What’s your Yeast?

Daily prayer is for obedience.  We keep an index card with Romans 12:2 written on it from a small group activity years ago.  The world has so much to offer.  An achievement-focused lifestyle can pridefully lift you to where you feel like nothing else matters.  In this breath of life until you realize our eternity.

Today’s Reading: Mark 8 (verse 15 & 34-37)

15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

The world can infect and change your heart and mind.  The same pridefulness that the Pharisees and Herod held can be seen in our world today.  So I ask myself, do I provide lip service and merely admiring the truth?  Or am I singing praises and obeying the truth?  Pastor Charlie Welke rechallenged me this weekend as he talked about our “Domesticated Faith.”  I reflected on the finite nature of our world and the infinite power of God.  Am I allowing any yeast of the world to enter into my life? I prayerfully ask the Lord to search my heart, see if there is any offensive way, and lead me. Psalm 139:23-24

Author MaryLu Tyndall writes about the World system vs. God’s Truth.

The world says it’s all about you. God says it’s all about Him. 

The world says elevate yourself. God says to put others ahead of yourself. 

The world says grab as much power as you can. God says to be a servant. 

The world says to eat, drink, and be merry, for this is all there is. God says you are an eternal being, so be wise with your time. 

The world says the ends justify the means. God says the means will be judged in the end. 

The world says outward beauty is everything. God says those with inner beauty will shine at the end. 

The world says gather as many things as you can. God says only your treasure in Heaven will last. 

The world says truth is relative. God says I am the truth. 

The world says to be tolerant.  God says to call evil, evil. 

The world says it’s all about personal happiness. God says it’s all about personal sacrifice. 

The world says death is the end. God says death is only the beginning. 

 

Just as Jesus will warn us what to stay away from, he points us to the truth.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life[b] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

God Bless your day!

 

You’re invited…what are you wearing?

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22

v 1-14 The Kingdom of heaven is like…

The more I’ve reflected on our wedding, the more memories jog my mind.  The details that were put into everything.  From invitations selection to music played to the food and cake served.  What an amazing day.  This summer Jennifer and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  I know I don’t say it or recognize enough the masterpiece our Lord created in my wife and our three wonderful children Jackson, Marshall, and Gianna, but I know they truly are.

The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 22 talks about a wedding that various groups are invited to. Everyone in town was invited to, yet people refused and paid no attention to the invite for one reason or another.  For those who finally came, some didn’t come dressed for such an occasion.   There is always some thought that gets put into your outfit when attending a wedding.  For me, this parable makes me reflect on what I’m wearing.  What d do I put on each day in the presence of the Lord? What are my actions as a preparation for a wedding feast in Heaven? People like to pretend that our choices or actions don’t matter much in our modern-day world, but this parable shows that it isn’t true.

God’s invitation from Him is not a light matter. We are accepting or rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime invite. Our answer matters.  Our actions matter. Our dress matters.

What are you wearing?

Ephesians 4:20- 24  20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Every morning we all wake up and get dressed for the day. Am I clothed in Humility?

1 Peter 5:5 and be clothed in humility…

I’m grateful for His mercies He has shown me for the moments when my character lacks, and actions don’t represent Him. Lamentations 3:22-23 says Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

You are invited.  Do you accept? As we prepare now for His Kingdom, are there any garments that you are missing? Am I truly dressed and ready, or do I think I am?

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Lord,  I pray that my actions and words represent godliness in all I do.  In my sinful human moments, help me to repent and seek you.  Father, I know the Kingdom you have invited us to is bigger and better than anything the world has to offer.  Help me each day to know this truth and share it with others.  Amen

Enter His Gate

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching. 

