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Friday, May 20, 2022

Lord, You said to “let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts … (Colossians 3:15).  Who wouldn’t want that? Then why do many Christ-followers fail to have Your peace? That three-letter word ‘let’ in “let the peace …” speaks volumes. It means ‘allow.’ I must ‘allow’ the peace that comes from Christ to rule in my heart. Is this implying the Holy Spirit has to have my permission to let God’s peace rule in my heart? Does this mean my whole heart and not just the parts I want God’s peace to rule?

So what blocks Your peace from ruling in my heart? Perhaps I’ve failed to obey Your command to “as the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others who have offended you”? How I follow this command determines how I keep the other mandates You outlined in Colossians 3 on how to live a peaceful and meaningful life amid the chaos of this broken world.

Unforgiveness is ugly. It just destroys the one harboring it. The bitterness, resentment, often jealousy or envy follow along. Unrepentance isn’t far behind either. How can God’s peace rule one’s heart unless one allows the Holy Spirit to sweep it clean, regardless how painful it may seem at the time?

Lord, help me remember others are like me: flawed, imperfect, slow to listen, quick to speak before engaging my brain. And Lord, to my shame, judge others without knowing the whole story. Because I share my humanity with others, by Your help, I will order my soul to forgive them when they offend me. Whatever consequences they suffer will be on them, but my soul will be free to ‘allow’ Your peace to rule in my heart.

Lord, reveal any unforgiveness I may harbor, especially if I haven’t forgiven myself. By Your grace, I’ll allow Your peace to rule in my heart. Amen.

Thursday, May 19, 2022 Lord, You knew what You were getting: a broken soul in need of redemption, yet You fully embraced us as Your own. Our every flaw and shameful failure were on full display when You invited us to come to You in repentance. We are eternally thankful You canceled all our sins and replaced the with Jesus’ righteousness instead. You now even called us “holy,” which for many of us, is a label we (or our non-believer friends) never thought we would carry. Though we are forgiven, we are still flawed. Contrary to some people’s theology, flawed, imperfect Christ-followers are all You have to work with here. It is only fitting of Your nature that You gave Your Holy Spirit to live within each believer, because You called us, Your “holy” ones, to do what is impossible to do on our own. You said to “wrap ourselves in tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and—wait for it—patience.

Then You mandated the most crucial requirement for all believers.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you” (Colossians 3:12,13).  

The Holy Spirit helps us attain these godly traits, since, for most, these traits go against our human nature. Here’s the good news. The closer we stay to You, Jesus, the more Your character traits rub off on us. Our relationship with You makes Your mandate to forgive others as we have been forgiven, much easier, and gives You honor. Amen!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Lord, was I the only one who didn’t see what was attached to my back? You made us a new person on the inside when we placed our trust in You to forgive our sins. The cares and activities our world used to revolve around no longer mattered. Almost immediately after we became a Christ-follower, we felt something behind us. The devil hung his target on our back.

The enemy knows he lost our souls forever. He just wants to make us ineffective as a Christ-follower in our sphere of influence. Your Holy Spirit is actively working within us, molding us into Your image. The devil also works feverishly, but his goal is to keep active those target sins lurking within us, hidden in our carnal nature. The Apostle Paul describes a few of them: anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, dirty language, lying, etc.  Sadly, the list is endless, but we rejoice in that Your love and grace cover a multitude of sins, (1 Peter 4:8). Your Word instructs us to choose wisely. With God’s help, it is my responsibility to “… put to death our old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.” Again, my part, “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him,” (Colossians 3:8–10).

Lord Jesus, when the devil takes aim at the target, instead of seeing circles, let him see Your grace covering me. Amen.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Lord, will this battle within my soul ever end? Since placing my faith in You, Jesus, my real life is found in You. I am a new person on the inside, and I have no desire to go back to my former ways, doing my own thing, making foolish choices that led to disappointment and emotional pains. I know my life’ journey with You is a work in progress, but why, Lord, do some sins refuse to let go of my soul?  This has been age-old conflict since the Garden. The Apostle Paul reminded the Colossians believers that God patiently waits to help them overcome these nagging sins, but they must make the first move and choose to “put these sins that so easily ensnare us to death” {Colossians 3:2–5; Hebrews 12:1).

