My prayer this day

To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~2Thes. 1:11-12 (NRSV)

Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and dies in poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread, and by our understanding love give Peace and joy.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace, that where there is hatred I may bring love; that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness; that where there is discord, I may bring harmony; that where there is error, I may bring truth; that where there is doubt, I may bring hope; that where there are shadows, I may bring light; that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted; to understand than to be understood; to love than to be loved; for it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life. Amen. ~From Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge

Preposterous Promise

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you.

He will prepare your way,

a voice shouting in the wilderness:

” Prepare the way for the Lord;

make his paths straight.”

John’s preaching

John was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” ~Mark 1:1-8 (CEB)

“’If it sounds too good to be true, it is.’” We have all heard this with the warning about scam artists that are waiting to take our money and our property. And it is true that there are those who prey on the naïve, the trusting, and the innocent. Most of us can remember hearing about that seductive bargain that turned out to be a disaster. We have seen it happen and have promised ourselves it will never happen to us.

Because we see such deception in our world, it is not unusual that we guard ourselves against the truth of the gospel story. We are afraid that it is indeed too good to be true. What if we believed and then found out it was only myth and hype? Better to keep our distance. We listen to the gospel story, let it creep into the edges of our lives, but never can bring ourselves to embrace it fully. What if it is just another cheap commercial trick that has nothing to do with our need or destiny and everything to do with the storyteller’s need and fortune? Since it is better to be wise than to be a fool, we stand near the edge of the Advent story and keep all of our options open.

So often I stand on the edge of the light, afraid to believe, afraid to act, afraid that this story is too good to be true. But then in my better moments, when I listen closely to the story, move closer to the light, my fears seem to evaporate like an early morning mist, and I can believe again. I can believe that God who made all that is became clothed in our human flesh so that we might become clothed in God. I can believe that God claims me as a beloved child. I can believe that all my days are in God’s strong and tender hands. I can believe that life is good, beautiful, and eternal. I can believe that not only my days but all days are in God’s good and able hands. I can believe, rejoice, and wait trustingly and expectantly for the unfolding of God’s promise given so many ways and most clearly in the Advent story. Thanks be to God!

We are not unlike Zechariah in the presence of God’s messengers. Our questions are like his. How can this be? The angel speaks to us as to him, ‘Do not be afraid . . . for your prayer has been heard’ (Luke 1:13). God gives the promise and God keeps the promise. So even though it does sound too good to be true, it is true! Thanks be to God it is true! Two thousand years of Christian experience and testimony declare that the preposterous promise is try. Today believe that your prayer is heard and the light and presence of God will lead you through all your days.” ~Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, who came to us long ago in the birth of Jesus Christ, be born in us anew today by the power of your Holy Spirit. We offer our lives as home to you and ask for grace and strength to live as your faithful, joyful children always. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ~Mark 5:5 (CEB)

“We cannot see the world as God means it, save in proportion as our souls are meek. In meekness only are we its inheritors. Meekness alone makes the spiritual retina pure to receive God’s things as they are, mingling with them neither imperfection nor impurity of its own. A thing so beheld that it conveys to me the divine thought issuing in its form, is mine; by nothing but its mediation between God and my life can anything be mine.” ~From Life Essential by George MacDonald

Remove the scales from my eyes O Lord so that I may see the world as You would have me see it. Help me to accept Your will and to not force my way in things. Amen.

Centered

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Rom. 12:1-2 (CEB)

“For a spiritual life is simply a life in which all that we do comes from the center, where we are anchored in God: a life soaked through and through by a sense of his reality and claim, and self-given to the great moment of his will.

Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole. If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this. The soul’s house is not built on such a convenient plan: there are few soundproof partitions in it.” ~From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

Center me this day O Lord to do Your will. When difficulties and conflicts arise help me to see the whole picture. May my longings not distract me and stumble my feet this day. May my will reflect Your will. Amen.

A Thanksgiving prayer

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men with skin diseases approached him. Keeping their distance from him,  they raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, show us mercy!”  When Jesus saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they left, they were cleansed.  One of them, when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice.  He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.  Jesus replied, “Weren’t ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  No one returned to praise God except this foreigner?” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up and go. Your faith has healed you.” ~Luke 17:11-19 (CEB)

Only one of ten lepers returned to thank Jesus for healing them. It is easy to criticize the nine who did not thank Jesus for healing them. The sad realization is that is probably my average on a daily basis. I probably only thank God for one out of every ten blessing He bestows on me. If that much…

Sometimes God uses our children to remind us to be thankful. Through my sons prayers I am reminded that I too should be thankful for my bed, a warm house to call my own and a family that loves me. When I tell my son we are not to feel guilty that there are others that do not have these basic needs but that we are to thank God for what we do have, I am reminding myself of all that I take for granted on a daily basis. We are rich compared to some and for these rich blessings I am thankful. So ever grateful.

