Waiting with our whole being

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)

After we have cast all our cares upon Jesus, and resolved to trust Him with all our concerns and requests, there is a waiting period. David wrote that he waits for the Lord with his whole being, putting all his hope in God’s word. I wondered if there is anyone in the stories of scripture who waited with their whole being, besides David, and there was. Her name was Rhoda.

When Peter was imprisoned and the disciples were fervently praying for a miraculous release, an angel came and appeared to Peter, walking him out of prison, putting all guards into a deep sleep. Peter didn’t have to do a single thing. The angel did all the work, and Peter walked up to the house where the disciples were currently praying for him. 

When he knocked on the door, a woman named Rhoda was the first person to jump up and run to the door. She was overjoyed to see  Peter standing at the door. She didn’t know how he escaped from prison, but she had been praying with the group, waiting and hoping with her whole being that their prayers would be answered. 

She quickly told the others but no one believed her, telling her she was out of her mind. (Acts 12:15)

Although the disciples were praying for a miracle, they didn’t seem to expect one. I can’t criticize them because I have often found myself praying for a miracle, and still not truly expecting it. It seems to be easier to believe God for someone else’s miracle than for my own. 

The scripture tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, because He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 

(Hebrews 11:6)

In Rhoda’s situation, diligently seeking God meant listening for the sounds of Peter’s footsteps or his knock on the door. Rhoda had hope that God would hear the prayers of all the believers, and bring Peter back. She waited in hope for the miracle that they all prayed for, and when it happened she was the first to hear Peter knocking and see him standing at the door. 

David writes in this psalm that his whole being waits for the Lord, and all his hope is in God’s word. Whatever it means to wait for the Lord with our “whole being”, Rhoda had what David was talking about. Waiting with her whole being is why she jumped at the slightest sound of someone at the door. She had an enthusiastic faith, believing God is a rewarder of all who seek Him diligently. 

Today, waiting with our whole being might mean expecting some good news about a medical test. When we ask God for a miracle, like Rhoda, we need to anticipate the answer, waiting and hoping with our whole being, that Jesus is with us and the answer is coming. 

As we leave all our worries and doubts on the altar, trusting that God hears us, the next step is to tune our hearing in with hope for the knock on the door, a phone call, text message or an email, with the answer we have been hoping for. 

I rarely experience such expectant faith but when Jon fell out of his bed last Saturday, and the nurse called me, I felt an inexplicable confidence and expectation that he would have no injuries from the fall. 

Waiting with a sense of expectation,  is a good thing. We expect Jesus to be present when we go to church. We expect Him to hear our prayers. We expect Him to speak to our hearts through the scriptures whether we are reading or hearing it read to us in church. Living with a sense of expectation as Rhoda had, is like adding wings to our faith. 

Yesterday I picked up the disc of the CT scan of Jon’s brain and neck, that was performed the night he fell out of bed. I brought the disc to drop off at his surgeon’s office. Instead, they told me to wait and the surgeon will read it and give me results in person. I was called into the exam room and the surgeon told me that he was very happy with his CT results. There were no new injuries to the brain, and his enlarged ventricles even looked a slight bit smaller. Hearing the doctor’s good report in person was like seeing Jesus knocking on my door. 

Lord, help us to wait for you with our whole being like David and Rhoda. Give us the grace of having faith with expectation, always looking for you to show up since you promised to be with us always. Amen

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The Spirit and our groaning

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)

Some situations are so perplexing that we aren’t sure whether to pray for healing or for endurance, for someone’s deliverance or for their salvation. We want God to be glorified through everything we pray for, but we can reach a point of not knowing what to pray. We may not know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit always does. 

Whenever we are weakened by sorrow, sickness, discouragement, or anxiety, and find it difficult to pray, the Spirit steps in and intercedes for us. Sometimes He intercedes for us through other people, but He also does it directly as this verse today describes. 

The Holy Spirit understands our emotions, and He interprets the wordless groanings that are deep within our spirit. He is God, the third person of the Trinity, and He knows everything that is within our heart and mind, before we utter a word. We have an inner groaning, which He reads deep within us and He ministers to each person in a unique and special way. 

