Worthy is the Lamb

After Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet and had put his outer garment back on, he sat down again. Then he said:

Do you understand what I have done?13 You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am.14 And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. 15 I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16 I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them.17 You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.      John 13:12-17 (CEV)

“Do you understand what I have done?” Jesus asks. If I look at what most of us do in the Church when it comes to communion and fellowship, especially those of us in leadership, the answer is, with great shame, “No, Jesus.”

Jesus is our LORD (Master) and He sends us. There is NO ONE in the Church today who is greater than the message they’ve been given to share nor are they greater than the One who gave them the message. Whether we are a pastor or teacher, evangelist or prophet, or apostle, if we have been given a message to deliver to God’s children, we should be on our knees in humility and holy fear. And when the message has been given, those listening should remember nothing but the message and that it came from God. We are only an instrument in the hand of our extraordinary God.

Jesus washed the feet of all. Jesus washed the feet of every disciple. He washed Peter’s feet even when Peter initially refused; even though Jesus knew Peter would reject Him not just once but three times! He washed their feet even though He knew those same feet would flee and desert Him. “Who me? No, I don’t know anything about this Jesus.” And Jesus washed the feet of Judas Iscariot who would turn Him over to those who intended to kill Him. Jesus gives me a clear message: I am to be a servant of all! Whatever and wherever God sends me, I will be a conduit of His Word, His grace, and His mercy.

Jesus paid the price of reconciliation. I have a relationship with Father God because of what Jesus has done. Jesus has made it possible for all to come and meet and be with the Father for all eternity. Whether child, teenager, young adult, middle age homeless person or a senior saint who has been in the church longer than they can remember, they are God’s children and loved by Him.

Do we feed the homeless during the week but hope none of them show up on Sunday? Is our Sunday service all about making members comfortable and happy or about worshiping our LORD? Do we say prayer is important but then only give a perfunctory “Amen” to the pastor’s prepared 60-second prayer?

This is Holy Week. Have I given God any time even though He gave His Son for my sins? Or is it business as usual? What does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean in my every day life? Will I read this Scripture and just move on without any further thought?

Stop. Think. And when you come together for supper tonight, think of what Jesus meant about God blessing those who do what He did. In our homes, may we serve each other and worship our LORD with all we say and do. And when we come together in our church fellowship, may our eyes be open and our spirit’s willing to worship God in prayer, in music, in hearing His Word and in doing something kind to someone we meet. May we consider others needs before our own. May we bring glory to God!

Agnus Dei written and sung by Michael W Smith

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Receive the Passion

“Don’t be fooled by those who will come and claim to be me. They will say, “I am Christ!” and “Now is the time!” But don’t follow them. 9 When you hear about wars and riots, don’t be afraid. These things will have to happen first, but that isn’t the end.

10 Nations will go to war against one another, and kingdoms will attack each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in many places people will starve to death and suffer terrible diseases. All sorts of frightening things will be seen in the sky.

12 Before all this happens, you will be arrested and punished. You will be tried in your meeting places and put in jail. Because of me you will be placed on trial before kings and governors.13 But this will be your chance to tell about your faith.

14 Don’t worry about what you will say to defend yourselves. 15 I will give you the wisdom to know what to say. None of your enemies will be able to oppose you or to say that you are wrong. 16 You will be betrayed by your own parents, brothers, family, and friends. Some of you will even be killed. 17 Because of me, you will be hated by everyone. 18 But don’t worry! 19 You will be saved by being faithful to me.”      Luke 21:8-19 (CEV, emphasis mine)

Many people call Wednesday “Hump Day” because it signifies the middle of their work week and then they are on the downward slide into the weekend. This is a week when we are focused on Jesus’ passion to save us. And here, as time is growing short, Jesus tells us not to distracted and deceived into believing we are on some slide into the “End Times.” I believe Jesus wants me to be focused on the mission, the call, the job He has put into my heart to do in His Kingdom.

I’ve never been a runner but I have read and listened to people who do run marathons, etc. They tell me there is a point in the race that is crucial. It is when the runner “hits the wall” of muscle fatigue and pain. They can see the end in sight and may feel they can’t keep going or they can only coast in. They must find that final spark to push on, that final bit of energy and heart for the win. I believe Jesus is saying that here.

