Included

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Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. . . . See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work. ~Rev. 3:20, 22:12 (NRSV)

“It is being included in the eternal life of God that heals all wounds and allows us to stop demanding satisfaction. What really matters, of a personal nature, once it is clear that you are included? You have been chosen. God chooses you. This is the message of the kingdom.” ~From The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20)

He won’t abandon me

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Then Moses called Joshua and, with all Israel watching, said to him: “Be strong and fearless because you are the one who will lead this people to the land the LORD swore to their ancestors to give to them; you are the one who will divide up the land for them. But the LORD is the one who is marching before you! He is the one who will be with you! He won’t let you down. He won’t abandon you. So don’t be afraid or scared! ” ~Deut. 31:7-8 (CEB)

“Fear kills a mind and soul by slowly obliterating the visions we hold for our lives. That we should not fall prey is a constant theme in the scriptures. God does not want us to succumb to the chilling and killing aspects of fear; God encourages people not to be afraid of the circumstances in which they find themselves. It seems that one of God’s favorite themes is ‘Do not be afraid’ or ‘Do not fear.’ Perhaps God repeats this theme so often because we so often fear circumstances that confront us in our lives and ministries.

God is not suggesting that we will not confront fearful realities in our lives. God is simply promising not to abandon us to fearful circumstances but to go with us through the dark night of fear, danger, and uncertainty.

Fear, left to eat away at us, finally brings us to a ‘little-death.’ We must not deny our fear or avoid dealing with the fearful moment. In scripture God never suggests an escapist attitude as an antidote for fear. The many ‘do not be afraid’ promises in scripture do not suggest that we shun the fearful prospects in which we find ourselves, but God consistently promises to be with us in the dark and ominous moment.” ~Norman Shawchuck

Almighty Father, I thank You for being with me in the darkness. Thank You for guiding me and giving me strength. I know Your promises are true and that You will not let me down or abandon me. You march before me with Your light showing me the way. I will not give into fear this day, In Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.

From fear to courage

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It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you. ” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” ~John 20:19-23 (CEB)

“To feel fear is not unusual and sometimes it is a necessary and life-saving experience. Fear alerts us to the dangers that could harm us or even take our lives. However, when our fears dictate all our actions, we can become paralyzed and incapable of thinking clearly or living faithfully.

The disciples, victims of their fears, were behind closed and locked doors when Jesus appeared to them. Once the reality of his living presence was clear, their fears gave way to courage. Ever since Jesus appeared to the disciples, Christians have discovered that there is no need for fear when one is in the presence of God. To walk with God not only rebukes our fears and sends them away but also increases our courage.

To walk with God is to be reassured of direction, guidance, and strength for our daily journey. What do we have to fear when we are in God’s presence and care? Nothing at all! This does not mean that we will be spared discouragement, disease, or death itself. It does mean that we will never be alone. It means that we will be given strength to meet the demands of our daily lives. It means that we will receive wisdom to judge wisely and well in the directions we must take. It means that we will know the joy and tranquility of living in the presence of God in every circumstance of life. From fear to courage is the natural journey of all that walk with God. ~From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Ruben P. Job

Lord, You have promised to meet those who seek Your face. Come now and reveal your presence to me as I make myself present to you. Walk with me through this day guiding my steps with Your wisdom. May I feel Your peace and tranquility as I go about my work, knowing that I am never alone. In the name of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Busyness or true vocation

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This is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. ~Phil 1:9-11 (NRSV)

“Action, just as silence and the word, can help us to claim and celebrate our true self. But here again we need discipline, because the world in which we live says, ‘Do this, do that, go here, go there, meet him, meet her.’ Busyness has become a sign of importance. Having much to do, many places to go, and countless people to meet gives us status and even fame. However, being busy can lead us away from our true vocation and prevent us from drinking our cup.” ~From Can You Drink the Cup? By Henri J. M. Nouwen

So often I fall into that trap of “If I am busy then I must be about God’s work”. That is not always true, especially if it was not my work to do in the first place. I must always be mindful to seek God’s will with the work of my hands so that I do not interfere with His ultimate plan.

Heavenly Father, help me to discern the work that is meant for my hands. Help me to not interfere in Your work. Guide me along the path that you have created for me so that I may help in the building up of Your kingdom. Amen.

He came in peace

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The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him. They shouted,

“Hosanna!

Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessings on the king of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

Don’t be afraid, Daughter Zion.

Look! Your king is coming,

sitting on a donkey’s colt.

His disciples didn’t understand these things at first. After he was glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

The crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were testifying about him. That’s why the crowd came to meet him, because they had heard about this miraculous sign that he had done. Therefore, the Pharisees said to each other, “See! You’ve accomplished nothing! Look! The whole world is following him!” ~John 12:12-19 (CEB)

“The ass was the beast on which kings rode when they came in peace; only in war did they ride upon horses. The entry of Jesus was the claim to be King.

But at the same time it was the claim to be the King of peace. It was upon the ass of peace and not upon the horse of war that Jesus came. He came deliberately refusing the role of the warrior Messiah and claiming to be the Prince of peace. He was appealing for a throne, but the throne was in the hearts of men. In that entry into Jerusalem Jesus, in a dramatic symbolic action which spoke more loudly than any words, was making one last appeal to men, and saying to them: ‘Will you not, even now, even yet, accept me as your Lord and King, and enthrone me within your hearts?’

Jesus entry into Jerusalem was an action of supreme courage; it was an assertion of royalty and an offer of love; it was at one and the same time royalty’s claim and love’s appeal.” ~From Mind of Jesus by William Barclay

We miss the subtle things of life. The still small voice. The Prince of peace. The noises of this world grab at our attention more now than ever. The distractions of this world increase daily. Would we even notice a quiet entrance today?

Lord, Help me to see the small things in life and to hear You whisper my name. May I this day accept You as our Lord and King making a place for you in my heart. Amen.

To sit awhile with me

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Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.” ~Luke 19:39-46 (CEB)

“When Jesus was in his excruciating moment in the Garden of Gethsemane he needed his disciples to be with him while he prayed. He longed for the comfort of their presence and was pained by their inability to provide this for him. Jesus didn’t need Peter to slice off an ear of his enemy. He just needed Peter and the others to be there with him as he faced his enemies).” ~From The Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that sometimes others just need our presence. They may not be looking for words of comfort or even affirmations. Sometimes friends may just need someone to be “with them” in the sorry. Help me to see this day how I might “be with” others this day. Amen.

God’s peace

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Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion. Sing aloud, Daughter Jerusalem. Look, your king will come to you.  He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt, the offspring of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the warhorse from Jerusalem. The bow used in battle will be cut off; he will speak peace to the nations. His rule will stretch from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. ~Zech 9:9-10 (CEB)

Peacemaking must be the primary focus of all political leaders, whether in or out of power. But the temptations to personal power are too intense to be overcome by our insistently self-centered egos. Therefore, the peace must be God’s peace, a peace that is freely available when we turn inwardly to Jesus. Jesus is the model of the ultimate peacemaker, always pointing to Abba as the ultimate source of peace, justice, goodness, mercy, love, and creativity. In order to claim peace, we must relinquish our own private agendas and let ourselves be claimed by God. ~Robert A. Jonas from Henri Nouwen: Writings Selected with an Introduction by Robert A. Jonas

Heavenly Father, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. May all I do this day point back to you the Ultimate Peacemaker, our source of justice, goodness, mercy, love and creativity. Not my will but Yours be done. Amen.

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