Besides the thousands of languages in the world, scripture refers to a language of angels spoken in heaven. (1 Corinthians 13:1) 

There is a language of heaven, but heaven also understands and interprets the thoughts of our heart and our wordless groaning, and the Spirit intercedes for us. When our spirit is overwhelmed, and are at a loss for words, He searches our heart and mind, and intercedes for us. He prays for us and through us.

Jesus left us with another great gift of His Spirit, which is “Comfort.”

I think we often underestimate the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We can ask Him directly for help because Jesus sent Him to us for a purpose.  He has been sent to do everything that Jesus would do if He were here in His body. He is our comforter, our helper, our healer, our teacher and our mind reader. When we are overwhelmed and weak, He steps in and is our Comforter when we feel alone or misunderstood.

Lord, thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit, who interprets the deepest groaning that is within us, and intercedes for us, praying for us and through us. Remind us that you are always ready to lift up our hearts in the fullness of your peace and comfort. Amen

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A plan after the storm

Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside meand said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.”

Acts 27:23-24 (NIV)

Paul’s guardian angel appeared and stood beside him, assuring him that God will keep all who are on the ship with him safe. Paul repeated the angel’s words to the Roman guards on the ship. They were all enroute to Rome, with other prisoners, to stand trial before Caesar. The ship was being pummeled by a violent cyclone storm on the Adriatic Sea, called a Northeaster. It was so bad that everyone on board was sure they would die. 

The storm lasted for days and after two weeks, no one had eaten, both from fear and seasickness. Paul took bread, prayed over it, blessed it, and gave it to everyone on board. The total number of prisoners and guards on that ship were 276 people. After Paul prayed, they ate, and were all encouraged.

The ship finally got wedged into a sandbar and wouldn’t move any further, meaning they would all have to swim a short distance from there to an island. The Roman guards decided to kill all the prisoners rather than risk that they would escape while under their authority. One centurion stopped them, because he wanted to save Paul, and probably came to trust in God, so no prisoners were killed. The mangled ship landed near an island called Malta. It was all part of the providence of God as circumstances will soon reveal. 

The natives of Malta were very hospitable and gave the shipwreck survivors food and shelter. Divine providence caused the ship to stop on the side of the island, owned by a wealthy man named Publius. It so happened that the father of Publius was very sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and, after praying, laid his hands on him and healed him. Publius was not only grateful, but believed. After this took place, the rest of the sick people on the island came to Paul and were all cured.

God obviously wanted Paul to evangelize the people of Malta, and that cyclone storm and shipwreck were part of His plan to get Paul to that particular side of Malta. In the process, Paul also evangelized all 275 people on the ship. It wasn’t by chance or luck that Publius decided to buy them every provision they needed to set sail again. 

God always has a plan during every storm. In Paul’s case, it was to lead him to people who needed to be healed and saved through faith in Jesus. God even had a plan on how to get the 276 people back to their original destination of Rome, by sending the wealthiest man on the island to provide for all their needs, in gratitude to Paul for healing his father. 

God not only had a plan, to lead Paul to the right people, at the right time, through the right circumstances, but He had great compassion on all the men aboard that ship, by speaking through an angel, to console them, promising no life would be lost, and it came true.

Sometimes God’s divine purpose is accomplished through frightening and upsetting situations. The guards almost killed every prisoner, but they didn’t. They could all have been lost at sea, but they were all saved. They were all in the perfect place at the perfect time for God’s perfect will to be done, to reach the people of Malta with the gospel. 

He also comforts us when we are in distress through the breaking of bread and prayer. He leads us to the right people, at the right time, through the right circumstances,  because He also has a plan for us after the storm. That is our God, so loving and compassionate, and He is still the same yesterday, today and forever. 

Lord, help us to trust your divine providence, and your perfect will, despite the storms, threats or shipwrecks of life. You are supreme, and almighty, yet full of compassion, and we place our lives in your hands. Amen

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Made for more

“After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance

and saw the Lord saying to me, ‘Hurry, leave Jerusalem at once, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’

But I replied, ‘Lord, they themselves know that from synagogue to synagogue I used to imprison and beat those who believed in you.”

