Release

S: Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” Luke 6:9 (NIV)

O: Seems like a no-brainer, and yet the Pharisees and the teachers of the law couldn’t figure it out. “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus,” (6:11, NIV). Sounds like evil and destruction of life to me.

A: So what is it to do good? To save life?

For me, today, the answer is simple: be still. Rest in You. Listen to Your voice. Breathe You in. Be filled.

But the “doing” is more difficult. Perhaps it’s the weather – a sunny day with blue skies and green grass after a crazy 6” snow drop two days before – which makes me feel like I have to do something. Maybe it’s my own coping mechanism and response to quarantine – I don’t want to “waste” this time, so I’ve got to take advantage of it – do something, build something, learn something…

But, today is my Sabbath.

A gift from You.

A gift I don’t want to miss. So in the middle of writing all this. I made a choice. I turned up the volume of my favorite worship songs and just sat with You. Soaking in Your presence. Here, I found release. Release from the stress of everything outside my control and release from the pressure of everything within my control.

Release for my tears.

And then, release of joy – joy from You. Lord of the Sabbath, “Do-gooder and Life Saver.”

My Jesus.

P: How I love You. Thank You for inviting me to simply be still – for always knowing what I need. For a chance to just worship You – without distraction and with full release. Thank You for this gift of Sabbath rest – a holy reminder that You are God, and I am not.

Photo by George Sistonen

Ask First

S: They were surprised and impressed – his teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to. Luke 4:32 (MSG)

O: There is nothing like a good teacher – especially one who models both positional and personal leadership – confident in their teaching, as well as their authority. You weren’t aren’t just a good teacher, You are the best!

A: I cannot imagine what it must have been like to hear You teach. I mean, I’ve heard and learned from some pretty incredible preachers and teachers – but You take the cake! I want to follow after You! To always be learning from You.

I want to approach Your written Word with this kind of appreciation – this kind of reference and awe. I want to understand more about Your Kingdom. I want Your words to transform me from the inside out. That kind of learning comes when my heart is prepared to receive. If I want to learn more, I need to pray first – ask for understanding, for inspiration, revelation, and wisdom.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV)

P: Jesus, I love to hear Your voice. I love to imagine what it must have been like to hear You speak. I can’t wait for the day I can sit with You in heaven. Until then, Holy Spirit, continue to guide me. Keep me on the path of righteousness and everlasting truth. Keep me close to You. I love You, Teacher.

Photo by terimakasih0–624267

Word of God Speak

S: “A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.” Luke 2:32 (MSG)

“This child marks both the failure and recovery of many in Israel, a figure misunderstood and contradicted – the pain of a sword-thrust through you – but the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are.” Luke 2:34b-35 (MSG)

O: The Holy Spirit was on Simeon as he prophesied these words about You, Jesus. The Holy Spirit – our helper and guide.

And with Holy Spirit, You, Jesus, fulfilled all of this.

A: Holy Spirit, You are with me. You are a gift of Jesus (c.f. John 16:7-11). You speak truth to my heart. You give honest and encouraging words to Your followers – words to help build and edify. Just as You did here, Oh God, would You continue to speak of Your salvation – life we can only find in You!

P: Father, pour out Your Spirit. Build up Your Church, Oh God! Give us words of truth and hope for a broken and hurting world. Raise up heralds who are unafraid to speak boldly the Word of God! Call up Your people, Jesus. Stir up a new hunger for Your truth that turns them to their Bibles – let them read and discover for themselves the divine revelation of Who You are through Your Spirit and Truth. Awaken Your Church, Oh God!   

Photo by Noriko Cooper

Details Matter

S: And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:12 (ESV)

O: Why shepherds? And why mention the swaddling cloths? Here’s what I discovered: it is believed that these particular shepherds were responsible for raising the sacrificial Passover lambs. “So, these so-called “Levitical shepherds” would wrap up the lambs in swaddling clothes to protect them. This is, of course, noteworthy, as it shows that the swaddling would have been an important connection point for the shepherds,” (source).

You are a God of details. Everything You do, and speak, is with ordered purpose.

