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Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Lord, in Your love for all people, You extend Your invitation for people everywhere to come to You, (Romans 1). Those who accept Your offer of redemption have a story of Your mercy and grace with a new life that is unique to them.

Some poor souls come to You from horrendous circumstances. Their life involved one nightmare followed by another. The came to You with nothing to offer but their brokenness. Society may have looked down on them as losers, but You saw them as a new, truly alive person, changed by Your powerful grace.

Other may have lived comfortably. Perhaps raised in a religious environment, society considered them true-blue individuals, but inwardly, their virtue-signaling pride turned their hearts toward arrogance and evil.

Still, some were good, decent folks, kind, and considerate members of society. But then realized they needed a relationship with You, Lord, and responded when You called.

Regardless of where we were, those who accept Your invitation of redemption and a new life have a story to share with others in their world, a story only You can tell.

The psalmist was no different. His life could have been a Netflix series. For a time, his life was one drama after another. Up one day, down the next. Deep in the valley of despair then exalted to the mountain heights of exuberance.

Lord, how many Christ followers identify with the psalmist’s story? I’m one.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walk along. He has given me a song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done [for me] and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” —Psalm 40:2,3 (NLT)

As most Christ followers can testify, only in You do we find lasting joy and meaning. May we sing our new song of Your grace loud and clear for all to hear and may our story influence those in our world to seek You.

Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, January 9, 2023

Lord, You’re not surprised. We’re thankful You are mindful that as humans, we act, well . . . human. Psalm 39 details how the psalmist continually fought to keep his mouth from getting him in trouble. Sometimes he succeeded, (like me), other times his words escalated the conflict, (again, like me)—Psalm 39:1-3.

You reminded the psalmist how life is too short to get so bent out of shape when life’s stuff goes haywire. The psalmist realized his life here is temporary, that these issues of life, the trials and problems, disagreements, won’t last forever. The psalmist considered how life is too precious to be wasted on things that will not matter a year from now, or next month, next week, or even tomorrow. Why let your relationship with the Lord be disrupted over issues that have no eternal value?

I re-read the psalmist prayer.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me my days are numbered, how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to You, at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.

“And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You,” —Psalm 39:4–7 (NLT)

Lord, when stressful situations arise, help me pause before speaking, think about the implications of what I’m about to say will have on those involved, and may all I say reflect You living in me. Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Friday, January 6, 2023

Lord, the more I read the psalms, the more I identify with the writer. Humanity hasn’t changed. Our human nature, our carnality, is the same.

In the psalmist attempt to “hold his tongue from sinning” when the ungodly acted ungodly, he didn’t always respond as he should. His writings from 3000 years ago describes me, and if we’re honest, describes most of us in this broken world. I re-read his declared intentions to watch his mouth:

“I said to myself, ‘I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me,’—Psalm 39:1

Then his humanity showed up.

”But as I stood there in silence, not even speaking good things, the turmoil within me grew worse. The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words,” —Psalm 39:2-3

Instead of turning the confrontation over to You, Lord, the more the ungodly raged, I stood there, closed fists, clenched teeth, getting madder by the minute. As a Christ follower, but also as a human, I confess my reactions have not always reflected me as a Christ follower. In Your wisdom, You deny me the power to call down fire and brimstone on those who offend me. Untold thousands would have been obliterated by now. But then, if others had that power, I would have been wiped out long ago.

Forgive me, Lord. By Your grace, humble me to pray for the ungodly who offend us (Matthew 5-7). I may not understand, but I know You have this worked out for our good. Amen, Jesus.

(continued)

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Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Lord, how many Christ followers make the same New Year’s resolutions every year? In all seriousness, we declare, “I will rid my life of everything that hinders me from becoming all You created me to be. This year is different.”

Yes, it is possible. With Your help and our willful surrender of ourselves to Your leading, many keep their resolutions, and their lives change for the better over the year. Unfortunately, for many, if not most, in their zeal to prove to You their sincerity to change, attempt these changes with their own efforts. Failure soon follows, accompanied by guilt for once again not keeping our vows.

