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Monday, September 27, 2021

Lord, You created us with a free will. You didn’t create robots who were programmed to do Your every command. No, You let us choose to obey You or make ourselves lord of our lives. You let us choose our behavior and lifestyle, even if those choices are not in our best interest. When You make Yourself known to us, it’s our choice to believe what You say or dismiss Your truths as something that doesn’t apply to us.  You warn us rebelling against You will hurt us, and You don’t want to see us missing the fullness of life You bring.  Like the prodigal son, You waited patiently for us to come to our senses. But, when in rebellion my soul became a train wreck, that’s when the truth of Romans 5:20 became clear: “As people sinned more and more, God’s grace became more abundant.” When we turn from sin and turn to You, Lord God, You are waiting with open arms for us.

Putting my trust in You Jesus and realizing how You paid my sin debt on the cross gives me a confidence You are who You say You are.

Oh, Jesus I just gotta tell everybody.  Amen.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Lord, when we stubbornly think our limited human efforts can change our circumstances, and throw up our hands in frustration that nothing we’ve tried has worked, do You look down from Heaven, sigh and say, “Now are you gonna let me have this?” Lord God, You are truly the only One we can trust to change us. And from experience, we know people are fickle, saying “Good Luck” as they separate themselves from us.  What the prophet Isaiah witnessed You do for broken people centuries ago is still in effect today. Isaiah wrote, “You ‘delight’ to take broken people, shattered lives, and by Your power, transform them into new creations. You make something beautiful from ashes, give overflowing joy that replaces mourning, and continuous praise that dispels the spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:1–3). Lord, You change it all. It’s all You, Jesus.

Lord, as Your faithful servant J.A. said, Your changes last! Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Lord, how thankful I am You didn’t play hide-and-seek when I came seeking You (Jeremiah 29:13). Weighed down with guilt and shame from my bad life decisions, I reached out to You. Your Love changed me like nothing else could. You have been my close and faithful companion ever since. You’ve been there, laughing with me in the good times. You’ve been there, crying with me, and holding me close to Your heart when my heart was breaking. You’ve never left me nor abandoned me when, for whatever foolish reasons, I got off track, lost my shoe and fell. Instead, You lifted me up and brushed the dirt off my face and helped me put my shoe back on only this time You tied it. Guess I just wanted to say, “Thank You for being such a merciful and kind God. Your Love and grace for me is unmerited but I humbly and gladly accept it.” May I reach out to someone today with Your Love who is seeking You, Jesus.

Loving my life’s journey with You, Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Lord, as Your followers living in this broken world, we sometimes feel unworthy to be identified as Yours. The enemy of our soul constantly brings up our past, replaying our failures, claiming we’re too imperfect for You to use us. In our busyness, the distractions of everyday life draw me away from spending time with You. We’re blinded as to who we are, but worse, distractions cause us to forget who You are.

Then the guilt tries to worm itself in. “Oh, poor baby!” I wail, dripping in self-pity. “I’m useless for the Kingdom,” I invite whoever will listen to join me in my pity party. “How can God use me? After all, look how flawed I am.”

“Enough of that nonsense!” Your response to my invitation brings me back to reality. “Why do you doubt My grace?” You ask. “You’re no longer identified by who you once were. I’ve put My stamp of the Holy Spirit on you, guaranteeing you are redeemed and a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You’re mine! I’ll give you everything you need to do what I ask if you’ll just trust Me.”

“Forgive me, Lord,” I confess. Help me remember in the busyness of life that my life is wrapped up in You.

“C’mon, my child, let’s expand My Kingdom.” I accept Your invitation, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Lord, You know how living in humility is a daily work project for me. In my normal, everyday activities, the devil subtly slips in a temptation for me to “show off” in some way or use my accomplishments to intimate “I’m important. Look what I’ve done!” He tells me I’m a self-made man. “You did this on your own. God is too busy striking people with lightning to help you!” What a liar!

He snuck in that pride factor when talking to Eve in the Garden, casting doubt on God’s goodness. “God knows when you eat from it [Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil] your eyes will be opened,” he said. “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). She and Adam fell for the lie. Instead of being like God, their pride created a chasm no man could cross between them and God. That separation has been mankind’s problem ever since. But this is no lie: TRUTH—God sent Jesus to bridge that chasm so we could be reconciled back to God. Oh, Jesus, I’m nothing without You. Open my eyes to recognize when pride tries to elevate itself in my life. I’ll never be Your equal.

I’m thankful, Jesus, You are our bridge to God the Father. Amen

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Lord, for years I was afraid of You. I pictured You standing in the on-deck circle, taking practice swings with a big club, just waiting to smack me on the head every time I screwed up. Perhaps this wrong image of You came from the fire-and-brimstone sermons I heard every Sunday morning, Sunday nights, and Wednesday evenings. This religious upbringing caused me to misunderstand who You are. Religious teachings of that time emphasized that strict adherence to religious rules was the only ticket to heaven. Talk about pressure. Break one rule and better get use to extreme heat. Although we sang “Amazing Grace” at every funeral, growing up, I seldom heard grace mentioned in sermons. Everything about You terrified me.

