James 3:13

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Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. - James 3:13

Dear Jesus,

Your brother James helps separate the fake from the real. It's easy to be high minded, critical of others and convinced that I am right about things. But if I am truly wise, it will show in how humble I am and how I seek to produce goodness for everyone around me. Give me the honesty and love to focus solely on serving you and others instead of trying to be right all the time. Help me seek more to understand than to be understood and more to love than to be loved. Help me forget the disappointments others have caused me, so I hang in there with them through all their ups and downs. You never give up on serving us and I want to be the same in the few days I have left on earth.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Seek not so much to be rightly understood but to rightly love others.

Luke 15:3-7

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Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. - Luke 15:3-7

Dear Jesus,

How you love to see people brought home to you by coming to faith in your truth and love. How you long for each lost soul to realize they are lost and recognize you have come to rescue them. Teach me the supernatural value of every human soul so I stop smugly judging people and instead I reach out to them with truth and love. I want to rejoice with you over their return to grace like you and your angels. The lingering disappointment I have with their failures and mine often hampers me from joining the heavenly party. Oh Jesus, make me a champion of grace and not law.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

It's hard to judge people that you long to see in heaven with you.

John 15:5

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I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:5

Dear Jesus,

If I don't stay connected to you by the word of God and prayer I will soon wither under the drought of my times. There is so much to suck the energy and interest out of my soul. I need to hear from your word every day. I need to know you are with me, sustaining me, teaching me and loving me. I need daily forgiveness and peace. I need you to be the God of my soul. These words really grab me, "apart from me you can do nothing." They sweep away my stubborn independence. I need you to produce in my the blessed life that blesses others or else I will become a useless self serving creature. Oh Jesus, keep me connected to you and do not let me go.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

We were made to receive spiritual power from God not the other way around.

Proverbs 10:17

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Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17

Help me oh God, to open my heart to correction and teaching that guides my otherwise misguided ways. I want to be led so I can lead others by example. But I must let you teach me. It's easy to fall into a smug self gratifying thought that I have arrived and am above instruction. Forgive me for that blind pride that makes me feel like I have little to learn. Help me to reduce my entertainment and busyness enough to sit and listen to your word and learn from the people you have put in my life to teach me. I know that I am a forgiven child of God and my prayer is that knowing this will give me the humility to keep learning from others every day.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

If you have learned all you need to know then you have finished your earthly journey.

Proverbs 10:9

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. - Proverbs 10:9

Dear Heavenly Father,

I know you see the chasm between what I am and what I think I am. Help me to bring those two together through honest reflection, repentance and reformation. I want to have integrity but it's painful to admit my failings. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking falsely about things and it scares me. Don't let me lie to myself, to you or to anybody. You want people to worship you in spirit and in truth (John 4) and I love you so much I want to be someone whom you can trust. Thank you for being my rock when I am wavering. Now, guide me to live honestly good and righteous in my dealings with everyone.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Honesty is painful, pure and refreshing all at the same time.

Titus 2:2

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. - Titus 2:2

Dear Jesus,

It's hard to admit, but I no longer can view this passage as your injunction to me as a young pastor to teach older men how to live. It seems that in almost no time I have become one of the "older men." Now these six attributes of a mature Christian man are directly applicable to me. You want me to be temperate, that is calm and gentle. You want me to live worthy of respect, to curb my passions and resist the temptation to be lazy or crazy in my ways. You want me trusting firmly in your word and not wavering with doubt. You want me to love people deeply instead of withdrawing into myself. And you want me to endure hardship with a reliant hope in your deliverance. That is; you want me to recognize that my anxieties are often self inflicted. I get what you want and it helps me some. But without your presence I will utterly fail. I need you to give me the strength to live above my sinful nature. Help me Lord Jesus to live the godly life you call for. Be my Savior and my sanctifier.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Only God can call us godly people.


