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Wednesday, January 26, 2022,

Lord, because the psalmist David dwelt in the shelter of the Most High, whether in good or bad circumstances, he proclaimed, “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and fortress. His faithful promises are my armor and protection” (Psalm 91:2,4). David belonged to You and affirmed repeatedly You are who You say You are, therefore, You would fight his battles. Those around David saw Goliath through human eyes. David acknowledged what stood before him, but he also knew he was not alone. Through spiritual eyes, David saw Goliath defeated, for he approached his giant in the name and power of the Lord God.  “This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (1 Samuel 17:47) he boldly spoke to the giant. Friends offered to equip David with what they trusted, human efforts for human protection. David considered their offers but found human efforts contradicted what You, Lord God, wanted to do. You gave David faith to face his giant with what he had, a simple slingshot, but whatever we give You in faith, You anoint with Your power. David launched the rock, but Your unseen hand guided the stone to bring down the giant. The victory is Yours, Lord. You bring victory over our giants in unexpected ways so that no one can dispute You don’t fight our battles.  Amen!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Lord, as described in Psalm 91:1, You extend an open invitation to anyone who is weary, tired of fighting the battles on their own in this fallen world to come dwell in the “shelter of the Most High.” Faith opens the door of Your protective shelter—trusting that You, Lord God, are who You say You are and will do what You say You will do. No one is turned away who uses the faith key to open the door. However, by faith we must willingly leave our burdens, problems, worries, anxieties, doubts, et al., at the door. This useless baggage is not allowed in Your shelter if we are to find the rest and comfort we so desperately need. You assure us those who dwell in Your shelter find rest “in the shadow of the Almighty.” Resting in Your shadow indicates we are close to You, but more importantly, indicates You are close to us, standing guard over Your own. While we are safely in the shelter, resting in Your shadow, the enemy is left standing outside, helplessly looking in and sees You standing behind us, arms folded, not putting up with any of his nonsense. “Just what do you think you’re doing?” You sternly rebuke the devil.

Thank You, Lord, for Your power, protection, and comfort found in Your shadow.

Friday, January 21, 2022,

Lord, if I draw near to You, You will draw near to me (James 4:8). May I become so much like You, Jesus, when I’m around others, they see You before they see me. As You have called us to be Your hands and feet, make me one of Your “go-to” followers. When You need someone to encourage a poor soul, wounded and crushed by life’s stuff, may You trust me to be that “go-to” person. As Your representative here in this broken world, direct me where Your “go-to” hands and feet are needed. Show me how to extend mercy and grace, kindness and forgiveness to those who have lost their way and need a “go-to” helping hand to get back.  Equip all Christ-followers to be Your “go-to” people. Teach us to serve as You served, care for the poor and needy in body and spirit as You cared. For the one broken by the cruelties of this world, let us be Your “go-to” sympathetic ear and loving heart so You can “restore their soul” (Psalm 23:3).  Embolden us with holy courage to be the “go-to” voice for those who cannot speak on their own.   And may we be Your “go-to” person for the one who is looking for You.  

As Your energized “go-to” people, we will change our world as we follow Your command to love one another as You have loved us (John 13:34). Amen.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Lord, everything goes better with You. When You are involved in our affairs, You make the rough way smoother. However, if things seem to be shaky for a while, You assure us to just hang tough, for You are at work to make the situation better and the people involved stronger in faith. Nearly everyone who came around You were better people when they left. The only ones You couldn’t help were the prideful, religious elites. Their arrogance and condescension made the average person feel inadequate, and at worst, useless. Lord, I wonder, did You put them in their place by quoting a Scripture they very well knew, but were clueless it described them? Proverbs 3:34, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I guess in their spiritual blindness, that truth just flew over their head. How frightful it must be to have God opposing you. Oh, Lord, keep me from ever becoming a “religious elite!”

Lord, our desire is to be better Christ-followers after spending time with You. May our love for others grow, may our passion for bringing the lost, hurting, and hopefully even the former religious elites, to You. Help us commit to this goal—we want to be like You in that people are better after they have been around us.  Let the time we spend with You to rub off on others. And may we all live by this simple but life-changing truth: everything goes better when You are involved, Jesus. Amen!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Lord, as I draw closer to You, may I be committed to being a source of encouragement to those You have placed in my world.  Those times spent with You in worship and praise, of prayer and study are sure to pay off. May the results of our times spent together rub off on those around me. Often, we just need encouragement to endure the trials and problems we face in this broken world. How do people get through these harsh disappointments and crises in life to heal their souls without You? Sad.

The apostle Paul recognized the importance of believers sharing their lives with one another . He wrote, “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Paul also wrote to his brethren in Galatia that, “At the right time, God sent Jesus into the world…” (Galatians 4:4). Lord, could that also read, “God sent Jesus—in the form of me/you?” At the right time, when a struggling believer (me/you) needed encouragement, God sent me/you to “to build each other up.” Lord,  at the precise time, give us the right words, with the right tone with the right attitude so people will know You care.  And may I always bring encouragement to those around me.

Use us as instruments of hope in every hardship, Lord. Amen.

Monday, January 17, 2022,

Lord, as a Christ-follower, I want to live according to Your precepts. Society, who for the most part does not know You and are critical of Your followers, set unrealistic standards they think Christians should follow.  So the question is: what criteria identifies me as a “good” Christ-follower and sets me apart from society?

