Matthew 6:7-8 “And when you are praying, do not use thoughtless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
Most of the time the shortest prayers have the most prayer in them. They are to the point. They are not filled with repetitious addressees to whom the prayer is made. “I thank you Lord, because Lord, you are Lord of all and Lord can you, Lord, help me out…. Lord?” Quality of prayer is much more honest than vast quantities of platitudes, clichés, and highly evolved formulas. Truth, not length is the message here. God is not deaf or forgetful, and neither does he delight in the number of words spoken. It is sheer deceit to go on and on and on and on. When you pray, be simple, and make your request known not because God needs to know but because you need to ask.
Prayer is a spiritual and intellectual approach of the mind of man to the mind of God. We are not here to add to God’s knowledge or even dictate divine will. Prayer follows a simple formula: confession, praise and petition. Nothing else is needed.
When you pray, pray and let it just be that.
Romans 15:33 “Now the God of peace be with you all”
The God I serve and praise is more than an uninterested supreme being living up in some cloud. The God I find satisfying to my soul is my creator. The God I focus on every day is one of peace. God created us to have peace with him. He desires us to be at peace with everyone we encounter. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. God the author of peace wants peace with his creation. He seeks peace. My God does not rejoice in my pain or conflict. God does not sit with impunity, looking down and laughing at my stubbornness and rebellion. Peace was lost first by the rebellion of Lucifer. Again, peace was lost in the garden by Adam and Eve in their willfulness. In my stubbornness and rebellion, I can destroy my peace with God. It is my choice to go my own way.
It is also my choice to relinquish my obstinate and persistent attitudes and accept the freely offered alternative. It is my choice to have “the God of peace with” me.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
When I am down and struggling, Paul is telling me that my solace, my ease, and my comfort is a priority for God. That gift of care and support comes directly from the Father God. God is the source of compassion and is a part of His driven character. God is more than a being in a nebulous grey cloud with thunderbolts ready to strike me down at my low points. That is a good thing. I hope that is true because sometimes I don’t feel much. Especially in my own personal struggles.
OK, that is a great thought. But hold on here: God now expects me to comfort, to deliver solace, care, and support to those who are also in trouble. “Lord isn’t that your job?” If you are the source, who do I have to put myself out to help others? Are you saying that my comfort is so full, so abundant that I have some to share? Are the things you provide to me for my peace and comfort so numerous that I have excess to distribute? That is crazy talk. There are times I don’t feel I have enough to get through the day.
Or is it that your plan requires an intermediary? You need me as an example and a conduit for comfort. You are the source, but I am a simple hollow pipe of distribution. And in that, I can have peace. Open the spigot let it flow!
Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
My name is Larry, I am created in God’s own image. I came from Him and someday I will be going back to him. My worth is not dependent upon your opinion. My worth is not dictated by societal norms. My life is much more than what you may see of me or even your judgment of me. Who I am is much more than the cultural group to which you think I belong. Do not segregate me because of some outside, physical attribute. I refuse to be canceled. Just societies are built on the acknowledgment and acceptance of the truth of all human beings are bearers of God’s image. They all have equal dignity, incalculable worth with rights that cannot be taken at the whim of any other. It was C.S. Lewis who wrote, “There are no ordinary people, you have never talked to a mere mortal.” The essence of my dignity is not man-made. I am not an earthy person experiencing spiritual things, but a spiritual person experiencing earthly things.
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
King David of the Old Testament was a piece of work. Despite being a great ruler, he was a fornicator an adulterer, and a streaker. He is not alone in the pages of the Bible. Plenty of other bible characters have done something terrible at some point in their lives. Saul was a disbeliever, Moses was a doubter, Jacob was a liar and Peter a betrayer, and Paul a persecutor. Yet, God made them his witness and used them to accomplish His purpose. Not only did He forgive them (MERCY), but He also endowed them with unmerited favor (GRACE). The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the prodigal son a second chance from his father. The father’s grace gave him a party.
