DAILY CONGREGATIONAL PRAYERS            WEEK 22, DAYS 1-7   PSALM 1

WEEK 22, DAY 1                   Psalm 1:1a

“Blessed (holy, consecrated, conferred divine favor) is the man (Hebrew singular godly person) who walks not in the counsel (advice) of the wicked (evil or morally wrong),”

Righteous Father, this week the meditation on Psalm 1 is before me.  Knowing me there will be distractions, interruptions, and frustrations about scratching out time to meditate (thinking deeply while focusing the mind in silence) obscuring my ability to hear You.  Joshua made a decision to draw his line in the sand about what he would and wouldn’t do regarding his triangular relationships with You, others, himself (‘….But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.’)”

Dear God, help me to stand firm and listen to and learn from You the only God.  Through Christ.  Amen

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WEEK 22, DAY 2              Psalm 1:1b, c

“...nor stands in the way of sinners (persons who transgress against divine law by committing an immoral act or acts), nor sits in the seat of scoffers (scornful, derisive, mocking);”

Heavenly Father, recently I have found some of my shadows, the hiding places of my secret scornful ways.  You have been patient as each developmental stage of maturation has allowed me more in-depth understanding of my flaws as a human.  You have allowed individuals, groups of people, nations, and the world time, opportunity, and even instruction to mature if one so chooses Your ways.  Please Father, count me among those who choose You, now and always.  Your son has paved the way.  May I always be grateful.  Amen

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WEEK 22, DAY 3            Psalm 1:2, 3a

“But his delight is in the law (instruction) of the LORD, and on His law he meditates (thinks deeply, focuses one’s mind for a period of time) day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.”

Father, it is clear from the Genesis story You had only to give the thought, Word, breath, for magnificent celestial, terrestrial, and subterranean creation to be accomplished. As a created human, meditation to understand You and Your ways is lifelong and difficult to learn and maintain.  The tree is rooted and secure in its set task/journey.  The salmon follow their prescribed upstream journey.  Monarchs and geese migrate in their journey as You have ordained.  I, on the other hand have been given so many choices, my journey without You gets snarled, mixed up, tangled at best.  Help me to ponder, examine, and desire Your instruction as exemplified in the habits of Your Son. 

In quiet expectation, may I listen.   Amen

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 WEEK 22, DAY 4            Psalm 1:3, 4

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers (flourishes, succeeds, is successful). The wicked are not so, but are like chaff (worthless things, trash) that the wind drives away.”

Father, You make it clear You desire us to be like a tree planted by streams of water.  Yielding fruit.  Not withering.  Prospering according to Your Plan.  Delighting in Your law and instruction. 

Father, will You help us reject what is valued by our surrounding culture that may be counter to Your plans of yielding fruit, staying alive without withering, and prospering?  Sometimes it is confusing what is of You versus what is of the world.

We are continually amazed by Your Son’s gift of perfect incarnate life, sacrifice, and love for us.  May we forever be grateful to You, Your Son, Your Spirit of Truth.  Amen

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 WEEK 22, DAY 5        Psalm 1:5

“Therefore (consequently), the wicked will not stand (def. stand:  endure experience or test without being damaged, remain upright) in the judgment (decision of the court or judge), nor sinners in the congregation (a group of people) of the righteous (morally right, justified);”

Almighty God, no thought could be more frightening than to no longer receive Your favor.  You are my Creator, my Father, my Abba God.  Without You, all is meaningless.  Yet, some days, I do not honor You.  Without the divine sacrifice, I would be just so much chaff.  This relationship You have offered through Your Son astounds me, humbles me, urges me on to obey You. 

Without Your choice to pursue relationship with Your created humans, all would be lost.  BUT, all is not lost!  No matter how many times and ways I thank you it will never be adequate to express my gratitude to YouFatherSonSpirit.  Amen

 

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WEEK 22, DAY 6     Psalm 1:6

“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

Our Father, it is not popular to consider there is wickedness (evil) in the world.  It’s even less desirable to consider there is wickedness in us.  Yet, Your Word devotes many discussions about this unfortunate truth.

