Sifted Like Wheat

“And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 22:15-16

Jesus, the Passover came just as you had planned, and You knew You would soon endure deep physical and mental suffering.  The Passover meal is such a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people, and I know You longed to commemorate that moment with your friends, and encourage them before the trials that would soon come.  Suffering is so hard, Lord. The reminder and celebration of Your faithfulness is imperative in dealing with the struggles that plague our lives. We so easily forget Your faithfulness and enduring love.

And 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 in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:19-20

Lord, you served us in Your suffering.  You said that the blood You would shed for us would be a new promise for us:  A promise of salvation forever. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the Israelites from death, so, too, Your blood was offered as a new promise of life and safety to anyone who would agree to accept Your promise.  

Following You is hard, God.  Following You also means following the road You had to travel: the road of suffering.  And You never told anyone that following You would be easy. Instead You quickly let Your friends know that following You would come at a great cost.  

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32

Lord Jesus, I have often felt “sifted like wheat”.  I’ve struggled and faltered and my faith has been at times so weak, and at other times strong enough to move mountains.  But Lord, it has been hard. Satan doesn’t mess around. And I have been hurt! At times, by my own folly, I have fallen into pits.  At other times, I held strong to Your promises and still fell into pits of destruction and pain.

“Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
Luke 22:33

Isn’t that just how life goes?  I am weak. I am strong. I am weak.  I am strong. But You are always strong.  I make promises to You that I can’t keep. My flesh is weak, no matter how strong my spirit is.  But Lord, Your Spirit in me is always strong. Your Spirit in me will get me through the trials that I face, both the ones of my own making, and the ones set before me by the enemy.  

It was the enemy that set about to kill You.  And it was the enemy that tried to destroy You.  But Your plan all along was to love Your enemies and die for them, no matter how much they hated You.  So, you let the enemy sift You like wheat, tearing your flesh from your body, hurling insults at You, driving You like an animal to Your death, until You were displayed on a cross for all the world to see, and proclaimed, “It is finished!”  

You had the last laugh, Lord Jesus!  You broke the bonds of sin and death on that day and defeated the enemy with Your victory.  Your resurrection proved You were God and had dominion over life itself. And You offer that life to any who would receive it.  

So, I want to receive Your life fresh today, Lord.  Help me to endure the trials that come. Humble me to receive Your power at work within me and help me to encourage those around me to endure just as You did.  I don’t want to arrogantly proclaim, I will follow You anywhere. Instead, let me humbly say, I will trust You no matter what happens.

I trust You, Jesus.  You are faithful.

 

The Bow of Bronze

“They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but YAHWEH was my support.”
Psalm 18:18

Lord, I feel kicked when I’m down a lot.  My troubles seem to stand up and mock me every time I turn around.  And no sooner than I overcome one obstacle, another rises up to take its place: bigger and stronger and crueler than the last.  But You truly are my only support. You alone are my rock and my fortress. You alone are my salvation.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
   my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
   my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
   and I am saved from my enemies.
Psalm 18:1-3

Thank you, God, that when I am beaten, you lift up my head.  You comfort me and strengthen me. This battle training builds me up for the war to come.  The armies of Satan are an endless stream of terror and rage, but You truly are my strong tower.  

The battles will come.  I will grow weary. I will get caught up in fear.  I will have moments when I believe every lie the enemy hurls at me.  But You, YAHWEH, You are my shield in spite of my weakness.

The cords of death encompassed me;
   the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
   the snares of death confronted me.
Psalm 18:4-5

I’m tethered to this world and the evil that rules it.  I’m tethered by its brokenness and my own. I walk in the mire.  I get tired. I get scared. I get overwhelmed. But You are always present.  You are always there. You hear me. You answer me. No matter what sin ensnares me, You will save me!

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
   to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
   and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalm 18:6

I know you are training me for what is to come, Holy Father.  You train and refine me. You make me stronger and stronger. All I can do is stand and wait and watch and learn.  All I can do is trust You and what You will do.

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He trains my hands for war,
   so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
Psalm 18:34

Who can bend back a bow of bronze but YOU?  I will trust in Your strength and not my own.  

