Thursday, March 31, 2016

Angel Wings, Old Folks, & Corny Jokes

During my 18 months away from work, I spent many Friday's at church helping fold bulletins with the old folks. Known as the “Faith Folders” we would talk while folding and stuffing hundreds of bulletins for Sunday services. I grew to dearly love these old folks. One specifically was Carl, an 80-year old man, with hair as white as snow. He was deaf as a door knob and quite the jokester. Week after week he told the same corny jokes over and over again.

Shortly after tying the knot, a young married couple started arguing over who should make the coffee. Being a good Christian woman, the wife went to the scriptures for her answer. She said that the Bible specifically stated that men should be the ones to make the coffee.
Puzzled, the husband asked her where in the Bible it said that. Very confidently, the wife opened up her Bible and said: “It’s right here—HEBREWS.”
What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth? Answer: He was Ruthless.
After having children, Adam and Eve started getting a lot of questions from their kids about why they no longer lived in Eden. Adam has a simple answer for this: “Your mother ate us out of house and home.”
Carl and his lovely wife Margaret had been married 60+ years. True love, as it seems, rolls its eyes and puts up with those same corny jokes year after year.
During my time with them, “Marge” became critically ill and had major surgery at UPenn, 90 miles from home. For several months she was in ICU and on a ventilator. Marge’s prognosis was not good, but Carl vigilantly stayed by her bedside. The hospital had become his home away from home. He slept on uncomfortable, institutional chairs in public waiting rooms with complete strangers, and conducted his morning hygiene in the public restroom. Overpriced cookies and crackers from vending machines were his daily diet. Through it all, he persevered in hope, and kept his keen sense of humor.

To encourage him and help him pass the time, 82-year old Spunky Sarah (a fellow Faith Folder) and I put on our angel wings one cold and blustery January day and took the Amtrak to Philly to spend time with Carl as he sat by his beloved’s bedside. Concerned about us finding him at this behemoth hospital, and eager for a friendly visit, he left his wife’s bedside, hopped on a mass transit bus, rode across the City of Brotherly Love and met us at the train station.
Sarah and I treated him to a hot lunch in the cafeteria and listened to his stories: “I bath in the public restroom,” he chuckled. “One day I was sitting by Margaret’s side, when a stranger walked in. ‘Sir,’ he asked, ‘are you missing anything?’ I thought, and answered ‘I don’t think so.’ The man held out his hand and there were my teeth! I didn’t even realize they weren’t in my mouth.” We erupted in hearty laughter.

Then, needing to make sure we got back to 30th Street Station on time, Carl accompanied us to the bus stop wearing only a light fleece jacket on a very cold winter day. Since the dear old man was freezing on behalf of us, I took off my bright pink ear muff and wrapped it around his snow white hair and cold bare ears. I added to his attire my colorful Cashmere scarf tucking it neatly around his neck, and then finished by enveloping his frozen fingers in my toasty red gloves.  The three of us waited for what seemed like an hour in wind whipped weather for the bus. Carl was a silly sight to behold! But, he managed to deliver Sarah and me to the train station; and then, proceeded to make the trek back to the hospital to sit by Marge’s bedside.
A bit later Marge was transferred to a rehab hospital 30 miles from home. Every week I would put on my angel wings and drive Carl to the hospital to visit his beloved bride. Spunky old Sarah would go with me.

I’d drive his little blue Honda Civic and he’d tease me about my lead foot and inept parking abilities.
By Marge’s hospital bed, Sarah and I had a beautiful window view to look in on their precious souls. Tears filled my eyes as I watched Carl tenderly comb her hair, gently kiss her lips, and repeatedly tell her he loved her. Sadly, Marge never recovered and eventually died. I was incredibly blessed to have walked through the valley of death with these darling old folks.

Through their hardship I learned valuable lessons about love, laughter and endurance.
Recently, my friend Carl had a stroke. Since I'm working again, I no longer fold bulletins on Fridays with the old folks, and I don’t have time for regular hospital visits. But, on Good Friday, the day Jesus died to give us life, spunky old Sarah and I put on our angel wings and went to visit Carl the corny jokester at the rehab center. His face lit up like a light bulb when he saw us. He didn't remember any of his corny jokes and was a bit disturbed that one of his hearing aids was missing. To keep him calm, I looked up corny Easter jokes on my phone. Loudly, because Carl was deaf as a
doorknob, I humored him with one corny joke after another.

