focused prayer is the best prayer, but seeking God in continual prayer as part of a multi-tasking moment is permissible. This is probably not a new concept for many of you and for that I rejoice. My hope is that it will become a principle for everyone. When life changing decisions come before us, don’t take one more step until you have prayed and sought guidance from God’s throne. It will clearly be the best guidance you will receive.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we bring all our decisions before you today and pray that you will unmistakably give clear guidance to us. We want to make great decisions and know that is only possible because of your involvement in the process. So we pause to pray and seek you in all things. Thank you for caring about the life of your children. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Verse

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. . . . 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. - Galatians 5:22-23, 25

Meditation

Fruit is a food group that seems to be pleasant, doesn’t cause great health issues, is included in the food pyramid, and is a part of most all healthy eating plans. It all seems good until it’s not. There is that one fruit you just can’t put in your mouth. It’s different for everybody. For some it might be pineapple or kiwi or peaches. We then come to the place where fruit is our friend if we can be selective. We might say something like, “I love fruit as long as I don’t have to eat blueberries.” I would not be surprised that if honesty was the prevailing guide of our thoughts, we might say something like, “I love the fruit of the Spirit as long as I don’t have to show any self-control.” “I love the fruit of the Spirit as long as I don’t have to be kind to certain people.” It is ok to think about fruit in that way, but it is definitely not ok to think about the fruit of the Spirit that way. The good news for us this morning is that they are not called the fruit of Alan, or the fruit of any person. They are the fruit of the Spirit. I included the short phrase from verse twenty-five to remind us of the plan for bearing all nine of the fruit in our life. Yes, that is the plan. We are to bear all nine in our life. We don’t get to choose. Gifts of the Spirit are unique to an individual, the fruit of the Spirit are universal to all people. There is no possible way to navigate the reality of fruitful living without being led by the Spirit. Paul wrote to the church in Rome that the righteous, the Christ followers, live by faith. It is no more true than when bearing all nine fruit of the Spirit in our walk with Him. Faithfully live by the Spirit’s guidance and you will begin to see all the fruit manifested. Make it a matter of conversation with God. Be mindful of your weak areas. Lift those to the top of the conversational agenda with God. Lean into the spiritual health of all the fruit of the Spirit and don’t be discouraged by the one you don’t like.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we yield ourselves to you and the Holy Spirit so that we might bear all of your fruit in our life. Prick our hearts in the places that need pricking. Prune us where we need pruning. Strengthen our faith so we are truly living by faith and not leaning on our own understanding of what that means. Thank you for leading us by your Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Verse

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;

    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the Lord, my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

    and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. - Psalm 103:1-5

Meditation

Balance. It is important in many ways. When we stop and think, practical living is impossible without balance. Walking is impossible without balance. Inner ear problems illustrate the point. Or playing the game of spinning around a baseball bat ten times and trying to walk is another example. Your car driving properly depends on the correct balance of the tires. Our spiritual lives depend on balance in many ways. We need balance among all the disciplines of spiritual life. This psalm reminds us to seek balance between intercession, supplication and thanksgiving.  These few verses point out the many important prayers of intercession for ourselves and others we have prayed, seeking forgiveness, redemption, and satisfaction. Forgiveness and redemption are huge and eternally critical, our desires are often small and bless us with good things. If we are going to pray and ask, we need to pray and praise. I believe God will lead you to the place of balance in praying during whatever season of life you find yourself in. There are days when all you will do is cry out to God for help in times of trouble and difficulty. There are days when you can just breathe and relax and joyfully sing praises and give thanks for the goodness of God. When we approach the throne of grace, the place of the presence of God, approach with balance. Be mindful of adoration and praise. Include it if at all possible alongside the most critical and heaviest needs of your life. Balance while walking keeps you on a straight path, balance while praying keeps you on a straight spiritual relationship with the Lord.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, in the midst of many needs each of us have, we pause to adore your name, praise your holiness, and give thanks for all you have done for us. We give thanks for your goodness and grace. We give thanks for your provision. We give thanks that we are your children. We praise you because of who you are and what you do. (Continue in your own words. Be specific.) In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Verse

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” - Genesis 22:12-14

Meditation

It seems that Abraham was constantly called on to be obedient when it made absolutely no sense to obey. When obedience is not logical we naturally struggle. Think about the beginning of his relationship with God. Obedience meant abandoning his place and possessions and moving to a new land. Then he gets settled and is asked to take his only son Isaac, put him on an altar, and sacrifice him. Don’t miss the symbolism here. Go back early in this story and when Isaac asks about the sacrifice, Abraham assures him the Lord will provide. You and I might agree that arriving at an understanding of God providing as He did for Abraham is not an easy task. On a day to day basis we have questions about provision and oftentimes it is related to what we think is being obedient. And it makes no sense but we trust and move forward. And then we doubt and pull back our commitment to being obedient. We ask like Isaac did and we hear, don’t worry it will be provided. But we wonder. If you find yourself in a place like Abraham or Isaac, trust in the character of God that He will provide. It may not make one bit of sense and there might be difficulty ahead, but we know obedience often requires great faith and trust in the Lord who is mightier than all the obstacles we see in front of us. I love this story because it encourages me to keep believing God will provide and gives me hope in all things. Maybe there is a place or time when God has provided and you need to revisit that place and lay claim to the truth, The Lord Will Provide. He will. He is Jehovah Jireh.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for providing for us when we could see no way. Make us ever mindful of the times you have provided where you truly were our only hope and it made no sense in our mind. Give us greater faith to be obedient when you lead us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Verse

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. - Ephesians 4:29-32

Meditation

Connected but separate. Describes a lot of things these days. People are connected because we together make up the human race, we live in the same city, state or country, but we are separated in so many ways. It reaches the point that separation, which leans more toward disagreement, turns into absolute division. God had no intention for people to be as divided as it appears we are. We need to be reminded of Paul’s words which are connected but separate. In four verses we have four exhortations from Paul that certainly can stand alone but are connected as well. The first is to build people up with your words and simply set aside destructive conversation. The second reminds us that when we fall prey to sin we grieve the heart of God and the Holy Spirit. Be mindful of the temptations that come your way. The third is a simple list of destructive behavior that should be eliminated from your life. Read the list of verse 31 and you will notice that each of those destroy human relationships. Just get rid of them. And finally a truth which builds healthy relationships. Kindness, compassion and forgiveness is what will keep us connected and not invoke disagreement and ultimately harmful division. Don’t skip over the very last phrase. We are to forgive just as God has forgiven us. Because of Christ. Because of redemption given through Christ. It is not hard to conclude Paul had one thought in mind when writing these verses and it is fair to put them all together. Paul’s desire is strong, healthy relationships in the Body of Christ which is evident from the context of the entire chapter. He knows this produces the most effectiveness in the kingdom work we are called to. Let the glue of your heart and mind bind these together and let’s celebrate effectiveness in the kingdom.

Prayer

Forgiving God, build us up with your truth and do not let our actions tear down what you have created in your children. Control our hearts and mouths so we only build others up and do not grieve you in any way. Cleanse us of what destroys us and fill us with your kindness and compassion in all things. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Verse

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” - John 17:25-26

Meditation

John recorded for us three heartfelt prayers of Jesus he prayed just before the crucifixion process began. He prayed for himself, his disciples, and all believers as a group. Notice he prayed for himself the least, he prayed for those he knew best the most, and in between is the prayer for all believers. The humility of Jesus is overwhelming. He had the greatest need at this point yet he moved on quickly to pray for others. And when he prayed for himself it was a prayer that his Father would ultimately receive glory in what was to come. He prayed the disciples would be protected and remain steadfast as they proclaim truth in a broken world. I can imagine Jesus is still praying that prayer over followers of Him to this day. We know and have heard dozens of sermons on his final prayer being one of unity for all believers. Much needed in our world today. Today, I want to focus on the final sentence as it is often overlooked because of the focus on unity. If we can center our minds on this truth, then understanding why we always want to proclaim truth becomes much easier. Here it is. We are to make Christ known to people in order that the love God had for his Son may be in each and every person. However you would describe the love God had for his only Son Jesus Christ is the same love Jesus is praying each of us will experience. It is very difficult for me to wrap my mind around living day to day with that depth of love undergirding each and everything I do. I have experienced it first hand but it is hard for me to understand. But I want to live in that context. I want to live passionately so no one escapes the reality of experiencing the truth of God’s saving grace in order to possess that depth of love. It will not always be pretty, some days tough love will be necessary. But compassion for hurting people and lost souls will guide me. I want the love God the Father had for His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to be planted in my heart and soul and allow that love to guide each step I take.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us so much that you would allow us to experience the same love you have for your Son. Now teach us to live in that love. Teach us to fully understand what it means in our relationship with you and what it means as we proclaim truth to the world. Let us love like you love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Verse

