Will Christians Lead Political Debate or Abdicate Responsibility?

God’s sovereignty prevails over the course of men’s lives. His will will be done, regardless of man’s great plans. When countries ignore His moral laws and applaud those who flaunt them, He has said He will withdraw the hand that restrains sin and evil and leave us to our depraved selves. Is that a society we want for ourselves? Christians must lead as “light and salt” of the world, defending God’s moral law and conducting ourselves in civic affairs with love and humility.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind” (Rom. 1:28 NIV)

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalms 14:1 NIV)

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Two thoughts on the 2016 U.S. political season, a brief analysis, and a conclusion:

First Thought: the electorate is angry and divided. During the primaries, three candidates (Republicans Donald Trump & Ted Cruz; Democrat Bernie Sanders) led a populist assault against Washington. 

Christian-Civil GovernmentTrump alone survived, leading to a predictable result: Old Guard politicians and establishment figures from both parties joining forces against Trump, their common foe. Too soon to tell if the electorate, wearied from a year of politics, will yawn and back the establishment candidate or continue the assault and overturn the status quo.

Second Thought: the real possibility that Almighty God is withdrawing his protective hand as our country’s arrogant leaders—and a growing number of private citizens—ignore His biblical instructions for our lives.

The apostle Paul wrote: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28 NASB) and again: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” (Romans 1:18-19 NIV).

Old Testament prophets told rebellious Israel that, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” (Isaiah 59:2 NLT) and “Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God?” (Jeremiah 2:17 ESV). King David, who lived under the covenant before the Cross, was so fearful of God’s rebuke for his sins, that he prayed: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11 NIV).

While God after the Cross will not remove the Holy Spirit from His believers, calling His gift “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14), nevertheless, continued disobedience on our parts still erects a barrier between us and the God of mercy. This grieves the Lord who has assured us it is our obedience and salvation that He wants to see: “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Analysis: Christian values, as many have seen, have given modern society so much to cherish — among them hospitals, civil liberties, abolition of slavery, modern science, elevation of women, and regard for human life — against the shameful record of non-believers fomenting devastation and suffering on their own people.

The difficulty with discussing civic matters from a biblical perspective is that the Bible is clear only that some matters pertain to God and His affairs while others pertain to the state. Unfortunately for U.S. society, our national government now is usurping the moral sphere, replacing God’s moral law with political policy and defending that usurpation on a false reading of the Bible!

Followers of Christ cannot let that go unchallenged.God & Government

However, we are still called to be “light and salt” to the world and to express our views in humility and with love. While God made it clear He abhors homosexual conduct and abortion, Christians could differ on issues such as the U.S. taking in Syrian refugees or revising the tax code. Christians must forthrightly defend Scripture, but where the trail is muddled, Christ’s followers must reach their positions through prayer and promote them lovingly, even when disagreeing with one another.

Conclusion: It is imperative that followers of Christ lead the way this election year in the U.S. by boldly defending God’s laws and by conducting civic affairs in a civil manner. That would preclude the ad hominem attacks so favored by the unfaithful. We are called to support civil government (Rom. 13:1-7), but we must pray that whichever party’s candidates prevail in this ugly election, hearts will be softened to hear—and follow— the Lord’s voice.

PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, we pray Your grace as our countrymen vote this November. We pray that our country’s leaders, and those who seek to replace them, will be open to Your voice and seek Your will, not just rhetorically when it’s politically useful, but in their personal lives and public acts. We also pray that You will lift up men and women who follow the Lord to seek political office at all levels of government so that our country, state, local communities, and school districts will be led by those who seek the Lord’s will. We pray this in Jesus’ Name. Amen

Don’t Make It Difficult for Those Turning to God

All to often, we Christians are poor ambassadors of the message our Lord left with us. We should not stand in the way of non-believers searching for Truth in their lives. We should make it easy for them to seek — and find — the Lord’s saving grace. He made salvation easy. He did all of the hard work. We just need to point the way.

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” Acts 15:19 (NLT)

“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21 (NIV)

THIS MUST HAVE BEEN AN EXCITING MEETING!

The glitterati of the Jewish Christian world — Jesus’ remaining apostles and church elders — were gathered in Jerusalem to hear a progress report from two missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, who had been evangelizing the Good News to the Gentiles.