Acts 22:17-19 (NAB)

Jesus appeared to Paul while he was praying, and told him to leave Jerusalem at once. Paul tried to convince the Lord that he could handle the anti-Christian mobs, since he used to be one of them. 

Jesus listened to him but insisted, 

“Go, I shall send you far away to the Gentiles.” (Acts 22:21) 

Paul was fearless, but Jesus knew that Paul would not be accepted by the brutal authorities in Jerusalem, and He had better plans for Paul, to send him out to minister to the gentile world. That became Paul’s unique calling, as an apostle to the gentiles. 

God has a calling and a purpose for every believer. We might not even recognize our calling at first. To have a calling doesn’t mean we are to be missionaries, teachers or preachers, like Paul. The Lord simply places us in specific places at specific times, to shine our light to specific people. 

If it shines and touches one soul for eternity, it’s a success, since all of heaven rejoices over one single soul. There is peace and joy in knowing we are exactly where we were meant to be, whether it’s our job, school, church or neighborhood. 

When the apostles received the  mandate to spread the gospel to the world, they each had a uniquely different ministry from each other. Peter went to Antioch, which is present day Turkey. Thomas was called to India. James stayed in Jerusalem, and Andrew was known as the apostle to the Greeks.

Each apostle served their purpose, even though times were perilous for all Christians. In time, they were all martyred, except for John, who had the unique calling to write the book of Revelation while living in exile, on the island of Patmos.

We are all chosen by God, for a unique purpose, and made for more than a common mortal existence. We are immortal beings, and as we continue to offer our lives in service to Jesus, He places us in the right place at the right time, because He made us for so much more. When we live with a sense of identity and purpose in Christ, we will impact someone else’s eternity. 

I remember a Japanese friend I had in college, during the time when I was excited to share my faith with anyone I met. Yoshi was raised Buddhist, and never really understood the Christian gospel message. I used to talk to him about Jesus and invited him to my church a few times. 

Life went on after college and we never saw each other again. “Fifty years” later, a relative of mine met Yoshi, and told me that Yoshi credits me as the person who introduced him to Jesus. He became a believer ever since, and I never even knew I had any impact on him, and that he was living a Christian life all those years.

We never know how we or our words  can influence someone else’s life. Everywhere God leads us has some divine purpose. When I started my career in health care, I was fixated on the idea of working at Northwestern Memorial hospital. I sent a resume and prayed so hard for that position, but it never came to pass. 

Instead, Lutheran General called me for an interview, and I was hired and worked there for over 25 years. I may not know what influence my life had on anyone else, but I do know that many of the people I worked with, resulted in lifelong friendships. They will all be in my heart forever. 

It was through the hospital that I learned about the volunteer ministry with the chaplain department, and I have continued that ministry into my retirement, which is very fulfilling. 

God is always a step ahead of us. 

I once heard a preacher say, “Instead of asking God to bless what you are doing, do what God is already blessing.”

We want God to bless our plans, but sometimes He wants us to know that where we currently are, is His plan. He made us for more than just a mundane mortal existence. He wants us to partner with Him in making an impact on someone else’s life, which will last eternally. There are greater blessings ahead for us, but it starts by serving Him right where we are.

Lord, help us to know that we are loved and called according to your purpose, to serve you faithfully by shining our light on others, wherever you have placed us, and lead us in your will, instead of our own plans. Amen

( I’m sharing a song that fits these thoughts.The words are so beautiful)

Made For More (Lyric) – Josh Baldwin, feat. Jenn Johnson – YouTube

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Every bloody thorn heals

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)

After hearing this scripture read in church, I realized we are all in a life long process of being renewed, even during those situations that perplex us, as we wonder why things are not going as we asked. Jesus saved us  to renew us and our way of thinking. Instead of being conformed to the trends of the majority all around us,  we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Romans 12:2)

It’s a lifetime process, so we cannot lose heart. It reminds me of the following true story. 