Lord, as you have shown me mercy and grace, I will show mercy and grace to everyone today.
May 21, 2022
1 Corinthians 15:10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain, but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
It is coming. It is roaring toward me like a train through a black and ominous tunnel. I cannot escape. In a day arriving soon my earthy existence and all that I have attempted to do will be over. I am what I am. All the preaching, writing, and effort I have expended will be over. It evaporates. There is nothing left unless Jesus is who he is. Jesus the GREAT I AM. It will be little unless Jesus is raised becoming the mercy and grace-filled I AM. Nevertheless, I am who I am because Jesus is the Great I AM. It is the grace of God with me.
Lord remind me in every moment of this day of your life given for me. Remind me again and again of your grace and mercy.
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
The world seems not to have changed from the days I was growing up in a town next door to a military training base. My father was in the Naval reserve and so our home was to be shipshape. Everything had its place, and everything should be in that place. I grew up with an expectation of proper behavior.
I have spent years living and breathing in the world of expectations of other people. Living in constant threat of disappointment of the socially acceptable norm. My ingrained nature is one of trying to live up to someone else’s imposed expectation. I failed a lot. Trying as I might, I could not be what the world expected because their expectations never included mercy. Now I live in mercy. I have experienced it. I have cultivated it. I have a great need for it. I cannot exist without it. And when it becomes a part of me my life finds truth, purity, holiness, peace wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, and victory. My years of living in this great mercy causes me to show mercy.
Lord, remind me again and again that in your mercy I need to show mercy.
Romans 8:1-3 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Discouragement is that palpable thing that seems to sour all that it touches. Discouragement so easily comes to us in a whisper or even in a small task. There are times I raise my hands in surrender and shout to all that would hear, “It is simply too much.” “Forgiveness of my enemies is more than I can do.” “I cannot write one more line.” All my efforts frustrate me. Each morning I rise to a haunting thought of my words making no difference. Discouragement comes in so many flavors. Yet there is only one solution. There is now no condemnation, no discouragement, no reduction, no ill, no sin, no sliding back for me. The Spirit gives me life. And that is good enough for now.
LORD, today is a new day for a reflection of your grace. I will not stop. Help me to see the right reason for doing it. I will keep on keeping on.
Titus 3:7 “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
I can’t do it. If I depended upon my own merits, I would never make it. It just is not enough to overcome the negative ledger of my life. Fixing myself, again and again, to straighten my soul out, will never be sufficient. I must resign to the failure of every effort to measure up.
Jesus told the story of two men in the temple. One said, “God, here I am—all fixed up. Every hair is in place!” The other said, “Oh God, I just crawled in off skid row. Have mercy on me!” God forgave the skid row bum, but sent the other man away, hardened, unrepentant, and unforgiven.
When I come to God, I must know that all that is provided is out of God’s mercy. It is not my work. It is not a clever well-turned phrase that earns my mercy. It is not my effort to work out my own salvation. I come to Him just as I am in humble repentance. When the human spirit comes to God knowing that anything it receives will be out of God’s mercy, then repentance has done its proper work! God promises to forgive and forget and to take that man into His heart and teach him that all of God’s kindnesses are due to His mercy. What more can a sinner ask?
Dear Lord, You know me as I really am, yet You extended Your great mercy toward me. Thank You for Your divine love and forgiveness. I come to Jesus as I am!
Psalm 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.”
You did it God, you founded her. You took two exceedingly small cells and smashed them together and she became more than the parts. She was knitted together from raw materials and you made her. Science would take this happenstance and say it was only biology and try to take all the wonder out of the miracle of life. They would say the product of conception is nothing more than a chance of two cells finding each other. But just like God breathing into the nose of Adam in Genesis 2:7, She became a powerful work of God. I am assured, I fully know it was more than biology. I know it was a miracle of God.
Happy Birthday, my daughter, you are a miracle!