Scripture:

“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:15)

Thought for the day:

“What matters is the quality of your walk, not the quantity of your talk.” - unknown

Prayer for the day:

Merciful God, may the work that I do be a reflection of You. Amen.

Craving the Word

Scripture:

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3)

Thought for the day:

Growing in faith includes yet surpasses church attendance, good deeds, and even faithful service. Growing in faith craves the knowledge and understanding of God’s word. Without a desire to know and understand what God has delivered already to us through Scripture is to stifle one’s understanding of salvation.


Prayer for the day:

Heavenly Father, grant me the desire for Your Word. Help me to know it, understand it, and embrace it, so that I may fully exemplify Your will for my life. Amen.

Father, I Adore You

Scripture:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God.” (Psalm 42:1)

Thought for the day:
This morning I am reminded of an old camp song that speaks to why we worship.

Father, I adore You, I lay my life before You, how I Love You.
Jesus, I adore You, I lay my life before You, how I love You.
Spirit, I adore You, I lay my life before You, how I love You.
Three-in-One, I adore You, I lay my life before You, how I love You.

Worship is about adoration and praise of that which is most important to us. When that something is God, love abounds in ways we cannot begin to imagine.

Prayer for the day:

Dear Heavenly Father, I do adore you. Please use my life to bring You glory. I love You. Amen.

Attend to the Lord Always

Scripture:

Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:2-3)

Thought for the day:

“How can you expect to dwell with God forever, if you so neglect and forsake him here?”
Jonathan Edwards, Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards

Prayer for the day:

Most gracious and glorious God, I do the very things I hate, I do not love as I ought to love. I do not live as I ought to live. Forgive me, I pray. Help me to always remain attentive to You and Your will. Amen.

What Must I Do?

Scripture:

“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” (James 2:26)

Thought for the day:
“I asked long ago,'What must I do to be saved?' The Scripture answered, 'Keep the commandments, believe, hope, love.' I was early warned against laying, as the Papists do, too much stress on outward works, or on a faith without works, which as it does not include, so it will never lead to true hope or charity.” - John Wesley

Finding the balance between faith and works is essential to the Christian walk. Faith spurs action. Action confirms faith. Combined salvation is assured.

Prayer for the day:

Gracious God, grant me the faith necessary to labor in love of my neighbors. Amen.

Praise Him

Scripture:

“…I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:6)

Thought for the day:

“Praise and worship shouldn't be a few hour church service entertainment. It should be our heartbeat and should never depart our lips. 'Let us come before him with thanks giving and extol him with music and song' (Psalms 95:2).”
Euginia Herlihy

Prayer for the day:

Lord of life and joy, open my heart to sing Your praises with the whole of my being. Amen.

Perseverance

Scripture:

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)

Thought for the day:

“We will never find enough of God at any single place of prayer to satisfy us for long. Why?
Because He Moves!
We too must journey, ever following the ark, ever holding on to God as we journey toward Him.
We travel toward Him to two reasons.
First, we will find all of Him someday at that glorious place where life’s journey ends.
But second, as we travel toward Him, the journey itself brings Him near.
Jesus is the Emmaus Christ who both walks us along the journey and reveals Himself to us at the journey’s end.” - Calvin Miller

Prayer for the day:

Precious Lord, walk with me along the journey of life and faith. Amen.

Tell Them

Scripture:

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:15-16)

Thought for the day:

"How do you know if someone ran a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you." - Jimmy Fallon

Funny, right! I think so! But as a runner, I also recognize the truth of the statement. I am, probably, too eager to share running stories. What makes running more interesting to talk about (and brag about) than a relationship with the Lord of Heaven and Earth? Are you willing to talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ? Why or why not?

Prayer for the day:

Forgiving Father, I am not as willing to talk about You as I am to talk about my other interests in life. Instill within me a desire to share Your love in word and deed. Amen.

The Wesleyan Covenant Prayer

Scripture:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

Thought for the day:

“The Wesleyan Covenant Prayer”

Lord, I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by You or laid aside for You,
Exalted for You or brought low for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am Yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Let Your Light Shine

Scripture:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Thought for the day:

“Let your light shine upon others so they may know our God of love’s in the land.

Let your light shine upon others so they may the Kingdom of God is at hand.”

This song reminds us that we have a role to play in building the Kingdom of God. How are you doing?