A college professor, named Richard, taught Neurology for a living. He and his wife converted from atheism to Christianity. Even though his expertise was in studying the brain, for years, he couldn’t understand or control his own temperament shortcomings. 

His story started when he was abandoned by his birth mother after being born, and then was adopted and raised by a Methodist couple. It must have been difficult and perplexing to his adoptive parents, because from the start, Richard was a problem child with a conduct disorder. He stold a car in his youth, got kicked off of all sports teams, and became kind of a total misfit, getting into constant trouble. 

In spite of his behavioral issues, he was very bright and did attend college. At nineteen, he survived a rock climbing accident, and fell 150 feet off a cliff, but never lost consciousness or broke a single bone. Everyone told him that it was  miraculous. He began to rethink atheism, that there might possibly be a God, and he started searching for ways to find Him. Ignoring the Christian faith, he searched many other beliefs but found none to be satisfying.

He eventually got married and five years later, he had a wife and family. His marriage was on the verge of a divorce, when someone invited his wife to their church, which resulted in a huge change in her. Seeing the change in his wife, Richard  joined her in becoming Christian and their marriage was eventually restored. Together, they responded to a call to become missionaries in Africa. Richard left his position as a college professor and they packed up their family, and served as missionaries in Africa for over twenty years. 

While he was in the mission field, he describes a brokenness that stayed deep within him through his whole life. Although he was faithful to his Christian faith and a successful missionary, he still struggled for years with episodes of outbursts of anger and sarcasm. He tended to show this abrasive side of himself only to his family and friends who were closest to him. 

One day while he was praying and reading scripture in Zechariah about kindness, he came honestly before God, asking forgiveness. He asked Jesus why he kept lashing out with anger and for the Lord to heal him of his abrasive outbursts. 

While he was praying, he imagined himself as one of the thieves on the cross next to Jesus. He looked at Jesus and at His crown of thorns. Blood was streaming from each thorn, down His face. Then Jesus turned to him and spoke to his heart saying,  

“Your problem, Richard, is that you hate your mother who brought you into the world and abandoned you.”

He felt like he just received a session of psychoanalysis by Jesus from the cross. 

He recognized that somewhere within him, was a deep psychological wound that he had been carrying with him all his life, until that day. 

That encounter of prayer with Jesus transformed him from within, and he forgave a birth mother he never even met. The Holy Spirit removed his anger and bitterness from that day on, and he was in his fifties. Whatever age we are, we are being inwardly renewed, day by day, throughout our lifetime. 

Richard’s story is a helpful reminder that we are all a work in progress.

God loves us as we are, He saves us by grace, but He never stops making us better for the rest of our lives. When we feel like things are not going as we wanted, we don’t lose heart, because God is using every circumstance to make us more like Him, and He is patiently renewing our inner selves and healing our subconscious wounds. 

Richard’s story also gave me a new perspective toward people who have difficult temperaments that push others away. I can be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, considering that they might have emotional wounds that only the crown of thorns can heal.

Jesus is the best psychiatrist in the universe and He not only forgives but heals all emotional wounds, by His own blood, one thorn at a time. Richard was not new to Christianity or scripture, but he encountered Jesus in a new way that day. 

I think of the crown of thorns in a new way now. Every thorn piercing that sacred head brings healing of our heads, physically, emotionally or spiritually. That sacred blood from each thorn brings unique healing to an area of every person’s brain or mind. It gives me a new perspective in praying for myself and for others. 

Jesus transforms temperaments and heals wounds caused by rejection, from the past. We don’t have to live with the effects of inner wounds. It was God’s plan from the start, when Isaiah foretold what the Savior would do for us:

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,

and with his stripes we are healed.”

(Isaiah 53:5)

Lord, thank you for making us whole, with the precious blood that flowed from every thorn on your head and body. Please heal and renew us of all mental, emotional and physical wounds within us and our loved ones. Give us the love and patience to understand others who still need your healing and renewal. Amen

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Beholding Jesus like Simeon

“Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

”Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:

a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
 and the glory of your people Israel.”

