Stop and remember

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Jesus’ disciples had forgotten to bring any bread, so they had only one loaf with them in the boat. He gave them strict orders: “ Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.” The disciples discussed this among themselves, “He said this because we have no bread.” Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “ Why are you talking about the fact that you don’t have any bread? Don’t you grasp what has happened? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing? Don’t you have eyes? Why can’t you see? Don’t you have ears? Why can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke five loaves of bread for those five thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”
They answered, “Twelve.” “ And when I broke seven loaves of bread for those four thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”
They answered, “Seven.” Jesus said to them, “ And you still don’t understand?”
~ Mark 8:14-21 (CEB)

Sometimes I forget to stop and remember. I forget to slow down and understand. I forget to grasp the meaning that Jesus has for me. I forget to see. My eyes are not on Him.

When I don’t hold on to the truths that Jesus has shared with us I find anxiety and a restless heart robbing me of the peace that is promised when I place my trust in God. I stand there wondering why I am anxious… oh, I forgot to trust God again.

Life sometimes is too full. It holds so many opportunities with activities and distractions. When I find myself so busy is it any wonder that I grow anxious and lose my sense of peace and tranquility?

Heavenly Father, today I choose to remember that You alone are able to care for all that exists; I can trust my all from the smallest concern to the largest. Today I search out Your wisdom and love. I know that when I place my trust in You the gifts of peace, hope, calm and joy will be mine in abundance. Amen.

Forever

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. ~Luke 21:33 (CEB)

Today I needed to hear words that would never pass away. We live in a world with constant disappointments. Someone lets us down, someone doesn’t do what they promised. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we planned… or hoped. But Jesus’ words will never change. There is steadiness in what I read in the Bible. I know that I can count on God to be and do what He says he will do. Human beings will disappoint. I know I have disappointed others who counted on me. But it does my heart good this morning to see the words in print telling me… that though it may seem that nothing lasts forever God’s Word remains.
Lord, it can be hard to bounce back from disappointment but I thank You this day that You will never disappoint. I thank You that Your words are true and will last forever. Amen.

Armor

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Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate,  and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers. As for me, pray that when I open my mouth, I’ll get a message that confidently makes this secret plan of the gospel known. I’m an ambassador in chains for the sake of the gospel. Pray so that the Lord will give me the confidence to say what I have to say. ~Ephesians 6:10-20 (CEB)

These verses from Ephesians are some of my favorite. As I am looking for strength outside myself, I find that these verses promise me strength through God’s armor. Since I am an active person I like the visual given here of putting on specific things to enable me to stand strong. One point that stands out is in verse 13, a warning is given. We are to pick up the FULL armor of God. We shouldn’t be careless and only put on a few of the items before heading out into the world. We need it all, the belt of truth, the breastplate of justice, shoes to spread the good news of peace, the shield of faith. and the helmet of salvation. Leaving off any one of these items leaves us vulnerable. It is interesting to note that all of these things are defensive items that protect and create a wall of protection for us. The only offense we have is God’s Word.

Heavenly Father, continue to help me stand strong. Remind me to place upon myself the full armor You have provided me for my protection as I seek to be your hands and feet in the world. May I carry Your word deep within me this day so that I always know Your truth. Amen

Choose blessings

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Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, ~Isaiah 58:6,9 (CEB)

“It is an ongoing temptation to think of ourselves as living under a curse. The loss of a friend, an illness, an accident, a natural disaster, a war, or any failure can make us quickly think that we are no good and are being punished. This temptation to think of our lives as full of curses is even greater when all the media present us day after day with stories about human misery.

Jesus came to bless us, not to curse us. But we must choose to receive that blessing and hand it on to others. Blessings and curses are always placed in front of us. We are free to choose. God says, Choose the blessings!” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Today Lord, with all I see reported on the news, I need to recall the blessings You have bestowed on me. It is so easy to let myself get downcast by the oppression, the wars, the politics  and the disasters I see. Some people seem to thrive on the news of others misery but Lord I feel weighed down by all the reported stories. Help me to sort through all the information. Give me Your eyes to see where the real stories lie. Give strength to my hands and energy to my feet to do Your will. Don’t let me shut down and shut out the hurts of the world just because a company wants to capitalize on the pain. I want to see through the sensationalism and see the truth. Amen.

In the world

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If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. ~Isaiah 58:10-11 (CEB)

“Everything that comes from God asks for an open and faithful heart.  We cannot live with hope and joy in the end-time unless we are living in a state of preparedness.  We have to be careful because, as the Apostle Peter says:  “Your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5.8).  Therefore Jesus says:  “Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life. … Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).  That’s what living in the Spirit of Jesus calls us to.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

It is so easy to let my heart become hardened by the world. The problems I see around me, overwhelming. There is too much hurt in the world. Too much evil. At times I just want to bury my head in the ground and just live in my own little space, happy and carefree. But I am called to live in this world. I am called to do what I can. I am called to stay awake to the needs that are around me. With God, I can obtain the strength I need to tackle some of the issues I see that need tending.

Heavenly Father, this day I pray for Your heart. Give me the strength to not turn a blind eye. Help me not feel overwhelmed by all the needs in the world. Give me a discerning eye to know which tasks are mine to do. Give me the strength I need to follow You into the world today and do what I can. Amen.

Keeping it together

But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls. ~Luke 21:18-19 (CEB)

“How can we not lose our souls when everything and everybody pulls us in the most different directions?  How can we “keep it together” when we are constantly torn apart?

Jesus says:  “Not a hair of your head will be lost.  Your perseverance will win you your lives” (Luke 21:18-19).  We can only survive our world when we trust that God knows us more intimately than we know ourselves.  We can only keep it together when we believe that God holds us together.  We can only win our lives when we remain faithful to the truth that every little part of us, yes, every hair, is completely safe in the divine embrace of our Lord.  To say it differently:  When we keep living a spiritual life, we have nothing to be afraid of.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Heavenly Father I thank You for the strength You daily give me to keep it all together. I know that because You love me that there is nothing I should fear. Give me courage just for this day. Amen.

When fear comes knocking

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But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” ~ Matthew 14:27 (CEB)

Every season brings fresh reasons for fear. So each shift in my schedule, new venue I take on, new road I explore or change I go through is cause for my old enemy, fear to come knocking at my door.

Fear makes me doubt all that I know. It corrodes my confidence in God. Fear makes me second guess God and who I am in God. I catch spiritual amnesia forgetting what God has done for me and only seeing what He has done for others. Fear cripples and deafens my hearing until I can no longer hear God. Fear sucks the life out of my soul and dulls my faith.

Left unchecked fear will imprison my soul. Only prayer can release me. Jesus says, ““Do not fear. Only believe, and (you) will be saved.” (Luke 8:50) Only until fear is exposed can I be released from its hold on me. Faith counteracts fear and with faith, I can hear Jesus say to me “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)

Lord, Help me remember today that just because Fear comes knocking at my door does not mean that I have to open up the door much less invite it in for coffee. Keep fresh in my mind all the blessings you have bestowed on me. I thank You for Your loving grace. Amen.

 

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