Prayer for the day:

Gracious God, You are the light that illuminates all things, as I grow in love with You, may my light shine before others, that they may see good in me and give You the glory! Amen.

Priorities

Scripture:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7)

Thought for the day:

Imagine a most fulfilling life? What gets included and what gets left out? Should one focus on career? Family? Personal interests? Faith? What actually goes into creating a life of fulfillment? Undoubtedly, the answer will vary from person to person.

It really all comes down to priorities. What are our priorities? Our bank account spending will reveal our financial priorities. How one spends money emphasizes the values of the person doing to the spending. If housing requires the most spending, one’s housing situation is the highest priority for that person. If one’s pastime requires a large percentage of one’s spending, it has become a high priority.

When looking for a fulfilling life, priorities are the key. What are your priorities? Honestly contemplate the “must haves,” the “should haves,” and the “might haves” for fulfillment in life. The “must haves” will require the most attention to achieve, the “might haves,” the least. But what are they?

Imagine that a bucket represents your life; a pile of rocks represent the “must haves;” a pile of pebbles represent the “should haves;” and a pile of sand represents the “might haves.” In order to live life to the fullest, how you prioritize is critical. If you fill your bucket first with sand, you’ll get a lot in there but you probably won't have enough room to fit the rocks as the space is already taken. However, if you focus the “must haves” first, the things of major importance in life will be accounted for and miraculously there will still be enough room to “should haves” and then also, the “might haves.” If there simply isn’t enough time and space to fit it all… at least you have that which is most important accounted for. What will make a most fulfilling life? Are your priorities in order? Think about it.

Prayer for the day:

Gracious God, help me choose my priorities in accordance with Your will so that my life can be all that You intended. Amen.

Where Am I?

Scripture:

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:39-42)

Thought for the day:

If one is going to get serious about drawing closer to God. The journey starts with honestly “chewing” on the question: “Where am I in my journey with Jesus?” Set aside everything else in life, family, friendships, career, and even prestige. Stripped of everything the world holds dear, ask yourself, “Where am I in my journey with Jesus?” Ponder this honestly and openly. And let your journey to faithfulness begin anew.

Prayer for the day:

Heavenly Father, silence my heart and my head long enough to honestly consider who I am in your presence. Where I am wanting, fill me with your presence and set me anew on a journey to You. Amen.

Questions...

Scripture:

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness speaks deceitfully. (Proverbs 12:17)

Thought for the day:

Have I today done anything to fulfill the purpose for which Thou didst cause me to be born?

Have I accepted the opportunities of service as Thou in Thy wisdom hast set before my feet?

Have I kept my imagination pure and healthy?

Have I been transparently sincere in all I have professed to be, to feel, to do?

Have I made more excuses for myself than I have been willing to make for others?

Give me grace to answer honestly, O God.

  • Excerpts from A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie

Prayer for the day:

God of grace, give me the will to be honest with myself, with You, and with others. Grant me the desire to fulfill the purpose for which You created me.

To Be Judged

Scripture:

“‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (Matthew 25:34-36)

Thought for the day:

“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.” From Words to Love by Mother Teresa

Prayer for the day:

Dear God, who can stand before you for judgment? Certainly, not I! Empower me live with the grace and compassion of Your Son Jesus Christ, so that I may be the reflection of Your blessing in this world and will know the inheritance, the kingdom prepared for the faithful in the world to come. Amen.

For the Beauty of the Earth

Scripture:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:1-4)

Thought for the day:

Traveling through the mid-west offered vast vistas of God’s creative beauty. Fields filled with crops, ready for harvest, as far as the eye can see. Perfect river valley panoramas framed by beautiful blue skies and deep green foliage with just a hint of fall colors beginning to show.

When one considers the beauty of the earth and acknowledges the divine hand in creation, the words of the Psalmist echo throughout our heart and soul: “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Where has God creative beauty revealed itself in your life today? When you consider it, can you acknowledge God’s divine hand? Will you echo the Psalmist’s cry?

Prayer for the day:

Lord, my Lord, help me to acknowledge your majesty today. Amen.

Failed? Not In the Least!

Scripture:

Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you —unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. (2 Corinthians 13:5b-6)

Thought for the day:

Yesterday, I put my body to the test in Twin Cities Marathon and I fell short. I didn’t come close to the goals I set for myself. Disappointed? Yes. A failure? Not in the least! I went out and I ran. I enjoyed a beautiful course, a gorgeous day, and huge encouragement from a crowd that didn’t know me from Adam. I loved it!

