The Goodness of God

Psalm 103 is a quick way to get to know God, or if we already know him, it is a great reminder as to who he is and what he does. The Psalm says he:

  • forgives (Psalm 103:3)
  • heals (v3)
  • redeems (v4)
  • crowns (rewards) (v4)
  • satisfies (v5)
  • works righteousness (v6)
  • reveals himself to us (v7)
  • takes action (v7)
  • is merciful (v8, 10)
  • is gracious (v8)
  • is slow to anger (v8)
  • is love (v8)
  • forgives, accepts our repentance (v9, 12)
  • loves us (v11)
  • is compassionate (v13)
  • knows us (v14)
  • rules over all (v19)
  • speaks to us (v20)

Who are we?

As for us, even on our best day we cannot even compare ourselves to all of these attributes. In fact, it is likely that we can read these attributes and recall a very recent time when we were quite the opposite.

Our response is a choice.

The Psalmist calls us to action in response to who God is. Calling us to obey His voice, do His will, and keep His commandments. This reminds me of a recent sermon by Mike Baker at Eastview Christian Church. Pastor Mike said something to the effect of “the reason some people have a problem with Jesus is that he requires us to give up control and submit to Him.”

Would you submit to someone or something you do not know or understand? Probably not. This is why I believe God reveals himself to us in many ways each day: so that we may know him. He does not try to hide from us, he calls out in every moment of every day, seeking to draw us near.

As we go through today, let’s remember who he is, what he has done through his son Jesus, and what he will do. Look for the aforementioned attributes in every situation, the good and the bad. He has always been and always will be. Our circumstances may change but he does not change, he is good, he loves us and he will never leave us.

How is that not stealing?

In the 1999 movie “Office Space”, a scheme is devised to take “fractions of a penny” from a company and put these fractions into a bank account that did not belong to the company. The plan was to do this millions of times and therefore generate a whole lot of money for the schemers.

In one scene the main character, Peter (Ron Livingston) tries to convince Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), that since they are taking only fractions of a penny, it really isn’t stealing, and besides the company where the money is coming from is evil. Through the course of the conversation, Joanna repeats some of his words: “You’re going to make a lot of money right… that’s not yours?”… “So you’re stealing…” … “How is that not stealing?” Peter continues to rationalize and suggest she doesn’t understand, but it is no use.

Taking something that isn’t yours = stealing.

$422.20

An employee of a company submitted an expense report for business travel. The company reimbursed the employee for the travel. There was a change in the travel itinerary resulting in a partial refund. The refund was $422.20 and appeared on the employee’s personal credit card.

No one will find out… just spend it and forget about it… you work hard, they owe you… you probably forgot to expense some things in the past so this makes up for it… God probably wants you to have it as a gift… Not like the company needs it, they have a lot of money… you deserve it…

The Enemy

Taking something that isn’t yours = stealing.

There is an enemy who has been trying to deceive since the beginning of creation. His plan hasn’t changed. Twisting the truth, attacking our vulnerabilities and seeking to destroy us.

Yes, this was a true story, I was the employee and yes I returned the money.

Black and White

In Joshua 6, God continues his eternal undefeated streak, once again showing his power and demonstrating his faithfulness as the walls of Jericho fall and the Israelites take the city.

But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.

Joshua 6:19

The Israelites had clear instruction as to what to do and not to do with the city’s assets.

Today’s reading is Joshua 7, and we learn that Achan defied the instruction by secretly taking beautiful clothing, silver, and gold; then hiding it. This sin brought harm on the people of Israel (defeat at Ai) along with the eventual stoning of Achan as a penalty for his crime.

I can imagine Achan heard some of the lies listed above… no one will know… you deserve it…

Jesus

God is serious about his commands and serious about sin. He loves us, he knows our hearts, and he knows our sins.

We have no secrets. Just as Achan had to pay for his sin, you and I are also sinners and have racked up debt against God. Thankfully if we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit’s guidance (speaking into our hearts, guiding us when we are tempted), and then we have redemption through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection as payment for our sin.

As we go about our day, let us take in the words of Jesus as he instructs us on prayer; including the topics of forgiveness and temptation. Read it slowly, focusing on each phrase.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13

May God bless and keep you today!

The Ten Plagues

Writing Bible Journal posts is one of my favorite things to do. It isn’t easy, but the process of writing provides much needs spiritual food and direction for me, and I pray that our readers find it worth their time. After reading the assigned verses, for nearly ever post, I verbalize “I have nothing to say”.

After taking a deep breath it usually becomes clear that while I have nothing to say, God absolutely has something to say. So I wait, pray some more, read some more, pray, read, wait… then certain phrases start to speak to me.

