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Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Proverbs 2:2

Slide1Those of us from my generation remember a time when just changing the channel on the television set was a chore. Not only did you have to get up and walk ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE ROOM and manually turn a dial, once you found the channel you wanted you had another dial to turn which was called various things. The one I remember was fine tuning. You see, back then you had to adjust the tuner ever so slightly to get the clearest picture. Since I always lived in rural areas, the challenge was even trickier some days.

Sometimes we need to ‘fine tune’ our lives spiritually as well. Just as the ‘TV waves’ strayed from time to time, so do we. One of the first things an orchestra conductor does is to listen to the musicians to make sure every instrument is in tune. A good conductor can hear even the slightest variance and that makes all the difference in the performance.

Knowing God as he is requires us to constantly check our attitude according to the tuning fork of his Word. It’s too easy to play the comparison game. It’s safer to follow the religious dogmas and creeds, than it is to measure our lives according to the standard of God’s will. Those standards are clearly spelled out in his Word and exemplified in the life of Jesus Christ.

“Good enough” and “Close is okay” is never an attitude God uses. Everything he does is perfect and he calls us to perfection. Fortunately, he also empowers us to live as perfect as we can through his Holy Spirit.

A daily prayer I’m trying to implement in my own life is an adaptation of what the Psalmist says in Psalm 139. ‘Father, today yourself to me in a way that will direct me to live more closely to your will. Amen’

The real beauty of that short prayer is that your Father want’s to reveal himself to you and he’ll never ask you to change something without empowering you to change. It’s really a matter of trust. If you believe he loves you, you can trust the path he leads you down.

PRAYER: Father, there are so many times I’m distracted by the world or waver in my love for you or others. Show me where to change and how to change. Then, empower me with your Holy Spirit to fine tune my heart to yours. Amen.

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20 (NASB)

Psychologists tell us that security is both a feeling and a reality. On the one hand, you can look at security in a mathematical fashion. For example, you may think the odds of being mugged on the street of a large city at night are more likely than being mugged on the street of a small town in the middle of the day.

Security is also a feeling. You can feel insecure even when the mathematical likelihood of being in danger are minimal. In the same way, you can have a false sense of security and tell yourself you are safe even though you are in dire danger.

Why is it important to feel secure? Feeling secure enables us to be who we are. Fear cripples us; security frees us. Fear keeps us from being all we could be; security empowers us to try new things. Fear keeps us from building strong relationships; security allows us to let other people into the darkest recesses of our souls. Fear paralyzes; security empowers.

There are all sorts of phobias out there. People are afraid of failure, of their past, of the future, of darkness and light, of animals and bugs and…fear itself. Fear is a hole in our soul that can only be filled with faith in Jesus Christ. We can seek security in money or relationships or crowds or the being alone in the wilderness.

Jesus paints a picture of true security for us. A picture of security that nothing will penetrate. The word picture is best envisioned by working backwards from his description. Jesus says we are in him and he is in us. It’s as though he is protecting us from the outside (we are in him) and protecting us from the inside (he is in us).

But it doesn’t stop there! Our protection is made stronger by the fact that we both are wrapped in the arms of a loving Heavenly Father. The God of the universe wraps us up in his arms of love and protection, while, at the same time Jesus is protecting us from the inside and the outside! We are double wrapped; double secured!

What shall separate us from this protection, this love of God? The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8. Nothing. Nothing will penetrate the shield of protection we have in God the Father. And, if by some chance it does? Jesus is the next line of defense.

Don’t let fear cripple you. Don’t allow fear to keep you from being all that you can be. Trust the double protection of the King of Kings to see you through any obstacle in your past or in your path.

PRAYER: Almighty God. I confess to you that all too often I allow fear to affect my actions and my attitude towards you and others. Empower me by your Spirit to act with courage and wisdom when fear tries to cripple me. Amen.

She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 (NLT)

God’s message of hope never changes. God’s message of hope never grows old. Just as God’s message of hope never loses its effectiveness, neither do his messengers. Religion tends to hold on to tradition and thus lose its voice in society, or adapts to a changing society and loses its message of hope.

The prophetess, Anna, is a perfect example of the fact that age never disqualifies you from ministry. Nor does age rob you of the ability to minister effectively. Scholars disagree somewhat on Anna’s age. Some think she was 84, some think she was a widow for 84 years. Either way it’s safe to assume Anna was…OLD!

Even so, her age never kept her from seeking God. She was always in the temple. Some think she may have even been employed there. At any rate she was in the temple worshipping, praying, fasting and seeking God.

While her age may have kept her from performing some of the duties of the temple, it didn’t stop her from the most important part of the believer’s life. She prayed often and spoke to others about God’s love, forgiveness and hope.

She no doubt gave courage to the fearful, words of encouragement to those in desperate times; wisdom to those facing uncertain futures; offered praises to God when people found victory in their faith.

