Genuine Faith

S: The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:5-6 (ESV)

O: The size of a mustard seed; the amount of faith needed to move mountains is no larger than a period at the end of a sentence. But the size isn’t what is important – it’s the genuineness of faith that stirs the heavens to respond.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

A: I believe, God, that You are Who You say You are, and that You will do what You say You will do. I believe in You, Yahweh.

P: Oh God, keep me close to Your heart. Keep me trusting and believing in Who You are with childlike faith. I believe in You and Your promise. I believe You are good. I believe You are kind. I believe You are LOVE.

I believe You loved me first.

I love you, too.

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Let’s Get Creative!

S: “Even though his master was defrauded, when he found out about the shrewd way this manager had feathered his own nest, he congratulated the clever scoundrel for what he’d done to lay up for his future needs.” Jesus continued, “Remember this: The sons of darkness are more shrewd than the sons of light in their interactions with others. It is important that you use the wealth of this world to demonstrate your friendship with God by winning friends and blessing others. Then, when this world fails and falls apart, your generosity will provide you with an eternal reward. Luke 16:8-9 (TPT)

O: Instead of thinking about yourself and what you can gain here on this earth, be creative in how you can put others first – blessing the Father by blessing them.

A: Give it away: all of the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control received through Holy Spirit – share it with others! Get creative in blessing others, just as Your Father is creative in all the wonderful ways He blesses you!

P: Lord help us to become creatively generous! Let us not hold tightly to anything You’ve given us, but instead may we freely give to others – praising You all the while! Make us more and more like You, Jesus. Help us to surprise others with creative blessings!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Today I Want To Celebrate!

S: “‘It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:32 (ESV)

O: God celebrates!

A: I know this parable is rich with truths about repentance, but today I just want to think about God celebrating. I want to rejoice in knowing He is rejoicing over me and with me – even in the small things – if they matter to me, they matter to Him.  

I often forget to celebrate; rather than take time to acknowledge accomplishment (and victory), I am too quickly on to the next thing.

But today, I want to acknowledge the accomplishments I’ve made this week. To really stop and enjoy the fruit of my labor for more than a second.

Today, I want to celebrate. I want to rejoice!

P: Father, thank You for my health, for the air I breathe. Thank You for my able body. Thank You for my creative mind. Thank You for everything You provide – all these small things that bring me great joy! And thank You for all the BIG things! But I thank You most for loving me first! That in itself is reason to celebrate! I love You, too!

Photo by Ion Ceban @ionelceban

Little Flock

S: Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32 (ESV)

O: Oh the hope, joy, excitement, peace, acceptance, and love this statement conveys! “Little flock,” or in another translation, “dearest friends” – as if You are saying to them, “I know you feel small and unprotected, because I know you! But that is not the case. In fact, You are in good hands. You have the greatest Shepherd watching over You – and this is just the beginning! There is so much more! It is the Father’s good pleasure – His great delight! – to give you the kingdom. His presence here – with you – and you with Him.

Don’t be afraid. You are in good hands.

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
John 10:28 (ESV)

A: You are watching over me. Protecting me. Sustaining me. Providing all I need – not just to survive, but to live fully alive!

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10b (NIV)

You see me. You know me. You love me.

You delight in me.

I am Your little lamb.

I have nothing to fear, for You are with me.

You are the Good Shepherd.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.
Psalm 23 (NIV)

P: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Photo by analogicus–8164369

Because You Love Me

S: Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1 (ESV)

O: Some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard spoken are the ones uttered through prayer – I can’t even imagine hearing an audible prayer from You, Jesus – such confidence, humility, reverence, authority, and certainty – believing and knowing Your requests are heard and answered; surely the peace that followed was tangible.

It’s no wonder the disciples asked for You to teach them how to pray – longing to feel this connection with the Father – to experience a joining of spirit.

Not only do You teach them, You explain to them how prayer works: Ask, seek, knock.

You use a parable to illustrate Your point. When I need something, regardless of what it is or what time of day or night, I can go to the One who has what I need and I can ask confidently and boldly, refusing to leave until I have what I need.

A: I know that You can do all things and provide everything I need, and yet, sometimes, when I pray, I try to give You “a way out” so I won’t be disappointed. What I realized this morning is I have put more faith in Your sovereignty than I have in You.

That’s why I throw on the disclaimer, “if it’s in Your will…”

But Your will is always for me – always for life and love – even in ways I can’t see or fully understand, even when the answer isn’t the one I was hoping for, because You are always for me.

I can ask You for anything, because You love me.

You love all of us. Anyone Everyone can ask You for anything:

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds,
and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
Luke 11:10 (ESV)

P: You hear and answer every prayer. “Father, reveal who you are. Set the world right. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the devil,” (Luke 11:2-4, MSG).

This really is all we need. And all of it is found in You.

Thank you, Jesus.

Photo by GOLFX

Hold Onto Me A Little Longer

S: The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:38-39 (ESV)

O: I’m trying to imagine what that must have been like for this freed man – begging to stay with You, and then being told he needed to stay there to tell others what God had done for him. And then to do it – to leave You.

I know this was necessary – necessary so he could share with his fellow people where You could not (because they didn’t want you there) – but if I’m being honest, I don’t know that I could do it.

Not today anyway.

A: Today, I am a mess. Today, I just want to curl up in Your lap and get away from this world that is falling apart – this world with its current pandemic and contradicting disjointed messages from leaders about the best way to handle it.

