The Wave of Praise

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Get ready for the Wave of Praise! Let’s top up our coffees and get started… (but make sure you set it down before you get into the Praise Wave.)

Readings for Sunday, September 22: 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

the name of the Lord is to be praised.

Psalm 113:3

Have you ever been to a sporting event where the crowd does the wave – one section of people stand with their hands rising, then the next row of people and it continues along the bleachers until it goes all around the stadium? It is quite something to see and quite exciting to be part of. Especially in large groups where there could be tens of thousands of people, there is great anticipation when it is your turn to stand up and sit down with arms raised and lowered in eloquent sequence. Although you don’t personally know the multitudes that join you in this unified act, you all are part of something exciting and moving, and together you all share in the joy and love of the event.

Countries of origin of my readers in 2019 so far.

Well, is not our love and joy, thanksgiving and praise not the same in Christ. Although there are quite a few of you reading this that I know personally, there are many, many more that I do not. Together we reach all around the world, as you can see from the countries listed. Yet, we are all connected by the saving grace of our Saviour Jesus, and our faith that has united us as brothers and sisters for eternity.

So, I was hoping we could try something this week. …Wherever you are you can read the words of praise posted below, and when you get to ‘Praise the Lord!’, you can raise your arms as in ‘the wave’ motion. Together, from one end of the earth to the other, from the rising of the sun to its setting, the wave will be done, hands will be raised, and praise will be given for all that our most gracious God has done for us.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.

Praise the Lord!

Who is like the Lord our God, the one who sits enthroned on high,

who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

Praise the Lord!

My Lord who has redeemed my life from the pit.

Praise the Lord!

(Taken from Psalm 113 and Jonah 2:6)

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are worthy of all praise, honour and thanksgiving. May your praises be heard and seen around your creation, from the rising of the sun to its setting. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

The Search

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Sunday, September 15: 14th Sunday after Pentecost

Ezekiel 34:11-24; Psalm 119:169-176; 1 Timothy 1:5-17; Luke 15:1-10

For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.”  Ezekiel 34:11-12a

Rejoice with me. I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:6b

Have you ever lost anything of value? It’s a terrible feeling. It’s bad enough if it’s your only set of car keys or money or an item of value that you’ve lost. It’s another thing if it’s your pet or a loved one, especially your child that’s gone missing. There is nothing more terrible than that sickening feeling of having a loved one lost. Your whole being goes into search mode. You retrace your steps. You call their name. You recruit others to help in the search. You search high and low. You search and you search and you search.

lost1In the same way, God himself searches for us when we stray. Just like the child who wanders aimlessly after his own fancies, unaware of the impending dangers of where he is going or what his a getting himself into, we too wander, our loved ones wander, away from God’s precious embrace. Whether it’s the burdens of life, the temptations of money, prestige, self-indulgence, self-centredness or a plethora of reasons, we are enticed away from the faith and the new life we have in Christ.

Yet, it is God himself who leads the search, calling his children back home. His Holy Spirit nudges on our heart, calling our name. Others are recruited to shower love and grace upon us.  He persistently searches for us in order to bring us back into his redeeming embrace.

God himself will search for his children and rejoice over their return. This is a promise! Trust him to be seeking you. Trust him to be seeking and calling your loved ones back to himself. Consider his plea for you to join in the search, and then to participate in the glorious celebration upon their return.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you are our Shepherd and we are your sheep. Oh how you care for us. Help me to always hear your voice and not to wander too far from your path. Be with my loved ones. Be with_____________.  I trust you are seeking and searching for them. You are calling them back home. Help me to be and to do whatever you need me to be and do to help in their search and rescue, and I look forward to the celebration to come. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Choose Life!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Have you ever pleaded with your children or loved ones against making choices that you know were not good for them and were, in fact, deadly, and then had to watch as they denied your pleas and walked down that path of self-destruction? Well, you’re not the only one.

Let’s top up our coffees and dig in…

Readings for Sunday, September 8: 13th Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 1; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-35

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. . . . Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life. . . Deuteronomy 30:15, 19b-20a

choice 1As parents we so desperately desire our children to make choices that will keep them safe and healthy. We can lay before them the pros of healthy choices and the natural consequences of unhealthy choices. We can plead with them to listen to us and to choose the path that keeps them healthy and prosperous. However, when they choose the more tempting, dangerous path which leads to self-destruction, our hands are tied, and we feel like our words fell on deaf ears. Oh how we tried to warn them and guide them. Oh how it breaks our heart!

