Today’s gospel passage makes it seem so simple! Ask God for what you want and you’ll get it; look for what you want and you’ll find it; just knock and doors will be opened to you. However, Jesus reminds us that God is a good father and will not give us what is wrong for us! When you were young, did you ever ask your parents for something that was just not right for you? Perhaps your children have done the same to you. You don’t give a baby a steak, nor do you give a toddler a 10 speed bicycle. You wouldn’t let your children look for milk in the cabinet where you keep your cleaning supplies. But sometimes we are looking for what we think we need in all the wrong places. Yes, Jesus tells us to keep asking for what we need and we will receive it, but he also expects that we will be asking for the right things. We are bombarded with ads that tell us what we need to do or own in order to be happy, but are those things truly what we need? Jesus tells us that we need hearts that are open to others, that we must be people of peace and forgiveness, and when we ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will surely receive. When we pray, do we ask God to give us those things which He knows we need in order to be happy, or do we ask for what the media says we need? If we leave the decisions up to God, then we will always receive what we ask for; we will find what we are looking for; and doors will open at our knock.
Through Jesus Christ, we can have boldness in our speech as we speak about Him, and boldness as we live knowing that death is gain. Through Jesus, we also get access to the Father, whom we wouldn’t have access to without Jesus. Beyond that, we can come to the Father confidently in the name of Jesus because Jesus covers us. He puts on us His perfection and victory over sin. Through Jesus, by faith, we get great rewards.
Father in Heaven, I am so glad that I can come before You confidently. Thank you for sending Jesus so that through Him I would be able to approach You. You have given me great things, so let me live boldly. I have no one to fear but You, Lord. You are the only one who needs to be pleased with me. Make me confident as I live out my days for You – not for men. You are good. You are beautiful. I truly serve the God of all things who created all things. There is no evil in You. I come to You, Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sometimes preachers use this text to question whether or not Jesus has siblings, but I think they miss the point of the text. Jesus looks at the people gathered around him, listening to his message, and says that the one who does the will of God is mother, brother and sister to him. The important thing is that he includes us in that as long as we do the will of God. In another part of the Bible, we are called adopted children of God, again being described as the brothers and sisters of Jesus. The key here is doing the will of God. This can be a stumbling block for us. What does it mean to do the will of God? Do we ever ask God to show us the path he wants us to take? Do we ask for guidance when we have an important decision to make? Do we ask for help when faced with temptations? We know that the commandments provide guidance and we have the Beatitudes to give us further instruction, but do we pay attention to them? Many times I know that I don’t. I just go along my own way and then wonder when things don’t turn out the way I want! This is especially true when I am not as considerate of others as I know I should be. I say I want justice but don’t always let my action follow my words. How about you?
Jesus was sent to preach the kingdom of God all over, not just in one place. He taught in places where others would not even go because of prejudices. Then after He had died, risen, and departed, His disciples continued preaching and spreading the gospel throughout the earth. Today, there are still groups of people who have never heard the gospel. There are missionaries whose goal it is to bring the gospel to those people. Eventually, every tribe, tongue, and nation will hear the name of Jesus and the good news about Him.
Heavenly Father, I pray for the peoples who have never even heard of the name of Jesus. Send missionaries and believers to share You with them. Prepare their hearts to receive You and Your word. Give them true hope and save them from judgment. You have a plan for all of us, and You are sovereign. Let Your will be done in the nations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
We belong to God. We are His children. Whenever the enemy tries to tell you otherwise, stand firm on God’s word and remind the enemy of whom you belong to – God, the Father.
I really love the psalms! I hope that you are reading this on a glorious January day, but if it’s rainy or gloomy, this psalm should perk you up! How often do we really take the time to just praise God? We turn to God when we need something, when friends or family are suffering, or we hear of a tragedy. Sometimes we remember to say “thank you” to God for prayers answered, and we might even ask forgiveness for the times we have sinned, but how often do we just praise God for his goodness, for the blessing of a sunny day, for the glory of his creation or his saving grace? This psalm is the perfect prayer of praise. We are reminded of God’s goodness, his mercy and faithfulness, not just to Israel but also to us. We are invited to sing God’s praises with all creation. Actually the psalms in general are a great place to find the words when we don’t know what to pray. The psalmists were honest with God and with themselves and so we have psalms of praise and worship, fear of abandonment and thanksgiving for rescue. We have psalms where they express their anger and frustration, their hopes and their joys. There will always be times in our lives when we can’t find the words, when this happens, let us turn to the psalms. And may we find some time in each day to sing your praises.
Dear God, I thank you that I have my identity in you – as your child. Lord, I pray that when anyone tries to make me doubt who I am, I will simply shake them off and tell them, confidently, that I belong to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Lord, I thank You that You have made me a citizen of Your kingdom. You have built a firm foundation resting on all those who came before me and You have made Christ the cornerstone that holds it all together. Help me to show good citizenship in this community and pay proper respect and homage to those who laid the foundation of my faith. Amen.
