Shepherd of the Hills - Richfield, Wisconsin
Daily Devotions - Witness for the truth

Daily Devotions - Witness for the truth

June 15, 2021

3 John NIV
1 The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth. 9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true. 13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.

 

How can you reflect on Gaius' desire to be of help to itinerant Christian workers?

 

Thank You for Gaius' example. Gaius was a tremendous witness and testimony to love and to truth. The pastors, evangelists, teachers, and preachers would travel around and visit the churches. They weren't wealthy and couldn't afford to stay in the local inns so they would stay in the homes of the believers. To help these missionary itinerants on their way, he honored You, was a testimony to the lost, was obedient to Your Word, and it accelerated world evangelization. He was generous to all the church, all these ministers, evangelists, preachers, and teachers who came - even strangers, he didn't know some of them! He knew they were the Lord's, that's what mattered - but how generous he was! Christian love in Gaius was exemplified practically. Gaius not only opened his home to the itinerant Christian workers but he was not intimidated by the threats of Diotrephes.  Every Christian life is a witness. The big question is whether my witness is a good one or a bad one. Either I'm helping the truth or hindering the truth. Help me to not just hold the truth but be held by the truth. Let me fight against falsehood not just by my words, but also by the witness of what I do. Help me to realize that as I sacrifice to serve others, I am doing it for You. If I minister to others in Your name, I am also ministering to You. Lord, I ask for Your help in growing me to be spiritually healthy to manifest Your power and energy in a spiritual sense to others. Let me be openly hospitable and evangelically generous. Let me stand up for Your truth. Help me to be conscious of my witness for You in everything that I do. Train me to be like Gaius. Amen

 

Daily Devotions - Truth and Love

Daily Devotions - Truth and Love

June 14, 2021

2 John NIV
1 The elder, To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth—and not I only, but also all who know the truth— 2 because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. 4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. 5 And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 7 I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work. 12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 13 The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.

 

Which is easier, to walk in truth or walk in love?

 

There are so many things that are going on in the world today,  no person can really know the full truth. What is heard and seen on television or social media may or may not be the truth. The only truth that I can be assured of is that You are the truth and that truth matters. Jesus, You are also love. Truth and Love are not opposed to each other. Sometimes I have been passionate about what I believe is the truth but have not been very loving. Other times I have tried to be very loving but have failed to care enough about what is true. Love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love. Lord give me Your discernment to do both. Only by knowing the truth of Your Word and holding fast to Your teachings will I be able to recognize deceivers who do not acknowledge You as Lord and try to manipulate what truth is. Let me reject false teachings but still act in love. Let love be the aim of my life, based on Your truth. The test of love is my obedience to You and the truth of Your Word.  Lord, help me to maintain this balance between truth and love and always ‘speak the truth in love. Amen

Daily Devotions - Authentic Relationships

Daily Devotions - Authentic Relationships

June 12, 2021

Ecclesiastes 7:15-8:1 NIV
15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness. 16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise— why destroy yourself? 17 Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time? 18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. 19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city. 20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. 21 Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you— 22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. 23 All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”— but this was beyond me. 24 Whatever exists is far off and most profound— who can discover it? 25 So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate, and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things and to understand the stupidity of wickedness and the madness of folly. 26 I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap, and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare. 27 “Look,” says the Teacher, “this is what I have discovered: “Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things— 28 while I was still searching but not finding— I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all. 29 This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.” 8 Who is like the wise? Who knows the explanation of things? A person’s wisdom brightens their face and changes its hard appearance.

 

Are you a snare to others (verse 26) or an uprighter (verse 28-29)?

 

Holy Father, You know the heart of every person. You see who we really are, what motivates us, and what our deepest needs and desires are. Solomon was married to 700 women and had 300 concubines. It is no wonder that Solomon struggled with his relationships with women because of this. Many of our relationships can be tainted by our selfish desires, motives, and deepest needs. We are prone to be self-seeking rather than to serve. Self-righteousness or self-indulgent behaviors destroy relationships with others. Show me the inner desires of my heart that can hurt my relationships. Teach me how to live in the midst of the world and yet not be self-righteous, moralistic, smug, or complacent.  The way to find true satisfaction in relationships is not by receiving but through serving. There is no righteousness apart from You. Let my relationship with You grow stronger so that I receive Your righteousness. Lord, help me to respect others out of my respect for You. Let me be kind, caring, and loving toward others. Give me intuition to recognize the true needs of others so that I can respond appropriately. Allow others to see Your love through my authentic love for them. Use me for Your Glory. I praise and honor and thank You, Lord, my God, my Savior, and my dear friend. Amen

 

Daily Devotions - Fear

Daily Devotions - Fear

June 11, 2021

Psalm 49 NIV
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
1 Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, 2 both low and high, rich and poor alike: 3 My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding. 4 I will turn my ear to a proverb; with the harp, I will expound my riddle: 5 Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me— 6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? 7 No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them— 8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough— 9 so that they should live on forever
and not see decay. 10 For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others. 11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. 12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. 13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. 14 They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. 15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself. 16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; 17 for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. 18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed— and people praise you when you prosper— 19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.  20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish.