Luke 2:27-32 (NIV)

Simeon was very advanced in age the morning he headed to his local synagogue. He had been asking God to let him see the Messiah before he passed away. Being led by the Holy Spirit, he spotted a certain couple carrying an infant a little over a month old. He knew this was not just any baby, but the One who he was waiting for.

He approached Mary and Joseph and took the infant Jesus in his arms. He worshipped and praised God while looking at and holding the tiny incarnate body of God’s son and Savior of the world.

If we could only go to church every week with that same sense of anticipation that Simeon had, I believe it would deepen our church experience. There were many times that Simeon went to the temple, but no Messiah appeared yet. His faith and anticipation never gave up. It wasn’t enough for him to know that the Messiah was going to come one day. Simeon wanted more than knowledge. He had a desire to see, touch and behold the Savior of the world, before leaving this world.

Maybe we could all go to church with Simeon’s attitude, wanting more than the knowledge that God is there. We can take our faith a step further, and go with the desire and anticipation to see and touch Jesus through our worship. I have learned over time that church shouldn’t be about great sermons or the best  songs, or how much we personally get out of it. When we anticipate the Lord’s presence, we will behold Him and worship Him for who He is. 

We don’t need our physical vision to see Him, or our physical hands to touch Him. As I meditate on Simeon’s attitude, maybe we can spiritually  see and touch Jesus each time we go to church. Instead of going to get something out of it, what if we went, like Simeon, just to behold Him, to spiritually see and touch the One who God sent for us.

Jesus invites us come to Him as we are. It’s a faith that desires Him, even when we have no answers to difficult questions. It’s a faith that says, 

“I don’t know much Lord, but help me to touch you and see you like Simeon.”

I know of a man who tells his story  of living as an atheist, having made a lot of wrong choices over the past thirty years of his life. One day, 11 years ago, he walked into an empty church, looked up and said, “I don’t know who you are; I don’t know how this works; but I’m a mess. Please help me.” 

Jesus responds to that kind of plea. 

The man didn’t go to that church to hear a great sermon or great music, he went seeking a great person. He spiritually saw and touched Jesus that day, and He beheld Him, receiving the mercy that changed his life. 

Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

We are the blessed ones if we are  coming to church seeking to worship Him, who we cannot physically see or touch. As we follow Simeon’s example, we will start to behold Him in a new spiritual way each time we come to church.

For the Catholic Christians, it would mean to anticipate and behold His Presence in the Eucharistic part of the liturgy, knowing He is our sacrifice and is fully present in the bread and wine.

For the non-Catholic Christians, it would mean to anticipate touching and seeing Him, beholding Him as our sacrifice and the salvation He provided for us at the cross. 

Lord Jesus, open our eyes spiritually and give us the attitude of Simeon, living our faith with the desire and anticipation to always see, touch and behold you as we worship you in church each week. Amen

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Strength and kindness

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

When the Lord spoke these words to Joshua, he was overwhelmed with his new responsibility to replace the  leadership of Moses, after he died.

Replacing Moses certainly seems like a formidable task. After the death of Moses, God spoke to Joshua many times. Many times God told Joshua to be strong, and that He was with him in leading the people to the promised land. 

After forty years of wandering across the wilderness, the Jordan River would be the final boundary to cross, in order to finally enter the promised land. The Israelites had the ark of the covenant with them, which was the gold covered chest, containing the sacred relics of Manna, Aaron’s rod and the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. The ark represented the mighty presence of God who was with His people. 

God gave very odd but specific instructions, that only the priests from the priestly tribe of Levi were allowed to carry that ark of the covenant. In fact, they had to carry it without directly touching it, holding it with poles on each side, like handles. 

God told Joshua that as the priests  carried the holy ark of the covenant to the Jordan River, the moment their feet touched the edge of the river, the water would part. Joshua directed the people to do as God commanded. It was during the March-April season of harvest, right after winter rains and melted snow from the mountain filled the river to its highest point. 

