Promise of Peace

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the Lord who made the  earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Along my spiritual walk, there have been many moments where I felt uncertain, scared, lost, and worried about my future.  I wasn’t in a literal jail but felt imprisoned in my mind, heart, and actions. Our earthly life is full of trials, temptations, and worldly desires that blur answers to questions that can make you lose sleep and concentration and leave you wondering what the future holds.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who seemed lost in many ways with questions about everything.  The only answer I could provide was Him.  Based on past experiences, it wasn’t the answer they wanted to hear.  But, it was the truth.  The only person that can provide anyone peace is our Lord.  The one who formed this earth and us.  Our Lord.  It wasn’t until knowing, understanding, and most importantly, believing in our Lord’s promise of restoration and eternal life with Him that will you have the answers to all the questions.

Our Lord says, Call to me and I will answer and tell of great and hidden things.  

We need to pray. Pray with the knowledge of His specific promises of answered prayers. God wants to be involved in our lives always.  He wants to answer every question we have.  Just ask.

Psalm 91:15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.

Isaiah 55:6-7 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Prayer Reset

Today’s Reading Daniel 9: 20-27

This passage in Daniel, is an echo from Jeremiah, where we are communicating with God and listening intently to what he has to say. Prayer is not a one time thing but it is a continual communication between God and us. It can be structured, it can be improvised, or it can be short, or long. The main thing we have to remember is that it is a connection with you and God. On Saturday, Stephanie did a great job of prefacing today’s continuation of the prayer of Daniel.

It is so interesting that in my last blog, I spoke about Jeremiah and his prayers while he was in prison and how Jeremiah followed God‘s word through God‘s voice. In this passage from this week Daniel actually references Jeremiah‘s prayer. Daniel also reflects on the 70 years for Jeremiah foretold. Then Daniel tells of the “Seventy sevens”. We look at the seventy sevens is actually a reference to the years not weeks before Christ comes in to the world 490 years.

But the main thing from what we see with Daniel is when he prayed, he prayed in such a way that God answered him with the angel Gabriel. This is Major. God does not send angels to speak to us in this fashion often.

The context of this prayer is: Daniel is after exile, after the fiery furnace,  after his early visions, and this is after the lion’s den. Daniel is about 85 years old when he is praying on behalf of the people of Israel and asking for their salvation.

What we can get from this and how we can use this passage of prayer and petition is how to pray.

We can get into a place where we are completely quiet where we have no distractions. A lot of times in the Bible that you referenced going to a closet or a shut-off room. For most of my life I was really skeptical about being in a closet, being secluded, being scared. But for the past couple weeks I’ve actually found rooms to be in silence and in the dark and quiet for about five minutes and the response that I have received in my daily life has been tremendous.

The next thing that we can take away from Daniel’s prayer is how to communicate with God through the acts of prayer. A. C. T. S.

  • A is for adoration of God. Opening with an attitude of praise of God being God. Reflecting on how He contains the universe and still thinks of us.
  • C is for confessing to God. Acknowledging that we have committed something against God’s hope for us. Have we doubted his love and will for our lives? This is one that I’m continually asking for forgiveness. I am flesh and spirit, these two sides constantly battle for my thoughts.
  • T is thanking God for whatever he has done for us.
  • S is for supplication or the request to God.

This model of prayer can take a minute or as long as an hour but it really takes us out of the prayer and puts God in the prayer.

So with this new update on our prayer life, we actually have something that Daniel and Jeremiah had… a relationship with the Spirit of God. This relationship gives us access to the intimate space with God the Father and allows for intentional communication.

Be blessed

 

Rest and Recharge

Today’s reading is Luke 4:31-44.

I have to admit reading the Bible for many years I wondered why Jesus was always instructing people not to tell others about the miracles He performed. This was perplexing to me. In these verses He even rebukes the demons telling them not to tell anyone (Luke 4:41). Wouldn’t he want everyone to know the good news of who He was? Doesn’t He instruct us to tell others at his ascension (Matthew 28:19:20? Sometime in the last few years, I’m not exactly sure how..possibly from watching the Chosen series… it became apparent to me that He needed to taper down too much awareness of what He was doing and what was going on for a period of time. If he didn’t the crowds would become so big and the demands of the people so much he would not have been able to carry out His mission and all He was called and needed to do.

