A Prayer

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O God, O Lord of heaven and earth, thy living finger never wrote

That life should be an aimless mote, a deathward drift from futile birth.

Thy word meant life triumphant hurled through every cranny of Thy world.

Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man.

 

Our fatal will to equal Thee, our rebel will, wrought death and night.

We seized and used in Thy despite Thy wondrous gifts of liberty.

We housed us in this house of doom, where death had royal scope and room,

Until Thy Servant Prince of Peace breached all its walls for our release.

 

Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,

To drink for us the dark despair that strangles man’s reluctant breath.

How beautiful the feet that trod the road that leads us back to God!

How beautiful the feet that ran to bring the great good news to man!

 

O Spirit, who didst once restore Thy Church, that it might be again

The bringer of good news to men, breathe on Thy cloven church once more,

That in these gray latter days there may be men whose life is praise,

Each life a high doxology to Father, Son and unto Thee.   Amen.

~Hymn by Martin H. Franzmann

 

This prayer-hymn speaks of the ways God works in the world that He created, redeemed, and is restoring unto Himself.  We are created by Him, redeemed through His Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and now sent to share this Good News with others.

Blessings on your day!

LJ

 

 

 

February 24 No Miracle Maker

Photo by Cathy Ginder

Photo by Cathy Ginder

“John did no miracle:  but all things that John spake of this man [Jesus] were true.”   John 10:41

You may be very discontented with yourself.  You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty.  Mediocrity is the law of your existence.  Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity.  Yet you may live a great life.

* * * * *

John did no miracle, but Jesus said that among those born of women there had not appeared a greater than he.

John’s main business was to bear witness to the Light, and this may be yours and mine.  John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ.

* * * * *

Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, “The dawn! the dawn!” and then dies away.

Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye.  If you must live with uncongenial people, set to the conquest by love.  If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it; but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness.

* * * * *

We are doing more good than we know, sowing seed, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which they will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and, of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone and say, “He was a good man; he wrought no miracles, but he spake words about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself.”  George Matheson

From Streams In The Desert, compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

January 29 All Things Are Possible

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Exodus 7:25-9:35;  Matthew 19:13-30;  Psalm 24:1-10;  Proverbs 6:1-5

“And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:23-26

* * * * *

Yes!

With all God all things are possible.

Like turning hearts of stone

into hearts aflame,

aglow

with the Spirit

who makes all things new.

* * * *
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

* * * *

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:17

Lord God, thank you for piercing my heart with your living word which worked faith in a heart once dead to your goodness and grace.  I pray that the same power of your Word  work wonders in the hearts of those who are yet in darkness.  Bless the lips of those who speak Your Word and faithfully proclaim your truth.  May the ears hearing your words receive them and not turn away from your Gift of Grace in Jesus Christ who won for them the forgiveness of all their sins.  I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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October 9 They Got ‘The Look’

Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Jeremiah 12:1-14:10;  1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:9;  Psalm 79:1-13;  Proverbs 24:30-34

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.  For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”  1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

Watching “The Voice” earlier this week I became hopeful that maybe if I took the advertising advice to check out Kohls and get “The Look”–the very same clothes bedecking one of the Voice contestants–then maybe, just maybe….I would be able to sing better. (Hope springs eternal!)

Pretty silly, I know.

Yet, from today’s verses in 1 Thessalonians, I am encouraged and assured that when I follow the example of Paul and of other devout Christians like the Thessalonians, my imitation will bear fruit, just as their imitation of Christ in whom they believed and confessed, bore fruit.

Lord God, grant that your example in Jesus Christ be my sole image for imitation today.  May the fruit of the Spirit be evident in my life that others may see a different way of living–a life of faith in You–in me.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

February 14 Be A Valentine

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Image by Sandara Lee

Exodus 37:1-38:31;  Matthew 28:1-20;  Psalm 34:11-22;  Proverbs 9:9-10

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

“A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius, Valentine became one of the noted martyrs of the third century.  The commemoration of his death, which occurred in A.D. 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the Early Church of the West.  Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper.  This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of love and caring that are now the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.”  –Treasury of Daily Prayer, pg. 1209

Lord God, you send us out into the world to share the Good News.  You send us out as Valentines bringing encouragement and Words of Life to those who are living in darkness.  Thank you for granting us everlasting encouragement and life through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior–our true Valentine.  We praise your Holy Name!  Amen.

October 28 Makeover

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Photo by Jessica Deaton

Jeremiah 5:54-52:34;  Titus 3:1-15;  Psalm 100:1-5;  Proverbs 26:18-19

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.”  Titus 3:3-6

Before and after pictures of makeovers intrigue us, whether they capture hair, backyards or kitchens.  “Before” pictures display obvious need for improvement and some sort of challenge to overcome.  “After” pictures capture the results of  effort, expertise and time.

St. Paul encouraged his co-worker, Titus, to remind the believers in his care of their “before and after” condition–that being made a child of God through Baptism was their ultimate makeover.

