Solid Faith

I know my faith is founded on Jesus Christ, my God and Lord;  and this my faith confessing, unmoved I stand on His sure Word.  Our reason cannot fathom the truth of God profound;  who trusts in human wisdom relies on shifting ground.  God’s Word is all sufficient, it makes divinely sure;  and trusting in its wisdom, my faith shall rest secure.

Increase my faith, dear Savior, for Satan seeks by night and day to rob me of this treasure and take my hope of bliss away.  But, Lord with You beside me, I shall be undismayed;  and led by Your good Spirit, I shall be unafraid.  Abide with me, O Savior, a firmer faith bestow;  then I shall bid defiance to every evil foe.

In faith, Lord, let me serve You;  though persecution, grief, and pain should seek to overwhelm me, let me a steadfast trust retain;  and then at my departure, Lord, take me home to You, Your riches to inherit as all You said holds true.  In life and death, Lord, keep me until Your heav’n I gain, where I by Your great mercy the end of faith attain.

Hymn text by Erdman Neumeister, 1671-1756

“Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;  all day long an attacker oppresses me;  my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;  I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?”    Psalm 56:1-4

Lord God Heavenly Father, we may not be in danger of being pinned to a wall by a spear like David.  We may not be in danger from the perils of a sea voyage like Paul.  Yet, we do face enemies of body and soul because we still live in a fallen world.  Crime and violence surround our communities.   Godless belief systems conflict with Your good Word.  Our own sinful nature continues to threaten our peace in You.  So today, Lord, we entrust ourselves to You, to preserve us in the One true faith as we confess Jesus as our sovereign Lord and God.  Thank You for Your faithfulness to us through Jesus Christ.  In His name we pray, Amen.

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Lots Of Groaning Going On

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits

of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for

our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

For in this is hope we were saved.

But hope that is seen is no hope at all.

Who hopes for what he already has?

But, if we hope for what we do not yet have,

we wait for it patiently.”

* * * * *

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us

in our weakness.

We do not know what we ought to pray for,

but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans

that words cannot express.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,

because the Spirit intercedes for the saints

in accordance to God’s will.”

Romans 8:22-27

Something isn’t right.  I sense something is out of balance and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Groan.

I know something is terribly wrong and I don’t know what to do.

Groan.

In either situation God knows and His Spirit groans with us to carry that burden to His throne of Grace.

Having trouble with finances?

Groan

Children?

Groan

Parents?

Groan

Health?

Groan

Work?

Groan

Studies?

Groan

Friends?

Groan

Temptations?

Groan

Persecution?

Groan

Ultimately, our dear Lord went through the same ups and downs of everyday living in this world. And he spent much time in prayer with the Father. He groaned in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemene.  He groaned on the Cross as His Father turned His back on His sin-ladened Son.  Deep anguished groans.

And now the Spirit groans deep utterances on our behalf seeking the will of our Father.

He hears the wordless pleadings, longings, sighs of His dear children–you and me.

He hears. And He knows our needs.

He brings His peace and love and mercy and soothes our aching souls for Jesus’ sake.

Thank You Father that You hear the groanings of our inward beings when we are at a loss for words.  Thank You for the intercession of the Spirit who intimately knows us as well as Your desires for us.  May we trust and hope in You alone to answer these deep well-spring prayers and to give you thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Programmed To Love

Big_Hero_6_(film)_poster

[Jesus speaking to his disciples, said:]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his Master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give to you.  These things I command you that you should love one another.”  John 15:12-17

Big Hero Six, a recent Pixar film carried the theme of love and servanthood and losing one’s life for the sake of the others.

Programmed to heal and to always do good the robot Baymax fulfilled his mission even as he propelled his human friends out of danger and he was left to oblivion.  It seemed that that was the end of the beloved Baymax.  Until it was discovered that had put his healthchip into his human patient’s possession and was saved.  The end of the movie shows another Baymax ready and willing to help his next patient.  Baymax lived on, along with his capability to nurture and heal.

Jesus, when his mission on earth was completed, left his disciples [and us] with the same mission–to love, to heal, to forgive, to lead people to the Father, that they too may have life everlasting.

After Jesus went back to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of those who believe in Him.  The fullness of our Savior now dwells within us and informs us of the Father’s will to reconcile the world, heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free!

WillPaul McDonald

Lord God, thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit to help us live out the life of love that was demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ.  We pray that all of your followers around the world will bear witness to you command to love even as we have been loved and saved, to be light in a dark world.  We especially pray for brothers and sisters in the faith who face persecution because they bear your name.  Keep them in the one true faith to the end of their days.  And when we should come face to face with those who hate us because of you, give us the strength to stand firm and to love even as you have loved.  For Jesus’ sake I pray, Amen.

