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Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Lord, remember, You wired me this way. I like routine. I like comfort. I’m at my best in my comfort zone, knowing what to expect. You know how I hate surprises.

Sadly, in this fallen world, proverbial storms of life happen to everyone, believers and non-believers alike. As a Christ follower, however, You orchestrate changes for me with a higher purpose, other than just annoying me to the point of me becoming obnoxious.

You clearly warned Your followers: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows …” (John 16:33). Some life-changing events come without warning, while with other changes, You graciously give us a heads up to what’s coming. Because You became human, You know what we experience when the storms of life come our way.

Although I don’t particularly like changes, I’m not opposed to change if the change is ‘good.’ Most times, You must pull me kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone to deal with these issues. I don’t like surprises! Is this where You want me, Jesus?

Lord, You call me to remain faithful despite what I see. This isn’t easy. It goes against my human nature because this storm is more than I can manage. You graciously remind me that as a Christ follower, I have Your nature, the Holy Spirit, within me, and You bid me to trust the Spirit’s leading whenever I’m in need, which is every minute of every day. You know the fierceness of my storm, yet I’m confident You know every detail of what I’m experiencing. Lord, let the second part of Your promise bolster my faith: “But take heart, because I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33b).

Okay, Lord, I’m out of my comfort zone now. I’m confident You know this storm I’m in, so give me the faith to follow where You want to take me. You may even surprise me.

Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Lord, You used parables in Your sermons to illustrate spiritual truths. Often, You ended the parable with the comment, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” To put Your phrase another way, listening requires me to take action on what You taught.

This statement confused many people, including Your inner-circle of disciples. They heard Your statement, but failed understand the underlying truths. They heard what You said but failed to listen. What was wrong with those people that they couldn’t understand what You meant? If only those people had Your Holy Spirit living within them as we do.

Some things never change. I guess their problem of understanding is the same problem I have when I hear You speaking, but I do not listen—and I have the Holy Spirit within. Maybe some Christ followers don’t like the message and tune out Your calling for a more righteous lifestyle. Others, perhaps, are content to remain stale in their faith, knowing they have salvation, and that’s all they need. Those attitudes are spiritually dangerous.

Forgive me, Lord. For me, listening is difficult, if not hard work, especially since my attention span rivals that of a goldfish. Listening demands my attention. Listening demands I evaluate Your truths and order, or re-order, my life accordingly.

Lord, teach me how to listen. I want to hear and understand what You have to say. Didn’t You say Your words are spirit and life? (John 6:63). I don’t want to miss what Your ‘Spirit and life’ are saying to me.

Speak, Lord. I’m all ears. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Lord, I think I’ve got this ‘life’ thing pretty much figured out. I know what is going on in my world and what situations I face. You’ve seen I have chosen good people I hang out with. I love my wife and family, and we attend Your house most weekends when we are not doing anything. And we usually put out the ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ sign every Christmas, and the ‘He is Risen’ cross at Easter. I can’t forget the healthy bank account and retirement plan in place when I am ready for the gold watch. Oh, yeah, Lord. I’ve got the perfect plan. All I need is for You to bless it.

Why do I feel like You’re shaking Your head, chuckling at my life’s plan?

“Oh, my child,” You whisper to my inner man, with a hint of sublte laughter. “I’m glad you somehow worked me into your plan. But if you knew the way things really are, you would see what you really need. Reread my Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 thru 7. This being consumed with planning every detail of your life is nothing I haven’t dealt with before:

“These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need,”—Matthew 6:32, 33 (NLT).

Plans are good, but what you really need is to make Me the center of your life. Let’s be honest. Your ‘needs’ are really ‘wants.’ I’m asking you to trust me for I know what you need. Seek me, and what I want for you. I think you will find my plan more rewarding—and I’ll let you keep the gold watch.

Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, May 8, 2023

Lord, as a Christ follower, I know I shouldn’t be so, but some people upset me. Especially politicians and pundits, insulting us with their straight-faced lies. To them, the truth is whatever they say it is, regardless of facts. There are coworkers who annoy me as well. Somehow, they push my last nerve button before I come unraveled. Or that noisy neighbor playing loud music for the neighborhood to enjoy—at 2:00 a.m. Lord, why do You allow Rap music? How I wish I had the power to strand the bums on a desert island far, far away.

Their nonsense troubles my soul, which is what the enemy of my soul intended his pawns to do—stir up unrest within my spirit. But then, faithfully the Holy Spirit comes charging in like the calvary with a truth from Your Word.