This cycle puts me into detective mode which leads to asking questions like:

  1. Why did God do this or say this?
  2. Where is Jesus in this Old Testament narrative?
  3. In what ways am I like the sinner in the story?

That we may know that He is the Lord

and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”

Exodus 10:2

In Exodus 10:2 the words “that you may know that I am the Lord” stood out as the answer to “why”. On the surface we have Pharaoh, easily identifiable as the bad guy. Yay God, yay Moses, boo Pharaoh!

Digging in, the story is all about the explicit and powerful example that God is the Lord. He is all powerful. He has our days, nights, and every breath under his realm. He can move the mountains. He has control over the sun and moon, the wind, and tiny creatures such as locusts. If he has power over that, we can sure trust he has power over everything.

He wants us to know that he is the Lord so that we will stop trying to do things all on our own and look to put him in his rightful place, otherwise our lives will continue to get more messed up.

That we may serve him

So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.

Exodus 10:3

Another message for us: He wanted his people to be released from slavery so that they may serve him. Not so they would be happy. Not so they would be rich. Consider the metaphor, God wants us to be released from the bondage of sin so that we may serve him with full hearts. The enemy wants us to remain in the bondage of sin to keep us from doing the good work that God has in store.

The enemy continues to lie

No! Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

Exodus 10:11

Does this remind you of anything? A crafty serpent twisting the truth perhaps? Pharaoh attempts to deceive by suggesting that Moses was asking for only the men among them to serve the Lord. Fortunately Moses stood firm on God’s direct commands. No bargaining with Pharaoh. All or nothing. Go Moses!

Trusting what He has in mind

Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.” 

Exodus 10:26

Pharaoh again tried to find a loophole by suggesting that Moses leave the flocks and livestock behind. Moses didn’t know what God’s plans were specifically. All he knew is that he needed to patiently obey and the Lord would provide and guide.

Set apart

But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’

Exodus 11:7

Our neighbors have dogs that bark all day and all night. They bark at us when we leave and when we return.

Thinking of the time period that this verse was written there were probably a lot of nasty snarling dogs barking all over the place. I would love to just walk out one time and have a stare-down with the neighboring dogs and then we both go silently on our way. Like when Jesus called to the waves in Mark 4:39, “Quiet! Be still!”

Finally, this “setting apart” points to Jesus Christ. We are either with him or apart from him. Rick Jebb posted on The Passover on this site back in 2012… Dive into this post if you haven’t already. http://www.biblejournal.net/2016/02/28/passover/

Father God, thank you for your living breathing words in the Bible. Prepare our hearts for this day to receive your word on fertile soil. Give us wisdom. May we honor you and your son Jesus Christ today through obedience, humility, love, and selflessness. Amen.

Crouching at the door

In Genesis 4, the brothers Cain and Abel brought separate offerings to God. Abel’s offering was pleasing to God, but Cain’s was not. Instead of owning up to his failure, Cain responded in anger, jealousy, and ultimately murderous rage against his brother.

This chapter reveals conversation between Cain and God so it would seem that there was relationship, perhaps even a good relationship so how did we go from relationship with the Almighty God to murdering one’s brother?

  1. Why did Cain provide an offering that wasn’t acceptable?
  2. Why instead of repentance did Cain double-down on sin and go so far as to kill his brother?
  3. Why would Cain think that God wouldn’t see his crime?

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

Genesis 4:7

For me the aforementioned verse is a warning that one sin leads to another. Somehow Cain’s priorities became misaligned then he sinned and sinned again.

How can we make sure to avoid the same mistakes as Cain as we give?

  1. Prayer. Lord, reveal to me my own heart and shortcomings. Reveal my selfishness. Shape me to understand that the amount of the gift means nothing when compared to the intent of my heart. May this gift be pleasing to you.
  2. Remembrance and thanksgiving. Meditating on what He has done and what he’s promised. He’s given us so much by loving us first even though we are sinners and then eliminating the penalty of death that we deserve. God gave his only son, Jesus gave his life. Does our gift reflect gratitude for these gifts?
  3. Repentance. For the times when we gave and wanted to feel good about ourselves rather than truly giving to His Kingdom out of sacrifice. For times when we may have given out of self-glorification. We always reap the reward we seek. 2“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:2)
  4. Acknowledgment that we cannot keep anything from God who “sees in secret”. so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:4)
  5. Foresight. We likely will not be able to comprehend the impacts of our giving until we get to Heaven. Perhaps one day we will come face to face with someone who was hungry, sick, lonely, poor, and unreached and we will have some knowledge that our commitment impacted their eternity. What a beautiful day that will be!

