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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, August 29, 2022

Lord, when the Apostle Paul prayed for the persecuted believers at Phillippi, he prayed their zeal for the You and their love “will overflow more and more (Philippians 1:9). He prayed their love would make a difference in those around them.

Everyone wanted a gig in Philippi where wealth and prosperity were abundant. Although this city was a Roman colony, where Caesar was deified, this cosmopolitan city hosted various crossroads of worldly cultures, where people worshipped the idols found on every street corner. But for Christ-followers, worshipping the one true God brought consequences.

Today’s cancel culture is nothing new. In Philippi, those who identified as Christ-followers lost their jobs, were ostracized by society, family, and friends, ridiculed, mocked, their livelihoods destroyed. Those who followed Jesus were outside the norm and could not be tolerated. Yet the heavier the persecution, their love for God and others increased. Their love cup continually overflowed.

Studying the Philippians plight makes me pause to examine my spiritual love cup. Lord, do I fear what today’s cancel culture can do to me? Where is the level of love in my cup? Is it full? Half-full? Near empty? Has it overflowed recently? Has it ever overflowed?

Give Your followers a holy boldness that causes our love cups to overflow continually, changing those around us. Why should we fear the cancel culture? Trusting You gives us life abundantly. You  provide our needs, impart Your peace amid chaos, something the cancel culture can never cancel. Something the cancel culture needs. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Friday, August 26, 2022

Lord, oh, the wisdom of a mother. A church friend told us how his mom implemented a unique way of disciplining him when he got too big for his britches. With notebook in hand, Richard’s mom made him write out the rules of English and say them aloud for hours on end. Did this form of discipline pay off? Indeed! As a result of his mom’s wisdom, Richard’s knowledge of English and communication skills help propel him to a high position within General Motors.

Thinking about my friend’s childhood discipline reminded me of some truths from my recent study of Psalm 119. Verses 11 through 16 tells us the psalmist “hid,” or put another way, memorized, Your Words in his heart and recited them aloud. I should practice the same. Much like adding another piece of spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:17), I’m adding spiritual protection to keep me from straying. Your Word guides my actions and illuminates where my life is headed (verse 105).

Lord, You remember how my wife and I used the same discipline with our girls. They filled numerous notebooks with Colossians 3:20: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Thank You, Lord, that Your Word remains with them to this day.

Having Your truths cemented in our minds helps us identify what Your plan is for our life. The enemy of our soul tries to sneak in a counterfeit “truth” from time to time to keep us from being all You created us to be. These false truths are quickly spotted since Your truths in us are greater than the lies of the devil (1 John 4:4).

Lord, may I always be aware Your Word is alive and well and protects my soul. I’m saying it out loud! Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Lord, You are not taken by surprise how life is getting crazier down here. Our society decided we no longer needed You since we are so intelligent and can handle things nicely ourselves. What hubris! 

“Okay,” You said. “Have at it.”

Although we ceremonially keep our “In God we Trust” motto, we pay little attention to its meaning. Instead, we place more trust in the government, and it has been downhill ever since.

Lord God, You have always had a remnant, those believers who remain faithful to you regardless their circumstances. You bless us despite our shortcomings and at times, doubts. All You ask is Your people have a grateful heart and worship You for who You are—God Almighty, the Great I AM, our loving heavenly Father. Sadly, I often fail to do so.

As a Christ-follower, I can identify with the ancient Hebrew remnant who remained loyal to You, while their society raced toward depravity.

The prophet Isaiah encouraged the faithful to trust God’s sovereignty. The same applies today.

“Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me.

“Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” — Isaiah 46:9,10.

Lord, may our trusting Your sovereignty sustain us in these uncertain times and bring us peace. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Lord, You saw the trainwreck my life became. With one problem following another dumpster fire, I lived a miserable life. My resistance to Your invitation to come to You, matched with my poor life choices, didn’t help my cause either. Stubbornness allowed my soul to creep deeper into the darkness of depression. Finally, Your two words shook me to my senses.