“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land,”—Psalm 37:8,9 (NLT).

Lord, did the psalmist have a picture of me in his wallet? You could not have spoken a truer truth that I needed. My ranting did lead to harm, but not for those poor souls I wished to be on the desert island. These emotions harmed me. Robbed me of my peace. Cancelled my joy. Turned me into a sour puss people want to avoid.

Forgive me, Lord. You will take care of these folks. They will have to give an account of themselves to You, not me. May my prayer be to remain Christlike, pray for our leaders (Romans 13), friends, and love our neighbors. We trust You will take care of Your people, regardless of the governing officials in power.

Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Friday, May 5, 2023

Lord, You reign supreme over the heavens and the Earth. The psalmist simple words describe how from the highest peaks and beyond, down to the lowest depths of the Earth, You reign supreme over all creation, yet in Your goodness, You are mindful of fallen man’s state.

“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths,”—Psalm 36:6 (NLT)

Your righteousness stretches higher than the mightiest mountains, Your glory clearly displayed in the heavens for all to see. Man-made gods and ideologies are useless. You are the Supreme Ruler of Heaven and Earth, and always will be. You keep Your promises.

Who can question Your justice? You judge each person righteously and fairly since You know their deepest, darkest thoughts and the motives of their heart. No one can accuse You of being unfair, for You have given every person a conscience to know right from wrong. When we face judgment, we will be without excuse (Romans 1:28-32).

But as righteous and true as Your justice is, Your mercy is even greater for those who humble themselves with a repentant heart.

“Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”—Micah 7:19

As Your righteous character never changes, You offer judgment with mercy, forgiveness, and a fresh start in life. The mercy of Your character buries our sins in the depths of the ocean, never to surface again.

From the highest heights to the lowest depths, You have us covered, Jesus. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Thursday, May 4, 2023

 Lord, while the psalmist contemplated about Your unfailing love and faithfulness, Your Holy Spirit must have raised his awareness of Your sovereignty.

 “Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains … “—Psalm 36:6 (NLT).

Reflecting on Your righteousness, did the psalmist have the prominent peaks of Mount Bashan in mind? After all, the Israelites called this the Mountain of God. Perhaps he compared man’s petty ‘molehill of self-righteousness’ with the majestic of the eternally unmovable mountain that ‘reaches to the heavens.’

 “Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens … Who can compare with You, O God,”—Psalm 71:19 (NLT).

 Man’s righteousness is flawed by our sin nature, is fickle, and ruled by carnal demands. Grace, if any, is rare and conditional. You encountered them when You walked among us. These people are still the same today. Puffed up, smug and proud of their religious credentials, always fishing for an ‘atta boy’ compliment about their goodness. Did You find them annoying to be around, like we do?

 Lord, the truly righteous who have trusted in You, live in humility knowing their life, their purpose, their faith is from You. We are not self-made believers. Your righteousness is full of mercy and grace, pure and holy, and freely given to all who turn from a sinful life to trust You, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior. The righteousness You give is permanent, much like the mountain the psalmist described.

 Thank You, Lord, that the righteousness You give is unchanging, never ending, like the Mountain of God. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Lord, the psalmist loved to meditate on Your love and faithfulness. One night, as he gazed spellbound into the starry sky, awestruck by the grandeur of Your heavens, did it finally click? Did the usually poetic psalmist struggle to find the words adequate to describe Your glory, love, and faithfulness? Can we humans describe Your glory that gives You glory? We try.

“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds,”—Psalm 36:5 (NLT).

Lord, how vast are the heavens? Where is the end of the universe? Have You posted signs in space warning “Slow down, end of the universe ahead.” As there is no end of the universe, there is no end to Your glory. The psalmist worshiped, “The heavens display the glories of God,” (Psalm 19:1). And there is no end to Your unfailing love. Your love is Your glory. Yet, in the vastness of Your universe, You still hear the faintest cry of a poor soul seeking You. It is Your glory to freely give Your unfailing love to fallen man.