9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

Meditation

They finally made it. The people of God stand at the cusp of occupying the land they had been promised and one of the first things Joshua is told by God after taking over the leadership position is to be strong and courageous. Uh oh. Trouble must be looming. They saw a breakthrough coming and assumed it would be smooth sailing and they hear it will take strength and courage. Probably not what they wanted to hear. We’ve been there before. We experience breakthrough and stand at the cusp of occupying a better way or putting difficulty behind us. And we see Jericho. We see stronger people and many more of them. We see walls. We hear God saying be strong and courageous. Fear comes over us. We want to retreat but we recall these words that are so familiar to us. Be strong and courageous. We think we can’t. But we can. We dwell on the four words but we need to live in the twelve words. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. God’s word to Joshua and the people of Israel are not devoid of His presence. Oh we try to act like they are and try to find strength and courage within ourselves. The word to Joshua and the word to us is that our strength and courage to face Jericho and the mass of people is that God will be present with us wherever we go. When we try to bow our chest out and let everybody see how strong we are, God whispers in our spirit to suck our chest back in and remember that it is the strength of God in us that gives us strength and courage to occupy the land we have been promised. Look at the words that follow be strong and courageous. It is not about what we can do. Our life depends on understanding and living in the words that follow. Lay fear aside. Lay discouragement aside. God is with you wherever you go. Let us live into the fact that His presence is with us as we stand staring at a river knowing the walls of Jericho are on the horizon.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we confess there are so many things we let create fear in us and discourage us to the point of dysfunction. When we face fear and discouragement may we hear clearly that you will be with us wherever we go and draw strength and courage from that promise. We choose this day not to take one step without knowing your presence is with us. We will be strong and courageous because of You and You alone. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Verse

15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” - 1 Peter 1:15-16

Meditation

Holiness was not birthed at Pentecost nor is it a New Testament concept. That may surprise you because we often think it is. The truth about the command to be holy is it was part of the law recorded in Leviticus. Ponder that for a moment. Holiness was part of the law. They don’t seem to go together but they do. You should go back and read Leviticus 19:2 and 20:7. It is Yahweh speaking. And when Yahweh said be holy because I am holy, the hearers took it seriously and would cause them to fall to their knees. Being holy originated with the One who was so holy that if a person was to see His face he would surely die. I’m not sure we as the present people of God understand the depth of what being holy means. We know it means to be set apart and to be pure and righteous. But do we really know what it means to be set apart, pure and righteous as the Holy One is? I could offer up some practical ideas on what it means to be holy because I always like to be practical. But I’m not sure that is productive as we ponder the concept. What I will say is this. Out of the original context of the command comes the idea of holiness as living every moment in awe and reverence of a holy God. I invite us all to give some thought to what it would mean to move through our day and in every way let the holy nature of God guide our thoughts and actions. When the scripture says to be something because God is like that it means we are to model His character. What would it mean for me and you to truly model the character of God? Daunting but doable. Not because we can, but because God can.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, fashion each of us, teach us, lead us in the way of living each moment letting your character guide us. We confess that too often we try to be holy in the flesh, and yet we realize that you must be holy through our spirit. Help us understand being holy is a supernatural act on your part in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Verse

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be expected.” - Luke 19:47-48

Meditation

It is hard to determine if we have been given much. We can try to measure it in financial position but when we do we can always think of someone who has more. The line between much and little is hard to determine no matter what perspective we start from. There is probably a better way to apply this scripture to us than trying to determine the difference between much and little, and maybe even the perception of having nothing. Consider the fact that as a Christ-follower, we all have something. The scriptures are pretty clear about that fact. We have the gift of salvation. That’s certainly something! We also know from scripture to each is given gifts uniquely chosen by God for each of us. So we have something. Think of our “something”, salvation, gifts, as our “much”. We all have much in the sight of God and as part of the maturing process of faith, more is required. It’s a fluid concept, not static. Then beyond that, much more is expected. Remember these are the words of Jesus so we can bank on them being true and apply to everyone. It is as if Jesus is focusing on the baseline and is simply asking as we live and serve in the kingdom He put in motion, seek to raise the baseline. There are many things in scripture which have a required baseline and then expectation beyond the baseline. Discover who you are in Christ and then use that discovery to live and participate in the kingdom. Then, ask God to guide you to some understanding of what much more means for you. It will be different for everybody. But everybody has been given much for the sake of the kingdom and if we are given much, the much more is expected. God will lead you to the place of your “much” becoming more for His glory and His kingdom

Prayer

Heavenly Father, lead us into a place of discovery so we not only are using whatever you have given us as we understand it, but we will understand the revelation of much more. We cannot do this on our own, but we can far exceed our expectations with your help. So guide us into new places of fulfilling what you desire in each of us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Verse

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. - Daniel 3:26-27

Meditation

You know the story without reading the story. The story of Daniel’s three friends who stood with him not defiling themselves and dishonoring the Lord over the royal food and wine the King had ordered them to partake in. Now they are faced with another decision about dishonoring the Lord. They are facing a fire. Do they worship the King’s ninety foot image or do they worship Yahweh? When they actually faced the fire for disobeying the King they made two great declarations. Yahweh will save them and even if He doesn’t they would rather die than worship the image and abandon their relationship with Yahweh. We can identify with the first declaration. When faced with choices around our relationship with God, we say no to the bad choice in the right spirit. I’m not sure I can identify with the second declaration, the even if statement given the consequences they faced. I would certainly hope I could be that strong in my faith as these three men were, but most likely my faith needs to grow in the even if situations if I am honest. Intellectually I fully understand the spiritual dynamic of living with an even if level of faith. Living in the reality of the principle requires some soul searching. And I also understand that my flesh is constantly warring against my spirit. We will rarely be faced with the circumstances and consequences these three men faced, but we will be faced with furnaces of fire. When we face our fires, let’s first believe without question that God will save us from the fire we face. And then ask God to move us toward even if faith. I’m with you in the journey.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we believe, yes we believe, you will save us from every fire we face. We believe you are greater than and more powerful than every fire before us. But we desire even if faith and we pray you move and teach us to live with faith greater than we can understand. We want to believe and stand strong like these three men. Thank you for always being with us in the fire. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Verse

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

Meditation

The story of the Israelites finally entering the Promise Land is a fascinating story. They were at the point of achieving all they had hoped and dreamed for. All they had to do was cross the river and they were home free. So they thought. Wait. First they had to deal with the death of their leader and Joshua taking over that role. Then, they cross the Jordan River and it’s not heaven on earth as they expected. They encountered the enemy. All the goodness and beauty of this land they had been promised turns out to be occupied by the enemy and they had to defeat them before they could go an inch further. We can imagine what was going through their minds. You might have crossed the river into 2023 thinking you were walking into your promised land. I hope it is! I hope you are walking into a year of fruitfulness and blessing. But, you might have already encountered the enemy and you are thinking it is more of the same and you cannot take any more of the enemy. I want to encourage you to be strong and courageous because the Lord is with you wherever you go. The Israelites had to walk around Jericho for six days and nothing happened but they did it out of obedience. It was on the seventh day when the trumpet sounded, the enemy was defeated. When they faced the Red Sea the waters were separated and they walked through. They faced Jericho and walked around it for seven day. Although facing your enemy, walk with the Lord and be obedient to his commands and your day of overcoming the enemy will come. We might have to walk through parted waters or around a city, but the day of defeat of the enemy is coming. Keep marching!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we don’t necessarily understand strength and courage facing the enemy but we declare it over our life today. We pray you will come into us with strength and power to walk with us wherever we go. Courage will come when you walk with us. We give thanks for your presence when we face the enemy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Verse

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. . . . 9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. . . . 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him. - Genesis 6:5-6, 9, 22