We do not want to be wicked.  We do not want to perish.  Hear our praises, O God, for the mercy You have offered to us.  You desire all come to this mercy.  Use us, Father, as conduits in Your mercy.  In the Lord’s Name we pray.  Amen

 

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WEEK 22, DAY 7       Psalm 1:1,2

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” 

May it be so, FatherSonHolySpirit.  Amen and amen

DAILY CONGREGATIONAL PRAYERS             WEEK 21, DAYS 1-7

WEEK 21, DAY 1       JOURNEY - Children

“Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out.”  Exodus 40:36

Definition journey:  1.  an act of traveling from one place to another; 2.  a long and often difficult process of personal change and development.

Righteous Father, Your scripture is replete with illustrations and stories of journeys.  Whether epic or mundane, we recognize we all have been given a precious gift and responsibility of life journey.  This week help us to gain a deeper understanding of what You want that journey to look like for ourselves and for those to whom You direct us, children, family, friends, enemies, neighbors, strangers.

Our Father in Heaven, we love the little children.  Will you keep them in the palm of Your Hand as we know the children are precious to You.  “But Jesus called them to Him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  Luke 18:16   

Father, will you show us how to teach our young friends that Jesus loves them, You, Holy God, love them, Holy Spirit loves them, and their families and their friends love them. May we help prepare their hearts for the journey they are making.  May they never part from You.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen 

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong.  They are weak, but He is strong.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.  The Bible tells me so.”

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WEEK 21, DAY 2      JOURNEY – Family

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15

Righteous Father, we are grateful for the family unit, thanking You for the opportunity to live in sync with other people, establishing lifelong relationships based on the Way Your Son revealed to us.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  1Cor 13:13

Just as all people start out as children growing into middle schoolers, high schoolers, young adults, young marrieds or singles, “middle of lifers,” seniors, etc., the journeys and responsibilities morph and change.  Father, we respect the many scriptures of instruction You have given us for each of these stages.  And while we eagerly anticipate the first step of an infant, the first best friend for a child, the first “aha” moment for a middle schooler, the first triumph in confidence for a high schooler, the first employment for a young adult, etc., will You help us to remember the journey of family in this life is not over until our last breath?

Whether one is a part of a biological family unit or not, Peter reminds us we are part of a much larger family.  “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8.  Thank You, Holy God for the Christ who showed us a perfect journey.  Amen

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WEEK 21, DAY 3      JOURNEY – Friends

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”  John 15:13-15

Heavenly Father, forgive me for my times of “self-pity, loneliness, and isolation.”  Help me to reach above the earthly feelings of desperation and remember my Savior, my King, the Anointed One has called me friend.  This life journey can be difficult, and I admit the road can be tedious. But, Father, thank You for the Way, the Christ, the only God I Am.  Amen

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WEEK 21, DAY 4     JOURNEY – Enemies

Father, we look around and see a world in chaos.  Is that so different than all generations before us?  In our journeys, Father, You allow us to sense light/dark, kindness/ruthlessness (lacking compassion for others), success/defeat, still waters/torrential seas, forgiveness/unforgiveness, in short, good/evil.

There are times, Father, I’m not inclined toward forgiveness, especially when betrayed.  Yet, Your Son, on His journey to the Cross, “said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’”  Unfortunately, there are enemies in our journeys, Father.  Some are very close to us, some are not even known to us.  Your righteousness will prevail, and in the meantime, I understand I was once your enemy.  Yet, there were people who loved me, educated me, and shared Your Way with me.  “Jesus said to him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except though me.”  John 14:6  How can I ignore my responsibility in receiving this great gift.  Please, Father, help me to love my enemy and share Your love with him.  Amen

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WEEK 21, DAY 5     JOURNEY – Neighbors

Holy God, this subject is similar to finding oneself between a rock and a hard spot.  We are supposed to be neighborly (in 2021 in the middle of this chaos?) and “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Matthew 22:39  (when hatred abounds, how am I supposed to do that??)  and eventually be able to share the Good News with them (exactly when and how can this work???).   

