Running the Race

Graphic by Boaz Crawford

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”  1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Lord, You give my spirit strength to restrain the passion of the flesh.  Whatever is good in me comes from You, the font of all good things, because in me, by nature, there is nothing but sin.  I have to acknowledge that all good works I do–which are nevertheless impure because of the corruption and imperfection of my flesh–are gifts of Your grace.  I will give You thanks forever because of Your immeasurable gift to me.  Amen      ~prayer by Lutheran Theologian,Johann Gerhard, 1582-1637.

Above All!

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation

 in the knowledge of him,

having the eyes of your heart enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope

to which he has called you,

what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power

towards us who believe,

according to the working of his great might

that he worked in Christ

when he raised him from the dead

and seated him at his right hand

in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority

and power and dominion,

and above every name that is named,

not only in this age but also in the age to come.

And he put all things under his feet

and gave him as head over all things to the church,

which is his body,

the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Ephesians 1:16-22

Lord,  help us to remember today and always that you alone are God and to you alone belongs our devotion and praise and trust.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Witness

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance that what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me [Paul].”  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Two years of study at the Seminary have concluded.  A year long internship awaits.  To be able to put into practice–relating to, serving, loving, and responding as Jesus would have me do–lies ahead.  And what a privilege it will be.  I believe what St. Paul told the church in Corinth;  Jesus died, but rose three days later…appeared to many…even to one who had been persecuting Him and the Church.  God’s love knows no bounds.  His mercy and forgiveness is for all.  History bears witness.  My heart and life, I pray will also bear witness!

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for the great news of our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ.  May we all be as bold as Paul to bear witness to the Truth–Jesus is alive!  Let the Easter story continue to be told on our lips today.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

One Life

All aglow

“Do not toil to acquire wealth;

be discerning enough to desist.

When your eyes light on it, it is gone,

for suddenly it sprouts wings,

flying like an eagle toward heaven.”

Proverbs 23:4-5

* * * * *

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

— extra stanza —

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
C.T Studd

Lord God, thank you for giving me life.  May it be lived for you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Spirit Search

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“I consider the days of old, the years long ago.  I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”  Then my spirit made a diligent search:

“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love forever ceased?

Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

* * * * *

“Then I said, I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the arm of the Lord;

Yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

You are the God who works wonders;

you have made known your might among the peoples.

You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.”

Psalm 77:5-11, 14-15

* * * * *

When trouble deep surrounds me,

When sleepless I lie in bed

Search, my soul, for Jesus

Listen to what He’s said:

“I will never leave nor forsake you,”

I’m here for you always

Though it might not seem

to be, you

 I’ll not deny

 my love and tender mercy

that will see you through the day

or my comfort and compassion

to guide you through the night.

Lean on me, my dear one,

I can bear the weight

of all your worries

and your fears

and get you to the Gate

that opens up to

Peace.

* * * * *

“I heard the voice of Jesus say,

“Come unto Me and rest;

Lay down, thou weary one, lay down

Thy head upon My breast.”

I came to Jesus as I was,

So weary, worn and sad;

I found in Him a resting place,

And He has made me glad.”

~ Horatius Bonar

Thank you Lord Jesus, for the gift of your presence in my life in good times and in bad; for seeing me through those challenging times; for giving me your strength to carry on.  Help me to remember, to ponder, to consider all of the mighty deeds you have done and for the faithful day to day providences that sustain me.  Above all, help me to remember your game changing move–your death and resurrection that put an end to sin’s power over me, to Satan’s free reign, and to death’s curse.  Praise and thank you, Lord, you have made me glad!  In your name I pray, Amen.

May 21 At Jesus’ Feet

Photo by Cindy Ford

Photo by Cindy Ford

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13;  John 11:54-12:19;  Psalm 118:1-18;  Proverbs 15:24-26

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  So they gave him a dinner for him there.  Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

John 12:1-3

* * * * *

At Jesus’ feet

her love was poured

her deep devotion spent,

What Mary valued

most of all,

to be near her Lord and God

to be near to her Lord

and God.

* * * * *

To be near to you, O Lord, in your Word, in your Body and Blood at the Lord’s Supper is priceless indeed.  The gift of your life given freely on the Cross to atone for my sins can never be repaid.  I’m in awe of your great devotion to me and to all the people of the world.  I’m in awe of your love that was truly self-less.  Lord, this day may I live in faithful devotion to you and to show my love for you by serving and loving those around me.  I pray that my home may be filled with the fragrance of pure devotion to you.  For Jesus’ name sake I pray, Amen.

May 20 Life Interrupted

Photo by Nathan Ward

Photo by Nathan Ward

1 Samuel 26:1-28:25;  John 11:1-53;  Psalm 117:1-2;  Proverbs 15:22-23

“Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already  been in the tomb four days.  Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.  So when Martha heard Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

* * * * *

“Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives in me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”

* * * * *

“She said, “Yes Lord.  I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

John 11:17-27

* * * * *

When tears flow

and grief hangs

about my shoulders,

when a dear one’s life

on earth is interrupted,

Lord, may your resurrection

truth fill my heart

and bear me up.

May your peace direct

my eyes to you,

to the Lord of  earth and heaven

and my heart rejoice

that this life will resume;

that I will be reunited

with those I love and we’ll join

the heavenly choir

praising you and singing,

“Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come.

Worthy are you,

our Lord and God

to receive glory and

honor and power!

(Revelation 4:8,11)

O Lord, Martha believed your words about resurrection; of God’s power to raise the dead.  Little did she know that you were going to raise her brother that very day; she didn’t know you meant for her to feel his warm embrace and hear his voice in greeting again.  In our hour of grief, Lord,  help us to remember that we will one day hear our loved one’s voice and stand side by side praising you together in Heaven. Grant this Lord, for your name’s sake, Amen.