He is running the race He has been given and He speaks to me in my race. He encourages me not to be distracted by what I see with my eyes. The news of the world is horrific with wars, killings in schools, rejection of moral standards and the acceptance of selfish ambition and gratification. Churches are seen as businesses and self-absorbed places where a few create their place of comfort and pronounce judgment on anyone who threatens that. Even parents and families will reject those who place God before their wants, calling them “fanatics.”

Jesus showed me how to stay the course even when it becomes a Via Dolorosa, a Way of Suffering. During this Passion Week I can find myself hitting the high points, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and ignoring the journey Jesus began in Bethlehem. He never wavered from His mission, His call, His job which the Father had given Him to do in the Kingdom. Even during the last crucial hours when the fatigue and pain were great, when He was alone, He walked the Way of Suffering.

I know there are many who are reading this who are in their Via Dolorosa. You are not alone. I am not alone. No matter the path or how long the race, Jesus is there. He will lead. He will carry the burdens. He will speak to us true promises. “I have gone to prepare a place of rest for you, so that where I am, you also will be.” (John 14:2-4) Let us stay the course this week. There is much to learn from our Savior.

Via Dolorosa written by Niles Borop & Billy Sprague & sung by Sandy Patti

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Tell What I Know

The high priest questioned Jesus about his followers and his teaching. But Jesus told him, “I have spoken freely in front of everyone. And I have always taught in our meeting places and in the temple, where all of our people come together. I have not said anything in secret. Why are you questioning me? Why don’t you ask the people who heard me? They know what I have said.”

As soon as Jesus said this, one of the temple police hit him and said, “That’s no way to talk to the high priest!”

Jesus answered, “If I have done something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?” Jesus was still tied up, and Annas sent him to Caiaphas the high priest.     John 18:19-24 (CEV)

Jesus taught in the open. The gospels relate few occasions in which Jesus taught in the Temple. He took His teaching to the people and His message was for everyone. There was no manipulation or “pumping up” the crowds. Jesus’ message was so simple and different from anything the people had ever heard.

I grew up in a church with a tradition that only the priest read the gospel account. He would announce, “A reading from the Holy Gospel of Luke” and that was it, no chapter or verse. I never participated in a Bible study until I was almost 40 years old. Reading the Gospels for myself was a shattering experience for me. WOW! Here was everything right here in front of me, for me to read, for me to reason what it said. I devoured the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation and then began in Genesis. Amazed does not fully describe what I was feeling.

It is so important for me to share with my children and grandchildren the sweet Word of God. To tell them what God has done in my life. It is important for them to see the truth of my relationship with Jesus – good and not good. If I share only the victories then what are my children and grandchildren going to think when they struggle? Struggle is part of the gospel story too, isn’t it?

My friends, I beg you to listen as I teach. I will give instruction and explain the mystery of what happened long ago.
These are things we learned from our ancestors, and we will tell them to the next generation.
We won’t keep secret the glorious deeds and the mighty miracles of the Lord.      Psalm 78: 1-4 (CEV)

In the same church where I did not read the Bible, I heard the true passion of Christ’s love for me as He suffered and died as the perfect sacrifice to cover my sins. For most of my growing years I went to worship every day before school. When I was 12, I began to sing in the adult choir and we sang at least one service every day of Holy Week. The music was so beautiful as voices and organ soared throughout the cathedral. I remember one year a severe thunderstorm came up during the Good Friday service. Just as the minister utter Jesus’ words, “It is finished.” this HUGE clap of thunder shook the building. I suspect most of us went home that evening with an extra helping of belief in our spirits!

This year share something more than Easter eggs and bunny stories with your children and grandchildren. And as you sit around the table groaning under the weight of all the food, remember those who are on the outside, alone, homeless and hungry, looking in. Share the blessings God has given you. When God gives a blessing and I allow myself to be a conduit of His love, the blessing isn’t divided but multiplied. Whatever bread I cast out on the water of this life, God will multiply it larger than I can imagine.

Jesus, my Redeemer lives. He is alive! His plan is for me to freely share the Hope I have found in Him. When the storms of this life and the tragedies bring seemingly unbearable suffering. Jesus is the anchor I count on and my testimony will help others to trust in Him, too.

My Redeemer Lives written & sung by Nicole C Mullen

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Desire the Best

Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean. I want you to desire the best gifts. So I will show you a much better way.      1 Corinthians 12:30-31 (CEV)

My husband is a wonderful teacher. He brings his passion for God’s Word into every class. Some may think it is all about his knowledge and ability to read Hebrew and Greek. And that is a wonderful thing! But it is also about the hours he has sat at God’s feet and just listened to what God wanted to teach him. Freely God has given to Henry and so freely Henry gives to all who ask.