Is this not exactly the plea that God is laying before us, his children, today? Is he not sharing with us the path to life and the consequences of a life without him? “Choose life! Please choose life! Choose me!” he cries.

choice 2

Yet, we have the free choice to deny him, to turn a deaf ear to him, and walk down a path that he has warned us against. (Oh and don’t be fooled; because of our sinful nature, the pull to follow our own desires is stronger than the pull to follow him. You can thank Adam and Eve for that.) And because of free choice, he lets us walk that path. He has not created us to be his puppets. He created us to make choices. He desires us to willingly heed his words, just like any parent.

No he does not desire us to go down that road of self-destruction or pain. He desperately desires “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) He desperately desires us to choose him, to walk with him, to cling to him. He himself says, “How often I have longed to gather [you] together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)

So today, be willing. Today, may you lay before him those acts that have lead you away from him, and be cleansed in the forgiveness you have in Christ. He is waiting for you and will rescue you in a blink of an eye. For today, and always, he desires you to live in his grace and to be wrapped in his eternal embrace. Dear child, choose life!

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, you have told me which way is the path of life. Please forgive me when I follow my own destructive path and temptations. Please help me to always focus on Jesus, my life and salvation, for he is “the way and the truth and the life”. (John 14:6a) In his name I pray. AMEN!

Sacrifice What?!?

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Sunday, September 1: 12th Sunday after Pentecost

Proverbs 25:2–10; Psalm 131; Hebrews 13:1–17;  Luke 14:1–14

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruits of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16

To begin each morning devotion, I say/pray the following liturgical verses (part of a Family Morning Liturgy from LCMS):

Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice.

In the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

My mouth is filled with your praise and with your glory all the day.

Oh Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

sacrifice.jpgMany days I get caught up on the phrase, “I prepare a sacrifice for you…” My mind often ponders the Levitical laws that required God’s chosen people to sacrifice so many animals for so many purposes. But now, because of Christ, those sacrifices are no longer required. He is our perfect sacrifice – our lamb without blemish or spot, who takes away the sin of the world! We are free from sacrificial laws.

So what do I have to sacrifice? What do I have to lift up to the Lord? Well, it always comes back to one thing…ME. The only thing I have to give is my life, my love, my praise, my hands and my voice. So Lord, I give you my tired, worn out, crumbled self. I am yours, and may you fill my mouth with your praise so that my lips confess the name of Jesus. May my life be a sacrifice of praise in response to your own sacrifice on my behalf and your steadfast love.

No we don’t need to do all those animal sacrifices anymore. No more blood needs to be shed for our cleansing. Christ has shed his blood once and for all. We can simply present to our Heavenly Father our less than perfect selves with our praise and thanksgiving. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ… (2 Corinthians 2:15a), and know with confidence that such sacrifice pleases our Lord. 

Prayer: Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice.

In the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

My mouth is filled with your praise and with your glory all the day.

Oh Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

 

Eternity’s Fast Pass

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Although it’s not the perfect analogy, I had a lot of fun connecting Disney’s ‘Fast Pass’ with the theme from this week’s passage. I hope you too can see the connection. Let’s top up our coffees and take a look…

Readings for Sunday, August 25: 11th Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 66:18-23; Psalm 50:1-15; Hebrews 12:4-29; Luke 13:22-30

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door,

because many, I tell you,  will try to enter and will not be able to.

Luke 13:24

When we went to Disney, we learned that the best process to getting on the rides was to first go through the park and get a ‘Fast Pass’ for each ride. A Fast Pass guaranteed you access to the ride at a particular time in the day. With a Fast Pass, you bypassed the big long meandering lineups and entered the ride from a narrow, less busy, entrance to the side of the ride’s main entrance. To obtain a Fast Pass, it did mean that you had to take time from enjoying the amusement park’s spectacles to go and obtain a pass, but it was certainly worth the initial sacrifice, in order to bypass the extremely long lineups and wait times.

The Fast Pass with its narrow entryway and all its privileges reminded me of the narrow door that Jesus is talking about in the above passage. disneyOur earthly life is filled with people and beliefs from all different walks and cultures, and any activity under the sun. For all who are part of it, the privilege of the Fast Pass, the assurance of getting on the ride to eternity is open to all who choose to seek and hold fast to the one whom is our Fast Pass, Jesus.  Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [him].” (John 14:6)

So however you spend your time at this ultimate amusement park called ‘life’, may you always hold in your heart the one who has given you the eternal Fast Pass, and entry through the narrow door. May you also continue to seek and to know him throughout your earthly days. For with Christ, each day is quite a ride!