God reassured Joshua that He would be with him in the same way He was with Moses. God told Joshua, 

“Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” (Joshua 3:7)

Joshua’s strength came in following every detail of God’s instructions. As his priests carried the ark, and their feet touched the edge of the Jordan River, it parted and the people walked across. Later his army encircled the fortified brick walls of Jericho, just praising God, and the walls collapsed on the seventh day.

All these amazing stories of scripture left historical evidence behind throughout the holy land. One of the most influential archeologists of biblical sites is Kathleen Kenyon, who found the actual ruins of Jericho, where those 13 ft. walls came tumbling down that day. 

The parallels between Moses and Joshua are amazing. As God parted the Red sea for Moses, He parted the Jordan River for Joshua. God  validated Joshua as a leader through that miracle, proving that He was with his leadership as He was with Moses’. 

Whatever we are going through, we can trust in the instructions that God has given us through Jesus and we can trust that God is saying to us, as He said to Joshua, 

“Be strong and courageous, for I am with you wherever you go.” 

We can learn something else in Joshua’s strength, that he also knew how to show kindness to strangers. Rahab was a harlot, who was not part of the Israelite community but lived within the city of Jericho. She heard of and came to believe in the God of the Israelites. She helped Joshua by hiding some of his spies, before they conquered the city. She asked Joshua for kindness and mercy in return, and Joshua gave orders to spare her and her entire family’s lives, when they invaded Jericho. Rahab had a turning point of faith and later married an Israelite man, and became a part of the genealogy of Jesus. 

Joshua had strength, but his strength increased by following the unusual orders given to him by God. He did everything God asked him to do despite how strange it might appear. The priests carried the ark of the covenant into the Jordan River, his army marched around the fortified walls of Jericho seven times, praising God. 

He showed kindness to a harlot, who was not a part of their people, but whose changed life later gave birth to the Messiah. Joshua’s strength came from believing God, and then obeying some strange requests, and in the end, God was glorified through it all.

God gave many unusual orders in the stories of scripture, but He put His strength within every person who would believe and receive those orders. He commanded His people to circumcise every male child on the eighth day of their life, and when He sent Jesus, He told us to believe in Him and be baptized in water. Then He told us to practice communion, doing it in remembrance of Him. By believing and receiving the instructions given to us by Jesus, we all have His strength within us. 

We learn from Joshua that it’s not always necessary to ask, hope for, yearn or beg for God’s strength. There is a time to just stand in the strength that He has already given us, follow His instructions and remember to show mercy and kindness to others. 

Lord, bless each reader today with a renewed sense of strength that has always been within us by abiding in Jesus and His commandments. Help us to show your kindness to others through this strength. Amen

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The saving instinct

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27 (RSV)

God, our creator, by His divine nature, is a Savior. His nature is to seek out all those who need saving. We can see God’s desire to save, through the miraculous ways He rescued His people through all the stories in scripture. Since God created us in His image, He placed a little bit of His saving instinct within each one of us. 

When a person saves a total stranger’s life, by placing their own life at risk, they are hailed as a hero. Afterward, when they are asked, “What were you thinking?” every person gives a variant of the same exact answer, saying, “I didn’t think about it, I just did it.”

They don’t know why, they just knew they had to act. It’s not a decision that develops after deliberation or analysis, like a math problem that needs solving. Thinking is not as much involved because they react with instinct or reflex. They see a dire situation and they just do what needs to be done. If there is such a thing as a “saving instinct”, then God has placed it within all of us. 

Stories like the following ones have been reported on the news over and over:

A person is trapped in a car that just burst into flames and bystanders run to the fiery scene and pull open the car door, dragging the driver out, at their own risk, all to save a total stranger’s life. When asked what they were thinking, they say something like, 

“I didn’t think about it, I just did it.”

A soldier runs across a battlefield, with bullets firing at him. He is heading to where an injured soldier lies. With bullets still flying, he picks up the injured soldier, throws him over his shoulders, and carries him back to safety. In many instances that rescuer saves a life, but loses his own. They don’t think, they act with saving instinct.

That was the case with my uncle John, who died saving another fellow marine in Iwo Jima, Japan, during WWII. They are the heroes that Purple Heart medals were made for. 

