Romans 5:3-4

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Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. - Romans 5:3-4

Dear Lord,

I have to admit that my first thought when I suffer is not, "Hey, I should be happy about this because this produces patience and perseverance in me."   I'm usually squirming under the pressure that suffering brings.  But I'm listening to your word.  You tell me the good you are working in me by walking me through challenges.  I want to have more hope in my life. So, if enduring an illness or experiencing a set back makes me more durable and teaches me what to really value and if it gives me a bigger, better perspective, then I will receive it from your hand as a blessing rather than a curse.  Help me to grow in character by learning the deep lessons you want me to understand from my difficulties.   Forgive me for Jesus' sake for checking out on your lessons at times when I suffer.  I really do want to let you make me into a mature believer while I sojourn here on your planet.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Hard times create strong lives for those who will let it.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Dear Jesus,

As I watch the aging process take it's toll on us all, I can be grieved that no one can stop the slow slide down hill into the grave.  But you and your salvation bring a whole new positive slant to my thinking.  The slow slide toward the end of my earthly life is the way I will get to eternal life.  I am renewed in my heart by the thought of heaven being my destination and not the grave.   I cannot wait to get there where I will see my parents, sister and countless friends and mentors that have passed before me.  I can even get excited if I let myself.  Thank you for giving me the unseen world that faith sees.  It's real and it will last.  You have made it all mine by the sacrificial life and death you had for me. I will live out my few days on earth now in joy and hope. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Heaven is our forever home.  So, don't get too disappointed when you must leave places on earth that are temporary anyway. 

Joel 2:23

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Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. - Joel 2:23

Dear Heavenly Father,

We take your rain for granted until we go several days without it.  The land looks tired and brown and things start dying around our yards.  But almost as if it was a train coming on time, you have started bringing us the autumn rains again.  Things are greening up.  The thirst is quenched and fall crops are budding forth.  There is mercy in raindrops.  Thank you for loving all that you have made enough to water the land.  Water our souls too with the wetness of grace and peace coming from your word.  Help us find insights in the word that delight our hearts and guide our thinking.  Make us less stressed and more peaceful.  Drove out the drought of selfishness and despair.  Replace it with the soft green grass of grace, love, faith and peace.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

As rain renews the earth with green growth, the word renews hearts with pleasant thoughts.

Ephesians 4:29

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Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. - Ephesians 4:29

Dear Lord Jesus,

Help me put a guard over my mouth so the unwholesome thoughts I have do not see the light of day.  Then,, give me the wisdom and courage to repent of those thoughts and send them away.   Then help me look at the folks around me and ask, "What good word could they use today to make their load a little lighter, their day a little brighter and their steps a little straighter. Then give me the moment when they will listen so I can plant that good word in their hearts. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Words are free but they are worth much more than they cost.  

Ruth 4:13-15

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So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth." - Ruth 4:13-15

Dear Heavenly Father,

How you must have smiled in heaven to see your plan blossom.  When Ruth had baby Obed, Naomi experienced joy again.  Her life did not end when her husband and sons died.  Instead, it took a sharp right turn into your grand plan for all people. Obed may have seemed like a substandard "Plan B" for Naomi.  But you made him the ancestor of David who was the ancestor of Jesus.  Naomi and Ruth with all their pain were part of the greatest gift to planet earth.  Oh how wonderful your plan is once we see it!  Help me to remember that your plan for my life is bigger and better than the joys and disappointments I set up for myself.  Everything that happens now has new meaning because I know it's part of your plan and not the end of mine.  I see now that my goals are puny and shortsighted compared to yours.  I yield them to you.  Make my life what you want it to be for your fantastic designs for this world.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Our lives get bigger and better when we see that they are part of God's greater work. 

Ruth 3:10-11

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“The Lord bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.  - Ruth 3:10-11

Dear Heavenly Father,

Boaz saw the godly character in Ruth and he praised her for it.  It was what encouraged him to  risk having her as his bride.  Help  the young adults in my family and church to look for the inner beauty of godly character as one of their five reasons for courting a person toward marriage.  Help them listen to your Spirit when you teach them the values of Christ centered piety and peaceful faith, hope and love.  And for those who are looking for a spouse, give them the wisdom to work on their inner attitude as much as their outer beauty and physique so they are attractive to those whom you are growing into Christian adults.  Oh Father, create new godly couples all over the earth so the next generation will be more centered on your Son than our present one. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Godliness in marriage is the foundation for future heroes in the faith. 


