Among Us

Today’s Reading; James 4 and Psalm 26

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (James 4:1)

Among you” is translated by some scholars as “in you“. When I reflect on the many battles in my life this would be a consistent one. I understand that some of the many struggles we can face are not always visually seen by others. These struggles are faced “in you” and can internally impact your mind and heart.  These struggles can take away the joy you can fill into others. Our earthly desires, worries, and fears are tucked back in our mind and the wrestling match of external, desires are grappling with our internal thoughts and heart. Leaving us questioning within our heads and walking through this earthly life half-minded.

James pastoral counsel can lead us back to place of love, grace, and peace.  Personally, as I start back to the school year with much excitement. In my mind, my earthly demands, desires, and fixed mindset moments can make room for questioning thoughts and actions. My thoughts can be like a thief that robs me of being truly “in the moment” by wondering what is to come. It can be hard to be at peace with anyone else when you are not at peace with yourself. That’s what makes being in the word so valuable.   I’m reminded, we need to turn to our Father who provides all the peace we need. That God is with us all the time and I need to stop trying to do things my way.  Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

As we continue to read through James we are reminded to simply ask. Call on Him at any and all times. In addition, when we pray we are to pray with the right motives.  James 4:3 We pray with faith and according to God’s will not ours.  This will detangle the internal mess that can leave you walking through our day with this internal struggle.  Here are a couple complimenting verses that God’s living word provides for us to pray through.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1John 5:14).

But when we ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).

It’s easy to get caught up in everything going on day by day, minute by minute. My prayer is that we not let our external worldly desires distract our internal mind and heart knowing that God has an eternal place waiting for us.  Be encouraged and don’t rob yourself of who we belong to. Steal back the moments God desires us to enjoy. James reminds us that the time is now to let go of these worries and fears.

“Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”    (James 4:14).

Today as I read one of daily devotionals Jesus Calling had this perfect reminder.

Trust Me in the midst of a messy day. Your inner calm- your Peace in My Presence- need not be shaken by what is going on around you. Though you live in this temporal world, your innermost being is rooted and grounded in eternity. When you start feeling stressed, detach yourself from the disturbances around you. Instead of desperately striving to maintain order and control in your little world, relax and remember that circumstances cannot touch My Peace.

Seek God’s Face, and He will share His mind with you, open your eyes to see things from His perspective. The peace I give is sufficient for you.  

Dear God,

Thank you for all our writers and readers. We celebrate and praise your living word and understand how your words breathe through us. Please continue to encourage us to look to you at all times and not fall into the half-minded living of the world. You call us son and daughter, salt and light.  Help us to trust your word always and share this good news with everyone. God we ask you to help us break the chains of  inner struggles and help us to know we can walk in victory with you always. Amen

Resources

Jesus Calling August 26th ~ Sarah Young

David Jeremiah Study Bible

The Village Church App August 2017 ~ Marked by Matt Chandler

Logos Bible ~ James 4

 

 

Colossians 2

Last night, I was cleaning out some old books and journals, and I came across a prayer journal that I had purchased but never really used. I had thought it would “work” for me – I even filled out a few pages – but it just didn’t. Nonetheless, I saved it, thinking that of course I would use it “someday”. Well, someday came and went, and I haven’t used it. But as I flipped through the pages last evening, I noticed a section I had missed before. For each month, the author had put together a list of daily prayer points. And for one month, the list was based on the book of Colossians. The list is titled “Seeing the Lord: Personal Prayers From Colossians”.* Several of the prayers are based on Colossians 2, our text for today.

I read through those prayers quietly, and I remembered all over again why Colossians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I love how the Lord led me to hose prayers last night, as He knew that I would be writing this devotion today. The prayer that resonated with me the most on this list is based on Colossians 2:7. The prayer reads, “Cause me to be firmly established in You, with a heart of gratitude.” This seems to be a central verse in this chapter. Paul begins by stating that he desperately desires that the followers of Christ would be strengthened in their faith. He says “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you…” (Colossians 2:1). Paul continues, explaining why he wants their faith to be strong. He knows that when our faith is strong, our “hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love” with the “full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” (Colossians 2:2-3) With the strengthening of faith comes encouragement, love, understanding and knowledge. What an amazing gift!

Paul also knows that our strengthened faith enables us to stand firm when we are faced with the temptations of the world. Clearly, worldly temptations existed when Paul lived, just as they do today, and Paul knew how difficult it can be to discern truth from falsehood. Paul says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition…and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) When our faith is rooted firmly in Christ, we can discern God’s voice from among the other voices clamoring for our attention. When we are strong in our faith, we can stand strong in our world. We will stand firm for what Christ stands for.