But for years You were trying to tell me You were not mad at me—You loved me. You wanted to be my personal God through Jesus. Once I understood who Jesus really is, and how He took my sins on the cross, Matthew 11:29-30 had a new meaning: “. . . My yoke is easy, and My burden light.” You know my deepest secrets, every unholy thought, every bias, yet You want me to hang out with You anyway. Once I understood Your grace, salvation became clear in Your Word: “What must we do to perform the works of God. Jesus replied, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One [Jesus] He sent.’” Having a loving personal relationship with You wasn’t far-fetched at all.

So thankful to be yoked to You Jesus instead of religion. Amen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Lord, as Your followers, we are to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Our spiritual salt, dispersed by the Holy Spirit, preserves our faith and upholds Your values as well as adding zest, peace, and living hope to our life and the lives of others in our world. But we must remember another characteristic of salt: salt kills. Nothing grows where salt has polluted the soil.  Once fertile fields can lie in waste for decades after being sown with salt. Therefore, we must be cautious how much salt we spread when we share Your message of redemption through the cross. Give us godly wisdom to keep our zeal for the Gospel under control.  The devil tempts our pride to point a finger and compare our self-righteousness against those poor souls who “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Lord, may we not fall into that ugly sin. When speaking to someone who is seeking You, help us keep our spiritual salt focused on Your grace and mercy. That message gives hope. When we harp on the flaws of our fellow man and emphasize how horrible their sins and failures are, and then take Scripture out of context about how You hate sin, our excessive salt piles more guilt on them, and “Boom!” just like that, we’ve killed our message, hitting ‘em on the head with the entire salt lick. Lord, help us spread our salt in ways that draw people to You.

Striving to be the salt of the earth You called us to be, Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Lord, You choose the weirdest, strangest, most dysfunctional people to be Your followers. You certainly didn’t choose them for their talents. For most, people skills were not their forte either. People who know me wholeheartedly agree. Your Bible does not sugarcoat or hide the flaws and failures of Your people. Reviewing the stories of some of the “saintly” characters recorded in Hebrews 11, faith’s “Hall of Fame,” makes me wonder how You could use them to further Your kingdom. Abraham failed to honor his wife Sarah before kings, Isaac tried to manipulate God’s will, and who could justify the lies and deceptions of Jacob’s sons. Rahab, the “lady of the night?” David, the adulterer and murderer. Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 girlfriends—what’s this nonsense of Solomon’s wisdom? All these actions of God’s people make the Kardashians look Amish. In addition, carefully examining Your genealogy, we see flawed people who we would be uncomfortable having over for Thanksgiving. Yet with all these people , You saw something in them that greatly pleased You: they were willing to follow You and obey what You commanded. You did what they could not do. You turned their weaknesses into their strength. You transformed their fears into a holy boldness. And the greatest miracle of all, You changed their hardened hearts into conduits of Your Love and Grace, so much so that they changed the world. We too hope to please You, Lord, as we’re willing to let You use our peculiar traits to change our world. I too want to please You, Lord. May I be willing to allow You to use my peculiarities and my flaws to make a difference in the world around me (2 Corinthians 12:8,9).

You have me Jesus, flaws and all. I’m Yours. Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Lord, our hearts break in deep sorrow when we lose those closest to us here on earth. Our spouse, our father, our mother, our sister, our brother, and oh, Lord forbid, our child. Our anguish is too much to bear, our tears flow endlessly. Because we’re trapped living in this broken world, we all knew we’d face this day at some point, but this day came unexpectedly too soon. From their deep sorrow and pain, many asks where is God? And that’s okay. God can handle questions like that. He understands anger too. He gets angry how sin brought death and separation into the world. Jesus wept when He saw the pain and hurt that death brought to Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. But their sorrow turned to joy when You called Lazarus from the grave (John 11).

But Lord, in our grieving, You are near. You are near, taking our loved one’s hand to lead them across the Jordan to rest in Your arms, forever free from pain, brokenness, and worry. You are near as we must stay here for now, experiencing the loneliness of missing our loved one, seeing and touching all they left behind. You are near as we feel the sting of Your tears falling on our face, comforting us that You know our pain and cry with us. We’re grateful for You Jesus since, “we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10).

Jesus, our lives are anchored in You, our living hope. Amen.

Friday, September 10, 2021,  

Lord, I need to stay close to You. This fallen world offers so many distractions vying for my attention.  I’m troubled how easily I get off-track in living for You. You warned us how “our salt can lose its saltiness and become useless” (Matthew 5:13). Lord, help me be known as a salty Christ-follower. I will need Your Spirit’s help in keeping my saltiness from being corrupted by unbelief, or carnal influences that compromise my integrity. Or worse—little sins I do that I consider “innocent.” Your cross says those “innocent” sins put You on the cross just as much as those sins Scripture calls an abomination. Forgive me, Lord, and cleanse the impurities from my saltshaker.  May my words and actions represent what Your Gospel is all about — mercy, grace, and forgiveness for all wounded souls who are broken in spirit. Holy Spirit, use my salt to point them to You. The closer I get to You, Jesus, the more Your salt rubs off on me.

Let me be a willing saltshaker to let Your salt flavor the world around me, Jesus. Amen