Meditation

We want to be Noah. In the midst of the Lord’s regret for what he saw in humanity, there was Noah who was righteous, blameless and walked faithfully with God. The result of Noah being who he was is obedience. Thinking in terms of our context, it would be fair to say the Lord sees great wickedness in the human race. Fortunately, God covenanted with His people never to destroy humanity again. We as followers of Christ are left to stand among the wickedness of the human race and determine who we will be. That’s a daunting task but it is reality. A foundational principle of our relationship with God is freedom of choice. Practically speaking, the things we choose to do, we are more passionate about. God wants us to choose to love Him and when we do we can choose to let Him lead us in a life of righteousness, seeking to be blameless, walking faithfully, and being obedient. We want to be Noah. We don’t want his assignment, but we want the assignment God has given us and we should want to stand among the wickedness of our day and be known to have character very similar to Noah. Yes, we will stand out but that is ok. We are in a season of time when Christ followers need to stand out, their voice heard, and become an influencer in people’s lives and our society. The choice is ours. Be light but not light rendered ineffective by trying to be light under a bowl. We are to shine brightly and when we shine brightly we will lead people to Christ. Be Noah. Righteous. Blameless. Faithful. Obedient.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us a choice. May we choose to follow you in every aspect of our life. Lead us to the character of Noah so that our lives reflect your holiness. Help us to recognize and avoid the temptations of evil and wickedness. Let us choose you and not the ways of the world. Please God, lead us today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Verse

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

Meditation

It’s hard not to be anxious. I am reminded of that because two years ago today I was being taken to the hospital with Covid. Anxious. Believe me, after my bout with Covid, I now have a greater understanding of being anxious and trying to deal with it. As I think back and first realize how blessed I am, then try to grow forward in different areas of my life, I have to admit I probably didn’t handle my anxiety too well. None of us do, really. In fact, I can think of one or two particular moments when my anxiety over the severity of my illness was at its height. It was then I had to most lean into the truth of God’s word and constantly remind myself to give my need in that moment to God and let His peace guard my heart and mind. Think about the times you have been anxious. What happens? Your heart races and your mind brings to the forefront the worst thoughts. At that very point we need God to guard our heart and mind with His healing presence and peace. Oftentimes our anxious moments involve something we cannot immediately do anything about. Paul’s word to us is to enter into the presence of God, prayer, ask God for help around the need, petition, and with a spirit of thanksgiving, lay the need in the hands of God. Calm, peace, not that we will understand one moment of it, will then guard our heart and mind. It’s hard not to be anxious. It takes mountains of faith to believe and be thankful that peace can come when anxiety appears to overwhelm us. When we are out of control in a situation, we lean into the power of God to be in control and his presence comes to bring unexplainable peace. Paul does not use the word promise in this text but it is one of the most powerful promises of scripture. Let this promise be solidly grounded in your spirit.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we place all our anxious moments in your hands and ask that you bring supernatural peace to our life. We may not understand it but we need it and we confess that only You can bring calm and peace when we are totally out of control in a situation. We lay hold of this great promise today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Verse

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. - Romans 8:18

Meditations

A new year for some reason always brings encouragement and hope that things will be better than the previous year. There are things that happened in 2022 we might categorize as “sufferings” that we surely don’t want to continue or to happen again in 2023. I understand. Last February it took two surgeries to get rid of one kidney stone. In terms of surgery compared to what many people had last year, it might be seen as minor and not life threatening or lifestyle altering. But I can assure you I don’t want to go through that again. Many people, or most, maybe even all, have suffered loss of various types or broken relationships to some degree or another. I would say every person experienced something in 2022 they would consider along with Paul as “sufferings.” Some minor, others major. I read last night this rendering of our verse today. “The pain that you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.” Paul wrote Romans having experienced much suffering and this entire chapter is a testimony of how his faith helped him navigate those difficult times in his life. Just a few verses later Paul reminded the Roman followers who were enduring trials and tribulations as well of one of the great promises which comes from the heart of God. He told them that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Do you love Him? Good is coming in some way, there will be great joy and the glory of the Lord will be revealed in you. I understand what Paul is saying in this verse but I have to admit that when I am suffering, I might not have the depth of faith to speak about the joy that is coming. But in the early days of a new year, I am reminded of who God is and what he can do for me and I am encouraged and find hope in the fact that suffering can be turned to joy. I, like you, want the glory of the Lord to be revealed in me. I trust I will experience joy in the new year.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, lead us to places of great joy even if they come from places of suffering. Deepen our faith to receive your glory. Give us strength to endure suffering in order to experience the glory to come. We anticipate the good you will bring to our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. . . . 7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. . . . 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. - Psalm 46:1, 7, 10-11

Meditation

Be still. One of those things which is easier said than done. My coffee cup this morning says Be Still. Those words appear in scripture in a Psalm which is very familiar. Or at least the first part of verse ten. Be still and know that I am God, it says. Often said, often quoted. I picked a few verses to focus on also found in this psalm, which was written to the music director with the intent of it being sung. I can imagine it was a favorite to be sung or chanted at the temple. If you think of Psalm 46 you most likely will think of being still or reminded to do so. But there is this declaration about God being our refuge and strength, always there in time of trouble to help. Then repeated twice is the chorus which declares the Almighty God is with us and our fortress. Maybe the admonition to be still is directly related to our understanding of who God is. Maybe we will never fully grasp the fullness of God until we are still before Him and just seek to know Him. This third day of the new year will mean many people returning to work after a long weekend and maybe even a longer holiday. In the city where I live schools will reopen in a couple of days. We have potential severe storms moving through the South. People are busy trying to accomplish what they resolved to do. It will be as fast paced as usual by the end of the week. It might even be crazier than normal. You never know what the new year might bring but I do know we can be still and seek to know God. There could possibly be so many new things on our mind because it is a new year. Let the possibility arise to be still. It is in the being still that we discover the greatness of God. Refuge. Strength. Fortress. Exaltation. Companion. So. Much. More. When we are still. It is easy to get consumed by the excitement of the new and miss the everlasting God who is more than all the new we might see with our eyes and all we hope to experience in the new year. Be still and know that I am God.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, still our hearts and minds so we only focus on you and the fullness and goodness you desire us to know about you. Calm the clutter of our life. Calm the anxiety that chases the new things. Calm the desire to want new greener grass. This new year we just want You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Verse

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. - 1 Peter 1:3-4

Meditation

There are hundreds of references to the word new in the Bible or to something being news worthy. Peter tells us Jesus has given us new birth into a living hope. (I chose our Hope coffee cup this morning.) As we think of all things new related to the new year we have just begun, new birth is not one that comes to mind for most of us. But hope is something we all long for each day. The good news for a new year is that Jesus Christ offers us hope which is new and living. Hope can often become just a concept which is static and devoid of real meaning. Peter describes a character trait which is much more than this. If it is new then we have never seen it or experienced it in the past. If it comes from Christ, we can be assured it is for our good. If it is living, then it cannot become static, it must be organic and is always growing and changing. You could possibly be a little nervous that Jesus has given us something we have never experienced before and it is always changing. Both of those make people really nervous but they are key to our hope being placed in our relationship with Jesus. Placing our hope in things we’ve experienced or will never change is what leads to a hopeless life. Hope is instilled in us when we realize there is always a reason to breathe one more breath, live one more minute, take one more step. That realization only comes when we base our hope in Christ. When we base our hope in the things of this world, hope for greater wealth, hope for a better job, hope for a perfect spouse, or a whole host of other things, then we will be greatly disappointed and this leads to hopelessness. In this new year we really do want a new and living hope. It is offered to us if we will only receive it.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, birth in us a new and living hope today. We receive what we haven’t experienced and may change before the day ends. We receive it from you and know that you desire only goodness for us and things which benefit your kingdom. Spiritually birth in us new and living hope. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Sunday, January 1, 2023    New Year’s Day

Verse

6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. - 1 Timothy 1:6-7

Meditation

The calendar has changed. The year has increased by a factor of one. There is the grand Times Square celebration and the many traditions or old wives tales which are followed related to New Year’s Day. In reality, it’s one more day to understand we are blessed to have another day to live and realize we are not getting any younger. It’s a day we love to focus on new beginnings and a better future. Gyms will be full, healthy foods will be emptied off the shelves and spirituality will be the center of attention. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring newness, wanting life to be better, and to live as the best you. However, none of that will become our reality unless we are intentional about the days ahead. Paul’s wise words to Timothy are worth our consideration on the first day of a new year. Paul rarely made suggestions. Either by context, implication, or directly stated, he declared necessary actions. Our hopes and desires for this new year will be better positioned to become reality in our life if we frame this year with something like this reminder of Paul. It requires intention. It requires action. Fanning into flame is the image of a spark or a small fire becoming a roaring, vibrant fire. The gift of the Holy Spirit in us need not be just a spark or a barely flickering fire. Be intentional this year about fanning the present flame of the Holy Spirit in your life into a roaring fire that consumes your soul and spirit. My coffee cup this morning says Trust. As you fan the flame, trust God that the roaring fire of the Holy Spirit will not take you anywhere that will not benefit you and his kingdom. Trust God in the uncomfortableness of the newness you will experience. Because it is in the newness that you will not manifest a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. When we are living in the power of God flowing through us, the love of God flowing through us, and the self-discipline instilled in us by God, we will indeed experience the new hopes and desires we yearn for. Yes, the new year needs to be new for many people because of the difficulty encountered last year. I am praying for each of you that this year will be free from difficult situations and circumstances beyond what is normal and expected. The new year needs to be new for every person on some level. Trust in God and fan into flame the gift of God which is in you.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, show us what it takes to fan into flame, into a roaring fire, the gift which is in each of us. We trust that you will manage the fire to your glory and to the benefit of your kingdom. Help our intentions to be steadfast day after day after day. Let us not grow tired and weary of doing good and fanning the flame. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

