What to Do in the Silence
Can you imagine the deafening silence those who loved Jesus experienced after His marred holy body was placed in a tomb? What can be said in desperate hours and days of silence? How do followers fill their hollow heart when it is weighed with loss or burdened by sin? Nehemiah 9 shows us. It’s a chapter that recounts people who are fasting, in sackcloth with dirt on them. It’s a chapter of people who, in desperation, read the book of the law and confess and worship. We’re privy to their prayer. Nehemiah 9:5-8a, “Arise, bless the LORD your God forever and ever! O may Your glorious name be blessed and exalted above all the blessing and praise! You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before you. You are Lord God, Who chose Abram and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees and gave him the name Abraham. You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him…” What do we do in times of desperation and when God is silent? We bless God’s glorious name.
“‘O may Your GLORIOUS name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise!’” Nehemiah 9:5
Have you been with someone when they died? I was with my mother, father, and mother-in-law when they died. Webster defines death as “the irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity.” That is what happened to Jesus as a result of the horrific scourging and crucifixion He suffered. The Roman soldiers who oversaw His death were skilled in their profession. They pronounced Jesus dead. But, as we know and Romans 4:17 explains, God “GIVES LIFE to the DEAD and calls into being that which does not exist.” Death seems final, but God. Yes, but God who gives life to the dead, gave life to Jesus and will give life to us after our earthly bodies cease functioning. How does it make you feel to know that God will give life to you after your earthly death?
Heavenly Father, who GIVES LIFE TO THE DEAD, we praise You and exalt Your name! Thank You for Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection. Thank You for raising our loved ones to eternal life. Thank You for the resurrection life we will one day experience. We love You and praise Your holy name!
If You Can’t Catch Your Breath
Do you ever feel like you can’t breathe; you have so much weighing on you? Or, you’re running so fast, it’s hard to catch your “breath”? The fact is, we can feel those ways at times; literally, physically depleted. But, we can also feel fatigued and out of breath spiritually. If, and when, we feel like we’ve had the breath knocked out of us through financial, physical, emotional, or relational blows, we can turn to our Heavenly Father. Isaiah 42:5-6 says, “Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it, I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations.” What comforting words! God gives us our breath and spirit. Our BREATH GIVER comforts us that He holds us by the hand and watches over us. Our BREATH GIVER reminds us of our covenant relationship with Him and of our appointment as a light to the nations. Our identity, our comfort, and our purpose are God breathed.
LORD, Thank You for giving us Your BREATH of life and SPIRIT. May we in turn, live for You and Your purposes.
Gifts! Who doesn’t like to receive a gift? Presents wrapped with brightly colored paper and bows. A gift tag with OUR name on it. And most importantly, someone holding the gift and offering, “Take it! I bought it for you!” Beaming, our Lord God waits for us to take the gift described in Romans 6:23. That in spite of our sin, He offers the “free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our Heavenly Father gives us a gift that cost His Son’s life. Forgiveness is the first thing we see in the gift. Then the gifts of His Holy Spirit, heaven, friendship, eternity, and so much more! With each day, we realize there’s more of God’s love to unwrap. The Gift Giver smiles as our eyes light up in joyful praise.
Lord God, thank You for GIVING us the GIFT of eternal life in Christ Jesus and for all that is encompassed in the gift of His life! We praise You.
Could You Use Some Gentleness
When you think of Jesus, do you think of Him as gentle? In Matthew 11:29, it’s one of the ways He describes Himself. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”” What does Christ mean when He says He is gentle or meek, another word for gentle? It is often defined as “power under control.” Although I don’t fully understand this great combination of attributes, I see them in my husband. Keith has great strength of character; yet he stoops down to pick a tiny flower amidst a field of grass in order to gently hand it to me on our walks. So Christ, while holding infinite power, offers us His gentle, humble heart where we find rest for our souls. He invites us to walk closely with Him and learn from Him.
Lord Jesus, You are both strong and GENTLE! We praise You!