These early believers belonged to God, forgiven and redeemed by Jesus’ cross. The shameful sins they struggled with then still nag at believers today: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, idolatry. Does that list sound familiar? The same sins hound believers today. Scripture says, “these earthly things lurk within us” (Colossians 3:5) and we’re to use our power of choice: continue to entertain these earthly sins, or say enough is enough, and choose God’s help to put these sins down for good. I pray we choose the latter.

Lord, we choose Your help today. Strengthen our resolve to “put to death these earthly things.” Amen

Monday, May 16, 2022

Lord, many whom You invite come to You despite knowing little about the things of God or what it means to be a Christ-follower. We didn’t fully understand everything about You, we just know You did something inside us that this corrupt world could never do. Even though we’re a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17), You still left us with free will and the power to choose. This should be stunning for all believers. You didn’t want robots, mindlessly following Your instructions—no questions asked. Instead, You trusted us to make the right choices exercising our new-found faith. New and seasoned believers make a choice every day—”what will my mind dwell on today?”

Colossians 3:1 instructs Christ-followers to set our minds not on the things of this world but on the “realities of Heaven.” Scripture urges believers to be aware of the events unfolding in the world, just don’t dwell on them 24/7. In Christ, our spiritual eyes are opened and we view the world differently than we did before. We set our minds on the “realities of Heaven” since those are eternal values. Heaven is where Christ is, reigning and ruling over the universe. These earthly troubles are temporal. They’ve been coming and going, provoking and irritating mankind since that ugly snake incident in the Garden of Eden.

There is a solution. Consistently choosing to think and meditate on the eternal amid the brokenness of this world builds mountain-moving faith and strengthens our endurance to persevere under the hardships we all face here.  

Lord Jesus, help me follow Scripture and set my thoughts on the eternal, on the realities of Heaven. The glories of Heaven greatly outshine the temporal junk in this fallen world. Amen.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Lord Jesus, when we place our trust in You to take away our sins, You give us a new life. We retain our same ole body, some of which are in excellent physical condition, while others, most likely a majority, keep our worn and out-of-shape body that even photoshopping won’t help. But that doesn’t matter—we’re not the same. Oh, our physical will eventually die, but our inside person, our spirit, is now truly alive, and will live forever. Without our saying a word, family, friends, co-workers, those in our sphere of influence, notice the difference in our tone, attitude, and demeanor. “What happened to you?” they wonder. Believers know. Others remain clueless.

The Apostle Paul addressed the choice the early believers encountered: Return to my former way of life, since I was comfortable, knowing what to do and what to expect? Or fully embrace following Jesus, not knowing where this new way of living might lead?

Was this choice of “to follow or not follow Jesus” only for the early believers? Really? I don’t think so. Paul’s encouragement to the Colossian believers carries the same impactful truth today.

“Since you have been raised to new life in Christ, set your sights on the realities of Heaven . . .” (Colossians 3:1)

All who come to You, Jesus, face the same choice: Abandon the old way of living and follow You wholeheartedly, or return to the old ways. When we become a Christ-follower, some old habits, harmful addictions, or sinful activities try to hang on. Paul clarifies dilemma in that all who follow You are a work in progress. That includes me.

Lord, I’m far from perfect, but thankful I’m totally forgiven. And that is one of the realities of Heaven I can set my sight on. I have no regrets following You, Jesus.

Amen.

P.S. Aren’t you glad you made the right choice too!

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Lord, those who choose to follow You soon find living the life You deemed for us is not a cakewalk. Much happens in our world that is out of our control. As a Christ-follower, I’m often left facing uncertainties. Since the Apostle Paul also fought this daily struggle, he gave godly advice for believers as how to live as You designed: Use your power to choose. Addressing the Colossian believers, he started his checklist by urging them first to choose to “think about the things of Heaven, not the things of Earth” (Colossians 3:2)

The devil works in creative ways to distract our minds from You. When we choose to dwell on the endless supply of worrisome things in this world, the wars, famine, death, lies, government corruption, broken relationships, betrayals, et al., the devil is showcasing his wares.  But he also works overtime to get us worrying about our social status, or obsessing about material goods. Gotta have the latest do-dad to feel complete. Don’t forget the pleasures we deserve but religion forbids us. These are some of the devil’s best lies. Who wouldn’t get bummed out thinking about earthly things all day? I certainly would.