 

Verse

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. - Luke 2:39-40

Meditation

The first Christmas story ends with Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to their hometown of Nazareth where they would expect a sense of normally would begin raising their newborn child. It was the end of the beginning, but the beginning of the story that would change the face of the world. Matthew tells us there was a short stay in Egypt before finally settling in Nazareth for good. We know very little about the childhood of Jesus except that each year he went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. We do know this. He grew and became strong, was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. Today is an end with a beginning just a few hours away. Today ends a year of our life designated as 2022, tomorrow we begin another year of our life and story, 2023. For some, the difficulty of this year means hope for a better year is the prayer of their heart. For others, the prayer is for continuation of a good year and hope for an even better year. For all of us, we should take the one sentence we know about the childhood of Jesus and make it our hope for the new year. Take it from a purely spiritual point of view if need be. This morning I intentionally grabbed a coffee cup with the word Faith on one side and part of a verse from 1 Peter on the other, “My faith and hope are in God.” I know that if there is any hope that I will be stronger in the Lord in 2023, that I will be filled with wisdom in 2023, and that the grace of God will be upon me in 2023, I have no choice but to begin 2023 with full faith in God to accomplish this and fully place all my hope on God and God alone. This description of Jesus as a child is worthy of applying it to our life as we begin a new year. Luke used almost the same language when speaking about Jesus after the trip to Jerusalem when he was twelve. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” In other words, he continued doing what we were told earlier, and it was pleasing to both God and the people he related to. May 2023 be a year when we all become strong in the ways we need to become strong. May it be a year we are filled with the wisdom of God. May it be a year when the grace of God is clearly upon us. May it be a year when there is evidence of all three. And in doing so, may it be a year to gain favor with God and the people we will relate to and be in relationship with. It is only possible if we put our faith and hope in God. I pray that 2023 will be a year of great blessing for you and your family.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray for every person reading this today that what begins tomorrow as a new year will be a year of great blessing and favor. I pray it will be a year where their faith is made strong, their wisdom is increased greatly, and your grace is all over them. I pray for your favor to be upon them in such a way they see it manifested in the people around them. I pray that 2023 will be filled with hope and faith as we put our hope and faith in You. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Verse

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. - Luke 2:36-38

Meditation

And then there was Anna, a prophet, one who proclaims the revelation of truth concerning the will of God. Married only seven years before she became a widow, now spending her entire life at the temple worshiping, fasting and praying. For just a moment try to fill in the blank between the heartache of becoming a widow and spending night and day at the temple. Everything we know about Anna is contained in three verses. We could write many different versions of her life if we desired to do so. Let’s focus on the version, short as it might be, which contains a few principles based on what we do know. She did not let the emotional pain and hardship of becoming a widow hinder her desire to seek God and his plan for her life. She chose to live into the hope grounded in her Jewish faith that a Messiah would one day come and redeem her nation. She became a worshiper and an intercessor. She gave thanks as she spoke about this Child, our Savior, and what he would mean to the world. As a prophet, God had spoken into her things into her heart and mind about him beyond common knowledge. I believe it would be safe to say part of her worship, her fasting and prayer at the temple would have included prayers concerning the coming of the Messiah. She knew her nation needed redemption and we tend to pray for the things we need and the things we love the most. Something happened after the tragedy in her life that set her on a course of honoring God with her life beyond what most of us can fathom. She was not alone looking forward to Jerusalem and the nation of Israel being redeemed. Others were with her that day as she gave thanks for the arrival at the temple of the Messiah and then connected this child to the One who they were all looking forward to seeing. Imagine how wonderful it was for her to take Jesus into her arms and cradle him against her chest. Maybe like she would have done for the child she never had. She spoke encouragement and hope to all those gathered around this powerful moment in the Christmas story. A prophet who had seen all that she had been told come to pass. Like Simeon, righteous and devout. A prophet who allowed God to turn tragedy into a triumphant fulfillment of all she had hoped and prayed for.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help us to see beyond a moment in time and look to what you might do in our life to honor you and see kingdom hope fulfilled. Strengthen us to patiently wait on your will to come to fruition in our life. May we have a spirit of worship and fasting and prayer as we seek you in all things. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Verse

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. - Luke 2:25-26a

(If you have time, read through verse 35. I will refer to its content.)

Meditation

Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to complete their time of purification and for the rite of circumcision. Arriving at the Temple, they are greeted by two people who would bless and speak about Jesus and his family. The two are Simeon and Anna. We are told Simeon was devout and righteous and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Without going any further, the description of Simeon is worth noting and we would all do well to be described in a similar fashion. I’m confident he did not just wake up one day and he was all of that. It takes desire, time and maturity to reach that place in our relationship with God. It was not Simeon’s lucky day he was at the Temple when Jesus arrived, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to be there. Attentiveness to the Holy Spirit with purpose in mind is important. Simeon had been told he would see Jesus and I imagine he was attentive daily to the move of the Spirit to fulfill the promise. This moment had to be ordained of God as Mary and Joseph felt confident enough to hand the baby over to him. Simeon’s blessing and prophetic words upon the life of Jesus are powerful and they are found in verses twenty-nine to thirty-two. This is not one of our favorite parts of the Christmas story but it is very insightful. Simeon declares Jesus has come as light for the Gentiles and glory to the people of Israel. Eight days into the life of Jesus and this man Simeon articulates the purpose and mission of Jesus being born. He would be the Savior to all people. Then he speaks truth many people don’t want to hear. First, Jesus and his message would cause the rise and fall of people, in other words separation because of the message. Second, there will be opposition to the message that will cause difficulty among the followers of Jesus. When difficulty comes in your life because you are obedient to Christ, know it was spoken about on the eighth day of Jesus’ life. Third, the message will reveal the true hearts of people. This part of the Christmas story reveals so much about who Jesus is and what his purpose is. It was a fulfillment of a word the Holy Spirit spoke into Simeon’s heart. But it is profound in understanding the story. Great things happen in our life when we seek to be righteous, devout and full of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank you for allowing us to experience Simeon. May we learn from him and seek to be attentive and obedient. Walk with us as we live out the message we learn from this encounter with him. Help us to desire the character of Simeon. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Verse

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. - Luke 2:15-20

Meditation

Understanding and functioning within the family dynamics with a new child is challenging to say the least. In normal circumstances three or four days after birth means settling into home life with the baby. It means navigating work schedules and extracurricular activities. It means creating a new normal. For Joseph, Mary, and Jesus it was survival of the fittest in a strange place. There was no routine to get into because soon they would travel to Jerusalem. And shepherds arrived. I don’t want to mess up your picture of the first Christmas Day, but we are told the shepherds were near Nazareth and had to travel to Bethlehem. There could have been, but unless the shepherds traveling to Bethlehem is part of the miracle of the story, it took a few days to get there. When they got there, they instantly knew it was worth the effort. They went and told everybody what they had seen and the story they told left the hearers in amazement. And when they left, after all the fanfare of their arrival had ceased, they were still so thrilled they left glorifying and praising God. This baby Jesus had that much impact on their life. We know very little about these shepherds other than they were shepherds and they were chosen. They represent a group of people not normally chosen to visit a king. But they were chosen to visit the King. It made quite a difference in their lives. They told, retold, and kept telling. After the fanfare of Christmas is several days behind us, we are challenged by the shepherds to keep telling the story. We are challenged to walk away from a visit with Jesus and leave rejoicing, praising Him in order to give God the glory for this great gift we have been given. As we abruptly in most cases return to normalcy, is there a sense of newness because we have celebrated the birth of Jesus again or is it just the same routine we are used to. I encourage you to let Christmas be as real on day three and day one hundred and three as it is on the day we celebrate His birth. He makes a difference and it should show.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we seek the joy of the Lord on this day. We seek a forever change in our spiritual life as a result of Christmas Day. We want that joy to lead us through the days ahead so we might celebrate His birth as a foundational part of our being. May our life reflect praise and glory directed toward the heavens. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Christmas Eve December 24, 2023 

