Monday, July 1
Theme for the week:
Love the Lord With All Your Heart

Luke 12:22-34

Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
~ Jesus 

In Christ, I have nothing to worry about because my Heavenly Father knows and meets all of my needs.

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Pondering Point

As odd as it sounds, some of the things that can stifle a faith-walk with our heavenly Father are blessings from Him or a desire for them. The problem of stifling does not lie in the blessings themselves (that is the object of our desires); That problem lies at the “heart” or the source of our desire – a misdirected heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit works with you to be kept from such heart problems.

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Prayer for the Day

Holy Spirit, as you lead my heart, doo not let my love or desire for anything or anyone supersede my love for God. Help me to recognize and nurture my heart with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, July 2
God’s Mission

John 13:1-5

1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

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Pondering Point

Read John 13:1-5.

How does Jesus show love to his followers “to the end” – or as another version puts it, show “the full extent of his love”? He washes their feet.

He serves them in a simple, even menial, way. Of course he will soon serve them in the most profound and majestic way possible by dying on the cross. Both actions show deep love and a great heart for his friends – his disciples!

Have you become familiar with this extensive and expensive love from God? Have you become a sharer of such extensive and expensive love from God? That is God’s mission: That you receive His love through Jesus Christ and that you extend that love to others in the name of Jesus Christ.

This evening of foot-washing also sees Jesus tell his disciples to love one another as he loved them. That love ranged from foot-washing to life-giving moments. Be ready to give and receive such love in such moments.

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Prayer

Father God, teach me how to receive acts of love as well as to give them. Inspire me to give them as well as receive them. Help me take a page out of Jesus' book and love people “to the end” as it were -- to the fullest extent -- and may You be glorified in at all. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, July 3
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

James 5:13

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

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Pondering Point

Right up there with the Apostle Paul’s call to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), this verse clues us in to the notion that everything is a reason to pray.

Even if you yourself are not in trouble as of now, who doesn’t know someone in trouble? They could use a prayer or two – and not just benefitting from a prayer about them, but experiencing a prayer with them. Ask God for a spirit that can gently approach and pray with such ‘troubled’ hearts. 

From a vastly different perspective comes the question "is anyone happy?" The call to pray here is to "let them sing songs of praise." Do you know someone who sings about God's goodness even over small or simple blessings? I know a few. Such activity is usually indicative of a heart attuned to God. I like having such a heart -- AND this Bible verse shows that God likes you having such a heart.

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Prayer

Father God, if my heart is going to become one familiar with suffering, teach me how to:
o pray about it
o pray in it and
o pray through it – both for myself and others.
And enable my heart to be familiar not just with happiness but with songs of praise over happiness. Bless my heart to constantly communicate with You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, July 4
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

2 Kings 20:1-11

Hezekiah’s Illness

1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”

7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.

8 Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the Lord on the third day from now?”

9 Isaiah answered, “This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”

10 “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”

11 Then the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

“Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

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Pondering Point

2 Kings 20:1-11 is the Scripture story for this week.

Do you wonder how you might respond if approached with such words? Hezekiah’s reaction contains some bold words of prayer – and God’s answer will be very bold as well. He saw his dependence upon God. And with today being INDEPENDENCE DAY in the U.S., our story from Hezekiah’s life reminds us that even daily breath is a gift from God. So along with celebrating independence as a country, we disciples celebrate DEPENDENCE ON GOD day. Let’s review in light of this:

Review the week

Do you view yourself as an independent or dependent person? Do you relate to God in light of being dependent or seeking to be independent?

Repent (if necessary)

On one hand it is easy to live as if God is nonexistent. Many people do. On another hand no one lives without God's gift of life, including your very breath. Repentance would be in order if you have failed to acknowledge God as your life source. Have you been negligent in this? If so repent.

Return (as necessary)

As an act of returning to God, make a list of ways you are dependent on God. You could make a list in 30 seconds or 30 minutes. You choose.

This is your prayer prompt for the day. If you are led to sing songs of praise because you are happy to be alive that would line up perfectly with yesterday's devotion to sing songs of praise!

Friday, July 5
Discipleship Point and Prayer

Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

David's prayer is the right one for us as we pursue humility.

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Humility Prayer

"Show me, O God, when my heart grows proud. Give me the tests that will reveal to me my pride and my arrogance. Put people in my life who will tell me the truth. Please, do not let me be deceived."

The Prideful Soul, Fontenot/Jones (page 155)

Discipleship Point about Loving God with Your Heart

A third area about communicating with God is represented with the word LEAP:

Listening Ears that are Attentive to Pray.

The idea is that God will put a thought into your heart or mind for you to think about, pray about, or act upon. Some people refer to these as nudges of the Holy Spirit.

Have you ever had God seem to put someone on your heart or mind, leading you to pray for them or to reach out to them? Did you try to contact the person? What happened? Has anyone contacted you because you were on their heart or mind? How did that sit with you?

Matthew 26:41

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 

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Discipleship Prayer

Father God, grant me listening ears attentive to pray as I live in the moment with You and learn to love in these moments I am living. In Jesus’ name I pray.

Saturday, July 6
Scripture's Story for the Week

2 Kings 20:1-21

Hezekiah’s Illness

1 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. 6 I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.’”

7 Then Isaiah said, “Prepare a poultice of figs.” They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered.

8 Hezekiah had asked Isaiah, “What will be the sign that the Lord will heal me and that I will go up to the temple of the Lord on the third day from now?”

9 Isaiah answered, “This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised: Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?”

10 “It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps,” said Hezekiah. “Rather, have it go back ten steps.”

11 Then the prophet Isaiah called on the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down on the stairway of Ahaz.

Envoys From Babylon

12 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness. 13 Hezekiah received the envoys and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine olive oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”

“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.”

15 The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”

“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: 17 The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 18 And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

19 “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”

20 As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 21 Hezekiah rested with his ancestors. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.

This experience in scripture is “literally” what people pray for. Not an approach of someone coming with news of one’s coming death, but getting a direct answer to a specific prayer like Hezekiah does.

It is a powerful experience and yet there is a sad commentary on the life of Hezekiah after this profound prayer moment. The bible acknowledges that he doesn't live well in these gifted years, at least not toward God.

How could you tell if you kept your heart devoted to God or if it got split or distracted or left to stray? Robert Robinson had a sense of this when he wrote this verse in the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. We use it to move toward God in prayer:

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Prayer for the Day

Oh, to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

Sunday, July 7
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

2 Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
~ Apostle Paul

Maybe the word ‘blessing’ is not most fitting here, but wouldn’t it be a blessing to have the Lord direct your heart into His love and into a perseverance equal to Christ’s. Ask for fulfillment of this ‘blessing’ during the week for you and others.

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Dear Lord,

I am providing these comments about the website and devotion to increase your greater glory.

Amen.

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