Luke 4:43 reads..

“but He said to them, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.’”

The verse before this in Luke 4:42 states people sought him and would have kept him from leaving. Another way to say it, He was being mobbed.

What else did Jesus do to ensure His mission could be carried out? Luke 4:42 also reads, “And when it was the day, he departed and went into a desolate place.”

Many times throughout the Gospel Jesus took time to be alone, rest, and pray to God..including the night before His Crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. He would often take off early in the morning before anyone was up and the disciples wouldn’t know where He was. It’s not like they could just turn location services or Find My Friends on!

Jesus knew that for Him to be His very best and carry out His mission to help everyone who He loved He needed to rest and recharge. He was also following the example of His Heavenly Father who rested on the 7th day when creating the world as well (Genesis 2:2).

How often do we sit in solitude when it’s quiet and no one else is around to think, read the Word, and pray? How often do we take a free day without even our spouse and kids? How often do we take a day to strategically think and plan in our personal life and careers? Most of us don’t need to minimize the crowds to carry out God’s mission for us in our lives. However, there is no question whether we realize it or not, we need to rest, spend time with God alone, pray, think, and plan to be our very best and all God’s called us to be. We all seem to wear our busyness and full calendars like a badge of honor, but if He needed to rest to carry out God the Father’s mission for his life… then I think it is safe to say we do as well.

What do you need to do to create some buffer and recharge time? How much better would you feel throughout your day if you were up even 15 minutes earlier and had time to drink your coffee, read your Bible, and pray alone before anyone was up? Commit to trying it for one week to see the impact. Also, take some time now to block off a day to yourself in the next 30 days. If a day is too much, start with an afternoon. I just heard the quote recently that “an inch of action is better than a mile of intention.” Let us follow the example of Jesus so we can be all God’s called us to be and carry out His mission for our lives. He needed it to carry out His, and we need it too.

Adoration and Thanksgiving

Today’s reading is Psalm 30.

Sometime in the last few years I was reminded of the acronym A.C.T.S. when it comes to prayer.

A –  Adoration

C –   Confession

T –   Thanksgiving

S –   Supplication

While I’ll admit my prayers should probably be more conversational with God, I do think this has really helped my prayer life by reminding me the things I should be talking with God about. All of us probably have a tendency to focus on 1 or 2 of these areas in prayer more than the others, and if I had to guess I would say it would probably be confession and supplication. Those are both really good things to talk with God about. We must recognize and confess that we are a sinner asking for forgiveness, and God tells us to ask for what we want in the Bible (Matthew 7:7-11). I think often times we are good about asking God about what we want for others but feel guilty asking God for what we want ourselves. However, God wants us to do so when we ask with the right intention. He wants our whole heart, and He knows He has it when we ask Him for what we want so there should be no guilt in that. With thanksgiving coming after confession in this format, it also reminds me to thank Him daily for His grace on the cross as I thank Him for other blessings.

Adoration is not a part of my prayers and conversation with God that comes as natural to me. However, this helps remind me daily that He is Alpha, Omega, Almighty, and Creator. What do all these names indicate? They indicate that He is in control….in a world that seems out of control. This has been extremely helpful..especially in the last year. I can imagine that during times like the Civil War, The Great Depression, World War I and World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Vietnam War with protests people probably thought things couldn’t get any crazier and worse right?  Many likely even thought this was the end of our world and Jesus was coming….or maybe the end of the US as we know it at least. One could argue it’s worse now than then and that our country’s division and direction is also worse than it’s ever been. Is it? Maybe. But one thing is for certain, due to the internet and social media and a phone with both in our hands most all of time, we are constantly bombarded with negative information making it seem like the world can’t get any worse. Expectancy Theory says that which we focus on expands. It consumes our thoughts. As a result, the negative news we are exposed to 24/7 will cause us to focus and think even more about those negative things and even other bad things. Never has it been more important remind ourselves consistently that God is in control…He’s Alpha, Omega, Almighty, Creator, and whatever other of the many names God has that remind us of this. I believe that starting our prayers with this changes our conversation with God and our recognition of His provision and role in our lives and in the other parts of our prayer life.

