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Monday, January 10, 2022

Lord, if I’m to order my life according to Philippians 4:6-7, to “be anxious for nothing,” then I must be honest with You. Unless I tell You everything, my reluctance hampers You from completely calming my fears and transforming my failures into faith-building lessons. You already know everything about me anyway. You provided us the guidelines through Your Word and through the Holy Spirit who lives within every believer, how to react in all circumstances. As Christ-followers, You didn’t redeem us only for us to remain in fear of our circumstances or be apprehensive about what may or may not happen.   

Some negative circumstances happen because life’s stuff happens to everyone. No exceptions. But if I’m honest with You then I must also be honest with myself: some negative circumstances are of my own doing. Did my selfish ambitions bring this on?  Maybe I ignored godly wisdom and insisted on doing things my way. Despite warning from Your Spirit, I plunged ahead with my foolish plan, hoping You would bless my misguided actions? Oh, Lord, what was I thinking? Most likely, I forgot the second part of Philippians 4:6 -7: “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Lord, in my repentant spirit, may You reorder my steps and give me the grace to deal with my mistakes. Only You, Lord, can redeem our negative circumstances for Your glory.

Lord, This is my prayer: in all my circumstances, may I always seek You first and do Your will so I may dwell in the joy and peace of Your blessings. Amen.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Lord, in 2022, help us follow Your outline in Philippians 4:4-13 for successful living. You Holy Spirit encourages us to stay the course as to be aware of the wiles of the devil. As we offer praise and worship we’re exhorted to “Be anxious for nothing,” but in every situation, praise You and pray (v6).

Because our praise and worship thwart the devil’s initiatives to create doubts about who You are, God, the devil tries an end-around game of “What if?”

 “What if God isn’t who He says He is?”

“What if I get sick?”

“What if I lose my job?”

“What if my marriage falls apart?”

“What if, what if, what if”—the taunts never cease.

But in Your wisdom, You allow my faith to be tested.  Will I panic, or will I trust You? You know I’ve reacted both ways, Lord.

But You have Your own version of “What if?”

“What if I heal your body soul, and spirit from disease?”

“What if I lead you to a better job?”

“What if I restore your marriage better than you can imagine?”

“What if I AM everything you need Me to be?” “Will you trust and ‘Be anxious for nothing?’

Lord, may I always participate in Your version of “What if?”

You and me, Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Lord, if  we are to keep the upper hand on our circumstances in 2022 help us implement the Apostle Paul’s outline for overcoming life’s difficulties, (Philippians 4:4-13). First, rejoicing with praise and worship in all circumstances, whether good or bad, ushers in, secondly, a grateful heart. However, nothing blocks the freedoms released by praise and worship more than complaining and griping about our circumstances. Our reactions to our situations and challenges is how God develops in believers the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, (Galatians 5:22, 23). Verse 5 says “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Gentleness doesn’t dominate or falsely judge others. A spirit of gentleness requires humility and a grateful heart. What better “fruit” identifies a believer than godly “gentleness?”

However, this dog-eat-dog, every-man-for-himself unbelieving world mistakes gentleness for weakness to be exploited. Far from it. God doesn’t call His followers to be door mats. Another definition of gentleness is “meekness,” which means “power under restraint.” Or self-control.  The Holy Spirit equips the believer to show Christ’s love and respect in all interactions, hostile or friendly, yet remain firm with grace when need be. The devil attacks our “fruit” of self-control to stir up anger that leads to retaliation, which for Christ-followers, nullifies our confessions of faith. Thankfully God is faithful and is near His believers, strengthening our resolve to show Christ-like gentleness to this fallen world.