Ruth 3:1-5

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One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for. Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered. So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do. - Ruth 3:1-5

Dear Lord,

It's humorous for me to see women in the Bible times using their intuitions to move along the dating process just like they still do today.  You created these two sexes and you guide them to accomplish your providential will to create families.  Boaz was along for the ride at this point although he had some decision making freedom.  I remember how you used people and circumstances to bring my wife and me together.  I see how you have done that with so many others.  Thank you for guiding the drama that creates families. Godly love affairs are one your great spices to life.  They season all of us even when we are not the one in love.  The world distorts love affairs on the screen but when love affairs are God pleasing they are refreshing and exciting to watch as another generation begins through the coupling process.  You invented marriage and you guide it too.  I'm thinking of those family and friends that still long for a soul mate.  Give them their Ruth or Boaz in your proper time.  And comfort them with good relationships until you do.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Godly courtship excited God as much as it does any of us.  

Ruth 2:8-12

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So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”  At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”  Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge." - Ruth 2:8-12

(To get the most out of today's devotional prayer read all of Ruth 2.) 

Dear heavenly Father,  

It's very helpful for me to see these two godly people collide.  Boaz was a wealthy male Israelite.  Ruth was a poor Moabite woman.  Boaz had multifaceted strength in his community.  Ruth had nothing but her health and willingness to use her hands and feet to help her mother in law.  Ruth and Boaz couldn't have been more different in outward circumstances but they found a clear connection because of their inner life, which is faith driven character.  Boaz valued  character more than wealth, looks and influence.  So, Boaz drew near to encourage his sister in the faith.  He praised her faith driven generosity for Naomi. He protected her from harm and refused to exploit her vulnerabilities.  Lord, make me like Boaz, one who values the inner wealth of faith driven character in others, one who encourages such faith and protects people who are vulnerable.  Make me a person that the Ruth's of our day would feel comfortable around.  I want to be that true gentleman that you saved me to be. And yes, Lord, you can start by making more of a gentleman to the women in my family and church family even before those out in the community. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Focus on godly service and let God focus on opening doors for you. 


Ruth 1:15-18

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“Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”  But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,if even death separates you and me.” When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. - Ruth 1:15-18

Dear God,

What burden you had laid on Naomi, to lose her husband and both sons!  But what blessing you gave too.  Ruth was committed to blessing her for the rest of her life.  You have given me faithful family and friends like Ruth.  You have made them willing to support, encourage and bless.  I am asking you now to make me like Ruth.  Make me a faithful family member to all those you have given me.  Help me to be there for them.  Give me eyes to see the need and a heart to meet it, even when it squeezes precious life out of me.  Make me an instrument of your peace and strength for others.  Help me alleviate their losses by being a blessing for them.  And more than anything else, help it all be in your name and for the glory of your grace.

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God sends people to help us instead of appearing by himself.   

Psalm 121:1-2

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I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2


Dear Lord, 

You have given me many strengths and talents and have taught me to faithfully use them to take care of my family and me.  I have enjoyed great freedoms and independence in a country that you provided that gives me great opportunities.  My life is free and fun in this corner of your world.  But I increasingly realize how much you have done to provide the scene, deliver the opportunities and bless my efforts.  I am also keenly aware that I need you for help in every area of my life.  Your supernatural grip on the entire universe and your specific intervention in my personal affairs is what allows me to survive and thrive.  I look to you for help and you graciously do.  I put my life into your loving hands today.  
Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God's hands hold us in life and hug us in the next

Isaiah 46:4

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Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. - Isaiah 46:4

Dear Heavenly Father,

I love this promise to sustain me even in my old age.  When I was younger and health concerns were far from me, I gave lip service to my need for help.  But I often thought I had what it takes to take care of myself.  But now I am older and the line between my good health and trouble is very thin.  That's why I love this word.  You made me.  You know your plans for my body and me.  You will sustain me and rescue me right until the purpose of my life is completed.  I will trust in your promise and not spend any extra energy worrying about my health.  Instead, I will do my best to take care of the vessel you have gifted to me. I need that energy back anyway!  Thanks for being my strength even as I get older. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

God has a divine sentimental attachment to each of us. 

