Who do you listen to?

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” Psalm 46:10

imagePolitics is nothing new, and it is getting old. News about the candidates running for local, state, and congress positions trumps every other news reports and will continue to do so for a couple more weeks. Boring, same old stuff is all we hear–promises that can’t be made by anyone other than God!

We can’t let the political news take over for what is really important. Everywhere we look, there are “nesses” that need our attention, such as homelessness, joblessness, loneliness.

I tend to be a bit gullible or naive and want to believe what everyone says to be true. In Psalm 46, we are reminded to “step out of the traffic” in order to listen to God instead of the chatter of the world.

Lord, let us look to you above everything else to find strength for the day. Amen

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A clean slate …

“I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” Jeremiah 31:34

imageAs a kid in grade school, it was a privilege to be picked to wipe the blackboards after school. Every Friday the board needed to be washed to make it look new again. Today we use computers that connect to a projector to flash information from a file on to a screen. A “delete” button gets rid of the file, but it can be retrieved, if needed, from a virtual trash can.

Consider how God wipes our slate of sin clean. We connect to him through prayer and ask him to cleanse us of all our sins. He forgives us! There’s no need for a virtual garbage can, because in God’s eyes our sins are forgotten—gone forever.

Lord, thank you for the ability to connect to you through prayer. Amen.

 

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“Love others as well as you love yourself.” Matthew 22:39

The Pharisees asked Jesus, “Which commandment in God’s law is the most important?” (vs. 36) Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.” Then he said we need to love others as much as we love ourselves to be “set alongside” of the loving God commanSeptember 2012 163dment. That makes sense: Loving the Lord makes it easier to love yourself and others.

Perhaps the reason our world is in constant turmoil is that people don’t love themselves. Self-loathing or self-hatred probably starts the moment someone puts a child or adult down in a way that embarrasses them or makes them feel foolish. What a shame. Children learn by adventuring outside the little box they were wrapped in as an infant. They begin to explore their surrounding when they reach for a toy beyond their blanket or highchair. A toddler slips around the house and wanders away to see what’s on the other side of their world.

Being corrected is part of life–but it needs to be done reflecting God’s voice and using God’s hands.

Dear God, when we steer away from your righteous path, thank you for correcting us with a big dose of love—not shame. Amen.

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Is the message error free?

“Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

imageSometimes I feel as if the barrage of news on TV plays against our commonsense and intelligence. Often when something completely outrageous is being shown several times in the same day, I think “It must be a slow news day” and turn it off. Most of the time I tune into NPR to get the least biased news available and trust the reports have done their homework.

When learning about the craft of writing, I became a fact-checker whenever I had any doubt about a subject.  Our audiences deserve to  read or hear messages free of error–just as Apostle Paul worked dilegently to keep the facts straight about Jesus.

The Internet makes it easier to do research. However, I may put too much faith and trust in Wikipedia and internet sources. Forgive me if my facts are not 100% accurate!

Lord, give us smart minds to determine when to screen messages coming our way. Amen.

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It’s how it is said …

“Build up their courage, and discipline them if they get out of line. You’re in charge. Don’t let anyone put you down.” Titus 2:15

imageOne day I offered a volunteer in our office an opportunity to sit in and observe a planning meeting. After the meeting, she whispered to me, “How did I do?” And, from being annoyed with some of the comments she had made, I said, “I think you acted as if you know more than you really do.” Of course, she didn’t take that comment well and from that day on, I became the enemy in the office.

Apostle Paul sent Titus to take over his ministry in Crete, and asked him to “speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine.” (Vs. 1). He gave Titus specific instructions of what was expected of the older men, older women, younger women, and younger men to live disciplined lives and to become strong in their faith.

In regards to the volunteer, I failed to act like Paul. I set her up to fail by not adequately preparing her for the meeting.

Dear Lord, thank you for grace-filled supervisors and teachers. Amen.

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Give to Caesar …

“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.” Matthew 22:21

imageOur Caesar is the I.R.S., and every year millions of people try to figure out how to give the government no more than a fair amount. I spend hours going over receipts, pouring through business records, and entering them on a spreadsheet. After filing the tax report (to the best of my ability), I pray that I won’t be one selected for an audit.