As we read Matthew 6-7 for today, I pray you will pause and see where God wants you to reflect and seek what God wants you to make clear to you on your journey closer to Him.  Jesus provides so much wisdom in these chapters that leave me thinking and praying for continued transformation.  Topics in these chapters include:

  • Giving
  • Prayer
  • Treasures
  • Worrying
  • Judging

These topics are all sections in my Bible underlined, highlighted, and have notes in the margins.  In prayer for open eyes and ears for today, I landed on a few verses that, for some reason, there was nothing.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

In the middle of one of the storms we had recently, it took my wife forty-five minutes to make a five drive.  As Jennifer drove back and forth, she ran into roadblocks and flooded streets that lead to some tears and fear.  Eventually, they made it home safely down a side street that led to home.  (prayers for everyone impacted by these recent storms)

What road or path are you on?  There are times when  I think I’m going in the direction, and I need to stop.  It seemed safe, and it wasn’t.  I follow the crowd and realize I’ve gone the wrong way.  God has a path laid out for you.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 
  • The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way. Psalm 37:23 

The road seemed wide and perfect, but it led to a dead-end, just like Jennifer the other day.  God provides the perfect directions. The road that leads directly to Him.  Will you seek His path today? This world offers a path that can lead you in many directions.  Our Lord offers us one way.  I pray we are all seeking the narrow road that leads to Him.

Matthew 6:10 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

 

Picture Source: St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church

A Psalm of Instruction

Today’s Reading: Psalm 142

When I was a child, I used to run from our neighbors, the Anderson’s to my house.  It was in the country, and you had to pass by some woods and often a cornfield before you made it home. ( I once snuck downstairs and watched a part of a movie my older brothers were watching, Children of the Corn, bad idea…) I would literally run full sprint for 3/4 of a mile screaming for our dog to meet me halfway. In addition to pure fear, I felt alone and afraid.  As a boy, I would often feel alone as I hung out with friends who seemed to have their home life together as I witnessed our household fall apart. Even as an adult, I can speak of a time where I was afraid, alone, and a little insecure about what the future would hold.

We can all feel loneliness at times. David was feeling this way as he stayed in a cave hiding from Saul.  I think there is a difference between being alone and loneliness.  Alone can be more of a physical state of being, where loneliness can occur even when you have others around.  Have you ever felt this way? Deserted, depressed, defeated? David shares some instructions here on what he did to work on healing.

  • Cry aloud to God. Let Him know how you are feeling.  I’ve realized through the years I can’t fake it all the time and pretend everything is all good.  I’ve also realized the answers I’m looking for don’t come from any of my ideas.  They are all His.  He is the One who knows us best.  (Verse 1-2)
  • Remember that He is watching over us! The noise of the world can muffle the Lord’s voice.  Everything wants our time and attention. The world can give out a beating on your emotional state and leave you struggling.  (Verse 3)
  • Allow Him to be your Refuge. David was being fearful, abandoned, and feeling like he had lost everything. Still, God is above it all and
  • Remember – Problems will fade in His Presence. God will show us his Goodness just like he showed David.  (verse 7)

Are you dealing with feeling alone? Depressed? Feeling imprisoned by your surroundings?

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.

Take a moment to refocus on Him.  Take the cares, worries, and problems and turn them over to Him. Heavenly Father, help us turn to you when our emotions get the best of us, when we feel alone, afraid, imprisoned, or scared.  You will grant us comfort.  Please help us to trust in your plans for our lives.

Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.”

Have a blessed day!

My Soul Waits for the Lord

Today’s Reading: Psalm 130

5. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word, I put my hope.

Future, past, wisdom, fears, trust, adversity, words, God, truth, and parenting.   These are just some of the topics of notecards I like to have in hand reach. Often in one of my pockets.  Each of these cards has various verses that speak truth through scripture. When I need hope and realize that none of that comes from me, I will use His words to help me face any situation I may have.  This is every day multiple times a day.  I can usually tell you the result of when I reflect on His words and when I don’t.

Where do you need to find hope today? Lean into God’s word to find exactly what you need.  Please take a moment to jot it down on a piece of paper or notecard and carry it around with you.

Here are a few verses for today!

  • Future – 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
  • Worry – 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6: 33-34
  • Life – Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
  • Words – Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
  • Others – 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
  • Past – He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
  • God – Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!  Romans 11:33
  • Adversity – and call on me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:15
  • Wisdom – Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:15

Listen to this song called Your Word…Stay blessed. 