We ask for guidance while we reaffirm our intentions.  We love You, Father.  Through Christ we pray.  Amen

WEEK 21, DAY 6     JOURNEY - Strangers

Matthew 25:34ff.  “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?’  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”  “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Holy God, You will judge this.  Please, Father, help us not be found wanting, not just because of fear of consequences but because we are growing to love everyone.  I am a stranger to someone.  I know I need to be loved.  Help me stand and welcome the stranger as Jesus did.  Amen

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WEEK 21, DAY 7     JOURNEY – Self

Father, it is astonishing Your Word covers even love of self. 

“Which commandment is the most important of all?  Jesus answered, The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Holy Father, thank You for this magnificent, troublesome, glorious, chaotic, love filled journey of life.  If there were no other words of comfort, Your commandments to love “Lord your God,” “love neighbor,” and even “love as yourself” would be enough to sustain Your intentions for our journey.  May it be so, as You have planned, as the Savior has shown us how to live and has given the ultimate sacrifice, and how Holy Spirit leads us.  Bowing before You and Your great purposes.  Amen

 

DAILY CONGEGATIONAL PRAYERS        WEEK 20, DAYS 1-7

WEEK 20, DAY 1

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:6

“Father, who is in heaven” Matthew 6:1b, receiving these instructions to pray secretly is nearly swallowed up by the remarkable thought of the difference in stature, power, and glory between us.  You are in heaven.  I am on earth.  You are Creator.  I am created.  You are stand-alone everything.  I am stand-alone nothing.  You need nothing from me.  I need everything from You.

And yet, You give me instructions to pray alone secretly.  Thank You I’ve finally realized the nearly unbelievable reward is the gift of being with You. There is nothing comparable.  The incarnate Son knew this and used every opportunity to be with You…………………alone.  Please, Almighty Father, forgive my thoughtlessness of Your grand offer in relationship.  Amen.

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WEEK 20, DAY 2

“But when you pray….”  Matthew 6:6

“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You;

I will praise Your Name, for You have done wonderful things, plans formed of old,

Faithful and sure.”  Isaiah 25:1

Father, You alone are my God.  In silence, this thought fills me with wonder.  In Christ.  Amen

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WEEK 20, DAY 3

“But when you pray….”  Matthew 6:6

“Be still,

Today I will be still.  I will quiet myself.  My ears strain to hear You.

And know that I Am God.”  Psalm 46:10

You alone are YHWH, Holy God, Righteous Father.  In Christ we are given the gift to know You are God.  Amen

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WEEK 20, DAY 4

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together!”  Psalm 34:1-3

Righteous Father, David was exuberant as he sought You, praised You, blessed You, and invited others to exalt You.

Today is the day, Father.  We bless You, praise You, humble ourselves before You, are gladdened by You, magnify You, and exalt Your Name together.  Because of the work of You, Your Son, and Spirit of Truth, we are given the gift to pray these things.  Amen

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WEEK 20, DAY 5

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.”  1 Peter 5:6

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”  1 Peter 5:4

Father, these words from Peter to the Shepherds are to be taken seriously by all of us: custodians, caretakers, parents, teachers, anyone who is Your child.  We are expected to humble ourselves before You and to each other.  But, keeping a humble (“modest estimate of our own importance/significance) persuasion, is often counter to our culture, Father.   Pull us back from ourselves, Father, if we forget to humble ourselves.  Please intervene and set us right.

We have heard these words many times, but they are still shocking to think about an “unfading crown of glory.”  That we may walk in this hope of “unfading crown of glory” in relationship with You, forever, stills the anguish of this life.  We long for the Lord’s return.  In the meantime, may we remember Your mighty hand, our Father and our God.   Amen

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WEEK 20, DAY 6

“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  James 4:4

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us?’”  James 4:5

Holy Father, I gasp at the thought of You “yearning jealously over the spirit that You have made to dwell in me.”  I cannot do this alone, Father.  Help me to examine what I see, read, hear, watch, believe, and help me to find the ways I’ve become “a friend of the world.”  Never do I want to hear You say to me “enemy.”  Keep me in Christ, always, I pray.  Amen

WEEK 20, DAY 7

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”  James 4:6-8

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”  James 4:10

So here we are back full circle, Father. 

Humility (submission) to You

leads to grace from You

leads to the devil fleeing from us

facilitating drawing near to You

which leads to YOU drawing near to us!!!!

And the expectation of You exalting us

To the “unfading crown of glory.”