Thank You, Lord, for empowering us with a spirit of gentleness. Amen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Lord, the talking heads ceaselessly ramble, predicting what 2022 will be like. Some predict more chaos and division while others say the opposite, that this is the year we take back our country, whatever that means. That ugly serpent/sin episode in the Garden of Eden continues to this day. The uncertainty and fear about the unknown leaves people on edge. However, for Christ-followers, through Jesus finished work on the cross to defeat sin, we’re redeemed yet still face mountains living in this broken world.  In Philippians 4:4–13, the Apostle Paul, who other than Jesus was the poster child for hardships, gave us a  nine-step formula for staying upbeat, living contented and peaceful lives regardless of circumstances.

First —”Rejoice in the Lord always! And again I say— Rejoice!” (v4). The psalmist, who also knew adversity, wrote “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies” (Psalm 18:3). Like Paul and the psalmist, when we praise, we remind ourselves of what the Lord has done for us. His great salvation, His enduring presence. Our enemies of fear, doubt, anxiety, depression—anything that tempts us to quit our walk of faith—is driven away. The prophet Nehemiah reminded us we can rejoice every day since “the joy of [knowing] the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Praise reminds the devil of his defeat and that his attempts of ungodly influence fail.

In 2022, Lord, show me how to be creative in my praise and worship. May my enthusiastic praise ring through the halls of Glory and be heavenly music to Your ears. Amen!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Lord, I know for most people we set this goal every year but this as we begin 2022, give us a fresh resolve to cast aside those things we know hinder us from being everything You created us to be. Help us bolster our discipline. We want this year to be different.

For those like me who tend to be hardheaded and blind to our obvious blind spots, show us what we need to change, those habits or activities to discard, that in and of themselves are not bad, but drag us down spiritually. Help us develop habits that creates spiritual and moral growth. The Deceiver whispers a little sin every now and then won’t hurt. Besides, it won’t matter because, after all, you are under grace. Lying devil—what nonsense!  

Reveal things we can change that hinders our spiritual growth. Even if what You show us is something we’ve enjoyed over the years but we’ve allowed this activity to crowd You out, may we trust You will help us put our priorities in order. You command Your followers to be obedient, but You know our human frailties. We make the effort to be obedient but often fall short, (Romans 3:23). We are like sheep who go astray. This is why we are under Your grace. Beginning now, may we take to heart the wisdom of the writer of Hebrews who encourages his readers to “throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us,” Hebrews 12:1.

Jesus, strengthen my resolve to make 2022 a year of spiritual breakthrough that changes my life to be more like You.  Amen.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Just because the clock strikes midnight tonight doesn’t mean life as we know it magically changes. Life will continue as it was before 11:59 PM. Lord God, You never change.

Christ-followers will remain imperfect and struggle with sin issues . . . but God says, “you are flawed but forgiven —Remember,  ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgression from us,’ ” Psalm 103:12.

Christ-followers will address problems that are more than they can handle . . . but God says “I’m accessible. With Jesus, you can approach God the Father with freedom and confidence,” Ephesians 3:12

Christ-followers will grow weary of fighting the “good fight, staying the course, doing what they know to be right” . . . but God says, “I am the One who restores and refreshes you. ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest,’ “ Matthew 11:28

Christ-followers will get sick, fight disease, and some will go to be with the Lord . . . but God says, “I am with you. I am the God who heals you. I will ‘Send My Word and heal you,’ ” Psalm 107:20

Christ-followers will watch crooked politicians, corrupt judges, dishonest officials flaunt their wickedness . . . but God says, “The power of the wicked will be broken, [but] the LORD upholds the righteous” Psalm 37:17.

Christ-followers will see the same landscape as the unbelievers, who see only woe and distress . . . but God says, for the believer, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” Psalm 27:13.

Lord, Your glorious attributes out number the stars. We would run out of paper describing all Your glory.  May we bask more in Your presence in 2022. Amen

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Lord, if we make New Year’s resolutions, besides to lose weight or to start an exercise program, may one resolve be to spend more time with You. For many, especially those who work outside the home and have small children, to discipline our time presents a challenge. Jesus, You’re our Savior who has redeemed us through Your sacrifice for our sins, so You deserve all our attention, but in this fallen world, life gets hectic, so whatever time we carve out for you, we desire—we need—quality time of spiritual growth. We pray making time with You doesn’t become a chore, not some box we hurriedly check-off, thinking we have done our religious duty for the day. How easy we fall into the trap of repeating religious dogmas, deceiving ourselves, saying scripted prayers we mindlessly utter, yet thinking we’re being pious.