So it goes with our faith! We are called to go out and “run the race set before us,” and there are days when we will fall short in the expectations we have for ourselves and the expectations God has of us. Those days are disappointing (or should be), however, failing to be that person God intends us to be at a given time doesn’t mean there isn’t value to who we are and what we experience. There is so much to be thankful for: a beautiful day, an encouraging word, and listening ear…

I am already scoping out the marathons for 2020, it’s who I am. Perhaps the next one will allow me to celebrate my expectations.

Same with our faith journey. We are people of faith. Perhaps the next opportunity to show it will allow us to celebrate our showing God’s incredible love to those around us.

Prayer for the day:

Dear Heavenly Father, when we fail to meet Your expectations for faithfulness, pick us up, dust us off, and allow us to be immersed in Your Holy Spirit so that we might try again. Amen.

Run well

Scripture:

“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Thought for the day:

By the time this devotion posts, I will be readying myself to run my twenty second marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Running a marathon is an experience that allows me to test the limits of my physical endurance, something that I have never get tired of doing. I am, again, looking forward to the challenge but wonder if I will find it worth the attempt.

Many hours went into preparing for this one day and I must admit, the closer it gets, the more anxiety I find building within myself despite the fact that I know I have given all I have to give in preparation for the event. I have not trained flawlessly, I have chided myself throughout parts of the training regimen for not doing better, and my weaknesses will be laid bare on the course. I know where I will have trouble in the race and what conditions I will need to perform adequately, some of which are beyond my control to influence.

Furthermore, I know that regardless of what happens, this race is my race. No one can run it for me. No one can suffer the course for me, and no one can share the pain. It is up to me and me alone. That said, I am not alone, I know that many from the congregation are planning to surround me with a blanket of prayer to aid me in my adventure. Susan and some friends will be there to cheer me on as I pursue the 26.2 mile challenge, and another friend will be there running the course as well. We will encourage each other and in the end, I will finish the race. Of that, I have no doubt. 

So it is with the race of faith. The race of faith is laid out on this wonderful experience we call life. It allows us to search the limits of our spiritual endurance, something that many of us have never attempted before, others never tire of doing. As Christians, we spend our entire lives preparing for one day, the day we come face-to-face with our loving God. As that day gets closer, more and more anxiety builds up within us. We realize that none of us have trained flawlessly for the race of faith. Every day that we are honest with ourselves, we can look at our lives and chide ourselves for not doing better. We know where our weaknesses are, though admitting them is often difficult.

The question we must ask, however, is: Have I given all that I have to give in preparation for that day when I come face to face with God? The race of faith is an individual race; no one can run it for another. We will face conditions that are completely beyond our control, some of which will enhance our performance and some of which will harm our performance. Regardless, the race of faith is our and ours alone. Where will God fit into our lives? The joy is that, though the race is ours alone, we need not race alone. Christ has given us the church, a family of faith to surround us with blankets of prayer, to cheer in the midst of our victories and to cry with us in the midst of our defeats. With others living the gospel and encouraging those around them every step of the way, there is no doubt that we will all finish the race of faith and hear the wonderful words of life: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

Prayer for the day:

God of glory, in the race of life, we need not race alone. You are with us every step of the way. Thank You! Amen.

Fully Configured

Scripture:

“Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Thought for the day:

I remember the first bluetooth device I ever had for my cellphone. It was really cool, because with it, I had a hands free communication device that I could use to talk while driving, I no longer had to wrestle with the decision of whether to pull off the road when the cellphone rings. The problem was that I could never get it work to its full capacity. I should have been able to use full voice recognition so that with a word I would have been able to browse my contact list, automatically dial any number I named, and connect or disconnect with any caller in a single breath. Unfortunately, that never happened.

As I thought back upon that experience, i sensed “deja vu.” God placed this wonderful call upon my life and gave me faith enough to get excited about serving his Kingdom and communicating his word, but often when God calls, I find myself in a situation where I have to decide how best to listen. Do I pull off the highway of life to hear God or am I on the right road? The problem is... I have yet to configure my life properly with scripture, and so for as much as I may do for God, I remain at a level far below my God-given capacity. In essence, instead of configuring my life to get the most (and offer the most) that I possibly can out of the gifts God has given me to further his kingdom... too often I settle for less. 

