WAITER!

Thank You, Father, for enabling me to get so much accomplished today. Everything is pretty much together for Sunday. Glad I can now just read through what is ready.

Matthew 2:1-12 (<<click the green)

It seems early to be reading through the first chapters of Matthew in that we tend to associate them with December and not September. Celebrating Your birth in December may be a man-made thing but regardless we can learn from the characters associated with Your coming to earth and the wise men definitely have some things to share.

It’s interesting to compare their mentality in coming to You and many of ours. They said, “…we have come to worship him.” They came to give. They came to honor. They came to extend proper acknowledgment of who You were (and still are for that matter). But why do we come to You?

So many times instead of bearing gifts, we come with our hands extended, expecting to receive.

Instead of seeking a church in which we can worship You, we look for what a church can offer us.

We are so full of ourselves that we demand that You show us who You are and expect You to give us a reason as to why we should stay around. We have the arrogance to say, “Here’s what the world’s offering me – can You beat it?”

Unfortunately, we seem to treat You more like a waiter than our Master and Creator. “Can I get a refill of my drink? I really shouldn’t have to ask. It’s your job isn’t it?”

Lord, may I never treat You like the genie in the bottle who is there to make my wishes come true. May I keep myself in the proper place of humility and contriteness. Lord, You love me, You sought me out when I was lost. When I come before You may it be with head bowed and eyes closed. Worship is do You. You deserve the best that I have to give to You. I don’t deserve anything good – only death and condemnation. But You graciously – mercifully – give good to me regardless. May I be a wise man as I come to worship You. Amen.

Sept 14th, Thurs, 8:28 pm

Why Don’t You Call Me Home?

Good morning, Father!  Thank you for a good night’s sleep (I wasn’t up even once) and my shoulder isn’t aching at all. Praise You for this beautiful day!

Philippians 1:20-26 (<<click the green)

Lord, I pray that throughout my life that I would have the perspective of Paul, torn between joining You (i.e. leaving this earth, it’s hardship and heartache) and staying here to lift up and encourage people on their journey with You.

Reading this passage I cannot help but think of wonderful followers of You who at the end of their earthly lives were so overwhelmed by physical adversity that their only desire was to leave this earth and join You. I could never think poorly of them for they were pillars of faith, mentors, individuals who taught me much of You and things I do in following You I gleaned from their influence (Grandma Provance and Rev. Tom Lasley). But they despaired and questioned why You let them linger here – why You didn’t call them home. You had Your holy reasons and I am sure You understood their responses. It makes me cry even now to think of their heartache in their last days!

Lord, You know my heart and You surely know my love for them. Help me continue to embrace their great love for You and how they strove to serve You and talked with You for they loved You dearly but I would ask that my heart’s desire, regardless of what would happen to my body or mind – and only You know the possibilities – would be that You would grow me to the point that I would give up being with You, and all that means, so that I could encourage one more person in their walk with You, would say one more prayer lifting up the down-trodden that they would persevere and overcome by standing faithfully by Your side.

I pray here and now that You would give me a heart for the lost, that I would be constrained to have the heart and soul of Pastor Rick Warren’s dad whose final breaths on this earth were “Got to save one more for Jesus!” over and over again! Lord, please give me Your heart, Your love for Your world! At this point it is not me – forgive me! I plead for Your courage to speak exactly what needs spoken!  I plead for Your tenacity to never give up on people but to be persistent in pursuing them for Your glory!

“Open My Eyes that I may see!” what You see!  Feel what You feel!  And act as you would act! Help this to become my overwhelming desire. “Mold me, make me, fill me, use me!” Praise and glory to Your Holy Name!

May 14th, Thurs, 6:55 am

You Cannot Do It

Oh my goodness, Father, my eyes are having a hard time staying open this morning! Help me to see what You have for me today. “Make me a blessing to someone today.”

Matthew 1:20-25 (<<click the green)

From a very early age, most of us don’t like being told that we cannot do something. It gets us into all kinds of trouble either doing (or trying to do) it anyway or throwing a fit because we can’t. For that matter that’s what got Adam and Eve into trouble at the outset of time. They were told they could eat from every tree…except one. And of course which tree did they eat from? The one from which they were forbidden, bringing condemnation on the entirety of humanity for the rest of time.

