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Chatting with Jesus

Friday, September 23, 2022

Lord, You warned us storms would come. Hours before Your crucifixion, You comforted Your disciples about their coming trials. “Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33 NLT). You never indicated “if” storms of life would come, but “when.” You gave us Your Word to be with us in times of trouble (Psalm 91:15). We don’t deny we have troubles, but as Christ-followers, we need not fear when life’s bad stuff happens.

The prophet Jeremiah certainly had his share of trials and persecutions meant to destroy him. He left his words of wisdom with how to deal with the storms of life.

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat  or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit”—Jeremiah 17:7,8 NLT

Lord, despite life’s ups and downs, we remain confident You will never let us down. Without exception, everyone faces hardships. Christ-followers don’t get a free pass, as some wish. Gratefully, the winds and waves still obey Your voice when You speak “Peace, be still,” to our storms.

Lord, help us keep our roots deeply planted into Your water, so when troubles come, we will remain effective as Christ-followers, showing those in our world how Your grace strengthens and sustains us when life’s stuff hits with a fury.

There is none faithful as You, Jesus. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus
Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lord, has this world always been this tumultuous? Many claim our world has never been more wicked than today. This is nothing new. In Paul’s letter to the Romans believers, he details that ever since creation, and that snake/apple disaster in the Garden of Eden, man has rejected You as being non-essential. Thousands of years ago, sinful man set the standard for wickedness, and man has worked hard to raise that bar ever since.

Lord, what are Your followers to do, living in this sinful world? Seeing the corruption around us at every level remaining unpunished, how can we as believers keep our minds from exploding with rage?

The psalmist shared his wisdom for living in this troubled world: trust God will do what He says He will do:

“The Lord says, I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name, [my power, my promises.] When they call on me, I will answer, I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them [honor their faith in my Word]” —Psalm 91:14,15.

How our sinful nature wants us to take matters into our hands and make things right with the world. Most times, our human efforts make things worse. Instead, You say, wait—I will avenge the wrongs (Romans 12:9). In this sin-filled world, evil will cause people to call out to You, Lord. You have never taken back Your promise to answer and sustain those who trusts in You.

Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Friday, September 16, 2022

Lord, many denounce those who live a “privileged” life.  As for me, and for most Christ-followers I’m sure, we are humbly proud about my “privilege.” Christ-followers are a privileged group as none other. We stand out from the herd. Paul introduced a privilege to the Philippians believers. It’s a recurring theme throughout his ministry in Philippi.

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him. — Philippians 1:29

Yes, God, You graciously give us the privilege of trusting Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Being a Christ-follower changes our lives for the better and gives us a hope and a future. And yes, God, You graciously gives us the privilege of suff . . .

Wait, Lord. It’s not all wine and roses? Are You saying following You also brings suffering, trials, problems, and possibly worse? This is part of this “privileged” life I signed up for? Even if we faithfully live for You we will still encounter suffering? Did Paul inform them that “all who desire live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

If that is part of the deal, Lord, then I’m all in. My questions about suffering should be “What do you want to show me” and not “Why me? I’m living right.”

—Is my suffering teaching me to depend fully on You and less on my own efforts?

—Or, will enduring my trial with grace cause the skeptic to look at You a second time.

—Perhaps my troubled prodigal will see a divine love in me and draw them home.

—Maybe some poor soul is down to the point of ending it all, but my response to a crisis will show them Your goodness and love are real and find hope in You.

Lord, we all will suffer, endure trials and face mountains. Trusting You, in our suffering we will come out more like You. Show us “What, Lord.” Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Lord, why is it necessary for Christ-followers to experience problems and sufferings? Don’t You relieve us of our burdens, struggles, and problems according to Your own words in Matthew 11:28—“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Isn’t being Your follower supposed to give us Heaven-esque life here on Earth?