“Had enough?” I heard Your Voice whisper to me.

Like the psalmist, in my misery, I “took my troubles to the Lord. I cried out to Him, and He answered my prayer” (Psalm 120:1). Like the psalmist, You made me new on the inside. Before, I just existed. Now, I am alive.

Later, Your Voice spoke to my spirit again. “Do you think I rescued you from your miseries without an obligation on your part? That pain, misery, depression—all you went through—do you think all that is not meant for something bigger than you? Consider this. Right now, someone is languishing in misery and depression, as you were. And like you, they are on the verge of throwing up their hands, giving up hope. They need to hear how I love and accept them just as they are. I desire to make them a new person on the inside and give them a new life, like I did for you. Be ready. Be courageous. I am sending them across your path. They will ask you about the hope within you, (1 Peter 3:15). Tell your story. I didn’t rescue you to keep your redemption story to yourself.”

Lord, help me use my trainwreck for Your glory. “I will tell of Your mighty deeds” (Psalm 145:12).   Amen

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, August 22, 2022

Lord, the building manager stooped coming through the door. I immediately assumed he probably played basketball at some point in his life. He met me in the boiler room to discuss issues with the building’s backup generator. As we went over the generator problems, I sensed that he sensed I wanted to ask the questions he probably had been asked countless times.

“Do you mind if I ask how . . . “

“Six ten,” he said before I finished my question.

“Did you pl….”

“Vanderbilt.”

“Wow! Did you go . . . “

“Indiana Pacers.”

“What happ . . .”

“Blew my knee out. Bad back.”

He had the answers ready before I asked. No doubt his stature identified him as a basketball player.

Lord, I’m reminded of the message the apostle Peter sent to Christ-followers scattered among the nations. They stood out from the herd.  Despite harsh persecution, they were happy, joyful, not fearful of violating any of the 613 rules imposed on the people by the religious leaders. Peter urged believers to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Lord, as our 6’10” friend stood out from the herd, may we be identified as Christ-followers by living according to Your values and loving people as You love them. May we be eager to tell all who ask how You changed our lives and gave us a hope and a future. Jesus, as Your followers, we each have a story of redemption to tell—and it’s a good one. Amen

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Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Lord, this is so much like You, putting the mandate “don’t be afraid” 365 times in Your Word. Just a daily reminder that as Christ-followers, we need not fear since You are our God, and You have our backs. We’re encouraged by this truth from Isaiah which sums up Your “fear not” canon nicely: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10).

That is not to say Christ-followers are never afraid. Fear likes to play the “What if” game too. I have been afraid many times. Sometimes from daring to step out in obedience to Your leading, Lord. Other times from problems caused by my what-were-you-thinking, bone-headed choices.

What Your Word is saying to us is fear does not have to dominate our lives, affecting our actions, suppressing our desires to live all-in for You. Pastor Rick Warren stated clearly how “fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.” Oh, my. How many times has this phrase described me?

Be my confidence, Lord. Help me shed any fear causing me to miss what You have for me. For every person You create You have a plan for their life (Psalm 139:13–16). That includes me, and all who read this message.

Lord, as You hold us with Your victorious right hand, let us declare in faith fear will not stop us from reaching our God-planned destiny.  Because we can trust You, Jesus, we pray this in Your authority, Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Lord, I am so human. As a Christ-follower, why do I play the game time and again when I know the results will always be the same: unnecessary anxiety. If there were such a thing, I would be an All-Pro player in the “What if” game. These turbulent times cause anxious folks to jump into the game.

“What if I lose my job?”

“What if my health fails?”

“What if the economy crashes and my family loses everything?”

“What if my prodigal loved one never straightens up and gets their act together?”

What if … What if … What if … on and on the game goes.

“Time out!” I hear Your Voice say. “Let me remind you again that I Am the Great I AM who meets all your needs.  You wanna play the ‘what if’ game? Okay, I’ll play with you.”