How does the Easter Bunny travel?
By hare-plane!

What do you call a rabbit that tells good jokes?
A funny bunny!

Still, hard of hearing and now confined to a hospital chair, Carl laughed heartily which made me and everyone else around laugh out loud too!

I have learned that angel wings, old folks, and corny jokes make Good Friday good in deed.

Luke 24: 13-16, 28-32

Luke 24: 13-16, 28-32
That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"MSG

I BELIEVE You walk with me and talk with me every day; yet how often do I fail to recognize You in my circumstances? Feeling heartbroken and abandoned, I turn to friends to discuss my situation. I must look ridiculous wallowing in self-pity while You are right beside me. Open the eyes of my heart Lord, to clearly see You in the middle of my hopelessness.

When I am down in the dumps and crying the blues over my losses, please come along side of me and talk to me like a friend. Set my heart on fire. Nothing will thrill me more than Your voice when I read my Bible. With my heart consumed by You, I will live in absolute expectancy, trusting You to do what You say You will do. I want more than the blessing of my daily bread! I want ALL of YOU, JESUS! Please take the Holy Spirit wildfire that's burning within me and use it to ignite faith, hope, and love in others for the glory of Your name. Amen.

How do you see Jesus in the middle of your hopeless situation?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Job 19:25-27

Job 19:25-27
I know that my Redeemer lives, 
       and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 
And after my skin has been destroyed, 
       yet in my flesh I will see God; 
I myself will see him 
       with my own eyes-I, and not another. 
       How my heart yearns within me.

Jesus, My Redeemer,
I BELIEVE after three days in a dark tomb, You defeated death and bounced back to glorious life - not as a stiff cold corpse, but as an able-bodied man who could walk and talk.

My Redeemer lives! 
Your empty grave guarantees it! 
Your faithful followers witnessed it!  

And, I BELIEVE that one day, possibly quite soon, the heavens will split open and You will stand upon this earth with fire in Your eyes and a sword in Your hand. You will be endowed with integrity, nobility and strength. At Your appearance, every man, woman, and child will be knocked off their feet and acknowledge that You are Lord of lords, and King of kings. Undoubtedly, I will see my Faithful Knight, the Prince of Peace crowned with beauty and majesty.
Though disease and death may destroy my body, and darkness may obstruct my view, I BELIEVE with all my heart that one day I will personally stand with heaving lungs and a throbbing heart, gazing on Your glory with my own two eyes. In Your power I will have a mountaintop view of the Triumphant One who bought me and set me forever free to live eternally. O how my heart dances with desire! Hallelujah! Amen.

How confident are you that one day soon the heavens will burst open and Jesus, your Redeemer, will to stand upon the earth? Do you believe that after this time of extreme darkness, disease, and even death that you will see Him in all His splendor with your own two eyes? 
Does the very thought of seeing the Risen Redeemer set your heart dancing with desire? 
O how my heart yearns within me! Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Matthew 28:1-10

Matthew 28:1-10
Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come; see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you." 

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel's message. And as they went, Jesus met them. "Greetings!" he said. And they ran to him, held his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there." NLT 

Living Lord,
O how I wonder what I miss when I don't seek You early in the morning. Undoubtedly, these women didn't expect the excitement that was about to unfold!

In the shadow of sorrow and sadness, they were jolted to their feet. An angel surrounded by the radiance of Your glory swiftly moved the huge stone, calmed their fears and proclaimed the Good News! You most certainly were alive.

The empty tomb guarantees it.
The angel assures it.
The women witnessed it.

As You promised, all my sins were buried in that tomb with You. My old way of life was gone forever, forgiven and forgotten in a cold, dark, empty grave. As You arose, so did I to a bountiful, beautiful new life.

Because You live, I can face tomorrow.
Because You live all fear is gone!
Because I know You hold the future
And life is worth the living just because You live.