As I read Psalm 30, what really jumped out to me was David’s adoration and thanksgiving to God. Remember Expectancy Theory…if we focus on adoration and thanksgiving to God in our prayer life…our positive thoughts that He is in control and gratitude for all He does will consume our mind and this peace will permeate through our lives changing the way we live drawing others to Jesus as well.

You have turned for me my 

mourning into dancing;

you have loosed my sackcloth

and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your

praise and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give

thanks to you forever!

Psalm 30:11-12

Pivotal Prayer

In the last few months, we have heard the word pivot in many arenas. This past week I was able to have a Zoom meeting with a small group of professionals around our prayer life.  Yes, this is definitely something that I know I always need to focus on.  The speaker was Tim Elmore who wrote the book Pivotal Praying: Connecting with God in Times of Great Need.  I look forward to reading this book.  As I reflect on this Zoom meeting and my current prayer life I was captured by our conversation about the types of prayers people often pray.

The three types described were:

  • Logistic prayers-  The everyday prayers around what is going on in the moment.  Routine prayers like the ones I can often have at mealtime, bedtime, or mundane prayers I have currently for the technology to work properly for myself, teachers, and students daily.
  • Tactical prayers – Prayers I have that ask for His presence in the moments of fear, worry, or need.  Receiving strength to get through a difficult time.
  • Strategic prayers- Prayers that come in the midst of even a pandemic where I’m focusing on building His Kingdom. Praying for all of these worldly events to draw me and others closer to God.

Tim mentioned to me that sometimes close to 80% of our prayer life can be on the logistics of day to day routines.  At that moment I felt maybe he was hearing some of my prayers somehow? This conversation helped me to reflect.  Where would you describe your prayer life?  As we walked through a few hidden passages tucked away in 2 Kings 3.  As the focus of the people was on their momentary need of water God reminds them that His focus is much bigger.

17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also deliver Moab into your hands.

In what ways can I transform more of my prayers from the logistics level to a strategic level?  As challenges come do I question God or His plan for me? To be honest, I can be guilty.  I pray to remember the Kings of Elisha and their lack of trust in the Lord. Knowing that God is in the business of meeting my goals and dreams far beyond any of my expectations.  In moments of uncertainty, I need to step back and pray for trust in His ultimate plan and not my immediate needs.   I need to pray for the war, not just the water.  Paul reminds us of the magnitude of God’s love and plans for us in Ephesians.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Dear Heavenly Father,

In the midst of a pandemic, I can pray through many logistics.  I know you hear every single one.  But Lord, help me to be more strategic, to know and trust your plan for this day, and that it is not just about simply bread and water to live but plans to build an eternal Kingdom for us all.  So as we have all had to pivot, help me to pivot closer to you Lord in my prayers being faithful in whatever Your will has planned for me as I tell of Your Greatness to others.

Amen

Lord

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

Today’s word to describe Jesus is Lord which is defined as ruler or master. Would you say Jesus is your ruler or master? If you asked me this question, I would be quick to answer yes. However, when I really sit back and reflect, unfortunately, He is the Lord of my life some of the time and in some things, but I have to admit He is not all of the time and in all things. He’s the Lord of my Sunday mornings when there is church, and He is the Lord of my Thursday nights when we have our scheduled weekly small group. But, everything in between…again..some of the time when I think to consult Him and to make Him a part of some aspects of my life.

It is often easier to go to Him as your Lord when you have nowhere else to turn or you know you have no control anyway. Last year, we were faced with some major decisions in how to treat spinal stenosis in my neck which had already caused me to lose strength and functionality in my right hand and threatened my ability to walk long-term without surgery. I learned one big thing, when it comes to certain things like your health, we are often times forced to make Him Lord and give Him control because there is literally nothing we can personally do to fix it. Looking back, this probably should have been much more stressful with questions like do I have surgery or try another route first, which type of surgery when there are multiple options, which doctor do I trust, will my symptoms get worse and will I lose my ability to use my hand or even walk, and will I need more surgeries in the future? However, we leaned on Him and prayed not only for healing, but for wisdom, guidance, and clarity to make the best decisions. He gave us peace through it all, and not only did He provide an unexpected surgery option different than what Mayo and other doctors were performing for my conditions, but He made it clear this was the route to go. At the same time, we were faced with a major decision on whether to change my role within my career at Northwestern Mutual. Again, we made Him Lord and prayed through these decisions and the direction was clear without much stress or anxiety. Out of necessity, I learned how He can make major things not seem as big and stressful when we make Him Lord.