I don’t make nearly as much of an ordeal when I write a number on the pledge card on stewardship Sunday. I’m guessing God may see me a bit like the Pharisees who were trying to trick Jesus when they asked him, “So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” God wants us to acknowledge what he’s given us by what we give back. It may be what’s considered a tithe (10 percent), or it may be time plus talent plus money.

Dear Lord, make me aware of how I value your goodness and mercy and how I can give back. Amen.

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I say Amen.

“Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8

imageI often read from several devotional resources before I write a Daily Meditation Moment. Often I find synchronicity in the messages—like today. From Marianne Williamson’s book “Everyday Grace” the topic I read today was from a chapter called “8:00 a.m. Starting the Day.” To jump start your day, I quote the prayer at the end of the chapter:

“Dear God, I give you this morning. Please take away my despair of yesterday. Help me to forgive the things that caused me pain and would keep me bound. Help me to begin again. Please bless my path and illumine my mind. I surrender to You the day ahead. Please bless every person and situation I will encounter.

Make me who You would have me be, that I might do as You would have me do. Please enter my heart and remove all anger, fear and pain. Renew my soul and free my spirit. Thank you, God, for this day. Amen.”

And, I say Amen, too.

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Once upon a time …

“Long before you brought earth itself to birth, from “once upon a time” to “kingdom come”—you are God.” Psalm 90:2

imageHave you ever told or written a story and began it with “Once upon a time?” As a writer, I ponder how to start a story or article. Sometimes I have trouble figuring out how to end it too, but the middle part seems to flow easier.

Since the invention of computers and word processors, it doesn’t matter what I decide to use as an opening sentence or paragraph. Part of the massive amount of editing I do is switching paragraphs or whole pages around–a form of writer’s dyslexia.

With our faith growth, we don’t have to start reading at the beginning of the Bible and read it like a textbook. God’s story is too complex to read from Genesis to Revelations. Begin wherever you want–such as the Christmas story in Matthew or pray the Psalms or learn life lessons in Proverbs. Just start somewhere and you will eventually arrive at God’s kingdom.

Dear God, thank you for the stories that will help lead us to your Kingdom. Amen.

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May I have this dance?

“Let Wilderness turn cartwheels, animals come dance, put every tree in the forest in the choir.” Psalm 96:12

imageThis Psalm brought back memories of Junior High. I was tall, thin, and gangly—not a candidate for gymnastics or dancing. I loved sports and could outrun most of the boys in my class, but I hated gym class during the tumbling component. Every year I had to prove how I could not do a cartwheel or a somersault. My long legs and short torso would not cooperate.

Also during junior high, everyone took Arthur Murray dance classes as part of social development. Remembering the sight of fifty boys dressed in dress pants, shirts, and ties and fifty girls in dresses or skirts, painfully shuffling around the gym in an attempt to do the waltz or foxtrot now makes me smile. But as a thirteen-year old girl paired up with a boy whose head barely came up to my chin, I felt like a mighty oak tree being climbed.

In the Psalm above, the writer imagines nature and animals performing gymnastic routines, dances, and musical performances to praise God. What a glorious sight in my mind!

Dear Lord, may I have the last dance on earth with you? Amen.

 

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What has God chosen for you?

“I’ve singled you [Cyrus] out, called you by name, and given you this privileged work. And you don’t even know me!” Isaiah 45:4

imageGod called Cyrus, the king of Persia and a non-believer, to lead a battle against the Babylonians to free the Israelites from captivity. Cyrus had only one qualification for the job: He belonged to God–as does everyone and everything in the world.

Have you felt God nudge you into some form of ministry and you resisted because you’ve never done it before or perhaps you felt totally inadequate for the project? I could have missed an opportunity to minister through speaking at retreats, conferences, seminars, and other events had I not given into the woman on the other end of the phone who insisted she wanted me to be their retreat leader. I responded by saying, “Let me help you find someone more qualified  for your retreat.” However, she insisted, “We want you.”

God didn’t just call Cyrus into action, he paved the road and promised to assist him. “I’ll break down bronze city gates, smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances.” (Vs. 2) God promises to do the same for us.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me through one of your servants into a ministry of inspiring and encouraging others to grow in their faith. Amen.

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