“For You equipped me with strength for the battle;”
Psalm 18:39

 

When It’s Hard to Read the Bible

Over the years I have fallen in love with reading the Word of God.  I love the truth that I find there, the promises, the grace, the freedom.  But when my heart is heavy and I get depressed, I feel a war on my spirit that tries to keep me from the Word.  I get caught up in sadness and loneliness.  I know that in the Word I can find truth and comfort, and yet I get so sad that I don’t want to read.  And I sure don’t want to write about it.

I’ve been in that place over the last few weeks.  I have days when I want to read and write and pray, and other days when I can’t even hardly look at the Bible on the table, let alone read it.  There is life there and I push it away in frustration, anger, hurt, sadness, or doubt.  Why?

Because the Bible is no more an instant fix to my problems than Jesus.  While it is a comfort and it holds truth and life, it doesn’t change the situations I’m in.  It doesn’t fix all the worry or struggles I’m facing.  It doesn’t shoot out twenty dollar bills when I open it, or cause wars to cease in the world or in my heart.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Because the Bible is only a glimpse of God.  It’s only a taste of things to come.  It offers the answer to life’s biggest problem: what can be done about the evil in the world, and how can we be saved from the evil in our own hearts.  But the final judgement is yet to come.  And until then, I’m stuck in this world, with the promises of God warring with the evil in my own heart.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Romans 7:18-20

So my sin will keep acting within me.  I know the promises of God are true.  I know that my only salvation from the evil of my own heart and the world is found in Jesus.  And I know that He has given me the promise of His salvation by putting a deposit of His own Spirit within me.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:13-14

And until that day that Jesus returns and I receive that full inheritance promised me.  I must accept the fact that I’m going to have bad days.  I’m going to have days of sin and doubt.  Then enemy continues to war against me.  My own sin wars against me.  The sin of others wars against me.  All of the things of this world war against me.  I’ve got to be patient.  I’ve got to wait it out.  I’m not alone.  We suffer together, struggling with the war that rages all around us.  And we’ll all get through it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:6-10

So, have hope.  It’s not over yet.  And Jesus will restore us.  That’s a promise.

Loved by God

Father, why is it that we always seem to seek our value in our own terms and not by Yours?  Over and over again You tell us that our value comes from Your love for us, and yet over and over again, we seek to make our value in ourselves.  

Jesus, in Luke 15 and the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son you showed us what our value looks like.  It is completely independent of our circumstance. Whether we’re just unwittingly lost, like the sheep, or lost by the carelessness of another person, like the sheep, or whether we’re lost by the pure foolishness of our own heart, like the prodigal son, the value of each was equally as precious to You.  

Your love is completely independent from our circumstances.

You made us all.  We rightfully belong to You as our Maker.  Yet we place our value on our own deeds, our circumstances, or our expectations.  But You look to each one of us and say, “You are mine. You are worth everything to me.  You are valuable to me!” That value doesn’t rely on us at all!

The celebration comes when we recognize that You have given us our value.  When we turn away from defending our poor behavior and defining ourselves based on our own perceived merit we can finally see that Your value for us is all that matters.  And You love us! We are worth everything to You and when we finally see that and turn to You to receive Your love, there is much celebrating for us and for You!

Thank You, God, for loving me.  Thank You, God for defining me as someone who is valued and loved by You.  I am someone who is worth dying for, not because I did anything to earn it, but because You made me and You I am highly valued by You!  Yay! Thank You!

Trust

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

I am having a hard time processing things, God.  It’s been brought to my attention that I’ve not had humility in regard to all that has happened over the last few weeks.  Lord, my heart is to lift You up. My heart is to acknowledge your sovereignty amidst the trials and tribulations of this world.  You said to us that in this world we would have trouble. And Lord, we have had our share of trouble. But is it trouble to magnify your name when my world is collapsing around me?  Is it trouble to focus on your redemptive power and your reconciling love when I’m being tossed to and fro by the seas of chaos that dominate this world?