Fill me dear Lord with the same reverent fear and exuberant joy You gave these dear women. Exploding with excitement, I will go tell the Good News to all those around me! "Jesus is alive! "

Holy Spirit, open the ears of those near me to hear this Good News. May someone receive the glorious gift of eternal life today because they have seen You resurrected in me. Amen. 

O how I wonder what we miss when we don't seek to worship Him early in the morning. Undoubtedly, we miss many exciting encounters with the Lord! I challenge you to get up early tomorrow morning, while it's still dark outside, and go to the grave. Seek Him! There you'll find an empty tomb and abundant new life! Go quickly! Worship Him!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Luke 23: 50, 55-56

Luke 23: 50, 55-56
The women, who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Thank You for the amazing lesson I learn from these devoted women who bravely followed You. Like best friends, they fearlessly walked with You through the dark, difficult valley of death. While the other disciples abandoned You under mounting pressure, these courageous ladies stayed at the Cross until every last gruesome detail was finished and cleaned up. 

Heartbroken, they went home and prepared their most valuable possessions - spices and perfume, to lovingly and respectfully care for Your dead body. Deep in despair, they rested and waited through a long Friday night and endless Saturday mourning for the appropriate time to serve You.

During my own frighteningly Friday's - times of extreme crisis and confusion when I just want to run away and hide, give me the courage to stick around until every shocking detail is worked into something magnificently beautiful. In their wildest dreams, these women couldn't have imagined the spectacular ending to the story; but, because of their wholehearted love and commitment, they were the first to witness the miracle of Your astonishing resurrection. 

Please dear Lord, give me strength to endure excruciatingly painful conditions, a sensitive heart to serve You in the midst of my misery, and faith to remain at the grave through my grief. Just as You turned their tragedy into triumph, I can expect You to turn my own dark Fridays and endless Saturdays into resurrection Sundays for the glory of Your name. Amen.

Between yesterday's tragedy and tomorrow's triumph will you leave God or linger at the grave until He's glorified?

Your Good Friday could be disease or death, affliction or addiction, divorce or separation, heartache or hardship, disaster or destruction. Whatever your misfortune, look forward with hope to Easter Sunday when your mourning will turn to joy.

My Good Friday was the loss of my job in 2012 and the subsequent loss of friendships and financial stability. I waited two years in the cold, dark grave. Then suddenly, there was another job. A job I absolutely love; one that was worth waiting for. My mourning was turned to joy; my dark days to bright days. Hold onto hope! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Luke 9:51

Luke 9:51
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

Name above all names, beautiful Savior, glorious Lord. I am in awe of You and Your journey to greatness. You knew what was waiting for you in Jerusalem: betrayal, rejection, suffering and ultimately death on the cross; yet you set your face resolutely on the challenge. Despite the anticipation of excruciating pain and suffering you quietly moved forward determined to become obedient to death in order to bring many children to glory.

Forgive me for all the detours I take in order to avoid rejection, suffering and death to myself. Help me dear Lord, to choose the highway of humility. The voyage may be excruciatingly painful but the destination will be sweet. The journey is long - life long. When I grow tired and weary from exerting my own energy, I will focus on You and Your journey to greatness. By Your grace and power, I will give up my rights daily in order to take up my cross and follow you. With wholehearted determination, I will reach the goal for which you have called me - Heaven, my Father's House. Let this mind be in me that was also in Christ Jesus ... that mind which focused on the glorious final destination in the New Jerusalem. Amen.

What detour have you taken to avoid the difficult journey to the Cross? Admit you've been looking for Easy Street. Then, turn around and determine to follow Him, no matter how painful.

Jesus said,"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Matthew 26:38, 40-41, 43-45

Matthew 26:38, 40-41, 43-45
Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 
"Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near."

Precious Jesus,
I BELIEVE You've invited me to join You in agonizing prayer, and I have failed you miserably. Surrounded by the sorrow of sin, overwhelmed by the misery of suffering, and swallowed up in the sheer terror of impending death, You've asked me to keep vigil, but like Peter, I'm drowsy and prone to dozing off. Forgive me, O Lord!