I love to read 1 Corinthians 13. It is such beautiful prose. It’s message cuts through me no matter how many times I read it. But one day, as I listened to Henry teach about spiritual gifts, he strongly urged all of us to read 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 all together. I did that and saw how 1 Corinthians 13 impacted how I look at chapters 12 and 14 on spiritual gifts. And again how 12 and 14 impacted chapter 13. Give it a read yourself!

This week is what many call Passion Week. It is my absolute favorite week in the whole year. Yes, even more than Christmas! It is a week when I feel soaked in the love of my Savior. It is a time when I feel overwhelmed with what Jesus did for me.

Jesus healed the sick. Jesus spoke to people no matter their station in life or whether they were Jew or Gentile. It was His Spirit who enabled Peter on the day of Pentecost to speak to literally hundreds of people from all over the known world and they heard him in their own language! Jesus could do all this but it is His love that saved me and set me truly free. If there wasn’t Jesus’ love for me and you and everyone of God’s children, we would have nothing.

God’s love is the best way for everything I do. If I do not have His love when I write these devotions, then the words would be nothing. If I do not have love when I receive an email or phone call from someone who needs prayer or an ear to listen, then I have nothing. God’s love is enough for anyone. And in those emails, phone calls, and these devotions, we need a reminder, a testimony of God’s love. Whether we are speaking to each other around the family dinner table or in the local soup kitchen or on a mission trip on their other side of the world – God loves is the foundation of whatever message He wants us to share. It is His best gift. It is the message in the passion of this week.

I hope, I pray for every person reading this to feel a quickening in their spirit to soak themselves in the Word of Christ’s passion this week. Read the gospel accounts and accept His love that has saved us.

Matthew 26-28
Mark 14-16
Luke 22-24
John 18-20

At the Cross written and sung by Brian Doerksen

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“God Knows Best”

So I said to you: Don’t be terrified or afraid of them! The Lord your God who goes before youwill fight for you,just as you saw Him do for you in Egypt. And you saw in the wilderness how the Lord your God carried you as a man carries his son all along the way you traveled until you reached this place.”        Deuteronomy 1:29-31 (HCSB)

When I was a little girl I used to watch a TV show, “Father Knows Best.” Like much of television in the late 50′s and early 60′s the show portrayed a family we would all like to have, not the reality of what we did have. In this particular show, Jim, the father, went to work Monday through Friday and came home every day in time for the supper that Margaret had prepared. The three children, Betty, Bud and Kathy all brought their problems to dad and he dispensed quiet wisdom and occasional discipline, like being grounded. In each 20-something minute episode, a crisis was identified and resolved and closing credits would roll as the family smiled, hugged or laughed at their life. Hollywood hasn’t changed much. They still produce television and movies which have only a passing acquaintance with reality and truth.

About twenty years ago, I found my true Father who always does know best!

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up;
You understand my thoughts from far away.
You observe my travels and my rest;
You are aware of all my ways.       Psalm 139: 1-3 (HCSB)

God knows my life. I cannot lie to God like I did to my parents as a rebellious teenager. God knows every step I take in obedience – or not. He knows every kind word I say and all those unkind ones even when I have wanted to call them back. God doesn’t need me to explain to Him why I behave the way I do but when I sit down with Him and tell Him about my day, His light of truth shines to reveal any distortion or lies from my own flesh or to confirm or deny the advice of another.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.        Isaiah 40:28 (NLT)

Father God is always there for me, day or night. One of the major mistakes of my early adult years was to expect another human being to be the one I could count on. I was putting them into a position in my life that belongs to God. My Father and Savior will never leave me or bend under the weight of of pain or need. I especially found the depth of God’s strength and love during the ten years that included the death of both of my parents, divorce and the diagnosis of my son with cancer and his death five years later. In the darkest of nights, God was always there to bring His Light, comfort and healing to my bruised and battered spirit.

Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.          1 Corinthians 1:20-25 (HCSB)

His wisdom is without flaw. In this world there are events and situations not covered in philosophy classes or self-help books. There are decisions to be made which have no quantitative pros and cons to work out like some algebra equation. The most wondrous thing occurs when I spend time with the LORD. I learn His voice and His character. And I learn to trust Him when I cannot see the solution in front of me but must take one step at a time with my hand in His to lead me.