Deuteronomy 7:6

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The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. - Deuteronomy 7:6

Dear Heavenly Father,

I know you first said this to your people, Israel, in Old Testament times. But you have also taught us that in Christ you have chosen us to be your treasured possession since eternity (Ephesians 1). It makes me feel so loved and safe to know that you chose you me before I could have done anything to earn or lose your approval. I know that in grace you chose me still. It's your choosing love that sustains my faith in you even in heard times. I am your treasured possession. You will not let me go. You have my name written in heaven. So, even when I suffer here, I know that you are with me and you are guiding my life in blessedness. You will work everything for my good, because I am yours.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Belonging to God make's one's life complete.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬

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When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:28-29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Dear Jesus,

They could tell you were different. I can too. When I read your words they are like nothing else I’ve ever read. They drip with love for God, people and the truth. They cut through the fog of pithy human wisdom and wishful thinking. They give real hope that transcends political platitudes. They help me see how I can please the Father by living out my faith. They soften my heart that’s so prone to ossify. They speak forgiveness and redemption that sweep away my despair. Thank you for coming to earth to teach us the way to live and the way to heaven. We would be totally lost without you. By your Holy Spirit keep me reminded of your words throughout the day today and the weekend.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Truth has a way of shoving its way to the front of our minds.

Matthew 7:24-27

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Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. - Matthew 7:24-27

Dear Jesus,

You have put your finger on the big missing link in all of our lives. We think that hearing is as good as trusting enough to do what is heard. Your picture of life is so accurate. It's like there are rainstorms rumbling out of control crashing into our lives and washing the dirt right out from under our souls. Problems in this world are destined to come our way. No one is immune. No amount of money or human planning can stop them from invading and robbing us of our temporal dreams. If we don't build our lives on your words, (both the principles and the promises), our lives will crumble when difficulties come. We will make bad choices, have bad reactions and do things to make matters worse. So, please, please, please help us build our lives on your pure words about love, faith, hope and life. We want to be standing tall with you when the winds of trouble blast against our hearts.

Pastor Don Patterson

Jesus and his words are he best storm shelter we could ever possibly find.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23

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Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21-23

Dear Jesus,

Your words strike fear in my heart. I suspect you intended that too. They deal with my sinful, selfish nature that always wants to be king. They make me scan my life and look for what I need to apologize to you for. They make me repent of willful neglect of my duty with family and friends. They remind me that a relationship with you is not just words but heartfelt belief and actions that grow out of that faith. I’m not a Christian because I do works along side my sins. I’m a Christian because I repent of my sin and cling to you for mercy. My works are irrelevant when it comes to you and me. It’s all based on faith. I do trust you. And I want you to be able to trust me too. Help me be your true follower, Lord Jesus.

Pastor Don Patterson

Jesus sees the heart. So, worship him there.

Matthew 7:15-20

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. - Matthew 7:15-20

Dear Jesus,

You never exaggerated a point or said anything false. And you are serious about protecting us from false teachers. With the click of my cell phone I can hear any kind of teacher or prophet I would ever want. Some are amazingly gifted teachers. Please give me discernment to be able to tell if any of them are teaching different than your pure word of truth. Help me be able to know if they are actually in it to win it for themselves or for you and your beautiful gospel. Make me aware of the fruit of their lives, so I can see when they are truly not one of your humble servants. And in the meantime I pray that you fill the world with true and humble teachers of your word that are well versed in the Scriptures and who share it with power and clarity.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Just because a teacher is good doesn't mean he is right. Be careful how you listen.

Matthew 7:13-14

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Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. - Matthew 7:13-14

Dear Jesus,

It's so easy to follow the crowd even in faith matters. But just because a lot of people believe it, that doesn't make it true. Help me to stay on the narrow path of trusting in you alone for my salvation. There is no way I can work,pray or think my way to heaven. That's what world religions tell me to do. Instead it all rode on your shoulders and following you in repentance and faith are the only way. Give me the faith, power and love to follow you down the road of life rejecting sin and trusting in grace alone. Help me do the right things for the right reasons.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

The narrow path is wide enough for one soul at a time.

Matthew 7:9-11

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Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! - Matthew 7:9-11

Dear Jesus,

You have given us a wonderful promise. Our prayers are heard! We are not speaking into the thin air. Help me to remember to pray when I have needs or godly aspirations and to remember that it's not all up to me. Relieve me of the stress of thinking I am all alone to face the world. I will pray more specifically going forward. I love the illustration about parents. I'm happy to give good things to my children. How much more are you happy to give good things to me since I am your child. I can see that prayer is a forgotten treasure in many of our lives.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Prayer makes God happy because through it we show him we trust he cares.