Girl Praying - Turning to GodThe whole idea that God wanted the non-Jewish world to be saved from eternal damnation was a difficult enough concept for many of the Jews to understand, but worse, they were hearing reports that Paul and Barnabas were teaching salvation by faith, not by good works. Moreover, they were teaching that Gentiles did not have to convert to Judaism before becoming a follower of Christ and that they were not bound by the Law of Moses. 

No, the Gentiles would be saved by God’s grace and their belief that Jesus was God, died sacrificially for their sins, and was raised from the dead to sit at God’s right hand.

There was a lot of ground for the church elders to cover.

The Book of Acts, written by the doctor, Luke, tells us that Paul and Barnabas reached Jerusalem and were “welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders” — that is, until the Pharisees swung into action. That was the same crowd that Jesus said “woe to” on many occasions, accusing them of substituting their rules, their regulations, and their mandates for God’s law of love and forgiveness.

“The new believers must become Jews first,” the  Pharisees thundered, “and they must keep the law of Moses.”

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INTERESTING.

Man Praying - Turning to GodNowhere in the four Gospels does Jesus ever say that His followers must convert to Judaism and follow Moses’ law to be saved from God’s wrath. Instead, in John chapter 3, Jesus says His followers must be “born again.” In Luke chapter 9, He says His followers must “take up their cross daily” and follow Him.

But the Pharisees, as usual, were adamant.

The apostles and elders kicked those ideas around, when Apostle Peter stood up to address them. Naturally, Peter would speak first. There was a hush as he looked around the room, waiting for order.

He reminded them that “some time ago,” God made it known that the gospel of Jesus Christ was to be preached to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews and that He would accept all into His Kingdom “by giving them the Holy Spirit,” the same as He gave to the Jews.

Peter rebuked the elders, saying God would purify the Gentiles’ hearts by faith. “Why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?” Peter asked.

You can feel his exasperation.

“No!” he told the stunned assembly. “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

After Peter sat down, Luke tells us that Paul and Barnabas related their experiences and how the Gentiles were responding warmly to the salvation message.

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YOU CAN’T BEAT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.

For shear drama, this must have been the top moment.

God Reaching Out to ManSo far, the apostles Paul and Barnabas had spoken, the Pharisees had had their  moment, and Peter had spoken.

Could it get any more dramatic?

Yes, actually, it could.

The next man to stand is the one Luke tells us had the final say.

It was James.

Not just any James. This was James, the half-brother of Jesus Himself. The one who Luke tells us in chapter 8 accompanied his mother, Mary, and siblings to tell Jesus He was embarrassing the family with His teaching and should return home and tend to His carpentry business.

The James that Luke tells us in chapter 4 was sitting in the temple in the family’s hometown of Nazareth when Jesus read from Isaiah that “the Spirit of the Lord is on me” and proclaimed to all of their neighbors that the verse was about Him. Yes, the James who watched as the townsmen wanted to stone Jesus!

Yup, that James, but not that James.

The James who stood up at that moment in that meeting knew who His Lord and Savior was. In human terms, he knew his older half-brother was God.

That James stood up and closed the argument with these words inspired by the Holy Spirit — words of grace, mercy, and wisdom: “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. It is my judgment that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

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DON’T MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO WIN CONVERTS TO CHRIST.

James’ words trickle down the centuries to the present era, where we also are called by Almighty God not to make it difficult for those who hunger for the Truth of salvation, whether by our actions or our words.

Instead, we should make it easy for them to ask God for His forgiveness, to thank Him for the gift of grace, and to ask Him to live in their hearts.

When James’ words were relayed to the Gentile community outside Jerusalem, Luke tells us in Acts 15:31 (NIV) how they reacted:

“The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.”

Praise God!

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PRAYER: Our merciful and loving Heavenly Father, we just praise your holy name. We give thanks that You are a God of love and compassion, of patience and caring. Your gift of eternal life with You is too wonderful to comprehend. Help us in our witness to avoid placing obstacles or barriers of any kind in the way of your lost children. Rather, help us to extend loving, accepting, benevolent hands to those reaching out for Your Word. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen

PRAYING BOLDLY

The Lord calls us to pray boldly, asking God for big things; yet, too often, we’re timid. We ask God to fix the little things that bother us today. Sometimes, those little things seem big, like salvation for our children or to cure a loved one’s malignancy, but those prayers merely ask God to take care of the situation. They don’t really involve us. Jesus said He wants us involved in our prayers, so that we become part of the solution we seek. That’s where boldness comes in, by aligning ourselves with God in salvation’s story.

Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. — Ephesians 3:20 (BSB)

‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.’ — Jeremiah 32:17 (NASB)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (BSB)

THERE IS AN AMAZING STORY OF JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK.

Okay, you say, aren’t the Gospels filled with amazing stories of Jesus?

One moment, you say, He’s raising Lazarus from the dead, then He heals 10 lepers and  restores sight to two blind men. He stops a woman’s hemorrhage just by her touching His cloak. He feeds 5,000 men — the Bible tells us men, Pray Boldly - lightningin addition to women and children, so there probably were 15,000 people — then He does it again with 4,000 men — plus their families — shortly afterward. If that weren’t enough, He tells the wind to shush and the waves to quiet.

Even the disciples were incredulous, asking themselves, “Who is this man?” (Mark 4:41 NLT)

True enough, but this story in Mark is different from the others. This one focuses on Jesus in a way that clearly transports him from an earthly realm to a heavenly one.

Before I tell you the story, I have a question for you.

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HOW BOLD ARE YOUR PRAYERS?

Well, how big is your God?

My guess is your God is no bigger than your prayers. If your prayers are small, probably your God is small. To pray boldly, as the Scriptures encourage us, requires a big God. A God big enough to have created creation, itself — including you.

If you’re like me, you’re probably a bit in awe of praying to the Creator of the universe. Here we come in prayer, armed with a wish list of stuff Man Praying Humblywe want Almighty God to take care of, much like giving him His morning “To Do” list. Even while we lay our requests at His feet, we can’t help wondering if our weak requests in our puny lives in our insignificant corner of the universe is even worth His attention?

What would it take for each of us to take Him seriously when He beckons us to prayer?

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LET’S GO BACK TO THE STORY.

Jesus comes down from a mountaintop with three of His most trusted disciples — Peter, John, and James — and He finds a distraught man whose son is acting strangely. The  men approaches Jesus and urgently tells him his son is possessed with a demon that causes him to froth at the mouth and fall to the ground, going rigid. Sometimes, the man said, the demon throws his son into the fire to burn him.

Then the man tells the Lord, while pointing to the nine other disciples who did not accompany Jesus to the Woman Praying Earnestlymountaintop, “I asked Your disciples to cure him, but they weren’t able to.” The man searches the Lord’s face earnestly, then asks, meekly, much like many of our prayers, “Can You help him?”

Mark records the Lord’s answer to the man, which, really, is the Lord’s rebuke to us: “What do you mean, if I can? Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Then Jesus commanded the demon to leave the boy and never return.

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JUST ANOTHER WONDERFUL STORY OF JESUS, YOU SAY?

No, not exactly. What makes this story so spectacular is what Mark tells us happened just before this healing incident occurred, back when Jesus was on the mountaintop  with His inner circle of trusted disciples.

Mark tells us that on the mountaintop, while Jesus’ three closest disciples watched, “Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and His clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than earthly bleach could ever make them.”

During this transforming moment, Peter babbled something inane, as Peter was wont to do, but Mark passes over it quickly, dismissing it as mere background noise.

Then, Mark tells us: “[A] cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My dearly loved Son. Listen to Him.’”

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THIS SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IS POWERFUL.

There is a testimony for us. There are so many ways that our Lord tells us to pray boldly, even telling us that if we have the faith of a small mustard seed, we can pray in the Lord’s name, and He will move mountains for us (Matthew 17:20 NIV).

Why, then, don’t we?

Adult Man in PrayerEven as believers, we are likely to pray “small.” Most of our prayers focus on our lives, and our families and loved ones. As part of prayer and fellowship groups, we extend our  prayers to include those members and their concerns; and, yes, we open our eyes to the suffering around us and pray the Lord’s intervention to sooth our concerns.

What we don’t do is go beyond ourselves and petition God, who tells us not to be anxious about anything, but to share everything with Him in petition and thanksgiving.  (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

There’s nothing wrong with our prayers for our loved ones and for help in those areas of our lives where we hunger for God’s tender grace. It just that God is so much BIGGER than that. We seldom ask Him to go beyond the routine request.