Then, why do I get stressed about a little thing at 2:00 on a Tuesday or wondering if my to-do list will get done or when our kids are acting up? Simple…I am not making him Lord of the small, everyday things..only the big things. My opportunity for growth in my relationship with Him is to make Him Lord of these little things. Not making Him Lord of these things robs me from gratitude for all He’s given me and the joy of everyday life with my family, friends, and in my career.

Why do we do this? Some may wonder if He even cares about the little things. Why would the God who created the sun, moon, stars, and the universe really care about my little problems? Simple..He created us. For us who are parents, think how much we care about our kids’ problems. We would do anything to help..to a fault sometimes. Think about our kids when they create a Lego or block tower. They are so proud of their creation. And in turn, they are very protective of it and get really upset when their younger sibling wrecks it. Why? Because they created it. The creator cares immensely about their creation. Each one of us are His special creation as Psalm 139:13-14 tells us.

Why else don’t we make Him Lord of the little things in our life? We don’t think we need it, and we think we can handle it on our own. But…it’s obvious we can’t or we would not get so stressed and upset about the small stuff. Many suffer from anxiety about things that are relatively minor in the big picture of life on this Earth and especially in the big picture of eternity.

How can we improve at making Him Lord of our life, and especially the little things where many of us need the most improvement? There are many ways such as reading His Word daily, attending church regularly, and joining a small group. However, I believe what all of these things really do is help us develop an awareness of His presence in our life which leads to a relationship with Him through the conduit of prayer. As a decoration in my parents’ house reads, “Prayer is the ultimate wireless connection.” This is how in the big moments and the small ones in life we offload our problems to Him and ask for His help. We realize we may not have this, but He’s got this and He’s got us. As a recent article in The Wall Street Journal my brother sent our family on the power of prayer stated, connecting with Him in prayer is like heading up a huge mountain with a heavy backpack and then handing it off to Him. Believe it or not, He wants us to. He asks us to. We are his creation, and He as our creator wants our hearts and for us to acknowledge that He is Lord and give everything to Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Please pray with me…

God…please help me make you the Lord and ruler of my life. Help me to know that you, as my Creator, truly care about and are in control of not only the big things, but also the little things that will come up in my day today and every day. I thank you for this and for showing me your ultimate love by sacrificing your only Son on the cross for me. I love you. Amen.

Kind, Kind Father

Luke 6:27-36

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

He is Kind to the ungrateful.

Am I kind to the ungrateful? Or do I mostly love those that love me back? Do I extend mercy to others, the same mercy that God extends to me? When I think of the mercy he has shown me, wow. He is a kind, kind Father. 

This week’s passage challenged me, and I spent time taking inventory of my relationships (especially the tough ones), and what they would look like if my kindness matched our Father’s.

The world says “fake it till you make it”…I have a friend that says Faith It Till You Feel It. What a great approach to showing kindness to those that can’t repay it, blessing those that say bad things about us, or praying for those that mistreat us. We can take that step in faith to show love and kindness, and ask God to change our hearts, the situation, all of it. C.S. Lewis says it this way in his book, Mere Christianity: Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

A lot of relationships are complex and need help, healing, and boundaries. A small act of kindness can be a place to start. It won’t fix everything, but it just might align our hearts to be more like the Lord’s.

Hannah

Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 1:1-2:21 with a focus on Hannah and what we can learn from her.

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. Hannah could not have children, and this deeply saddened her. However, in her distress, she prayed for God to give her a son and vowed to give him to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:10-11). The Lord answered her prayer by giving her Samuel who she presented back to Lord, leaving him in the temple to learn under Israel’s ruler and priest Eli. Later, God also gave her three more sons and two daughters. Even though Samuel was not in the bloodline of Eli, he became Eli’s unlikely successor and leader of Israel because Eli’s sons were “worthless men” (1 Samuel 2:12). She gave her problems and pain to God, and He did even more than she could ask or imagine.