You know the brutal battle that lies ahead for all Christians. Clearly, You warn me to pay attention and pray. Deep agonizing grief from the consequences of poor choices will besiege me. The intense suffering from sickness will be unbearable. The cruel killing of souls and maiming of minds will torment me to the point of overwhelming despair. With all my heart, I want to obey, but the nighttime of the soul seems eternally long and I'm worn out and restless.

I beg You to teach me to pray powerful prayers that will crush the adversary. The hour is near when You'll come back, and I don't want You to find me sleeping again. I want You to be pleasantly surprised when You find me in the garden wrestling over the burdens of Your heart for the glory of Your name. Amen.

O. Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, October 16: "The key to the missionary's difficult task is in the hand of God, and that key is prayer, not work ... the key is in following the Master's orders - the key is prayer.

Jesus has invited us to watch and pray with Him. His intense agonizing prayer in the garden gave Him the strength to face the journey to the cross. If you don't pay attention and wrestle with Him in prayer, you'll snap when the stress and strain do come - and it will come. Ask Jesus to teach you to pray powerful prayers that will crush the enemy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Matthew 21: 12-14

Matthew 21: 12-14
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'"

The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.  

Jesus, You are my Refiner, Reformer, and Redeemer.
 I BELIEVE You turned my whole world upside down for my good and Your glory, the day I swung open the door of my heart, allowed You in, and crowned You King of my life.

Stomping into enemy territory, You killed my bad temper, conquered my mean mouth, and cast out my pride. You drove out the buyers and sellers that corrupt my soul: covetousness, criticism, and complacency. You emptied out many nasty and naughty things: nagging and narcissism, negativism and niggardliness, haughtiness and hypocrisy. You toppled the tables of temptation and brought down the benches of bitterness. You cleared away the idols, impurities and irreverence I had carried into Your holy house for my personal pleasure.

Lovingly, You opened my blind eyes to see the corruption and deception caused by my religiosity and pomposity. With eyes wide open, I saw how much You loved me when I realized how You died for me. Humbly, I exchanged the limping of my unbelief for firm faith. Now I am drawn to love You, trust You, and serve You. Refined, reformed, and redeemed, turn my heart into a holy house of prayer fit for the Most High King. Amen.

Prepare your heart for Easter by allowing Jesus to topple the tables of temptation and benches of bitterness in the temple of your heart. Ask Him to reveal the buyers and sellers that are corrupting your soul. Allow Him to remove the idols, impurities and irreverence that rob Him of His rightful place of highest honor in your life. Ask Him to purify your heart and make it a holy house of prayer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mark 11:9-11

Mark 11:9-11
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
 "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
 "Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!"
 "Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. 

You, O Lord, are my Savior, my Conqueror, and my glorious King.
I BELIEVE You rode triumphantly into the temple of my heart and captured me with affection. You didn't come galloping in on a high-powered war horse, but trotting on a poor little pony. You didn't come wielding a sword to subdue me, or with an army of men to coerce me. You came with gentleness, and seized me peacefully. Because of Your tender love and mercies I will not die a pitiful prisoner of war, but will live eternally in Your everlasting kingdom.

Recognizing You as the Prince of Peace on a pony, I exultingly salute You, and cheerfully welcome You into my heart and home. My heart throbs with holy joy because One so great as You has come to dwell in one so weak as me. Because You are my strength, my song, and my salvation, today and every day, I jubilantly join the celebratory parade of past prophets and present saints proclaiming, "Hosanna! You are the God who saved me! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! Glory to Your name!" Amen.

Prepare for Holy Week by reflecting on the day Jesus rode into your heart. How did His arrival impact you? Celebrate the day He captivated You by proclaiming loud hosannas, "My God saves!" 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Matthew 5: 10-12

Matthew 5: 10-12
Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven."