As the year unfolds, life activities keep us hopping. The seemingly harmless activities, in and of themselves are not bad, but if we’re not careful, draw us away from You. Those harmful habits remain, if not worsen. The cheesecake continues to call our name. Choosing to retain that negative attitude still blocks Your blessings. Mayne that’s why we make the same New Year’s resolutions every year.

For Christ followers, making a vow to change puts us in the middle of a spiritual battle. Your Word tells us in Ephesians 6:17, that in everything we do, take up the “shield of faith,” not the shield of pride. We may change our outward behavior, but on the inside, we still cling to the old ways.

Thankfully, because of Your grace, our failures to keep our resolutions will not cancel our eternal life in Heaven.

You are the God of second chances. In 2023, with Your help, Lord, we will live Hebrews 12:1— “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

May 2023 be our breakthrough year, Jesus. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Lord, You came to us a babe, born into poverty with a smelly stable as Your nursery. Lord God, You became Mary’s boy-child, Jesus Christ. Such a humble entrance into our broken world, especially after God the Father gave You the titles of “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father” and crowned you the “Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6).

The title Prince of Peace describes You perfectly. You came to save humanity from the penalties of sin and bring us peace with God. Because man’s rebellion in the Garden severed the harmony between God and man, You came to reverse this brokenness. Not only did You bring us peace with God, but You also gave us the Peace of God to reign within our hearts, (Colossians 3:15).

Mankind’s rejection of You, the One true God, and attempts to set himself up as his own god have proven to be the greatest mistake ever made. If man could save himself from his sins by his own efforts, he would have done so long before You came to us. Instead, man became more of a hopeless mess. Only You, Jesus, as the Lamb of God and the Prince of Peace could restore the peace between man and God the Father.

The shepherds who rushed to Bethlehem on that first Christmas night to worship their new King could not comprehend the impact You would make on the world. The magi who brought treasures to their new King could not conceive the Treasure You would be to bring peace between fallen humanity and God.

Lord, may we allow You, the Prince of Peace, to reign in our hearts not only at Christmas but all year through.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, December 19, 2022

Lord, when You came to us, You didn’t identify with the elitists, or the “haves.” You had to identified with the common people, the “have nots.”

You weren’t born in a cosmopolitan city, in a hospital equipped with the finest staff. Far from it. You were born in a dirty, smelly stable in Bethlehem, a small village known for raising sheep for Temple sacrifice. Only a few barnyard animals witnessed Your arrival. And poor Joseph! A carpenter by trade, experienced on the job training in birthing the Son of God.

Kings and priests didn’t herald Your birth. Luke 2 describes the Christmas story of heavenly angels, singing praises to God, announcing to shepherds the Advent of the Messiah, the promised one—Immanuel— “God with us!”

Thousands didn’t gather outside Your house, hoping for a glimpse of their newborn king, but with inexpressible joy, the shepherds rushed to Bethlehem to worship their newborn king. That is so much like You, Lord. The first to worship You here were the common people, simple shepherds, but oh, they recognized the glory of Your arrival and worshiped with the angels. Two years later, wise men from the east who recognized You as the Messiah and travels for months to worship You, bringing You gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

You had to come to us as a commoner, otherwise, how could You identify with our plight? Because in Your humanity, You could identify how we broken people suffer, how we struggle with everyday life in this fallen world. You identified with our temptations, with our weaknesses, or joys and sorrows, our highs and lows, yet You remained sinless. You fought the same battles we fight daily and conquered every one. Therefore, only You could be the “Lamb of God,” the perfect sacrifice to take away our sins and give eternal life to all who believe in You. (John 1).

How fitting You were born in Bethlehem, the village known for raising lambs for sacrifices for sins. May we always worship You as such, Lord, our personal Lamb of God who took away our sins. Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Lord, it’s only by Your grace we are able to live a holy life. As we grow deeper into intimacy with Your heart, our worship cannot be restrained. Scripture instructs us to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing,” (Psalm 100:1–2).

I wonder if the psalmist heard my singing, would he have erased that “come with singing” thing? Or did he add the ‘joyful noise’ clause because of my singing? It doesn’t matter. God desires our worship. Those around me may disagree, but to our heavenly Father, my singing pleases Him. It makes Him smile, since it’s coming from a grateful heart, (Psalm 138:1). And since You put Your songs of praise within our hearts, how can we be quiet?