Paul taught the Philippian believers to strive to become more like You, but never hesitated to warn them that with this transformation came problems as well:

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead, and I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death — Philippians 3:10

Even though You are the Son of God, while You walked this earth, You were not exempt from suffering and trials. Often, Your prayers were offered with loud cries and tears, yet in Your humanity, You learned obedience through suffering, (Hebrews 5:7-9). If You weren’t exempt, why should we be?

Paul’s encouragement to the Philippian Christ-followers rings true for us today. He said to hang on, the best is yet to come, (Philippians 3:14, 16). We must endure suffering because our suffering makes us increasingly more like You, Jesus. Help us understand, and accept, that problems, trials, suffering are necessary to produce godly character. And unless we go through these troubles, we miss the blessings of becoming like You, (Romans 5).

Lord, help me be willing to endure suffering so I may become more like You. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Lord Jesus, the Philippians joyously believed the Good News of redemption from sin and gaining eternal life through placing faith in You. Who wouldn’t want a deal like that? However, did some of Paul’s teaching leave the believers wondering what they signed up for? Should his teaching affect believers today as it did the Philippians?

Paul explained his position in Christ and told the believers to seek the same.

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead—Philippians 3:10(a)

Yes! Of course, as believers, we want to experience the mighty power of God active in our lives. Power to conquer temptations. Power of Divine deliverance from destructive habits and addictions. Power of mountain-moving prayers. After all, Psalm 103 says You will fill our life with good things. Count me in!

Perhaps many came back to reality considering the impact of the second part of Paul’s message:

I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death — Philippians 3:10(b)

Wait! “I want to suffer?” “Share in His death?” The joys of knowing You, Jesus comes with a price. Suffering and struggles accompany living for You in this fallen world. Not everyone will accept Your Good News of redemption. Ridicule. Mocking. Rejection. Physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse are common. In sharing His death, we die to our wants, our desires, our will in this world. However, we gain eternal life, being transformed more into Your image, Jesus. (Mark 8:35)

Who wouldn’t want a deal like that? Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Lord, this broken world is going nuts. Godless societies call evil good and good evil. Has there ever been more insanity in the world than it is today? Reading the Scriptures answers that question. Ever since that ugly snake incident in the Garden of Eden, the world has grown steadily crazier. Walking through the pagan city of Philippi, the Apostle Paul witnessed the godlessness of the city, where an idol stood on every corner and demonic spirits set up shop wherever they wanted. Paul shared with the brave Philippian believers the “secret recipe” for keeping one’s sanity and peace amid their persecution.  And the ingredients of that “secret recipe” have never changed. Paul wrote:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise . . .  Then the God of peace will be with you—Philippians 4:8,9

Jesus, You practiced self-control like none other. As Your followers, we should strive to emulate You to practice mind-control, not to dismiss nor deny that evil exists, but to acknowledge Your power far surpasses anything Satan offers. The devil dispatches his minions to distract us, wanting to parade before us all that is bad, which he calls good. But when we meditate on Your goodness, Your mercies, Your faithfulness, then Your peace sustains us regardless what’s happening in the world.

Lord, when our minds dwell on You, we rain all over the devil’s parade. I enjoy that.  Amen

Thankful Not to Worry

Chatting with Jesus

Friday, September 9, 2022

Lord, I would have fit in nicely with the Philippian believers. Although they were Christ-followers, they remained imperfect, stumbling in their walk of faith, much like I do daily. Their plights, much like ours, left them anxious. Persecution, societal breakdowns, eroding freedoms, ostracized, mischaracterized as hateful and bigoted, much like believers encounter today. Paul identified and addressed the root of their anxiousness. The conflict was, and has always been, between our human “me” and our spiritual “me.”

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace . . . “ — Philippians 4:6, 7)

Watching the doom and gloom news, listening to talk radio hosts go on and on about our impending ruin, rising social media craziness—no wonder my human “me” is quick to put on my worry cap. That’s when the devil’s “what if” and “If only” games begin. The doubts and fears turn the butterflies in my stomach into a swarm of bubble bees. However, by the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit, You set my spiritual “me” straight. “Enough of this nonsense! Why don’t you pray like I told you to do? You think I don’t know what’s happening down there?”