Colossians 3:13-14

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Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. - Colossians 3:13-14

Dear Jesus,

Too often I don't know what to do with hurts that people cause me.  So, I try to understand them, defend myself, seek justice and get even.  None of those tactics work to give me peace.  You tell me what to do with the hurts. Stuff them in a sack and leave them at the foot of the cross where you forgave them.  You tell me to forgive.  It sounds too simple but I know it's true.  I just need to forgive.  With your forgiveness I can let go of my anger and need for vindication.  Knowing you paid the price for their sin, gives me freedom to let them go without making them pay.  I forgive them.  Now, give me the wisdom and strength to forget about what they did, so I live in the peace of grace.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Forgiveness lifts burdens for both victim and perpetrator.   

 

Acts 4:12

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Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  - Acts 4:12

Dear Jesus, 

I often think how happy I would be to win the lottery.  But I forget that I have won a much bigger lottery with you.  In the lottery only one number wins.  In salvation only one name saves.  You have given me that name.  In the lottery one has to have the winning number as his own.  I have you as my own.  In the lottery you must trust the number enough to turn in your ticket and receive your prize.  In salvation I must trust you enough to let go of my self.  You have given me that faith.  In the lottery a person gets a boat load of money.  In salvation a person gets a ship load of blessings. Oh how happy I can be today to have won the heavenly lottery.  No other name saves and I have the one that does.  I will live without complaining today.  I will celebrate my salvation by smiling through every circumstance.  I am a winner in you.  

Amen

In Christ we have the only thing that can bring lasting joy. 

2 Timothy 1:13-14

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What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. - 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Dear Jesus,

You have given me truth from your word.  It defines my origin, my purpose, my faith and my destiny.  It tells me right and wrong and leads me in the way of righteousness.  Your word replaces selfish motives with faith and love toward you and others that flows from the gospel.  But I hear so many shallow and empty messages every day that beckon me to be true to myself or to do what feels right.  These messages argue against your truth and the fear of God.  They offer a whole different paradigm for my heart.  I struggle to see them for what they are sometimes.  Help me to guard what you have taught me and to filter what people around me are saying as well as what the television, radio and internet pour forth.  Give me the sublime strength to deny their temptations to disregard your will and your grace.  Give me the wisdom not to flood my soul with media programs that tell a great story but a have a godless human centered message.  Fill my life with activities that heal the hurting and mend the brokenhearted.  Use your Holy Spirit to deflect unhealthy thinking from my mind.  Be my Savior and walk with me today. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Never let your guard down when the world is talking to you. 

1 John 4:19-21

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. - 1 John 4:19-21

Dear Jesus,

You are confronting my soul in this verse.  I cannot separate my vertical relationship with you from my horizontal relationship with people.  I cannot say I know you and love you and then avoid loving everyone the way that you do.  I cannot segregate people in my heart into the loved and the unloved.  I cannot make someone my best friend while making another my reject.  I cannot hate or even come close to its gate.  Your call for me to love everyone the same is impossible for me to fulfill without you.  I need you and your love to fill me, drive me, change me and get back into loving even those who have hurt me.  Overwhelm my soul with your love that makes me serve those I have so easily discarded in socially acceptable but hateful ways.  Make me love all people the same.  Cause me to be a true vessel of your redeeming grace.  Maybe it starts with me tearing up the record I have of what they did to me or never bothered to do for me.  Oh Jesus, give me the pleasure of forgetful grace that frees me to love these folks again.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Love tears up the reasons to discard people and gives everyone an opportunity for a re-start every day.  