We may never save a life, or earn a Purple Heart, but we use that saving instinct every time we speak up for someone who cannot speak for themselves. We use it anytime we pray for others, or do something to help a total stranger in any way. We see a need and we just do it. It’s not something we deliberate over. 

I remember walking home from the store one day, carrying a bag of salad dressing. I saw a group of adolescent boys surrounding a frail looking boy, who was crouching in fear, holding on to his violin case. The boys were bullying him, and without thinking, I walked over to them and told them to leave the boy alone or I was going to swing a bag of salad dressing at all of them. 

Surprisingly, the bullies all ran off  and the boy was safe. It’s a weak example of how the urge to save leads us to react. It never occurred to me that they might have a knife or a gun. It’s certainly not an example of heroism, just the instinct to save and protect the innocent. 

Although heroic acts are usually done by people who work in the profession of serving and protecting, such as policemen, firemen, paramedics and soldiers, every person has a natural urge to do the same. There is a deep divine instinct within us, that leaps into action to save what needs saving, in spite of the possible risks. 

We thank God for all those who serve, save and protect as a profession, but we also thank all those bystanders who reacted instinctively and saved a stranger’s life. Without hesitation, something sparks within a person and they just take action and do it. 

The instinct to save is in each one of us, and the reason is found in the words of Genesis:

“God created man in His image.” 

We are created in His image, but God is invisible, so the image refers to the characteristics of God, one of them being the instinctive urge to seek and to save. 

The greatest example of God’s instinct to save is shown in Jesus. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God sought to seek and to save all who would believe in Him. If Jesus were being interviewed today and asked what He was thinking when He did what He did, He would probably say, 

“I didn’t think-I loved and just did it.” 

It is with that union of divine love and instinct placed within all of us, by grace, that we live out our faith.

We honor all the men and women who have used their saving instinct to serve in a profession that saves and protects lives. We also honor all those who have lost their lives in order to save a total stranger, or to protect a group.

Jesus said there is no greater love than to give one’s life for another. May all true heroes be remembered on this Memorial Day. 

Lord God, thank you for creating us in your image, and sending Jesus to save us. Help us to do your will combining both the love of Christ with the instinct to seek and save those who need it. Amen

Have a wonderful Memorial Day🇺🇸

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Praying in the power of the blood

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.”

Hebrews 10:19-20 (RSV)

This scripture has so much to say about confidence in prayer. We are reminded that there is a constant need to hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering. It’s all too easy to waver, and our mind is the usual battleground for confidence.

Paul tells us that we are soldiers, in a constant spiritual battle, and to be armed with helmet of salvation, shield of faith and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

(Ephesians 6:11-17)

Today’s scripture takes us into a deeper understanding of the confidence we can have in prayer. It starts by wearing our spiritual armor. While we are holding a shield of faith in one hand, we have the sword of the Spirit in our other hand. These are foundational elements of what gives us confidence to conquer doubt. 

In the battleground of our minds, there are defensive and offensive weapons to rely upon. The sword is an offensive weapon that demolishes all arguments against God’s truth. Our trust in Jesus is our defensive shield of faith. When we are overwhelmed with fear and worry, we use both defensive and offensive spiritual weapons. 

In this battleground of our mind, as soldiers for Christ, we are to offensively take every thought captive that is contrary to His truth. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

It sounds like common sense, and we may practice all these things, until our thoughts become captive to a totally new worry. A new worry can throw us off so that we lose confidence or simply forget to pray. I experienced something like this last weekend. 

As I was in church I started having a periodic stabbing pain in my right temple. It was very distracting because it kept recurring every few minutes. I found myself thinking about it so much, that I didn’t hear the sermon at all. I wondered if I was having a stroke or a brain aneurysm, and soon my thoughts were held completely captive to fear and worry. 

Suddenly I realized, here I am, sitting in church, which is the sanctuary of the blood of Jesus, while obsessing over whether I may collapse in my pew or in my car on my ride home. Crazy thoughts had taken over my mind. Worry held my mind hostage and was starting to rob me of faith and hope. 