Passing Earthling or Proven Jesus
Who are you following these days? An earthling or Jesus? Why does it matter? Because we’re all going to die one day and Jesus says He alone is the “way” (John 14:6) to eternal life in heaven. Some people argue that there are many ways to heaven. Jesus says not so in Matthew 7:13-14. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” And, in John 14:6, “I am the way,…no one comes to the Father but through Me.” We can believe an earthly spokesman/author or we can believe the One who said He came from “above,” who was crucified, buried, resurrected 3 days later, and ascended into the clouds. I choose to believe the One who demonstrated His other worldly, heavenly powers over an earth born personality voicing their opinions. What about you?
LORD Jesus, we praise You, the GATE by whom all who call upon You can be saved.
What makes a friend? How would you define “friend”? Urban Dictionary defines “friend” as, “someone you love and who loves you, someone you respect and who respects you, someone whom you trust and who trusts you. A friend is honest and makes you want to be honest, too. A friend is loyal.” Merrian-Webster defines “friend” as, “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” Jesus defines friend in John 15:14 this way. “You are My FRIENDS if you do what I command you.” Jesus’s definition cuts through any pretense. It’s not what we say or sing. It’s what we do that demonstrates if we love, respect, and trust Jesus. Has Jesus earned our respect? Most certainly. Does Jesus deserve our love? Without a doubt. Do we trust Jesus? That question is answered by our actions of obedience or disobedience to Him.
Jesus Christ, wonderful Lord, Savior, and FRIEND, may we show You that You are our friend by obeying what You tell us to do.
Culture Shaper Tip: Do something Jesus tells you to do today even if it’s not comfortable or your natural inclination.
You Smell Good
Do you enjoy pleasant fragrances? Did you know that God does, too? Did you know that you can be a sweet fragrance to God? He can get a whiff of you and think, “You smell good!” How fun is that – to smell good to our Heavenly Father? How in the world can we smell good to God? Ephesians 5:2 answers that question. It tells us to “…walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a FRAGRANT AROMA.” Christ’s sacrificial love and life were a fragrant aroma to God. And, we’re called to imitate Christ. When we do, we’re a sweet aroma to our Heavenly Father. What if we haven’t been walking in sacrificial love, but rather been selfish or unloving? We need to acknowledge our sin and put it away from us by confessing the sin and asking Jesus to forgive us. How does that affect our spiritual “aroma”? When writing Pray with Purpose, Live with Passion, I used my daughter’s puppy, Bailey, as an example that we smell like whatever we hold close to our heart. Bailey had a distinct puppy odor and after holding her, her odor remained on me. It wasn’t pleasant so I showered and changed clothes. Just like a dog has an odor, so sin has an odor. If we’re clinging to a “pet” sin, God and others get a whiff of it. What can we do to rid ourselves of the stench of sin? Put the sin aside and bathe in God’s forgiveness and grace. Then, as Christ was, we’ll be a fragrant aroma to God.
Christ Jesus, we praise You for walking in love and giving Yourself as an offering and sacrifice to God; a FRAGRANT AROMA. Help us follow Your example.
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A Sippy Cup Won’t Do
When we come to God for new life in Christ, we don’t come to a sippy cup of refreshing life. We come to an overflowing fountain of life. “Come to Me and drink!” Jesus invites us. (John 7:37) And don’t stop drinking. God’s fountain flows in the “innermost being” of the one who believes in Jesus. From where does the living water originate? Psalm 36:9 tells us. “For with You is the FOUNTAIN of LIFE…” God is a FOUNTAIN of LIFE. Are you thirsty? Are you dry? Go to your Heavenly Father with your heart open wide. Drink in His Spirit.
Lord, You are the FOUNTAIN of LIFE! Fill us. Flow in and through us.
What Makes My Heart Sing
Of all the ways that God is described, FORGIVING, is one of God’s character traits that I most appreciate. It’s His character trait that makes my heart sing. Why? Maybe because I’m so mindful of my sins. Maybe because no matter my intent, no matter how hard I try, I fail every day. Maybe because I’m aware of those who aren’t forgiving; who pridefully stand in judgement of the one who sins and points out the error of their ways. I’m blessed to have a husband who reflects Jesus’s heart of love and forgiveness. But, I know some wives and husbands who don’t forgive. There are some parents and children who don’t forgive. Some friends don’t forgive. First John 1:9 states it, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to FORGIVE us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is good news to which we can cling. And, it’s an example He tells us to follow.
Lord Jesus, thank You for FORGIVING us. We pray we not take Your forgiveness lightly, but rather, commit to live more fully for You.