I Cannot Sanctify Myself

Father, as I look ahead to the next several days I would ask for Your watch care over my family. Keep us safe ad keep us in the center of Your will. Help us to love each other and to make the most of our time together. Help me to keep my heart fixed upon You – to be motivated by what You would do. Help me to be a true reflection of You in all I say and do.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 (<<click here)

Lord, me being holy (my sanctification) is wholly dependent upon You. I cannot sanctify myself. Some days it feels as though I can barely keep myself pointed in the right direction. All I can really do is to totally (spirit, soul and body) give myself over to You. You have given me a free will and I willingly give my life over to You. Who but the creator of me would know best. You alone know what is now (in its entirety) and what will be (in all its possibilities).

Again, Lord, Paul refers to You as “the God of peace” and again, from the many experiences in my life, I know most assuredly that true peace is found only in You. Any peace I can generate is short lived – and probably even that little bit rightly must be attributed to You.

Only You can make me holy. Only you keep me blameless in my entirety (spirit, soul and body). Only You “will make this happen” for You call me and You are faithful. You are my everything. I find completion only in You. Help me to be all You want me to be! Help me to live my life to the fullest – fulfilling Your call with every breath!  Amen – so be it!

August 8th, Sat, 5:59 am

Seeing Through the Layers

Father, thank You for a productive and enjoyable day with Karen yesterday. Thank You for Your watch care over us. Thank You for our relationship. I am truly blessed! Bless her this day, Father, and help me to love her more and more each day.

1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 (<<click here)

Lord, this is a good reminder from Paul. Lots of things are proclaimed in my world. Some are obviously true and some are blatantly false. The challenge comes with those things that are in between – things that are not so clearly black and white. I am so grateful that You are there to help me to discern what is good and what is evil. Help me to listen to Your direction. Our natural tendency is to just go with the flow – we don’t wait to stick out – we want everyone to like us. Just because good people around us accept something or someone as good doesn’t mean that that is the case. And sometimes good people reject something or someone because they label them as evil and unfortunately the “love” factor is totally rejected as well. Again, Lord I ask for discernment. Sometimes the crowd is right but sometimes Your desire is for us to see through the layers. Many wear masks – in both the realms of good and evil. Help me to see through the duplicity of some who claim to be good but who are hiding things detrimental to Your kingdom. Then help me to read between the lines, to hear between the words to see under the layers of protection to see those that many would just right off as useless. God is at the core – help me not to miss it. Help me not to just reject them because they don’t measure up to acceptable norms.

August 7th, Fri, 7:48 am

Thou Shalt Not Quench!

Father, I am sorry it has taken me a while to get here this morning. I do enjoy our time together and I greatly benefit from it. By no means am I in tip-top shape spiritually and I surely need these morning “spiritual” calisthenics. Thank You, Father, for Your patience. Help me to be more disciplined and diligent.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 (<<click here)

The New Living Translation translates this verse to read “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” Many other translations use the word “quench” instead of stifle. At least in my mind, Lord, “quench” helps me think further down the line.

Holy Spirit, You often associated with fire in the Bible (i.e. Pentecost) and although You are inextinguishable I can put up barriers that interfere with my perception of Your will. I can (and do) obscure Your light.

Mathew Henry’s concise commentary puts it quite clearly; The Holy Spirit works as fire, “by enlightening, enlivening and purifying the souls of men. As fire is put out by taking away fuel, and as it is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great deal of earth upon it; so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit by indulging carnal lusts and affections, minding only earthly things.”

This short passage and Henry’s commentary in it speaks volumes but Lord help me to see some of the big issues in my life that should be addressed.

“taking away fuel”– if I miss our time together each morning I am missing an opportunity to add more fuel to the fire – good solid “hard wood” that will burn for hours – keeping me focused on You.

“pouring water”“indulging carnal lusts and affections” – I quench Your influence and work in my life by obstructing my contact with You. You are always ready and willing to help me and interact with me. I am the one who does things that separates us. I “pour water” on our relationship when I do other things contrary to your will.