 

Where has God been with you in times of fear?

 

These past 15 months have included multiple opportunities to fear. Illness, violence, isolation, and loss of freedoms to name a few. The devil uses fear to distract and control Your people away from the joy and goodness that You desire for them. The more we fear, the more we cling to the things we control. We trust in our wealth, in those little masks, in our stockpiles of toilet paper and we hide from others out of fear. We avoid confrontation and allow evil to control us out of our fear. We blindly succumb to ungodly trends out of fear that we might not be accepted as woke. We are silenced out of fear of being canceled. Where have You been during all of this, God? You have been waiting for us to trust You. As I fell on my knees and cried out to you due to situations that I didn't know what to do with, You have given me comfort and strength. You never left me. Fear is a natural human emotion. But, with You, I can face my fears with confidence because I have complete trust in You for this life and the life to come. The things, both good and bad of this life are temporary. But You, Lord, are eternal. Your love for me never fails. Awaken me to the evil one's ploys to stop Christians from loving each other and from sharing Your story of salvation. Let your people wake up and fight against evil. Let me focus on Your Word and turn my back on the ways of evil, no matter what the cost to me personally. You gave Your life to pay the cost of my sins. There is nothing more valuable in life than that. So as I kneel at the cross let me not fear, but concentrate on life with You and boldly proclaim Your love and goodness for all people. Let my thoughts be Your thoughts and my ways Your ways. In Your eternal name, Amen

 

Daily Devotions - Loving God

Daily Devotions - Loving God

June 10, 2021

1 John 5 NIV
Faith in the Incarnate Son of God
5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6 This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9 We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Concluding Affirmations
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

 

How are you doing at loving God?

 

Father, thank you that you love me and keep me safe in Jesus’ arms of love. Help me to show my love for You through my obedience and love for You by putting you first. Let me demonstrate my love for You by loving others. To love all others in Your family is not limited to my own denomination or group, to my own social or financial status, to my own race, to my own political perspective, or to my own exact theological persuasion. Please bring it to my attention if any of these things mean more to me than our common salvation, and the common Lordship of Jesus Christ so that I can be forgiven. Let my motives be pure. Please help me to not take You for advantage and slack off in my pursuit of loving You.  When my love and obedience for You grow cold, I not only harm myself, but I also harm those that I interact with and I can be a drag on the spiritual progress of Your people. Instead, give me a passion to continue to grow in my love for You and show Your love to everyone. I want to be on fire for You! Help me to show Your love by listening to others and encouraging them. Let me show Your love with acts of kindness and with generosity. Let me show Your love by praying for others. Lord, let me do the things that please You and use me to build Your kingdom. Lord, help me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. Amen

 

Daily Devotions - Test the Spirits

Daily Devotions - Test the Spirits

June 9, 2021

1 John 4:1-6 NIV
On Denying the Incarnation
4 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us, but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

 

What difference does it make that Jesus was truly human and truly divine?

 

It is so important to realize that Jesus was truly human and truly divine because He can identify with the shortcomings we humans have and yet His divinity allowed him to not be taken down by them. It is reassuring to know that He has felt our pain.

Dear God, I thank you for your great love for me and I am so grateful for your precious Holy Spirit so available to me all the time. How blessed I am that you know at the deepest level the struggles I go through because you humbled yourself to become human and endured pain and suffering. You had family and friends so you understand that dynamic, you worked alongside other people and you understand relationships. You were both scorned and loved. You could have had everything but you chose poverty, showing me how to be okay in all circumstances because you are my strength, my protector, my shield, and my redeemer. Lord, I pray to always lean on you and Your Spirit working in me to test all things that might try to take me away from you and your truth. I want to always lean not on my own understanding but to trust in You with my whole heart and You will make my path straight. You are the great waymaker!!

Daily Devotions - Love God, Love Others

Daily Devotions - Love God, Love Others

June 8, 2021

1 John 3:11-24 NIV
More on Love and Hatred
11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brothers were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

 

How are you doing at loving God?

 

You are Love. You laid down Your life for me out of Your love. I am eternally grateful. I worship and praise You out of my love, respect, honor, and adoration for my precious Father, King, Redeemer, Savior, and closest Friend. To love You is more than going to church and singing a few songs. To love You is to have a relationship with You. Lord, I desire to have a closer, more intimate relationship with You. Give me the courage to pursue You above all else. I crave for the time in Your Word and cherish the quiet times I spend with You so that I can learn more about You. I long to hear Your voice, discern Your wisdom, and follow Your will.  If I obey Your commandments, I will stay one in my heart with You, and You will stay one with me through Your Spirit. You, Lord, are greater than my feelings. As life presents disappointments, questions, concerns, and challenges, I can cling to You.  I can honestly express my feelings to You, without hesitation, because You already know my heart. You want me to trust You and have faith in You through good and bad times. I express my love for You when I obey you and do what pleases You. Let the evidence of my love and faithfulness for You be manifested through my love and respect for others. I pray that out of my love for others they will know Your love. Amen

Daily Devotions - Child of God

Daily Devotions - Child of God

June 7, 2021

1 John 2:28-3:10 NIV
God’s Children and Sin
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. 3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be, has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

 

When is it difficult for you to love?