All clues revealing Your hand in all of it.

Like leaving breadcrumbs to find the Truth. To find You.

A: I am in awe. I know my human mind can never fully grasp it all, but I am amazed every time I catch a glimpse of why You did something the way You did – even knowing I can’t comprehend all of it.

P: Help me to keep discovering Your truths, God. Let my heart be comforted by the fact that details matter to You – even the details of my own life. Thanks for all the clues You leave behind to help us learn more and more about Who You are. I love You, Lord.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

A Student of Your Word

S: …so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. Luke 1:4 (NIV)

O: As a physician, Luke, was trained to look at details and facts.   Although there is no certainty about who Theophilus might have been, there is no question as to why Luke recorded the book of Luke and Acts – “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

A: I want to be certain about my faith. I want to know more about You, Jesus. Even though there are things I’ve been taught, I know there is always more to discover about You.

That’s why I read and study the Word of God. I want to read and uncover these truths for myself! Every time I come to Your Word with an open and hungry heart, You satisfy my desire with more truth! It doesn’t always happen all at once, and sometimes a sermon or commentary helps to bring understanding, but it never fails, the more I read the Bible the more certain I am of the things I’m learning – and the more I want to know.

P: As I begin to study the Gospel of Luke, God, would you give me knew eyes to see fresh revelation? Thank You for the “fact checkers” like Luke, God. Thanks for inspiring Luke to record the stories of Jesus – that we might also be able to know the certainty of the things we’ve been taught. Every time I approach Your Word, Father, may I come with a desire for You to tell me more. May I never lose my hunger for the Living Word of God, and may I always be a student of Your Word.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

What I Need to Hear

S: But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you. Mark 16:7 (ESV)

O: “…and Peter…” Called out by name.

How personally and intimately You know us. I can only imagine how specific You were with Your angel(s), “Be sure to tell Peter, I know what he’s thinking and feeling, and he must know that I still want to see him. I still love him. I still trust him. Tell Peter.”

And I can only guess the shame and inner turmoil Peter was experiencing. You told him this would happen – all of it – and yet, surely he must have felt he let You down. That he disappointed you. He had failed.

But You told him this would happen. And even when it did, it didn’t change Your love for him.

Your love is constant.

So You called him out by name, “…and Peter…”

A: Words cannot describe how deeply I feel this revelation today. That You would know exactly what Peter needed to hear – that You know exactly what I need to hear.

You call me by name.

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
John 10:3 (NIV) (emphasis mine)

I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.
Song of Songs 6:10 (NIV)

This is the beautiful relationship and gift of life I have with You.

You know my name. And I know Your voice.

P: Oh my sweet Jesus, how I love You so. I am undone this morning to think of all You did so that we could be in relationship with You. How great is Your love! “Thank You” seems like such a small thing compared to the gratitude in my heart, and yet I am – so thankful! You loved me first, and You called me by name. Thank You, my Jesus!

I love You, too.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

You Made A Way

S: And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:38 (ESV)

O: Just one line. That’s it. One sentence describing what took place in the natural, but oh, what it means in the supernatural!

“Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.” Exodus 26:33

You made a way! Now, all of mankind could enter into the very presence of God – and remain there…forever.

A: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-24

Spread hope! The Day is coming!

P: Jesus, thank You for making a way when there was no other way. God, we praise You alone! May we feel the sorrow of hopelessness around us – that it might ignite a new fire and boldness within us to speak more boldly about You than ever before! And may our words be followed up with love in action! Help us each to carry hope to those around us. Give us new courage, Lord! May we lift one another up, and may we continue to encourage one another. May we each remember today – personally and intimately – the sacrifice of Your life laid down for ours. May we never take it for granted.

Photo by Artem Bali

What Will I Choose?

S: And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.” Mark 11:22-23 (ESV)

O: Doubt – Feel uncertain about; uncertain – not able to be relied on; not known or definite

Believe – Accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of

A: Both of these words are verbs – action – requiring some kind of energy or effort from me. This means I can decide where I want to put my energy, my effort, my focus. I can waste myself pouring into doubt (which by its very definition is unreliable!), or I can invest myself – my soul – into believing (the truth – which God has proven over and over again!).