Jesus, my friend, I’m struggling with all of this.  I’ve been told I need to repent, that I need to reflect on how I let this all happen.  I’ve been told that there must be holes in our defenses that allowed this attack to happen.  

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
   and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
   behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
Psalm 139:1-4

So, how did this happen God?  I know that I haven’t been a perfect parent, God.  I’ve made mistakes. I’ve set a poor example at times.  But, Lord, when all of this happened, when the world was a tumult of accusations and insults from the enemy, I saw Your glorious hand at work.  I saw your mighty arm stretched out over me as a shield. I saw the real result of my parenting in my children. Not in their failures, Father, but in their victory through You.  

Lord, I just want to lift up your name.  I want to show the world that you are faithful even when we are faithless.

if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

But Lord, was I faithless?  Lord, you came in my weakness!  Shouldn’t that be what I lift up to the world?  Lord, was my weakness a failure? Have I been lying to myself to think that I did nothing wrong?  Is it a lie to acknowledge to myself and to others that you are at work even though I’m not perfect?  Am I supposed to pick apart and second guess my parenting because this all has happened? I don’t know, God.

I will continue to read and follow Your Word.  I will continue to work through my issues in Christian counseling to set my eyes on You and what you are doing, instead of on my failures.  I will continue to confess and reach out for help from my community of Christian friends when I need help. I don’t know that there’s anything more I can do or should do.  I know you hear me, God. And I know your plans for me are good. I will trust you.

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
   to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
   and my cry to him reached his ears.
Psalm 18:6

I will trust You, God.  You have heard me and Your plans for me are good.  I will trust You.

Even in the Chaos

Lord,  I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks.  At one point I had both of my daughters in the hospital at the same time, and as I began to list off all the things in my brain that have happened just in the last two weeks, I started to really feel like Paul, bragging about all my afflictions to boast about my weakness.  I know I’ve been talking to people a lot about my weakness lately, and all the joy you’ve given me, but God, I’m feeling the pressure, too. I’m feeling the weight of it all. My heart breaks to look at my girls and all the suffering they have endured just in the last two weeks.  And I hate the enemy for what he has tried to do to our family! And here I am, boasting about all this trouble!

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
2 Corinthians 11: 21-28

I understand why you’ve let this happen.  You have shown us so much grace and blessed us beyond measure through it all.  Money, friendship, joy, peace, security, you’ve given it all! Every time I tried to fall into sorrow, you would bring your peace.  When the desire to wallow in self-pity wanted to erupt from every pore of my body, you brought your joy. Miracles were happening, Jesus.  So many miracles in my flesh, there are too many to count, as time and time again your faithfulness endured when my heart faltered.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:23-25

Yet, here I am Lord.  I’m struggling. I’m irritable.  I’m tired. And I find myself asking: where’s the miracle in my flesh right now?  And I realize I haven’t had solid time in the Word over the last two weeks. I’ve managed a few minutes everyday, but I’m used to a few hours.  I’m used to solid, deep, meditative time. That first night in the ER I had hours and hours of reading the Psalms. It sustained me in the pit of Hell that the enemy wanted me to see with all of the human suffering happening all around me.  We were in a “bed” in a hallway next to a delirious homeless man, and in the bed beyond him, another man just like him. But your Word sustained us. I read it aloud. I prayed aloud. I prayed with those men. I brought them water. I held their hands and prayed for them.  I shared your love and your promises, as my suffering daughter, between bouts of her own suffering, did the same! Because your Word sustained us and comforted us. And most importantly, it empowered us. That ER became our mission field.

