The scripture for today, June 18 (6/18), is 2nd Chronicles 6:18a as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you.”
Did you ever want to see God, to talk to him face to face? Perhaps something bad had just happened in your life, and you had this urge to bawl him out, then let him explain why. Or did you ever want to touch God? Perhaps you were so very lonely that you desperately needed his arms around you, and feel his touch as he brushed away your tears.
But, if you could see him and touch him, it would mean that he could not be with others in the world at that time and could not hear anyone else’s prayers at that time except yours. Try to be grateful that you cannot see and touch him for now. He is always available to you, regardless of where you are in this vast world and regardless of how many others are praying to him at that moment.
How he can sort out all our prayers at once is mind-boggling. How he can be everywhere at once is amazing. How he can love each one of us as though we were the only person in the world is miraculous and incredible.
The scripture for today, June 17 (6/17), is Matthew 6:17 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face.”
This is interesting because Jesus did not say “If, you fast,” but rather “When you fast.” It was as though he was teaching us to take for granted that we would fast ~ it would be second-nature to us. In a sense, it is, for when most people go through a sudden tragedy such as loss of a loved one, they often cannot eat.
But what about voluntary fasting? The early church sometimes fasted. Acts 13:2 says a congregation in Antioch, Syria, fasted and worshipped, then chose men to go out as missionaries. Queen Esther fasted before going to the king uninvited with a request he might not like (Esther 4:16). Isaiah 58:3 says people fasted in order to humble themselves.
Some people respond, “I’d die if I had to fast.” Perhaps that’s kind of the idea. We know we would die if we went without food long enough. So perhaps one day of fasting is a way of saying, “God, I would die for you if I had to.” Yes, fasting is a humbling experience and frightening to some people. But perhaps that is the point.
Is something important coming up that you know you will be urgently praying about? Once you skip one meal, you will have conquered your desire to eat. Then, with your brain not having to concentrate on digesting food, it will be able to focus more on that important thing happening in your life. Your prayers will be more focused. You will be more focused with your eyes more clearly on God.
So, take a shower, comb your hair, put on some nice clothes, and look like you have something important to do. Then fast.
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The scripture for today, July 13 (7/13), is in Job 7:13ff in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning.”
Job was extremely depressed. It happens to everyone sometimes. His depression was certainly valid ~ he had lost all his income and all his children in a recent storm. Now he had what the Bible translated as “boils” but the symptoms indicate he had a form of leprosy called Elephantiasis.
This particular form leads to nightmares in addition to the physical problems. Job had every right to be depressed. So depressed was he, that he no longer wanted to live, for his life no longer had meaning.
But, as miserable as Job was, he hung on. Patiently he hung on during the bad times. Sometimes during your bad times, the greatest thing you can do is “hang on” ~ be patient.
Romans 8:28 says all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. Job loved the Lord. Even in his misery and desire to die, he continued to love God and trust Him.
And, although at such times you may believe your misery will never end and you will never even smile again, it will happen. The misery comes to an end. It did for Job. He got his health and income back and more children to comfort him. God will see you through too.
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The scripture for today, June 12 (6/12), is Luke 6:12 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“One of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
How in the world did Jesus think of enough things to say that he could pray all night? Most of us, on a good day, only manage a 5-minute prayer. The next verse says that the next morning he selected his twelve apostles. Aha! He had a list. He had probably spent at least half an hour each praying about them by name, as well as about others he was considering. Jesus knew what his apostles would be facing someday. Which ones would be loyal enough, stubborn enough, strong-willed enough to someday in the future endure persecution, torture (skinned alive, beaten to death, burned), and martyrdom for him?
Who do you pray for by name? Do you have a prayer list? How about opening the newspaper and praying for all those people in the news ~ perpetrators, victims, causes, governments, situations? Or everyone you work with? Or everyone your children go to school with? Or all their teachers and administrators? Or the clerks in the stores you go to regularly? Or members of an organization you belong to? Or every member of your congregation? What about countries where people become Christians at risk of their freedom and even their lives?
There are always people in need of prayer. And one of the joys of such a prayer life is now and then telling people whom you know that they are in your prayers, or writing a note to someone who is a stranger to you telling them that you pray for them.
Some people have never heard their names in prayer. Some people have never even been told that someone prays for them.
The scripture for today, June 11 (6/11), is Job 6:11 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects that I should be patient?”
Many people use the expression, “patience of Job.” But he had on-and-off patience, for he was very sick. By descriptions he gave of himself ~ sores, rancid breath, low voice, partial blindness, skin turned hard and black, bloating, nightmares, extreme pain, unrecognized by his closest friends ~ some believe he had a grotesque form of elephantiasis leprosy.
What did he need from his friends? He surely didn’t get it, for they spent their time trying to prove he had sinned, and God was right to be punishing him. His reply? “I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing?” (Job 16:2f).