Human nature never changes. The prophet Isaiah got fed up with people like that. He wrote, “These people honor me [God] with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Isaiah 29:13). So it seems the same today.

Jesus, in 2022, show me how to become the kind of worshiper You desire.  You said, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in Spirit [from your heart], and in truth [honor You for who You are]” John 4:24.

In 2022, Jesus, let us see Your glory and elevate our worship to levels we never imagined. Amen

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 

Lord, as we wrap up 2021, we wanna say, “Good riddance!” but let us not forget Your marvelous, often mysterious, works of grace this past year. You comforted us as never before when illness, disease, accidents, or tragedy caused us to say goodbye to loved ones. Some left unexpectedly, way too soon, while others ran their race for decades before crossing their finish line. Your presence strengthened us to endure the heartaches, and for that, we are most grateful. Many celebrated the arrival of new ones to the family. Who couldn’t help but fall hopelessly in love holding that little one for the first time? Marriages added new spouses and all sorts of in-laws came along with them. (Lord, You are always teaching us how to love those the ‘unique.’) Many saw the return of that prodigal child that their loved ones shed buckets of tears as their prayers bombarded heaven for their turnabout. You are faithful, Lord, and brought them back to sanity. In 2021, in our grief or in our rejoicing, we had to trust Your sovereignty even if we will never truly understand Your ways. We don’t know what awaits us in 2022. We will see good and we will see bad, but regardless, we know You hold our future, and You remain faithful. 

Thankful You will still be and always be Lord of 2022.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Lord, Your prophet Micah gave a simple job description for all who follow You: “[what] does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). As Your followers, Lord, we take the message of Light and Love into the despair of this fallen world. Many poor souls feel helpless, seeing their lives falling apart before them, when life’s “stuff” hits them like a freight train, leaving them derailed and broken, their dreams shattered, feeling worthless, wondering what to do next. People in these circumstances need hope, need to know You love them. In Your, and in my inability to show Your love without Your grace, this is where Your Holy Spirit opens a door and equips us with Your wisdom to interact with them. We listen but don’t judge how or why they arrived in their situation. Instead, we show grace while extending kindness and love they desperately need. They’ve had enough wishy-washy “friends” who disappear when troubles come. Help us become their loyal friend just as You are our loyal friend. Show us how to let Your mercy and compassion flow through us to them, offering them hope and grace, just as You offered to us. You have put countless multitudes of broken people back together, to make their lives better than they ever imagined. Open their hearts to see how deeply You love them and You are the love they’ve looked for.

Equip me with Your wisdom Lord, How will they know You can do these things unless I tell them? I don’t have to wait until 2022 to implement Micah 6:8 in my life.

May I start now, Jesus. Amen.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Lord, Your people never retire. In fact, we are always on the clock, even up to the time we cross the Jordan to You. The Apostle Paul instructed us to “serve wholeheartedly, as if you are serving the Lord, not people” (Ephesians 6:7). Ordering our lives by this mandate makes fulfilling all Christ-followers job description much easier: make the world around us a better place for everyone. You knew our human nature inclines us to slack off whenever the boss isn’t around—outta sight, outta mind—so You gave us a ‘boss’ who is always with us, the Holy Spirit. Unlike some earthly bosses who abuse their authority to those under their supervision, Christ-followers’ boss is kind and always has our best interest at heart, developing more of Your character so we can spread the grace You gave us to those in our world. Teach us to love the unlovely, stand up for the oppressed, give hope to the discouraged, comfort the wounded and brokenhearted—do everything as You would, Lord. Jesus, may every Christ-follower become “Employee of the Year” in Your Kingdom.