As I enter into Holy Week this Sunday, I will be thinking about the depth of my Father’s love. He loved me so much that He sent His Son into my world. Father God promised if I believed in His Son, I will never truly die but will live forever with Him. I look into my Father’s eyes and see – love, so much love, for me.

My Father’s Eyes written by Gary Chapman and sung by Amy Grant

Posted in 1 Corinthians, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms | Leave a comment

Jesus Who?

When Jesus came to Jerusalem, everyone in the city was excited and asked, “Who can this be?”
The crowd answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”       Matthew 11:10-11 (CEV)

These two verses intrigue me. “Everyone” asked who was this man who spoke with authority about God and His relationship with His children and performed so many miracles. And then “the crowd” responded with a name and where He was from in their world but was like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others who were called “prophet” in their history.

I do not have an educational background in the ancient Near East history. I have only studied the Scripture for about 20 years. My faith is heavily experiential. Jesus is very real and intimate to me.

Jesus came into my life in a dramatic way. I went to church nearly all my life but my relationship with Him was a character in folklore stories I heard in church. But when I accepted and realized how full of sin I was and how far from God that put me, I felt crushed under the guilt and shame of the choices I had made in my life. And so when I heard Rev Steve Hill proclaim “If you are ashamed of God, He will be ashamed of you.” (Luke 9:26) I wanted so much to jump up and move toward Jesus that even a whole division of soldiers with automatic weapons would not have deterred me from standing up and saying “Yes, I need You, Jesus!” that night. And with that simple sentence a flood of warmth and joy came over me! It truly felt like I was finally home.

Jesus has been the One who has saved me. Since that night my life has had many wonderful times when I was a witness to God touching people with His extravagant love, including me. In my lowest, darkest days, I have never felt alone. When grief was so HUGE I felt I might suffocate, it was Jesus who showed me I was in the Gethsemane Garden just as He had been. And just as the Father sent His Son angels to minister strength to Him, Jesus was with me to comfort and strengthen me. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice to atone for my sins was only the beginning. He continues to save me every day.

Jesus walks closer to me every day. Every day, however many times a day, when I talk to Jesus about whatever is on my heart, He is there to listen. And if I will listen, He speaks His wisdom and comfort to me and continues to teach me about the Father who loves me.

When I am asked “Who is Jesus?” to me, there are several answers I might share. It is the Holy Spirit who recalls to my mind and heart a story about Jesus and me which may encourage someone who is looking for the truth, looking for the only Savior.

Who Jesus is to me is not about dates and facts. He is the One and the Only who continues to give me a Living Hope. His promises are true and He keeps them. He loves me more than anyone else in my life. He is my Savior who has reconciled my sinful self to God. He is my Savior who has overcome death and will one day come and take me home.

I Need You More written and sung by Lindell Cooley

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Working Together

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.      Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT)

This is an interesting passage of Scripture to consider as we walk towards Palm Sunday and then next week, known as Passion Week which brings us to Resurrection Sunday. It feels like we coast along in the year hearing good messages of encouragement and discipline and then as the days fall away and come closer to what we see as the sacrifice of the Messiah, the messages become more focused and the extraneous falls away. Or maybe that is what is going on inside me. In my spirit I know my time has a finite number in this world and I hear the call to “Pay Attention!” and not be distracted.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a relatively short letter but it is filled with points to hear and absorb.

If I am being blessed by God, then do not hoard the blessings. I believe it is God’s intention to bless me because He loves me. Like any good parent, it is wonderful to give your child what they need and give even more than what they need. God also blesses me with the intention that I will be a conduit for His blessings to flow in others who, for many reasons, do not connect directly to Him to receive these blessings. God wants me to “leak” on others and refills me as I spend time with Him every day.

If my prayers are all about me, then I am not understanding God. One of the truths which Jesus spoke during His mountain sermon was for me to seek His Kingdom and a right relationship with Him first and everything else? He will take care of me (Matthew 6:33). And oh how I spend time with Jesus pointing out what I don’t have and what I need! Like He doesn’t know! And, yes, prayer is for me to learn from my Savior but I learn when I hush – and listen. Often when I pray for others I remember how God has taken care of me. I recall His power and great love. And when I do, I also hear and know that He will take care of me, no matter what I am going through now.