And being with you in unencumbered relationship with You, forever.  Amen and amen

WEEK 19 (Click here for a PDF of the entire week w/ pics)

 

WEEK 18

WEEK 18, DAY 1

Heavenly Father, yesterday was silent.  Deathly silent.

The day between the 6th day of that excruciating week and the following 1st day of a new week.

It was the day between the crucifixion and the day that changed history.

But today:

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.  The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here but has risen.  Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’  Then they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.  Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.”  Luke 24:1-11.

Praise Your Name, Father God, we are not destined to live in the silent seventh day of that week.  Today is the first day, the day the crucified Christ arose.  Once and for always, the price is paid in full.  Hallelujah.  Amen

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WEEK 18, DAY 2

“Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus…Jesus Himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.”  Luke 24:13-16

Do our eyes deceive us, Father?  Is it so difficult to see, understand, believe this Jesus is Who He says He is?  In the clutter and noise of our days, is there, in reality, silence?  That awful, apart-from-You, silence?  Was that one of the reasons Mary and Joseph found Him “after three days” in the temple when He was twelve years old?  Luke 2:46. What did they learn from their fear and anxiety in those three days of waiting?

And “on the third day (He will) rise again.”  Luke 24:7   What did the believers learn from their overwhelming loss in those three days?

Will you open our eyes, Father, to daily recognize the Christ?  Help us to learn whatever it is You are teaching us in the days of waiting.  Amen

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WEEK 18, DAY 3

“They were saying, ’The Lord has risen indeed, and He has appeared to Simon!’  Then they told what had happened on the road (to Emmaus), and how He had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”   Luke 24:34,35

“And when He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them saying,      ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this is remembrance of me.’”  Luke 22:19

“And taking the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to the heaven and blessed and broke them and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.  And all ate and were filled.”  Luke 9:16,17

 

Righteous Father, sometimes we don’t understand all the multi-layered rich connections of object lessons You give us.  But we can always say thank you for Your abundant gifts.  We praise You for the Bread of Life, the Christ, given for the salvation of many.  Amen

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WEEK 18, DAY 4

“While they were talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’  They were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?’  While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, He said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’  They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate in their presence.”  Luke 24:36-42

Well, I suspect I would have been frightened and overjoyed and wondering, too, Father.  Thank you for the appearances of the risen Lord to the believers and for the solidification of their faith when seeing Him talk, teach, and eat in these interactions.  Their faith and bravery help us 2000 years later.  Thank You for each one then and now who loves and worships You, almighty God.   In Christ.  Amen

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WEEK 18, DAY 5

“Then He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you –that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’  Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”  Luke 24:44-45

Holy Father, we understand You allow us choice.  Will You “open our minds to understand the scriptures” at a deeper level than ever before.                                                                                                        

It is Your work, Your will, Your way. 

We love You, Father, Son, and Spirit.  Amen

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WEEK 18, DAY 6

“And He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” Luke 24:46-49

The teacher, the rabbi, the Anointed One, the Messiah had returned to life after death!  Father, the pages of the scripture fairly shout out to us how much joy and reassurance the disciples must have felt.  Even though they didn’t know exactly what would happen next, the relationship was not lost even in the cruel death on the cross.  May we claim this reassurance and joy today, Father, wherever You send us, because of the accomplished work of the Christ.  Amen

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WEEK 18, DAY 7      The Ascension of the Risen Messiah

“Then He led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up His hands He blessed them.  While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And were continually in the temple blessing God.”  Luke 24:50,51

Righteous Father, Hallelujah.  Amen

Thank You, Father, for James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,”

Thank You that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

Thank You for sending Holy Spirit.  Luke 24

Thank you for the work of the prophets, the ones sent, the believers throughout the span of mankind.

Thank You for including us. 

Amazed at Your Grace.   

Amen

Week 17

WEEK 17, DAY 1      Ascent of the Baby/the Man

Luke 2:21,22, 40

“At the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called, Jesus, the Name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.”  “And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom.  And the favor of God was upon Him.”