I’ve missed your Word, God!  The distractions have seduced me away from you and I’m struggling without it.  The reading of your Word is a luxury whose denial has hurt me worse than the any of the other trials I’ve had to deal with.  And it amazes me that so many of your kids struggle to give you five minutes a day. Don’t they know that Jesus is the Word made flesh?  That his flesh made words is your scripture? That your promises, your love, your glory are all revealed in the Word? They are content with milk, not even ready for anything else, because they are caught up in the desires and demands of their flesh alone.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
1 Corinthians 3:1-3

And people think that a few sips of “milk” on a Sunday morning offered by some summary of someone else’s meditations on you is enough to nourish them?  No wonder they’re still babies! No wonder they fall into despair over such minor things! You’ve seen all the well intentioned people asking us how we’re doing.  You’ve seen the curiosity on their faces when we showed your strength, your joy, your peace! And now I know why they don’t understand. They’ve never experienced it before, God!  These babies in the faith, drinking sips of milk once or twice a week, proud of how many times they’ve walked through the doors of the church in seven days time, and never once finding the rest of your Sabbath.  Never once have they found the joy of your salvation. They work in the spirit of their own flesh, and fight battles with foam swords and paper shields.

I choose your sword, God.  The sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God.  I choose your shield. The shield of faith that extinguishes all the flaming darts of the evil one.  

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:16-20

God, I am your righteousness, made by the blood of Jesus.  

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

I will walk in that truth and in that promise.  Though I float adrift a night and a day at sea, I will boast again and again in your power and strength and joy revealed in me.  I will sound like a fool and boast in my weakness and boast in my suffering, and boast in my many, many struggles, Lord.

Because in my weakness you are strong.  

Lord Jesus, show the world the power of your promises through my suffering.  Show them what your peace looks like through me. I am so jealous for my time with you, God, and even this morning, I’ve had a million interruptions.  Just now, writing about interruptions I was interrupted five times. Hashtag momlife. But God, I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to let this be another shipwreck if I can’t boast about it to the world and show them your power made perfect even in my interruptions.  I choose you, God. I choose your peace. Even in the chaos.

 

The Glory of the Lord

Beloved, how wonderful You are!  How great are your works! I continue to marvel at your incredible mercy and love, especially as we labor through trials.  Through it all you have revealed your glory!

“And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
or the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 40:5

I’m still in awe of what you have been doing and how you have revealed the mystery of your love and grace through this hardship we’ve been under.  It’s hard to even imagine that amidst my grief and suffering, your love was actually being revealed! It is undeniable! Everyone who saw it experienced your love.

Not only did I recieve your comfort, encouragement and peace, you expressed those profound gifts to everyone I came in contact with.  And all I can say is wow. The strength and endurance you gave never ceases.

Days later, still in turmoil, still in the midst of suffering, your power continues to manifest in me and around me and through me.  And through it all my faith has grown stronger and more solid. That is who you are, God. You are everlasting. You are powerful. You give strength to the weary and you multiply it!

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
   his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
   and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
   and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
   they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
   they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Thank you, God, for strengthening me, for teaching me your abundant love, and for enduring with me when I felt so tossed by the waves.  With a word you spoke my world into stillness and peace. And with all my words I want to praise you!

 

His Hand is Stretched Out Still

Daddy, someone told me yesterday that the first 40 chapters of Isaiah were all about your wrath, and that it wasn’t until chapter 41 that we see your mercy.  He seemed surprised when I answered him with my thoughts on the contrary.  Because Lord, I’ve begun to truly see your compassion and mercy in everything.  It’s like a mighty flood gate has opened and your love and mercy have poured out of it with POWER!  I’m seeing your love in everything!  Especially after hearing a sermon explaining how you define yourself from Exodus 34. God, your love really does endure forever.

You are “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” Exodus 34:6

So, when I was reading Isaiah this morning, and particularly reading in the early chapters that my friend had named chapters of your wrath, all I could see was your great mercy and love!  Wow!  In Isaiah Ch. 9-10 you pronounce the wrath that you will pour out on all things evil that have torn people away from the light and love of your faithfulness.  You promise that you will destroy all the things that have stolen people away from the peace and joy that You provide.  And you warn the people through Isaiah over and over and over:

“For all this anger had not turned away, and his hand is outstretched still.”

Every commentary I looked at said that  your outstretched hand is the hand that will smite the people.  But I just couldn’t make sense of that.  It seemed wrong to me, God.  And so I kept reading.  And sure enough, you showed me the truth.  After the warning of utter destruction you promise, comes your outstretched hand of MERCY.  In chapter 11 you announce that your judgement has a protection clause, and that protection of judgement will come in the form of Messiah Jesus!