My prayer for us this week is this: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

May we be both rooted and thankful today.

* “Personal Prayers From Colossians” by Terry Gooding

Keep Watch

Today’s Reading: Mark 13

I found myself on the interstate last week during a heavy snow.  The danger was clear.  Drive too fast and you will careen out of control into the ditch, or worse.  I witnessed it happening all around me.  I also understood that my own efforts were not enough to control the risk.  Other drivers pose a threat to me.  Extra vigilance is required.  My focus intensifies.  This intense focus is true in the broader picture of our lives too.  Here are a few things that we regularly keep watch on:

·      Finances ·      Children
·      Leaky basements ·      Maintenance schedules
·      Fuel levels in our gas tank ·      Calendars

By watching these things in the present, we minimize the future cost.  The risk, of course, is when we fail to keep watch, or as Jesus says, we “fall asleep” (Mark 13:36).  What do you have difficulty keeping watch on?  How are you most likely to be found “asleep?”   Additionally, remember that others around us can amplify the risk.  As a culture, what is America not paying attention to?

·      Sobriety ·      Pornography
·      Idolatry ·      Selfish Ambition
·      Media –  Internet, TV, music ·      Community
·      Personal responsibility ·      Demystifying God

To be honest, I wrote a few things there that I did not want to.  Take sobriety, for instance.  When I hear that word, my mind races to an image of an unfit father who neglects his responsibilities.  This picture allows me to quickly dismiss it as, “not me.”  Look closer.  Consider how well do you “keep watch” after one glass of wine.  How about two?  Three?

Pornography is another issue that I would rather not address. But, I read a startling statistic this week that is worth sharing.  It says that 70% of all 18 to 34 year-olds are regular viewers of pornography.  And, on average, they started viewing it at age 11.  Do you hear danger?  I do.  James Emery White explains the consequences in this blog post.  It’s worth reading.  As I look around, however, I can’t say that it’s surprising.  Sexual images and viewing invitations are everywhere.  I am fully desensitized.  As Jesus puts it (Luke 22:46), I am sleeping!

Before you start losing hope, let’s look back at the promises of God.  He gives us the equipment we need to keep watch both offensively and defensively. Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:5-10.  It tells us to build a defense with “the breastplate of righteousness.”  This defense looks like integrity, holiness, and purity.  Where do they come from?

·       Prayer Matthew 26:41 tells us to watch and pray
·       Submission Hebrews 13:17 explains that our leaders are watching over us too. We should, therefore, listen to them
·       Community Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to be in prayer for all believers, everywhere.  We are in this together!

I have a harder time summarizing Our offensive posture, so I am going to rely on N.T. Wright.  In his book After You Believehe describes how we must, as Christ-followers, make the hard decisions and take the hard actions that run counter to our flesh.  These are our offense.  Through them, we “develop, in the present, the character which will truly anticipate the life of the coming age.  …. Sooner or later, preferable sooner, each individual Christian must make the key choices to “put on” the things which genuinely anticipate, in the present the life we are promised in the future, the life we have already been given in Christ.  And, having made those key choices, each Christian must acquire the habit of making them over and over again.”

As you can see, keeping watch isn’t hard.  Keeping watch on the most important things – the things that affect our souls – requires focus and intensity.  My prayer today is that something here shines a bright light in your eyes causing you to awaken from your sleep.  I also pray that the darkness will forever be gone, replaced with the eternal light of love, made available to all of us through Jesus Christ.

 

Looking for Jesus

I try very hard to look for Jesus in the midst of my daily life. Yet, I often struggle with looking for Him in the wrong places, sometimes even with the best intent and a good heart. Too often, I make finding Jesus much too complicated. Can you relate?

Our culture is one that idolizes other people quickly and easily. Entire magazines, shows and blogs are dedicated to the lives of people considered worthy of our attention. We look to people and products for a little “high” of excitement, for fulfillment, and even for guidance. We quickly jump around from thing to thing, and the next big thing seems to always be calling our names just as soon as we get what we wanted a minute ago.

Even as Christians, it’s quite easy to fall into this cycle and look to other believers we admire, sermons or podcasts, or well-known Chrisitan authors to provide us the amount of Jesus we need in our day to day life. While these things can be helpful and inspire us to grow, they do not come close to simply experiencing Jesus Himself.