Years later, back in Jerusalem:  John 11:55, John 12:3,7. “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand.”  “Mary….anointed the feet of Jesus….” “….(with expensive oil) intended for the day of my burial.”  John 12:13-14,23 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, crying ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Righteous Father, we have been blessed beyond measure by hearing this message, today, yesterday, many days.  There are those who have never heard Your Plan.  Yearly celebrations in December and in March/April come and go.  Please stop us from dismissing Your Words; send us to those who are desperate for the Good News.  We love You, Father.  Show us how to act like it.   The baby/the Man with the Name Jesus did.  Amen

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WEEK 17, DAY 2      Ascent of the News

Luke 2:36-38

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.  She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  And coming up at that very hour, (at His 8 day old presentation to the Lord in the temple), she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Years later back in Jerusalem:  John 12:44-45.  “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in Him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees Him who sent me.”

Holy God, the stories of faithful believers are precious to all of us who yearn to be with You. Around the world, wherever the stories of the Good News are being shared, may Your Spirit be given fertile ground of open human hearts.  Embolden us to honor You, Your Son, and the Spirit of Truth by “speaking of Him to all who are looking.”  Amen

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Week 17, DAY 3     Ascent of the Boy to Manhood

Luke 2:41-52

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.  And when He was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.  And when the feast was ended as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.  His parents did not Know it, but supposing Him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for Him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for Him.”

“After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.”

“And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished.  And His mother said to Him, “Son, why have you treated us so?  Behold, Your father and I have been searching for You in great distress.”  And He said to them, “Why were you looking for me?   Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  “And they did not understand the saying that He spoke to them.  And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.  And His mother treasured up all these things in her heart.”

Years later back in Jerusalem at Passover:  John 12:46 “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Heavenly Father, at such an early age to be this discerning in His assigned work as the embodied Savior, I marvel at Your timing and His willingness to “increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”   How long, O God, have You planned for your created humans?  Open our eyes to what we don’t see, who we don’t notice, the Words of Life we miss, how to be submissive, and help us “treasure up all these things in our hearts.”  Please.  In His Name we ask it.  Amen

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WEEK 17, DAY 4       Ascent of Fulfillment of All Righteousness

Matthew 3:13-17 

“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’  Then he consented.  And when Jesus had been baptized, just as He came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to Him and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”

Years later in Jerusalem:  John 12:49-50.  “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has Himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak.  And I know that His commandment is eternal life.  What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Dear God, we humans whom You created cannot possibly comprehend the humiliation The Anointed One suffered on our account:  undergoing purification rites even though He is pure, being misunderstood even by earthly parents, being submissive to those who didn’t understand the mission, being baptized to “fulfill all righteousness,” all before His preaching ministry began.  And this isn’t even the worst of it.  Father, keep our hearts broken and open to what You are teaching us this year, this month, this week, this hour, this moment.  Amen.

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WEEK 17, DAY 5               Assent of the Son to the Spirit

Matthew 4:1-3

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

“And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.”

“The tempter came and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God……”

Years later in Jerusalem:  John 18:33 “So Pilate….called Jesus to him, and said to him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’”

 

                                        Assent of the Son to the Lord your God

Matthew 4:4,7,10

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

“Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”

Years later in the Garden:  John 18:5 “I am, He.”

 

Father, how disgusting to read the words “If You are the Son of God,” “are You the King of the Jews” addressed to the Christ.

As these words sink in, only the Spirit can express the anguish.  Amen

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WEEK 17, DAY 6          Ascent/Assent of Jesus’ Ministry

Luke 4:14

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about Him went out through all the surrounding country.  And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.”

Luke 4:16, 18-21

“And He came to Nazareth…to the synagogue on the Sabbath day…   The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor….liberty to the captives….recovering sight to the blind….liberty to those oppressed….to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Years later outside the city gates of Jerusalem: John19: 16-17 “So he delivered Him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, Golgotha.  There they crucified Him….”

Father, how do we acknowledge and give thanks for the enormity of what You, the Messiah, and the Spirit have done to save us, all the while on this earth each of His steps drew Him nearer to the cross?  The Gospels tell us of His work.  “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25. 

Jesus tells us ”My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.”  John 4:34   Today, Father, may that be our lesson?  Because of Him.  Amen

 

 

WEEK 17, DAY 7

John 19:30 

“Jesus said ‘It is finished,’

and He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.”