Jesus, Generous Giver of Great Gifts,
Thank You for the promise of bountiful blessing when I choose to do what is right to follow You. The kingdom of heaven is mine! A great reward awaits me there!  
Admittedly, I am fearful of harassment, criticism, and rejection. It frightens me to be tested, ridiculed and mocked. It scares me to be scorned, criticized, and misunderstood. Fear of man is the obstacle that hinders me from making right choices.
I want to live a life pleasing to You. I desire the rich, abundant treasure You promise in heaven. It's the only treasure I will keep forever! Breathe fresh power on me. I want to serve You, my Master, with bravery, boldness, and wholehearted devotion. I want to diligently work the fields, plant the seeds, water the crop, weed the thorns, and reap the harvest for You no matter the cost. I want to conscientiously serve You even when the scorching summer sun is searing my soul, and the wicked winter winds are wildly whistling, "worry". Trouble is coming. I want to have the resilience of the saints, both past and present who have suffered and died for their faith. 
I know how the story ends! For fearlessly dedicating my life to You, I will receive a fortune beyond my imagination when I arrive at my final destination in the kingdom of Your dearly loved Son. People may think they've imprisoned, tortured or killed me, but when You call my name and I arise to claim my heavenly reward, they will watch from Hell in bewildered wonder. Please give me an unwavering Spirit so that I can focus on the end of the story and the riches of Your glory. Amen.

Claim the two promises: the kingdom of heaven, and a great reward. They are yours when you set aside your fears and courageously labor for the Lord. What is He asking you to do? It may involve a whole lot of effort, sacrifice and risk. He gave His life for you. Are you willing to give your life for Him? The rich rewards are only for those who obey and endure hardships. 

 Pray for those Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Right now, ISIS is raging in Iraq, Syria, and Africa. Christians are being kidnapped, tortured, beheaded, burned alive and experiencing incomprehensible atrocities for proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ, while the Church in the west is enjoying the good life. However, while the Church in the west is in a stoned stupor, enjoying the good life, our rights are slowly being taken from us. One of these days we too could wake up, and be carried away by radical terrorists whom we allowed to transform our nation while we frolicked and played. Trouble is coming, I believe. Will you have faith to withstand persecution? 

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Matthew 17:1-8

Matthew 17:1-8
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" 

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

I love and adore you. You are more than a great leader and awesome teacher. You are the Son of God. All power and authority are Yours. My only adequate response is to fall on my face and worship you in the beauty of Your holiness.

Admittedly, I am like Peter. You invited him to be with you on the mountain, but he wasn't content unless he was busy doing something - building you a shelter. So it is with me. You invite me to come into Your presence, be still and listen. But, like Peter I am not comfortable with silence and my natural response is to do something. Teach me dear Lord to quietly revere You. In Your strength, I will sit still, shut up, and pay attention. I will respect You for Who You are - the Son of God.

On the mountaintop, I have seen Your glory and experienced awesome moments of wonder. Away from religion, routines, and reality, I never want to leave this peaceful place. It is good to be in the presence of the Most High.

Struggles await me in the valley below. Admittedly, I don't like conflict or confusion. On the mountain with You, I can see clearly and relax in the safety of Your shelter. But, You command me to "go down and not be afraid." In Your mighty power, I will obediently get up and go to the valley where multitudes are wrestling with decisions, distress, and discouragement. There I will boldly tell those who are burdened, bitter and broken to look up and notice the Son of God who breaks through barriers.

Please show me people who need Jesus today. With Your help, I will show them Your glory because of my own divine encounter on the holy mountain. Hosanna in the highest! Amen.

Have you sat still and silent on the mountaintop? Have you seen God's glory and experienced His presence? If so, get up and go down into the valley today. Now more than ever, people everywhere need Jesus. Boldly tell them about your divine encounter with the Son of God.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

John 12:42-43

John 12:42-43
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Eternal and Righteous God,
Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to see my faults and shortcomings. Have mercy on me! I'm as guilty as the legalist Jewish leaders of Jesus' day. I call myself a Christian in my heart, but am afraid to admit it in front of people. I too, love the praise of man more than praise from You. The truth is, I rarely think of pleasing You.
Frightened of losing my prestigious place in the community, I temporarily hide my faith in the closet where I can conveniently access it when I need it during a crisis. People might think I'm a fool if I admit I'm Your follower, so I conceal it. I want to be liked and respected by everyone. A people pleaser, I'm too scared of ridicule to stand out and publicly acknowledge the great distance You went and the exorbitant price You paid to save me. Forgive me, O God for I have sinned against You.