The first part of 1 Samuel makes it very clear that Hannah was a sad woman for years because of her inability to have a child. This brought the question to my mind…is it a sin to be distressed or sad because of something you want but are not receiving? I believe that initially it is not a sin to be sad or distressed because of something you want because the Bible is clear that Jesus was without sin and yet in Luke 22:43-45, Jesus, knowing of the pain he would suffer on the cross, was in “agony.” In fact, He was so distressed that he perspired drops of blood as he asked God to “remove this cup” from him in Luke 22:42. God gave us the ability to feel sadness so I don’t think it in and of itself is a sin. The question is…where do your thoughts go from there, and to whom do you go? What do you do when you feel sadness or stress or anxious? Maybe God allows us to feel sadness at times so we go to Him.

Jesus went to His Heavenly Father in prayer, and “prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44). At the same time, He also said, “not my will, but yours, be done (Luke 22:42).” Hannah, not having yet the example we now have from Jesus, did the same…she went to the Lord in prayer.

“She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.” 1 Samuel 1:10

She tells Eli….

“I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:15

It is then that Eli tells her the Lord will grant her a child.

Although it says Hannah had “great anxiety and vexation” in 1 Samuel 1:16, I think we gain more insight in how she may have prayed that prayer asking for a child when we see how she prayed another prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 where she gave great praise and adoration to God. It is clear that she knows there is no one like Him. He is in control, and He is the one who she worships. Christian musical artist Toby Mac recently posted on his Facebook account, “Worry is worshipping the problem.” That is powerful. It is clear that Hannah still worshipped God and knew He was in control during her sadness. Feeling sad and having anxiety in and of themselves must not be sins since Jesus had these feelings, but worrying that consumes you constantly and thus worshipping those problems, and not going to God, is. Ask yourself, as I am definitely asking myself today, am I worshipping my problem in my worrying? Or, am I giving my problems to Him, worshipping Him in adoration of His greatness and sovereignity, like Hannah did in 1 Samuel 2:1-10?

We must also ask ourselves, is what I want for His glory or mine? Also, am I willing to give that blessing to Him when I receive it? And, do I FULLY believe that he can and will answer this prayer? Finally, can I find peace in whatever His will is and trust His will is what is truly best? I could do multiple other journal entries to each one of these questions, but I’ll sum it up briefly. I believe God answers Hannah’s prayer because as we can see through her prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-1-, she knew she served a mighty God, full of wisdom, who could do anything.  And despite her sadness, she says she will give her son that God gives her back to God for His glory in 1 Samuel 1:11! Can you imagine wanting something that bad for that long and then just giving it right back to God when you receive it? Then, she follows through. And God blessed her and Samuel for that by making Samuel an unlikely leader of Israel and by giving her five more children.

Let us follow the example Hannah set here and the words of Paul…

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:4-

Fatherly Advice

Today’s Reading: Proverbs 4

I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to see my children daily and see them grow.  This privilege is one that I do not take likely or for granted, because I know many fathers that desire and long to have their children with them daily. This past weekend, I had the joy of serving with my children at a local fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday.  All three of the kids (Oliver, Ruby, and Nadya) help me setup for the annual event on Saturday afternoon and then Ollie asked if he could serve with me on Sunday.  I was pleased and excited that he would want to serve with me.  I did caution him that it would be an early morning, but he assured me that this was his desire.   Oliver had the most pleasant and excited demeanor the entire morning and was willing to learn and help as needed.  His joy and excitement is the best ROI (return on investment) that I could ever ask. He loves serving and bringing joy to others.  

As I reflect on my childhood and experiences with my father and the relationship that I have with my kids, I can better relate to some of the stories in the Bible, especially father and children stories. My relationship with my father is complex and rich.  For the majority of my life, I have had a relationship with my father, but I missed the early daily adventures with him due to the divorce of my parents.  As a young child and through today he is one of my closest confidants and mentors.  I speak with him weekly and we have a great relationship.  My relationship with my children is one that visceral and emotional.  We have many adventures and joyous times.  We also have times of instruction and learning.  Every moment that I have with them I cherish beyond measures.  My children give me peace and humility to become a better person.  