Yet today we fight against being told we can’t do certain things. We continue to be ravaged by sin – it is a constant battle for us all. But one thing we can’t do? We cannot save ourselves from the onslaught of sin and its repercussions.

Romans 6:23 tells us that, the wages of sin is death…” We cannot save ourselves from the ramifications of sin. We are condemned to death. We, in and of ourselves, can do absolutely nothing about it. We can try all sorts of things to conquer sin but all of them fail. We are doomed.

But…that is where God steps in. In our passage today the angle of the Lord explains to Joseph all that is going on with Mary. The son she carried “was conceived by the Holy Spirit” and Joseph was to “name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The name Jesus means, “The Lord saves”.

Romans 6:23 begins with, “For the wages of sin is death…” but the last portion of the verse exclaims “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I love the phrase in my study Bible* that says, “Jesus didn’t come to help people save themselves; he came to be their Savior from the power and penalty of sin.” (emphasis mine)

Thank You, Lord, for the salvation You freely extend to us all. We may not like to hear it but we cannot save ourselves. As the meaning of Your name proclaims “The Lord saves.” I am so grateful that You do, for I surely cannot.

*Life Application Study Bible New Living Translation

Sept 12th, Tues, 6:44 am

A Good Man

Father, thank You for the provision that only You can bring – my salvation and Your mercy and grace. I am who I am and am where I am solely because of You. Praise Your holy name!

Matthew 1:18-19 (<<click the green)

Lord, Your Father’s choice as to whom Your earthly father would be was spot on (as is everything Your Father does!). Just in these couple of verses we see the kind of person that Joseph was. Verse 19 states that he was a “good man”. He was a devout man – he knew all the rules and regulations – and Mary had seemingly crossed some very serious lines. He obviously would have been implicated in her pregnancy, which was a serious implication, to say the least. Intense shame would have been upon them both but strict adherence to the Law could easily have meant the death of them both.

Knowing he had nothing to do with the pregnancy, Joseph would have had every right to be upset. Any man in his situation would understandably feel angry and betrayed. But that was not his response. Being the “good man” that he was, his love for Mary was more than his love for preserving his pride – his reputation even…and that is some very strong love! Instead of defending his innocence, he instead decided “to break the engagement quietly.” Being a “good man” truly is an understatement!

Lord, You are God’s son, yes, but though it may be difficult to comprehend it all, Joseph had a great impact on You as Your earthly father, as all fathers do. Joseph was a “good man” in so many ways. Even before You were born, he loved others more than himself – what an example.

Lord, thank You for the examples You have set before us. Even before meeting You, Joseph lived out his relationship with his God, as we are all called to do. With Your touch and models of people like Joseph may I do no less. Amen.

Sept 11th, Mon, 6:39 am

A Strand of the Tapestry

Thank You, Father, for this beautiful Sabbath day. Thank You for Your Word this morning. May Your word to each of those in attendance at both services be implanted in their hearts and may the fruit it yields bring glory to You and Your kingdom. Amen.

Matthew 1:1-17 (<<click the green)

Lord, this list at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel can be a bit overwhelming. I remember as a child, the King James Version, instead of saying “was the father of” used the word “begat”. I learned what it meant but, that’s a lot of “begats”!

It’s easy to just skim through the list. Some names are familiar – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, David, Solomon. Some, as my study Bible* states, were a little “shady” – Tamer and Rahab. Others were your typical “Joe Shmoes” – regular guys like Hezron, Ram, and Nahshon. There were some evil characters as well – like Manasseh and Abijah. (Go to www.biblegateway.com and type in any of their names to find out more about them – several interesting stories!)

And this is not just any list – it is Your genealogy, Lord – Your family tree. All kinds of people contributed to who You would become. Just as we have bits of genetic material from all of our ancestors, so did You. The good, the bad…even the “shady”, all of them are a part of who You are.

AND today, You do the same with us. As followers, we are all a part of Your body – the body of believers. No matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, when we willingly follow You, we each have a part to play in bringing Your will to fruition in this world. You are eager for us all to have a hand in seeing Your kingdom come to completion.

Thank You, Lord, for using me – for using all of us! We are all a strand in the beautiful tapestry of Your plan. May we all dedicate ourselves to eagerly do our share! Amen!

Sept 10th, Sun, 7:56 pm

Doing it right for once.