January 19 A Sowing Lesson

Photo by Praisaeng/FreeDigital Photos.net

Photo by Praisaeng/FreeDigital
Photos.net

Genesis 39:1-41:16;  Matthew 12:46-13:23;  Psalm 17:1-15;  Proverbs 3:33-35

“Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.  This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulations or persecutions arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it.  He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Matthew 13:18-23

* * * * *

Sow and pray

that God’s Word

will have effect

on those we meet

this day.

Sow and pray

for Jesus’ sake.

Sow among your family and friends,

in the workplace,

the marketplace,

concert halls and soccer arenas,

at dance lessons,

funeral homes,

by the sick’s bedside,

 a baby’s bassinet.

God desires His Word of Salvation

to be scattered throughout

the world

until He comes

again

for Harvest.

Lord God, you are not picky about where your seed–your Word–is sown.  You don’t wait until the fields are cleared of rocks–or until people “get their act together.”  You throw your seed into spiritually “hostile” fields –into universities, think tanks, halls of alternative lifestyles, gambling pits, night clubs, mission fields near and far.  Lord, we pray that your Word will take root wherever it is sown. Continue to nourish our faith through the reading and acting upon your Holy Word and to continue sowing it all around us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.”  John 5:24

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January 15 Sending Words

Image by Collette Varanouskas

Image by Collette Varanouskas

Genesis 31:17-32:12;  Matthew 10:26-11:6;  Psalm 13:1-6;  Proverbs 3:16-18

“So do not be afraid of them.  There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight;  what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.  Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are numbered.  So, don’t be afraid;  you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:26-31

* * * * *

Child of mine

I send you forth

my message to proclaim.

What I speak to you behind closed doors,

in the quiet of the morn

proclaim aloud with no restraint,

hold nothing back–

I’ve got your back.

* * * *

Child of mine

as you go forth

my message to proclaim

not everyone will listen,

some hearts will grow cold

and hard.

You may be hurt,

your body destroyed,

yet faith keeps you

alive in Me.

Nothing can separate you from

my love.

So fear not,

fear not,

fear not–

you mean the world to me.

Lord Jesus, you sent your disciples into the mission field with three “fear nots”.  You knew they would be afraid because you knew the enemy they were up against.  You send us forth with three strong fear nots, for we too face the world, the devil and our own flesh with fear and trepidation. Help us to remember that your have conquered our foes on the Cross and that one day the final judgement will come.  Keep us firm in our faith and determined to share the Gospel message no matter what the cost.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

December 8 Body Snatchers

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Hosea 10:1-14:9;  Jude 1:1-25;  Psalm 127:1-5;  Proverbs 29:15-17

“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 forever more!  Amen.

Body Snatchers Wanted:

Must have been snatched themselves from

sin, death and the devil;

who know the joy of sins forgiven,

the past forgotten,

the future secured

by grace;

who are protected from

the flaming darts of the devil

with robes of righteousness,

engraved with the monogram

JC

to enter dark places

that are masked in light,

where Truth is traded for

accommodation designed

to smooth Christian consciences.

where a little bad is mixed in with

a little good,

hardly noticeable.

To rescue and save

and restore gently

but firmly

founded on His Word

those who are called by His Name

but masquerade

and flirt with the night

that spills into the day till they

no longer

 see the difference.

Lord God, thank you for snatching me and keeping me from sin, death and the devil through your Son, Jesus Christ and through the efforts of loving, caring brothers and sisters in the faith.  Open my eyes to see those to whom you would send me on a snatching mission–bringing your word of caution, repentance and forgiveness.  Equip me Lord for the task at hand.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.

September 27 Where We Find God

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Isaiah 51:1-53:12;  Ephesians 5:1-35; Psalm 69:19-36;  Proverbs 24:7

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

Paul wanted to get the gospel message out to as many people as he could.  Letter writing was one way, but it was limited.  His solution:  encourage those in the faith to imitate God.  Having been forgiven by Him, now forgive.  Having been loved unconditionally by Him, now love.  Believers are only one degree away from God, because of Jesus!  That’s close!  Just think, those closest to us, are close to God.

Pretty humbling, I’d say.

Lord God, you became wondrous love for us.  Love that sacrificed.  Love that died.  Love that rose from the dead.  What wondrous love is this!  That while we were mired in sin and shame, your love covered us, removed the guilt, wiped clean the slate.  Thank you for drawing us close to you through faith.  May we touch the lives of those around us with the gospel message–that love and forgiveness from Almighty God is so near, so very available, just a prayer away.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Where charity and love prevail

There God is ever found;

Brought here together by Christ’s love

By love are we thus bound.

~

With grateful joy and holy fear

His charity we learn;

Let us with heart and mind and soul

now love him in return.

~

Forgive we now each others’ faults

As we our faults confess,

And let us love each other well

In Christian holiness.

~9th Century Hymn

Stanzas 1-3

July 11 Free To Speak

Image by Marian Trinidad

Photo by Marian Trinidad

1 Chronicles 11:12:18;  Acts 28:1-31;  Psalm 9:1-12;  Proverbs 19:1-3

“And when we came to Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him…He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”  Acts 28:16, 30-31

The Word of God knows

no bounds

chains and prison walls

not deterring

His comfort and His Grace.

Whatever our prison–

sickness

joblessness

infertility

God still reigns

with sovereignty.

