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

Tough Love

Father, I need Your help this morning. Things in life are crowding into my mind. Help me to give them over to You. My rehashing over them is accomplishing nothing. This is our time. Lead me down the paths You would have me go.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (<<click here)

Lord, this verse truly shows Paul to be a proponent of tough love. In my mind’s eye I see him as a tough nut, not one to put up with much foolishness but also one who literally give you the robe of his back. He was a man of great love but also one who would not back down on the truth. Of course, he was just as human as I am but he truly strove to be like You in all he did.

Lord, help me, too, to be like You in all I do! This verse pulls out one small snippet of life but shows clearly how we must respond to life. Life is all about discerning situations, responding in love and patience, for myself and others to do the very best we can, even if there is some pushing involved.

Way too often we go the easiest route. We don’t warn the lazy – it’s easier to complain behind their back. It’s just too much work to change them. But if that is our response, nothing improves. Things don’t get done. We are frustrated. We think poorly of others and tear them down. Warnings with patience! Love is best.

Sometimes we respond the same way to those who are timid, though their lack of activity may be due to shyness or fear of doing something wrong. Again encouraging them with love and patience will move everyone farther down the desired path.

The path of least resistance may be easy, but unfortunately it doesn’t really get us anywhere. Tasks don’t get done with efficiency but more importantly we miss opportunities to love and lift each other up.

Lord, help me to invest in people with love and patience.

July 30th, Thurs, 7:46 am

Doing it right for once.