“What if I give you a better paying, more rewarding job than the one you lost?”

“What if I not only divinely heal your body, but also touch and strengthen you in your soul, and spirit?”

“What if I miraculously sustain and provide for you and your family even if the economy crashes?”

“What if I rescue your prodigal from the pit of destruction and transform him or her into a dynamic Christ-follower?”

“What if … What if … What if … I could go on and on, since I’m the Great I AM and have promised “to meet all your needs according to the riches of My glory in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19.

“What if you just trust Me?”

Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, August 15, 2022

Lord, how did we get the idea that just because a person is mentioned

Lord, where did we get the misconception that the saints listed in Hebrews 11, the Bible’s so-called Saints Faith Hall of Fame, lived exemplary lives? After all, doesn’t Hebrews 11:6 state without faith it is impossible to please You, God? For those raised in church, perhaps our childhood memories of these biblical hero’s faith painted them as never-stumbling saints of unquestionable virtue. How could I ever measure up to their faith? I’m sure my name is listed in the Saints Hall of Flaws. That must pretty much eliminate me from being used in Your Kingdom, right Lord?

“Nonsense!” The Voice of Your Spirit grabs my attention. “You think you’re flawed? Except for Enoch, big-time flaws hampered each of these Hall of Famers. They make you look like Mother Teresa. Read their stories.”

So I read their stories.  Oh, my goodness! Who else do You have to work with here besides imperfect, ordinary people?  Despite their flaws and repeated failures in faith, You used Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, David, all of Your twelve apostles, and countless others to build Your Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. You label all who place their trust in You, Jesus, as saints, even though at times our actions are anything but saintly.

Help us, Lord, not to give up on ourselves to be used by You. There is a role for every saint in Your Kingdom, including me.

Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Friday, August 12, 2022

Lord, Your Word instructs us not to keep to ourselves our story how You transformed our heart and gave us a new life of redemption from sins by Your grace, (Psalm 107:2). People in this fallen world need to hear that You are the God who doesn’t just turn bad people into good people, but You are the God who takes the dead-on-the-inside and transforms them into a new, truly-alive-person-on-the-inside.

Each person You call Your unique masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). We are not all hardwired the same. Some You created as extroverts. We’ve seen them. They will talk to anyone, anywhere, and if no one is around, they’ll even strike up a conversation with a light pole. Others You created as introverts. Shy, and often withdrawn, they avoid talking with strangers . . . or light poles. Whether extrovert or introvert, all Christ-followers share a common theme: we are not the same since we experienced Jesus and God’s grace.

You have not made telling our story difficult. As Christ-followers, You speak to us on the inside, telling us when and with whom to share our story. We trust You will give us the right words as we do our part. Thankfully, You take the pressure off us since it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convince people You are who You say You are and will do what You say You will do. That’s something only You can do, Lord.

It is on You Jesus and in Your authority, amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Lord, the book of Proverbs contains several truths about revealing secrets (Proverbs 11:13; 20:19; 25:9). Our prayer is we can be trusted to keep a secret.  Things told in confidence will stay in confidence. But Scripture is clear what we are not to keep to ourselves:

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies — Psalm 107:2

Whether we come to You, Lord, as one who led a clean, moral and decent life, or one who lived like the devil, as Christ-followers we have a story to tell. You forever redeemed us by Your grace and gave us a new life.  Gone is the old. We’re Christ-followers now, but for most, we still play an old game, “I’ve Got a Secret.”

Our personalities are unique. Some You hardwired as extroverts, others introverts. And because You made us this way, Your Spirit will lead us to people who need to hear our story. We do not need to have all the answers to theological questions they may ask, we just need to tell them that somehow, You changed us on the inside and we’re not the same. We have a hope we didn’t have before. We have a peace we can’t explain. And we’re just happier now that Jesus is in our life.

Jesus, help me to share my story of redemption with those who are seeking purpose and meaning in life, as I once was.  Amen.

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