My struggle is not unique! If we stop long enough to look and listen, we all realize that there are areas in our lives that are yet to be configured to God’s desire. The question becomes “Why?” Why do we allow ourselves to remain under-utilized in service to the divine Kingdom? Why do we allow our lives to go un-configured to the Word God has spoken? 

Paul says in Romans 7:22-25: “For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.”

It is by faith, not works, that we allow our lives to be configured to the Word of God. Our striving to serve the divine Kingdom, our role in the Kingdom itself is dependent upon our willingness to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God...” (Romans 12:1b)

If we have areas in our lives that are not yet transformed to that which “is good and acceptable and perfect,” if we are under-utilized in service to God, then let us renew our minds so that we may discern what is the will of God as we offer Christ praise.

Prayer for the day:

Merciful God, I have not yet fully configured my life to allow You full access into the recesses of my heart. Forgive me, renew me, transform me. In the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Unequal Giving, Equal Sacrifice

Scripture:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)

Thought for the day:

Ok, here is the hard question: “Do you tithe?” Now, the question many may ask is: “Why is it any of your business who does or does not tithe? That is a personal issue between God and the giver?”

Think of it this way: Adultery is unacceptable behavior within a Christian marriage, correct? If a significant number of our congregation was prone to adultery, that would be a moral issue I, as pastor, would be expected to address in a tangible way in order to help folks become the people God created them to be. 

If we are to become the people God intends us to addressing the connection God has established between faith and finances is a must. Tithing represents the most equitable way for all members of the Body of Christ to practice stewardship responsibility. Unlike the rest of the world, with such a chasm between rich and poor, scripture promotes

“Unequal giving, equal sacrifice.” 

Tithing is the one giving plan which effectively places God’s cause first among all of our priorities in life. This means tithing is more than a standard mathematical equation for deciding “how much” to give God. It is a spiritual system for putting God first. It is not just the acceptance of a defined percentage; it is much more the acceptance of a divine priority. 

So maybe the more appropriate question is: “Where are our priorities?” 

It might be something to think about...

Prayer for the day:

Gracious God, all I have is Yours. Instill within me the confidence in You to share an entire tithe for the building of Your Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Reach For the Son

Scripture:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Thought for the day:

I have a thriving plant arrangement in my office that I received as a gift when I came to Grace over 2 years ago. That is it thriving is surprising because I have a tendency to kill plants just by looking at them. I don’t know what kind of plants they are but I think one of them is an “elephant ear” or at least that is what I call it. 

Anyhow, this arrangement is a riot! For two years I had been constantly fighting with it because it was always turning away from me. The leaves were constantly stretching towards the sunshine away from me thus all I ever get to see is the cadre of stems and the underside of the leaves. Every day, I turn the plant around so that I can enjoy the shades of green in its cool looking leaves and every day, the plant leans itself back towards the sun. No matter what I do, it refuses to grow towards anything other than the sun! Sound familiar?

I constantly have things in my life that are fighting to turn me away from the Son and sadly, I don’t always prove to be as tenacious about finding the Son as my plant is.

Perhaps you can relate. Have you struggled with your finances? Our quest to have enough money to live comfortably (whatever that means) has a tendency to turn us away from the Son. Have you ever worried over a health issue, yours or someone near to you? Helplessness concerning health can steal your attention away from the Son in a heartbeat. Have you ever been in a relationship that “went south?” It is easy to lose sight of the Son when someone has hurt you. 

The reality is that all these things and a litany of others will turn us away from the Son. It’s the game that evil plays with our hearts and minds, because the great deceiver desperately wants our attention. 

The question is how long will we allow our focus to be changed? How long will we use our finances in ways that don’t glorify God? How long will we fail to trust our health issues to the Great Physician? How long will we allow a broken relationship to keep us from the comforting presence of the One who desires oneness with us more than anything else in all creation? How long will it take us to turn back to the Son when evil draws us away?

I finally wised up… I put the arrangement in a place where it could reach for the sun, while I could still see its beauty. Perhaps that is what we need to do spiritually as well. Sometimes, we need to reposition ourselves so that we can see the Son and the beauty of those reaching for Jesus as well.


Prayer for the day:

Dear Lord, help me to not be an obstacle in another’s faith journey but to be positioned in such a way as to view the blessings of both, You and others who are along the faith journey. Amen.