Praying for Nero

The scripture for today, September 8 (9/9), is Daniel 9:8 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Medium“O Lord, we and our kings, our princes, and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you.”

Have you prayed for your government lately?  I Timothy 2:1 & 2 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone ~ for kings and all those in authority.”

At the time of this writing, Nero was Caesar. First-century historian Tacitus said this about Nero in his Annals 15:44: “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called “Christians” by the populace.

“Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.

“Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

If the Apostle Paul could pray for such a government leader, can you not follow his instructions? Why don’t you stop and pray for your own government right now?

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I feel the night

07-Jairus' Daughter-ThumbnailCoverI feel the night coming on, my Lord. Shadows surround me, I am growing weaker. But nothing can turn my soul away from you. I am in the valley now, Lord. The darkness is filled with the unknown. But I cannot feel alone as long as you are with me. Onward I will go. Though my enemies despise me and my friends desert me, still will I walk toward home.  You have always promised to never leave and forsake me. Though the blackness of dark leaps over me, it will be light in my soul. The valley is deep, but onward I go, for I know that on the other side will be the gate. With tears of joy and relief I will walk out of the valley and through that gate. You will take my hand in your wounded one, and walk with me through glory. On the other side. All on the other side. And I will then praise you forever and forever.

It is dawn. Thank you, Lord, for morning. Thank you for second chances and new opportunities and fresh insights.  The sun is rising higher and higher, spreading its rays of hope and cheer. Thank you for the rest that brought about new strength for a new day. And for time to reflect on the joy of you as I plan my day. Someday there will be another dawn. A dawn when I will close my eyes here and open them in the land of forever dawn where you are the sun and it is always morning.

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When you fast?

Applied ChristianityThe scripture for today, August 21 (8/21), is Ezra 8:21a as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“There, by the Ahava Canal [from the Euphrates R.], I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God.”

In our modern society, does anyone fast anymore? Not drinking our food (juice) for a day and calling that a fast, but a true fast where we drink only water to stay hydrated, but that’s all? And we turn off all computers, phones, radios, and televisions for the day?

Jesus said in his sermon on the mount, “WHEN you fast….” (Matthew 6:16). He didn’t say, “IF you fast….” No, he assumed his followers would fast. Do we?

If you do, do you do it as a group? Jesus said we are to keep it a secret. Does anyone else know about your fast? They shouldn’t know unless they are the reason for our fast.  Fasting is an act of self-restraint. It belongs to the sphere of humble self-discipline. It is strictly a personal and private matter.

All moral and bodily restraint, all humbleness of body and spirit are represented by fasting, and it is a complete failure of self-restraint to want to show the world our self-restraint. An unknown author wrote this:

  • Let us keep our fast within,
  • Till heaven and we are quite alone;
  • Then let the grief, the shame, the sin,
  • Before the mercy-seat be thrown.

Fasting is a way of starving yourself temporarily, a way of saying, “God, I would do this and more for you; I would die for you.” Or, “God, if it were possible, I would trade lives with this person I am fasting for to give them rest. I would even die for this person.” It is a deep expression to God that goes beyond words.

Also, when you fast, your mind is freed from guiding the digestion of food, so you can think clearer and deeper. And you can face yourself more honestly.

Just what are you deep down? Do you truly love God as much as you claim? Do you truly love your family as much as you claim? Your neighbors? Your fellow Christians? Your enemies? This is your time of self-reflection and self-honesty.

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With you my soul is at peace

00-1st Century Worship KINDLE-COVER-ThumbnailLord God Almighty, as long as I walk with you, I am safe. Nothing others can say or do to me can harm me. They may insult me, threaten me, beat me, but all the while I will be safe. I will not hear their words because your words will echo through my mind ~ words of love and comfort. I will not notice their threats because I will be hiding under the shadow of your wings and only hear your breath of life.  I will not feel the beatings they batter me with because I will feel only your loving arms around me. Lord, with you I am strong. With you my soul is at peace.

Ah, my Lord, I remember the day of my baptism. It was long ago, but I remember everything about it. I remember walking up and sitting on the front pew. I remember the preacher asking me if I believed Jesus is the Son of God. I said yes, but in my young heart I thought the question was so unnecessary because, of course he is the Son of God!  I remember my mother and her friend helping me put on a white robe and stepping down into the baptistry. I remember the preacher’s words: “I now baptized you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of your sins.” I remember leaning back and going down into the water. Most vividly I remember coming up out of the water and telling myself, “I am sinless! I am pure!” Thank you for making all this possible and for the good memory of it.

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Goodness in every country on earth

Silver Cover-KINDLE-thumbnailThe way you designed the trees is so much like the growth of my soul.  We start out life as a little ball, so tiny and full of wonder.  Then as toddlers, that tiny ball develops into a bud with just a touch of color peeking through. Finally, we open up in full bloom and our faith in you is so innocent and pure. Then we reach our teens and doubts creep in. One by one the sweet-smelling blossoms lose their colorful leaves. But, in young adulthood after we come out of our dares and doubts, we form into something else. The flower has turned into a miniature green fruit, a promise of things to come. In full adulthood the fruit becomes yellow or red or whatever it is supposed to be and adorns the branch it has grown from. In middle age we are plucked and become nourishment to others. Finally, in old age, the tiny seeds that fall from the fruit are buried once again, some day to start all over again as a little green ball, tiny and full of hope. May my life blossom the way you intended and, after I am gone, may the seeds I leave behind develop into a brand-new generation to carry on your work and your glory.

Thank you that I live in a free country to do whatever kind of work I desire to do, to live where I want, and worship you freely. And, thank you, for the other countries of the world. They may not have the freedoms I have, but many of them have opportunities not available here. And they live in areas full of so much ancient history, much of it having been lived out in your Bible. How exciting for them. There is something good in every country. I thank you for helping me not become arrogant and think my country is better than anyone else’s country. Thank you for opening my eyes.

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