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JUST THINK OF JESUS TRANSFORMED ON THE MOUNTAINTOP — and meditate on just who He is — and what He can do … and then meditate on how little we ask of Him.

How bold are your prayers? How big is your God? 

One pastor said that health and wealth and miracles are Pray Boldly (script)wonderful things, but the Apostle Paul told the church in Ephesus that He prayed that the love of the Lord Jesus Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith.

To what end? To this end: “[That you] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19 NASB)

NOW, THAT’S BOLD!

PRAYER: Our heavenly Father, forgive us for offering You timid prayers, which often are just a list of our wants and needs, when You call us to pray boldly for Your kingdom, that Your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to see a grander vision that You want for us, to pray boldly and then offer ourselves, in obedience to Your call, as part of that prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen


PRAYING FOR BOLDNESS

Jesus often tells us He can handle our requests, like this one: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man, this is impossible, but with GOD all things are possible.’” — Matthew 19:26 (BSB)

Apostle Paul sought boldness: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, divine utterance may be given me, so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should.” — Ephesians 6:19-20 (BSB)

Here’s a prayer for the early disciples after Peter and John were released from prison: “And now, Lord, consider their threats, and enable Your servants to speak Your word with complete boldness. — Acts 4:29 (BSB)

Paul leaves us with this thought: “Pray without ceasing.”— 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (BSB)

GOD’S KEY QUESTION

God asks us to answer this key question: Who do you say Jesus is? Is He the Messiah or an imposter? Apostle Peter believed in Jesus; Apostle Judas betrayed him. One question; two different answers. We also must decide.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16 (NIV)

And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. Luke 22:4 (NIV)

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THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION men and women, created in the image of God, are called to answer is the simple one Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”

The Bible records two answers Who-Do-You-Say-That-I-Am (Luke 9-20)from two disciples, Peter and Judas. Peter answered right away, declaring that Jesus, looking every bit a man just like them, dressed in robe and dirty sandals, a man who tired after a long day’s work with no place to lay His head at night, was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Judas responded later. He sold access to the rabbi for 30 pieces of silver. To Judas, Jesus was an imposter. He promised to be a king, but He showed no interest in leading a rebellion against Rome to free Israel from under its heel.

Two different answers from two men called by Jesus to follow him daily for three years, to pray with him, and to hear him teach the crowds, call out the religious leaders’ hypocrisy, lay a healing touch on a person sick or lame or blind, and even raise a dead man back to life.

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ONE QUESTION, TWO ANSWERS. Really, those are the only answers we can give, and we are called to choose between them.

Because of our fallen natures (we are born in sin through Adam’s disobedience), our default answer is to reject Jesus. For most folks, busy with their lives and striving to get ahead, it’s an easy call. Jesus is not relevant to them. He might have been a good man or a wise teacher, but, let’s get real, He lived a long time ago in a community primitive by today’s standards, and his words and deeds have little relevance to us.

Except.

If that is so, if his life 2,000 years ago in the Near East is irrelevant to our lives, then why are we still talking about him? What is it about Jesus that compels us to address that question of who He is throughout our lives, down through the generations, around the globe, wherever his message has gone?

Sure, He said He was God, but any crackpot can claim a false identity. Yes, He backed up his claim with miracles witnessed by thousands, Most Important Questionand yes, it is said He spoke with authority on the Scriptures, an uneducated man besting the most learned scholars of the day, often leaving them speechless with his responses to their vexing questions.

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BUT SOMETHING WAS DIFFERENT about him, even before his resurrection from the dead. 

He knew the people He talked with. He read their minds; He understood their hearts. He loved them. He reached out with promises of hope and love and mercy and kindness and forgiveness … and life. Life. Abundant Life. Joy in this world and eternity with God.

No one who encountered Jesus could be indifferent. No in-between with him. Either you were with Peter and worshipped him … or you were with Judas and wanted him out of your life.

Who Jesus is is the most important question you — and I — are called to make. Each one of us comes to a decision alone. How we answer that question will determine how we live our lives … and how we spend eternity.

So, who do YOU say Jesus is?