There is more to life than the food we eat, the money we make, and the clothes we wear. These are not things that should worry our minds. Set Your mind to the things of God which are always concerned about Your growth as a Christian and making sure that the lost in the world are brought to the light.
Today’s reading speaks of the hope and consolation we have in Jesus’ victory over death and the promise of eternal life. It’s hard for us to imagine eternity. We live in time. We complain that we haven’t enough time or that we have too much time on our hands! What would eternity look like? What is “being” without a body to be in? What we do know, is that we will be enveloped in the unconditional love of God. Most of us who are reading this know what it is to lose a loved one. For some it is a spouse, for some a child, for others parents or grandparents, or, perhaps a sibling. I know that there are times when I feel the presence of those who have gone before me. As in eternity time has no meaning, I wonder if we are already together for them. We know that those who have had near death experiences have described a place of warmth and love, of seeing loved ones, of not wanting to return to their earthly existence. Mother Teresa was asked if she was afraid that she might be putting herself in danger as she went about the streets of Calcutta picking up lepers and others who needed care. She answered that she had already died in baptism so what was there to fear. We, too, have died in baptism and have the promise that if we remain faithful and trust in the Lord, there is nothing for us to fear either. Jesus paid the price for each one of us and said that he does not intend to lose any that have been entrusted to him. Let us trust in the goodness of God and in the promise made to us by Jesus. Death has been conquered forever, and today is a day to rejoice.
Dear God, I pray that my priorities will always be in line with what you consider important too. Lord, if a time comes where I find myself worrying about earthly things, may you remind me of what is truly important. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
C S. Lewis pointed out that “forgiving does not mean excusing . . . if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive.” The people of Paducah, Kentucky, understood this. A few years ago, fourteen‐year‐old Michael Carneal opened fire on a group of students who had gathered in prayer. In seconds, ten were wounded, three fatally. Yet the students and people from the community showed a remarkable willing‐ness to forgive. Placards appeared at the high school reading, “We Forgive You, Mike.” Kelly Carneal, Michael’s sister, was not only embraced by her peers, but was also asked to sing in the choir at the slain girls’ funeral.
During the town’s annual Christmas parade, the people lifted up a moment of silent prayer on behalf of Michael and his family. One young girl said it best: “I can hate Michael and bear the scars of what he did for the rest of my life. But I choose to forgive him and get beyond it.”CONTINUE READING →
No matter what a person believes on the matter of interracial marriage, I want to begin with the fact that we are all made in the image of God.CONTINUE READING →
Bible Trivia Question of the Day What did the townsfolk of Gerasenes ask of Jesus after he cast the legion of demons out of the possessed man into the herd of pigs? A. they asked Jesus to heal their sick B. they asked Jesus to leave their town C. they asked Jesus to perform more miracles D. they asked Jesus to feed them
The things that we receive from God are always good and they always refresh us. The world tries to offer us counterfeit forms of the good things God gives us, but they can never match up. Stick to the things of God; they will refresh your soul and make you feel as if you will remain a youth forever.
This begs the question – Do I cry out for God’s help and mercy? It’s hard to ask for help when we live in such a do-it-yourself world. We seem to have bought into the idea that we can do it all and do it without help. Just look at all the books on the subject! But there are situations when we have to admit that we need help. The older I get, the more I realize this. The more I recognize the need for God and others. The more I recognize the need for forgiveness as sins of the past come more to the forefront of memory. We all cry out to God when people we love are ill or in trouble, when we lose a family member or friend, but do we ask for healing of resentments, of past hurts? Do we reach out to God even in the day to day needs we experience? Are we aware of the times in our lives that God has been merciful towards us? God is not doing this because we are faithful to him, but because HE is faithful to us. God’s mercy is not earned, it is a free gift. When we cry out for God’s help, we sometimes we are directed to someone within the community for the help we need. How often we don’t even recognize that God has answered our prayer! I know that my morning prayer often begins with a thank you for another day and a plea for help to get though it! God cares about us so much more than we can ever imagine. It’s not only okay to ask for help, it’s what God wants us to do, and who wants to disappoint God?
This passage marks a shift from book 42 of Isaiah. Much of the previous chapter is taken up with rebukes and denouncements from God has been disappointed by His chosen people. Here, however, we see a God who fiercely declares to His people, “I have redeemed you; you are mine.” God once again shows up as a loving parent, who disciplines us because He loves us. Even though we continue to be disobedient children, nothing prevents God from claiming us as His own. Nothing takes away the redemption He has promised.
Father, I’ll belong to You. You have redeemed me. Even though I have disappointed You time and time again, You still call me Yours and for that I am thankful. Amen.
