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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Lord, all Your followers, from Abraham to Elijah to the apostles to even me, go through periods when our faith is stuck in the spiritual basement. How did we, the “Oh, ye of little faith,” get here, in this cellar? This evil world goes out of its way to lure us away from You with clever, deceitful attractions. “Are you so religious you can’t compromise a little?” the world argues. For some, this opened the basement’s door.

Nonetheless, not all the faithful fall for the devil’s lies. Many reasons abound for our weak faith. Maybe we find ourselves in the cellar because of that lingering illness that just saps the life out of us? Perhaps the never-ending challenge of a shoe-string budget to meet our basic needs? Or despite bombarding heaven with our prayers, our hearts remain broken by the rebellious child, trapped in destructive addictions? It seems like one storm after another. These continuing physical and emotional battles can leave us spiritually drained.

You’re mindful of our frame, Jesus. You walked among us, the broken and weak. “A bruised reed I will not break,” You had compassion on the people, in need of a shepherd. “A smoldering wick I will not snuff out” (Matthew 12:20). Your compassion never scolds, never shames, never rejects us, the “Oh, ye of little faith.” You faithfully reach down in the cellar to lift us to renewed faith. When the “fire in our belly” for You smolders and is near lifeless, Your Spirit breathes new life into our spirits to ignite a new passion for You. Your compassion is like none other, Jesus.

Renew our faith, Lord. Breathe Your Holy Spirit on us with new faith, new power, new passion, and new fire into us. With Jesus’ authority, Amen!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Lord, You said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:29). So, Lord, what does it mean You will give me rest? Rest from what? When I came to You, my broken, weary soul needed redemption from the consequences of my foolish choices to sin. Despite my lengthy sin rap sheet, You graciously forgave me and gave me a new life of faith in You. I want to please You, Lord, but try as I may, I still struggle to overcome these lingering sins.

“You must be holy!” the religious saints instructed. “So don’t break any of the religious rules if you want to stay saved,” they warned. “Keep the traditions or God will be mad at you,” they counseled, adding more pressure on me to live sin-free. These ugly sins burdened my soul with so much guilt. How can You possibly love me when I repeatedly fail?

The apostle Paul wrote extensively on this dilemma. (Romans 6 through 8)

“Let me tell you of the ‘rest’ I give you,” Your Spirit whispers. “I do not condemn you in any way, because you belong to me and will always belong to me. Check it out. This truth is emphasized in Romans 8:1. I know your heart so rest from the futility of trying to live sin-free. You can’t! Rest in this great truth: Even though you belong to me, as long as you are human, you will sin. But remember this:—you cannot out sin My mercy. Keeping man’s religious rules and following traditions won’t earn you extra points, so rest from trying to be righteous on your own efforts. You can’t. Here’s another great truth: When our heavenly Father sees you, He sees You have My righteousness, and need nothing else.”

So I will rest in Your grace, Lord God. Amen

 Tuesday, November 30, 2021 

Lord, during this holy Advent season, as Your children reflect over the past year, we see Your hand of mercy and grace in our lives. For many, You raised them from their sick bed and restored their health. Others saw Your provision when making ends meet was uncertain and presented a struggle. For some, Your grace was more than sustained them when life’s disappointments shattered their dreams and altered their aspirations. Your Spirit comforted the brokenhearted when they released their loved ones to cross the Jordan to go to You.

Lord, with a grateful heart, today, may I, and all who have found You to be real this year, proclaim as the psalmist did thousands of years ago: “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; I will speak of Your faithfulness through all generations. I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in Heaven itself” (Psalm 89:1,2).

Lord, in all situations, where uncertainty lurks and our faith is weak, we’re so thankful You never change. You perform Your Word. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Lord, as sure as the sun rose this morning, we will be tempted to stray from You in some way today. Ephesians 6:12 describes our struggles with temptation and who we are battling—the devil and his agents. “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood people but against persons without bodies, the evil rulers of the unseen world … satanic beings … great evil princes of darkness … huge numbers of wicked spirits …” (TLB).  Lord, keep us alert since most temptations are subtle, with no blaring horns or flashing lights identifying them as temptation to sin. These temptations may seem like nothing to worry about, may even look harmless, but we’ve seen how “harmless” activities if left unchecked and entertained can lead to destructive addictions, emotional bondages, the crippling of soul and spirit. Today, Lord, help us recognize and reject all temptations. Lord Jesus, as You defeated the devil’s temptations by the power of the Holy Spirit, prepare our hearts to stay in-tune with Your Holy Spirit to defeat the plots of the enemy that draw us away from You (James 1:14).

Thank You Jesus that Your Holy Spirit fights to keep us close to You. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Lord, how grateful we are for Your blessings we take for granted. This year, with Your breath in my lungs, I’m eager to get a head start on thanking You before the “official” Thanksgiving Day. In reality, I’ve had “Industrial Strength” thankfulness since January when You spared my life from covid’s death grip.  Lord God, my family and I cannot thank You enough for Your “Angels of mercy” You raised to combat this pandemic. My heart bursts with love, respect and honor for the brave men and women, doctors, nurses, attendants, all health care workers who tirelessly cared for me and all other covid patients fighting to live, not knowing if which breath would be their last one here on Earth. To the joy of the workers, most lived. To their heartbreak, some took their next breath in eternity. Their courage, their professionalism, their dedication—all at great personal risk—is indisputable, and beyond their call of compassion.  How they managed to care for us 15-16 hours a day, seven days a week, without complaints, demonstrates Your divine hand rests on them. They served beyond human endurance.  