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank-you for the assurance of my entrance to Eternal life with you through Jesus, the one who holds open the narrow door which leads to you. Help me to hold fast to him and share him and his saving grace with all you put in my path. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Interpreting the Times

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

This is my 100th devotion. Wow! Who’d have thought!?!? Have a great week everyone!

There are so many sayings that have been created to help us interpret the signs in nature. Many of them hold true. This week, Jesus reminds and encourages us to interpret his coming correctly. Let’s top up our coffees and see what he has to say…

 

Readings for Sunday, August 18: 10th Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 23:16-29; Psalm 119:81-88; Hebrews 11:17 – 12:3; Luke 12:49-56

Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky.

How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

Luke 12:56

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Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning! This is a saying that crosses my mind pretty much every evening as I gaze upon the sun setting. It is just another example of the interpretations that Jesus is referring to when he speaks about how humankind can interpret the earth.

He must have been so frustrated about how blind his fellow Jews, his chosen people, were towards his coming. They had been waiting for a Saviour. They knew a Saviour was to come. They knew the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. They were seeing the signs of those prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. Yet, so many, especially the Jewish leaders, remained unwilling to see him as their Saviour; to see the signs. How sad!

Jesus desired all those people with whom he was in contact to see him as he truly was: God’s son, the long awaited Messiah. They saw him face-to-face and yet many struggled to believe he was God’s son, their Redeemer. (Is it any surprise when we, or those whom we love, struggle with it too?)

In the same way, he desires us to see him as he truly is, our Saviour, to see our need for him due to our sinfulness, and to cling to him always, despite the trials we may need to endure. He encourages us to always be prepared to be called home and to meet him face-to-face. Therefore, while we endure our earthly days, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… and consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12: 2a, 3) Therefore, stand firm in his love and salvation, despite those who may turn away and the hardships that may come, and proclaim with the psalmist, “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 118:81) Glory be to you, O Lord! AMEN!

Prayer: Dear Lord, open our hearts so that we can see you in these days; so that we can see the frailty of our times and our need for you, our Saviour. I especially pray for (name loved ones here). Be with them and soften their hearts to be open to correctly interpreting you and their need for you, to seeing you in their lives and trusting in your everlasting love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

My Pleasure!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Sunday, August 11: 9th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 15:1-6; Psalm 33: 12-22; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-40

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. . . . But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:29, 31-32

Did you catch it? “ . . . your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32b, italics added)

Wow! I remember the first time this passage really hit me;  that God was pleased to redeem me; that God was pleased to leave his heavenly home and endure this world for me; that God was pleased to endure torture and death on my behalf; that God was pleased to give me life eternal. I was awe struck and humbled. If it pleased him to endure such things for me, a downright sinner, how much more should it not please me to do relatively simple, harmless acts for those whom he puts in my life? It was from this passage that, now, when someone says ‘thank-you’ to me that I respond with ‘my pleasure’.

Then if that wasn’t enough. The passage goes on to encourage us to not be afraid but to be ready for he will come and have us, his faithful, recline in order for him to serve us. Whaat?!?! It will please him to serve us? How can that be? Why? It may be incomprehensible, but it is not for us to question. May it allow us to simply be encouraged to not worry about our lives, to seek him first, and to serve others; to give him our days, and to walk in faith trusting him. There is nothing better that we can do but to seek and trust him, and everything else of this earthly life will fall into place.

So be encouraged that, by your faith in the redemption of Christ, God considers you righteous. You too can add your name to the list: By faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, . . .  and (state your name here) are considered righteous and  “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16b) Yes, he has prepared a city for you and when you see him face-to-face and give him praise and thanksgiving, you can be sure to hear him say, “It was my pleasure, precious one!”

Prayer: Dear Lord, it is overwhelming to think that it has pleased you to redeem and care for me. Why do I question your love and presence in my life when again and again you have declared your faithfulness and given me encouragement throughout your precious word?  Please forgive me my unfaithfulness. Lord, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b) Keep me always ready for your coming and pleased to serve those you put in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Eating, Drinking & Finding Satisfaction

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Sunday, August 4: 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-26; Psalm 100; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. …A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too I see, is from the hand of God, for without him who can eat or find enjoyment?