O Lord, will you kindly change my timid heart? Fill me with fresh power to boldly proclaim the Way, the Truth and the Life right where You've placed me even if it means I'll offend someone. You're not interested in my popularity; You're concerned about rescuing dead lives buried beneath the rubble of sin and shame. Whenever I open my mouth to speak, please give me the right words to confidently communicate the message of Your amazing love. O Lord, help me to get my eyes off myself and love others enough to risk my life and reputation to save them for the glory of Your name. Amen. 

Are you like me, afraid to share your faith for fear of rejection and ridicule from family and friends? If so, Jesus has some strong words for us: "If anyone acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33  NLT

Jesus stood in stark contrast to this Pharisaic concern. He did not show favoritism; instead he reached out to male and female, rich and poor, and all races and ages. His teaching was not done by first taking a poll of what was popular; instead, he spoke truth that was often unpopular but could penetrate the heart. - Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small

Monday, March 14, 2016

1 Peter 4:9

1 Peter 4:9
Open your homes to each other without complaining.

Luke 14:12-14
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Father in Heaven-
Thank you for giving me the miracle of a Christian home. This home is not mine. It belongs to You. Often the details of entertaining consume me. I want to impress people with my meticulous well kept place, my creative decorating, and my gourmet cooking. I am so busy with the preparations that I forget WHO I am serving.

Empower me to put people before things. Instead of putting away the dirt, I will put away my pride and allow others to see my humanness. Shape my home into a place free of false pretenses where people can relax and be themselves.

Open my heart to a needy family in my community. I will obediently open my home as a place of rest and healing for them. It is my desire to use the gifts You've lavished on me to glorify You. I am Your humble servant, please show me how to practice biblical hospitality for Jesus name sake. Amen.

The root word of hospitality is "hospital." Hospitals are places to rest and heal. Our homes should be places where people can come to rest and heal. Do you receive exquisite meals at a hospital? Are hospitals fussily decorated? Do hospitals only serve friends and family?

Think of your home as a hospital. Consider inviting to your home: the single or elderly neighbor who is always alone, the neighbor who's recovering from surgery, the family that just received devastating news, the neighbor that's unemployed, or someone new to your community.

What's keeping you from demonstrating biblical hospitality? Are you willing to put aside your agenda to be more hospitable?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Jude 1:20-28

Jude 1:20-28
Dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy- to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.  

Blessed Lord,

You teach us exactly how to live a life devoted to You in preparation for the future when we'll live with You forever in Paradise.

First, we should build ourselves up in our "most holy faith," by opening our Bibles, Your Holy Word spoken to us. Through it, You entrust us with Your priceless treasury of promises. We build an incredible fortune when we believe and obey Your costly commands. Safeguarding the invaluable Truth in our hearts will change us profoundly, pervasively, and permanently into Your holy likeness.

In addition to opening our Bibles, we are to pray in the Holy Spirit. We should confidently come to You, just as we are, broken, weak and poor. Speechless, because of pounding pain or overwhelming joy, You'll translate our inarticulate sighs. When we don't know what to pray, You'll do it for us. Blessed assurance!

We should surround ourselves with Your love. In the shelter of Your strong arms, You'll protect, prosper and prepare us. We'll be closest to You every time we open our Bibles, pray, and hang out with other believers.

Encased in Your extravagant love, we need to be a witness to the world by telling our life changing stories to everyone. We need to patiently persevere with those who hesitate to believe us, get down to business rescuing those who are on the road to destruction, and show loving kindness to those who are corrupt and callous without becoming like them. We must trust You to protect us by Your constant presence and power.

Lord, let me take these lessons seriously, putting my most holy faith into action while I wait to live happily ever after in Your magnificent kingdom. All glory to You, O God, who can keep me from stumbling. I rejoice that I can stand tall in Your luminous presence, holy and pure because of Jesus my Savior who alone is worthy of glory, majesty, and power from now until the end of time. Amen.

God's Word tells us exactly how to prepare for the future.

Build up your faith
Pray in the Holy Spirit
Surround yourself with His love
Witness to the world

Do you believe Him? What one thing will do differently today to prepare for tomorrow?