Freedom from Worry

Worrying is a choice. 

Worry is a prison that we voluntarily commit our hearts and minds to the bondage of sin and all of its ugly related consequences.

One of the worst feelings in the world is worry. It eats at us. It distracts us.

Worrying is bad for us physically and can literally make us ill. Worry impacts us mentally as it brings feelings of depression, despair and hopelessness. Worry can be contagious so as a result, we can adversely impact others through our own worry.

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Matthew 6:27

Spiritually, as we worry we send several messages to our creator such as:

  • I don’t trust you.
  • I trust myself more than I trust you.
  • I have forgotten your promises.
  • I have forgotten what you have done for me.
  • I choose to disregard your commands.

Worrying is a choice. We know it is bad, so why do we do it? Notice that at the beginning of each of the aforementioned messages to our creator is “I”. Worry, like most sins is something that puts “self” before God.

Transformation

Transformation from worry is a result of a relationship with Jesus. It comes from trust and obedience. There will always be a temptation to worry, but as our faith strengthens, our worry instead turns into hope, praise, worship and rescue no matter what the Earthly result.

The opposite of worry looks something like this:

  • Putting our trust in the only one who can truly save us.
  • Denial of self. 
  • Reading God’s word and clinging to His promises.
  • Meditating in prayer reflecting on all that he has done, starting with the mercy and grace through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • Obedience to his commands. Instead of worry: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 25:33)

Let the joy return!

Turning our worry into praise and worship brings joy! It pulls us out of the fire, out of the darkness, out of the prison, and helps enable us to live in the way God intended us to live. 

What are you worrying about today? God is ready to listen. Tell him what he already knows then ask him for forgiveness. Embrace His love and let the light in!

Just Ask

Hugs

My wife Amy is a hugger.

During a recent interaction with a friend, Amy did her usual hug thing. Except this time after the hug, the friend said “could I please have another hug, I could really use one”. Amy was delighted to serve!

Amy shared this story with me and we reflected on the fact that the friend was bold enough to ask for another hug. Sure, hugs are free and it was a simple thing to do, but it made me wonder how often people need a good hug or any favor, but refrain from asking.

It is my opinion that 100% of the time, a friend, or even a casual acquaintance would find joy and satisfaction in being trusted enough to be asked for help.

Amy has always had the desire to be independent or self-sufficient. She is a passionate individual, and when she wants something she goes after it. In doing this, she doesn’t like to burden anyone, ever.

Becoming vulnerable

We have one car so logistics can be a little tricky. Shortly after the hug incident, we had a scheduling conflict. Amy wanted to go to her fitness bootcamp and I needed the car for work.  As a result, someone needed to change their plans or we needed a new variable in the mix.

Then out of the blue, Amy decided to go out of her comfort zone and ask for help. She messaged the bootcamp group and asked if anyone might be able to give her a lift. The same friend from the hugging incident quickly replied and offered to help. Nice!

The two ladies chatted it up en route to the workout and when they arrived the friend turned to Amy and said “ok, give me a hug and hop out”. Surprised, Amy said, “Wait, what? You’re not coming?”. The friend briefly shared that she just wanted to help Amy out; friends helping friends. How refreshing.

This was a reminder for us to not think so highly of ourselves that we miss out on building closer relationships and being part of someone else’s joy in giving. Becoming vulnerable builds trust and opens us up to new experiences we might not have otherwise imagined.

Ask our creator

Through this story we are once again led to our God who desires relationship with us; a two way relationship. He wants us to communicate with him in prayer, to ask him to meet various needs and he wants to answer. It is a model for how we can and should be in relationship with others.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

Asking shows our trust that the responder will be open to our requests. It is symbolic of relationship. Conversely, not asking says “I’ve got this”… and in the end, we don’t have this, Jesus has this!

  • Whose life do you need to inject yourself in and start helping?
  • What situation in your life could use some help from a friend?
  • In what ways can you step out of your comfort zone and become more vulnerable?
  • What aspect of your life have you not turned over to Jesus because “you’ve got this?”

Just ask!

Constantine

I’ve spent much of my life seeking to avoid awkward situations. Like avoiding interactions with homeless people or undocumented immigrants. Sadly, through much practice I’ve gotten pretty good at this.

Selfish

As a human I am prone to the sin of selfishness.

In Italy I have observed people engaging the underprivileged in conversation and it has been on my mind for a while. Sure, I’ve given some cash to people on the street, but most of the time perhaps it was more of a payoff as if to say, “please just don’t talk to me.”