I can’t do today, Jesus – not without You.

So this idea of being asked to leave You to go and tell others about You sounds impossible to me today.

But, I know that it was, and is, necessary.

And, I know, too, that I have the incredible gift of Holy Spirit with me. So I never have to leave You, because You will never leave me.

But, today, Jesus, today, I just need to sit with You a little longer.

P: Please don’t make me go out there yet, Jesus. Not until You fill me again with Your Spirit. Not until I’ve cried all my tears of sorrow, grief, and confusion out – and the joy of Your Spirit comes rushing over me.

Moses said, “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people?” Exodus 33:15 (MSG)

We need You, God! Make Your presence known to us! We are nothing without You, Lord.

Thanks for hearing my prayer, Daddy. Thanks for answering, for responding before the words even form in my heart. Thank You for coming in close when I need You most.

I’m better now…because of You.

Always because of You.

I love You, too, Daddy.  

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

A Good Heart

S: But the seed in the good earth – these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest. Luke 8:15 (MSG)

O: Good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what…sticking with it until there’s a harvest.

A: When I hear my own thoughts or words, or see my actions that are not reflective of Jesus’ love, I start to doubt my “good-heart.” This is the lie that is (for me) my greatest battle: I have a bad-heart and I’m not going to make it; I won’t fulfil the destiny God has set before me, because there isn’t any goodness in me.

That’s the lie.

The truth is: any goodness in me comes from the Jesus within.

When I choose – because it is a choice – to doubt my goodness – I’m doubting the goodness of Christ!

But I know He is good. I know that to my core!

As I write this out this morning, I realize I’ve been condemning myself – shaming myself for choices in my past. Believing a lie that I let God down – that I didn’t hold on “no matter what…”

But that isn’t true either.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (NIV)

It may not have looked like I thought it would or what I thought it should, but I have never let go of You, Jesus! Even in my darkest, loneliest, most confusing and uncertain times – I’ve held onto You – Your faithfulness, Your goodness, Your kindness…Your love.

And You’ve never let go of me.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

These are the truths I will hold onto. Even if I have to remind myself moment by moment. There will be a harvest! And You, Jesus, will receive all the glory! For you are good, true, and faithful!

P: I’m trying, Jesus. I know You know my struggle(s) – even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else – You get me. And NOTHING changes Your love for me. Nothing. I know You are working things out in my mind and heart – preparing me for the good works You prepared in advance for me to do. I can trust this process, because I can trust You. Help me to keep a good-heart. Jesus, I know a harvest is coming – make me ready, Lord – so that I will hold on…no matter what.

Photo by Catkin–127770

Teach Me, Lord

S: Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied. Luke 7:40 (NLT)

O: I’ve journaled on this verse before, but it’s such a great reminder of how You work with us. You know our thoughts – even before a word is spoken, and in that moment, You call us out on it – and we get to decide if we want to listen.

Teachable moments. You are the Master of them.

A: I don’t want to miss anything You have to tell me, God. I want to be called out on my thoughts! I want to transform my thinking, but I need Your help. I need You, Teacher, to speak to me – to show me where I’m not thinking correctly – where I’m making judgements based on what I think is best, and not on what You KNOW is best. I need Your heavenly wisdom.

P: Lord, help me to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Teach me, Lord. Stop me in my judgments, Holy Spirit. Please keep inviting me in to learn from You. Go ahead, Teacher, whatever You need to say, I’m listening.

I love You, Jesus.

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As You Say

Day 64 – Just as You Say

S: “Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”7:7-8 (ESV)

O: Authority – the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. This is what the centurion focuses on – he can’t help it; it’s been ingrained into him by the military. He knows his place and the authority that rests in it.

But it’s when he acknowledges Yours that his miracle occurs.

A/P: You are the King of kings and Lord of lords. There are times I’ve missed this, Jesus. There are times I’ve failed to recognize and acknowledge Your authority – the authority You hold over everything always. I’ve failed to ask You to simply say the word. Please forgive me, Lord?

And then I am, just as You say…

Forgiven.

Photo by George Becker

Work In Progress

S: “he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” Luke 6:48 (ESV)

O: I can do things the quick and easy way to simply get them done, or I can do the hard work to build something that lasts.

A: I haven’t always dwelt on this parable; probably because I’ve heard it so many times, I didn’t think there was anything else I needed to know about it (that darn pride sneaks in all the time, doesn’t it?). But today I sat in this verse a little longer.

Building great things takes time.

I often forget that.

I often forget that You and I are building something great with my life – moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, year-by-year. We are building together – and what we are building can’t be done in a day – it takes a lifetime.

But in order to build something stable and secure, something that withstands the storm, a strong foundation is required. This foundation is You – my relationship with You. If I continue to work on what is important, I will develop the skills necessary for the construction of everything else built upon it. Working with You, I can trust that You will bring people, resources, and ideas to help complete the work.

My life is a work in progress, but we are progressing none the less.

You and me. Me and You. Building something great…together.

And building something great takes time.

P: Jesus, I’m so grateful You are a carpenter! Thank You for all the plans You put into making my life great! Please forgive me when I get impatient – wondering when the work will be done. I know the final work was done on the cross – and what we are building together now, is simply a reflection of that love. Thanks for helping me build something that lasts.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

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