Verse

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). - Matthew 1:22-23

Meditation

My screen saver tells me it is Christmas Eve and did me the favor of telling me it will be Christmas Eve all day. Like I might forget. One thing I won’t forget is we are just one more sleep from celebrating Jesus joining our story as an infant. He didn’t join our story as a name in the text of our story, but He came to join us as a real presence in our story. We often talk about the first step in evangelism is building relationships. The Savior of the world came to clearly articulate the power behind relationships, and it begins with our relationship with our Father through the work of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit. But it had to start with the Immanuel, God with us. This introduction to a personal relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, and the Holy Spirit is what sets following Christ apart from all the religions of the world. It is within our natural instinct to gravitate toward that which is personal. There is a natural attraction within us to Jesus Christ if we will follow this piece of our nature and then allow it to lead us to a spiritual relationship that is life-giving. Everything we need in life is found in our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The list is too long to define everything but you understand what I am saying. The meaning behind Immanuel is really too difficult to articulate in a short devotion but it is one of the greatest gifts of the Christmas story. Since that moment and forevermore we have been given the gift of living into the fact that God is with us in a way we can understand. What a great gift! What a powerful presence! Don’t live a moment without being thankful for Immanuel. Celebrate Immanuel this Christmas

Prayer

Heavenly Father, in the wisdom of your great plan you sent your Son as Immanuel and we give you thanks. Help us to live every moment understanding the significance of the power of Jesus in our life as a real and abiding presence. Thank you for promising He will never leave us nor forsake us. We celebrate the coming of Immanuel on the eve of the day we celebrate His birth. In Jesus’ powerful and precious name we pray. Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Verse

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, - Luke 2:4-6

Meditation

It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming. This phrase is often heard in Easter conversations and sermons, but rarely do we use it related to Christmas. I’m thinking many young children woke up thinking something like this. In an odd rotation, we get to wake up on Friday, and Sunday, Christmas Day, is coming. Joseph and Mary didn’t know the exact day, but in the days leading up to the birth of their son, they were thinking this might not be the day, but the day is coming. They started this journey with many questions and anxiety but out of honor and obedience they journeyed. Mary knew it would be soon because Mothers know. There was now great anticipation that the day was upon them. Two days, five days, or seven, they really didn’t know but they, like a young child, waited on the day with great hope that all would be well and the Savior would be born as prophesied. There had to be great joy in their hearts that they were going to be part of such a significant event that would become a historic day. We now realize the impact. The gift of His birth was the beginning. There are many other chapters to the story but His birth was the beginning. We, with great anticipation of the Savior being born, should on this day declare that Sunday is coming because it is indeed life-changing. The day of Christ’s birth is the starting point of Emmanuel intersecting in a personal way with us. You and me. It ushered in a message never heard before in this way. A relationship with God had new meaning. Take this day to think with great anticipation that the celebration of the birth of Christ can be a moment where your relationship with God takes on new meaning. Something, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will be born in your life because of the fullness of meaning which is the foundation of Christmas Day. Yes, Sunday is coming and it’s not just another day. It’s the day of the Savior being born!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we’ve prayed it many times but we pray today that the celebration of the birth of Christ will begin a new season of relationship with you. Forgive us for seeing it one more year of knowing all the meaning and passing it by. Do a great work in us that brings us closer to you and more in love with you. May it be a day which allows the freedom of the Holy Spirit to work in new ways. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Verse

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:20-21

Meditation

Anxiety runs rampant during these last days before Christmas. Even those who aren’t normally anxious are feeling the anxiety of these three days. I’m anxious wondering if anybody will show up for our Christmas Eve service in the frigid temperatures predicted. The angel told Joseph to not be afraid, to not be anxious, but the previous verses indicated he was anxious because he considered severing the relationship with Mary quietly to avoid the public disgrace which surely would come. Anxiety is real even when the Lord speaks and says don’t be. But they were, and probably their anxiety shifted from the first situation of the miraculous conception to the logistics of being where they were supposed to be when they were supposed to be. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We all need the calming presence of the Lord whispering in our ear, “Do not be afraid.” We wonder how that is possible with gifts to purchase, functions to attend, worship services to lead, family to host, and a wide variety of other real concerns. It is only possible when our focus is on the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in our heart and soul and living into the assurance that calm only comes from the Lord. It also helps to remember each of us plays a significant role in the kingdom of God. Our role seems small compared to birthing the Son of God, but it is significant without question. I believe it takes a few pauses throughout the day to invite the calming presence of God to calm our anxiety. It helps us refocus in the midst of warp speed work and activities. It helps us to be still and know God and sense His presence. All that is going on in your life is the fulfillment of God’s plan in some mysterious way. Christmas is a miracle and a mystery. Let both come alive in your heart in these last anxious days before we celebrate the miracle of Christmas.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your ever present Holy Spirit in our life and how it is the calming presence for us in times of anxiety. We lean into you today in the midst of the chaotic nature of our life. Help us to focus on you and the miracle within the mystery. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022



Verse

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. - Luke 1:39-41

Meditation

A social gathering shifts when the anticipated guest arrives or when a celebrity enters the room. The room might still be loud but there is a quiet in the room as well. There is anticipation about what might be said or announced. It’s unusual. It’s not quite the same. Jesus entered Elizabeth’s room and things were different. She was different. It is described as a baby leaping in the womb. It was more than the physical change because there was an incredible spiritual shift. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and experienced a sense of awe and wonder, declaring that favor was hers because the Lord was in the room. We are told John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb! In the heart and mind of Elizabeth there was no taking for granted anything when the baby to be born as Lord and Savior was in the room. She knew, and she knew it makes a difference and everything changes. Elizabeth blessed Mary with words of encouragement and testimony that what the Lord said would be accomplished because something changed when Jesus entered the room. The number of Christmas mornings you have experienced is not hard to calculate. During that time you have heard countless reminders of the birth of Christ. You’ve likely heard many sermons about the Christmas story having new meaning each year. We take it for granted. We know the story. One thing never changes. When Jesus abides in us things change. We experience the movement of the Holy Spirit. We are filled and joy should exude from our heart, from the very core of our being. Jesus daily enters our rooms, intersects with our life, engages the situations we face, and fills us with the Holy Spirit. Let us not take it for granted that Jesus will come again. Let our hearts leap for joy as if it was the very first time Jesus entered the room and we were filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Actually, that’s the way it is every time. We are filled to overflowing! Every time.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, enter our room with the power and presence of your Son Jesus Christ and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. May our hearts leap for joy. Help us to be mindful afresh in every moment of the present of the baby in the womb of our heart. We honor you in awe and wonder of your goodness and grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2022


Verse

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.” - Luke 1:35-37

Meditation

In our Children’s Ministry program this year, the line about nothing being impossible with God was used several times, emphasizing its meaning. It was part of the angel’s answer to Mary about the possibility of her conceiving the Son of God. This points back to the proclamation that the Holy Spirit will empower the conception. Mary might have understood the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to make all things possible when the angel first spoke those words, but when the angel mentioned Elizabeth was having a child, she absolutely understood. The Holy Spirit gives life to the impossible being made possible. As we begin the last week before we arrive at Christmas Day, the majority of us will find it quite natural to be joyful, rejoicing in some way each day along our journey to Bethlehem’s manger. But for many, it will be very difficult to find joy as easily as most people because of events, situations and circumstances, both past and present. When honesty about our emotions this week results in hurt and pain and finding joy becomes impossible, remember the words spoken to Mary who was face to face with impossibility. If you are face to face with impossibility or encounter it in the days to come, begin speaking the angel’s reply into your heart and mind. Pray boldly for the Holy Spirit to come upon and overshadow you. Pray boldly that your impossibility will become possible because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life and you will be able to experience some measure of joy. Our joy comes not in our circumstances, but as a result of our relationship with God, the God of the impossible becoming possible.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we come honestly before you today and if there is anything in our life that speaks of impossible, we pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit it will be made possible and we will experience joy and rejoicing on our journey to Bethlehem. We boldly declare this for our life today anticipating the experience of joy even in the midst of what the world sees as impossible. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Scripture Reading

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” - Luke 1:28-33

 

Meditation

 