If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:6)

An Unexpected Gift

Last weekend we had some houseguests: Amy’s cousin Megan and Vern (Megan’s husband) who live in Rome, along with a friend of theirs (Maria) who lives in the UK. We had a nice weekend together, eating good food, having good conversation, and just enjoying time with the only family we have within a 4,000 mile radius.

Sunday morning I drove our guests back to the train station. After dropping them off Amy informed me that Vern had secretly left some cash behind so that we wouldn’t find it until after they had departed. Vern generously, lovingly, and privately thanked us with a nice gift. What a great (yet unnecessary) gesture!

An Unexpected Encounter

After the drop off, it was time to stop at a trash/recycling area to unload from the weekend. Our city does not have curbside trash/recycling pickup so we have to bring these items to a nearby series of bins.

Next to the trash bin there was an older man with a cane, picking through waste, hoping for a treasure (perhaps food or maybe a useful item). My first thought: Get out of here before he asks for money.

Upon leaving it hit me… the thought was so strong, it almost felt audible… “no one should have to do that….”

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

Message received. I then handed the guy a couple Euros (just over $2.00), he said thanks, and I was on my way.

Seconds later the thoughts came back, but stronger… “what about that money you received but were not expecting?” People picking through dumpsters… No one should have to do that.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:10)

I hadn’t driven far so I pulled over and found the man and gave him what felt right in my heart, then we started talking. His name was Constantine, he was from Romania, he cannot work, and his son works at a nearby restaurant.

This time we hugged goodbye and what a joy it was. Hugging the guy came so natural, yet unnatural as I felt like was giving up control. Tears flowed down my face as I drove away knowing there are so many like this man, so many people to love, and so much work to do here on this Earth.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:11-12)

Jesus changed my life and he’s still working on me. He can do the same for you today if you let him.

Today’s reading: John 15

Wicked Things

Terezin (also known as Theresienstadt), about 30 miles from Prague, Czech Republic was a concentration camp during World War II. This camp was one of many tools in the Nazi’s scheme to deceive.

The world was told that Hitler had built “a city for the Jews”. In reality: 35,440 Jews died at this camp, and over 88,000 were deported to other camps to be murdered.

For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:20)

“Arbeit Macht Frei” (work sets you free)

The Terezin camp was used as a staging area for Jews who would later be sent to killing camps. It was also a forced labor camp and ghetto but publicized as a retirement community. The Nazis intentionally created horrific, unsanitary conditions and starved the prisoners here in an effort to speed up their demise.

We toured Terezin and heard stories of deception such as:

  • People forced to write postcards to friends and family, saying how great it was and they should join them soon. In reality, people were dying from starvation, disease, and malnutrition.
  • A staged orchestra concert used to create a film to convey how wonderful and cultural Terezin was. Upon completion of the film, most of the “cast” were deported to Auschwitz to be murdered.
  • Weeks of preparation for a known visit by the Red Cross. To make sure it didn’t look too overcrowded, the Nazis deported 7,503 people to the Auschwitz killing center just prior to the visit.

Walking the grounds and observing the prison cells, crematorium, cemetery gave us better insights as to what millions of people went through during one of the most horrific events in human history. I cannot imagine the despair, loneliness, fear, abuse, and pain caused by these acts of hatred.

Through this experience I cling closer to the cross and the freedom, hope and promise it represents. Without the cross we are hopeless and lost. With it, we have hope, forgiveness, and a future with no more of the sorrow that comes with sin.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

For more reading on Terezin: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Today’s reading: John 3

Lost and not yet found

I’ve loved bicycles ever since I was a kid. They’re fun, low maintenance, they serve a purpose, and there’s a bicycle for every terrain and season. I used to beg my parents to take me to the bike store just to take a look (and of course the looking always turned to wanting a new bike). After 40+ years, the desire to visit bike shops remains.

Early this spring I purchased a fitness/hybrid bicycle that would be practical for city living as well as getting some exercise. It had a cool paint job and was built to withstand the elements of daily commutes. The best part: airless tires made of solid yet cushy rubber that couldn’t get a flat. No air pump necessary. Shattered glass or nails on your path? No problem.

The bike performed as expected and I loved exploring the city, commuting, and exercising with this new toy until one very sad evening… Upon returning from a nice meal with a good friend, my new two-wheeler that was previously secured was gone. All that was left was a cut lock.

It was at the train station, in a bike parking area, right out in the open, lots of people, and a lock. How? I was devastated.

Everywhere I go in the city, every bike rack, every bike passing by, my eyes are searching. Even after many weeks I keep thinking it will turn up, just keep looking.