How do we work together with one mind and purpose? One of the best memories I have during the five years of the Pensacola Outpouring (revival) is sitting up in the balcony of the church and looking down at all the people singing their love for God together. I saw Catholic/Anglican priests and nuns, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Methodists, charismatics and evangelicals standing next to tattoo’d and pierced kids, young children and senior saints. They were all singing and worshiping their LORD. It was a wonderful sight!

My husband and I are blessed to see the same spirit of fellowship happen among the authors in our publication company. They come from many different Christian backgrounds and each has a personal relationship with their LORD. They express their love for Him in different ways and use different words. They don’t agree about many things. We could not homogenize their books into one cohesive text. But – they agree that Jesus is their Savior and God is the Creator and author of their life. Many work and play well together! What a marvelous, extraordinary blessing from God that is!

Pay attention this week to opportunities to work together with Christians outside your immediate circle. Get involved and learn about the many people who are out there doing God’s work. You may be surprised and blessed to seek first God’s Kingdom together and all the rest? Let God handle it.

Majesty written and sung by Michael W Smith

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Only God

Only God can save me, and I calmly wait for him.
2 God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe
and the fortress where I am secure.

3 I feel like a shaky fence or a sagging wall.
How long will all of you attack and assault me?
4 You want to bring me down from my place of honor.
You love to tell lies, and when your words are kind,
hatred hides in your heart.

5 Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him.
6 God alone is the mighty rock that keeps me safe,
and he is the fortress where I feel secure.
7 God saves me and honors me.
He is that mighty rock where I find safety.

8 Trust God, my friends, and always tell him each one of your concerns.
God is our place of safety.

9 We humans are only a breath; none of us are truly great.
All of us together weigh less than a puff of air.
10 Don’t trust in violence or depend on dishonesty or rely on great wealth.

11 I heard God say two things:
“I am powerful, 12 and I am very kind.”
The Lord rewards each of us according to what we do.      Psalm 62 (CEV)

The NIV and some other translations may flow better than this version but sometimes I just need to really hear and read the words in my heart and head. If you go to Biblegateway.com, you can choose 3-4 translations or paraphrase versions and it can be a real blessing to read a passage like that.

This is a psalm of encouragement and truth.

I feel like a shaky fence or a sagging wall. Oh, how often this can describe me! See, I am a wall. I want to hold the line to what is true and right in my life but how often is that a facade? The world batters at the walls. I get distracted by the busy-ness of my life and neglect to “tend” to needed maintenance. It is Jesus who is my sure foundation. It is His Spirit that is the mortar which holds His promises and truths in the place of refuge He has given me.

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him. Who of us does not look for inward peace that does not depend on our circumstances? I remember when I was in college, transcendental meditation was all the rage. One of my dorm mates was all into it with incense and Eastern music. (Well, she said it was music!) So of course I had to try it with Exam Week coming down around me. I could not last ten minutes of sitting on the floor with my legs crossed like a pretzel and chanting some words which made no sense. I was kicked out of the room for being disruptive. Apparently laughter is not helpful in finding inner peace!

Almost 25 years later, I accepted the real One, the only One who gave me the peace I sought. He didn’t require chanting. I just pull up a chair or lay my head down in His quiet place and with Him, there is peace.

Trust God, my friends, He is very powerful and very kind. And here is the whole truth of God. He is powerful. He is the Creator of all, including me. He speaks and life is there. He has no beginning and no end. I am His child. I needed a savior so I could live with Him. I could not save myself. I could not be “good enough” and so He gave me eternal life by providing the perfect sacrifice – Himself in the flesh. And then He gave more as He taught me and showed me how to live. God is kind.

Only God. So much in my life is traced back to – only God. I am humbled. I am eternally grateful.

In the Secret written & sung by Andy Park

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Every Day with Praise

[reprinted from November 20, 2009]

- Henry Neufeld

1 A praise song, for David.
I will exalt you, my God and King,
I will bless your name forever and ever.
2 I will bless you every day,
I will praise your name, forever and ever.
3 YHWH is great and fully deserves praise.
No one can fully comprehend his greatness.
4 One generation praises your works to the next,
They tell of your heroic deeds.
5 Of splendor, honor, and majesty,
Of your marvelous deeds I will sing! — Psalm 145:1-5 (HN)

The Psalms are a wonderful book, not only for the many things we can learn from them, but because they provide us with something to read or to pray for almost any mood and any occasion. When we’re down, there are laments (Psalm 28). When we’re up, there are short, lively praise Psalms (Psalm 150). In trouble, we find prayers for safety and rescue (Psalm 140). Ready to meditate? Look for Psalms of wisdom (Psalm 104), telling you of God’s power (Psalm 29), his law (Psalm 19, Psalm 119), and his covenant (Psalm 89). Angry? You can even find some Psalms with a tone of vengeance (Psalm 137). Overcome by temptation? There are Psalms of penitence (Psalm 51, Psalm 32).

There is a time and place for all of these things, and there are ways for us to bring our joys and our sorrows to God on all those occasions and more. God can handle the way you’re feeling and can help to lift you up from wherever you are to place your feet on a rock.

But there is something that we find easy to leave out of our life, and that’s praise. I know some of you will wonder just what I mean. After all, you praise the Lord in church on Sunday. Perhaps you play praise music in your home during the week. I know some people who leave songs of praise on the CD player 24/7. That’s not a bad thing.

But have you ever come to a time of prayer when you have a hard time finding something for which you can thank God? Maybe you are having one of those days in one of those months in one of those years, or at least it feels like it. The idea of expressing praise to God seems hypocritical in some way. You’re not feeling thankful, why should you speak thanks? If you’ve never been in such a place, I envy you. If you understand what I’m talking about, read on.

Even when you don’t feel thankful, there are things to be thankful for. I recall sitting down to eat one night recently after a day in which almost everything went wrong. I did not feel like praising God or thanking anyone. I started my prayer by saying, “Lord, you know I’m not feeling thankful right now, but I’m going to thank you anyhow.” Once I had said that, I started to remember things for which I really was thankful. There were blessings the day before, and I knew there would be blessings the day after, and at a minimum, I could thank God that I had a roof over my head and a meal to sustain me while I yelled at him!

There are Psalms for your bad moods. Take advantage of them. Realize that you can be honest with God. But remember the Psalms for all the time. “I will bless you every day!” Yes, even on the bad ones. Even on the day of your death. “Of splendor, honor, and majesty . . . I will sing.” God’s splendor, honor, and majesty don’t diminish when I have a bad day.

There may be a duty here, a duty to praise, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the benefit of praise. If I deny myself the opportunity to praise God when I’m down, I’m going to stay down. Things are going to get worse, not better. I need to praise, because I need to get out of the pit and get on with life. Psalm 145:1-5 gives me that opportunity. These things are not things that change with the moment. They are there all the time. You can honestly praise God, no matter what.

“I will bless you every day!” Call that a plan!

Blessed Be the Name of the LORD written & sung by Matt Redman

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He Touches Me

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones.2 He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3 Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

4 Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6 I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord…’”

They will never again pollute themselves with their idols and vile images and rebellion, for I will save them from their sinful backsliding. I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.”       Ezekiel 37:1-6, 23 (NLT)

These are Words of Life for the Israelites, spoken by God through His servant, the prophet Ezekiel. They are also Words of Life for me, spoken by God to my heart.

I always wanted to be a “good girl.” Thanks be to God, I never did drugs, despite the offers. I was certainly strong-willed and rebellious toward my parents and their rules. My relationship with God was superficial at best and involved ignoring Him as much as possible.

I tried my best to navigate through life on my own intelligence and choices. By the time I had reached the age of 40 I was exhausted and at the end of my rope with no safety net. I could not figure out how to live a “good” life. I was losing, in so many different ways, in this game called life. Was there any possibility that God was interested in me? Would He forgive me and heal me and bring life into this dried up spirit? Can I become a living person again? Truly, only God knew the answer.

This imagery of a valley of dry bones does describe where I was living. There was no lasting life, no strength, no joy inside of me. Until the night I reached out and said, “Help me, LORD!” and He took my hand and life came into me! It truly did feel like I went from being cold and lifeless to warm and alive! God’s breath, His Spirit, came into me and I knew I was His child and He was my LORD.

And God did not stop there. Isn’t that the most extraordinary thing? God sent His Son to be the perfect, the only sacrifice that could cover my sins and give me e-t-e-r-n-a-l life and He didn’t stop there! He sent His Spirit to continue to teach and guide me. When I begin to slide back into my old life, God is there to show me the road where He is.

God spoke to my dry spirit and breathed His Spirit into me and continues to do that every day when we spend time together. I am His child. He is my LORD.

He Touched Me written by Bill Gaither & sung by The Bill Gaither Vocal Band

I hope you enjoyed the comedy of Mark Lowery! I meant to send you the song, “He Touched Me” so here is the link. — Jody

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