It’s my responsibility to feed my thoughts. While others can tell me how & what I should feed them, ultimately, it’s up to me what I want to dwell on. I decide which thoughts I want to grow.

Why do I squander my time and energy into thoughts of uncertainty when I can choose to invest them into the most certain thing I know? The most certain One I know?

Every time I doubt, I am questioning the character of God. That’s like cheering for the devil!

I refuse to let Satan have any more real estate in my mind! I refuse to feed thoughts of doubt and uncertainty. Instead I will focus on the promises of God!

Now is the time to work on my Scripture memorization. I want to bury the promises of God in my heart. So, beginning today, I will work on memorizing one Bible verse a week.

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

P: Thank You for Your faithfulness God. Thank You for being reliable…every time. I put my trust in You alone. Help me to choose You over any doubt that tries to creep in. You are faithful and true. You are good and kind. You are my friend and my God. I love You, Jesus.

Photo by Pixource–3867243

Let Go

S: And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 (ESV)

O: I have read this verse a dozen times without seeing what I saw today. Maybe it is because it’s set apart by commas in the ESV, but for the first time I saw, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and…”

How could I miss that?

A: You loved him. You didn’t say to him “go, sell all that you have and give to the poor…” as a way for him to show how much he loved You – You said it to show him how much You loved him. To show him that God could be trusted with everything. That You would provide all he needed and that You would care for him in this life and the life after. Forever.

You look at me, loving me, and You say, “You lack one thing: let go of control. Let go of self. Let go of your pride. Be a fool for Me! Then you will have true freedom and real life! Let me show You how I can be trusted with everything, with all of you. Let go, Kimberly. It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

This “trying to hold it together” act has to go! This internal conflict of picking and choosing what parts of my heart I want to reveal cannot continue. It is preventing me from the ALL You want to give me.

Because You love me.

“Let go.

Like a leaf falling from its limb, it’s time to let go.

Loosen your grip. Release.

I’ve got you, daughter. It’s okay. Let go…”

P: Forgive me, Father. I’ve held on to myself for too long. I don’t want to use my strength trying to hold it all together anymore. I want to be free – completely free – to step into the ALL You have for me – regardless of what anyone else thinks anymore! I want all of You. Just as You want all of me.

I choose to let go. I will rejoice in this moment! In this freedom!

I choose You, Jesus. Again.

I love You…too.

I Have A Question

S: But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. Mark 9:32 (ESV)

O: Why were they afraid to ask You? Were they afraid because of how You responded to their bickering over the Pharisee’s yeast – their lack of understanding? Were they embarrassed that they still didn’t understand? Were they ashamed, believing they should know by now what You mean when You say things like this? Did they not really want to know what You meant?

What were they afraid of?

A: What am I afraid of? Why don’t I ask You about things I don’t understand?

Is it because I’m afraid I’m not smart enough to understand? Have I convinced myself that You and I are on a “need-to-know” basis and most things I don’t need to know, and I need to be okay with that, so I don’t ask?

Is this what I believe? What does that say about You? About me? About us?

These reasons don’t sound like they are grounded in truth. They sound an awful lot like lies. Lies that murmur I’m not worth Your time. Lies that say I should be able to figure this stuff out on my own – and for crying out loud, why haven’t I figured it out yet? What’s wrong with me anyway?

Lies that say I’m not enough.

And I know that I’m not. I’m not enough.

But I also know that You are. I know that You are everything – that You know ALL things. I know that if I ask for wisdom – for understanding – You will give it to me – that You WANT to help me understand:

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescend to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believing, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves.
 James 1:5-6a (MSG)

P: I want to ask You about anything and everything, God! I’m sorry my pride has kept me from asking You first. Father, forgive me. I’m sorry I believed these lies. I know You have given me everything I need. I know You will continue to teach me – that you are a safe place for me to land when I am uncertain – that I can ask You anything. I know You will answer. I know You are for me! I believe You, Jesus. Help me overcome my disbelief.

Photo by KokomoCole–206298