Matthew 7:6

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. - Matthew 7:6

Dear Jesus,

You stood in silence before Herod because he had no intentions of listening with an open heart to anything you would have said. Your respect for the living word would not allow you to let it be trampled in mockery. I want to revere the word that much too. But I cannot read hearts like you. I have to learn by experience. Please help me to discern when to speak and when to keep silent and give me the courage to do both. And when I choose to speak, make the words stick in the heart so the person I touch is forever changed.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Silence can speak louder than words when used wisely.

Matthew 7:1-5

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.- Matthew 7:1-5

Dear Jesus,

I hate to admit it that I have been that guy pointing out the faults of others and crying their sins and weaknesses when all the while I had similar sins going on in my own heart and life. It's humbling but it's true. How hard it must be for you, the perfect Son of God, to watch us get mad at others while we are still failing in so may ways ourselves. Oh, the patience and the pointed power I see in your words here. If I will go through the painful process of repentance and apology myself, then I will see how to gently and clearly lead others out of their sins. Help to let your Holy Spirit do his surgery on my heart. Give me the insight and power to deal with my own sins first before trying to correct others.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

A wise person will let himself be corrected even though it comes with sharp pain.

Matthew 6:28-34

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And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:28-34

Dear Heavenly Father,

You have made me to experience concern, but not about earthly needs. You promise to make sure I have enough to sustain this body in life. However, you do want me to be concerned about spiritual things. That's what my heart is made for. You make me to long for purity, righteousness and peace. I will put off the worry I'm prone to about bills, retirement and finances. I will let got of worry about clothes, style and furnishings. I will drop my concern with food or the lack thereof. Give me the wisdom and the strength to stop being so busy to make my life more beautiful or comfortable so that I can quietly meditate on your word of truth that saves and cleanses my soul.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

We were made to be passionate about God and his goodness.

James 4:4-10

Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." - James 4:4-10

Dear Lord Jesus, I forget that when I choose to think and act like the world that I am choosing to be your enemy. I just think I am a weak friend. But you make it clear that I am saying much more to you than I think. I am making myself your enemy. I am so thankful that you give more grace and don't abandon me to my wandering. Instead, you confront and forgive and restore me. I will take my own sin seriously today so I do not hurt and grieve you. I want you to find joy in me when you see the choices I make. I need your help in the face of my temptations. Please come by my side and give me the stalwart thoughts I need to resist the thousands of lies my mind has learned to rehearse. AMEN

Pastor Don Patterson

God is the most patient and yet serious friend you will ever experience.

Matthew 6:25-27

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? - Matthew 6:25-27

Dear Jesus,

I cannot remember a day in my life that I have worried about eating or drinking like the people to whom you spoke these words. I have always lived with a hundred times more wealth than them. Yet, I am a master at worrying. That's why I love your words. They remind me that you want me to live free of the burden of worry like the birds. I trust that you will take care of me. So, bless my efforts to earn a living under your grace. Protect my assets. Give me the joy of generosity to others and help me live lightheartedly under your goodness.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Worry is taking responsibility away from God.

Matthew 6:22-24

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The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 
- Matthew 6:22-24

Dear Jesus,

Our eyes glimmer with hope when we sense we have plenty of money and possessions to satisfy our earthly cravings. We can be so enamored with it, that we pursue it with all our hearts. But if our possessions are our light, how great is the darkness! "You own the cattle on a thousand hills." You made us and you give us all our blessings. You are the God who sacrificed his own beloved Son for us and everything else you give us is from the same generous heart. How could you not be our light all by yourself, because every blessing comes from your hand. Oh Jesus, help me serve and love you above all things. And make me generous like you.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Love the giver and use the gift instead of loving the gift and using the giver.

Matthew 6:19-21

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Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:19-21

Dear Jesus,

How tempting it is for me to collect things as if they constitute wealth. It started when I was a child and I am still plagued with the desire today. It can any number of things and sometimes it's collections of memories that I seek. It all revolves around this desire to abound in treasure, whatever that may mean for me. I am even tempted to look at the treasures of others and artificially feel poor. I believe there is an innate desire in all of us to want a full life. You made us to fully experience life. Our problem is that we forget how far we have fallen and how fast we will pass through this place. Every collection on earth is temporary and only you know who will have it or disperse it after we are gone. It's worthless to us when we come to the edge of eternity. Ah, but souls of people, those will last forever! They are our truest treasure. Help me crave and collect souls for you in heaven. Your word and souls are the only thing that will last beyond this world. Help me to treasure and collect both in my heart.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God collects people for heaven, any other collection is rather worthless to him.