Week 16

WEEK 16, DAY 1          ASCENT of the Prince of Peace                           

Isaiah 9:6

“For unto us a child is born, 

To us a Son is given.

And the government shall be upon his shoulder,

And His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God,

The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” 

Standing in wonder.  Amen 

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WEEK 16, DAY 2         ASCENT of the people

ISAIAH 9:2

The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light, (Light);

Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

On them has light shone.”

Standing in light.

Standing in Light.  Amen

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WEEK 16, DAY 3          ASCENT of the born Christ

Luke 2:11, 9         

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.”

The GLORY was shone.  Hosanna.  Amen

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WEEK 16, DAY 4            ASCENT for all the people

Luke 2:10, 20        

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.’”

The fear was quieted.  Praise took its place.  Amen

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WEEK 16, DAY 5          ASCENT of the Child

1 Peter 2:4-6, Isaiah 28:16          Ascent of the Living Stone

“As you come to Him, a Living Stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

“For it stands in Scripture:

‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a Stone,

a Cornerstone chosen and precious,

And whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

The Living Stone, the God through Christ.  Hosanna. Amen.

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WEEK 16, DAY 6          ASCENT of the decisions of the people

1 Peter 2:7-8, Isaiah 8:14-15

“So the honor is for you who believe,

But for those who do not believe,

‘The Stone that the builders rejected

Has become the Cornerstone (the Head of the corner)’

And

‘A Stone of stumbling,

And a Rock of offense.’

They stumble because they disobey the Word,

as they were destined to do.’”

I stand at the crossroads:  obey or disobey.  I know what’s next in this story, Father.

The cross looms. 

Help me, O God.  Rejection of the Christ Living Stone seems almost impossible.  Yet, daily, it is the choice.

How did You do it, Prince of Peace?  Amen

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WEEK 16, DAY 7          ASCENT of Choice given to the people

Luke 2:34

“Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary, ‘this Child is destined for the rising and the falling of many in Israel and to be a sign to be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.’”

1 Corinthians 1:22-24

“Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a Stumbling Block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

The Living Stone, Stumbling Block, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Light, Glory, Everlasting Father……………………………………….

 

Father, I am grateful to be given this great gift: the choice of belief.

Help me, Righteous Father, reconcile the inner thoughts and the outward actions. 

The cross looms.  It is clear, Holy God, there is a reason Jesus our Savior was called the Man of Sorrows. John 12:27, Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:34, Isaiah 53:3, Psalm 22:6, John 1:10-11.  

Many must make this choice. 

Here I am, Father.  Send me in Christ. 

Here we are, Father.  Send us in Christ.  Amen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

WEEK 15

WEEK 15, DAY 1

Psalm 8:3-4 “When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?”

At the time of this writing, it is March 11, 2021, one year from the date of the World Health Organization classifying the worldwide SARS-COV-2 infection (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2),  CoVid-19 (Coronavirus Disease-2019) as a pandemic.  The world’s population of 7,846,000,000 (over 7.8 billion) nearly simultaneously affected has been exposed to physical, emotional, and spiritual traumatization, and is exhausted, not just from the disease and the changes it has caused, but also from the inexplicable feeling of entrapment in flypaper, quicksand, quagmire, snare, pitfall, pit.

Regardless of one’s beliefs, the fact remains 2,641,762 people have died from this disease on this date of writing affecting 219 countries and territories.  In our own country, over 540,000 have perished.

The Bubonic Plague, aka, the Black Death, the most lethal pandemic in recorded human history, killed between 75million to 200million people from 1346-1351 AD (CE).  Before that (1315-1317), “the Great Famine is estimated to have killed 30%-50% of Europe’s population.”  Numbers almost too large to imagine.  Without You Holy God, it would be tempting to consider humans as dispensable.

Yet, King David marveled “You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings/angels and crowned him with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5.

Our Father God, You have made us, pursued relationship with us, and shockingly allowed us “glory and honor.”