Then I caught site of the cross at the front of the church. Jesus, who shed His blood on that cross for me, seemed to be looking at me in that moment, reminding me that His blood has given me confident access  to ask anything in His name.

I found it amazing that I was sitting in His sanctuary for all those minutes, forgetting to pray and ask for healing. I finally took the confident access He gave me through His blood, and started to pray for healing and the pain went away soon after I received communion. 

The pain returned the next morning, and I again prayed, taking all my thoughts captive to Christ and applying His blood to all that I ask.

Jesus gave us confident access to God through the curtain of His flesh. We were meant to gain our confidence in prayer by faith in His blood.

That pain has not returned since. Faith is a battle of confidence within our minds, which is won after we keep applying the blood of Jesus to everything we ask for, without wavering.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

(Hebrews 10:23)

Confidence in prayer comes from the all empowering blood of Jesus. 

Whatever we are experiencing, the blood of Jesus empowers us to reclaim our peace by taking every thought captive to the obedience of His truth. The book of Revelation tells us that on the very last day, it is the blood of Jesus that overcomes all in the end. 

Lord, we pray in confidence, knowing that your precious blood has made a new and living way for us to take every doubtful thought captive to your truth. Help us to live in the power of your blood and receive all that you have promised us. Amen 

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The One who pleads for us

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Romans 8:26-27 (RSV)


It’s very frustrating to not be able to express in words whatever we are feeling. I imagine that’s how my son, Jon, and Andy, the other man in the Nursing Home, feel, since both of them are unable to fully express themselves in words, due to brain injuries. The Holy Spirit is still interceding for them whenever they pray in their mind or heart. 

The Spirit intercedes for all of us, not just brain injured people like Jon and Andy. This scripture says that none of us know how to pray as we ought, but it’s the Spirit who intercedes for us. He knows everything that’s in our hearts and He relates it to God with sighs and deep groaning, which is beyond any words we could say.

There is a deep place in all of us, where we file away our hopes, fears, disappointments and frustrations. The Holy Spirit can clearly read our deepest pain, insecurities, and our helplessness. He is God, so He can read the things that we are not even conscious of. The deepest groans within us, that may never rise to the surface, are brought to God by the Holy Spirit, when we pray. 

The New Testament term for the Holy Spirit is “Paraclete”, a word which translates to being our advocate, champion, supporter and promoter. It also means He is the one who pleads our cause. The Paraclete brings us so much positive power and hope, and His help is the most encouraging support we have.

The term advocate, reminds us of a defense attorney. When we don’t know how to plead for ourselves, the Holy Spirit stands beside us and becomes our attorney. He helps us in our weaknesses, since His nature is to be our supporter. He promotes us and pleads for us. In other words, He is our champion. 

He not only pleads for us, but He also prompts us to listen to His soft voice. He prompts us to confess our faults, and to say we are sorry when we do wrong. Most of all, He prompts us to forgive those who have done wrong to us. 

Two years ago my neighbor became so angry at me because my dog peed on her bushes. She called me up scolding and berating me in every way she could think of. We didn’t speak to each other for months, after that. 

I eventually prayed and forgave her, but couldn’t reconnect with her because whenever I walked by, she would look away. 

One day I prayed and asked God, if He would let me face her without her looking away, I would offer to invite her to go out to dinner so that we could reunite. After I prayed that prayer, that very night, she texted me and apologized. She asked if we could reconnect, and we did. Now we get together for dinner every few months. 

The Holy Spirit really did the prompting between us that day after months of not speaking. There is no other explanation except that the advocate pleaded for us both. 

He may prompt us in our weakness, to forgive or to call someone or speak to someone, at a needed moment. He also prompts us to give a gift or to say a kind word to someone, which may change their life.

As we approach Pentecost Sunday, we can meditate on and appreciate the great gift of the Holy Spirit, who pleads for us, supports us, and is our champion, doing what our own words fail to do. He was sent from the Father and the Son, to teach, guide and comfort all of us, who are His beloved children, the church. 

Lord, thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit, our helper who pleads and intercedes for us and champions every cause, in order to make us more like you. Amen

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