Maybe we need a little wake-up call. Thankfully, in Matthew 11, we see some other early believers needed one, too. For a long time, this group of people had been looking to one man for their teaching, for their spiritual growth, and for gaining wisdom. This one man was John the Baptist. Yet, even John himself knew that he was not to be the be all end all of their spiritual walks. John knew that his role was to simply prepare their hearts for the One who was coming. Despite warning his followers that he was not the one who could truly fulfill their hearts, the people still gravitated toward what was right in front of them. Even when the Messiah Himself began His ministry by speaking to crowds, the people who had grown used to following John had to realize something: What their hearts really were longing for had finally come. Fulfillment Himself was there, just waiting for them.

Perhaps this week you, like me, need to shift your focus directly to Jesus Himself. We are incredibly blessed to live in a culture where we can readily find Him in Christian books, on our favorite Pandora music stations, in online sermons, and we can always learn from the lives and examples of other believers. Yet, it can be easy to exhaust ourselves by trying to feel Him and find Him in these sorts of places and forget that He’s already revealed Himself to us.

Just as in Matthew 11, Jesus was waiting for John’s followers to realize who He was and simply turn to Him, maybe today, Jesus is waiting for you to stop trying to find Him in things and simply seek Him alone.

The fact that verses 29-30 are at the end of Matthew 11 is not a coincidence, and I love that. Finding Jesus does not have to be some complicated game or an exhausting process. Today, I encourage you to just look to Jesus and remember that He alone is what can fulfill your heart. He’s already there, waiting for you.

 

God with You

Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles 32; Revelation 18; Zechariah 14; John 17

Reflecting on God and his word through 2016 has been a priceless blessing full of Joy for all of us that have read, laughed, cried, and shared stories of God’s work in our lives. Each day, every post, you will find God. Often times when we need it most a scripture is shared with an application to life that can impact every second of each that day if you allow it. We read together His commandments, miracles performed, and examples of Love shared to all people.  Even when we didn’t deserve it, God sent His son to take away all our sins and provide us Hope for an eternal future with Him. God’s love poured out for us so that we can take His example from His son Jesus and show that same love for others.  The words we read daily helps us to know him better and share with others. We hold on to our belief that God holds it all in his hands and we submit ourselves to Him everyday.

26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26

God makes the biggest difference in our lives. I encourage and pray that you will continue to grow in Him and through Him. Continue this journey with us as we walk daily in this journey of Faith. As I read in John today I’m filled with the joy that God loves us just like he does his own son.  That He is always with you no matter where you are at or current situation you may be in.  Let your submission to Him shine through and provide light on others through love.

Dear God,

Let your heart beat in my chest. Help me to be prayerful in everything. Not trying to take things on my own and call you after. Engage me in other people.  Give us the strength and courage to share your love with others. Open our ears to listen to wht he is saying to you today.  Humble ourselves by putting others first. God we pray that we always look for opportunities to serve. Recognize those in need and come alongside them with encouragement. Lastly Lord, I pray you help me be submissive to your will and not my own. You paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, allow us to sacrifice our will to yours. Amen

If you need a little encouragement and courage to go with you today read Joshua 1:5-7.  Reminder – “Be Strong”  God is with you.

See you in 2017!

Faithful Prayers

Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 14; Colossians 1; Ezekiel 44; Psalms 97–98

As Paul faithfully writes his letter to the church of Colosse I’m reminded of the power of prayer.  The impact Christians can have on your neighborhood, community and around the world through prayer is limitless.  Our love for God should be mirrored for other Christians so we can lift up others everywhere. Paul’s timely prayer was meant to influence the Colossians to be wise and remind them to use their knowledge to learn more about Him and put what they learned into action by helping others. These words of love can influence us into action today.

I can often pray for the day, family, small group requests, and other situations that influence my heart or thoughts throughout the day. Paul teaches us how to pray for other Christians. This intentional letter and prayer is important as we pray for missionaries, pastors, and leaders around the world who influence hearts through the Holy Spirit. There is much pain around the US and around the world and our prayers to God are necessary to give thanks, wisdom,and love to others.The Tyndale Life Application Study Bible shares a study pattern by Paul for prayers to other Christians that I thought was simple and God filled.

  1. Be thankful for their faith and changed lives (Col. 1:3).
  2. Ask God to help them know his will (Col. 1:9).
  3. Ask God to give them spiritual wisdom and understanding (Col. 1:9).
  4. Ask God to help them live to honor and please him (Col. 1:10).
  5. Ask God to give them more knowledge of himself (Col. 1:10).
  6. Ask God to give them strength for endurance and patience (Col. 1:11).
  7. Ask God to fill them with joy and thankfulness (Col. 1:12).

