"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).
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Colossians 1:21-2:7 For so long in my own life I did not understand the mystery Paul speaks of in his letter to the Colossians. I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior at nine years of age, and from nine to twenty-six years of age I struggled to walk in the ways of the Lord. I would do well for a season, and then I would find myself drifting. Finally the day came when I was twenty-six and that mystery began to be unveiled to me.
Colossians 1:1-20 When my children were young, I used to pray Scripture prayers for them aloud. Most of the Scripture prayers came from the letters Paul wrote to the different churches. Today's reading in Colossians has one of the prayers I prayed regularly for my three sons. It is an excellent prayer that you can pray for anyone you love. Paul said, "I do not cease to pray for you." These were the things he prayed: "That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy" (vv. 9-11).
Philippians 4:1-23 Most of us are familiar with the phrase that is "batted about" so casually today: "Don't worry, be happy." There is a way you can not worry and be happy no matter what you are facing in this life—pray. The phrase should be revised to say, "Don't worry, Pray!" If we followed this admonition, our lives would be filled with joy (not just a happy "ha-ha" joy, but an inner joy that will strengthen us in all circumstances).
Proverbs 24:15-16 Yesterday's reading spoke of the ultimate destruction of the wicked. The proverb for today speaks of what will happen to the wicked and the just. The wicked man falls into mischief. The just man may fall even seven times, but he will get up each time. The just man always rises again. The wicked, however, falls forever.
Psalm 73:1-28 All of us from time to time in our lives have been besieged with doubt. In this psalm David was saying to God, "What is the use of living a righteous life? All the wicked are prospering, and here I am suffering." He felt this way until he went into the sanctuary and sought the Lord. As he quieted his spirit, he began to hear the voice of the Lord, and he understood the end of the wicked. He understood that the wicked ultimately would be judged and destroyed, but he would be accepted by God and not destroyed. Then David makes this wonderful statement: "Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (vv. 23-24).
Amazing things happen when the power of Christ shows up. Are you available to be His vessel for miracles?
Our culture says all religions lead to God. We as Christs followers cant afford to be confused about this issue.
Isaiah 60:1-62:5 So many Christians spend their lives looking forward to when their ministry will be released in power. While they are waiting, they miss so many opportunities. The great ministry they hope to have one day may never develop. Many years ago when I almost died, the Lord taught me about the ministry of the moment. As I felt my spirit leaving my body as I was hemorrhaging after a miscarriage, I realized I might not have another minute to live. At that time I learned how precious every minute is. True ministry is seeing every moment as an opportunity to minister to another person or to the Lord.
Isaiah 57:15-59:21 It has been my custom over the years to have seasons of fasting. Fasting has many benefits, but the goal of fasting is not to get God to do something for you. When we fast, it is our time to intercede for others and also to have our own hearts changed. This passage in Isaiah lists several ways we can pray for others during a season of fasting. I must add there are different ways of fasting. Perhaps because of medical reasons you are not able to do without food. Many people do a Daniel fast, which is simply eating vegetables only. Other people fast on fruit juices. Some fast from watching TV.
Isaiah 54:1-57:14 A rejected person is always vulnerable to the enemy's weapons. This passage in Isaiah lists the ten weapons the enemy tries to use against rejected people.
Isaiah 51:1-53:12 One would think it would be impossible to read all about the life of Jesus in the Old Testament. There are, however, many prophetic scriptures in the Old Testament about the life and death of Jesus. Our reading in Isaiah today has one of the most famous ones. I have a friend who is a rabbi in a Messianic congregation, and he always tells his Jewish friends who do not believe in Jesus to read Isaiah 53. This is an amazing prophetic chapter that tells all about the rejection of Jesus and how He bore our sins, griefs, transgressions, iniquities and punishments in His death. It speaks of how God made His soul the offering for sin.
Isaiah 48:12-50:11 This passage in Isaiah speaks of God's greatness and His infinite interest in mankind. This very morning I enjoyed a lesson on the "Fear of the Lord" that gave documented facts about the great expanse of our universe. The teacher shared how many light-years it would take for us to travel to a far galaxy, and it was mind boggling. We are just now coming to the understanding of the vastness of our universe. Yet, God says He spans the heavens with His right hand. The span of my own hand is about five inches or less. Think of how big God is who can span the whole universe with His right hand.
Proverbs 24:3-4 We have only built one house in our lifetime, and it was interesting to watch the structure being formed day by day. First, the foundation was laid carefully. Some of the plumbing even went into the foundation area before the cement was poured on top. Then the wood frame went up, and the rooms in the house were carefully measured and framed. Finally the roof trusses were placed, and the roof was laid. Perhaps you have never built a house to live in, but we all are building spiritual houses. This Proverbs reading talks about how we should build our spiritual house: "Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches."
Isaiah 43:14-45:10 I always looked forward to Christmas because I knew I would receive a whole new outfit that even included new underwear. As soon as the opening of presents was completed, I ran and got into a hot tub and then dressed in my new outfit. I wanted to be squeaky clean before I put on my new clothes. When I came out in my new outfit, my daddy always said, "You look beautiful."
Isaiah 41:17-43:13 This passage in Isaiah is a powerful prophetic chapter about the Messiah, Jesus, the Holy One of Israel, and what He will do for Israel. It speaks about Him healing the brokenhearted, setting free those who are in prison, holding their hand, taking them through the fire and through the river to safety. Then God tells Isaiah the reason for the protection and deliverance of His people. The Holy One of Israel says, "Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honored, and I have loved you" (Isa. 43:4).
Isaiah 39:1-41:16 So many in this life are looking for something to hang their hats on—a solid something, an unmovable something, something that they can count on that will never change and will always be. This passage in Isaiah tells us that the Word of God shall stand forever. The Word of God spans time and eternity and gives us something that is established and unshakable to hold on to through this life. Everything we see now on this earth will one day be ashes. Isaiah tells us, "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isa. 40:8).
Isaiah 37:1-38:22 This passage records two prayers of Hezekiah. One prayer asks God for his healing and deliverance from his enemies. The other prayer expresses a vivid word picture of how Hezekiah felt before he knew the Lord would restore him to health and deliver him from his enemies. He says, "Like a crane or a swallow, so I chattered; I mourned like a dove; my eyes fail from looking upward" (Isa. 38:14). He speaks of his age departing from him and how he believed he would not see the Lord in the land of the living.
Isaiah 33:13-36:22 Have you ever been falsely accused? I can remember several times in my life when people have accused me falsely. Nothing hurts worse. You know in your heart that you did nothing wrong. Yet if you try to justify yourself to your accuser, he usually refuses to accept what is true about the situation. Every day of our lives we deal with a false accuser. His name is Satan. He continually accuses us, and unless we are on the alert, we can easily fall into condemnation.
Psalm 63:1-11 We talked earlier about giving thanks for trials because ultimately they work for our good; also, proven character is developed in us. This thought does not appeal to our natural mind, especially when we are in the midst of a heavy-duty trial. David sometimes buckled under his trials, but even at those times he spoke to his soul and told his soul to hope in God. Focus is the main issue in trials, and as we see in our psalm reading today, David had his focus exactly where it should be. We all can learn how to focus on the Lord in troubled times. Thank God for a psalmist like David who writes beautiful, but also very practical psalms.
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