The first Christmas story is full of unexpected visits by angels and stars and dreams. Most often the response was shock, fear or confusion. I understand. Unexpected visits can be exhilarating or shocking depending on the circumstances. Initially they invoke confusion on some level. We don’t know Mary’s backstory like we do Zechariah and Elizabeth’s other than from her response that she was the Lord’s servant, but we know she found favor with God. Either there is no logical explanation as to why she found favor, God just picked her, or we can assume she was living in such a way as to honor God with her life, maybe upright and blameless as was Zechariah, and God chose to honor her faithfulness. I want to be the recipient of God’s favor for whatever reason he chooses, whether it be unexplainable or because I was seeking to live righteously in the sight of God. And Mary found favor, in fact she found great favor. Giving birth to the King whose kingdom will reign forever. She sought no favor but was given the greatest honor anyone could ever receive. Because there is no need for another savior, there will never be another story quite like this one. That does not stop me from believing God is still showing favor into the lives of faithful people. Whether we pray for it like Zechariah or it comes very unexpectedly like Mary, we need to be expectant with open arms. The favor shown to Zechariah and Mary through the visit of an angel is eye opening huge. Favor comes in small ways as well. After I write this I will be traveling to Ohio. I’ve been praying for favor this morning. The favor of safety, the favor of strength to drive eight hours, the favor of minimal delays caused by traffic issues, the favor of clarity of thought, and the list goes on. While driving I’m going to be seeking favor in greater measure over guidance for future tasks and clarity of vision. We all benefit from the favor of God. Be honored when God chooses you. It might be a simple nudge from God or it might be eye opening, life changing favor. Live faithfully and open your arms wide to receive the favor of God!

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, we seek the favor of your heart and mind today. We might not know how or expect the visit to come but we want it to come. May the visit of your favor be real in our lives today and let us respond with humility and grace. Forgive us for not recognizing your favor and we give thanks for every time you have shown favor in our life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Thursday December 8, 2022

Scripture Reading

17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” - Zephaniah 3:17

Meditation

There are days when the Lord leads me to passages which cause me to wonder what is going on. Today is one. This is not your typical Advent passage or one included in the prophecies related to the birth of Christ, but it speaks directly to the work of God in our life which is fully realized through the birth and life of Christ and his purpose for coming as Emmanuel. The beauty of this passage is it doesn’t take a great amount of explanation to expound the meaning and it is one you can read over and over again, just this one verse, read over and over again to allow the meaning to pour over your life. Think of the meaning for a minute in terms of the Christmas story. There are five phrases which directly relate to the birth of Christ. Emmanuel, God with us. Messiah, Savior. The Shepherd knows his sheep by name. He loves us unconditionally. Our Savior rejoices over his children. All of those phrases are embedded in the first Advent story. The story is about a personal Savior who loves his children and thinks there are none better than those called His children. He desires the best for the best. On this day, know that the Christ Child is with you and thoroughly enjoys being in your company. You are special to Him. Read that verse again and you will be reminded how special you are to the Savior of the world!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for capturing us in your heart and hands and rejoicing over our life. Thank you for embracing us as who we are and where we are and loving us to a transformed place in the kingdom. Thank you for saving us because we can’t save ourselves. May your delight in someone make a difference in their life today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday December 7, 2022

Scripture Reading 

7 Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory. - Psalm 24:7-11

Meditation

Earlier this week Lori, my wife, wrote down our schedule for the next seven days and all that is involved in participating in everything listed. Nothing on the list was related to our employment. Time out! This time of year is like that and it requires more than normal strength to do the things you have to, need to, and want to do. The story of Advent is about a child who came in strength, with strength, to give strength. The Psalmist describes this strength in terms of the King of glory who is approaching a great city in ancient days. There would have to be huge, strong gates lifted in order to allow access to the city. It would take quite an effort from many men to lift the gates. The one approaching the city in this case is described as strong and mighty and Almighty. It only takes the strength of One, the Messiah, the Son of the King who came as the King himself, to empower us for all that we face in life. Our schedule at times will appear overwhelming, but life can be overwhelming more often than our schedule. Life can stretch us beyond imagination. Beyond our strength. We need strength from the Lord Almighty and the Advent story is about the innocence of a child being born who came with all the necessary strength to be called strong and mighty referring to himself as Almighty. Babies aren’t strong, maybe strong-willed, but this one was. He came with strength we don’t understand until He walks with us giving strength we one day realize is not of ourselves. And the light bulb turns on and burns brightly in our mind. And we know that was strength which comes from the power of the Christ-child who lives in us. Raise your heads, your gates, and let the King of glory come in this Christmas season. Strong and mighty. The Lord Almighty. He is coming as the King of glory!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we lift our gates to let you in. Some days we need your help just to lift the gates of our life. We lift our gates, open our hearts to empower you to work anew in our life today. We confess that all too often we never attempt to lift the gate of our life. Break us when we don’t. Forgive us for keeping our gate closed. Let us live in your great strength today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday December 6, 2022

Scripture Reading

5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior (or Righteousness) - Jeremiah 23:5-6

Meditation

I have recently thought about and used in different conversations a line credited to Sgt. Joe Friday, the stern cop on Dragnet, “just the facts, ma’am.” In a similar way, Jeremiah is the Joe Friday of prophets, giving us just the facts about the coming Savior who Isaiah has written about with such eloquence. Jeremiah clearly understands the very first thing we need from a savior is to be restored into a right relationship with our heavenly Father. Sin has broken that relationship and our first and greatest need is for a Savior who will reign as a King and do what is right and just with the wisdom only He possesses. I believe there is great importance in Jesus being referred to as our Righteous Savior or our Righteousness. It clearly defines the need and bypasses the restoration of Judah and Israel in the way they had hoped for, military strength and power. If Jesus had come simply to restore, save, the Jewish nation, He would not have come for all of humanity. They were certainly included among those Jesus would come and die for, but it was much broader than what they had imagined in their minds. Jesus would be the Savior who would come to offer salvation to all who would call upon His name, a concept misunderstood for centuries after His death, but fully embraced as we live two thousand years later and understand the power behind the prophetic words, Our Righteous Savior. We are blessed to be part of the kingdom in which the King administers justice and righteousness with great wisdom, according to His love for all people. We are blessed to be part of the people who have access to a right and good relationship with Yahweh, our Father, the Creator of the world. It is first and foremost the very essence of who Jesus is, the One who is a relationship builder for all people to the One who calls us His children.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pause on this day to affirm and renew our right relationship with you. Forgive us of all that separates us from you in any way. We receive your justice and righteousness as you reign in the world and in our life. We bow in humble thankfulness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday December 5, 2022

Scripture Reading

3 . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. - Isaiah 61:3

Meditation

Saturday we focused on the first few verses of this text and the first verse of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” Today I want to use the latter part of verse three in Isaiah and the second verse of the hymn. “Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring. By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone; by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.” A thought came to mind recently when I heard and sung this great hymn. It is one thing to expect Jesus to come, but do we expect Jesus to do anything when He comes? His coming is of no value if we do not allow Him to work in our life when He comes. The hymn reminds us Jesus comes to reign in us and to build His kingdom which will lead us to the throne. Several thoughts for a rainy Monday morning. If we expect Jesus to do the work he was sent to do by his own Father, we must allow him to rule in reign in our hearts which implies we must set all things aside and let him truly be the lord of our life. It’s difficult for us to set aside ourselves in order to let this happen. But it is necessary. However, when we do, even though it is challenging to be obedient to God’s will first, we are recipients of the blessings of God in return. After we first deal with Jesus reigning in our hearts, then we become most productive in the building of his kingdom he so desires. We must all participate alongside the work God is doing in order for the gracious kingdom to flourish. Finally, this leads us to the throne. Scripture tells us approaching the throne is both a now and then concept. We approach the throne of grace in prayer and presence and we approach the eternal throne in the greater scheme of things. The expectation of Jesus coming is fully realized when we allow him to reign in our hearts, we participate in the kingdom and we rejoice in approaching the throne. What a great plan of God!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, as we journey toward the manger, turn our expectation of an appearance to an expectation of a great work. Do what you need to do in our lives today so we allow you to fully reign in us. We say that, we sing that, but now we want the long expected Jesus to come and reign and your kingdom to be fulfilled. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Saturday December 3, 2022