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 1:9-10)

As believers we all have these same basic needs.  These seven steps can help other Christians grow spiritually in order to make a difference in those they influence.

How many people in your life could be touched if you prayed in this way? 

Dear God,  Thank you for who you are,  and the grace you have given us in order to continue to go out into the world and share your love.  We pray for all Christians here and around the world to keep you Lord at the center of all we do.  Give our leaders, missionaries, and pastors the wisdom to be able to share your story with others.  Give them the patience and endurance to withstand the enemy and continue to build your kingdom until you return.  Thank you for the joy we have because of who you are.  Amen

Desert Places

Crack soil on dry season Global warming / cracked dried mud / Dry cracked earth background / The cracked ground Ground in drought Soil texture and dry mud Dry land.

1 Samuel 1; Romans 1; Jeremiah 39; Psalms 13–14

When was the last time you felt like you just couldn’t win?  Did you face reality head on or did you run from it? For me, the answer to that question can often be found in my activity level. If you catch me running, scattered from task to task, without a minute to spare, it’s likely that I am avoiding some reality of my life. A second indicator that exposes my avoidance of reality shows up when I am reading. I love to read. Reading helps me think and process the events of my life. I can do it in almost any environment. That is, unless, I have something weighing heavy on my heart. In these times, I cannot focus on reading. Sure, I might go through the motions, but I cannot hear the words. Nothing gets through. My general reaction is to go, busying myself with things that do not need thought or thinking. This avoidance leads me right back to the first scenario. I am not unique. I am sure that you have a coping mechanism as well. According to today’s reading, Hannah had one too.

Elkanah’s wife, Hannah, did not have any children. As a result, she was given one portion of meat to worship with as a sacrifice to God at the Temple. Elkanah’s second wife Peninnah, however, had two children and, therefore, received three portions with which to worship and sacrifice.   For Hannah, this time of annual worship and sacrifice served as a cruel reminder that God had not given her any children. To make matters worse, Peninnah made fun of her for it, continuously deepening Hannah’s wound. Her reaction, year after year was to cry.  In fact, she would make herself so upset, that she couldn’t even stand to eat.

We all get to choose how we respond to life’s circumstances. Whether your reaction is more like Hannah’s or mine is irrelevant. In the end, they both lead to the same place. Nowhere good. Hannah finally figured this out. Eventually, she looked to God.   As she offered her sacrifice, she looked to the Lord, and through her deep anguish and bitter weeping, she prayed and with all of her heart and laid her cares upon God. Similarly, David’s heavy heart pours out through prayer in Psalm 14. In these moments, Hannah and David both relinquish their futile attempts to change their own reality and instead, depend on God.

Have you ever prayed like that? Seriously, consider for a moment, right now, what it would feel like to spend a few minutes, a few hours, or a whole day, detaching yourself from the activity and crying so that you can give it to God. Why not? Are you afraid of what you might hear? I am here to tell you that the best time to do this is right now, in the midst of the current gridlock in your calendar and in the middle of your deep anguish. If you are praying to the same God that I am, He promises to give us an answer.

My rumination on Hannah and David pouring out their hearts to the Lord has encouraged me to pray similarly. I’m also praying that God urges you to do so as well. As you do, I will be praying for you, as Eli did, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

With a little help from my friends

I love writing for Bible Journal! This experience has caused me to view every situation in my life as a story and reflect on how Jesus is part of that story, with the potential to share that story on this site. God is at work in all things… ALL THINGS! He is mighty and perfect, and he loves us more than we can comprehend! Where do you see God at work in your life? Not sure? Take a moment and pray; humbly ask him to show you where he is at work. I believe if you truly want to know, and truly seek him, he will show you and answer this prayer.

Today’s reading includes Acts 2 which was the focus of my very first post, and today’s post is going to be a follow-up. Here’s a link in case you’ve not read it, or if you’d like to read it again under different circumstances: Cut to the Heart

Cut to the Heart ended with Acts 2:38, where the believers were promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here’s what happened after the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (Acts 2:42-44)

What touches me here is that the believers while filled with the spirit became so selfless that they either gave away or pooled together all of their possessions. I think about people in my life who I’m honored to call “friend” and see this playing out. They freely give their time and even their possessions to others and me. They listen and obey God’s voice.