Maybe the psalmist looked heavenward on a cloudy day but only saw the overcast sky. He knew light shined on the other side of the clouds, but he could not see it. Is this when the ‘light’ went off in his head? “Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” Your faithfulness extends beyond what I can see now, in my situation, but I know it is there. As Your universe has no end, neither does Your faithfulness. Difficulties in this broken world can blur our vision of You, and cause us to see only the clouds, and far too often they are storm clouds. But our hope rests in You, Lord.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love,”   

—1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

Great is Your love and faithfulness, O Lord, our living hope. Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Lord, the media bombards the airwaves with accusations of unfairness, of denying ‘equity,’ or equal outcome, to marginalized people. Pundits rail, activists protest how the greedy ‘haves’ take advantage of the poor ‘have-nots,’ treating them as second-class citizens. Apparently, pride, along with its cousin ‘arrogance,’ have deluded people into forgetting we are created in Your image. That is one of Satan’s oldest tricks. How unfair was it for Cain to kill innocent Abel simply because he offered the right sacrifice?

How unfair for You, Jesus, is the plan of salvation? What did You do to deserve the punishment for the sins of mankind? You were sinless, yet You suffered God the Father’s holy wrath against sins You never committed. The ultimate question is, why did You willingly take on the sins of the world, enduring the unimaginable suffering on the cross, when You did not have to. God the Father could have written mankind off as a lost cause and started over. Instead, He chose not to. He implemented an unfair plan to redeem mankind.

Lord, the reason You went to the cross must be because You are Love, (1 John 4:8). That is Your character—to love. And love unconditionally, especially to those who do not deserve it, like me. The Gospel of John begins with describing Your Love when You came to us. Sadly, not everyone accepted You.

“He came to His own people and even they rejected Him [marginalized]. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right [equity] to become children of God,”—John 1:11, 12 (NLT).

Lord, thank You through the unfairness of salvation, You give all Your followers equity in the Kingdom of God.

Amen, Jesus.

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Chatting with Jesus

Monday, May 1, 2023

Lord Jesus, the longer I looked at the picture, the more enraged I became. The gaggle of protestors, all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and hair colors, appeared to be mostly young, with a smattering of older folks, probably old hippies. Anger covered their faces. Their eyes glared with hatred. With fists raised in defiance, they held signs, most with vulgar messages, slamming our values and everything good and decent. These ‘losers’ disgusted me. And I wondered if they understood, let alone believed, what they were protesting against?

As I shook my head at their depravity, You tapped me on the shoulder to remind me of my recent prayer. “Jesus, let me see people through Your eyes.” When You presented an opportunity for me to “do my prayer,” my reactions to the picture caused me to question my sincerity. Did I say this prayer just off the cuff? Did I pray this to sound religious? Did I even understand what I prayed? To see people through Your eyes?

“Take another look at these folks,” You said. “I love these folks. I created them in my image. I carried their sins, as well as yours, when I hung on the cross. My blood paid their sin debt just as I paid your debt. And don’t think for one minute they are a worse sinner than you are.  

Ouch, that hurt.

My perception of these poor souls changed. I felt disgusted with myself for my judgmental attitude, my lack of Christlike love. “Forgive me, Lord,” I now see these folks as people who need You. If not for Your grace, I could be one of those ‘losers’ in that picture.

Lord, You make life worth living. “I am the life and meaning they are looking for. I am the love they need. To accept my gift of starting over with a clean slate and having eternal life in Heaven, they just need to confess their sinful state, repent, and believe what I did for them on the cross. If I can save Saul of Tarsus—the Apostle Paul—I can transform anyone.” Who would want to protest that?

“Thank You, Jesus. Help me see people through Your eyes.” Amen.

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Chatting with Jesus

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Lord, You told us to expect the unexpected, (Ecclesiastes 8). We make our plans to follow You, and the unexpected happens and throws a monkey wrench into the whole works. Plans fall apart. Itineraries change. People abandon ship. Is this what I signed up for? If we believe You are in control of all things, why is our first tendency is to complain?

The Apostle Paul planned his ministry trips to share the Good News of Jesus and salvation. Noble, indeed. Yet, Scriptures record how his plans were disrupted time and again. And Scripture records that despite hardships and persecutions, he chose not to complain about his harsh treatment.

Paul wrote to his Philippian friends, who were undergoing persecutions for their faith, how he dealt with difficulties for preaching the Good News:

“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith,”—Philippians 3:1 (NLT).

How many times did Paul tell himself hardships and persecutions were what he signed up for after his “Damascus Road” conversion? (Acts 9). How many times did Paul tell himself this same message, that praise and worship sustains us amidst trials. How fierce was the internal battle to obey between his spiritual nature and his human, sinful nature?

By Your grace, Lord, help me apply the same message to myself?
“Whatever happens, (my name here), I will rejoice with praise and worship to the Lord. I wilI never get tired of telling myself these things, these truths, and I will do it to safeguard my faith.”

Amen, Jesus.

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