It is always right, O God, to praise you and to bless your name. Even if the harvest fail, even when economies falter, still you are our God; still you bless us richly. Help us to see your active hand in bounty or in scarcity, in pain as well as pleasure. When we fail to see you at work we fall into the sin of ingratitude, or even suppose that all that we have is the work of our own hands, the result of our own intelligence and industry. Forgive us, and save us from an existence so self-centered. Set us free from greedy and grasping hearts. By your generosity to us, teach us to be generous to others, and thus to give evidence to you that we are indeed your thankful people. This we pray through Jesus Christ, your most gracious and enduring gift to us, for whom be everlasting praise. Amen. ~From the book, This Day, a Wesleyan Way of Prayer, by Laurence Hull Stookey

In training

Train yourself for a holy life! While physical training has some value, training in holy living is useful for everything. It has promise for this life now and the life to come.   ~1 Timothy 4:7b-8 (CEB)

“Our Spiritual life is his affair; because, whatever we may think to the contrary, it is really produced by his steady attraction, and our humble and self-forgetful response to it. It consists in being drawn, at his pace and in his way, to the place where he wants us to be; not the place we fancied for ourselves.” ~From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

Draw me ever closer to You O Lord. Steady my life. Help me to fill that hole that can only be filled by You. Help me to align my pace with Yours so that I may better understand Your will. Help me to see myself with Your eyes. Amen.

In the end

A day is coming that belongs to the LORD,

when that which has been plundered from you will be divided among you.

I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem for the battle,

the city will be captured,

the houses will be plundered,

and the women will be raped.

Half of the city will go forth into exile,

but what is left of the people won’t be eliminated from the city.

The LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

On that day he will stand upon the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem.

The Mount of Olives will be split in half by a very large valley running from east to west.

Half of the mountain will move north,

and the other half will move south.

You will flee through the valley of my mountain,

because the valley of the mountains will reach to Azal.

You will flee just as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Judah’s King Uzziah.

The LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

On that day, there will be no light.

Splendid things will disappear.

On one day known to the LORD, there will be neither day nor night,

but at evening time there will be light.

On that day, running water will flow out from Jerusalem,

half of it to the Dead Sea

and half of it to the Mediterranean;

this will happen during the summer and the fall.

The LORD will become king over all the land.

On that day the LORD will be one,

and the LORD ‘s name will be one.

The entire land will become like the desert

from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem will be high up and firmly in place

from the Benjamin Gate to the place of the former gate,

to the Corner Gate, and from the Hananel Tower to the king’s wine vats.

People will dwell in it;

it will never again be destroyed.

Jerusalem will dwell securely.

This will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who

swarmed against Jerusalem:

their flesh will rot, even while standing on their feet;

their eyes will rot in their sockets;

and their tongues will rot in their mouths.

On that day, a great panic brought on by the LORD will fall upon them;

they will all grasp at the hand of their neighbors;

neighbors will attack each other.

Even Judah will fight in Jerusalem.

The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected:

gold, silver, and a great abundance of garments. ~Zech. 14:1-11 (CEB)

“Every United Methodist preacher since the time of John Wesley has been asked a series of questions before being admitted into full membership in an annual conference. The first question is, ‘Have you faith in Christ?’ The second question is, ‘Are you going on to perfection?’ Seventeen more questions follow, and every candidate is to be led in discussion and understanding of the questions by the resident bishop of the area.

Once during the turbulent sixties, Bishop Gerlad Kennedy was asking these historic question of candidates standing before him in the presence of the annual conference session. When asked if he was going on to perfection, one candidate responded ‘No!’ Bishop Kennedy quickly replied, ‘Then where are you going?’ It was an appropriate question then, and it is an appropriate question now- not only for preachers but also for all Christians.

Where are you going? If you continue on the course you have charted, where will it all end? So often we discount Christ’s return, forgetting that in many ways Jesus Christ has never left. Or we begin reasoning that since Christ has never left. Or we begin reasoning that since Christ has not returned yet, why think about it? But the truth is that at the very best, our lives are short and soon we will have reached our destination, whether Jesus Christ will have returned in a cosmic unfolding or not. Are you going on toward God? If not, where are you going? It is always a good time to review and if necessary redirect your life toward God.” ~Rueben P. Job, A Guide for All Who Seek God

Almighty God, as you have given Jesus Christ to be Savior and Lord, grant us now grace to accept and rejoice in our salvation and in His lordship. Amen.

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