In Proverbs Chapter 4, Solomon is giving instruction to his children as his father gave him instructions.  

Proverbs 4: 3-7

When I was a son with my father,
    tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
    keep my commandments, and live.
Get wisdom; get insight;
    do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever you get, get insight.

Solomon is imparting to his children the importance of passing on the virtue of wisdom and understanding.  This is the father’s purpose: to instruct and guide.   It is the father’s purpose to prepare the children in a manner that will be beneficial and prosperous to the next generations. This charge is given to all parents to be stewards of our children and give them instruction and direction for their life. 

Throughout the bible many times the author challenges the audience to decide: whether you are the audience for approval or the audience for correction.  In Proverbs, we ask ourselves if we are the ones that the instruction is intended to prevent or correct our actions.  We must examine ourselves daily to see if we are seeking wisdom or have we turned away. 

Proverbs 4: 1-2; 10-11; 20-21

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
    and be attentive, that you may gain[a] insight,
for I give you good precepts;
    do not forsake my teaching.

Hear, my son, and accept my words,
    that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
    I have led you in the paths of uprightness.

My son, be attentive to my words;
    incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
    keep them within your heart.

The wisdom that we have gained, we must give to the next generations.  We must daily review our purpose and use of wisdom and adjust according.   May we pray daily for our children as David did for Solomon, which Solomon did for his children as evident in the passage. 

1Chronicles 29: 18-19 

18 O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. 19 Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”

Be blessed. L 

Recognize, Realize and Get Ready

Waiting For The Word/creativecommons.org

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 5

Good morning Bible Journal readers! Today we are studying Luke 5 in our journey through the words of Jesus. I’m loving this scripture today because I feel like we can all find ourselves in these three miracle moments. The first miracle is one that’s familiar. Jesus takes Simon’s boat out into the water while preaching and then casually tells Simon to throw the nets out. Simon sort of rolls his eyes and says “I suppose, because you said so but it probably won’t work because we’ve been throwin’ nets all night and ain’t no fish comin’ up!” Simon shows his obedience to Jesus but it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the outcome will change. Can you see yourself in this moment? Do you sort of use faith as a last resort rather than a first strategy? I feel like I fall into this habit almost daily. We know how this story ends, the nets come up with so many fish that boats nearly sink under the weight of them. Simon is awestruck at this miracle and immediately feels shame:

“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5: 8

Have you ever been blessed by God and felt unworthy? Do you hide from Him because you recognize your sin and don’t want to face judgement? I feel such a connection to Simon Peter in this moment. I remember a time in our life when our son was very sick and his hospital bills were so far beyond our meager capacity. We tried to work extra hours, we tried to negotiate with the hospital to lower the bill, we argued, we cried, but what we didn’t do was pray. Of course, we prayed for our son to get better but we never prayed to God to help us with the financial part of the problem. We were encouraged by some friends and mentors to pray for that specific need and our nets were filled! In fact, they were overflowing. We never even considered that Jesus could or would address that need in our life. If you’ve been a Bible Journal reader or writer for a long time, you know that we experienced that miracle through you.Our Bible Journal family made that happen through the love of Jesus Christ.

God has three requirements for coming to Him:

  • Recognize our own sinfulness
  • Realize we can’t save ourselves
  • Be Ready to leave everything behind and follow Him

In verse 31 Jesus tells the sinners at Matthew’s house:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31

Jesus is talking about recognizing our own sin. Until we examine our hearts and place ourselves in a posture of humility we can’t begin to accept His mercy. Next, we need to realize that we truly can’t save ourselves. Often, despite our best intentions we make errors in judgement or our pride gets in the way of asking for help. Finally, we need to be ready to leave everything else behind including the false God’s we rely upon for protection and follow Him. Levi the tax collector first encounters Jesus while sitting in his tax collecting booth. Jesus implores him to “follow me” and Levi is moved in that moment. He leaves the promise of money, status and power to follow Jesus by faith. I’m not sure that I’d have the strength to do that. If Jesus came to my work place tomorrow and said “follow me” I hope I’d be ready. Today’s scripture has so many examples of Jesus ministering to people in their day to day struggles. I hope that encourages you to pray this week for the little things. Pray for Him to intercede and truly move in your life.