Ecclesiastes 2:18, 24-25

We’ve just moved. This has been our fifth move in our married life. With each home we have spent much time and money renovating and fixing up to make it beautiful and our own. In fact, my daughter has recently said that her childhood life was spent in renovation.

Now, with having just left a home to which we did extensive work in order to make it updated and improved, I can certainly understand why Solomon is down in the dumps when he considers man’s hard work and toilsome labour being done for someone else to enjoy. However, that is only true if the one doing the work is doing it for himself, as the rich man did in Jesus’ parable of the rich fool.  In fact, perhaps Solomon even tried to create beautiful masterpieces and store up things in order to find contentment, but learned that such things do not bring joy and satisfaction.

drinkingAs Solomon learned, and Jesus tried to explain, it is not the stuff that brings purpose to our life, but the focus of our work. If we are working to please ourselves, our joy will be short lived. However, when we see all we have and do as a gift from God whether for ourselves to enjoy or to be blessings for others, the end result is pure satisfaction in serving our Lord, and we live in a state of thanksgiving that he considered us worthy to care for these precious blessings: children, spouse, home, employment, etc. Our daily toil is then a continuous response of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts and abilities he has given us, and we are simply caring for the blessings he has placed in our lives.

We loved the home we left and we thoroughly enjoyed it, along with all the changes we made to make it ours. In the end, it came down to the fact that we simply hoped that we had been good stewards of that piece of God’s creation with which we had been blessed and that it would be enjoyed by the new owners, as much as we enjoyed it.

With our days focussed on our heavenly Father, in the light of Christ’s redeeming love, we can trust that each day has a purpose and that we are simply stewards of all that he has blessed us with until the day he calls us home. Therefore in Christ, we can proclaim with David, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.” (Psalm 100:1-3a) and every day, “eat and drink and find satisfaction in [our] work.” (Ecclesiastes 2:224)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see that all I have is from you. I am humbled to be considered worthy of caring for such precious blessings: souls you love and the creation you made. Help me to be a good steward of all the blessings you have bestowed upon me. May I eat and drink and find satisfaction in all I do, to your glory!  And when the time comes to pass them along to others, may they be found to be blessings to them. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Bold & Persistent

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

If you have children, you know how persistent they can be. I know I wasn’t the most patient at times but I did enjoy accommodating them when possible. Well, today we see how God responds to his children in their persistence. Let’s top up our coffees and take a look…

Readings for Sunday, July 28: 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 18: 17-33; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:6-19; Luke 11:1-13

Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord,

though I am nothing but dust and ashes…

Genesis 18:27

Could you imagine standing with Abraham while he is questioning God by asking if he would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of a few righteous people? Wow! “Come on Abraham, do you know to whom you are talking? You’re going to push him too far. Aren’t you worried you’re going to make him angry?”

Not only does Abraham not make God angry, but God seemed to delight in accommodating his requests. Think about it… God knew how many righteous people were in Sodom and Gomorrah – four, along with some son-in-laws perhaps. Did God’s plans change because of Abraham’s bold pleas? We’ll never know. What’s important is the relationship between Abraham and God.

Abraham knew his place. He knew he was simply dust and ashes before the Lord. Yet his love for his nephew and family was so strong, and his confidence in the Lord’s compassion and goodness so great that he was bold to confront the King of all kings, and not just once but multiple times. And God welcomed it. He welcomed it and accommodated it.

boldWe too can humbly approach our Lord in prayer and boldly present our requests. Just as Jesus stated about the pesty fellow who kept knocking on his neigbour’s door in the wee hours of the morning,  “he will not get up and give [him] the bread because of friendship, yet because of [his] shameless audacity he will surely get up and give [him] as much as [he] need[s].” (Luke 11:8) In the same way, God welcomes our bold requests, and he desires to respond. It pleases him to bestow his grace and blessing upon us, especially when that request is desiring the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, and I believe in the lives of our loved ones, just as Abraham boldly spoke on behalf of his nephew, Lot.

So take your requests and, in humility, persistence, and boldness, lay them before the Lord like a little child who continuously pulls at his parent’s shirt tail until he has received what he is asking for, and trust that the Lord will gracious respond in a way that is beyond our comprehension. For Jesus reminds us:  “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Prayer: Dear Lord! I know I am but dust and ashes but I lay before you (name your request for for yourself or a loved one here).  In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

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