It’s interesting that when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to offer sacrifice and to dedicate him to the Lord the baby was seen as nothing special. No fanfare greeted the new parents. No public announcement of the baby born in a manger.

The only ones to ‘see’ the couple and the baby on that busy temple day were two elderly people who had spent a life time seeking after God. Anna never lost her desire to serve. She never lost her focus on what was important: Prayer, worship, testifying to the hope we have in God’s provision of forgiveness and hope.

I’m thankful today for the Anna’s of our world. To those dear saints who haven’t let their age detract from their ministry. To those who may not understand all the ‘new things’ in the world, but embrace them and use them to further the Kingdom. Age is never an excuse for lack of effectiveness for God.

As the old hymn states so well:

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, Lord Jesus, ’tis now.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for those who have grown old in you yet young in spirit and in faith. I ask that you would encourage them with your spirit and that those of us who are younger would not lose sight of their usefulness to you and to us. Amen.

The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born. They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, Luke 2:22 (CEV)

Plain and simple reality of it is, church can be boring. Depending on the style of worship, many churches do the same thing at the same time, and, at times, for reasons unknown.

It’s really no wonder that the younger generations question why we do the things we do and why we do them. It’s a sad reflection on the body of Christ that entire church families have been split because some wanted to things done differently and others wanted to protect the ‘status quo.’

Things haven’t changed much of course. During the time Jesus walked on earth the worship in the ‘church’ was pretty much the same as it had been for hundreds of years. Offering sacrifice, celebrating feasts, making pilgrimages were all a well orchestrated process with little room for deviation.

The key to true worship then, just as now, was attitude. I wonder what was going through Joseph and Mary’s head as they entered the temple that day! They had no doubt witnessed many dedications of children in their lives. They’d seen the ceremony, watched the sacrifices, and perhaps joined in the celebration.

The Law of Moses demanded that each child be dedicated to the Lord. Boys were dedicated about 40 days after their birth, girls a bit later. But each child was taken to the temple and sacrifices offered to the Lord.

There can be many ‘theological’ opinions on the method and the process of the dedication, but the reason for this activity was to present the child before the Heavenly Father, the one who formed him/her in the womb. The earthly parents come before the Heavenly Parent to give back to him what he’s given to them.

The main player in the process was God, not the parents.

Do you think Mary and Joseph were a bit more aware of that fact as they entered the Temple than other parents? They both had conversations with angels. They’d heard the report of the shepherds. They’d seen prophecy fulfilled before their very eyes. And it wasn’t done yet!

While none of us as parents have had angelic visits proclaiming our children to be the ‘Messiah’, we all have the same responsibility that Mary and Joseph did. We all need to realize that our children are not our own. They are on loan to us from the Father who created them. Our responsibility is to nurture them throughout their lives in a way that glorifies their creator, not our tradition.

The dedication of a child to the Lord (regardless of the method) is much more than a ritual. It’s much more than a one-time occurrence. Dedication of our children to the Lord is the beginning of a process, not the end. The responsibility of teaching Gods’ ways falls on the parents, not the church (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

Dedication of our children to the Lord is much more than a ritual and lasts a lifetime.

PRAYER: Father I pray for our families. I pray that parents will rely on you for the wisdom to teach their children in your way. I pray for children, that they may find the freedom in Christ to live fulfilled lives. In Jesus name, Amen.

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Psalm 33:21 (NIV)

Father, I rejoice in you today because I can trust you. In an era when trust is hard to find I know I can always come to you and find you.

I know that you will be the same every time I seek you. Your love for me doesn’t change when I rebel against you. Your forgiveness is free for the asking even when my attitude isn’t right.

There are many around me who make claims about the great things they will accomplish, but their words are hollow. When you say something will happen, I know it will be just as you say.

Times change. People change. Yet the principles you set at the foundation of the world remain solid and secure because you have spoken it.

I rejoice in the many blessings you have given us.

I rejoice in the gift of family, of the love between a man and a woman, of the miracle of new birth, of the proud smile of a grandparent as they hold the assurance of their posterity.

I rejoice in the gift of friendships that encourage us to move on, allow us to cry on their shoulders, support us even when they don’t agree with us, and comfort us when we mourn.

I rejoice in your Holy Word, the Bible, for in it we have simple truths that lead us to eternal life along with principles for living that will guide us through the most difficult of times.

I rejoice in your gift of diversity. Just as no snowflake is alike, my world is full of different colors, different people, different cultures and different traditions. All these join together to testify to your greatness.

Most of all, Holy Father, I rejoice in your name. A name tells us about character and integrity. Your name, Jehovah, never changes and has withstood the attacks of time.

And I rejoice in that name that is above all names. The name that brings hope, forgiveness, understanding and patience. The name of your son, Christ Jesus my Lord.


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