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PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, we know that coming to grips with that one question, ‘Who do I think Jesus is?’ is the most important question we will ever answer. We pray that we will come to see him as our Lord and Savior and give thanks that He sends the counselor to live in our hearts and guide our steps. Help us to live our lives in obedience to him for his glory. Amen

God Will Not Share His Glory

The glory in service goes to God. Too often, in our eagerness to serve the Lord, we become more concerned with our role in the Kingdom and less with the Kingdom, itself. When asking what God wants us to do, we need to focus more on the “God” part of the question and less on the “me” part.

 
Isaiah 42:8 (GW) I am the Lord; that is my name. I will not give my glory to anyone else or the praise I deserve to idols.
2 Thessalonians 2:14 (NIV) He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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AS BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS, we naturally are eager to serve the Lord. We take spiritual gifts assessment tests, we sign up for volunteer activities, and we even take our turn at heading up a committee or program. We can become so involved in our church service that, if we’re not careful, each “I do” will add a notch on our Service Belt and a swag to our step.

In today’s Bible text, the Lord is making a point very clear to us: The glory  goes to Him, not to us; but if we obey Him, we can share in His glory.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the “me” part of “What Does God Want Me to Do” and less on the “God” part of that same question.

Even as we mature in our years on  earth and in our walk with Christ, we are still liable to wonder about what “great” role

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Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. — Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

 

God wants us to accomplish. Surely, we reason, He has made us for something “great” and it’s just a matter of time before He’ll reveal it to us and to an appreciative world.

Not likely.

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THERE ARE MANY MORE anonymous saints in God’s heaven than there are Pauls or Johns or Peters or Davids or Moses. As well, not many women in the Kingdom will be another Mary or Elizabeth or Miriam or Ruth.

On a personal level, my wife and I have felt that God is calling us to witness for Him, but we don’t know what His plan is.

So, we keep our eyes open.

We know it’s something big. Something remarkable. We just know that.

Look out, world! We’re coming!

Today, in response to prayer, my wife suggested something revolutionary: What if the Lord just wants us to follow Him daily.

Then, IF there is to be some “grandiose event” that He has planned for us, it will happen in God’s time, not ours.

“I’ve stopped trying to figure out what it is He wants us to do and if there’s  some important job Hands Lifted to the CrossHe has for us,” she told me. “Instead, I’ve decided to concentrate on just doing what I can each day to follow Him, to see Him,  feel Him, and know Him.”

I put down my cereal spoon and searched her face.

Where was she going?

“That’s not always easy to do but just trying to do that is a plan in itself,” she said. “The rest will unfold in His time.”

She wasn’t finished.

“Maybe that’s His plan, for us just to follow Him each day.”

She got me thinking.

“Maybe that’s His plan, for us just to follow Him each day.”

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WE BEGAN TO REALIZE that we can’t sit on the sidelines waiting for our big moment to arrive. Our big moment is right now, today! This is it. No matter what we’re doing or where we are, we’re called to live out the Gospel for His glory.

“If our daily activities lead us to something big — something we haven’t done before — then that’s wonderful,” she added, “but if it doesn’t, then we’re still doing God’s work daily, and, after all, that’s what He wants from us.”

Looking back, it’s easy to see where we went off course. In our zeal to serve the Master, we allowed ourselves to overlook the real work He has called us to do, which is the ordinary mundane sameness of our daily lives lived out for His glory.

The idea that the Lord has something more in mind for us than the small matters that have been our service for Him in years past did not come from Him. It came from somewhere else.

You see, the devil will use our Welcome With Crosseagerness to serve God as a way to deceive us.

He’ll tell us we’re meant for so much more than just offering a friendly smile, an encouraging pat on the back, a casserole for a sick neighbor, a ride to the doctor’s, or playing catch with a child.

No, the devil says, don’t get caught up in that minutia. If you do, you won’t be available when the “big stuff” comes your way. You’ll be too busy with the everyday stuff.

Surely, the everyday stuff wasn’t God’s plan, was it?

We’re going to stay with prayer. What does God want me to do? Our prayer — my prayer — needs to focus more on the “God” part of that question and less on the “me” part.

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PRAYER: Our heavenly Father, we give You all of the glory and praise and honor. To You, Lord, belongs our devotion. We are so grateful for Your love. We pray forgiveness for those times when we get in the way of Your whispers to us, when we’re so busy speaking, that we don’t listen. Help us to see that Your plan for us is to obey You, and leave the glory to You. Amen

God Is True to His Promises

God is truth. His word is truth. That is not an easy concept for us to accept, because in our human world, truth is flexible. God remains a constant. He is love; He is mercy; He is just. Because He is just, He is dependable. We can trust him.