Scripture Reading

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— . . . - Isaiah 61:1-3a

Meditation

In 1744, Charles Wesley, the great hymn writer of the Wesley brothers, wrote a powerful hymn, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” which our hymnal references these prophetic words of Isaiah, quoted in Luke, as the scriptural basis for the hymn. Today I want to focus on verse one of the hymn and Monday we will focus on verse two. “Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in Thee. Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art; dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.”  Notice the prevailing message from Isaiah and the hymn. Jesus is coming to change something and it is all good news. Just as the nation of Israel needed to change direction, we often need to be set free, released, and find our rest in Him. In doing that, we find our hope in Him, our strength and consolation and experience joy in our longing heart. Isaiah spoke it well and Wesley penned it well. We all desire to be set free from whatever binds us and imprisons us. That is the joy of the Christ Child coming and intersecting with our lives and bringing the hope of a new life in Him. As we think of the message of the great hymn, let us remember it is a continual work of Christ in us forever and forever. We rest in that peace as a child of the King. He is coming once again to redeem and change the direction in the places of our lives which are now in a bad place. Rejoice, there is a child to be born in a manger for the good of all humanity.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we are humbled you care enough for your children that it’s your heart's desire to change our direction so we might live life and live it in abundance. Give us the strength to be obedient when you call. Forgive us when our will is chosen over your will. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday December 2, 2022

Scripture Reading

7 . . . He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. - Isaiah 9:7

Meditation

A Savior being born into the world, His own Son, was not a new idea for God, but it was a new event in the progression of the redemption story. And He was excited about it! He was excited about a Savior, excited about a kingdom, excited that it would be a kingdom that would usher us into eternity. Our excitement for the coming of a Savior should not be limited to simply living into the grandeur of 2000 year old history, but should well up in us because of the potential it brings to us in 2022 and beyond. God is unique and God is like none other because He can make relevant in our lives today what the world would view as ancient history. Why? Zeal is more than heightened energy and more than enthusiasm. It is all that plus passionate drive and determination. We should probably get on board with what God is passionately driven to accomplish and begin seeking our Father as to what the birth of a Savior means to us this year and how it will impact our lives from this moment forward. We might as well align ourselves with a zealous God who is establishing a kingdom that is grounded in righteousness and will be a kingdom forevermore. Don’t pass through this season thinking it has no meaning for you this year, but pass through the season with zeal seeking what the Lord has especially for you! You never know, it might be a Savior, a Messiah, who is coming into the world to intersect with your world and change your life forever when you didn’t even realize it needed changing. That’s our God! He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we join with your zeal to join in the Kingdom and the work of the Holy Spirit to usher in the newness of a Savior. Help us to move beyond the beautiful work you have done in the past and anticipate the greatness of the birth of a Savior. Forgive us for being content in what you have done and give us a spirit of anticipation for what you will do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday December 1, 2022

Scripture Reading

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 6:9

Meditation

This description of a child being born isn't in the list of words we normally use to describe a newborn. More common words are cute, precious and adorable to name a few. These are adult words used to describe the child because of who the child would become and what the child would do. Savior. Messiah. These descriptive words so common to the Christmas story remind us that our Savior is a savior for every situation we find ourselves in. We tend to focus on the salvation aspect of Christ and rightly so because of its utmost importance. But let us not forget the importance of Christ coming in relationship to the long haul of our faith journey toward eternity. The activity of Christ in our life through the presence of the Holy Spirit is endless in nature and we could never create an exhaustive list of all the ways Christ’s work is manifested in our life. Each item on whatever list we could create would probably fall under the heading of Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father or Prince of Peace. It might stretch us to fit them all under one of four categories but you get my point. Jesus the Messiah, our Savior, came to be our companion in every single situation we find ourselves in. This is why we can use fancy words like omnipresent, He is everywhere all the time, omnipotent, He is all powerful, and omniscient, He is all knowing. Begin to discover Christ in your life, in every aspect of your life. Earnestly seek him in places you have never realized he might be. He is. He is because he came as descriptive adult words which give him beauty and majesty from start to finish. He is our Savior for all, in all, and through all. It’s central to the Advent story.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son as the all encompassing Savior to abide with us in every way in every situation. Help us to realize your presence in all things. Let us give glory to you because you deserve all praise and glory. Let our life reflect your presence. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday November 30, 2022

Scripture Reading

2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. - Isaiah 9:2-3

Meditation

When we know the result before we know what created the result, it can be a little confusing. Reading Isaiah does this to us. In chapter nine, verses two and three are the result of verses six and seven. When reading verses six and seven, we get a beautiful description of who Jesus will be and the establishment of His kingdom. In verses two and three we see the impact it will have in people’s lives. It’s not casual impact that will just cause us to smile and move on to the next important thing on our agenda, it is life-changing impact! Of all the prophecies announcing the birth of a Savior, this is one of the earliest which gives us a clear description of the primary purpose of a Savior being born into the world, the Messiah. He will be light in the midst of darkness. He will be redemption for the sin laden soul. He will be hope for the hopeless. He will be deliverance for those shackled with guilt and shame. He will be healing for the sick. And so much more. Light is such a powerful metaphor related to the presence of Christ in the world. Jesus declared himself as the light of the world and John announced his coming using this metaphor. Light versus darkness represents a 180 degree reversal of position. From blinded by darkness to full revelation by light. The coming of a Savior is grounded in the reversal from darkness to light. In these early days of Advent, be mindful of the dark places in your life that would benefit from the Light of Life coming afresh and doing for you just what would reverse situations of darkness. The dark places in our life can be part of our inward being or part of our outward circumstances. Being mindful of those dark places and giving them over to the One who comes as light today will allow the Savior to be light in your life. The great reversal will happen for you. There will be rejoicing as you harvest new life in Christ. Light is powerful and life changing. Light comes. Darkness flees.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, giver of light and life to all people, come into our hearts today driving darkness away with your presence and power. Come into our circumstances and bring peace and calm where chaos was prevailing. Be light to us in every way. Let light reign in us and we will rejoice in the glory of your goodness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday November 29, 2022

Scripture Reading

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14

Meditation

The word virtually has become a common word in our culture. First born out of necessity, now continued because of convenience and efficiency. Yet having meetings or attending an event virtually has its drawbacks. It’s simply not the same as being in person. It’s harder to have a discussion or feel the room. But the biggest reason it’s not the same is that we are born to be in authentic relationships and part of that dynamic is human interaction. The Jews had lived their life perceiving Yahweh as impersonal, only interacting with the priests. Now Isaiah is changing their world. And ours. Isaiah is adding personal to the list of words to describe who God is and how He will interact with his people. You might be quite familiar with the literal meaning of the three parts of the Hebrew word we translate Immanuel. God with us. God. With. Us. Say it one more time. God. With. Us. When we have an opportunity to gather with people most often it is a joyful experience. Actually, we long for those experiences. The added value of times like Thanksgiving is the opportunity to gather with family and friends. Talk to those people who unfortunately spend those times alone and you will discover the difficulty of being alone when others are enjoying the fellowship of other people. The announcement that the child born will be Immanuel and he will be our savior changed everything in the minds of the people. It increased their longing for Him to come. They had greater expectations of what it meant for God to be with them. It changes our world as well. He is with you wherever you are right now. Often that is a fact we take for granted, but it speaks of the special relationship our Father has with each of us. He came to be with us. Oh what joy that brings. Our personal companion.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we rejoice that you came to be with us. A clear concept we could understand and long for. Help us to understand the depth of meaning that you came to be a very personal God who relates to your children. May our life honor the joy in our heart of knowing you desire that personal relationship. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday November 28, 2022

Scripture Reading

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:13-14

Meditation

Happy New Year! Yeah I know, you think I’ve lost my mind or my calendar. I’m not acknowledging either at this point. However, it is a new year in terms of the Christian year, or the church calendar. Yesterday began what we call Advent, which means the coming or arrival or something. It is a season of preparation for what is coming, in this case, the coming of the Christ-Child at Christmas. Isaiah was speaking hope into the hearts of his people because the nation was fractured and there was lots of chaos and confusion. He was speaking hope because there was great need. The situation had escalated to the point that Isaiah was pointing out that the behavior of the people was now trying the patience of God and the only solution is finding hope in a Messiah, announced as Immanuel. Notice the exclamation point when he calls out the people. The situation is urgent. They needed a savior in the worst way because their relationship with God is now being harmed. The easiest thing to do as we think about Isaiah’s prophecy and try to apply it to yet one more Advent beginning, one more Christmas season upon us, is to point to the people who we perceive need a savior the most. When doing that, we overlook our own need for a savior. We overlook what is tearing away at our heart, the chaos and confusion we are involved in, the fracture in our life that harms our relationship with God. The most tragic thing we can do is think we don’t need the birth of Christ to be personally meaningful again yet one more Christmas. I want to suggest I do so I don’t indeed lose my mind. And just maybe you do if you will pause and be honest. Let’s embrace the new year, the new season of time called Advent, and welcome Christ the Savior who is to be born. We all still need the Savior, Jesus Christ the newborn King!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we come humbly before you and confess our temptation is to simply celebrate the feel good parts of Christmas thinking the true meaning is for someone else this year. Do not let us continue in that tragic thought one minute if it is present. Give us a sense of urgency that Christ is coming just for us. Prepare our hearts for His coming. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday November 18, 2022