Dear God, I thank you that the things that come from you are good and true. May you help me discern what is from you and what is not. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
God will never hide from us. He desires that we seek more and more of Him, so that we grow in our knowledge of Him. Growing in the knowledge of God builds our confidence in Him and serves as a constant reminder of why we can trust in Him. Sometimes we get all tied up trying to figure out what people want from us. It can be very frustrating and sometimes even confusing. God plainly tells us what He wants from us: to “do justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly with thy God.” What does this mean to us in plain terms? God desires us to do the right thing, the “just” thing, the fair thing. To be honest in our dealings with people. He desires that we are merciful to each other. That we give people the benefit of the doubt. That we don’t give up on people too easily. And He asks that we walk with a humble spirit, not an arrogant one. That we see the need for Him and that we understand that we are nothing without Him. When our spirits are humble, we can be instructed. We can be led. Please God is a very simple thing, but the benefits are greater than anything we can imagine. No matter how good or glorious the wealth and possessions of the wicked may look, it all means nothing. It will all pass away and the wicked will be left to face the consequences of their actions. Dear Christian, you have no reason to envy what the wicked have. You are a child of God and God will always provide for you. Most importantly, you are saved. That is more important than anything in this world.
Dear God, I thank you that I can always know you more. Father, I pray that I grow in my knowledge of you on a daily basis, because in knowing you there is life and there is freedom. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
I am a 47 year old Native American woman who has servived being raped, being beaten and being shot by my husband who then selflessly killed himself in front of me. Seven years have past but I still can’t get the image out of my head. But, I thank God for keeping me alive. My past is my experience. An experience you can’t get in any class room. It was a hard challenging life, but By the grace of God I am here. Only to be a true testimony for the living God. To glorify His Holy Name. Fasting and prayer work hand in hand with each other. You cannot fast without praying – otherwise you will simply be on a hunger strike. The point of fasting is to sacrifice earthly needs in order to focus more on communing with God. Prayer is how we commune with God during this time of fellowship. It is in these times we can receive visions, revelations of God’s word, and a refreshed assurance in the goodness of God.
Boy, are we just like the people in Jesus’ day! We say we will follow Jesus, but we put it off with all kinds of excuses! I need to work; my kids are in sports; I’ll do it when I’m older. I don’t have time right now for you, Jesus, but the day will come when I will have time. Imagine how that works with our earthly relationships! There’s an old song called “Cat’s in the Cradle” that talks about a father who doesn’t have time for his son while the son is growing up and only realizes what he has done when he retires and the son now has no time for him. The good news is that Jesus will always have time for us no matter how long it takes for us to wake up and make room for him in our lives. But think of what we miss! We can miss years, or in some cases, a lifetime, of knowing that Jesus has our back – he will always be there to help and guide us. His grace will be there to keep us from making some pretty terrible mistakes. All we need to do is follow him. In one of the classes we had this spring, the video instructor explained that the “yoke” that Jesus asks us to take for our own, is not a burdensome piece of wood that keeps us tied to the plow, but rather, a point of view. Jesus asks us to view life as he did – working for justice, in communion with one another, always connected to the God who made us. Yes, it can be difficult at times because the world is always pulling us in all directions, but with the grace of God, we can do it. What has happened when you didn’t follow Jesus? I know that in my life, that’s when I was on my knees begging God to get me out of the mess I made. In the long run, life is actually easier when we give in, let go of the excuses, and just follow Jesus.
Dear God, my prayer is that everything I do will never be done out of ignorance or selfish desire. May I never have any ulterior motives in my actions because I know how this can nullify the very act. May I remember that the importance of all I do is to communicate with you and to ensure that your name is glorified at all times. In Jesus name I pray Amen
Our world today has a surplus of displaced people – men, women and children alike. Today’s reading from Exodus discusses this and the problems of widows and orphans and in very direct terms. We are not always welcoming to immigrants and we often do not make life easy for widows or orphans. We have camps in many countries where families who are running from violence, oppression and extreme poverty are held. Often these camps are not places where children can learn, where adequate food or medicine is available and opportunities for work is limited. If it’s not in our neighborhood do we even give it any thought? We may react with generosity when there is a catastrophe in a part of the world, but once another issue comes along do we think about the people who are suffering still? I hear a lot about rescuing animals, but not about rescuing people. There are children all over the world who are homeless, hungry, without the opportunity for education or medical care. This happens in the most developed and wealthy countries as well as in developing countries. In fact, in some of the poorest countries families with little or nothing themselves will reach out to such orphans. I, myself, have been the recipient of the generosity of people in Haiti and in Tanzania. We are all told we must be neighbor to others. Let us not be the ones who feel God’s wrath when his children cry out for justice.
“God made me and God don’t make no junk!” This slogan found its way to T-shirts several years ago. It may not be grammatically correct, but it’s true, nonetheless. Paul tells us in this verse that we are God’s “workmanship.” We are made by His hands. We are not “accidents.” We are works of art, crafted by His loving hands. Therefore, we have value. Nothing can take that away from us. Ugly words, insults, snide remarks…they are meaningless in the face of the fact that we are His workmanship. If we could only truly believe that about ourselves, there wouldn’t be a bully anywhere with any kind of power over us.
Father, Help me see myself as your workmanship, crafted on purpose with love by You. I am not less than. I am not worthless. I am a work of art that You chose to create and that makes me special. Amen.