After several emails and phone calls to various shops seeking a replacement, there are none available. There are similar versions but the more I think about it, the more I just want my bike back. I don’t really want a new bike, I want that one.

These thoughts lead me to the various parables of lost and found, and how God so badly wants us, our hearts, individually to turn to him or turn back to him. He longs for us to return, he gives us each day to make the choice. Like Jennifer said yesterday, God wants us… “That is why he made us in the first place.

Today’s reading in Luke 15 has “lost and found” parables. Each one I believe describes God’s characteristics relating to the way he seeks us and rejoices when we repent, and return to him:

  • Lost sheep: Even though there are 100, he still seeks the single sheep who is lost and rejoices upon the return.  “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. (Luke 15:5)
  • Lost coin: Seeking relentlessly until it is found and then rejoicing (Luke 15:8-10)
  • Prodigal son:
    • The father noticed him from a long way off (reflecting God’s anticipation). The father felt compassion and embraced him. (Luke 15:20)
    • Upon confession, the father did not punish him (mercy), and more, the father gave him the best robe, a ring and shoes… gifts the son did not deserve (grace). (v22)
    • And of course celebration in verse 23. God makes it loud and clear that he celebrates when we return to him!
    • Promises of his goodness, now and forever: And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. (Luke 15:31)

God’s welcoming arms are ready waiting for us to repent. Let us take this moment right now to confess what he already knows to be true. I usually start by asking God to show me how I’ve been selfish. Selfishness for me is the gateway to all sin as it puts us before God and others. Selfishness sometimes feeds earthly desires but only for a moment, and earthly pleasures cannot satisfy the continuous thirst that we have for something greater, the thirst that can only be quenched by Jesus Christ.

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

I wish I could tell our readers that my bike was found. In the end I wonder if God allowed this event to happen in order to give me a glimpse into his kingdom. My want for the bike and for the other things of this world will never go away until being satisfied by the living water of Jesus. Are you thirsty?

What then shall we do?

Greetings readers! I love talking about matters of the heart and today is no exception.

A few recent observations regarding people’s hearts:

  • One of my children diligently studied on a Friday night, Saturday morning, and on Sunday for a test the following week, but received a mediocre grade. The result wasn’t expected or desired, but what mattered was his heart.
  • A group of business associates gathered from around the globe. Each person had varying levels of expertise. Reflecting on our time together, their knowledge was not at all what impacted my opinion or our overall success. It was their heart, the passion they demonstrated. The teamwork, listening, and asking good questions.
  • An executive within my organization was asked “what company would be a good role model for us to aspire to be like?” His response had nothing to do with talent, or measures of success in dollars. His response admittedly didn’t directly answer the question, but it targeted the most desirable attribute: “I want this to be a company that people want to work for… there are other local and highly desirable companies, but I want people to at least give us a look because this is a great place to work.” I view this as having heart, one that focuses on people as our greatest asset.

In today’s reading (Luke Chapter 3), John the Baptist is preaching on true repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Even with John’s direct and sharp words, people appear to be responding in a favorable manner, asking good questions with the right heart.

  • The crowds asked “What then shall we do?” (Luke 3:10b)
  • Tax collectors respectfully addressed him as teacher saying “what shall we do?” (Luke 3:12b)
  • Soldiers also asked “What shall we do?” (Luke 3:14a)

All three of the aforementioned groups demonstrated an initial recognition that things for them might not go so well in the future.

John’s responses in verses 11-14 (paraphrased):

  • To the crowds: share your stuff (love others)
  • To the tax collectors: quit stealing (be fair)
  • To the soldiers: stop using your power to bully people and be glad for what you have (you’re in a position of authority, respect the position and others in your care)

Notice that John’s response was not simply “repent” (and keep on sinning). For each question, he gave specific instruction for their actions. This goes back to Luke 3:8a: Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.

Also in Luke 3:8, John warns them against relying on their heritage to save them. Our religion won’t save us, nor our deeds, nor our lineage; only our true repentant inward hearts reflected by outward actions, seeking salvation through Jesus Chris will save us.

This chapter also points out the contrasting heart. That of Herod whom John confronted for his sinful ways. Herod’s response was to lock John up in prison and ultimately have him beheaded.

Father God, you know my heart, I have no secrets from you. You know all. Show me my sins. Show me where I need to be more focused on others instead of myself. Have mercy on me. Show me a way out when I’m tempted. Thank you for saving me. Give me words and courage to share the good news with others today. Amen.

 Featured image: bronze sculpture of John the Baptist by Giuliano Vangi.