Verse

1 Praise the Lord, O my soul;

    and all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the Lord, O my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins

    and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

    and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. - Psalm 103:1-5

Meditation

Much has been written about praising God at all times whether in the middle of a storm or in times of smooth sailing on a calm sea. The dual nature of praise is certainly biblically true and we should continually strive to a place of maturity so we can praise Him in both the storm and the calm. This psalm is focused on the benefits which seems at face value to be a psalm of praise during times of smooth sailing when we experience the move of God in our life. Dig under the surface and you find the benefits of God where most likely we will praise the loudest is when He meets us in the storms. Consider the few verses noted. He meets us and does amazing work in us when we sin, when we are sick, when our life is in the pit. He forgives, he heals, and he redeems when we would see our life as less than calm. But it goes beyond what we would consider enough. If forgiveness and healing and redemption is not enough and would most likely satisfy our soul, God goes beyond and crowns us with love and compassion, satisfies us with good things, and in the end we are renewed to a state of youthfulness. What a blessing! What a reason to praise God! And that’s just five verses. The psalm continues with more and more and more. Our God is worthy of our praise to the very depth of soul with all of who we are. Praise his holy name!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, for all your benefits, for all of your presence when we are sailing the calm seas or battling the storm, we praise your holy name. We join with David and receive your forgiveness, your healing, your redemption. We receive our crown of love and the renewal of mind and spirit. Impart a spirit of praise within each of us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Thursday November 17, 2022

Verse

1 We give thanks to you, O God,

    we give thanks, for your Name is near;

    people tell of your wonderful deeds. - Psalm 75:1

Meditation

Seasons come and go. Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Well, except in Alabama where we seem to skip a season at times. We can go from Summer to Winter in the blink of an eye. Where did Fall go, we ask? Like this year. One day it is in the eighties. The next day in the forties. Our spiritual journey includes seasons as well. There will be times when on a scale of one to ten we would rate our journey at ten. At other times it may be a seven or a four. Then there are those times when we feel like we have skipped a season and God is only in the distance. A period of darkness or dryness when sensing God’s presence is very difficult and prayer, for instance, seems empty. Scripture is just words on a page. God seems very far away. Be assured of this, God is near. Always has been, always will be. The psalmist gave thanks because his Name was near. Name representing God’s presence and activity. When in a season of dryness, be assured God is near and is still active in your life. There are many reasons why God may seem to be at a distance, temptations or circumstances which create great difficulty to name a couple, but live in the knowledge He is near and continues to perform wonderful deeds on your behalf. The season will pass and your spiritual barometer will begin to rise back up toward a ten. Hold fast and give thanks because his Name, and his Presence, are near.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for you always being near to us even when we struggle in our soul to sense and experience your presence. Our prayer is that the understanding of your continual abiding presence will be a rock solid piece of our spiritual foundation. Never to be questioned, never doubted. May we live in the knowledge of your nearness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday November 16, 2022

Verse

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
 His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
 His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
– Psalm 136:1-3, 2

Meditation

This Psalm makes one thing abundantly clear, His love endures forever. 26 verses and 26 times this same phrase is repeated. His love endures forever. I chosen a few of the verses but I hope you have time to read the entire Psalm. Be still for a moment and you can hear it being sung in the Temple with the children of Israel recalling the reasons for God’s enduring love and singing the refrain, His love endures forever. This is Israel’s song, their story. Our song would not reflect the same reasons but would certainly include 26 verses or more. Our song would not include parting the Red Sea but would include the waywardness of our soul and the difficult moments of our life. His love endures through our story just as it did for Israel. The Psalm begins and ends exhorting us to give thanks. The only appropriate response to His enduring love amidst our story is to give thanks. I’ve chosen just a few verses today. Let’s pray these verses of this song. Pray the entire Psalm if you have time. And as you pray, you may recall specific reasons to give thanks and you will understand very poignantly the depth of meaning in the refrain, His love endures forever. Give thanks.

Prayer

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
 His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
 His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Amen.

Tuesday November 15, 2022

Verse

4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. - Psalm 30:4-5

Meditation

Most of us have a weekday routine that pretty much stays the same each and every day. It starts at a certain time, similar things happen during the day on schedule, and the day ends about the same time each night. It may or may not change on Saturday and hopefully it changes on Sunday to include worship. When our normal routine is altered for some reason we feel out of sync for most of the day. We feel behind, our steps are out of step. The ship is righted when dawn comes the next day. Similarly, we find ourselves in the same ebb and flow spiritually. Our spiritual routine stays on an even plane most of the time. But something happens and we sense God’s displeasure or circumstances lead to weeping in the night. Those moments should not permanently get us out of spiritual sync, for they are of that moment, but favor and rejoicing comes in the morning. Figuratively. Morning may not be measured for us in a time sequence on a clock, but it is measured in God’s time. And while we wait for dawn to arise in our soul, we praise the Lord as faithful people because of His faithfulness and we give honor to his holy name. We do well to remember what is only for the moment or the night and what lasts a lifetime. Favor. Rejoicing. Praise his holy name.

Pray

Heavenly Father, we pause in the midst of our normalcy or in the midst of our weeping to praise your holy name. We know that in you we have favor and blessing for a lifetime and you will cause rejoicing to come so we give you thanks for your goodness. Forgive us when we cause anger in your spirit and let us grasp the power of your faithfulness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Monday November 14, 2022

Verse

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High. - Psalm 7:17

Meditation

When the enemy is seen from every direction, when the attack is from all sides, helplessness sets in and there appears nothing but doom and gloom to follow. This describes David’s feelings as he penned this psalm. From every side, relentless, with the intent to destroy. But he realizes God is greater than and more powerful than his enemy and he calls on him to rescue the situation. In earlier verses David uses the terms refuge and shield to describe the Lord as he cries out. And concludes with thanks and praise because He is the one who brings righteousness to our heart and He is the one who rescues us when the enemy is attacking from all sides. Note that David has faith in God to do what only He can do and concludes, without seeing the outcome, with thanks and praise. He is willing to give thanks and praise because he knows who God is regardless of the outcome. There may be hardship ahead, but we can give thanks and praise simply for who God is. As you read this you may sense frustration because the enemy is attacking on every side of your life and all you see in the moment is defeat and despair. You will join many others who are reading along with you with the exact same feelings. If so, know that your God is a refuge and shield and brings righteousness to those who cling to Him. Give thanks and praise.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pause in this moment, whatever else is swirling around us, to give thanks for your righteousness, to praise your name, the Lord Most High, for being our refuge and our shield when the enemy surrounds us. Let us hold fast to the strength and power found in you as we navigate what is coming from every side. Let us have confidence in you to hold us in your arms. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Verse

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. - Psalm 34:8-10

Meditation

On this Veteran’s Day, we certainly have reason to be thankful. Most of us have a personal connection to someone who served in the military on our behalf. All of us are connected to the men and women who served our country in the military. Let’s be thankful. Now on to the psalm which talks about God’s goodness which is indeed something to be thankful for. This psalm is one of my favorites because of the descriptive language about all that God does. And it’s not just what he does, but David speaks to issues very real to each of us and then tells how God responds. God is most real when we face the most real issues. I hope you have time to read the entirety of it. It is a song he wrote following an incident with Abimelech where he pretended to be insane so Abimelech would leave. And he did. And David wrote. The very first thing David did was declare that praise will always be on his lips. In the moment of freedom he could not think of anything else other than simply praising God continually. Then later we read the verses above. Probably too often we are blessed beyond explanation and we give cursory thanks and move on. We should probably slow down and give praise where praise is due for a season. David had a desire for all people to join with him, taste and see, in glorifying the Lord and exalting his name and knowing His goodness. When God is good we rejoice together thus emphasizing the principle that as the people of faith we should rejoice and give thanks when even just one in the body is rejoicing because of our experience of goodness. Scripture in many places talks about rejoicing with those who rejoice. When a few are praising and exalting, others will join in. But most of all, David is so thrilled at what God does that he wants all to join in the time of exalting the name of God above all names. Don’t fear. Rejoice. It’s a good plan.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we join with David today to praise your name for all you have done to carry us and bless us beyond measure and for your goodness in general. May praise to you ever be on our lips. May our life reflect the glory of the Lord and may we exalt your name together with the saints. May we create an atmosphere of praise in our life and in those who surround us. May we join with others in their time of rejoicing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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