 

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid; what can anyone do to me? 7. It is the Lord who helps me, and I will see my enemies defeated.  8 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on people. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord than depend on human leaders.

I’m not sure what you have planned today.  Maybe you’ve just had a chance to read this, and your day is coming to a close.  In either case, you, as I reflect on Psalm 118, I’m reminded that as we believe and trust in the Lord, it is quick to lose sight that no matter time of day or task at hand, our Heavenly Father is always on our side.  When you truly believe and trust Him as the center of your life, you can live without fear. How awesome it is to know right now we can live every moment without any worry when we live in obedience.

Often, my lack of trust and wisdom throughout years and even in recent moments have led me down many dead-end roads. Times of complete self-absorption that goes opposite of where the Lord is asking me to be. He takes me through hills and valleys that remind me of my desire and need to put more trust in Him for every aspect of my life. Along this journey that includes being a parent, He has led me to a daily prayer asking the Lord to have His will with my life and to help me to show His love for Him in my actions and words. More Him, less me!

I think of the father in Mark that was asking Jesus for help with his son. He says in Mark 9:24 Immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  — Help me in any unbelieving time Lord. Or times where I think I have it figured out without your

The people-pleasing days and moments can come calling daily.  Pray, Listen, and take the next step. He is by our side!

Have a blessed day.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Hebrews 11:6

1 Corinthians 2:5

His Loving Patience

What a great Top 10 Lynden shared with us yesterday on things we take for granted.  His examples were definitely aligned with mine as a reminder about many of the things we have in this life. After Psalm 105’s reminder about the hidden things we take for granted comes a reminder in Psalm 106 of God’s grace and patience despite our forgetful and self-willed lives.

Todays Reading: Psalm 106

I read and listened to a recent Podcast that recommended going back and reading different Bible versions.  Today I landed on the Good news Translation.

1 Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal.
2 Who can tell all the great things he has done?
Who can praise him enough?

Who can praise him enough? I know that I can’t.  Even if I started a list right now, I’d still be making a list for days to come. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Write it down in your journal, on the side of your bible, say them out loud.

  • Praise for His transformation in my life.
  • Praise for His love and grace He shows and gives me.
  • Praise for my family.
  • Praise for small groups.
  • Praise for 1777 posts Bible Journal has posted since 1/1/2016.

These were just some I thought about today.  As you continue to read through this chapter, you will be reminded of the importance of our obedience in verse 3.

3 Happy are those who obey his commands,
who always do what is right.

Verses 6-43 humble me and remind me of the blind, rebellious, and forgetful we can be in our sinful nature how stories from the Israelites shortcomings can connect back to our stories today.  To my story.  To yours.

Thankfully, we have a Father who has given and shows grace to those who deserved judgment. Verse 44-47.  God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him.  Just a few weeks ago, we remembered that God sent His son to die for you and me.  He showed us grace when we were still sinners.  Imagine the grace He shows as his children.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
and he took notice of their distress.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and because of his great love he relented.
46 He made all their oppressors
feel sorry for them.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
and praise your holy name.

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel;
praise him now and forever!
Let everyone say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!

Ouch…I deserved that.

Have you ever been disciplined? Have you ever had to discipline your children?

If we are honest, I’m sure we would say Yes to both. (If you don’t have children yet, this opportunity will eventually arise.)  Often, when I have to discipline my children, I see many examples of my younger self in them. I won’t take any opportunity here to talk about my better half.  Discipline is not fun, but it is necessary.  As I was reading Psalm 94 for today, there were certain words that jumped off the page for me as this Psalm focuses on rightful judgment and discipline.

In my NIV version, the words “proud,” “arrogantly,” “boasting,” and “vanity” all come together for a common theme.  Selfishness! It’s about me. In my children’s case, it’s about them without consideration for others.  We often have many opportunities to teach.

Psalm 94:13-14 Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
the one you teach from your law;
13 you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.