Lord, reading Isaiah’s prophecies is like reading today’s newspaper. Thankfully, we can trust what You say:

“Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish”—Isaiah 46:10

Help my spiritual “me” remain alert, but not alarmed. We trust You have this mess down here under control, Lord. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Lord, by placing our trust in Jesus, Your grace snatched us off the destructive path we were on. Thankfully, You did not leave us on our own to figure out this Christ-follower thing. In love, You placed Your Holy Spirit within each believer to guide us through this life and see us through to You.

The Apostle Paul emphasized this truth to the Philippian Christ-followers new to the faith. He assured them You would never abandon them, leaving them wondering what to do. Paul’s message is relevant for believers today as well.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him” — Philippians 2:13NLT

Fascinating. Lord, You are actively working and energizing your followers, directing our actions and activities to do what pleases You.

This desire to engage “others” to share Your message of hope and love isn’t like me. That troubled, depressed soul I encouraged, that wasn’t a random encounter, was it, Lord? Where did this compassion for that one society rejects for not fitting into the world’s narrative come from? Only from You. Speaking up for the cause of that one rejected by the religious elites reject for failing to meet their religious standards must please You too. Expressing Your love by our actions to the unloved, the rejected, the prodigals, those poor souls broken in body and spirit by this broken world—much like most Christ-followers were—demonstrates Your tender mercies completely.

Lord, may I always allow You to live through me to show Your love to this broken world. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus
Thursday, September 1, 2022

Lord, for Christ-followers, having knowledge of You is crucial to living a life that pleases You. Knowing Your ways directs us through this world of minefields the devil has laid for us. In Scripture, when seeking “knowledge” is mentioned, seeking “understanding” is close by. Having knowledge about spiritual matters is a good thing, but understanding these spiritual matters strengthens our convictions.

As new Christ-followers, the Philippians’ sought to understand the magnitude of Your soul-changing power. The more they learned about You and experienced Your love, the more Your Spirit opened their understanding of spiritual truths. Paul wrote:

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding” — Philippians 1:9

Lord, “talking points” about You are helpful, be we need understanding of Your attributes and who You are if we’re to make a difference in our world.

I might know something about human love, or what I think is love. Grow my understanding of Your unconditional love so I can love others as You love them.

Jesus, You taught us the importance of forgiving others. Expand my understanding how extending forgiveness liberates my soul from bondage.

Scripture says You give grace to the wayward and rebellious. Increase my understanding of Your limitless grace that draws the wanderer back to You. May I understand fuller my necessity to extend grace to the broken, just as I received in my brokenness.

And may Your Spirit who lives within all Christ-followers reveal more truths of Your sovereignty and increase our knowledge of You, Lord God, the Holy One. Amen.

Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Lord, the Philippian believers made an exchange that greatly favored them. After embracing Your grace of forgiveness of sin and redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, their world turned topsy-turvy. Openly declaring their faith in You came with a price. Society “cancelled” them, costing them jobs, homes, businesses, material “stuff,” which was only temporary anyway. In exchange, they gained an unexplainable peace and joy amid the persecution and were guaranteed eternal life with You. What they gained could never be cancelled. Paul explained their ongoing process of redemption like this:

I’m confident of this one thing: God, who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day we join Jesus in Heaven — Philippians 1:6

The same scenarios exist today. Lord, You know skeptics will ask new Christ-followers about our lifestyle change and this new exuberance about God and Jesus. Most have no theological answer. And that’s okay with You. Understanding comes later as we grow in becoming more like You, Jesus. The answer You gave these believers for the mockers is still relevant today.

I can’t explain what happened, but something happened. I just know I’m different on the inside. God removed the old sinful “me” and made a new “me” inside me. God accepted me as I was, a broken and tattered soul. Something else. I have a new love I can’t explain. Even though you ridicule me, I want you to experience this new life as well — 2 Corinthians 5:17.

May it be so, Lord Jesus. Amen