“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.”       ~ Luther’s Morning prayer

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March 13 When I Am Afraid

Image by Nathan Ward

Image by Nathan Ward

Numbers 19:1-20:29;  Luke 1:1-25;  Psalm 56:1-13;  Proverbs 11:8

“When I am afraid,

I will trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I will not be afraid.

What can mortal man do to me?”

Psalm 56:3-4

* * * * *

When my head hits the pillow

after day is done

thoughts hit me

 between the eyes

and keep me awake

as adrenaline

rushes

to the tips of my toes

taunting me

to rise

to do

one more thing.

Whose voice do I hear

saying,

“you’re not finished yet,

you must’nt sleep,

you’re not done.”

The enemy comes

to steal and destroy

and rob me of much

needed rest.

But, I will speak back

to the voice

and claim my King’s

voice

to “Come to me,

let me carry your burden

this night,

just rest in Me.”

I breathe deep

and listen to His

voice.

Peace closes my eyes,

ushers in a good night’s

sleep,

and gives me strength

for a new day.

* * * * *

“In God, whose word I praise,

in the Lord, whose word I praise–

in God I trust; I will not be afraid.

What can man do to me?”

Psalm 56:10-11

Lord God, in the quiet of the night fear steals into my mind to rob me, tempt me, distract me from your truth.  May your words come to me in the dark, in the deep place of my heart to chase away the lies.  May your word of truth fill me with hope, with rest, with peace.  Let me remember that you are my Shepherd and you lead me beside still waters; you restore my soul.  You give me sleep.  Thank you Lord, for hearing my prayer.  In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

March 4 God Never Sleeps

Image by Kevin Rivera

Image by Kevin Rivera

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord you God gave you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”  Joshua 23:14

Christians are wise when they accept what God has planned and persevere in believing the promises they have from Him.  His promises are dependable and lasting.  The Lord’s own pledge is permanent, as we read in the Psalms: “Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  (Psalm 121:4)

But human reason responds, “That’s all fine and good.  It even sounds nice.  But I’m experiencing the exact opposite.  God not only sleeps; He snores!  In reality, there isn’t a God who takes care of me or watches over me.”

Jacob was certain of God’s promises.  He knew that God’s pledge was permanent.  Yet when Joseph’s brothers were angry at Joseph, God didn’t spare either Jacob or his son Joseph.  It was as if they had no protection at all from the holy angels.  Nobody resisted the anger of Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 37:12-28).  God and the angels remained dead silent.  Even today, they appear to let the devil wreak havoc on the church and believers.  Where is God in all of this?

Examples like these remind us that we must believe God’s promises and never doubt His words.  Because God can’t lie, He won’t stop constantly watching over us, especially if we believe His promise.  Because He is faithful, God can’t abandon us when we hang onto what He has promised.  God may allow us to be attacked, led to the edge of hell, or even killed.  It’s during those times that we need to remember God has promised to be our guardian–one who never slumbers of sleeps.

Devotion taken from Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, Martin Luther

Lord God, give me grace to stand on Your promises this day.  To hold dear to my heart Your promise that You are with me always and that nothing can separate me from your love.  Thank you for being the Faithful Promise Keeper in my life on whom I can always depend.  Thank and Praise your Holy Name!  Amen.

February 9 True Rest

Image by Kyle Wright

Image by Kyle Wright

Exodus 29:1-30:10;  Matthew 26:14-46;  Psalm 31:19-24;  Proverbs 8:14-26

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemene, and he said to them, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray”.  And taking with him, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be very sorrowful.  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.  Remain here and watch with me…

And he came to his disciples and found them sleeping…

And he came to them again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy…

Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.  See the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

Matthew 26:36-46

* * * * *

Caught sleeping

heavy eyes

betray them

devoted disciples

close their eyes

to their Lord’s

bent frame,

his tears,

his sorrow.

(Haven’t we done the same?)

* * * * *

Little  do they know

that soon

sleep will evade them

when scenes of torture

and death

play over and over

in their minds

and their hearts

accuse

their cowardly

acts.

* * * * *

They will long for sleep,

but its gift of refreshment

won’t come again

until

they see their risen Lord,

touch him,

eat with him,

walk with him,

and know that they

are forgiven.

* * * * *

Our Lord never slumbers,

He never sleeps.

When life’s troubles

chase sleep from

our eyes

He’s there to remind us

that He, too prayed

and wept bitter tears;

that He conquered

enemies of darkness;

that He brings sleep to those

who trust in Him.

* * * * *

Jesus promises to sustain us

even when sleepless nights come.

He knows.

He saw from the Cross

our humanness,

our weakness,

our sins.

He stayed awake

long enough to say,

“It is finished!”

Lord Jesus, thank you for staying awake for us.  For not succumbing to fear.  For offering your very body and blood as the atoning sacrifice for our sins on the Cross.  In our weakness, Lord, hear our prayers and give us your strength to remain awake and vigilant when trials and temptations come our way.  Help us to remember that You were victorious over sin, death and the devil and that through faith, we are too!  May we find our rest in you this day.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage,

all you who wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 31:24

February 6 On The Other Side Of Night

Photo by Kelly Sikemma

Photo by Kelly Sikemma

Exodus 23:14-25:40;  Matthew 24:29-51;  Psalm 30:1-12;  Proverbs 7:24-27

“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help

and you have healed me.

O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;

you restored me to life from among those

who go down to the pit.

* * * * *

Sing praise to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30: 1-5

* * * * *

Lord God, you brought me through the night.  You heard my prayers.  You saw my tears.  You gave me rest.  Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your grace and mercy.  I may not exactly feel joyful this morning, but I am at peace.  You are in control.  And for that I give you thanks and praise!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

April 25 Wide Eyed Praying

Image

Photo by Kevin Carden

Judges 4:1-5:31;  Luke 22:35-53;  Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 14:3-4

“When he rose from prayer and went back to his disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.

“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  Luke 22:45-46

“Go to dark Gethsemene,

All who feel the tempters power;

Your Redeemer’s conflict see,

Watch with Him one bitter hour;

Turn not from His griefs away;

Learn from Jesus Christ to pray.”

~ James Montgomery

Tragedy

Impending financial disaster

Abandonment

Joblessness

Childlessness

Singleness

Illness

Conflicts within Family, among friends

all can wring joy out of living;

rob us of hope

IF

we close our eyes and let the darkness overcome us and lull us into spiritual slumber.

Jesus tells us to WATCH–keep your eyes open–and pray!

Pray–so that the temptation to give up or act foolishly out of fear doesn’t obscure the picture of Christ

on his knees

praying with all His might,

experiencing the human emotions of fear, dread and panic,

yet not succombing,

being strengthened by the angel,

to keep His eyes on the prize-

the Salvation of those whom He loves–

you and me.

Lord Jesus, help us to keep watch and pray, especially during the difficult, challenging times in our lives.  Help us to keep our eyes on You and to remember how you suffered and struggled, but ultimately yielded to your Father’s will, how you willingly went to the cross to pay for our sins.  You didn’t avoid the pain by sleeping or ignoring or running away.  You endured.  Strengthen us through your word and help us endure as well.  In your name we pray, Amen.