“In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remains of his people”

Isaiah 11:11

You extend your hand of mercy!  You offer your hand for protection from selfishness and evil intent.  You are offer your hand to any who will take it.  Your judgement comes and

You will say in that day;
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 12

Your outstretched hand is the hand of mercy and love.  Your hand is extended for all to find cover and protection from the destruction that awaits any who would rather stand on their own, apart from you.  You keep telling us that we cannot save ourselves when the destruction comes.  Only the one who made us can save us.  So, Lord, help people to see that your way is salvation, not destruction.  Your mercy and love will have their way and you will put an end to evil.

“He will raise a signal to the the nations”

You said that “He will raise a signal to the the nations” (Isaiah 11:12) so I’m asking you to burn that signal brighter, so that people will see your love and your offer of protection and be saved.

Amen.

(Sermon Link: What God says about Himself)

His Promises are True

Romans 8:31-39 (NLT)

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Father, thank you for the gift of life you have given us.  Thank you that the promises you gave to Abraham remain and that I am a part of your family and part of the inheritance that you promised mankind from the beginning.  You made us to be your friends, to be your children, to walk with you and commune with you.  It was always your plan to protect us, to love us, and to be in union with us.  I’m sorry that I haven’t always believed that.  I’m sorry for the lies of the enemy that I have allowed to take root in my heart.  Lord, I am so grateful that you forgive me regardless of my failings.  Thank you that your promise to Abraham is still true today, and that your promise will continue for eternity.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus.

Lord, as I read through the end of Genesis (Genesis 42-50) and watched again how you continued to bless Joseph through many trials and great suffering, I am comforted.  You really do work all things for good for those who love you.  And through the suffering and condemnation and betrayal of the one man, Joseph, you saved a whole family, as well as saving the promise you gave to Abraham.  That’s what you do, God.  You save.  Through Joseph you proclaim what you would do for all people through Jesus.  Though we sin against you, though we were your enemies, you gave Jesus to die for us.  He suffered so we wouldn’t have to.  Just like Joseph suffered.  His brothers were guilty, but Joseph trusted you, even when it hurt.

I want to trust you more, Jesus.  I want to trust you when it hurts.  I want to know and feel the truth of your promises everyday and every moment.  With every breath, Lord, let me breathe in your truth, your love, and your salvation, so that I can stand strong against the schemes of the enemy.  I am yours God.  I am yours through the fire and trial of this sinful world.  Please use me to save others by living a life that would recognize the fully glorified risen Christ that is alive and active within me.  Salvation is by you alone.  Shine through me, Jesus!  Shine your light and love through every pore of my body that your people, chosen from the beginning through Adam, can be reconciled to you, just as Jacob’s sons were reconciled to you through Joseph.

Like Joseph, let me always point to your promise.  Let me always recognize your power at work in me!  I don’t want to ever give myself credit for the power that you have provided.  Without you, I’d miss out on all that you planned from the beginning for me.  I don’t want to miss any of that, God.  I want to shine.

So, by the name of the Lord Jesus, by his power, and by his might I proclaim the truth of the living Christ over me and any who would believe it and accept it:  That Jesus came as a man; that he lived a perfect life even made “a little lower than the angels”; that he suffered and died the death every sinner deserves though he never deserved it; that he rose from the dead as proof of his promise to me that he is God and that he has power over sin and death; that his restored life is a promise of restored life in me; and finally that he placed his Spirit in me as a sealed promise reminder that my life is his, with all the benefits that such a thing provides.  What the enemy intends to harm me, God will use for good.  

The battle is won.  The victory of Christ is secured!  I am dead now to sin because of Jesus’ defeat of all sin on the cross of calvary.  And my life is new, made new by the surety of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  He proved his power.  He proved his victory.  I will hold onto that victory and draw my peace from that promise.  That promise sealed by God himself.  I am his and he is mine.  We are inseparable.  

Lord, show the world the unending and relentless love of Christ through me!  Amen.