He bids us speak

of Freedom true

through His Son

to those

who need to hear.

He opens doors,

opens ears,

opens hearts.

He uses us where we are.

God grant we speak

for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in You, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”  Psalm 9:9-10

 

 

July 8 Unlikely

Photo by Sandara Lee

Photo by Sandara Lee

1 Chronicles 5:18-6:81;  Acts 26:1-32;  Psalm 6:1-10;  Proverbs 18:20-21

It’s just like God to pick a man like Paul–a persecutor of Christians–to become His spokesman to the non-Jewish world.

Isn’t God in the habit of choosing the most unlikely people to fulfill His purposes and speak His Word?

In the past He’s used idolators (Abram), adulterers and murderers (King David), liars and connivers (Rebecca and Jacob), foreigners (Ruth),  womanizers (Samson), prostitutes (Rahab) and the like.

Today’s reading includes Jesus’ words to Paul after He knocks him off his feet:

“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and as a witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”  Acts 26:16-18

Jesus revealed himself to Paul–He extended His grace–He forgave Paul and made him new.  Paul didn’t do a thing to deserve any of it!

God doesn’t wait for the most likely prospect to serve Him; He chooses the unlikely–like you and me and Paul.

Lord God, thank you for choosing to love us and rescue us, for opening our eyes to see your Salvation.  Help us to stand on our feet and take the Good News of Life through your Son, Jesus Christ, to share the story of our conversion through faith–our turning from darkness to Light.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

July 1 No Less

Image by Matt Gruber

Image by Matt Gruber

2 Kings 18:13-19:37;  Acts 21:1-16;  Psalm 149:1-9;  Proverbs 18:8

“While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'”  When we heard this, we and the people there urged him (Paul) not to go to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart?  For I am ready not only to be imprisioned but even to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”  Acts 21:10-14

No less for Jesus

  who gave His life for me

    who went to Jerusalem

           willingly,

              willingly.

Whom men reviled and betrayed

   the Lamb

     stood silently

          willingly,

              willingly.

Condemned and cursed

     the Son of God

       hung on the Cross

            alone

                willingly,

                     willingly.

He who knew no sin

    became sin for me

        willingly,

            willingly.

To live for Him

    who did no less

        than give His all

           that is my call

               to fill

                   willingly,

                       willingly.

God grant it for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Lord God, like St. Paul who did not shrink from suffering and death because of his love and commitment to you, may I willingly go where you want me to go, to do what you would have me to do, to bear the name of Jesus my Lord faithfully.  In His name I pray, Amen.

April 14 Suspicions

Image

Image by Wagner Daniel

Joshua 9:3-10:43;  Luke 16:19-17:10;  Psalm 83:1-18;  Proverbs 13:4

“If your brother sins, rebuke him,

and if he repents,

forgive him.

If he sins against you

seven times in a day,

and seven times

comes back to you,

and says,

‘I repent,’

forgive him.”

Luke 17:3-4

 

“IF I cast up a confessed,

repented,

and forsaken sin

against another,

and allow my

remembrance of

that sin to color

my thinking and

feed my suspicions,

then I know nothing of

Calvary love.”

~Amy Carmichael, Missionary

Lord God, during this Holy week when we remember Christ’s passion, help us to forgive even as you have forgiven us.  That Christ’s death on the Cross be not in vain.  Increase our faith so that we can forgive those who seem impossible to forgive.  Help us to love with abandon, with no thought for the cost.  May we live in the light of Calvary love, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

October 10 Missionary Joy

Image

Image by Megan Watson

Jeremiah 14:11-16:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-3:13;  Psalm 80:1-9;  Proverbs 25:1-5

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”  1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Missionaries labor long and hard for the sake of the Gospel.  When they leave the people they have been living and working with they long to know how they are doing, how and if they are growing in the faith.  They wonder if God’s Word will continue to be part of their lives.  They leave in faith, entrusting those souls to the One who claimed them as His own.

St. Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians reflects missionary joy.  He had gotten word that they were standing strong in their faith amidst great opposition.  And he encourages them to keep on loving and believing.

Pray for missionaries around the globe that are praying the same prayer for those whom they are reaching with the Good News of Jesus Christ–that they may remain faithful and strong in their calling as God’s mouthpieces.

Lord God, just as St. Paul took to the streets with the message of salvation through Jesus, please be with missionaries who are giving up their very lives for the same Gospel.  Strengthen them, protect them, and bless their work in your name.  Give us a missionary’s heart for the lost and equip us with your Word and Spirit to share the Good News.  Thank you for your patience with this world….that you are giving us more time to get your Word out to those who need to hear.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen

 

August 12 Trust

Image

Photo by Demetrius Kennon

 

Nehemiah 3:15-5:13;  1 Corinthians 7:25-40; Psalm 32:1-11;  Proverbs 21:5-7

“Let us listen to simple words;  our Lord speaks simply: “Trust me, My child,”  He says.  “Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandon to My will than ever thou didst before.  Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute.  And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering the flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt love so much as that.  Draw all the closer to Me;  come, flee unto Me to hide thee, even from thyself.  Tell Me about the trouble.  Trust Me to turn My hand upon thee and thoroughly remove the boulder that has choked thy riverbed, and take away all the sand that has silted into the channel.  I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.  I will perfect that which concerneth thee.  Fear thou not, O child of My love; fear not.”  ~ Amy Carmichael