 

Heavenly Father, You have such great love for me that You call me Your child. I am thankful for Your unfailing love for me. As a parent, I love my children even when they make bad choices that cause them to stumble and fall. I still support them, guide them, teach them and correct them in their failures, but I do not stop loving them. I am protective of my children and grandchildren and would freely sacrifice myself for their safety if needed. I deeply desire for my children and grandchildren to love each other and support each other through life in ways that I can't. You too want Your children to love, support, and serve each other. Lord, I have to confess that there are people who make it very hard to love them. Those that call evil good, who persecute Your church, who murder the innocent, whose hearts are so dark that their goal is to crush, kill and destroy for their selfish gain. You call me to love even them. Although I cannot accept what these people are doing and saying, I can pray for their souls. Lord give me the strength to pray that they recognize the evil they are doing, that their hearts are touched by Your spirit so that they repent and turn from their evil ways. You came to this earth to destroy the devil's work. You had a clear vision of our sin when You died on the cross. Out of Your great love, You chose to bring forgiveness and salvation for all people who accept Your free gift of grace.  I recognize that I too am a sinner, needing Your forgiveness and grace. For that, I pour out my heart in gratitude. Lord, I ask that You help me to become more like You. Help me to stand up for Your righteousness and hate evil but still open my heart to pray for all people to accept Your love and mercy. Let my response be an example of Your love to all of Your children. Amen

Daily Devotions - Today is the Day

Daily Devotions - Today is the Day

June 5, 2021

Ecclesiastes 6:10-7:14 NIV
10 Whatever exists has already been named, and what humanity is has been known; no one can contend with someone who is stronger. 11 The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone? 12 For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

Wisdom
7 A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. 2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. 3 Frustration is better than laughter because a sad face is good for the heart. 4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. 5 It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools. 6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot, so is the laughter of fools. This too is meaningless. 7 Extortion turns a wise person into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart. 8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. 9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. 10 Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. 11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. 12 Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it. 13 Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? 14 When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.

 

-- As compared to dwelling in the past or longing for the future, how much do you live in the present?

 

Life is a mystery. Each day is new. Yesterday is past and cannot be changed. Dwelling on the hurts of yesterday only burdens my heart but cannot undo what has already happened. Tomorrow is unknown but to You. I can plan for what I think will happen but my future is in Your hands and can change in a moment. Today is the gift that I am opening right now. Let me encounter today with Your wisdom. I ask that I will remember what I do today without regret and refrain from anything today that could generate negative consequences for tomorrow. Help me to guard my words so that I do not grumble, get angry, or say hurtful things. Protect me from pride and corruption. Keep me from worry about what may or may not occur in the future by trusting in Your faithfulness. Lord, help me to be patient, kind, and cheerful today. Assist me to live today with contentment and gratitude. Guide me to make the most out of opportunities to do good today.  Come to my aid as I strive to serve Your cause with sincerity.  Inspire me to appreciate every breath, take pleasure in the beauty of Your nature, respond with Your love to the people around me, and celebrate my hope in Your promise of salvation. Let me live according to Your will for today. Lord, today is a day that You have given me. Let me rejoice and be glad. Amen

 

Daily Devotions - Rebuild the Church

Daily Devotions - Rebuild the Church

June 4, 2021

Psalm 48 NIV
A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain. 2 Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth,
like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King. 3 God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress. 4 When the kings joined forces when they advanced together, 5 they saw her and were astounded; they fled in terror. 6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor. 7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind. 8 As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever. 9 Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. 10 Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. 11 Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments. 12 Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, 13 consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. 14 For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

 

How have you seen God guide you through a crisis that threatened your city?

 

We are coming out of a global crisis. What made this crisis so threatening to our community, city, country, and the world was manipulation and fear. By raising fear, the devil and his comrades were able to cripple the church which is the greatest resource of strength and support in times of crisis. The manipulation of fear turned people against each other. Everyone was the enemy. We lost the ability to relate to each other behind those masks. People watched their neighbors, not to help them, but to report them and judge them because they were not conforming to the rules. Lord, Jesus, this is not of You. This is not what You teach us in Your Word. Forgive us. Through our failure, You bring renewal.  You are our fortress and strength. Within Your church let us meditate on Your unfailing love to guide us as we rebuild our communities. Instead of avoiding others, let us boldly look directly into the eyes of those around us and love them. Let us reconnect through smiles and kind gestures. Bring the church back together so that we can minister to the needs of each other. Bring us together in unity as we rebuild our faith and trust in You. So many people are still struggling and need Your guidance. Show us ways to serve each other out of Your love and compassion. Let what we say and do change and renew our life right here on this earth because of Your Power. Rebuild Your church to be beautiful in its loftiness and the joy of the whole earth. I pray that we again can sense the presence of God and know Your security and protection. Let Your church be a city on the hill, a light to those who are lost, and a blessing to the world around us. Thank you for Your grace and Your resurrection power to guide us. Amen

 

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