Jesus instructed us to worship our heavenly Father in Spirit and in truth, (John 4:24). When our hearts are aligned with Your heart, Lord, we are one in Spirit with You. We worship You in truth because our heart knows Your heart. We know who You are and what You have done.

For the most part, the secular world wants to make You into the image it wants. The world’s description of You differs greatly than how You and Your holy precepts are described in Scripture. Worshiping You by the world’s standards is not worshiping in truth. That’s not worshiping You for who are, that’s worshiping You for who You aren’t.

As I grow deeper into Your heart, may my joyful noise not be silenced when I worship You in Spirit and in truth. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Lord, as Christ followers, when we determine to align our lives, our hearts, our souls with Your character, Scripture tells us our first goal is to live a ‘holy’ life. (1 Peter 1:16). We accomplish this mandate simply by ordering our life, our actions and words according to Your precepts found in the Scriptures. When we live accordingly, there is no need to walk around with a sign that reads, “Look how holy I am,” or dress a certain way or prohibit ourselves from activities deemed unholy. Holiness shows without advertising. But it’s impossible to live holy without divine help.

Skeptics, critics, and some religious folks who do not understand grace, point a finger at Christ followers for not always meeting these holy standards. I agree. Perfection is far from my zip code. Believers, and non-believers, can never keep these holy standards. We know it. God knows it. Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote this encouragement to the Roman believers, “because you belong to Him [Jesus] the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin, [which is condemnation]” —Romans 8:2 (NLT).

Paul continued his message stating that except for Jesus, no one has, nor ever will, keep the Ten Commandments. However, because we belong to Jesus, His life-giving Spirit has freed us from the penalties of not keeping the commandments. And because we belong to Jesus, we understand His grace. And because we are covered by grace, we can live a holy life.

Jesus, thank You that Your grace makes me holy before You. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, December 12, 2022

Lord, if I claim to be Your follower, I should desire to know Your heart. To be like You, I need to bring my character in line with Your character.

Secular folks, and some religious people too, have impressions of You that are nothing like You are described in Your Word. Usually, their views are not malicious. They may even contain half-truths. It’s they just don’t know who You are. Having a false impression of You could cause me to get completely off track, missing the joys of a relationship You.

When I say I commit myself to be more like You, what am I committing to? When I seek to align my character with Your character, am I opening myself up to drastic changes? You have a way of pulling us out of our comfort zones, sometimes with us kicking and screaming. You changed our hearts, making us new on the inside. Now, You are asking us to change our ways.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will [heart] for you, which is good, pleasing, and perfect”—Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Lord, what is first in taking on Your character?

“You are holy—so we are to live holy” —1 Peter 1:16

Thankfully, I don’t have to shave a bald spot on my head, join a monastery, and hum hymns all day. To be holy, I just have to live by Your precepts.

Aligning my character with Your character, Jesus. Amen.

(continued)

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Chatting with Jesus

Friday, December 9, 2022

Lord, for believers, how can the worst in any situation be what You would call a ‘good thing?’ In my humanity, that just doesn’t make sense. In my spiritual life, I’m still struggling to make sense of it. If I’m trying to do right and live as You command Your followers to live, yet my world is falling apart, I’d kinda like to know some answers. Am I to blindly accept this as part of Your will for me? Deep within my soul I’m pleading, “Lord, I don’t understand!”

Most likely this plea has been offered with tears by every believer. The Apostle Paul addressed this issue to the believers undergoing extreme hardships in Rome. His statement of faith amid uncertainty has proven true over the centuries.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose,” — Romans 8:28 (NLT)

We’re quick to quote 8:28 and then move on. But verse 28 is only half the promise. Often overlooked when believers are struggling with the ‘I don’t understand’ question is the preceding verse. Jesus said He would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to come live within each believer who placed their trust in Him. For believers, we’re never on our own.

“And the Father, who knows all hearts, knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers [when we don’t know how to pray] in harmony with God’s own will” — Romans 8:27 (NLT)

So Lord, I might not understand now, but I accept what You say: “Surrender of your will to My will is really in your best interest.”

I’m sticking with You, Jesus. Amen.

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