By “minding only earthly things” I am “putting a great deal of earth” upon what you are trying to do in my life – once again quenching You.

“Earthly things”, many out of necessity control my life – work, taking care of home and body, maintaining vehicles. But many things are non-essentials, that are fine in moderation but can take too much time if I’m not careful – TV, games on my phone, Facebook, to name a few.

Lord, help me to fuel the fire. Help me to do the things to expose myself to the things that keep the warmth of Your love radiating into my life. Holy Spirit, purify me with the fire of Your presence. Amen

August 5th, Wed, 6:43 am

Since entering the pastorate in the United Methodist Church I have come to really appreciate the hymn “Nothing Between” – it fits well here. I discovered this rendition on YouTube – Neville Peter does a wonderful job!

♪♫♪ Nothing Between / I Surrender All ♫♪♫

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s or my fondest dream;
I have renounced sin and all of its pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
All my habits of life, though harmless they seem;
Must not my heart from Him ever sever;
He is my all, there’s nothing between.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Nothing between, not even my trials,
Though this old world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self denial,
Triumph at last, with nothing between.

I surrender all…

“Nothing Between” – Words & Music: Charles A. Tindley, 1905
“I Surrender All” – Words: Judson W. Van DeVenter, 1896
 Music: Winfield S. Weeden, 1896

Prayer: A Foundation for Joy and Gratitude

Father, thank You so much for Your presence this weekend – in our travels, with my family, in worship, then with more family. I realize I am still a work in progress but also I am grateful that I am closer to where You want me to be than I have ever been. I know You will continue to work with me for Your love and patience is never-ending. Strengthen my resolve. Help me to hold my tongue until my head and my heart for Your glory can catch up. You alone receive the glory for who I am and where I am today!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (<<click here)

What a goal for which to continually strive! To always be joyful, praying and thankful! As my study Bible* alludes to prayer is foundational – if we pursue prayer throughout our days it will direct us to You, Lord. In doing that, You will help us by guiding us to the best courses of action for our lives which will bring joy and gratitude as we see You at work in our lives and the peace we find in being in the center of Your will.

Lord, please help me to pray through the midst of this day. Draw my thoughts to You, help them to linger on You. Influence, by Your presence, my words and thoughts and deeds. May my life be filled with joy regardless of my circumstances for You’re with me and love me and are working in every aspect of my life. And if these things come to fruition, how can I not be grateful! Thank You, Lord!

August 3, Mon, 5:53 am

*New Living Translation Life Application Study Bible

Evil for Evil…NOT!

I lay this day in its entirety in Your hands, Father. There are many elements in it that are unknown. Some are beyond my control. I trust You. May You receive glory whatever the outcome. Use me however You deem best. Fill me with Your love. May I be gracious but may I also stand for what is right. If need be may I be discerning enough to know when I need to fight or submit. Please guide me according to Your will. Amen. So be it!

1 Thessalonians 5:15 (<<click here)

“no…evil for evil” “do good”

Lord, this is really a very simple concept but is definitely counter culture! Our knee jerk reaction is to respond in like manner – you hurt me, I hurt you! (worse if possible!) But that reaction is totally, without question not You. You, the Creator of all that is, almighty (emphasis on the all) God have every reason to punish Your rebellious (putting it very mildly) creation. And pointedly our punishment is death and rightly so. The Bible is replete with accounts where Your punishment was meted out and in every instance it was justified. But also in every instance punishment was preceded by innumerable attempts at reconciliation! You’re patient and oh so longsuffering. Thank You for Your unsurmountable love!

Ultimately You came to teach us and love us face to face and our response was to return evil for love, ultimately nailing You to a cross… Reason for retaliation? Definitely! But did You? No!! You’re the very epitome of LOVE!  Evil… for evil is not even an option!

Lord, help me to overcome my tendencies to give evil for evil. I am not a vengeful person but I do have a temper and only You can help me temper that temper. May every molecule of my being radiate Your love! May it control my actions and my words in every situation, no matter how difficult. Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Enable me to “do good to all people.” With Your power and wisdom and love, I can do it!

July 31st, Fri, 6:44 am

Doing it right for once.