Verses From the Bible to Guide Us Through the Week

MONDAY Numbers 23:19 (GW) “God is not like people. He tells no lies. He is not like humans. He doesn’t change his mind. When he says something, he does it. When he makes a promise, he keeps it.”

MEDITATION: Most of us have been burned. We believed in someone, or at least believed in something they told us, only to learn that he/she could not be trusted. Painfully, many of us are aware that we have been the ones who let someone else down. When pressed, we could share a shameful moment when we misled someone or caused harm to them in some way, even if we weren’t aware of it at the time.

How comIMG_0090forting to read that God is not like that! The Lord of all creation is good to His  word. When He tells us something, He is truthful. When He says He loves us, He really does. When He tells us He will forgive our sins when we admit them, He does. When He tells us that He will grant us eternal life with him in Paradise, we can count on that, too.

PRAYER: O Lord, our Heavenly Father and creator of the universe, we are so grateful that You are a God who keeps His word, that we can believe in Your promises to us. Thank You for your love, your mercy, and your forgiveness. In Jesus’ name,  Amen

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TUESDAYPsalm 119:114 (TLB) “You are my refuge and my shield, and your promises are my only source of hope.”

MEDITATION: “Refuge” and “shield” are recurrent images in the Psalms as King David and his contemporaries pointed to Jehovah as the source who not only could rescue them from danger but would protect them from the onslaught of the enemy’s arrows or spears.

While the Old Testament’s wars and conflicts were real and physical, the New Testament reminds us that we are daily at war with celestial enemies. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that “our struggle is … against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

We are in the midst of a spiritual struggle between a sovereign God who created the universe and His most disobedient creation, a fallen angel – Lucifer – who, filled with rage, vows to sow discord.

We humans are assaulted by our own sinful natures, which gives the devil a foothold into our thoughts, our words, and our deeds. Against this power, we are in desperate need of a Savior, a Lord Protector who can “shield” us against the evil forces and  provide a safe “refuge” from the struggles of physical life.

Not only can Jesus provide that shield and refuge from evil, but He offers us eternal life with Him in Paradise, where tears will be wiped from our eyes, pain will be ended, and there will be no more decay or death.

PRAYER: Our Father God, in a world of pain and sorrow, we take great comfort in Your promise of protection if we just call on You, place our trust in You, and believe in You. You never let us down; You never lie to us; You never forget us. In You, Lord, we are safe, secure, protected, and loved. We give praises to Your Holy Name! In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen

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WEDNESDAYJohn 17:17 (HCSB) “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.”

MEDITATION: In a Bible with so many miraculous, unexplainably wonderful scenes, one of the most humbling is listening to Our Lord pray to the Father for us! Yes, Jesus walked the earth to tell the salvation story to a fallen world in desperate need of redemption only to be rejected by His own; yet, when faced with the work He came for — bearing our sins on the Cross — He prayed for us.

Jesus knew what many of us have been blessed to learn, that God is Truth and outside God there is no truth.IMG_1150

It is by God’s truth that we are saved from eternal punishment, but His truth protects us from our earthly predicaments, as well. When we are faced with our sin — whether it’s anger, addictions, promiscuity, faithlessness, lying, bearing false witness, stealing, disrespecting our parents, provoking our children, ignoring our duties as husband or wife, father or mother, provider or nurturer — His Truth is the way out.

Believing in the Truth of Our Lord brings us peace in this life … and everlasting joy in the next.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we owe You our very lives. Without You and Your plan for redemption, we are simply passing time in struggle until we reach oblivion. Yet, You reach out to help us as we stumble, and You provide a pathway to eternity. Thank You for being Truth, so we have something solid to believe in. Amen

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THURSDAYJohn 8:45 (CEV) “Everything I have told you is true, and you still refuse to have faith in me.”

MEDITATION: How sad. The Lord Jesus gave up the glory of Heaven to walk the earth with us, His creation, with a message of hope. Life can be more than struggle, more than enduring, more than suffering. It can be joyous … and it can be eternal … and yet, they did not believe Him.