Your Word describes true Christ-followers as being kind and compassionate, generous, seeking to right wrongs, slow to speak, quick to forgive, and quicker to extend grace in all offenses. A true follower of Jesus Christ studies Your Word, prays regularly and loves “the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). A true Christ-follower lives 1 Corinthians 13:4–7, the “Love” message. Lord, I know all these things however at times, I can be a real jerk. I’m self-centered, critical of my fellow Christ-followers, snippy with those around me, practice judgment without knowing the facts. Sadly, there is much more, especially with that “love message” thing. I’m constantly beating myself up all the time because—well, I’m just a lousy Christian. I miss the mark You’ve set for those who follow You.

But faithfully, here Your Holy Spirit extends new levels of grace. “Study the ‘heroes of faith’ I’ve recorded in Hebrews 11. Enoch was the exception,” You explain. “Noah, Abraham, King David, the prophets, all repeatedly failed. Of course, you can’t meet my standard for righteousness. No one can. But I see your contrite heart. I see your willingness to quickly repent when you fail, and I see your humbleness to acknowledge your need of Me every day, every hour. Yes, you fit my criteria for a good Christ-follower. Never forget My grace has you. Now—let’s keep moving forward in the Kingdom of God.”

Friday, January 14, 2022,

Lord, after we came to You, we’re thankful You didn’t leave us on our own to figure everything out. Who knows how far off-track we’d be without Your Holy Spirit living within, leading us through life? However, some Scriptures in Your Word asks us to do what is impossible to do on our own. Some Scriptures cause our humanity to question reality. One such passage is from Your brother James. He wrote “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds …” (James 1:2).

Most folks read this statement say, “You gotta be kidding?” Yeah, sure. This goes so against our human nature. Get a letter from the IRS? Let’s celebrate. Lost my job? Throw a party! Who wouldn’t remain anxious if we stop reading there?  

But there is more to this statement. James explains, “[Your faith will be tested.] You know that when this happens it will produce in you the strength to continue.  And you must allow this strength to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be. You will have everything you need” (verses 3-4). Is there any other painless ways to build my faith? If I’m interpreting this correctly, Lord, You allow my faith to be tested, sometimes severly, so You can produce in me that “mountain moving” faith? Because You have bigger and better things for me to do in Your kingdom? Got it. I will praise and not complain as You develop more of You in me.

May Your Holy Spirit increase my joy. I may not understand now, but I trust You are working good on my behalf in these trials. Amen.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Lord, because You are good, Your amazing Love is beyond comparison. You’ve given the Holy Spirit to live within each of Your followers so we can live this life without being steam-rolled by the devil. And after we finish our race here, our eternal home is secured in Heaven with You. Your grace more than sustains us in difficult times and develops more Christlike character in us. Having these truths, we are grateful for Your blessings, yet one question leaves me baffled: Although most believers are joyful, why are so many Christ-followers grumpy all the time? Don’t they realize complaining ties Your hands from working on their behalf?  

Despite Your blessings, protection, and provisions, the Israelites constantly complained. Human nature hasn’t changed. It’s the same today as then. You must grow weary of our bellyaching. When believers gripe about stuff, are they acting like that double-minded person described in James 1:6, unpredictable—up one minute, down the next? These un-Christlike actions validate the skeptic’s point, just a bunch of hypocrites. Let me make this personal, Lord. Am I like that believer in James 1:6?  Is this attitude the results of my neglecting 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to “give thanks [in] all circumstances and to make my life a prayer?” Sadly, that nails one of my many flaws. Forgive me Jesus. Help me build consistent faith and not be wishy-washy. Teach me to praise and not complain. I want to be more like You and dwell on Your goodness and faithfulness so I’m more pleasant to be around. Amen

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Lord, as Your follower, to live joyfully in all circumstances, Your Word instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “make our life a prayer.”  Some well-intentioned but misguided religious folks have made this mandate of a prayerful life way too complicated, using techniques such as reading flash-card prayers others have written, or mindlessly repeating religious dogma like a robot. Others insist You are more prone to listen if we pray using King James English. Is that what You want, Lord? Hardly.

Of course, there are times for “formal” prayers when given in public, and respect is given to Your holiness and sovereignty. All prayers are to show reverence to Your glory.

In this broken world, our daily one-on-one prayers are simply having ongoing conversations with You throughout the day. After all, You desire to be our best friend forever. “Talk to me.” You say. “I won’t tune you out.” As You were with Your disciples, so You are with us in our boat whether we are smoothly sailing on still waters, or amid a sudden, raging storm that threatens to sink us. Keeping an ongoing conversation with You energizes our spirit, allowing Your peace to calm our anxious soul. This makes giving thanks and worship in all circumstances, whether good or challenging, such a joy. Help us not make prayer complicated, Lord.

I’m thankful I get to hang out with You all day, Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Lord, in 2022, if I’m to rule over my circumstances and not have my circumstances rule over me, I need Your Spirit’s help to discipline my mind. You said You would “infuse me with strength” (Isaiah 41:10) to help me make the necessary changes I need to make, and not You automatically making them for me without any effort on my part. Since that ugly snake incident in the Garden, every time our minds dwell on all that is wrong in the world, we go through the day in a downer attitude. And to be candid, in our carnal nature, thinking about all that is wrong in the world is easier than thinking about all You are doing in our lives.

Help us guard our thoughts. That takes diligence on our part, to take captive and reject “every thought that defies Your goodness and contradicts Your Word” (2 Corinthians 10:5). As our minds steadfastly dwell on Your values—whatever is “authentic and real, whatever is admirable and beautiful, respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind” (Philippians 4:8)—we recognize the shenanigans of the devil easier and his lies are exposed.  Keeping our eyes on Your Spirit’s leading keeps us on the path You have individually set for each of us.

May 2022 truly be a breakthrough year where we see our prayers answered and negative circumstances become positive. In Your authority, Jesus, Amen