Listen to my voice, and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God, (Jeremiah 11:4b)

How does God speak to us? Can we hear his voice? In the Old Testament God spoke through prophets and today he uses his Holy Spirit. One of the many mistakes I have made in my life was that while I claimed to be a christian, I had no relationship with God. I didn’t read the Bible, prayed only when it would benefit me, and didn’t seek God’s direction until something big came up. No wonder why I didn’t seem to hear an answer; there was no relationship. God was listening, I wasn’t. God wanted a relationship, I was selfish.

Having a relationship with God the Father, his son Jesus, and The Spirit is a result of active participation; listening, obeying, seeking, yielding. I was reminded of King David today by my mom and how he faced countless adverse situations but had tremendous faith. In 2 Samuel 5:17-25, David followed this pattern:

  1. Inquired of the Lord as to what he should do. (verses 19, 23)
  2. Obeyed God’s voice. (verses 20, 25)

How beautiful it is when we live this out today as we inquire to the Lord, listen, and then obey. It is very evident in my close relationships where there is an obedience to God. Special thanks to some of those impactful friends recently whether it be through prayer, listening, kind words, or acts of service: Amy, Mike, BJ, Duane, Rick, my mom, my sisters Marne and Katie. Your obedience is bearing good fruit. Thank you!!!

Joshua 22; Acts 2; Jeremiah 11; Matthew 25

Extra Credit:

  1. Today’s scripture reading had multiple references to God calling us to listen and obey. Re-read them and consider where God may be calling you to listen and obey. Seeing this pattern helped me remember how serious God is about his commands. If he says “listen”, since he is a faithful and true God, that means that he is giving us a way to listen, but we must actively participate. Here are the verses: Joshua 22:2, Jeremiah 11:2-4, Jeremiah 11:6-7.
  2. Check out this prayer one of my friends sent to me after I asked him for some prayer over a certain situation the other morning. This left me in awe, humbled, thankful and joyful and was another reminder of someone being filled with the Holy Spirit, listening and obeying. Praise God for putting real friends in my path; friends who care about me! Is there someone in your life who needs prayer? Why not text or email them a specific prayer over them right now? Here’s the prayer:

God You are the Creator. You are holy and set apart. We are sinners God. Would you please forgive us of our sins. God please also forgive those that sin against us. God we forgive them. God we need You. We like sheep, do not know what is best for us. God would you send Your Spirit to fill us up? God would you fill Jon up this morning with Your Spirit. Got would you push everything else out? Would you fill him up to overflowing so that even those who see him coming from afar would see You through him and for Your glory? God would you empower Jon this morning to abide in Your fruit; love, joy peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. God would you help Jon love people with the love of Christ that he’s been given; patience; kindness; without envy; without boasting; without pride; with rightness toward others; with selflessness and humility putting others first; not quick to anger; with no evil thought; rejoicing with the truth; protecting; trusting; hoping? God would you uphold Jon’s words, guarding his mouth and not letting his words fall to the ground? Would you fill him with integrity LORD? God we rely completely on You. We come under Your protection and provision as Your servants LORD. God would you bless Jon and increase his territory? Would you place Your hand upon him and keep him from evil? God to me this feels like a long list. I know you have all these good things to give to those who ask for them. God would you pour them out upon your servant Jon this morning and for all his life? We humble ourselves God. Thank You LORD! You are good! You are worthy of all glory and honor and power for You have created all things and for Your pleasure they are and were created!

ACTS

Joshua 10; Psalms 142–143; Jeremiah 4; Matthew 18

Several years ago I had the life-changing honor and privilege to participate in a study called Discipleship Essentials, written by Greg Ogden. One of the many takeaways from that study was on a model for prayer (keyword “model”, not a “mandate” as there are many ways to pray) using what is referred to as an acrostic to help teach us to pray. The model is ACTS; Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. ACTS invigorated my prayer life over the years and has served as a reminder to make confession a regular part of prayer as it is often very tempting to skip right to the “bless me” or “save me” part.

The ACTS pattern popped out at me today through Psalm 143. Here’s how I saw it and a good example for our own prayer lives.