So how do you comfort someone who feels utterly hopeless? You certainly do not put the blame on them, nor do you tell them it’s “all in your head’ or to “snap out of it.” You can share times when we felt hopeless. You can weep with them. You can hold their hand. You can sit with them in silence. You can pray aloud for them. (Some people have never heard their name mentioned in a prayer.)
And you need to let them talk. Sometimes they will say things they don’t mean in the long run, but at that brief moment, they do. Or sometimes, they need to talk through things they are unsure about. They may even say contradictory things.
At one time, Job said, “Surely, O God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household….God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me” (16:7f). But another time he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end, he will stand upon the earth….I myself will see him with my own eyes ~ I and not another. How my heart yearns within me” (19:25f).
Do you have a very sick friend? Do you have a friend who has lost hope? Let your heart yearn with them.
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The scripture for today, June 10 (6/10), is Proverbs 6:10f as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest ~ and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”
Oh! This scripture really comes to the point, doesn’t it? Perhaps during difficult economic times for some people, this can be a gentle reminder. If you can’t work for money, you can work for free. There is always work to do as a volunteer either in an organization or just by yourself. All it takes is for you to look around.
Well, if you’re already in the clutches of poverty, what will volunteering do to help the situation? People will notice you. They will notice your work ethic and your cheerfulness and your thoughtfulness. They will know you are out of work and just might tell people looking for someone to hire. And in the process, you are helping others. That in itself can make you feel rich ~ even if you’re not.
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The scripture for today, June 9 (6/9), is Job 6:9-8 found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut me off!”
Job was suffering terribly. The Bible says he had sores all over his body. There were other symptoms listed elsewhere in Job that indicate he had a form of leprosy. Now he just wanted to die.
When you get into a life problem that seems hopeless, do you just give up and say, “God, I can’t go on like this. Just take my life right now. It’s too hard. I can’t do it anymore”?
God knows what you are going through. God knows that Satan is attacking you. When things are desperately low, your job is just to hang on. It often takes God time to shift around a lot of other people’s lives in order to alleviate your pain.
Remember, God hurts just as much when you suffer as when he watched his own Son suffer on the cross. His Son’s suffering accomplished something wonderful for others. So too, someday your suffering will somehow, in some way, accomplish something good. And ultimately, just by surviving, Satan loses, and God wins.
This too, will pass. You may not think so, but it will. You may think you will never smile again, never want to go around people again, never sing again. But you will. Just as Job did.
My God, you are so great, but you lean low and take notice of the lowly in life and lift us high. You notice the oppressed and make them feel like princes. You notice orphans whose parents have left them in spirit or death and make them part of your glorious family. You notice the blind and other handicapped and make them feel like kings. Some day you will give everyone that kind of glorious body Jesus had. Then I will be able to praise you in ways I never imagined. You, who made me, are more amazing than words can say. And I worship you.
Ah, my Lord. Thank you for days when I feel your peace despite goings on around me. When I look at the birds hopping around, looking for things out of which to make their nests, I smile. When I listen to the dove you sent me a few weeks ago, my heart stops racing and slows to an easy pace. When I notice the buds on them, they remind me how quietly they peak out from their branches and slip into my spring day with aromatic sweetness. Thank you, God, for all that you made for my pleasure.
The scripture for today, January 27 (1/27_, is James 1:27 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: To look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
A lot of people never lie, never cheat, never steal, never murder. Wow! That person deserves to go to heaven! Not! The greatest sin of most people who are “good” is the sin of omission. We are basically “good for nothing.” We don’t do the good things we should be doing.
Do you hear of someone whose relative just died? Do you call them? What about the person who is homesick: Do you send them a card? What about the person who needs a ride to the doctor: Do you give them a ride? What about the mother who sits in church with wiggly children and finally just leaves during the service out of embarrassment: Do you move over and sit with her? What about that children’s home where the “orphans” would love a card, a gift certificate, a gift?
Oh, Lord God. I never thought. I have been heedless to their silent cries. I have traveled on the other side of the road from them so my perfect life is not interrupted. Lord, open my blind eyes, open my deaf ears, open my hard heart.
The scripture for today, January 5 (1/5), is Colossians 1:5 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“…the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the Word of Truth, the gospel.”
Does your faith have its ups and downs? Is it strong sometimes and weak sometimes? When things sometimes go so wrong you have trouble having faith in God, you can still hope. Do you grow angry at God sometimes? You can still hope. During such low times when faith does not come easy, you can still hope. Hope is the springboard of faith.
And stay close to the Word of Truth, for John 14:17 says the Comforter is the Spirit of Truth, and John 17:17 says Truth is the Word of God. Read when you don’t feel like it. Ephesians is what I go to. David tells of his own faith problems in Psalm 42.
When your emotions are pulling you down and you feel only the darkness of confusion inside, rely for a little while on your logic, your intellect, until your emotions heal. Read things proving God exists. Read things about other people’s love for God Do not drop out of the church; you need your Christian friends. It may be hard for you to believe right now but someday you will heal.
So, keep on hoping ~ the springboard. Eventually, along the way, your hope will return to faith.
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