God bless every health care worker today. In my heart and in my family’s hearts, they are heroes and always will be heroes. This Thanksgiving, with Your breath in my clear and healthy lungs, Lord God, I’m thankful for Your Angels of mercy.

Friends, embrace your loved ones this holiday season. We have much to give God thanks.

Blessings,

Jimmy  

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Lord, recent tragic events have put a damper on this Thanksgiving season and caused many dear folks to fear and slip into negative attitudes. The non-stop bickering and divisiveness hampers our struggles just to keep our sanity. For Christ-followers, it’s a daily battle of faith to maintain a thankful spirit. However, this battle is nothing new. The devil has waged this war against believers since the Garden. The Philippian believers, although persecuted overcame the same challenge we face. “Rejoice in the Lord always,” the apostle Paul wrote, but his wise counsel warned them victory over a negative spirit required effort and discipline on their (our) part. “Be anxious for nothing, but in every situation, with prayer [and] thanksgiving, tell God what you need.” (Oh, Lord, I need Your help on this part!) “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think, meditate, and dwell about such things” (Philippians 4:4-9) That strategy still works today.

Lord, help me to follow 2 Corinthians 10:5, to “demolish arguments . . . and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Amen.  

Friday, November 19, 2021

Lord, You said to love one another, especially others in the faith. What You failed to mention is how difficult that would be at times to love those who also belong to You.  Many brothers and sisters in Christ are . . . well, let’s say, not like me. Ephesians 4:1–3 instructs us how to fulfill Your mandate. “Be completely humble and gentle,” which we tend to be when thing go our way, What follows is more challenging. “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” How long, Lord, must we tolerate these “patient” and “bearing” issues that push our envelop of love to the edge. Their annoying habits, their judgmental attitude and gossip, their theology that is not “woke,” Oh, what really sets me off is their outspokenness on political candidates! Sometimes their actions and words get on my last nerve. Then the Holy Spirit knocks some sense into my head. “Relax, My child, you are not alone in this effort to love others. All My children are a work in progress (Philippians 1:6) But remember, many brothers and sisters are struggling with the same issues about you.”

Lord, even when it hurts, I love how You keep me in line. Yea and Amen Lord.

Thursday, November 18, 2021,

Lord Jesus, I don’t know why You love me unconditionally when You know all about me. Once I realized what had been a mystery to me—the impact of Your sacrifice on the cross for my sins— I put my faith in You. Although my heart wants to continually return that same unconditional love, at times I feel unworthy since I too know all about me. And sometimes its not pretty. Lord, may Your Holy Spirit’s fire burn into my spirit the reason You love me as such: You see me as completely redeemed, Your beloved child, clothed in Your righteousness. The enemy of my soul wants to keep me focused on who I was before the cross, reminding me, after all, once a leopard, always a leopard, and a leopard cannot change its spots. On the contrary, Jesus, You say, “Keep your eyes on Me. I’ll pick you up when you fall, and yes, you’ll slip occasionally, but just stay focused on who you are becoming after the cross—a spot-free, saved by grace leopard—child of God.”  

Thankful to be a spot-free child God through You, Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Lord, may I never become an “old stuffy.” We’ve seen them. When You were here with us, these “look-at-me-I’m-oh-so-pious” religious elites, harassed You every chance they got. They slammed You as a fraud and hypocrite when You dared to dine with those evil “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:9-13).  Oh, they knew all about their religion and boasted how well they kept the rules. Sadly, in their self-righteousness, knew nothing of mercy. Looking at Your dinner companions, they only saw a group nameless low-lifes of society. You saw them as people You cared for and loved, who needed Your love and redemption. But that is Your nature, Jesus. You are all about loving people, about relationships. You look beyond our life’s history, our failures and sins, and see our potential greatness as Your follower in Your kingdom. Teach us how to “love others as You love us,” (John 13:34), and help us understand what You mean by “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

May I show mercy as Your mercy has been shown to me, and may I learn to love others as You have loved me, Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Lord, how do I cope when life is happening fast and relentlessly? This culture pulls at me from every direction. Do this. Gotta do that. The deadline is fast approaching and I’m behind. Hurried daily activities push me from spending time in Your Word, which I need to strengthen my spirit for whatever lies ahead today. How did I allow those sharp words with my spouse before I left the house irritated my spirit?  After waiting in line to drop the kids at school, I’m dumbfounded how they forgot their lunches again. My plan to spend time with You on my commute is shattered by the traffic congestion that looks more like a NASCAR race, adding to my frustration. I’m pulling what little hair I have out because things I cannot control are controlling me. Help, Lord! How do I restore peace amid the stress? Once my mind is still, Your voice whispers, “Worship Me. Praise Me for your blessings. Let your mind dwell on My goodness, things that are right, pure, lovely, excellent, noteworthy . . . And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8,9).

Lord, in my imperfection, may Your peace guard my heart and soul, as I dwell on Your goodness to me and my family. Amen.