Adoration: In verse one, David opens up by addressing God as Lord; his ruler, humbling himself before him and asking him to listen. I read this as “You are God and I am not”; it sets the record straight. David specifically expresses adoration through referencing God as faithful and righteous.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
    give ear to my pleas for mercy!
    In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! (Psalm 143:1)

Confession: David is acknowledging that he is a sinner. We all are. No one living is righteous before him. It is very tempting to skip over this part of prayer because we all have sins and it hurts to confess, however God already knows our sins. Confession is telling God what he already knows. When I get to the confession part and nothing is immediately there to confess, I ask God to reveal my sins that I’ve forgotten or suppressed… and the floodgates open… talk about an answer to prayer…

Enter not into judgment with your servant,
   for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:2)

Thanksgiving: Reflecting on what God has done and expressing gratitude.

I remember the days of old;
  I meditate on all that you have done;
  I ponder the work of your hands. (Psalm 143:5)

Supplication: Asking God to meet your needs and the needs of others. In Psalm 143:7-12, David asks:

  1. For the Lord to answer him quickly.
  2. For God to not hide his face from him (or for God to be near and present).
  3. To hear of God’s steadfast love.
  4. For direction; the way he should go.
  5. For deliverance from his enemies; to be within God’s refuge.
  6. To be taught to do God’s will.
  7. To be led by the Spirit.
  8. For his life to be preserved for God’s glory.
  9. For his soul to be brought out of trouble (again, deliverance).

And finally David has faith that God will answer his prayer; that in His love he will cut off his enemies and destroy the adversaries of his soul. As we worship our God through prayer, we can trust he will take over; we should be faithful because he is faithful.

I run to you now

Today’s journal entry is my own prayer to correspond to Psalm 119:57-64. The more I read these verses, the more they spoke to me. Perhaps some or all of this prayer applies to you as a reader so would you consider reading today’s post in prayer with me? Thanks for reading!

Deuteronomy 29; Psalm 119:49–72; Isaiah 56; Matthew 4

57 The Lord is my portion;
    I promise to keep your words.

Father God, you are enough. Forgive me for the many times when I seek to fill my soul with the empty things of this world. Instill in me a strong desire to choose you; your eternal truths and worthy commands.

58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.

Thank you God for showing us through this psalm that we can entreat (beg) you. That assures me that you will listen. I am sorry for doubting you. Let me not fall victim to the lies of the enemy; “this problem is too big”, “he will not answer that prayer”, “he will not smile upon you”, “there is not enough grace for you”. You promised grace, that which I don’t deserve, but yet you freely give; therefore I seek your grace right now, with my whole heart.

59 When I think on my ways,
    I turn my feet to your testimonies;

Lord, as you know, I was on a reckless path without you. When I think of this path I remember emptiness, despair, and guilt; I was lost. I run to you now; you fill the empty void in my life, you have given me hope, you have washed away my guilt from sin through your son’s one-time act of death, burial, and resurrection. My true identity is found now that I have you, your word, your rules, your promises, and I have a better understanding of your love.

60 I hasten and do not delay
    to keep your commandments.

Reveal to me my sins and equip me to immediately turn from them, to you. Teach me your commandments; let me remember them throughout the day in every situation. Give me a heart that cannot wait to do your will and follow you like the first disciples in Matthew 4:20: Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
    I do not forget your law.

There are those who would like to attempt to steal your glory by making me stumble. Oh God, do not let me be deceived. Let me fully rely on your righteous commands. Protect me from all evil.

62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
    because of your righteous rules.

Thank you for waking me in the night and reminding me of your goodness. Let my first waking thoughts at all times be praise for you, your ways, your mercy.

63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
    of those who keep your precepts.

Thank you Lord for my christian brothers and sisters, they are truly my companions! They teach me, they pray for me, they share their insights into your word, will, and ways. I am truly blessed to have so many people who love me with the love of Christ. Let me be the companion to them that they need me to be. Please strengthen those who are persecuted for fearing you; especially those in other countries who risk torture and even death because they proclaim you as Lord.

64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
    teach me your statutes!

We do not have to look far to see your love for us. You create a marvelous symphony morning and night through the birds of the air; let us close our eyes and listen, and give all glory to you. You enable this earth to spin, giving us glorious sunrises and sunsets. Sun and rain give life to our sustenance because you make it happen. You show your love by equipping us with a sense of humor; let us use it properly. You showed the ultimate act of love on this earth by sending your son Jesus. Amen.

Readers, tomorrow’s reading will start the Sermon on the Mount. Would you consider reading it in its entirety as a complete sermon? I fell in love with this sermon several years ago and it continues to have a special place in my life. My Christ-following journey in 2010 started with the reading of Matthew with a quest to learn who Jesus really was and what he really was asking of us. The sermon really answered that for me in a miraculous way. Here’s a link: Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)