Just like a loving parent that has to discipline their children, God sometimes disciplines us.  My example would include yelling at our kids not to run out in the road for the 10th time and have them sit out to learn their lesson. Sometimes God disciplines us to help us grow.  How has he done this with you in your years? Whatever form it may take for you or your children, this discipline is never enjoyable, but it is necessary to teach us right from wrong.

Maybe you have felt God’s hand of correction lately. My selfish reaction to a recent situation that didn’t go the way I planned was a perfect example of my shortcomings.  Accept God’s correction as proof that He loves you. Let it remind you that God urges us to follow His path instead of our own each day. So one day, we will be in His Kingdom together.

As you enter into this day, let’s watch our pridefulness, the boasting, the vanity that we can all fall trap to when we lose sight of our God that is standing right by our side.

Hebrews 12:6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.

Hebrew 12:11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

The Discipline of the Lord – Charles Spurgeon

Nations Prayer

Today’s Reading: Psalm 82

As we have read through the Psalms recently, we have been able to read from Asaph. (Asaph was a leader of one of the Temple choirs. 1 Chronicles 25:1) Whether Asaph was the author or just transcribing for David, these collections of Psalms (49,50, 73-83) celebrate the sovereignty of God, God’s hand in history, God’s faithfulness, and God’s covenant. These psalms remind us that the worship of our God the almighty should be continual.

At first, I had to look up Asaph and the Asaphites. These people were temple singers.  Asaph had the opportunity to see the best and the worst in the officials while serving and participating in public and private settings.  Psalm 82 reminds us that God is the true judge of all judges. The integrity of our justice system in a nation provides a clear indication of our society’s health.

On the dawn of an election day like today, I realize that whatever your vote may be, our ultimate judge will be our Lord. I pray for all those elected and in authority. 1 Timothy 2:2 says for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 

We can only pray for those in authority worldwide so that their societies will be those who spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Remember Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject under higher powers. 

I pray that all those elected already know or come to know our Lord more and more each day.  That in their roles, they are put in positions to do good. Please pray with me for these officials in authority that make decisions that can impact us, our children, and grandchildren.

Psalm 80:1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods, he holds judgment:

O Lord, Do not Delay

Today’s Reading: Psalm 70

Humor me for a second with these questions. Have you ever felt under pressure? Can you think of a day where you were pressed for time to where you allowed yourself to be stressed?   These moments have happened more than I would like to admit.  Hopefully, today you will have some peace as you focus on His Word and the truth of His will for your life today.

I have a gift that allows me to save things until the last minute and not get stressed. It is a gift I’m working on avoiding, unlike today as I seek His wisdom. David’s prayer in Psalm 70 reminds me of His answers even in our haste.

These last couple of weeks have been eventful. As a principal, our schools’ COVID impact has meant constantly changing, requiring the on-going need to pivot and try to communicate the best we can. Our children have been involved in some travel sports that require scheduled practices and games at various times and places.  On the home front, we try our best to make time to connect with family, friends, and neighbors.

As this last week approached, we juggled preparing for a family getaway! Exciting!  Still, the rush that followed up until today captured many moments where I could sense the anxiety of the time crunch creep in.

Psalm 70:1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me! o Lord, make haste to help me! 5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are help and my deliverer, O Lord, do not delay!

We seem to all live in the confines of time. God lives outside time. God is never rushed. He created time! David uses these 5 verses to show the urgency of prayer and the answer we will receive. These verses remind me to go to God with all I got.  That instead of trying to do it all myself and attempt to be everything to everyone all the time, I can submit to Him.  Cry out to God and say I need you! That when I am weak, He is strong. In the midst of these moments where the pressure of time is applying the squeeze. Pray, trust, have faith that our God knows what will happen.  He knows what we will face today, what we will face tomorrow.  He will be our help; He will be our deliverer.  

So whatever day your day brings.  No matter what is next on your agenda. Take a moment to give God all you got.  Ask him to release the stress that starts to creep in as we move throughout the day.  The answer to all we need today is in Him.

Have a blessed – less stressed day!