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. - 1 John 4:18

Dear Jesus,

What a cleansing and empowering verse!   If the truth were to be told, fear dominates our lives in too many ways to count, especially in relationships.  We are afraid of rejection so we reject first.  We are afraid of being exploited so we push people away.  We are afraid of shame or gossip or judgement so we slink and hide.  We are afraid to hurt so we isolate ourselves.  We are afraid of an argument so we refuse to confront.  Fear, fear at every turn.  But O God, once your love overwhelms our soul and makes us realize that we can never lose it, then we become the love we have received.  We aren't as addicted to ourselves as we once were.  We orient ourselves around the needs of others.  We forget ourselves and lose ourselves in loving and speaking the truth in love to everyone we meet, those near and dear and those we just met.  Love is bold and gentle at the same time, powerful and yet protecting.  It leads us into a full and abundant life that fear once stole from us.  You Jesus, are love personified and your love has given me a new opportunity to love others.  Thank you for freeing my soul.  Now help me love those whom I have famously feared in the secret place in my heart where only you take notice.  

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Set your heart on loving others and your anxiety level will drop dramatically. 

2 Corinthians 1:9-11

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Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. - 2 Corinthians 1:9-11

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know you must have countless reasons for allowing me to go through difficult circumstances, but here in your word I find one that comforts me.  You are teaching me not to rely on myself.  That's a big job.  I was born wanting to be in charge and my raising in this culture is geared toward making me self sufficient.  So, when life is too big for me, that's okay.  I'm learning that it's not too big for you.  You are bigger than my life and will deliver me from my troubles.  You send help in a myriad of ways.  Some I have not even thought of yet.  I will set my hope on you that you will deliver me from all my troubles. Help me remember this passage today as I face health issues, mechanical failures, relationship stresses and challenges in my work.  Help to remember that you are a prayer away from delivering me.  Don't let me drive myself to your hospital. I will call your 911 and you pick me.  If you died for me, how would you ever not rescue me?

Amen

Pastor Donald Patterson

God stands behind the curtain waiting for us to call out for help.  

1 Samuel 25:23-31

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When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you. When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.” - 1 Samuel 25:23-31

Dear Heavenly Father,

David was on the run and needed help for his men and himself.  Nabal refused to help.  It enraged David so much that he saddled up to go kill Nabal and his men.  Nabal's wife, Abigail, knew both men were wrong.  Her husband was being a jerk and David was reacting out of raw emotions.  She knew he would have the burden on his conscience for his whole life if he killed out of anger.  So, she intervened and saved Nabal and his men for a time and spared David lifelong grief.  God help me to remember her wisdom when I am tempted to do something vengeful or rash out of anger.  Help me to avoid sinning against you and doing untold hurt to others.  Give me the power to stop myself, discern my motives, repent of my reactions and remove myself from the situation.  Give me the power to move away from chaos to peace.  Give me the wisdom of Abigail and your son to be a peacemaker as a member of your family. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

A clear conscience is worth more than great riches.

Genesis 50:15-17

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When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. - Genesis 50:15-17

Dear Heavenly Father,

Joseph's brothers had committed those sins many years earlier.  And yet, they were still plagued by fear and guilt. It made them listen to their worries and fears more than to Joseph.  How Joseph's heart must have ached that his brothers thought things about him that weren't true.  It troubles me when I hear that people are thinking things about me that aren't true.  It seems so unfair to have to battle lies that they believe.  Give me the patience and love you gave Joseph so I hang in there with them even though they cling to worthless ideas that affect our relationship.  Also, come into my heart and mind and clean out the false ideas I believe about others and help me to only focus on the truth that I know and the grace that forgives and restores. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

When the Holy Spirit enters your heart he makes you clean out the lies you have hoarded for years.   

Psalm 84:1-4

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How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.

Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you. - Psalm 84:1-4

Dear Lord,

You have given me many special moments resting in peace in your church with your people hearing about your love and truth.   In your church I find rest for my soul.  I also find hope, faith and love.  My heart aches for the people who have decided that being with you and your people at their church is troublesome or boring.  They are missing out on the gift you have waiting for them there.  Please help them by your Holy Spirit to come back to the gathering of the flock.  Rekindle in them the fires that once burned in their hearts for worship, encouragement and praise.  The Old Testament priest who wrote this song found that his life made sense when he was in your temple.  I find that my life makes sense when I am in your church hearing your word. As a leader help me to do everything I can to make the Sunday morning or evening experience at church an attractive spiritual blessing so your people look forward to being there. 

Amen

Pastor Don Patterson

Gathering with people who love the word of God and speak it into our hearts, is wonderful privilege not to be taken for granted.