January 6 Clear On Love

Photo by Carlos Lerma

Photo by Carlos Lerma

Genesis 13:5-15:21;  Matthew 5:27-28;  Psalm 6:1-10;  Proverbs 1:29-33

“You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies!’  I tell you:  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:43-48

Lord God, you demonstrated your great love for us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died on the Cross for us.  Through faith we receive your gracious love and we pass that love onto others;  love that transforms self-centered lives into self-sacrificing lives; love that serves someone entirely different from us.  Help us to remember that all people benefit from your care and that you desire all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth.  Thank you Lord, for your great love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

January 5 Empty But Full

Photo by Eric Wing

Photo by Eric Wing

Genesis 11:1-13:4;  Matthew 5:1-26;  Psalm 5:1-12;  Proverbs 1:24-28

“The poor in spirit are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!

The people who are mourning are blessed, because they will be comforted!

The lowly are blessed, because they will inherit the earth!

The people who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness are blessed, because they will be satisfied!

The merciful are blessed, because they will be shown mercy!

The pure in heart are blessed, because they will see God!

The peacemakers are blessed, because they will be called sons of God!

The ones who are persecuted because of righteousness are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!

You are blessed whenever people insult you and persecute you and by lying, say every kind of evil against you because of me!

Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven, for in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you!  Matthew 5:3-12

Empty but full,

that’s what we are, we who

believe

in the Son of God.

Lord God, that’s the beauty of the Christian faith–we who are empty spiritually are filled to the brim with your blessings.  In our neediness, you came and rescued us.  We, who cannot go one minute, one hour, one day, one month, one year, one lifetime without sinning, have been saved.  And because you have saved us, we are truly blessed!  Thank you, Lord!  We are blessed today with the knowledge that one day we will be be in Heaven with you where all our hungering and thirsting will cease, where peace will reign, and we shall see you face to face.  Thank you for blessing us so richly!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

“Then let your Word within me

Shine as the fairest star.

Your reign of love revealing

How wonderful you are.

Help me confess your truth

And with your Christendom

Here own you King and Savior

With all the world to come.”

~Martin Behm

December 12 Feeling Small?

Image by Domonic Webster

Image by Domonic Webster

Amos 7:1-9:15;  Revelation 3:7-22;  Psalm 131:1-3;  Proverbs 29:23

” I know your works.  Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.  I know you have little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon.  Hold fast what you have, so that no one can seize your crown.

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.”

Revelation 3:8,10-12

*****

Feeling small in the kingdom of God?

No big hat to wear?

No podium to shake?

~

Our Lord sees

your small seed

of faith.

It’s roots grow

deep.

~

He sees you standing firm,

saying “yes” to Him

and

“no”

to all else.

~

He sees you serve

a friend in need,

a stranger in the aisle.

~

He’s got just the place

for you,

when Kingdom time arrives.

You’ll stand strong,

and proud,

and tall,

His name emblazoned

on your chest

and a crown

upon

your brow.

Lord God, again you speak to us, just as you spoke to the church in Philadelphia with words of love and encouragement.  Times were tough for them.  They were not seen as a Christian “power house”.  In your eyes, though, their faithful presence was enough.  They believed in you and trusted you–in the face a of great opposition.  Thank you for encouraging them to stand firm, hold onto their crowns and hold on to YOU!  May we be encouraged by the same!  Thank you Lord Jesus! In your name we pray, Amen.

December 10 Speaking Of Crowns

Image by Michael Bernico

Image by Michael Bernico

Amos 1:1-3:15;  Revelation 2:1-17;  Psalm 129:1-8;  Proverbs 29:19-20

Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.”

Revelation 2:10

* * *

A spiritual battle rages on.

Satan prowls about

hurling insults,

adding injury,

seeking to devour

a tender soul

laid bare.

* * *

Persecutions, tauntings,

snubbings by the score,

all take their toll

as Satan

never satisfied

desires all the more.

* * *

He whispers in

a believer’s ear

“Do you really believe

what you cannot see,

hear,

or feel?

Do you go against

the best minds of the day,

the wisest of the wise

who claim only

this world is real?”

* * *

Press on, beloved, press on

and hear the words

of the Overcomer,

“Be faithful unto death,

and I will give you

the crown of life.”

Christ wore a crown himself

for all the world to see.

His blood trickling

from the thorny barbs

declared a new kingdom

in the making.

* * *

A kingdom that can never be destroyed,

safe from sin, death and Satan himself,

where all who believe in

Christ the King

will be adorned as He.

* * *

See that crown of life

destined for your brow

and give thanks and praise

to Him who fails not,

who walks with you

right now!

* * * 

Oh, give thanks unto the Lord

for He is good!

And His mercy endures forever!

Amen.