This week, Father, as we consider the woodshed, threshing floor, fields of labor, disguised as a pandemic, will You bring us into right relationship with You?  We have never experienced anything like this.  But, there is no clear evidence the Israelites had ever experienced anything like the flight from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and being led in the wilderness.  And we confess we scarcely know anything but the stories of what it was like for the WWII generation.  May we see clearly that You remain the only God and The One Who promises “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5c.                  Thank You, Father.  Thank you.                        In the Son’s name we pray.  Amen

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WEEK 15, DAY 2

Father, as we consider this CoVid pandemic, we remember the impatience of the Israelites.  Perhaps we remember because of our own impatience.

“And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them…” Numbers 11:1

Father, how is it You tolerate our discontent?                                                                                                     “and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you.’”  Hebrews 13:5b, c.

And what about our fears in the face of what You’ve told us?                                                                                    “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:6

May we lay it all down, Father?  Impatience, discontent, fear?  The pandemic is another wilderness similar to the Sinai, or the world wars, or the natural weather patterns of tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, ice/snowstorms, drought, pestilence.  None of this was what You intended in the perfect world You created.  But, Holy Father, we cry out Thank You, for not leaving us alone.  Thank You we do not have to be apart from You.  We believe You: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Praise Your Name we are not alone no matter the circumstance.  Amen and amen.

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WEEK 15, DAY 3

Father, it is difficult to know where to start in prayer over something as immense as this pandemic affecting everyone, everywhere.  Yet, in heavily laden responsibilities and professions, it seems good to start somewhere and just keep going.  So today, may we bring before You the children and widows all around the world.  Some are hungry, some have lost parents, some have lost children, some are abandoned, some know You, some do not know You, some are among us, some are far away.  All the 2.6million (adults and children) who have died had/have a soul.  Will You direct us to the children and widows who need our help?  Help us to see them, note them, help them, love them, and will You Father save them?

We love our children.  May we learn how to love other children whom You send us. Show us what they need and how to help. And will you lead us to the widows who quietly and sometimes desperately need help in their isolation or economic status.  Lead us to Your destination planned for us, Father.   We love You, Holy God.  In Christ we pray.  Amen

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27. 

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.”    Psalm 68:5  

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WEEK 15, DAY 4

Today, Father, help us to remember the families who struggle to feed, clothe, educate, and shelter together.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

“If a brother or a sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,‘ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that ?” James 2:15-16.

And, Father, will You help those who need assistance let it be known.  Pride gets in the way sometimes.  Please don’t let them suffer in isolation.  Help us to watch, listen, and offer.  Thank you for so many who are and have been and who always are intervening and lovingly sharing with family, neighbors, and others in need. 

If the giver becomes a person in need, help us recognize the need and help shift the burden.  In Christ.  Amen

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WEEK 15, DAY 5

Heavenly Father, I’m struck by the repeated reassurances You’ve given us, written in the Word so that we can read, reread, recite, remember, and claim Your reassurance, no matter the disaster facing us. 

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5c

1 Timothy 3:16. “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion:                                                                               HE (Who, God) was manifested in the flesh, vindicated (justified) in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.”

“No one who denies the Son has the Father.  Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.  Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.  And this is the promise that He made to us—eternal life.”  1 John 2:23-25 

Eternal life.  No more disasters.  No more pandemics. No more loss.  Please help us fix our eyes squarely on the goal.  We claim these promises, Father, because You made them.  We understand that we are to “let what (we) heard from the beginning abide in (us).”   Thank You for this Covenant in Christ.  Amen

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WEEK 15, DAY 6

So, Father, what about those flytraps, snares, quicksand, pits, entrapments from DAY 1 this week that keep flying in our faces? 

Praises to You, Father, for giving us Word of imperfect people who preceded us and who struggled with many problems. Sometimes well.  Other times, not so well.  Yet, You have shared their stories.  We are grateful we are not unique in this struggle to stay upright.

Thank You for the writer of Psalm 91:1-4.  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my  fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’  For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.  He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

Help us to dwell and abide in You Holy God, our refuge, our fortress, our God, in whom we trust.  Amen

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WEEK 15, DAY 7

Psalm 91: 5-9.  “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, not the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge, no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.”

Not surprisingly, Father, we have questions.  But, for now, it is enough to know You are our refuge, our dwelling place, our shield, our buckler.  The Most High, we praise your Name through the Anointed One.  Amen

                                                                        

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