Robert Read's Thoughts

Vertical Focus

John 15:5-14

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. (ESV)

Point and click! Digital cameras today have made taking a photo as simple as that. And yet sometimes the image returns with the background in perfect clarity and the intended subject fuzzy. The key is to position the camera in such a way that the main point of interest is centered in order to ensure an accurate focus.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).

Today’s verse is a reminder that no matter what the picture – whether one of joy or trial – to capture it in prayer. The use of the word constant implies a sense of being steadfastly attentive. It’s not an ongoing “snap and go” approach, but one of continuous awareness and powerful, purposeful petitions.

Oswald Chambers states, “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” What are your prayers concentrated on? Is the emphasis on the background or the main subject? In all things, prayerfully keep a vertical focus with God as the center point.

Spend time today abiding with the Lord and placing Him at the core of your prayers. Ask that He be glorified in the midst of your personal circumstances and pray also for His will to prevail for our current situation in our congregation, our community, our state, and this country.


Thriving Faith

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Isaiah 55

55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,

5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (ESV)

We have not had any petunias in our flower beds, oh in about three-years now. Yet, in a crack in our concrete driveway sprang up this beautiful bouquet of petunias this Spring. So, it’s just a narrow crack, maybe ¼” wide surrounded on both sides by solid concrete. The early church was like that. All around them were harsh, hard, and impenetrable conditions, yet they grew. One by one Herod was after the Disciples, killing some and throwing others in prison.

“But the Word of God increased and multiplied (Acts 12:24).”

The Apostle Peter’s time was up. He was arrested and thrown into prison and Herod intended to bring him before the people and have him executed. But, the people of God prayed and Peter was miraculously set free from prison. Like these petunias growing out of this crack in the hard harsh concrete God’s people can thrive even in harsh conditions such as we are experiencing in our community, state, country, and around the world. These harsh conditions can be overcome through the Word of God and prayer.

Just as it made a difference for Peter, your prayers can make a difference in these trying times we are going through. As our community of faith and our country goes through these difficult times, and we yearn for things to return to “normal”, while we ponder if this is the “new normal”, turn to the Holy Father in prayer. Pray for His Word to increase and multiply, and for God’s people to thrive! If we do that, and sharpen our focus on the Lord Jesus, and look to Him, then it’s all good!

Patience with Attitude

James 1:2-15

Testing of Your Faith

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV)

In Psalm 39:7, David talks about waiting on the Lord, a topic he was well acquainted with. David was a young boy when Samuel anointed him to be king of Israel, but he waited a long time, traveled a rough road and went through severe tests before he actually became king.

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you (Psalm 39:7).”

Drawing from scriptures such as James 1, patience can be defined as maintaining a good attitude and doing things God’s way, while waiting for Him to fulfill His promises. Remember, trials are to test your faith and your patience, not to test the Heavenly Father’s goodness. His love and character has already been proven, from creating and populating the Earth, to providing for the Israelites in the desert, to sending His Son to save the world, to the countless ways He answers our prayers.

Which of God’s promises are you personally holding on to today? Don’t be discouraged. Continue in prayerful obedience with a hope-filled attitude. Always maintaining, as David did, your hope is in the Lord!

Tags: faith, trust, hope