In contrast, when we choose to meditate on the inexpressible joys of Heaven, God’s Spirit strengthens our soul to endure the hardships of life as well as breathing peace to us in all circumstances. Thinking of the glories of Heaven that await us renews our spirit. Foremost, our Savior Jesus has secured our eternal place in Heaven with Him and our loved ones who have gone before us. Forever reunited with those so dear to us here, in our glorified bodies, never to suffer nor see pain ever again. Heartaches will no longer exist. Sin is forever defeated, bound in a fiery, eternal place of judgment, never to tempt us again.  We cannot imagine such heavenly sights and sounds that are beyond our description. And so much more than space allows here.

Lord, may these temporary problems of earth fade as we choose to focus our minds on You and our heavenly home. Amen.

Tuesday May 10, 2022

Lord, regardless how our actions go against Your Word and Your precepts, You never give up on us. Many live unaware they are living contrary to Your standards as they had no training as children in the knowledge of You or Your workings as Creator God. They may be decent, kind people of society but they were never taught how You change a person’s heart. Your Word in 1 Peter 1:3 states You specialize in opening the eyes of the spiritually blind to lead them into a new life.

Many of Your followers drift away due to life’s demands. Family, job, extracurricular activities—sometimes even church functions—vie for our attention and smother the quiet time we need. These folks still belong to You. Reading the 23rd Psalm, we’re reminded You’re their shepherd who specializes in leading us beside still waters to restore our soul.

Others intentionally turned their backs on You, spurning Your Word to live as ruler of their life. Eventually they find they cannot overrule Your law of “sowing and reaping,” and end up broken, their lives shattered from sowing bad seed.  As found in the opening words of Isaiah 61, You specialize in taking broken lives and making something beautiful and lasting.

No matter how broken we may be, God specializes in coming after us with His redeeming, unconditional love.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Lord, I jumped when I heard her voice. I didn’t know she was in the room, and had been listening the entire time. My bride and I were relaxing, watching TV and reading eBooks on our Kindles. A commercial came on demonstrating Alexa starting a car, and I commented how Alexa was now people’s “man Friday.” That’s when she spoke from my Kindle. “I couldn’t understand your request. Try again.” My wife snickered how I just now discovered this female voice inside my Kindle. She thought I had disabled Alexa years ago as she did.

Whoa! For years I’ve read my Kindle never knowing Alexa listened to every word, but lay quietly hidden within my digital device. Did Alexa hear me complain about the Cowboys? Uh huh. She most likely never understood my exuberance over A&M football. She probably rolled her eyes at my outrageous statements about politics. Perhaps she spit out her digital coffee at my jokes?

But if Alexa listens to every word I speak, how often does she hear me talking to You, Jesus? Does Alexa join me in prayer as I meditate on the Scriptures? Lord, I pray Alexa hears more words of faith than words from my carnal nature.  Are her digital hands raised as we praise and worship You?

You know my heart, my thoughts, my motives, my love for You, Lord. Your ever-present Holy Spirit knows all about me, my in’s and out’s. Alexa cannot comfort or strengthen me as You do. Alexa may be our “man Friday,” but only You, Lord Jesus, perform 2 Corinthians 5:17: You redeem us from sin, change our heart, and makes us a new creation.

Alexa, repeat after me: “Thank You, Jesus!” Amen

Friday, May 6, 2022

Lord, First Thessalonians 5:17 tells us how we can live joyfully in all circumstances, whether good or bad. How? By “making our life a prayer.” Misguided religious folks have made this mandate of a prayerful life way too complicated.

“You can’t go wrong using flash card prayers,” some advise. “That’s what they’re for.” Others suggest to “Find prayers on the Internet that religious leaders have written. Surely, they know how to get God’s attention.” The super spiritual claim God always answers prayers spoken in King James English, like Your disciples did.

Lord, is this what prayer is all about? Is that what You want? Hardly.

“Talk to me.” You say. “I won’t tune you out.” You delight in our ongoing conversations throughout the day. As You were with Your disciples, so You are with us. This broken world never runs out of challenges to test our patience and our faith daily. Most times it’s smooth sailing, but occasionally, a raging storm arises out of nowhere that threatens to sink us. Keeping our ongoing conversation with You energizes Your peace to calm our soul. Your presence makes giving thanks, praise and worship such a joy in all circumstances.

Lord, I don’t want to make prayer complicated, I just wanna talk to You. I’m thankful I get to hang out with You all day, Love You Jesus. Amen.