We see how the salvation story bears out because we have the advantage of reading (and hearing) the entire story, from the beginning (Genesis) to the end (Revelation), and yet, how many of us fail to believe?

Many say they believe, or at least profess a knowledge of what Jesus has done for them, but do they actually believe? Does His life have meaning for their lives? Is He relevant to their existence?

Jesus proclaimed the Truth, but, sadly, concluded that His creation did not have faith in Him.

PRAYER: O Merciful Father, You are the Lord of lords and the King of kings. Your word is Truth. You alone are God. You created existence with Your breath, with merely the thought, and the universe came into being. How sad that so many of us fail to believe You, and how many of us who claim to believe You, ignore You. Lord, forgive us, and help us see clearly Your Truth for our lives. Amen

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FRIDAYJohn 3:16 (GW) “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.”

MEDITATION: Today’s Bible verse is the pivotal verse in the entire Holy Scriptures. Those words by Jesus, delivered in love to a disbelieving world hungry for salvation, encapsulates everything the God tries to tell us in all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments: God loves us, and through His Son, Jesus Christ, He has given us the promise of eternal life if we just believe in Him and His Message. It’s just that simple.

The most wonderful part is that God is believable. He does not lie. He does not shade  the truth. He does not mislead. His fingers are not crossed behind His back. He’s not trying to sell us something we don’t want. He’s not accusing us. He just loves us and yearns for us to respond.IMG_0800.jpg

Is this offer available to anyone, or is it reserved for a select few? Let’s let Him tell us in a verse that appears verbatim in both the Old and New Testaments:  Romans 10:13 (NIV)” “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (The verse first appears in Joel 2:32, and the Apostle Peter references it in Acts 2:21).

That seems clear: Anyone and everyone who believes in God’s promise of eternal life qualifies for the offer.

PRAYER: O Merciful Father, You alone can be trusted. You don’t lie; it’s not in Your nature. When You tell us You love us, You sent Your Son to die for our sins, and then, through His resurrection, You assure us of eternal life. Lord, be praised forever! Amen

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SATURDAYRevelation 3:20 (ESV) “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

MEDITATION: What an incredible offer! Here’s the Lord Jesus Christ standing outside a door and knocking. He offers all the riches of Heaven. Eternal life. Complete joy. Exquisite happiness. On the inside of the door is man. A life that’s a fleeting shadow. Pathway of tears. Loneliness. Anger. Resentment. Watching helplessly as death quickly approaches.

There’s the knock again. The offer is still good. Open the door, and I will enter. I promise you. I will enter. When I come in, I will bring with me all of the good blessings I’ve told you about. They’re yours, just by opening the door.

If you don’t open the door, I’ll leave … eventually. It’s your choice. Open the door to eternal life or ignore my offer and perish.

Are we opening the door to Jesus, or are we ignoring Him?

PRAYER: O Lord, what an amazing offer You make, holding out eternal life in your hand for the price of repentance … and You let us choose! It’s our choice whether we want eternal life on Your terms or death on ours. May we hear your knock, O Lord, and fling that door wide open and reach out for Your hug! Amen

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SUNDAY John 18:37 (ESV) “Jesus answered, ‘For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth.’”

MEDITATION:  When the question is asked, “Why did Jesus come to the earth to walk with mankind,” there are many possible answers that Scripture gives us: to give us life abundantly, to fulfill the prophets, to restore a fallen creation to God’s original intent. All are true, but Jesus gave us yet another answer that supersedes all others.

To bear witness to the Truth.IMG_0010.jpg

The world is fallen because men and women have rejected the Truth in favor of a lie. We have let the devil twist God’s intent into an unrecognizable form, and Jesus left Heaven to fix things.

He did so by telling us the Truth. To those who believe Him, He has promised eternal life. As sheep follow their shepherd, the Lord’s followers hear His voice. His message may be foolishness for those who ignore Him, but to those of us who listen, who hear Him, who believe in Him, He is Truth, and His Truth is the very power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18).

PRAYER: O Lord, we are so thankful for Your love and tender mercy. We are thankful for Your patience, Your healing touch, Your grace. Forgive us our hearts of stone. Replace them with hearts that love, Lord. Help us praise Your holy name. May we understand Your Truth, Lord, which is the eternal Word of God. Amen