Christ living in us transforms our self-centered lives.  Knowing our sins are forgiven rearranges our spiritual landscape and makes it beautiful in God’s sight.  And spiritual gifts given to us equip us for “every good work”.

Today, remember that you are a miraculous, grace-filled makeover!

Lord God, we thank you for transforming our sin-stained lives through the saving work of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank you for loving and caring for us enough to not leave us in our “before” condition.  Thank you for giving us the “after” picture through the gift of faith.  Help us to live our lives in such a winsome way that your name may be praised and that others may be drawn to your Truth.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Know that the Lord is God.

It is He who made us,

and we are His.

We are his people,

the sheep of His pasture…

For the Lord is good

and His love endures forever,

His faithfulness through

all generations.”

Psalm 100: 3,5

October 19 Saturday Reflection

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Photo by Kevin Carden

Jeremiah 33:1-34:34:22;  1 Timothy 4:1-16;  Psalm 89:1-13;  Proverbs 25:23-24

” I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;  with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established faithfulness in heaven itself.”  Psalm 89:1-2

 

What a beautiful thought for a Saturday reflection!

 

“Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever!”

 

Lots of teams will play today

and cheer them on, we will.

Some will win and some will lose.

We support them either way.

 

And cheer we will for our Gracious Lord

whose faithfulness we praise.

Who’s YES to us

gave us life

when we could not save ourselves.

 

Many seek after other gods

wanting to appease

to work

to earn a place,

to prove themselves worthy

of eternal grace.

 

Our God through Christ

sought us

and found us

and did what we could not do.

Lived a perfect life

and died a death

we’d never dare to do.

 

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Three in one Trinity

gave to us,

 won for us

our place eternally.

Lord God,  thank you for calling us to be on Your team through faith.  We didn’t have to try out, spend years training, or meet specific standards to receive your grace.  You called us to faith, sealed us with the Holy Spirit, and equipped us to live as redeemed people of God.   May Your name be praised!  Amen

October 10 Missionary Joy

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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

 

October 8 Candid Camera

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Photo by Ian Barnard

Jeremiah 10:1-11:23;  Colossians 3:18-4:18;  Psalm 78:56-72;  Proverbs 24:28-29

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  Colossians 4:5-6

“Smile!  You’re on Candid Camera.”

Groan, laugh, smile, turn away, cover your face.

What would you do if your actions or responses to a set-up were caught on camera without your knowledge?

Those of us old enough to remember that TV program–Candid Camera– will smile at the memories.

Nowadays there are “candid cameras” everywhere!

Back in St. Paul’s day there were NONE.  But…there were lots of “eyes” keeping watch on the young Christian congregations springing up.  These “eyes” were watching to see how these “Followers of the Way” conducted themselves–in the marketplace, on the roads they traveled, in fishing boats, in the fields, in the carpentry shop, at home with their families.

Paul encouraged the young churches in letters to be sincere, tactful, winsome, in all their doings.

“Walk in wisdom”–you never know when you’ll be on Candid Camera.

Lord God, thank you for the kindness and deliberateness of St. Paul to write words of instruction for the churches–instruction that give us direction even today.  Enable us to live and speak graciously so we may bear witness to your power to change lives.  Thank you for the forgiveness of sins which lightens our hearts.  Make us winsome for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

September 4 Good Grief

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Photo by Sylvia Uphoff

Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18;  2 Corinthians 7:8-16;  Psalm 48:1-14;  Proverbs 22:17-19

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas ‘worldly’ grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment.  At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”  2 Corinthians 7:10-11

I think I’m right,

God’s Word says, “wrong.”

I focus on my feelings and justify my choice,

God’s Word says, “wrong.”

I bowl ahead with my desires,

determined to do my ‘thing,’

God’s Word says, “wrong.”

~

Wisdom’s voice gets lost in my charade,

God’s Word says, “turn.”

My heart picks up a faint yet distinct signal,

God’s Word says, “turn.”

Sleep evades me,

God’s Word says, “turn.”

Peace alludes me,

God’s Word says, “turn.”

I am not satisfied.  I am not at ease.

God’s Word says, “turn.”

~

“Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden

and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28)

~

I admit my guilt and hang my head,

God’s Word says, “repent.”

I acknowledge my sin,

God’s Word says, “repent.”

~

I sorrow over my stubbornness of heart and will,

God’s Word says, “forgiven.”

I lament the wasted time and energy,

God’s Word says, “forgiven.”

I grieve that I sorely “missed the mark” and

sinned against my Lord and God.

He says, “I love you.  You are forgiven.

Go in peace.”

~

And I do.

Heavenly Father, by your gracious Word you lead us to repentance.  You remove our guilt and wipe our slates clean.  You do not treat us as our sins deserve.  Because of Christ’s sacrificial work on the Cross, our grief can be good.  Thank you, Father, for godly grief that works repentance in our hearts and enables us to continue our walk with you.  May your word continue to produce good grief when we err and restore to us a right spirit.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.

“O give thanks unto the Lord;  for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever!”  1 Chronicles 16:34