Meditations and Prayers
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask,
‘How have you loved us?’ Was not Esau Jacob’s
brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved
Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned
his hill country into a wasteland and left his
inheritance to the desert jackals.” —
The Sages teach that we acknowledge God as
our own personal God before we mention that He
is the God of our forefathers in order to
emphasize that our relationship with God must
Sure, we all benefit from being the spiritual heirs
of such holy and beloved men and women, but it’s
not enough. If we worship God only because our
parents did, that’s not enough. If we go to church
or synagogue only because it’s our family tradition,
it’s not enough. First we must discover our own
connection to the Lord, and only then can we enjoy
the benefits of our heritage.
God is not inherited. A relationship with the Lord
has to be earned and cultivated by every individual
who walks this earth. We must all go through our
own trials and develop our own faith. And then, we
will know He loves us for our own sake and not
based on our family ties.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
(excerpts taken from Holy Land Moments)
But now thus says the LORD, He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are Mine." Isaiah 43:1
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Jesus: “Let the little children come to me.”
Pastor: “Children stuck at the border? Build a bigger fence.”
Yep, that’s right – Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress
recently told Fox News that the “Christian” way to respond
to immigrant children in distress is to build a stronger border
fence. You’ve heard the stories: tens of thousands of children
are currently stuck at the border after fleeing crime and
violence in their home countries. These children need our
compassion – not calls for a bigger fence.
This pastor has gone too far. Let’s make sure he knows that
Christians need to welcome immigrants and love our neighbors.
Pastor Jeffress has a history of making shameful statements
posing as religious truth. In January, he said that President
Obama was paving the way for the antichrist. He’s now on the
record saying that the “right thing to do” with children alone in
the desert is to lock them out.
We know better. Let’s make a strong statement against these
Tell Pastor Jeffress that it’s time for him to read Jesus’ words
in Matthew 25: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Janelle, Tim, and the rest of the Sojourners team
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself
through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..."
-2 Corinthians 5:18
I remember at my wedding, because my parents were
divorced when I was three, this was the first time in my
life where both families - the Schullers and the Persleys
were all in one place. They were standing in the Crystal
Cathedral in front of the choir loft. My mom, my dad, my
stepmom, my stepdad, all my siblings, all my cousins
on both sides were in one section all standing together
with smiles on their faces, united because Hannah and
I were getting married.
At one point, I had to step out of the group to walk down
the stairs in front of them. When I turned back to look at
them together, I said, "Just wait a second. I want to see
this." They all laughed, right? And I started weeping. It
was a good weeping because I was so very moved to see
that, at least for a moment, there was reconciliation in
these two families, which for me is one family. Oh, what
a moving experience.
This is a good illustration of what happens between
humankind and God because of Jesus Christ. You are at
peace with your Father. You do not need to carry around
in your heart a sense of guilt or regret or to stand off from
God. God is now as close to you as your breath if you
have faith in what Jesus did for you. You are at peace
Dear Lord, no matter how relationships go in life, in you
I am reconciled. Help me to stay connected with others,
in love, as you have sacrificed so much to be close to me.
Reflection: With whom do you need to reconcile?
How might God help you to make that effort?
(By Pastor Bobby Schuller)
As human beings, we want so much to understand everything
that is going on in our lives. We’d like to see everything that
has happened and everything that will happen in a neat box all
tied up with a pretty ribbon. However, God doesn’t work that
way. You can’t place God in a box. Our God is way too big
and far too great to be contained. He works in ways that we
can’t possibly comprehend. As it says in Proverbs 20:24,
“A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can
anyone understand their own way?” No, we can’t understand
how God works – and that’s a good thing.
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Luke 17:20-21 NLT
20 One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, "When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. 21 You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.
The Pharisees asked when God's kingdom would come, not knowing that it had already arrived. The kingdom of God is not like an earthly kingdom with geographical boundaries. Instead, it begins with the work of God's Spirit in people's lives and in relationships. Still today we must resist looking to institutions or programs for evidence of the progress of God's kingdom. Instead, we should look for what God is doing in people's hearts.
I am often struck by the sense of urgency in the
Scriptures. Truly, our turning to God and living
the life God intended are presented as a matter
that needs our immediate attention. We need to
"seek the Lord while he may be found" and
"return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on us."
While we can interpret this sense of urgency as
a plea to avoid our own perishing, it seems that
the emphasis has more to do with God been with
us. God's "thoughts are not my thoughts" and
God's "ways are not my ways." The urgency of
the Scriptures is rooted in the reality that God
has something far greater in mind for us, and
each moment that we wait to embrace that
reality is time lost. God has a vision for our
flourishing, and we would be better off to seek
it in each day and in each moment.
God, help me in each day and each moment to
seek your wisdom that I may live fully this life
as you intended. Amen
(The Covenant Home Altar Daily Devotion, Paul Corner)
We shouldn’t be overly invested in winning over
fans. Some people just won’t like us, and that’s
all right. It’s probably not about us, but about
them. Try not to take it personally. There is only
one fan that we really need on our side – and
God already is our biggest fan.
(Here is a brief prayer that hits home)
Dear Lord, we can understand why You would be
disappointed and angry with Your disobedient
children, but we cannot comprehend why You
would go to such great lengths to save us. May
we be eternally grateful You aren't motivated by
what we and others find to be logical.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be
blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts
honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a
defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that
is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-15
Florida's 12-year-old Giovanni Rubeo was in trouble with his teacher.
No, he wasn't being disrespectful, and he wasn't being a bully to
other students. Rubeo hadn't neglected his homework, and he
wasn't regularly skipping class. He hadn't brought guns or knives to
school, and he wasn't being defiant.
That being said, Rubeo was told to dial his home phone number.
When he did as instructed, while the rest of the class watched and
listened, the teacher took the phone and left a rather brusque
message on the parent's answering machine.
But maybe I am getting ahead of myself. I should back up and tell
you Rubeo had been in trouble before. The teacher had decided his
selection of reading material during "free reading time" had been
offensive. More than once the teacher had confronted Rubeo about
his choices in reading material. On other occasions he complied
with her order to "Put that book away." This time, with his father's
blessing, Rubeo declined. That's when the teacher left the following
"I noticed that he has a book -- a religious book -- in the classroom.
He's not permitted to read those books in my classroom."
Did you get that? The teacher said that during "free reading time,"
which is when the kids are allowed to pick a book of their own
choice, Rubeo is not allowed to read religious material, in this case,
a Bible. The boy's outraged father maintains the folks at his son's
school and school district need to understand the concept of freedom
of religion. Legal experts agree with dad and say they also need to
understand the guidelines put out by the U.S. Department of
Education. (To see the official government position on Bible reading,
see the reference and link after the prayer.)
Now it's tragic that any young student in our nation should have to
face such non-violent persecution, but we can still give thanks. We
can give thanks because, from start to finish, Rubeo's family has
followed the instructions given in 1 Peter. When their faith was
1. they were prepared to make a defense of their faith;
2. they gave an answer for the hope they have in the Redeemer;
3. they gave their response with gentleness and respect.
There is little doubt this kind of persecution will increase in years to
come. By God's grace and the Holy Spirit's power, may we prepare
our young people to stand firm for the Lord Jesus who gave His life
for their forgiveness and salvation.
Dear Lord, we give thanks for the opportunity to stand up for the
Savior who stood strong for us. Grant that our witness may touch
others and point them to the Savior who gave His life for our
forgiveness. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
(Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries)