Sept 24 Strengthen me

“O Lord, out of Your glorious riches, would You strengthen me with the power through Your Spirit in my inner being.” Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and everything in it is Yours. And not just Your right of Sovereignty over all things, but the richness of Your character allows You to pour over me all that I might ever need.

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Father, would You strengthen me:

physically – give me Your healing in all the areas of my body where there is illness or weakness.   Increase my strength and stamina to be able to do the work You set before me;

mentally – when I need to focus, or clear my mind of distracting thoughts. Give me the ability and the diligence to take every thought captive to You, and to be alert to dangers around me. Do not let my thinking become muddled by the vain philosophies of man or the half-truths and lies of the evil one;

emotionally – give me relief from discouragement, sadness, fear, anger, guilt, anxiousness. Help me deal with my circumstances according to Your wisdom and not be led by my emotions;

spiritually –bolster my faith with the remembrance that no matter what – You are in control – that even if the fig tree does not blossom, no grapes appear on the vine, the olive crop fails and the fields produce no crops – I can still rejoice in You! And spiritual strength to recognize and combat the enemy, dressed in my spiritual armor.

Father, would You do this so that “You will dwell in my heart through faith”. Help me to “be rooted and established in love”. Lord, like a tree planted by the water, let my spiritual roots go down deep into the soil so I can draw deeply of Your love. You are love, so You are the true source of love that can strengthen and fill me. Father, help me understand Your love: “how wide and long and high and deep” it is. I ‘understand’ Your love in that I read about it. But Father, help me really know it, in my heart and in my spirit; not just in my head.

When I can fathom Your love, I will have wisdom that surpasses knowledge. And I will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of You.”

Thank You that “You are able to do immeasurably more that I can ask or even imagine, according to Your power that is at work in me.” I give You all the glory and praise, for ever and ever. Amen

Ephesians 3:16-21

 

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Sept 23 “Do Not Fear…”

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Father, thank You for more wonderful words of comfort and promise.

“Do not fear

for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

In the Garden of Eden You walked with and spoke with Adam. There was a close and open relationship between the two of You. But when Adam sinned, the next time he was in Your presence, he said “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid.” Fear had never been a part of the relationship before. But now that there was sin, there was fear. I have lived all my life in a fallen world where fear has a place.

But here, You say to me “Do not fear”. And the reason: “because I have redeemed you”.   And since Your completed work on the cross, I am in right standing with You. I am in close relationship with You, like Adam was in the garden before sin. And those precious words: “I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” bring such intimacy and tender closeness. You know me. You call my name. I am Yours. I belong to You.

And along with that relationship comes a promise of care and protection. What confident assurance it gives me! What a sense of being loved and protected I have with those words! I am assured that when I face difficult times, when I am in deep waters, when I am in danger of being swept off my feet, You are there with me. Your presence accompanies me. And Your promise guarantees me that the waters will not sweep over me and take me away.

Recently I have seen very dramatic pictures of the power of water: destructive, deceptively strong and damaging. Statistics presented highlight how little moving water it actually takes to unbalance a person, a car, a house; and sweep it away. But Your promise is sure.   The waters will not sweep over me.

Thank You for Your true promise. Thank You for the confidence You give me in facing difficulties and hardship; that You are with me. That I will pass through them. That I will arrive on the other side. With You. Amen

Isaiah 42:1-7

Sept 22 Hope in the darkness

book-1936547_640O Father, these are some of the verses that have come to me in the darkest times. Times when I truly thought there was no hope. Times when I was at the end of all I could think to do to save myself from what appeared to be dire and dark circumstances that I believed held no happy ending.

These words are spoken by Your prophet Isaiah who is telling how it will be when the judgment of Israel is over. “You are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth! You will not grow tired or weary…You give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak…those who hope in You will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

What hope that gave me Father – because I was weary and weak. But because I know You as my Savior, I believed that these verses were true of me. It’s like You were speaking right into my heart then, and since then. You were promising to give me Your strength and power. You promised to renew my strength. When I felt like I could not take one more step, You empowered me to “walk and not grow faint”.

You told me “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my Righteous Right Hand.” And even more than that, You sang it to me. I could hear a melody in Your words. It became a theme that I could sing to myself over and over – Your words of encouragement and empowerment. I still sing them today.

Thank You Father, that Your Word, written down so long ago, has power and influence and still speaks right now. And not just to me, but to any and all who will seek You there.

And these words of Paul – I love them and have prayed them over and over again for myself, my family, and my loved ones. I pray them now, again Father, for everyone reading this prayer. “I give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know [1] the hope to which He has called you, [2] the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people [that’s us], and [3] His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Father, speak these words of comfort and empowerment to all who need to hear them from You.   When the evil one whispers ‘you’ve failed again, there’s no hope’, Let them know what it means to “not fear” and “not be dismayed”.   Give us victory! Amen

Isaiah 40:1-41:16; Ephesians 1:1-23

Sept 21 “Carry each other’s “burden”

Father, Your Word tells me to help others to carry their burden but to carry my own. I was confused until I looked at the original Greek and found that there are two different words.

In this passage of scripture, they are both translated as ‘burden’.   Where You say “Carry each other’s [burdens] and in this way fulfill the law of Christ”, that word is ‘baros’. Although it is translated four times to read ‘burden’ a more complete definition is ‘heaviness, weight that would weigh you down, pressing on you, difficult requirements’. But where You say “each one should carry their own [burden].” The word is ‘phortion’ which simply means ‘something to be carried’. So there is a difference here in the amount of weight and in the ‘burdonsomeness’ implied in the original meaning.

One way I think of it is that each person should be capable of carrying their own backpack – the weight of normal daily responsibilities. But they would need help with a steamer trunk – an extraordinarily unusual additional amount of hardship that would come with an illness, or accident or trouble.

Father, show me how to help others who are in need. Let me go out of my way to see how to help them. And Father, I trust You will bring help to me when I am in need as well.

Thank You for Paul’s words here reminding me how to relate to other believers. It is so easy to get off track by comparing myself to others. It sets the stage for jealousy, or pride. But You say to help those believers who are overcome by sin. And not to do it pridefully, but humbly and gently, aware that the same mistake could happen to me if I’m not careful.

Father, You made us to care for each other. You knew that this world would be a challenging place, and that we would need each other. Thank You for bringing friends and loved ones around me when I need their help. Sometimes I don’t even realize I need it, till You bring someone who calls and cheers me up, or says something encouraging.

Help me also “not become weary in doing good”, so that I also may “at the proper time reap a harvest if I do not give up”.   Thank You for the way You inspire believers to care for each other.   Amen

Galatians 6:1-10

Sept 20 Freedom in Christ

yes-661437_640When my first son was small, I remember wanting to avoid having a child who yelled ‘no’ all the time, so I tried to avoid saying ‘no’ to him if I could. Eventually, I did end up having to say ‘no’ much more than I wanted. It was such a convenient way to help him understand what was allowable and what was not.

There were so many ways to tell him what he could do because so many things were permissible. Yes, he could walk on the sidewalk, or on the rocks, or in the grass or on the bricks, or holding my hand or with granddaddy, but ‘no’ was the quickest, easiest way to make the point that he could not walk in the street. And it wasn’t long before he learned ‘no’ and with it came the desire to rebel against it.

How similar is my life of freedom in Christ. There are so many things that are good to choose from, it would take a lifetime to list them all. For instance, I can be told to speak to people in love, in truth, instructing, encouraging, in kindness, with joy, with laughter, personally, with others, in groups, tell jokes, share stories…the list could go on extensively. But it is simpler to give someone a standard of communicating by saying ‘don’t lie’.

And yet, this creates a list of ‘no’ that I find myself focusing on, filling my thoughts with the negative.   When I focus on the ‘no’ more than all the things that are ‘yes’, it gives me a sense that godly living is restrictive. And the desires that have ‘no’ in front of them are the things I spend more time thinking about so I can try and avoid them.

So when I hear “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”, it is immediately freeing! It changes my focus onto all the freedoms that the Spirit gives me! When I am so focused on all the great things the Spirit shows me I can do, I will be so busy doing those things, that I will not have time think of the desires of the flesh. And by doing the ‘yes’ things the Spirit invites me to, I will automatically be avoiding the ‘no’ things, without even thinking about them!

Father, let me see past the ‘no’ statements to the freedom in the ‘yeses’! Help me reframe my thinking by looking to all the things the Spirit leads me to. Let me bless others with all the yesses. Let me live in the blessing of Your ‘yes’. Amen

Galatians 5:13-26

Sept 19 “This is the way…”

road-sign-64059_1280Father, You have described those who do not follow You and those who do. And unfortunately, I sometimes display the characteristics of both. You say “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” And yet there are times when I do not remain quiet and trusting. “Yet”, You tell me “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.” What an amazing God You are! Even when I am not faithful, You are patient and merciful to me!

Father, You have promised, “As soon as You hear, You will answer me.” And have said that “my ears will hear a voice behind me saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” I could ask for nothing more.  Even now, as I call out to You, I know that You can hear my voice and will answer me. Father, there are circumstances in my life that present options and opportunities, choices. And I must decide.

Fear would freeze me where I stand, preventing me from moving ahead in any direction. But I believe that You have wisdom in all these areas.  I believe You have the ability to see into the future, to know which is the right way for me to go. You also know my past, and the way that You created me, with strengths, gifts, and talents, as well as weaknesses. So You know what You have already prepared me for, and what is best for me.

Father, I have access to the wisdom of the world. I have friends who would probably tell me what they think I want to hear. But I desire to live my life by Your wisdom. Be the voice that I hear behind me, in my ear, telling me which is the way to walk. Show me which path to take. Show me when to wait and when to go forward. Open my ears and my Spirit so I can hear and understand what You tell me. And give me the boldness to be obedient to what You tell me.

“And I will sing…my heart will rejoice.” I will rest in my salvation. And will remain in quietness and trust. These will be my strength. Amen

Isaiah 30:15-21

Sept 18 Always Your Child

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Father, thank You for making me Your heir. Thank You for sending Your Spirit into my heart so I can call out “Abba, Father”.

 

 

Just like with my earthly parents, my position as their child will never change. I may move far away from them, or be upset with them, or they with me, but I will always be their child. The quality of our relationship may have its ups and downs. So the quality of our fellowship may fluctuate, but my position as their child will never change.

You have given to me the full rights of being Your child and Your heir. As such; “My salvation comes from You…My soul finds rest in You alone…You alone are my Rock, my fortress…I will never be shaken.”

Things may happen to me that shake my confidence in other people, in circumstances, in things I have come to depend on, even in myself. But in You I will always find hope. I will always be able to rest in Your abundant provision and security. I will always know that even if I cannot understand, that Your purpose and Your plan will not be thwarted. Many words describe safe places here on earth: refuge, fortress, tower, stronghold. These are solid, unshakable places where people run for safety. These are the exact words scripture uses to describe You! Father, You are all these and more. In You I can be shielded, I am protected, I am safe.

When needed, I can pour out my heart to You. You listen. And You comfort. You give me wisdom. And encourage me. Lord, give me Your wisdom now. Let me see Your perspective on the difficulties and challenges in my life now. I am resting in You, and I am hopeful. Show me the next step I should take. Do not let me get ahead of Your plan or Your timing.  Give me the patience I need to see Your blessing come into fruition.

I trust You. I know that “You are strong, and that You are loving.” I will wait with You, my Father. Amen

Galatians 3:23-4:31; Psalm 62:1-12

Sept 17 Shalom Shalom

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“You will keep in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

I have always loved this wonderful promise and beautiful picture of Your provision. There is also an accountability piece that reminds me that I have a responsibility if I desire that promised perfect peace: to keep my mind focused on You.

I do forget, especially during times of trouble and hardship, to keep focused on You. I get distracted by worrying over things I cannot control. Negative emotions draw me deeper into fear and discouragement, the opposite of peace. But the realization that I am not feeling Your peace pulls me back into this verse, reminding me to refocus my attention.

“You” – the Creator of the universe. You, who created my mind and who gave me the ability to know You and to trust You. You: Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, who holds everything together by Your Word.

“will” – absolutely resolve by the force and power of who You are

“keep” – the Hebrew word ‘natsar’ meaning to guard with fidelity, watch over, preserve, maintain, guard from dangers

‘peace’ – wholeness, wellness, purposeful living in joy, with abundant provision, harmony, safety, security summed up in the Hebrew word ‘shalom’.

‘in perfect peace’ – the Hebrew doesn’t say perfect peace. It says ‘shalom shalom’ or peace peace. This is a concept of peace upon peace. It is illustrated by the waves of the Mediterranean Sea that lap up onto the coast of Israel. It signifies an unending peace like the waves at the shore.

A wave will move up on the sand and crash, spilling out it’s water, stretching up the beach. It begins to recede back to the waters’ edge, but before it reaches the low point, another wave overtakes it and brings it back up onto the beach, covering the sand afresh with the spreading water; one after another, wave upon wave, endlessly.

Your perfect peace is like that. When I turn away from being consumed with whatever problem I have, and focus on You, You bring a wave of calmness, wholeness, healing to me. It covers the situation and creates in me that sense of security. And just when it seems that I may be losing it, exposing my fears again, You send another wave of Your ‘shalom’ over me, to cover me anew. This continuing ‘re-covering’ is the perfect peace You promise.

Father, thank You for Your wonderful provision. It doesn’t mean the problem goes away. But it does mean that You are with me, and that the problem doesn’t get the better of me. And because my mind is focused on You, I can see more from Your perspective; things, solutions I wouldn’t have thought of. “I will trust in You forever, for You, The Lord, are the Rock eternal.” Amen

Isaiah 26:3-4

Sept 16 God’s plan for all of us is the best plan for each of us

time-1739630_640Father, what an amazing plan You set out before Abraham so long ago. He believed You even at a time when there was no evidence to show Your plan was working. You have truly kept Your promise to him in blessing the whole world through him and his offspring. For through his descendants came salvation on the cross. And we who believe are all the seed of Abraham, and the children of promise.

Father, I belong to You as much as Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim and Judah. And just as Your promises to Abraham were true, so are Your promises to me. You will “aid me against the enemy”.   With You I will “gain the victory and You will trample down my enemies.”

Lord, You kept Your word across hundreds, thousands of years. But just like Abraham had to wait till Your timing was right, help me wait on Your perfect timing in my life as well.

I desire to see all my enemies thwarted and in defeat immediately. I would rather see my children and loved ones freed from the lies and deceit of the evil one right now. I long to see their lives and mine free from the influences of the world and the flesh, living in total victory over all that is not godly.   But I also know that You know better than I what is best for all of us. Help me rest, content in Your time table, ready to rejoice at each and every victory.

Father, fulfill Your plan for my sons.  Make my sons’ hearts of wise. Do not let them be misled by the ‘wisdom of the world’ or the philosophies of men, or the frailties of the flesh. But let them see through the falseness that masquerades as truth in the world today. Then my heart will be glad, and I “will rejoice when their lips speak what is right”.

I know that You, who have kept Your plan in place since the creation of the world, are faithful and able to accomplish all You have promised. Thank You. Amen

Galatians 3:6-9; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 23:15-16

Sept 15 Blessings: Old and New

Father, I thank You that You sent evangelists out both to the Jews and to the Gentiles of the time. Although the backgrounds of the two were different, and still are today, You offer salvation to both. One is not better than the other, as all Believers are equal in Christ Jesus.

Father, would You help present day Jews to see the truth of the salvation You offer, apart from their culture. Help them come to a saving knowledge of who You are, and bring them into a personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ.

And would You also show non-Jewish Believers the value and blessing to be had in the Tanakh: our Old Testament. For although the Law You gave Moses is not the basis of salvation, that it is by grace through faith in You, there is blessing for everyone in that Law, for instance in observing the Sabbath, and honoring our parents.

In fact, Father, what are known as the Ten Commandments, plus other Jewish writings contains things that were spoken by You to be ‘Divine empowerments’ that would release me from bondage to sin and bring me blessing. Too often the groups look at each other with misunderstanding and throw out even the good that would bless them. Father, teach me to embrace Your whole truth, and live according to it.

You are my God – who delivers me, who protects me, who arises to help me against whatever enemies come against me. “You are my Strength… my fortress, my loving God.” Old Testament and New are filled with pictures of You, of Your strength, Your character. Let me revel in the whole entirety of my Savior. I sing Your praises! Amen

Galatians 2:1-16; Psalm 59:1-17

Sept 14 All will know You!

Father, You are right in Your assessments and just in Your judgments. You gave Isaiah a judgment that would fall upon the people of Moab and Damascus. It’s a horrible picture of death and devastation. Moab was spoken of with “her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence…” And Damascus had “forgotten God your Savior, you have not remembered the Rock your fortress.” Both were lands of great idolatry.

Lord, do not let me be prideful or conceited. Do not let me think more of myself than I ought to, or forget that all I have comes from You. Father, I am humbled again, at Your righteousness. You always punish the wicked.  And yet You leave a remnant who turn back to You. “In that day [of judgment] men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands…” Although they had lived their lives worshipping other gods, when judgment came, they knew exactly who the real God was.

frame-1482474_640I fear I live in a country of people who also deny You and worships other gods. Perhaps not in a religious way, but who live their lives by seeking fame and fortune, doing only what feels good or gains them the most material possessions. However, I believe that when judgment falls, they will remember that they knew all along, who You really are. Father, bring revival before it is too late. Amen

Isaiah 15:1—18:7

Sept 13 Even in trials

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Father, whenever I experience trouble let me be like David is here. He is being hunted for his life, yet his words vacillate between his trouble, his faith in You, and praise for You. He has not forgotten the trial, but his focus is more on You than it.

Lord, there are times when I too cry out for Your mercy and “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed”. There, I know I am safe from any and every trouble that befalls me. You cover me from any danger with Your wings that offer complete and absolute protection. I know I can trust in Your limitless strength and care.

Father, You already know the difficulties I face right now. You see everything. No one is out to kill me as was David’s case. But I face problems just living with people because we are all so imperfect and hard to get along with. I face trials that come with change. Even when it is a good thing, it can be difficult to cope with change.

I have internal struggles: feelings that war within me against what I know is right and just. And I deal with unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes. Some struggles are more upsetting because they are far beyond my ability to affect, like what’s happening in my nation or the world.

But all these things are in Your hands. None of them are beyond your help and influence. No matter the enemy, no matter the plot they have set against me, ”my heart is steadfast” in You. So like David, I can pray. “I will sing and make music” and praise You. I praise You that there is no other power above You. I praise You for being Sovereign in all things. I praise You that nothing can thwart the plans You have made for me or anyone else.

Father, You are the Lord Most High. There is nothing that can outdo, out power or outlast You. There is no one as faithful as You. So I choose to put my focus on You. I praise and thank You with every breath I take. I choose to breathe in Your peace, Your comfort, Your wisdom, Your love. And I breathe out praises and thanks to the One: Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Glory, Highly Exalted, my God and my King. Amen

Psalm 57:1-11

Sept 12 A Tool for God’s Purpose

Father, when You sent Your judgment against Israel, You used the political and military and powers of the day. Not knowing You, they believed it was by their own strength and power that they conquered. But it is clear that they were merely a tool in Your hand. The power is not in the tool, but in the one who wields it.

wood-working-2385634_640Father, I pray that I would be a tool in Your hand for godly purposes. Use me to accomplish Your will. You are truly the potter and I am the clay. Send me where Your would, as Your handiwork, to achieve Your plan. And never let me forget that Yours is the strength and the wisdom by which anything is accomplished.

Father, some are called to far away places to be tools for You in spreading Your Word and Your love. And surely there are obstacles for them to overcome and challenges to conquer. But sometimes I feel the hardest place to be Your representative is here at home, with the people I love.

I know You have a wonderful plan and purpose for their lives too. So until you call me away to somewhere else, help me realize the potential here, and be willing to be a tool in Your hands in the lives of those people You have brought closest to me.   Help me live every day showing Your grace and mercy and compassion to them. When asked, help me give wise and godly advice, not just my own preferences. Let my words be instructive and gentle, and line up with Your truth, spoken in love for the benefit of the hearer.

Help me hold my tongue when I need to, when the words would not be godly wisdom, but come from some other motivation. Help me spread peace in their lives when it would be so much easier to spread my own brand of how things should be. Help me let go of my own expectations of them, freeing them up to know the fulfillment of Your plans and purposes. Help me be patient with Your timeline for their development and maturity. And help me be consistent to pray for them to be empowered and guided by the influence of Your Word in their lives, and what You speak to them and through the godly mentors and circumstances You allow into their lives.

Let me draw strength from You. Let me be guided by You. And let me rest in Your strong and skillful hands. Amen

Isaiah 10:1-19

Sept 11 Seek God’s wisdom and blessing

O Father, help me. Strengthen me in my spirit so I will not make the same mistakes Your people in Israel made so long ago.

First they “rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah”. These were the softly running streams of Northern Israel that brought water to provide abundant harvests of grain, but represented the provision You afforded them as a blessing.   Yet the people were not satisfied with what You supplied. They sought other gods. So You brought against them “mighty floodwaters of the River – the king of Assyria with all his pomp…to overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep onto Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.”

flood-664712_640The Assyrian Empire was centered on the Tigris and Euphrates, two of the largest and mightiest rivers. The Assyrians would spill over into Israel and flood up to their necks. Not the kind of water that was useful for life, but a devastating, destructive flood.

Father, help me to be satisfied with what You have given me, what You have blessed me with. Do not let me look to others, or compare myself to them, desiring what they have. But let me rest in Your abundant provision, content in Your care, trusting that You know, and will provide, whatever is best for me.

Next, Your people ignored the signs and prophecies You gave them, and instead, sought the wisdom and guidance of mediums and spiritualists.   In my world, there are so many places people can go to discern a direction for their lives. Palm readers, mediums, and spiritualists still exist. Tarot cards and daily horoscopes have become a guide for actions people take in their relationships, their finances, their business and social lives. “…Should not a people inquire of their God?” Lord, I will seek wisdom from You. In Your Word and in prayer, Father, speak to me, direct me. Show me the way to go when I have decisions to make. Do not let me be drawn to the darkness of the occult.

Also, when judgment began to fall on the people, their response was not humility and repentance. Instead, “they say with pride and arrogance of heart, the bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” In their arrogance, they missed the message You had for them to come back to You, to worship You. Instead they responded only to the destruction, seeing it only as a construction problem; saying they would rebuild with stronger, more resilient materials.

God help us – these are the very same words spoken by American government officials after the destruction of 9-11, September 11th. Rather than heed the warning to return to You, the spiritual problem in this country was seen as a construction issue. With a response to “rebuild” with stronger materials.

Father, if and when You send me a message like this, tenderize my heart to see to the real problem. Do not let me ignore the spiritual issues in my life. Prompt me to respond to those with humility and repentance. If all is right between us, the rest will take care of itself. It is not by might I will endure, but by Your grace, Your mercy, Your love, compassion and provision. And it is the same for my country. Tenderize our leaders’ hearts to see the real problem, to seek You, worship You, and turn to You for guidance. Thank You for these lessons. Help me remember them. Amen

Isaiah 8:1-9:21

Sept 10 Give me understanding

Father, what a vision You gave Isaiah! It is as if he were privileged to peek into the actual Throne Room in Heaven itself! His eyes were opened and he saw and described amazing things that are like nothing ever seen on earth. And once again, when confronted with glimpses of Your glory, the human response is the recognition of our unworthiness. In the presence of such greatness and holiness, human frailty pales in comparison.

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You gave Isaiah a message for Your people. You directed him to say to King Ahaz in the face of military invasion: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”. It was true then, and it is true today.

A paraphrase I heard growing up was ‘If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.’

Because I believe You are God, Creator of the universe and the only Savior for all who You created, I can stand. My faith is the firm base I need to plant my feet on. You are a firm and solid rock.

Sometimes it helps to have scripture verses that remind me of these truths. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 Sometimes, it helps to remember statements of truth that are based on scripture. ‘God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do.’ Or to proclaim in song, ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” These are some ways I find reassurance when I feel afraid or doubtful.

Father, I do not want to be “ever hearing but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving”, with my “heart calloused”, my “ears dull”, and my “eyes closed”. I want to “see with my eyes, hear with my ears and understand with my heart…and be healed”.

When You open my eyes and ears, I have understanding. And I can stand. Father, help me stand even in the face of the invasion of the enemy. Help me remember Your truths. Help me recall Your faithfulness to me in the past. These things build my faith even stronger. And give me a firm place to stand. Amen

Isaiah 6:1-10

Sept 9 Recognize Truth

O Father. I pray that I will not be “deceived by the serpent’s cunning as Eve was”, and that my “mind would not be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ.”

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The serpent used deception to lure Eve into sin. He approached her boldly, the better to distract her. He called into question what You had really said, the better to confuse her. He cunningly suggested that what You wanted for her was not enough; was even bad for her, the better to entrap her.

Father, help me avoid falling into whatever traps the evil one sets for me. Let me see through them; beyond the lure of the sound of his words, to the hook buried beneath. The answer to this ‘serpent speak’ is ‘God speak’. I need to be listening, really paying attention to all that You are saying to me. In Hebrew, the word is sh’ma. It means to listen so closely, so deeply, so diligently, that the words change the listener from the inside out. The meaning also incorporates a response to those words as being similar to that of a mother who recognizes her baby’s cry and drops everything to respond immediately to it. Father, let me sh’ma You, listen deeply and respond to You.

For my mind to be guarded enough so that I am “not led away”, I need to take some action myself. You give me, and every believer, armor: protection against the enemy. One item is the Helmet of Salvation. I believe that this helmet bears Your insignia so that all who see it will know I fight on Your side. And it protects not only my head, but my mind inside: my thoughts. In doing so, many lies the evil one would have me believe simply bounce off and never even enter my mind.

However, some lies are disguised, or they have a little bit of truth in them, and I listen to them.   But it is a twisted bit of truth, or a half truth. So before I accept it, I need to “take every thought captive to God”. This means I need to examine it and hold it up to Your truth. When I don’t, problems begin. Even the little things I accept that are not true can pull me away from a “pure and sincere devotion to Christ”. And I may not even realize it until I have strayed significantly off course.

So Father, help me remember to examine any thoughts and compare them to what You have told me. I will use Your Word as a plumb line.   That string with a metal weight at the end is pulled by gravity so that the resulting line is absolutely straight. Anything can be measured against this line to determine if it is ‘true’, or not.

Your Word is truth. Your Word is the absolute. Thank You for Your Word.   Thank You for the Helmet of Salvation. Thank You that when I sh’ma You, I will not be deceived by the serpent or led astray, away from You. Amen

II Corinthians 11:1-4

Sept 8 Consequences

What a loving Father You are. You instruct gently, and spell out exactly, what the truth is. You teach Your children how to do what will bring them the greatest reward. You remind them: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land”. You spell out the rewards and the consequences over and over again. When they become disobedient, You send others, prophets, to remind them and warn them off the destructive path and back onto the path of blessing

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Even when they are immersed in their sin and being obstinate, You offer them forgiveness and a way back into Your grace and favor.   “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Scarlet and crimson are bright and deep shades of red. Trying to get a red wine stain or a bloodstain out of something is difficult. And my sin stains me like that. But You tell me You can cleanse me as white as snow: sparkling, pure, glistening, frosty snow. You can remove my sin and its stain to make me as white as the softest, purest lamb’s wool!

“But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” That is the consequence of disobedience. Who would choose that? Who would give up the blessing of Your provision and favor, in order to be devoured by death? And yet, the Israelites did just that, continuing in idolatry. They turned away from You. In pursuit of other gods, they continued to make meaningless offerings to You as one of the many ‘little g gods’ they worshipped. Meaningless because their hearts did not belong to You any longer.

And You brought judgment. Because of Your righteous character, You had to uphold justice and be true to Your Word.   They did not understand until it was too late.

Father, I believe my country has been blessed and protected by You because we trusted in You. But now, we have turned away as a nation, ‘resisting and rebelling’. We no longer honor or even acknowledge You.   You have sent a warning and people who have tried to call America back. But we have not returned. We have chosen the path away from You. And You will bring judgment.

Before it is too late, Father, I pray my nation will turn to You. Bring us leaders with godly values. Open our eyes to our sin and give us repentant hearts. “Come, [America], let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Amen

Isaiah 1:1-2:22

Sept 7 Recognition -> Repentance

prayer-1308663_640 (1)Father, just as in many prayers, a sense of needing to repent of personal sin follows a recognition of Your amazing presence; today’s Psalm of asking for forgiveness follows yesterday’s Psalm of Your glorious appearance.   It’s no wonder that when I focus on You and Your righteous character, I feel completely inadequate and unworthy.

But praise be to the Lord of Hosts that I have forgiveness in Your unfailing love! “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”   Father, I turn from my sin and confess to You, agreeing with You that it is sin. Cleanse me from it Father, blot it out according to Your mercy. And show me Lord, when I start to go my own way instead of doing what You have shown me is right. Even now, bring to mind anything I must confess and turn from in any area of my life.

Father, I bring my thoughts before You: angry, selfish, envious, lustful, greedy, prideful, and any others that would lead me away from You. I offer You my attitudes: critical, judgmental, argumentative, materialistic, lukewarm towards You. I desire to align my speech with what will honor You, and ask forgiveness for words spoken that are crude, hurtful, hateful, grumbling, complaining, divisive, misleading, or lies.

pray-2558490_640Lord, in my relationships, forgive when I have been disrespectful, manipulative, unforgiving, dishonest, improper physically or emotionally. I give You my relationships and ask that You would remove any that are ungodly. Close the door on those that do not encourage godliness in me.

Father, forgive me for setting other things in priority over spending time with You, for not following through on all You have shown me to do, for continuing to do anything You have told me not to do.   Forgive me for allowing ungodly influences into my life by the things I watch or read or eat or drink or do that are not healthy for me, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Lord God, “cleanse me… and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”.   On behalf of Your unending love and Your great compassion. Amen

Psalm 51:1-10

Sept 6 A Day of Rejoicing!

PrayerPraiseMorningO Father, Your Word paints a glorious picture of You returning to judge Your people! I can see it in my mind’s eye as a massive, wall-sized painting with rays of light gleaming from Your figure, and shadows playing in the storm clouds around You with strikes of lightening flashing out. Just like a painting the old masters would have painted – like Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Or maybe as a majestic motion picture, with powerful, turbulent action between the fire and the storm like Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments.

When I speak Your Words, the action begins as You appear in slow motion: “The Mighty One… God… The Lord… You speak and summon the earth…You are perfect in beauty, You shine forth…A fire devours before You and around You a tempest rages…the heavens proclaim Your Righteousness.” The most beautiful, powerful being imaginable appears in the sky, advancing slowly. Flames precede You, lashing out with almost blinding light and incredible heat. And around You, clouds, dark and terrible, build; billowing and blowing, roiling up and out, far and wide, with flashes of lightening shocking the sky. And from the darkness of the storm, rays of light shine forth out of Your very being. Your voice thunders through the heavens and rumbles down to the earth causing trembling in the rocks and ground.   And in the background, the booming voices of ten thousand angels sing out, glorifying You!

“The heavens proclaim His righteousness” and I fall on my knees in reverence of You to join in the praise to honor You. What a day of rejoicing that will be! To be in Your presence. To see You in Your glory. What a powerful vision! To You, I offer all praise, all honor, all thanks. Amen

Psalm 50:1-7

Sept 5 Fear God and keep His commandments

hand-1245939_640Father, there are so many things Solomon saw and experienced and wrote about: wise men and fools, hard work and laziness, feasting and mourning, rich and poor, old age and youth, life and death. He ends with this: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of this matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

My whole purpose is to honor and revere You! To acknowledge who You are, and respect You for it. To do what You show me to do. And not do what You caution or command me not to do.   It is not to amass wealth. It is not to leave a legacy of institutions or businesses. It is not to make scientific discoveries. It is not even to compose a masterpiece, write an inspiring book or create a memorable work of art.

The Psalmist adds his wisdom to the collection as he reminds me ‘you can’t take it with you’. Riches cannot add time to the length of my days. And none of these things can come with me past my life here on earth.

But You, Father, will be with me for eternity. It is You who will “redeem my life from the grave, and take me to be with Yourself”. You “will bring every deed into judgment…”. And Solomon says he has written down “sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to Him who sent you.” Meaning that if I abide by his counsel, knowledge, teachings and words, I will be able to give a godly account of my life here on earth.

So Father, teach me to apply this wisdom. Show me how to make decisions about my life that keep me focused on the right things and set godly priorities. Do not let me chase after meaningless things: riches to boast in, prideful reputation, positions to exalt myself.   Help me remember that You are my future. And whatever blessings You bring into my life, are to be used to honor You. Let me have a true understanding of the wisdom that comes from You. Amen

Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14; Psalm 49:1-20; Proverbs 22:20-21

Sept 4 Apply my heart to what You teach

WisdomFather, I do desire to have Your wisdom. So I will heed the words Solomon wrote.

“A good name is better than fine perfume.” I want my name to stand for loyalty, honor, noble character and honesty. So help me act in a way that when people hear my name, they will think well of me. And they will know that You are my God and that I am Your servant.

“Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city.” Wisdom is greater than power. So when a wise person corrects me, let me learn from it. Let me reject pride that would keep me in ignorance. Help me embrace patience. Do not let me be quickly provoked, or waste time yearning for ‘the good old days’. Let me not simply seek the approval of fools. Instead, help me turn and apply wisdom to the present circumstances of my life. Rather than be a fool, I want to recognize and learn from wisdom. Let it shelter me, preserve me, and give me an advantage.

Father, in this wisdom, let me be obedient to the authorities You put over me. Give me a wise heart so I will know the proper way to act at the proper time.

There are many things that only You know and I will never understand or see the reason behind it all. That is as it should be. But regardless, let me always seek the way of Your wisdom. Help me “pay attention and turn my ear to the sayings of the wise; apply my heart to what You teach…so that my trust will be in the Lord”.   For You are “Great and most worthy of praise…You are my God forever and ever; You will be my guide even to the end.” Amen

Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:18; Psalm 48:1-14; Proverbs 22:17-19

Sept 3 What matters most?

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Father, what knowledge Solomon amassed!

He observed and did a great many things and yet categorized them as

“meaningless”.

He did recognize some things as having value.  “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”  And “two will keep warm…and defend themselves.”  So Father, send another to help me up when I fall.  And help me keep warm, and defend myself.  It may be a friend or family member, or even a stranger You send at the right time.  And let me be there for someone else in their time of need.

“It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.  Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.”   So Father, let my ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ mean ‘no’, not making promises I cannot or will not keep.  Help me avoid being “quick with my mouth or hasty with my heart”, but consider my thoughts, feelings, words and commitments carefully.

When I think about Solomon I wonder, if he ever held his newborn and marveled at the miracle of life?  Did he watch and help that child grow and learn?  Did he pass on his knowledge and love of You to that child and see him come to love and worship You too?  Did he promise his life to one person and live faithfully in that covenant; having their support and love for a lifetime?  Did he examine each animal and plant, but forget to marvel at the diversity and imagination and power of You, the Creator?  Did he share his life with a friend who stuck with him through thick and thin, good and bad?  And console that friend and receive comfort from them?  Did he hold the hand of a dying loved one and tell them they are loved, all is forgiven, and “I will see you in heaven”?

To me, these are the things that are most meaning-FULL.  The relationships, the connections with people that You allow into my life – that’s where the meaning lies.  I agree that amassing wealth, building buildings and writing volumes of knowledge will all pass away.  But loving You and sharing Your love with others – these things are eternal.

Father, remind me not to chase after the wind, but to chase only after You.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12

Sept 2 A Time for everything

wood-bench-986347_640“Be still and know I am God”.  What a great reminder! When I come to You, Father, I know that sometimes it’s on the run, and I just quickly dash off a prayer of need, or thanks, or praise to You. But it’s in those times when I really prioritize spending time with You that I can calm myself: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – and truly sink into Your presence, that I am rewarded with a fresh realization and a deeper understanding of who You really are.

Lord, right now, I still my physical body, and ask You to quiet my mind, calm my emotions, open my spirit to hear only Your voice; and be sensitive to only Your presence. It takes a moment or two, and some deep breaths and reciting this verse to myself. “Be still and know I am God”.

As worrisome thoughts enter my head, I give them to You. One at a time, You take them and ease them away from me. You can handle whatever it is, because You are God. I know this. Not just ‘I-read-it-in-a-book’ know it. But ‘I-fully-understand-and-completely-trust’ know it. You are God and there is no other. You are God and there is no other.

If I have trusted in any other gods, Lord, I renounce them: youth, appearance, energy, vitality, children, financial security, what I can do for others. There is a long the list of things that I sometimes gain my identity from. But I lay each of them down. My identity, who I really am, comes only from You. Forgive me for trusting in anything else.

I seek Your direction Lord, for the rhythm and timing of my life. Solomon wrote it all out Lord. You have created “a time for everything under heaven”. “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” It goes on. And I realize Father that I need to, I want to seek Your will for the rhythm and timing of my life. Father, help me know when to “keep” and when to “throw away”. I am already sensing I am moving into a time of not keeping so many things. Help me know when to “speak” and when to “be silent”, when to “search” and when to “give up”, when to “embrace” and when to “refrain from embracing”.

As I read each pairing I can feel You speaking to me. You lead me to a place in my spirit where either one or the other makes sense in different areas of my life. Thank You Lord. Thank You for always being there when I show up to just “be still, and know that You are God.” Amen

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Psalm 46:10

 

Sept 1 Unworthy but loved and blessed

Finally Father, I am to the end of the book of Job where You literally spoke to him. And when he actually beheld You, after all his suffering, and all his questioning, all he could say was “I am unworthy…”

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It is an emotional response from a man at the end of himself, beholding Your immensity and magnificence. But it is also a statement of fact, that is true for me and every one of Your creations. I am unworthy. Unworthy of Your attention, of Your blessing, of Your love. And yet all that I enjoy in my life and in my relationship with You has nothing to do with my worthiness, or my ability to somehow earn anything from You. I am blessed and loved and cared for, because of who You are. Your love transcends my unworthiness. Your faithfulness trumps my undeserving state.

Job follows Your statements of greatness with, “I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted.” And I echo those words, Father.

I know that You can do ALL things. I have no doubt that You can heal all my infirmities. You can take unhealthy tissue and make it whole again. You can heal my relationships and make them god-honoring. You can guide my children into Your wisdom and give them a hunger and thirst for You.   You can bless them with godly mentors and success in all they put their hand to.   You can return the prodigal son to right relationship with You.

Father, I believe that there is nothing in this world, or above it, or below it, that can thwart Your plans. I trust that the plans You have for me and all my family are plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future. I know that You are faithful to complete the good work You began in each of us. Even if we have chosen to leave the path You have laid out for each of us, I trust that You will call us back. You know best how to reach each of us. Father, open our ears to hear You, and open our hearts and spirits to desire to obey You.  Strengthen our spirits when our flesh is weak.

I praise You Father, that this power resides in You.   And that in Your love and grace, “You made [Job] prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…You blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.” Thank You for this example of Your goodness and Your blessing.   Thank You for this story of his faithfulness to You. I pray that I too, at the end of my life, no matter what comes, I will be able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord”. Amen

Job 40:1-42:17

Aug 31 Fix my eyes on the eternal

boy-2208512_640O Father, what amazing pictures are created with Your very words. I can imagine “storehouses of snow”: sparkling, frosty, frozen piles so high they are mountains in themselves! And I can picture You “laying the earth’s foundations”, “marking off its dimensions”, “shutting up the seas behind doors”, “fixing the limits of [the seas] and setting its doors and bars in place”.   The mighty waters obeying Your commands, stopping where You say to stop. Remaining only where You have given them permission to be.

Only You can bind and loose the stars as You “bring the constellations forth in their seasons”. And I can see it as You “tip over the water jars of heaven” to bring such needed moisture to the earth. You know “when each mountain goat gives birth”, and see each “doe bear her fawn”.   Only You could give the ostrich her great speed, and the horse its strength with “flowing mane”.   From Your mighty words I am reminded of Your astounding strength, creativity, power and inventiveness. And over it all, You alone have authority!

It reminds me how much I want to be with You. Not here on earth, but enjoying the fullness of Your presence in heaven. With Paul, I “groan, longing to be clothed with my heavenly dwelling…”  Also with Paul, I “live by faith and not by sight… and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” What a wonderful day that will be!

And yet, my time on earth is not done. And although there are difficulties here I would rather skip over to just be with You, You have given me assurance that my “light and momentary troubles are achieving for me an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”.   So I “will not lose heart”! I will “be renewed day by day” by Your Word, and upheld by Your promises.

Father, help me “fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” So I will live, physically, in this world, but have my heart and my attention focused on the world that is to come. Father, show me how to do that. Do not let me be overwhelmed or discouraged by what is temporary. Renew me day by day as I come to You in prayer. Help me enjoy Your amazing Creation through the eyes of the Creator.   And I will not lose heart. Amen

Job 37:1-39:30; II Corinthians 4:13-5: 10

Aug 30 God will make a way

Father, Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”.

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And it seems true for me and most other believers as well. Just because my life belongs to You doesn’t mean it will be all sunshine and lollipops. Because I live in a fallen world, and because there is an evil one, and even because I am flesh, there are opportunities for and occurrences of hardship. Some caused by my own mistakes and sin. And although I face consequences, temptations and trials, You have assured me You are always with me, and You will make a way for me.

It reminds me of a piece of framed art I saw once with the words of a poem by an unknown author. The beauty and the security of the promise in the poem struck me.

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through.
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Father, when I am hard-pressed, make me stronger. When perplexed, light my way with Your truth. When I am persecuted or struck down, raise me up in Your strength. Let all these things in my life bring You glory.

Thank You for Your grace and help. Thank You that You never leave me. That You will always love me. And that I will always be Yours. Amen

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 29 The Veil is torn!

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”!   What joyful words! Father, there was a curtain, a veil in front of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and in the Temple. It separated the people from Your personal presence.   Only the High Priest went inside the veil, and only once a year, to make atonement for all Your people.

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But when You died on the cross in Jerusalem, the actual veil in the Temple there was literally torn. It was ripped in half from top to bottom, forever giving access, through the cross, to the Holy of Holies.

To Your presence.

Picture from Good News Productions Intl & College Press Publishing

Where You are “there is freedom”.   But the world and the evil one seek to take that freedom away. The world would have me walk around veiled by falsehoods and the philosophies of man, that deny Your existence, Your power and Your authority on this earth. They deny You are the Creator, and encourage me to worship false idols, or even myself as ‘god’. The philosophies of man say there is no absolute truth, and that morality is relative to the times and accepted behaviors of whatever society I live in.

Father, help me see clearly, to not ‘drink the kool-aid’ of these false beliefs. Do not let me be veiled by anything that would keep me from You. But let me “with unveiled face, reflect the Lord’s glory, being transformed into His likeness …”. So that others around me also see You through me. Rid me of those things that are not of You: selfishness, greed, pride. Let me produce the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, faithfulness…

“Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain. To the place where You dwell.” Father, let me know Your truth, from Your Word, so well, that I recognize any falsehood. That way I will not be led astray by anything counterfeit. Keep me securely established and living in Your presence. For there is “my joy and my delight”. And I will praise You. Amen

II Corinthians 3:11-18; Psalm 43:3-4

Aug 28 As the deer…

O Father, I would never desire the suffering of Job. But how You blessed him!

deer-2598453_640Job recalls what his life was like before the troubles came. Like Job, I too often feel “Your lamp shining on my head”; giving me the light I need to see. You allow me to “walk through the darkness” by Your light. Many times, in dire circumstances, Yours was the only light I had.  And it helped me find the way to go.

And like Job, I feel “Your intimate friendship blessing my house”. When You are with me, my path is blessed and You provide for all my needs. My children are around me and Your security and peace are here. I know there are calamities You have saved me from, because I see them in people’s lives everywhere. Thank You.

Father, I desire that like Job, when people hear of me, “they would speak well of me and commend me”. Job thought that this light and peace and favor would last throughout his life. But that is not guaranteed.  Father, in my life, remind me to show You my appreciation of all You have done for me. It is only by Your grace and mercy I have been blessed like this. And I pray I would always live in Your presence and enjoy Your blessing.

The Psalmist put it so picturesquely, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.” Without the replenishing energy of water, a body will dehydrate due to physical activity, even just breathing. And just as the body needs water, and cannot go for long without it, my spirit needs You. Like the deer, I thirst for Your presence, Your friendship, Your blessing.   You are the resource I need, that brings life. Not just occasionally, but repeatedly, and often.

The deer pants for “streams of water”. Not stagnant pools, or brackish puddles; but fresh, flowing, living water. Father, You are Living Water. Help my spirit drink deeply of Your Word, Your Truth, Your Wisdom. Do not let me go to other sources that will not refresh, that will not bring life as You do. Drinking from those polluted sources will only make me sick, dull my spirit, and lead me to crave the things of the world and the flesh and the evil one.

Thank You for the refreshing, physically and spiritually life-giving water that You give. I will seek it out, and be refreshed. Amen

Job 29:1-25; Psalm 42:1

Aug 27 Help me help and be helped

help-2444110_640Dear Father, everyone has people in their lives who are weak and need help.

Help me be aware of those You have placed in my life for me to help.

Sometimes there seem to be so many I am overwhelmed and end up doing nothing, or their needs are so great I feel that the little I can do will not make a difference. And there are those who take advantage, pretending to be in need when they are not. I rely on You, Lord, to show me what I can do and where I can help. And even if I only do something small it can make a difference in someone’s life.

Father, when I think of You and Your immense power, I am the weak one. So I ask for Your protection. I cannot deal with things more powerful than me; preserve my life. I can see some traps or obstacles but many are invisible. Yet I can trust You to know when I need Your help, even if I don’t know that I do.   Thank You for being there for me when I can see my need and call on You. And thank You for being there for me when I don’t even know I am in need.

Father, my foes are many. Because I live in a fallen world, there are disease and disaster, man’s inhumanity to man, and the evil one lurks, seeking to destroy Your believers. In all these things, only You can protect. Thank You that You are my strong deliverer who rescues and restores.   Thank You that You will not let my enemies triumph.

Thank You that You are from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!

Psalm 41:1-3, 13

Aug 26 God of all comfort

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  

Father, over and over I have seen this play out. Someone in an ICU will both and then receive, comfort as the circumstances change.  We can experience such pain, and yet You know the comfort we need and You place people right there with us.

It may happen immediately. Or it may be years before I come across someone who is hurting over something I‘ve experienced myself. You remind me of how You helped me through it, and I can help them. Or vice versa. Those past hurts help us reach out and genuinely connect with other people. It’s hard to imagine, but sometimes those places of pain provide a more significant connection than any other experience we have in common.

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”   When it seems there is no place else to turn, and all seems lost, remind me to turn to You – the One who has the real power to help. When others are in dire circumstances help me pray that they will turn to You, Lord. Do not let the hardship and pain be wasted, but use what satan meant for evil, for good. Let it bring them into closer relationship with You.

Thank You that You are the God of all comfort. Amen!

II Corinthians 1:1-11

Aug 25 Last words

O Father, how I agree with the words of Job! “I know that my Redeemer lives! And that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.” Father, I know, without a doubt, that You exist. That You are alive. That You are in control. And that one day all this earth will pass away, but You will still be. And because I am Yours, I will see You! And in so many ways, I truly yearn for that day.

scroll-310783_640But You bring my mind back to the present. And how I must live my days out on earth. Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Corinthians. And much like me saying good-bye to my children, and trying to get every last thought of instruction and encouragement in, he includes a short paragraph that sums up his reminders for faithful living.

“Be on your guard”. Father, help me see everything I need to be aware of. Help me discern Your true wisdom, and reject the wisdom of the world and of the evil one. Open my eyes and my spirit to temptations that would lead me into sin. Do not let me be swept up into or be part of causing division in my church.

“Stand firm in the faith”. Lord, help me read and study Your Word so I understand what my faith is based on. Show me how to apply Your Word to my life today. And do not let me stray from it. Instead, help me live out what I believe. My actions, my attitudes, my words, all need to be in agreement because they show outwardly what I really believe inwardly. Help me enjoy the freedoms of my faith but also be aware and careful not to be a stumbling block to others.

“Be men of courage; be strong”. Father, strengthen me against the laxity of society.   Embolden me to use the spiritual gifts You have placed in me.   Help me to encourage others. When I need to speak out, fill my mouth as I open it. When I need to act, I will draw my strength from You.

“Do everything in love.” Finally, help me to be more loving. In all I do, show me what You would do, how You would do it. Before I speak, let me ask myself if I am speaking in love. Before I act, remind me to ask myself if I am acting in love.   So many emotions and motivations influence and drive me, Father.   Help me seek love as my primary motivating factor.

Help me live out my days in a way that honors You. And when You take me home, I will rejoice! Amen

Job 19:25-27; I Corinthians 16:13-14

Aug 24 Raised Indestructible!

“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow he does not endure.”

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath.”

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Photo (c) First Baptist Church Duluth

Lord, today is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Two years ago I returned from an uncle’s funeral with my own mother’s passing still fresh in my memory. A church member we prayed for through six surgeries passed away. And a dear friend and mentor who battled cancer three times is now with You as well.

All around me is the evidence of how fragile life is. How fleeting it seems. How quickly it passes. I say all the time that the days sometimes drag on, but the years fly by.   Father, You know I thought the days of changing diapers and wiping faces would never end. Now in their twenties and thirties, I wonder how my children got to be so grown; how I got to be so old.

“But now Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.”  

I have a confidence You are in control. And because of Your power and authority and sovereignty, no one, not any power or circumstance, can take away even a single minute of life that has been ordained by You. “Man’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set the limits he cannot exceed.”

Father, I know there are many things I cannot grasp while here on earth. But I love the picture You give of how I will be raised. When I plant a seed in the ground, it does not look like what will come up. A tomato seed does not look like a tomato or the plant it grows on. Neither does a pumpkin seed, or a carrot seed, or an apple seed, or a peach pit. So my earthly body is like the seed. And my heavenly body is like the plant that springs from it.

My earthly body is fragile, but I will be raised with You indestructible!   I live in weakness and with embarrassment, but I will return with You in power and with glory!

Because I look to You for my eternal future, there is no fear, because Yours is the victory! “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”   Thanks be to You! You have given me victory through my Lord Jesus Christ!” Amen

Job 14:1-5; I Corinthians 15:29-58; Psalm 39:1-7

Aug 23 There is one like You

“Your wisdom is profound, Your power is vast. You move mountains …You shake the earth from its place…You speak to the sun and it does not shine, You seal off the light of the stars. You alone stretch out the heavens and tread on the waves of the sea. You are the maker of the Bear and Orion (northern constellations), the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. You perform wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”  

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Photo: NASA website M42 Wisps of the Orion Nebula (C) Jon Christensen

Father, these words of Job’s remind me of the immenseness of Your power. The vastness of who You are. The enormity of Your creation. It reminds me of how limited man is in his ability to comprehend all You are, all You have created and all You have done.

I look up at the stars, and I see tiny lights in the sky. On a clear night, I can see a lot of them. But ambient light from the city screens much of what is truly there. When I was in Egypt, our bus was traveling at night on a lonely dark highway. We stopped in the middle of the Sinai and walked a ways into the desert to look up. You surely heard the gasps when we all saw the magnificent display of stars as we had never seen them before!   We were drenched in darkness, but looking up at the sky saw thousands of tiny lights we had never been able to perceive, brilliantly sparkling from horizon to horizon. What an amazing display of Your grandeur!

I took a group of friends to a nearby observatory.   It housed a refracting telescope with a 20 inch diameter lens. The lens is seated in a 26 foot long tube, mounted on a 20 foot tall stand and pointed at the sky. We each took our turn climbing up to the viewing end of the telescope that was pointed at the Orion Nebula (the star at the tip of the sword held on Orion’s belt). What I had seen with my eye to be a fuzzy point of light, exploded with brilliant light and clusters of stars in differing stages of birth and aging! Bright and discernible stars filled my view!

What I had seen as one pinpoint in a haze was actually a nursery where new stars were being born! Within the cloud I could see several distinct, individual stars and cloud clusters. How amazing! All this, and more, You stretched out with Your hand.

The very limits of human perception cannot even begin to see, much less understand, Your immensity. Your imagination and creativity are magnificent and immeasurable. There is none like You. Amen

Job 9:1-22

Aug 22 Help me stand strong

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O Lord, I have never experienced the misery and suffering of Job, but his pain and the depth of his despair are clear to me.   So it seems to me that what his friend is saying is terribly insensitive.  It sounds as if he is trying to encourage Job to trust in his own righteousness.  The belief then was that trouble came from sin, so Job should confess his sin to You.  The presumption is that Job brought this upon himself, and there is an easy fix.  That is not the truth.

What I do like about what this friend is saying is that they all have faith in You, Lord and in Your power.   And that Job should “appeal to You and lay his cause before You.”  For no matter what the problem, You are the solution.  You always have the power and authority to act.  The friend spells out Your power in a way that encourages me.  “You perform wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

I get to see some of those wonders and miracles every day when I see the strength of majestic mountains or the wide open sky, or the beauty of a sunset, the flight of birds, the colors of a rainbow, the faces of my loved ones.  Or when I see and feel and smell the deep velvety red richness of my roses.  Or when I feel the coolness of the air and smell the freshness after a rain.  Or when I play or hear music that reaches a place in my spirit that fills me with elation.

I too, believe in and trust in Your power, Your ability to do wonders and perform miracles.

One thing Job asks is that “I would not deny the words of the Holy One”.  Job says that even in unrelenting pain, he would have joy, if he could still stand strong in his faith and not deny You.  I would echo that prayer Father.  I ask that, whatever comes into my life, that You would take me before I shame or dishonor You.  Strengthen me to endure whatever You allow.  You know me best.  And if something that You know is stronger than I have it in me to bear, just take me to be with You.

Thank You Father.  Amen

Job 4:1-7:21

Aug 21 Blessed be Your name

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Father, I have often wondered why You singled out Job and allowed so much suffering to come into one life. How tragic, and yet how strong his faith in You, that it stood up to all satan threw at him. He did not curse You, but said those famous words:

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; may the name of the lord be praised.”

I would not want Job’s misfortunes. When much less has happened to me, I have heard my own thoughts turn to thinking it would have been better had I never been born. Easier, certainly. But what a testimony that he could still praise You in the face of all the tragedy and suffering! It makes me wonder, have I made ‘comfort’ and ‘ease’ idols?

Father, my life is so blessed. With so much. And I take so much of it for granted. Help me be more thankful to You for all You have given me. Help me have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ in my daily life. Remind me to express my thanks to others, and my praise to You. Gratitude and thankfulness are signs of my faith. In this I do want to be more like Job.

There is a praise song by Matt Redman that expresses just this thought:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Father, let that describe me. Amen

Job 1:1-3:26

Aug 20 Love

love-699480_640Father, help me be more loving. I am so convicted today of falling short in this area. Help me love my family the way You would love them. It seems they are the people I count on most for support, yet they are the ones that test me the most and I often end up acting the least loving towards.

Help me to be patient with them, remembering how very patient You are with me. If I become angry, let me bring that to You and not take it out on them. Help me deal with the anger and frustration I feel prayerfully first. Then, let me go to them if there are issues, and speak the truth in love.

Help me let go of past hurts so I don’t’ “keep a record of wrongs” and try and even the score, or somehow treat them as though they owe me something.   You are very clear that if I do not have love, everything else I do is insignificant.

Help me love my friends more. It is somehow easier to be patient with my friends. But I find myself having to deal with attitudes and emotions like envy and pride. It’s so hard not to compare myself. And feelings of envy or jealousy definitely get in the way of relationships.   They color communication and hinder closeness.

Father, You are every one of these characteristics of love, perfected. And I need Your help. I don’t want to be a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. All the other things I have done for family and friends may fall away and be forgotten. But what they will remember is whether I loved them.

Lord, what I can see now is that envy, impatience, boasting, all the things that love is not, are childish. Help me “put childish ways behind me”. I have grown up physically and mentally. Help me to grow up spiritually. Help me treat the people You place in my life, first and foremost, with love.   Amen

I Corinthians 13:1-13

 

 

Aug 19 Like Esther

such a time as thisFather, here is one of the great faith statements. Mordecai has no doubt that You will save him and his people. He sends this message to Esther “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your family will perish.”   His faith is strong. He is sure that You will save Your people. The only question is how.

Father, strengthen my faith, so that even in the darkest time, there is no doubt in my mind or heart that You will deliver me. The problems I deal with seem so small compared to the circumstances here. No one has ever marked me and my family or church for death. But I know that even the difficulties I face in my life are a concern of Yours as well. Thank You that there is no problem too big for You to handle. And thank You that there is also no problem too small for You to help me with. Thank You that like Mordecai and Esther, You answer my prayers as well.

Here is also one of the great challenges in scripture. Mordecai includes in his message: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”   It is so evident that He believes You orchestrated the events in this time and of Esther becoming queen. The question is, will she rise to be the instrument of deliverance You placed her there to be?

She did. But Lord, will I? Is there something You have orchestrated in my life that I need to respond to, because You have placed me where I am “for such a time as this”? Father, open my eyes to see if there is something You are preparing me for, calling me to. And give me the courage to act. It may not be as big or as risky as Esther’s call. It may only be something small: inviting someone to church, praying with a friend or stranger, reaching out to someone who has no one. Help me see Lord, where You could use me, how You can use me. Like Esther, let me go forward in Your power.

And live in the strength of faith.   Amen

Esther 4:1- 7:10

Aug 18 At work behind the scenes

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Dear Heavenly Father, how unusual that Your name doesn’t even appear in the book of Esther! However there is no doubt that all the events were orchestrated by You. You must have known the evil in the heart of Haman who sought to destroy all Your people throughout the empire. These were Your people who You had taken into captivity for punishment of their idolatry and sinfulness. But still, there was mercy in Your action, and You protected them.

Only You could have influenced Queen Vashti to disobey the King, costing her the crown and making way for Esther, a Jew, to move into her place. Only You could have made the servants and people around Esther so impressed with her and kind to her. It must have been You who guided Esther to accept the advice of the eunuch in charge of the harem as she went to be presented to the King. And You held the heart of this king in Your hand, as he chose her for Queen.

You must have placed Mordecai in the right place at just the right time to hear of the assassination attempt, and timed perfectly his recognition by the king. And You gave Esther the wisdom to hold the two banquets for Haman and the king, answering the three days of prayer and fasting with success.

Father, with all these people, places, plots, and details in Your control, how can I doubt that You know what is going on in my life? How can I think that anything would get by You? There is no way; even if someone plotted to harm or kill me; that it would escape Your notice.   And You would have a plan already in place, to deal with it. Thank You.

So like the psalmist, I agree that You will humiliate and disgrace those who rejoice at my troubles. You will cover with shame and dishonor any who would seek to triumph over me. And I will ever say “Great is the Lord, who delights in blessing His servant with peace.” Thank You for Your blessing in my life every day. Help me see each one as I go through my day: waking, breathing, eating, walking, talking, learning, seeing, working, singing, praising, sharing, loving, resting, sleeping. Thank You for the peace I can rest in because I trust in You. In Your plan. In Your justice. In Your deliverance. Forever. Amen

Esther 1:1-3:15; Psalm 35:17-28

Aug 17 Your Name, Your Word is Power

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Father, most days I don’t feel like I’m in a battle. I don’t see people who “seek my life”, “plot my ruin”, or who are “hiding nets” and “digging pits” for me. Most of the time I live oblivious to the spiritual battles that go on around me.

But I believe there is a spiritual realm. You speak about spiritual powers: rulers, authorities, and spiritual forces of evil, which have an effect on this world and on me. It may be a battle to control the minds and hearts of people; or it may affect actual circumstances. There are times I sense such calmness and peace, serenity, in my spirit. It does not come from my circumstances or the people around me. And there are other times when the atmosphere seems charged with negativity, or an oppressiveness that seems truly evil; spawning confusion, disunity, and fear.

It’s hard to put into words. But in those negative times, the waves of oppression are dispelled by calling on Your name: Lord Jesus Christ. I can speak scripture and am encouraged, strengthened by the power in it, as if I am wielding a sword, cutting through the darkness around me. It may seem the opposition is coming from a person or circumstance. Still, I do not pray against that person or circumstance, but against the power using or controlling them or it.

“Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.” Psalms like this one help me actually visualize what I cannot see in this battle which takes place in the spiritual realm. I can see You, Father, answering my cry, sending help to take up weapons against this enemy power. You pick up Your giant shield, strap on Your belt holding Your sword. You swing Your spear and javelin back and forth to ward off the enemy while advancing to my aid. These picture words help me to ‘see’ the fight that is before me, taking place in a realm I cannot yet see.

“May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away”. There is a process of removing the dry, scaly outer husks of grain after it’s been harvested. For the grain to be usable, this casing must be separated from it. Pounding the harvested grain breaks the hull. Then the sifter tosses the grain up into a light wind and the seed, the heavier, edible grain, falls free from the outer hull. The breeze blows this outer piece, the chaff, aside, so the grain can be collected for food. So now I can imagine these spiritual enemies, these powers that come against me, as the lightweight waste material, being blown away, tossed, whirled away from me, driven with the force of a powerful wind from You and Your angels.

“May their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.” When a path is dark, I usually move more slowly to be safe. And if it is slippery, I go even slower to keep from falling; trying to plant every step. So I can see the evil enemy fumbling, slipping, falling, being hurt and defeated on a dark, slippery path because Your angels are pursuing them, chasing them down.

“May the net they hid entangle them.” I can visualize the enemy placing a net so carefully to trap me, but then getting confused, turned around, falling into it themselves, becoming tangled in the cords and held fast. Or running blindly to escape Your attack and falling into the very pit they have dug to entrap me.

When I picture these scenes as I pray, I join the battle. I feel Your power and the defeat of the enemy. Thank you for the peace You bring with Your victory! “Who is like You”? There is none. I rejoice in You! Amen

Psalm 35:1-16

Aug 16 Your eyes, Your ears, Your heart

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Father, thank You that I have a permanent righteousness that comes from You; so that I can know when You talk about “the righteous” in scripture, I am included.   And Your promises to them are true for me.

“Your eyes are on me.” What a powerful deterrent that is, realizing that You are watching me. It helps me remember that I am accountable to You for my actions. You instruct me to “keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies”. And since I know You are watching me, that thought is enough to sometimes stop me in my tracks, and make me think before I speak or act. If I would think to impress someone or sway them to my argument with an exaggeration or lie, Your Holy Spirit reminds me that You know when I lie. And I would have to live with not only the consequences, but also that conviction and guilt if I proceeded with it.

You tell me to “turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” It is so easy to step into sin, to follow a broad path that others around me are taking without a thought. But knowing “Your eyes are on me” challenges me to think about what I’m doing, regardless of what others are doing. You remind me to be intentional about doing good. When doing good, it is not likely that I will do what is evil. So protection is built in to doing good and seeking peace.

But “Your eyes are on me” is also an awesome reassurance! I know that You see everything! Nothing that happens to me is beyond Your notice.   And You will rescue and defend me when I need help.

Your ears are attentive to my cry.”   You are as close as a whisper. And when I call, “You hear me; You deliver me from all my troubles”.   Does this mean I will never have difficulties? No. But I will always know that You are with me. That You will deliver me and give me Your peace.

“You are close to the brokenhearted.” Oh Father, I have been there. Circumstances in my life that have been the result of illnesses, accidents, injustice, evil – even my own ignorance or pride – they break my heart and bring me to my knees. But in it all, I know that again, You are here. You are with me. You will help me through, no matter what. You will lend me Your strength.

Thank You Father, that I have these assurances of Your attention, of Your presence, of Your power to save me. It is all I need. Amen

Psalm 34:11-22

 

Aug 15 God is in control

“No temptation has seized you that is not common to man. And God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

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Father, this is a verse You have made personal in my life over and over again. What a great assurance that there is nothing I can be tempted with or have to face, that hasn’t been faced before by someone else somewhere.

Your Word tells me “There is nothing new under the sun.”   And although some of the specifics or details change over the generations, the temptation boils down to the same thing, the same weaknesses, the same sin.

In this, You reassure me that You are faithful. It is not a matter of opinion or feeling. It is a fact of Your identity – who You are, how You are. It cannot be changed. Another unchanging truth is that You’re in control. You have the power, the authority, the sovereignty to take charge of any situation, any circumstance. And while I do not always understand why some things happen, why they are allowed into my life; I choose to trust that You know better than me. I trust that You can see all the way into eternity, and know what You are doing.

And in that faithfulness and sovereignty, You set a limit on how far I will be tempted. The hard part here, the part that is so worrisome for me; is that what You know I can bear, is often much more than I think I can bear. And definitely, more than I want to bear. So it is a challenge to remind myself that since You created me, You know me better than I know myself. And in that, there is a peace I can rely on.

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I have heard, that the strength of a ship is only proven in the storm.   And that the beauty of music produced by a piano, is only possible by the 39,000 pounds of pressure applied to the strings!

So, stress can provide what is needed for proving the strength and beauty within to be shown without.

When I am tempted, and I notice You didn’t say ‘if I am tempted’, You have promised a way of escape so I can stand up under it. The Greek word ‘hupomeno’ means to ‘bear up under’. So the weight will not crush me. You will give me a way to persevere and endure.

Thank You Father that others have endured whatever I am to go through. Thank You that Your character of faithfulness is sure, and Your control is indisputable. I praise You that You direct Your faithfulness towards me, and that You know me personally, and so well, that You set the limit of my circumstances.

Thank You that I am assured, that no matter what, You will provide a way for me to endure. Only Your love would protect me like that. I am so blessed by knowing You. And by knowing I can trust You, in all things. No matter what. Amen

I Corinthians 10:13

Aug 14 Do not grieve

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Psalm 33 tells me, “Blessed [joyful, happy] is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people He chose for His inheritance.”

 

When Ezra read Your Word to the Israelites assembled, they knew that You were their God and they were Your people. And today, any who believe in You as Savior are also Your people. Believers have an inheritance with You. And we are blessed as a nation when we call You our Lord.

The Israelites mourned and wept as they heard Your Word because it convicted them of their sin. As a believer, I also mourn and weep when I read Your Word, because of my own sin and the sin of my nation

But Nehemiah told them “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

In happy times it is easy for me to say this. When things are going well, I can be joyful. I feel strong. But in this context, the people are not happy. They are grieving, ashamed, broken by their sin. This is when they are told “the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

It is when I have no strength of my own because I am broken, or sad, discouraged, overwhelmed, or depressed – that I look to You and receive Your strength.

I can know that whatever is going on in my life, there is joy when I remember that You are my God, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Friend. Your presence gives me joy and strength. Even in the face of trials, I can look to You.

Your Psalm reminds me I will not be saved by the size of an army, or personal physical strength, or even by a mighty horse. But my hope is in You, my help and my shield. “In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name.”

Remind me Father, the next time I am downcast, that my joy and my strength are not based on my circumstances. But are found, sure and steadfast, in You. Amen

Nehemiah 8:1-12; Psalm 33:12-22

Aug 13 Plans

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Father, all through the rebuilding of the wall, You provided for Nehemiah’s safety. Some might guess he was lucky, or say that he had a sixth sense about the plots against him. But he was a praying man who looked to You for guidance and protection. He fasted and prayed to accomplish the work You gave him to do. With five attempts to lure Nehemiah away from his work to harm him, he stood his ground and did not go. When one of his own even plotted to discredit him, he refused to be party to the sin.

Father, protect me as well. Direct me away from harm. Stop me from sinning against You, even if it would seem to make me safe. Sharpen my spiritual discernment so I can see through any plots to harm, or intimidate, or discredit me. Strengthen my faith so I count on You and trust only in You for my deliverance.

You acted in Nehemiah’s time as Psalm 33 reminds us, You “frustrated the plans of the nations and thwart their schemes. But Your plans stand firm forever…” By Your very word, Lord, You spoke the world into existence. You created all that is seen, and all that is yet to be discovered in the universe. As far as can be reached with eyes and technology – all this is within Your hand’s grasp.

I acknowledge and honor Your Lordship. And thank You for Your faithfulness, Your righteousness, Your justice, and Your unfailing love. To show it, help me sing for joy to You, praise You and make music, worshipping from my heart.

You are my Lord. And my hope is in You! Amen

Nehemiah 6:1-16; Psalm 33:1-11

Aug 12 Working together

hands-1939895_640Father, what a lesson from Nehemiah!

Two things stand out for me that apply to Your people today.

One: that sometimes there is opposition when we are doing Your work, such that we must work with one hand on the task and one hand on the sword.

And two: that we must not take advantage of or hinder our own people.

Father, whatever task, circumstance or relationship I’m involved with, help me see spiritual opposition. It may appear as an overt resistance or obstruction to what I’m trying to do. Or be an invisible undertone of grumbling, complaining, discouragement or division. Whatever the case, remind me that Your Word is my Sword – my weapon. Your Word has power. It can overcome discouragement and repair disunity.   It can change my focus, reveal truth and tear down the lies of the opposition; even change the hearts of those against me. Ready my mind, Lord, to prepare me to fight the battle however it presents itself.

As the Jews were hindering their brothers, I see that sometimes I work against myself and may not realize that what I am doing is preventing someone else from doing their job. Show me from Your perspective if I am in any way, hindering a brother or sister. Show me how to encourage them and free them up to do what You have called them to do. As we work alongside each other for Your purpose, free us all to do our best.

I trust that You have prepared me for whatever comes against me, and for whatever task You have purposed for me to do.   Open my eyes to see it all clearly. Strengthen my arm to do the work. Sharpen my mind to know Your Word.   Embolden my Spirit to go forward. “Instruct me and teach me in the way I should go; counsel me and watch over me.” And “I will rejoice in You and be glad. And “Shout for joy!” Amen

Nehemiah 3:15 – 5:13; Psalm 32:8, 11

Aug 11 Building with God

picture by Sweet Publishing

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Father, I remember a time You had put in my heart to have a women’s Bible Study for our church. Without a building, we needed a location. The two years before, other churches and places had said no, so our people told me it would be impossible. Plus, they said, there would never be enough workers to come and do all the tasks that were needed to run it. We had had a study before, but the 25 women who began dwindled down to only three by the end.

Undaunted, I prayed, seeking Your wisdom to know if I should give up in response to my own church’s ‘wisdom’. Knowing You would have to open the doors, I went forward.

The first church I went to, where our boys were in a Scout Troop, said yes! I had been told they would say no, but believed You were leading me there. When I asked, they told me they believed the blessing of the building You had given them should be shared with the community! Obviously, You had gone before me and prepared the way. They gave us access to a large meeting hall, the kitchen and their nursery! Including all the toys, beds and changing tables!

That very day, a woman from our church called and said if I found a location, she would love to run the nursery to care for the children who came, and make nametags! She helped me get other volunteers for the children’s’ area and brought refreshments that first week. By the time we started, we had a greeter, a setup person, a clean up person, kitchen and children’s workers, and beautiful ribbon nametags.

It was an amazing victory! And the most successful study we had for several years! You provided an amazing answer to prayer and response to obedience in going forward. Remembering Your faithfulness has encouraged me often.

Just like You brought workers from many places to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, each doing a small part; You brought people to support the work You wanted to do through me. Both jobs were too big for one person. But You are bigger than any job. And You have the resources to accomplish anything in Your plan.

Father, I believe You place in each believer a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. I know during that time I felt completely empowered. And I can’t describe the joy it gave me to feel, to know, I was in the center of Your will. You had opened doors.   You had brought people to help. You brought women to attend. What a blessing to be part of something You were doing! Father, show me what comes next. Give me that blessing again. Amen

Nehemiah 1:1-3:14

Aug 10 Reconciliation

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Father, thank You that You are a God of second chances. And third and fourth and even more. When the Israelite men had sinned and taken foreign, pagan wives, there was an acceptable resolution. There were consequences, yes, but they were able to take an oath to renew their covenant with You.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he lists many types of wickedness, then says “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

In both of these cases, reconciliation was made possible because You chose to accept repentance. You cleansed them, You set them apart. You returned them to right standing with You. And the same is true for me. When I have sinned, and I come to You in the realization of what I have done, agree with You that it is sin, and am remorseful, repentant, You forgive that sin. You wash me, and set me apart, and again I am in right standing with You.

But, as with the Israelites, there are consequences.   Sometimes the consequences are life-changing, and can cause ongoing problems. They had to put aside their foreign wives. Sometimes I have to put aside a relationship or something I think I really want that is not good for me.

Paul says, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial”. Lord, there is such freedom in You. Help me be wise in that freedom. Produce in me the Fruit of the Spirit so I can be good and kind, patient and faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Show me when I am being selfish or unwise. Remind me to think and pray before I act.

Father, I offer You the relationships in my life and ask You to deepen the ones that are godly, and to distance me from any that are not. I give my time to You and ask that You show me where I waste it. Give me the strength to cut out activities that eat away time I could spend better. I give You my priorities and ask You to help me reorder them where they are not in line with Your purposes.

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Father, help me recognize what is right and just, and help me do it.   When what is right and just is at odds with my selfish or prideful or greedy nature, help me overcome that nature and be led by You. Thank You for Your help in all this, and for the hope You give me. Amen

Ezra 10:1-44; I Corinthians 6:12; Proverbs 21:3

Aug 9 Your Word lights my way

book-1936547_640Father, thank You for Your Word that guides me every day in my prayers and in the choices I make in life. In today’s scriptures there are many reminders of things that deserve my attention.

First, like Ezra, I need to remember that my actions speak louder than my words, and my actions reveal what I believe about You.   Ezra didn’t ask for a military escort because it would look as if he didn’t trust in Your protection. What do my actions say to others around me about my faith in You? When I seem afraid and worried over circumstances, does that show others I don’t really trust Your protection and provision? Father help me show my faith in You in my responses to difficulties.

When things don’t go my way, remind me that You are in control, and that You have my back! There is absolutely nothing that can happen to me that You are unaware of. And I believe that You filter everything that comes to me, through Your fingers of love. Even in the bad times, You have prepared me, and You are with me. Thank You that You never, ever leave me.

Ezra fasted. I believe this is something that You honor. And it is good for me to relinquish something in order to spend time in prayer and humble myself before You. Sometimes it’s food. Sometimes it’s an activity, like the internet, or tv, or addicting games. Whatever it is, I believe it is the act of focusing my attention and energy on hearing from and submitting to You.   Father, I express my desire for You to ‘clear my plate’ of anything that is not of You.  Help me see my attitudes and actions from Your perspective, and tap into Your power for course correcting changes.

Ezra felt personally the burden of the sin of his people and interceded for them. I also have a burden for the ‘corporate’ sin of my nation. I think of how far my country has come away from Your precepts, from Your commands, and I weep. I cry out with Ezra, “O my God, I am too ashamed to lift up my face to You, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached the heavens…we have disregarded the commands You gave…”

But Father, I have faith that You are still in control. That You have the power to move in the hearts of men and women, young and old, and call us back to You. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” Your work is not done and You are not finished with my country yet. Or my family. Or me.

Thank You Father for the hope You give me. You are my “rock of refuge, a strong fortress”. And I trust in You.  Amen

Ezra 8:21-9:15; Psalm 31:1-8; Proverbs 21:1

Aug 8 Help me be like…

BelieversHeritage TreeHeavenly Father, what a rich heritage Ezra had. Usually I just skim over the names listed in genealogies, but somehow this time, these names seemed familiar.

I know Hilkiah – during Josiah’s reign, he was the priest who found the Book of the Law that had been lost in the Temple. He brought Your Word back to the people so they could hear Your Word and have their hearts respond with humility. They returned to worship You. I prayed just last week that I would hear all that Your Word has to tell me, and that my heart would be responsive and humble too.

I remember Zadok. He was the priest who remained loyal to David when David’s son Absalom was chasing him out of Jerusalem. Zadok prayed for David, offered sacrifices, and escorted him with the Arc of the Covenant. Then at David’s request, he stayed behind to be his spy. And I prayed that I would have the loyalty and support of my friends, and be a loyal support to them.

Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, stands out as a man who was so zealous for Your Word that he drove a spear through a Midianite woman and her Israelite lover who were flagrantly breaking Your Law. This turned back Your wrath from the people and stopped a plague. You gave Phinehas a covenant of peace and perpetual priesthood for he and his descendants. Father, I desire to have that zeal for Your Word.

And Aaron, Moses brother, who You spoke through when You freed Your people from Egypt’s Pharaoh. He became the first High Priest, entrusted with carrying out Your Law. You separated him from the other tribes to be Your representative in intercession for all Israel. Only the High Priest could approach You.

O Father, what a rich heritage for Ezra, who is now the one taking a copy of Your Word back from the Babylonian exile to the people. He will be Your representative in the land, reading and teaching Your Law once again to Your people.

Father, let me be like Ezra and all those in his line. Like Aaron, I can now approach You personally and come boldly before Your throne of grace because of Your redemptive work on the cross. Give me a desire to obey You like Phinehas, and help me be loyal and an intercessor like Zadok. Make my heart humble to Your Word revealed by Hilkiah and returned to Your people by Ezra.   Thank You Father for each one in this line, who zealously guarded and revealed Your Word to others. Let me do the same. Amen

Ezra 7:1-7

Aug 7 Watching, Protecting, Directing

Father, I pray You would protect me as You protected those who “set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem.”   They returned to the land You had given their people after living in exile in Babylon for seventy years. When they returned, they were faced with opposition from the ones who had taken over their land. Also from bureaucrats and officials who tried to stop the work of rebuilding the temple. They tried intimidation and challenged the authority the people had to do this work.

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The evil officials even wrote a letter to King Darius, with the intention of stopping the work altogether. But Your Word says “the eye of their God was watching over the elders of the Jews and they were not stopped…”

The response to the letter backfired on the officials. A search was made in the records, and it was found that indeed, King Cyrus had decreed that the temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt. Also, the costs were to be paid by the by the royal treasury. This meant that the very people who had hoped to stop the project, and even schemed to do so; now not only had to support the Jews in their rebuilding efforts, but pay them as well! And not just supplies for the temple, but for the offerings too, on pain of death!

Lord, I do not hear You telling me to build You a temple. I do not even see a great plan unfolding whereby I will have a significant impact on others. But, I seek to do all You have shown me: walk in the power of Your Spirit, worship You, pray, sing, make music, write down the wisdom You share with me, treat people with Your love, be obedient to do what You show me, change my attitudes and behaviors when I need to bring them in line with Your teachings, share my faith, and make time to listen to Your voice. Would You afford me what You provided for these Jews in their task.

As You sent them prophets, would You let me hear Your voice, encouraging and guiding me. Allow Your “eye” to watch over me so I am not stopped in being obedient to You. Turn any opposition, intimidation or forces that come against me, back on themselves, and cause their plans against me to backfire. And even change them from enemies into co-workers that assist me in Your work.

Father, as You did for them, “give me strength and bless me with peace.” Amen

Ezra 5:1-6:22; Psalm29:11

Aug 6 I sing for thanks, for help, for hope

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Father, “To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”   They have no hope. And see no chance for rescue.

Lord, my life seems easy enough. I have what I need to get from day to day. I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I have more freedoms than most people in the world. And a safe place to live with family and friends who care about me. But when I think about some of the people I love, there is pain there. There are those I don’t believe know You, and it grieves my heart.

So here is where “I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help.” Father when I think of mistakes I’ve made with people who I love, I am filled with remorse. I cannot go back and ‘undo’ what I have done. And I wonder and worry if anything I did or said, set them on a path away from You.   O Father, forgive me. If there is a way I can make it right, show me. Take away this guilt I live with, and replace it with something from You that will heal and help them. Show me how to say, what to say, when to say; or what to do to unravel any knots I may have been part of in their lives.

Soften their hearts to Your truth, and to Yourself and to the call of the Holy Spirit.   Turn them away from the darkness they live in, some, without even realizing it. Bring them into the light of Your love. Father, this is the deepest desire of my heart: that those who You have entrusted to me as family and friends, will all know You as Savior, and be together in heaven with You and with me.

It is something only You can do. Only You call. And only You save. And I will sing: “Praise to the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy! The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks in song”. Amen

Psalm 28:1-9

Aug 5 Prophecies and Promises

Lord God, from today’s scriptures it is clear that you have moved armies, governments, civilizations to accomplish Your will. You told Your prophets, who told the people, exactly what would happen if they did not keep their covenant with You. Their choices were to obey and receive Your blessings, or disobey and receive Your curses. The curse would remove them from the land You gave them as an inheritance and take them far away. Even knowing this, and being reminded by the prophets, their hearts were hard and they chose curses by their behavior.

don-t-lose-your-patience-1241239You even told Your prophet Jeremiah that their captivity would last seventy years. And Isaiah gave the name of the king who would return them to their land one hundred and fifty years before it happened!

Sure enough, because of their continued disobedience, they were captured and taken away into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon. And during that time, another civilization came to power – the Persians. The Persians took Babylon, and King Cyrus announced he would build a temple in Jerusalem for the Lord, the God of heaven. Any of Your people in captivity would be free to go! This happened seventy years after captivity began as predicted! And the man who released them as promised, was not even born when he was named by the prophet!

So I can believe with assurance in the prophecies You have given about the coming days.   All You revealed to John on the island of Patmos, and more about the end times. Of course, I do not pretend to know Your exact time table, but I know I need to be ready. I need to be living like You have shown me, and being obedient to receive Your blessings. I need to be watching so I am not misled.   My faith must not rest on man’s wisdom, but on Your power.

I believe that I must “wait for You”. For Your wisdom, perspective, for Your perfect timing in my life. Help me be patient while I am waiting. Help me to “be strong and take heart”.

You will move things in Your timing: armies, governments, civilizations. You hold the hearts of men and kings in Your hand. And I believe I will see Your goodness, in my life, while I live.

Thank You for Your blessings. For Your promises. For Your prophecies. And for answering me when I seek Your face. Amen

Ezra 1:1-11; Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10; 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; Psalm 27:7-14

Aug 4 Faith Train

“You are my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

Yet sometimes I have felt in the dark. I have been afraid of what may happen to me or to my loved ones. Sometimes I feel so ill prepared to handle what comes up that it leaves me feeling overwhelmed – with emotion, with circumstances, with decisions, with worry. I have been anxious over so many things that never happened. And a theme here is that I am relying on ‘feelings’.

railway-512227_640The truth is that my ‘faith’ is based on ‘facts’. The ‘facts’ fuel my ‘faith’ which is the engine that drives the train. They pull my ‘feelings’ along behind like a caboose. The problem is that I sometimes forget and allow myself to be driven by the caboose.

The fact is “in the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Father, You have promised to keep me safe. And my faith in You is steadfast. But sometimes when I don’t ‘feel’ You near me, I forget that You are there. The fact is You have promised never to leave me! So just because I cannot feel You, doesn’t mean You are not there. Again, I let myself be driven by my feelings.

When I remember the facts of who You are: Creator God, Yahweh, the Great I Am, Jehovah Jirah – my provider, El Shaddai; I can say in the strength of my faith: “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” 

When I state these ‘facts’, and speak aloud the truth of my faith, my feelings fall into line. And I am strengthened and encouraged. “You are my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

A-MEN !

Psalm 27:1-6

Aug 3 Your Word changing my heart

ygjyfwmec68-david-beale.jpgOh Father. Today in Your Word, I am told that while “the men did their work faithfully” at the orders of twenty-six year old King Josiah, they “found the Book of the Law in the Temple of the Lord.” It had been lost, ignored throughout the eighteen years Josiah had been king, and during the reign of his evil father. When it was brought before the young king, he heard the Word of the Law and his heart was responsive as he understood its meaning. He humbled himself before You and sought Your will.

Lord, I wonder if today, Your Word has again gotten ‘lost in the house of the Lord’? The church is Your house, and it has Your Word, yet are they ignoring it? Are they teaching it to their people? Or do they pick and choose what they like and go on with their lives as they want.

Father, I pray that Your believers, Your church, will once again ‘hear’ Your Word. And that they would understand what they read with a responsive heart. Father, let them see where “they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book”. And be humbled and change where they are not doing all You command.

I also understand that my body is Your ‘temple’.   Don’t let Your Word be lost in me! Open my ears to truly ‘hear’ all that Your Word says. Even the parts that may not sit easily with me. Even the parts I wish I didn’t have to obey. Make my heart responsive to what I hear from You. Let me be like Josiah, and be humbled and weep before You when I see where I have not been obedient.

Show me how to live by Your Word, with a heart that is responsive, humbled, by what I have heard. Amen

2 Chronicles 34:1-33

Aug 2 You encourage me

photo by Joshua Earlejoshua-earleGreater is HeFather, thank You for the words of encouragement Hezekiah gave his men. The same words are encouraging to me today, because I know that no matter what hardship or battle or enemy I face, You are greater than any of them. And You are with me! “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of” (fill in the bank with my hardship) “and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him! With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

The world will yell back at me exactly what Sennacherib said:

“On what are you basing your confidence?…Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the people of other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand?…How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Do not believe it…”

The world and the flesh and the devil echo these words to try and make me doubt. My flesh will say that I am weak. I am unworthy of Your help. The world will show me how many others have fallen before me – those stronger than me to begin with. The devil will try and get me to focus on my circumstances and question Your love for me.

But Your Word builds me up. It reminds me that I am Yours and You have promised never to leave me. You have given me armor, both offensive and defensive, to help me. The Helmet of Salvation bears Your insignia, in whose army I fight. And it protects my thoughts. So many battles are won and lost in the mind before even one arrow flies. It reminds me to take every thought captive so I can hold it up to truth.

The truth is, I am weak, but “Your strength is made perfect in my weakness”. I am unworthy of Your help. I can never ‘earn’ Your help. But Your help comes because of Your unchanging character, flowing from Your grace and mercy! It never was dependent on anything I could ever do. Others may have fallen who were stronger than me, but I will be victorious because of Your strength, not my own. And despite the devil, I will not judge Your love by my circumstance, but by Your Word. It says Your love never changes, it is everlasting, enduring forever. And I will choose to look at You, not focus only on my circumstances.

This is how I will triumph over challenges. Even in the conditions of today’s Psalm: “I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied…my enemies have increased and hate me fiercely…” I will put my eyes on You and not my circumstances. I will answer the lies I hear from the other voices, with Your voice of truth; as You voiced it through Hezekiah: I will be strong and courageous. I will not be afraid or discouraged. I will remember that You are a greater power. And that You are with me! Praise be to You! Amen

2 Chronicles 32:1-23; Psalm 25:16-22

Aug 1 Unity

Father, in all that Hezekiah did, He sought Your guidance and blessing. And You blessed: “Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what was ordered… following the Word of the Lord.”

Paul also wrote of unity of believers: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”   Unity is a gift, and it comes from You.

handshake-2009183_640Father, I ask for unity in my marriage.   As we make decisions about our future, our family, our finances, our life together, give us agreement in these areas. Help us see our circumstances from Your perspective. And regardless of what the world would say, give us Your wisdom. Remind us to put our faith not in numbers or schedules or the plans of men, but in You.

Lord, I ask for unity in my church. Many plans have been prayerfully considered. But only Your plan counts. And only You can bring it to pass. Father, honor the desire of our church to bring Your kingdom into our community. Bring the people who need to know You. And bring others who already know You and want to serve You.

Lord God, I ask for the unity of Your believers. So many things divide us. We are overcome with the world. We fight each other over things that are disputable until the world sees an inconsistent, arguing, critical body that they want to avoid at all costs; instead of being drawn into Your love and Your care for them.

Father, You give endurance and encouragement in Your Word. Let me draw on Your Word’s truth to live my life. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Father, bring me this hope. Bring it into my relationships, my marriage, my family, my church, my nation. Remind me to make time to read the Scriptures so I might receive this encouragement. Let me learn so I will have the endurance I need, the patience, and the humility so I may be used by You. Amen

2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21; Romans 15:1-13

July 31 Leaders like Hezekiah

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Father, thank You for leaders like Hezekiah. Thank You that some are willing to stand up for what is right even if it goes against the prevailing social climate.

At the young age of 25 in the first month of his reign, Hezekiah reopened, repaired, and purified the Temple in Jerusalem that his father had closed. He led the people back to worshipping You with songs, instruments, and offerings.

Father, bring leaders who will help my nation turn away from its selfish, greedy, idolatrous ways, and return to You.   Like Hezekiah, let these men and women know right from wrong, and be obedient to do right. Strengthen those leaders who are faithful to You. Protect them and grant them success in their personal and professional lives.

For those who do not follow You, Father, open their eyes and ears to Your truth. Draw them to Yourself so they may know You personally as Savior and Lord. Break down whatever walls are keeping them from seeing Your truth. And prepare their hearts to receive it.

You tell us “Who may stand in Your Holy place.” Give our leaders “clean hands and a pure heart.” Let them be men and women of godly values “who do not lift up their souls to an idol or swear by what is false.” Then they will receive Your blessing and our nation will be blessed.

Let this be the generation, let this be the time, that we seek You wholeheartedly. That we seek the face of the Lord Almighty, the King of glory. Amen

2 Chronicles 29:1-36; Psalm 24:1-10

July 30 The Good Shepherd

For many believers, the 23rd Psalm is a passage of scripture that is known by heart. Many more are familiar enough to recognize the phrases that describe the Shepherd’s care.

sheep-690198_640But what do all the references really mean? I have only seen sheep in petting zoos and on back roads in sheep country. I really don’t know very much about them. And the impressions I have are not too favorable toward them being a smart or regal animal. But I have read a wonderful book written by an actual shepherd who takes each verse and explains it from the perspective of a shepherd, and why the sheep need and value each specific thing in this Psalm.

I understand that You, Lord God, are the Good Shepherd, who plans for, provides for, cares for, calms, protects, feeds, guides, restores, heals, comforts, and sacrifices for, even lays down Your life for, the sheep. And I am represented by a sheep.

Thank You Father that You are my Shepherd. Other sheep have masters who do not care about them. They go hungry and become diseased, living a life without shelter or protection. But You provide all things for me. You meet my every need.

You provide a place for me to rest that is full of the nourishment I need and free from pests, aggravation from the rest of the flock, and fear of predators. You lead me where clean, fresh, shallow water stands still for me to drink from so I don’t become sick from dirty, poisoned water. Or get dragged down or carried a way in deep, rushing water. When I become world-weary and feel discouraged, depressed, and are down-cast, You renew me. You give me hope, and bring restoration to my life.

Father, thank You for showing me a good, right way to live that will bring honor to Your name. Left alone I would go my own way and become entrapped in the selfish, greedy ways of the world. Thank You that even in the darkest places, where I am the most vulnerable, You go with me and protect me. You bring me through these valleys to a higher place. You drive away the predators who seek to devour me with Your rod: a symbol of Your power, authority, and strength. Thank You that I have Your Word, and that there is power in it. And that it can also be used as Your staff, to examine, corral, and direct me. In Your protection and direction I am comforted.

I am blessed Lord, that You have walked this earth before me. You know every trial, every temptation I will face. And You have prepared me for it. Like a shepherd removes the poisonous plants before he brings his sheep to feed, You have prayed for me to be in this world. Even with enemies all around, You stand guard and intercede for me, praying for my faith to be strong.

“You anoint my head with oil” to consecrate and heal me.   For sheep, it is a life saving measure to drive out parasites that would lay eggs causing inflammation, blindness, and death.   The Holy Spirit in my life brings understanding and healing to me. And overflows my cup with abundance and blessing.   Yet even when there is suffering in my cup, Your suffering on the cross, and the life You poured out for me, pours over into my cup and overflows it with Your strength and vitality and blessing.

Because You are my Shepherd, You bring goodness and mercy into my life. But You can also help me leave it in my path, as a legacy to others. I can deposit into other’s lives, blessing, forgiveness, encouragement, inspiration, and peace. Help me do that.

I choose to be in Your flock, Your household, forever! I will never leave. I want to be in Your presence, in Your care, all the days of my life, and then after that, for eternity. Amen

Psalm 23:1-6; A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

July 29 Be transformed

door-672999_640Father, I see this list of admonitions of how to live a godly life, and I see how much room I have for improvement. The truth is, I can’t even do one of them without You! Lord, it is only in experiencing Your grace that I can be gracious to others.

Forgive me Father, when I “think of myself more highly than I ought”. With the advertising mantras of ‘you’ve earned it – you deserve it – look out for #1’ it’s easy to become focused on self, and what I ‘ought’ to have. It puffs me up, making it hard to “honor one another above yourselves.”   Instead, I find myself feeling proud and entitled.

Lord, turn me around when this happens. Help me see my behavior through Your eyes. Remind me “share with Your people who are in need” and “practice hospitality.” Show me how to “live in harmony with others”, and “as much as I can, to be at peace with them”.   That may mean giving up what I perceive as some of my ‘rights’, and saying ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I was wrong’ when I am in the wrong. I realize that I hate being wrong; and even worse, I hate to admit it. How can I change the way I am, Lord?

It has to come from You. But I can do my part. You challenge me, no, You command me: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The pattern of this world is selfishness, egotism, greed, if you want it, get it, if it feels good, do it. And I need to be more than a non-conformer. I need to be a transformer.

I can be transformed by spending time with You in prayer. Hearing from You can redirect my focus, rewrite my priorities. I can be transformed, have my worldview reshaped, by reading Your Word.  The way I think affects the way I act. So if I think on things that are true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy – I will act accordingly.

Thank You Father for showing me the way. For inspiring me to achieve. For helping me accomplish. I desire to be all You created me to be, and to receive all that You have for me. Today, help me see one thing I can change and help me do it. Amen

Romans12:1-21; Philippians 4:8

July 28 Family and Spiritual Heritage

photographs-1209751_640O Father, when I think of how fortunate I am, and all the blessings You have given me, it takes my breath away, and I am humbled to tears. Even before I was born, You determined when I would be born, and where, and to whom. There were generations that came before me who knew You and worshipped You. That is a godly heritage I must not take for granted.

David was a man after Your own heart. And yet his lineage is full of men who were idolatrous, murderous, and evil. Jehoshaphat followed You and taught others to worship You, yet his own firstborn, Jehoram, when given the rule, murdered all his brothers to secure his reign. He married a daughter of Jezebel, a manipulative and evil woman. Jehoram’s youngest son, Ahaziah, took over after his gruesome death, and was encouraged into more evil by his mother. Later, this evil mother, upon learning of her own son’s death, murdered all the siblings and offspring so she could reign in her son’s place!

But she missed baby Joash. Joash was hidden and raised by godly people. When he came to reign at the age of seven, he ruled rightly in Your eyes.

I know, Father, that You call each of us. Some come from broken homes and dark, painful backgrounds. But we each owe You a debt of gratitude for every divine influence and godly person You put in our path. I can think of relatives, Sunday School teachers, preachers who taught me to love You and seek to know You. But I also remember neighbors, friends, even strangers, who taught me godly lessons – some without even knowing it. I am grateful, and thank You for each one of these.

As I look back over my life, I can see that I would not have all I have now, I would not be all I am now, I would not love You the way I do, without Your intervention and Your loving care. There is no doubt in my mind – You have been involved in a personal relationship with me before I even knew You.   Thank You for all You have done.

Father, it also challenges me to be that divine influence in the lives of others You bring across my path. Help me see opportunities to point others to You. Open my eyes to recognize when I can say something, do something, be something that will benefit the faith of others. Use me Lord, to pass on the blessing. Amen

2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21

July 27 Jehoshaphat’s deliverance

sword-41036_640O Lord, may my victories be like those of Jehoshaphat’s! When I am confronted with a difficulty, let me learn from Jehoshaphat. His first response upon hearing of the dilemma? “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast…” Then, when the people came together, he prayed!

This is what I should do! Rather than respond with anxiousness, confusion, anger, frustration, or discouragement. His words began with a statement of who You are and what You can do. How encouraging to be reminded that You, my God, are the most powerful force in all creation!

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You. We stand in Your presence… and cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us… For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You!”

What a claim! I acknowledge my insufficiency, but affirm my faith in trusting You. If I look at You instead of whatever problem, my focus stays positive. It confirms that You are bigger than the problem.

“This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow, march down against them…you will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

 Then they “bowed with their face to the ground and fell down in worship before the Lord. Some stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

Father, You answered them with a challenge to be courageous, and a promise to fight their battle.   I definitely feel more courageous when I am singing praise music, or praying out loud. When I connect with You in prayer, I am re-energized and empowered to go on. From my journals, it is also reassuring to read about the times You have delivered me in the past. Recalling Your faithfulness always has an inspiring and calming effect.

And the result? Jehoshaphat and his men didn’t have to fight. As they sang and praised You, You fought the battle! Then they spent three days carrying off the plunder from the victory You gave them! They returned to Jerusalem rejoicing and praising You in the Temple.

O Father, I forget when my problems seem so big, that I have a Father who is bigger. Who can give me a victory. Who can provide me with abundant rewards. Remind me to come to You first. To seek You, to fast, to pray, and to trust. Thank You. Amen

2 Chronicles 20:1-30

July 26 Praying Psalm 20

Psalm20scrollYour Word in Psalms today is a wonderful prayer. “May You answer me when I am in distress”.   Thank You Lord, that I can call on You any time. You are never too busy to hear my cry for help. And there is no kind of distress that You cannot handle. You can help me when I am physically ill, hurt, weak, or weary.   You can handle it when I am in an emotional or psychological state of anxiety, sadness, depression, worry, fear, or grief. You can uplift me when I am in spiritual turmoil or confusion or whenI am feeling tempted.

“May Your Name protect me.” Father, there is great power in Your name. Yahweh! Jehovah! Jesus! Almighty God! El Shaddai! Adonai! Your name reflects Your character: who You are and Your attributes. There is such power and reverence in Your name, some even avoid saying it at all, in order to not take it in vain. They write or speak ‘HaShem’ which in Hebrew means ‘The Name’, referring to You alone. May HaShem protect me!

“May You send me help from the sanctuary and grant me support from Zion.” From wherever I am, You can send help from wherever You are.  Your help is better than any the world can offer. It can deliver me from anything.   It can help me bear up under any circumstance or oppression. “May You remember all my sacrifices and accept my burnt offerings.” The sacrifices You desire are obedience and a contrite or repentant heart. A burnt offering is one that is offered up totally. It is completely consumed in the fire. May my life be entirely and wholly offered to You. May my words, actions, and attitudes all honor You.

“May You give me the desires of my heart and make all my plans succeed.” Father, make Your desires mine. Take away any desires I have that are not God-honoring. Help me see Your plan and join You there. And within this framework Father, “grant all my requests.”

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but I trust in the Name of the Lord my God.” What is considered power and might in the world are worthless compared to Your power and might. I will not place my trust in politicians, or leaders, or in any person. I will not trust my future to a job or a paycheck. I will not find my sense of security in fame or position, good looks or good health.

But I will rely on You, trust in You, depend on You. For You alone are trustworthy. I will shout for joy when You bring victory into my life!   And glorify Your Name! Amen

Psalm 20:1-9

July 25 We make choices

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Father, You give me choices, and in You I am free.   Strengthen me to make the right choices, godly choices.

Asa started out with such fervor for You. He tore down the idolatrous worship places. He led the people to seek You and worship You as they should. He sought Your deliverance from military enemies. And You gave him victory, and rest on every side.

Like Asa, I can trust in Your promise: “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you…But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” Father, help me seek You in all the battles I face. In truth, there have been so many times already, when You have come through for me. You have saved me from close calls. You have stopped calamity when it could have been much worse. You have provided resources and solutions I never could have seen without You. You have brought unique answers that I had never imagined to problems that seemed unsolvable. You have acted in my life in ways that seem nothing short of miraculous!

Yet, like Asa, I am also guilty of forgetting to seek You, neglecting to ask for Your help. When Asa was faced with another battle, he took silver and gold out of the Temple to bribe another ruler to withdraw support from the enemy. It was a foolish thing. And he paid for it by being at war the rest of his reign.

It reminds me of the words to a song You gave me:

In other times I knew Your will

And I became the vessel You would fill

Why is it hard now, to take a stand

When I have seen the power of Your hand?

You give me choices, in You I’m free, O Lord, strengthen me

 

Lead me, hold me, guide me, Lord enfold me

Cover me with the blood of Calvary, and be with me, be with me

 

Lord let me make Your strength my own

Let me feel it flowing from Your precious throne

Right by Your side, O let me be

And let me feel Your power washing over me

You give me choices, in Christ I’m free, O Lord, strengthen me

 

Strengthen me Father, to seek You always. Whatever the problem, whatever I face. Let me never make the mistake of thinking I can ‘handle it’ without You. I know when I seek You eagerly, I will find You. And the reward of Your peace will be mine. Thank You! Amen

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14

July 24 Four Gifts: Prayer, Plans, Presence, Power

gift-1008894_640Father, there are so many comforts in this passage of Romans today. You are so gracious to me in so many wonderful ways.

What a gift prayer is! What an immeasurably awesome gift to be able to speak to and hear from the Creator of the Universe! Sometimes I am so filled with joy and thanks and praise, I hardly know how to express the overflow of my heart.   But Your Holy Spirit communicates for me what I do not know how to say.   Other times I am so filled with grief and sorrow I cannot even mouth the words for my crying and tears. And again, Your Holy Spirit knows my heart and conveys my requests for help to You.   Thank You for knowing me so well and providing for this meaningful non-verbal interaction.

Beyond prayer and communicating with You, I can know without a doubt, that You have my very best interest in mind and in Your plans. Because I love You and am Yours, I seek to know and do what You have purposed for my life. When I am in Your will, regardless of how things look to me from my limited perspective, I can trust that You have the power and the ability and the desire to work all things together for my good. Father, help me know Your will so I can remain in it. Being obedient is how I can show I love You. There is nothing too difficult for You. And nothing limits You.

You have told me that nothing can separate me from Your love. No person, no trouble, no hardship, no persecution, no danger or sword, not famine or nakedness. “In all these things, I am more than a conqueror through You!” For “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from Your love!”

With all the experiences and emotions that I have, how comforting to know that there is no power below or above, or anywhere that will keep You away from me. You can span any distance, overcome any obstacle, move any object, overpower any influence. Your love is not dependent on me or on anything I do. I cannot mess up so badly that it would keep You away. You will always love me. It is Your character and Your promise.

Thank You for these words of comfort, for these promises I can count on. Thank You for being You. Amen

Romans 8:26-39

July 23 Help me parent

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Lord, I think of how far Rehoboam fell from the standards of his father and grandfather. It is so sad that all the faith and wisdom died with the very next generation! If David took such care to prepare the work of his son Solomon, why didn’t Solomon do the same with his son Rehoboam?

Earthly fathers are so flawed compared to You. Some earthly fathers do a wonderful job of teaching their children about You and reflecting the love and acceptance that You have for each of us. Unfortunately, some do not. Some are the source of awful pain and harsh treatment. Sometimes their hardness even blocks their children from coming to know You for a long, long time.

But thanks be to You! “Who reached down from on high and took hold of me; You drew me out of deep waters. You rescued me from my powerful enemy, from those who were too strong for me…You were my support! You brought me out into a spacious place; You rescued me because You delighted in me.” Thank You for holding out rescue and deliverance and hope for those who were not as fortunate as I in having a loving, caring father. Thank You that whatever the hurt, You can heal and protect.

Father, help me be a loving, caring, godly parent. Forgive the mistakes I’ve made. Help my children not suffer from them. And protect my children from the mistakes I’ll make in the future.   Let me look to You for wisdom in guiding and teaching them. Help me pass on a real and living faith to the next generation. Whether my own children, or others You bring into my life, help me live out my faith in a visible, tangible way that will be a light to their path and an inspiration to their lives.   “Your way is perfect. Your Word is flawless”. Help me show them that. Amen

2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19; Psalm 18:16-36

July 22 Heal our land

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O Father, Solomon knew the people so well. Even as You inhabited the Temple, and Your Glory shone all around, he knew Your people would turn away from You. He prayed for Your forgiveness and mercy, and You answered with a promise we can claim today.

“If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Father, I belong to You. I am called a Christian after Your Name ‘Christ’. So it is my responsibility to intercede, pray for my community, my country.   That also makes it my responsibility to humble myself and turn from my sin. It’s so easy to point a finger at corrupt people who take advantage of and mislead others. But You did not stipulate only the guilty looking people confess, but Your people.

Still it is easy to ask for forgiveness for ‘corporate sin’ – the sin committed by others in my nation or society as a whole.   But I cannot get away from the need to confess my personal sin too.

So Father, I humble myself before You. I have not measured up in so many ways. I do not deserve the blessings You pour out on me.   Show me where there is wickedness in my life: my words, my actions, my attitude. Forgive me when I have spoken but should have held my tongue. Forgive me when I held my tongue but should have spoken. I have allowed fear to dictate when I was willing to stand up for You. I have allowed my comfort to set the limits of my generosity when it comes to giving of my time and talents and treasure.

Lord I seek Your face to bring a spiritual awakening and revival upon my country. Renew the Biblical values this country was founded on. Let Your people once again know Your presence, Your power and Your blessing.

“I love You Lord. You are my strength. You are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. I call to You, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” Amen

2 Chronicles 6:12-7:16; Psalm 18:1-3

July 21 I am chosen!

cup-1010916_640Father, what an amazing legacy David left because You chose him! He was the youngest of all his brothers. Normally that meant he would not be the leader of the family or inherit a large portion from his father. Those were the things that usually brought significance in those times.   But You chose him! Three of his older brothers went to battle with Saul. They were men’s men, while David cared for the flocks, and spent his days with smelly, stupid, sheep. But You chose him!

Because of Your choosing, he was anointed to deliver his people from the threat of the Philistines. He slayed a giant! Not as a mighty warrior, but as a boy, with a stone and a slingshot. He was humble and would not go against Saul, and was patient and waited on Your perfect timing. He even had to run and hide out time and time again, because Saul chased him down to kill him. But You protected him, because You chose him.

Now we see Solomon, David’s son, completing the work of building the Temple that David had envisioned and prepared for. The desire to build a Temple for Your Name was David’s. And he passed that vision on to his son. That Temple became the place where all the people would come and bring offerings and sacrifices, and worship You. It was the place where You literally touched earth. Your presence, Your Glory, was actually physically seen and felt as You met with men. It lasted for generations. An amazing legacy, because You chose David. And You showed Your faithfulness, fulfilling all Your promises.

Father, You have also chosen me.  You tell me I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Col 3:12 “I am chosen and dearly loved by Christ to bear his fruit.”   John 15:16

I am no David, but I can know that You will fulfill all Your promises to me too.   Help me look to You, not man or earthly treasures for my inheritance. Remind me to use the gifts You have given me, not idly wish that I had the gifts and talents of others. Teach me to be humble, and to wait on Your perfect timing for everything in my life.  Show me when to back down and rely on Your protection.

Father, help me pass my love of You on to my children and to others around me.   I may not be much by the world’s standards, but let me have a mighty legacy like David. Help me live my life in a way that inspires faith and devotion to You.   “I call on You, Lord, for You will answer me.”   Amen

2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11; Psalm 17:6

July 20 Direct my path

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Father, like Solomon who built a Temple to house Your glorious Name, I long to build something of substance with my life that will bring You recognition and glory. It doesn’t have to be so magnificent, or be the most expensive edifice sparkling with gold and jewels.   But it is the desire of my heart, that when I leave this earth, others who come behind me will see my faithfulness and be pointed to You.

Paul left a different kind of testament to You with the letters he wrote. His explanations, though sometimes long and arduous, explain the basis of much of my faith. He explains that before You came and died on the cross, I was a slave to sin. But because I put my faith in You, and am united with You, crucified on the cross with You; I died to sin. I am no longer its slave, because death frees one from the bondage they lived in.

So I am raised from the dead with You, a free believer – no longer a slave to sin! You set me free with Your death and resurrection! Since my life is with You, and I live it freely; if I sin, it is because I choose to, since I am no longer a slave to it. Lord, help me choose daily, to walk away from sin.

Show me how to walk with You in righteousness; how to live my life as a testimony to You.  Empower me to face the choices I have to make every day. Don’t let me just pick what is the easiest, or safest, or most popular.   Let me look at my options from Your perspective. Let me make decisions based on the long, eternal view, not just for the immediate benefit.

I trust You. “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.”   Amen

2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17; Romans 6:1-23; Psalm 16:1-11

July 19 Help me walk Your path of Righteousness


adventure-1846095_640Father,I want to be all You created me to be. In Psalm 15 You tell me the kind of person You will spend eternity with. Since I have Your righteousness, Lord, help me behave that way. Remind me to speak the truth from my heart. If I open my mouth to speak a lie or to deceive, shut it for me. Show me how to speak the truth in love, and not be hurtful to people in the name of ‘honesty’.

You have taught me my neighbor is just about anyone, so help me treat my neighbor with decency and fairness, and not try and cheat or take advantage of him.   Help me stay away from malicious gossip, and from putting others down. Give me the fortitude to turn away from those who are evil and untrustworthy, even if society embraces them or it seems it would benefit me. And let me truly love and support those who honor and respect You and Your values.

Help me be true to my word, even when it costs me. Teach me to be smart with my finances, to be generous, and not extort interest from the needy. Strengthen me so I am not tempted by bribes.

You promise me that those “who do these things will never be shaken”. Father, You give me solid ground to stand on. Help me be firm and unwavering in these things too, so I will not fall apart. So I will not be overwhelmed by forces that seek to undo me.   With Your help I can stand strong, and not be moved. Thank You. Amen

Psalm 15:1-5

July 18 Order from Chaos

Father, for the last several chapters, You have shown me how David and his commanders allotted all the jobs that needed to be done, to the Israelites. There was a job for every person and a person for every job. From the priestly duties in the Temple concerning worship, to defending the people and guarding the gates in the wall around Jerusalem. There were people who took care of all the building and supplies, all the flocks and herds, and all the king’s business.

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It reminds me that You are a God of order, not chaos. I usually start off my day with a plan of order. You know all too well how many times those plans have dissolved into chaos. My house starts out the month in order. Then life happens, and chaos takes over. Sometimes it takes an unexpected emergency like water in the basement or some planned entertaining activity to motivate the family into cleaning up again and putting things in order.

I marvel at how You know humans so well, and give us what we need. You know that I need order. You created this world I live on with painstaking care. Every planet in the solar system is ordered. The geology of the planet earth is stable enough that I don’t see mountains from my window one day and valleys the next. The seasons change, giving us variety in weather patterns, but the seasons always come in the same order. And the human body is amazingly organized, down to the pattern of neurons in our central nervous system and brain; and the arteries and veins that carry blood.

So I get the benefit and security of knowing that night always follows day; Summer always follows Spring. Thank You for knowing me so well; what I need to feel safe and secure in the world. Thank You for going to such great lengths in creating this beautiful planet; with it’s specific gravity, air pressure, radiation levels, temperature, and path through the solar system, to provide stability to sustain my life. Thank You for the constancy I see repeated in the cycles: sprouting, growth, maturity, fruitfulness, harvest, hibernation, rebirth.

When chaos increases in my life, it’s a signal I need to spend more time with You. Help me be more organized. Remind me I need to be consistent in devoting time to You. Show me how to set right priorities.   And how to stick to them.   Thank You for Your loving help. Amen

I Chronicles 23:1-27:34

July 17 Your Truth delivers me

Helmet of Salvation

Dear Father, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” It seems some days are harder than others. If even one negative thought comes into my head, it can bring me down. I glumly mull it over and the thought generates an emotional response. Very easily other negative thoughts join in and pile up on each other till I am feeling discouraged

Quickly enough, discouragement heaps on even more ‘should have, would have, could haves’ until I am feeling out of control, overwhelmed and depressed and join with the psalmist in saying “Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death”. In my own words, ‘Help me or I’ll just die.’

It is surprising how quickly simple thoughts can lead to anger, fear, frustration, until I am not only emotionally upset, but also experience a physical response which can leave me with a headache or feeling sick to my stomach. It impairs my judgment and my ability to function efficiently, whether at work or at home. I can’t even relate to people normally in my agitated condition.

“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”   You have already given me a wonderful solution to this problem. If only I would remember to use it!   The battle begins in my mind. And You have given me a piece of armor to protect my mind – the Helmet of Salvation.   It guards my thoughts and gives me the ability to take them captive and hold them up to Your truth. It also gives me the ability to understand and memorize Your truth so I have it at the ready when I need it.

Your truth can help me stop the flow of wrong and negative thoughts. The evil one uses these, preferring that I remain sidelined in discouragement and depression, unable to defend myself. He will use these kinds of half-truths and deceiving lies to mislead and condemn me. But when held up to the truth, they are shattered and scattered.

One way I can know if a thought comes from You, is that You convict whereas satan condemns. He would make me feel like a hopeless, dirty, rotten, sinner. You may correct me, but Your words lift me up, motivate and empower me to make the needed corrections. Your words generate hopefulness. His produce hopelessness.

Lord, remind me, to use this amazing gift! When a negative thought comes, prompt me to hold it up to Your truth immediately. Help me build into my memory an arsenal of truth from Your scriptures. When I memorize scripture I can use it to combat the lies seeking to discourage me and control my thinking. Then I can confidently deal with whatever truth You show me. “I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me!” Amen

Psalm 13:1-6

July 16 Robed in Righteousness

clothed-in-christThank You Father for giving me a righteousness I could never earn on my own. You know human tendencies and have proclaimed “There is no one righteous, not even one.” David even wrote in a song: “the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men”. When You gave the Law You knew no one could ever live up to that standard. What it did was make people aware of their sin, pointing them to their need for a Savior.

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the Law, has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. This righteousness from God comes from faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”   The Savior that was needed is a gift from You. So thanks to You, I have the righteousness that will allow me to live and be with You forever.

David knew this righteousness, even in his sin. And he knew You would keep Your promise to him. He had dreams for his son, as I have for mine, and prayed for Solomon. I join him in asking that my sons “will be [men] of peace and rest…that You would be with them and give them success…may You give [them] discretion and understanding…[may they] be strong and courageous and not afraid or discouraged.”

Father, I thank You for Your righteousness. Apart from You I have nothing. I am nothing.   You protect me and keep me safe. No matter the circumstance, my faith and my trust are in You.   Amen

I Chronicles 22:1-13; Romans 3:9-26; Psalm 12:1-8

July 15 Lessons from David

board-LessonsDavid, who was known as a ‘man after God’s own heart’ ordered that a census be taken of the Israelites. The implication here is that he wanted to know how many fighting men he had available. It seems like a reasonable thing to do to the logical mind. But what the scripture says is that “satan incited David to take a census of Israel”.

So the question becomes: how or why did this happen? One observation is that “In that Spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem.” So it’s possible that if he had been present with the troops, where he should have been, he would have seen first-hand how many men he had. Or it could be that his faith in Your ability to continue to give him military victories was waning and he wanted to bolster his confidence by seeing the numbers?

What he should have done when this idea came to him, was hold it up to what he knew of You. And seek Your counsel on whether or not to go ahead with it. It seems that even his commander Joab knew this was a bad thing.   His response to David was “Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”

So Father, help me to learn from this mistake David made. First, if there is a place I am supposed to be, do not let me make excuses to avoid being there. Help me take my responsibilities seriously and not be swayed by fear, or laziness, or arguments to the contrary. If I am in the center of Your will, I am less vulnerable to the suggestions and oppression of satan.

Next, bolster my faith so it doesn’t fail me. When I hear the whisperings of satan telling me to question myself or Your love and faithfulness to me, let me come against those lies with the truth of scripture. If satan tells me ‘What do you think you’re doing? You can’t do that?’. Let me respond with “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13. If he taunts me with ‘You’re not good enough/smart enough’ let me respond with Your truth that I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the work which He has prepared in advance for me.” Ephesians 2:10. If I hear a voice saying ‘You’ve made so many mistakes, you’re worthless’, I can boldly respond with “I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12.

If You place people in my life to speak the truth to me, like Joab did for David, do not allow me to be too stubborn or bull-headed to listen to them.

Mostly, Father, let me be consistent to always lay my plans before you, asking if it is Your will. Then listen to and be obedient to Your response to me. Regardless of how illogical it may seem, or how much sense it may make to others, I desire to follow Your voice, the voice of my Shepherd.

David and his people paid a terrible price for his disobedience. Let me learn from his mistake, and be led by You. Amen

I Chronicles 21:1-30

 

July 14 The Bible : Your Gift to me

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Father, David inquired of You through the prophet Nathan. Back then people did not have all of Your Word for wisdom and direction. And the Torah, the part of the Word they did have, was only known to the Priests. So, since You spoke through the prophets, that is where David went to know Your will.

To hear from You now, I don’t have to go to a seer or prophet. I can read Your Word. Although it is not a privilege afforded to all people, it is still available to me freely in my country. Your Word, the Bible, is rich in wisdom, instruction, correction, encouragement, and tells me of Your great love for me. Time and time again I marvel at how words written so long ago have relevance and impact in my life today. And how I can read a passage of scripture one day, but at another time, it jumps off the page to me with personal revelation and meaning.

Once David had heard from You, he sat before You in prayer. He began by recognizing who he is and then acknowledging who You are. That is still a good pattern for me to follow.

“Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?” David wrote in Psalm 103, “You know how we are formed, You remember that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower in the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” My life is so temporary and short. And I am formed from dust with the breath of the Living God in me to give me life. All I am and all I have was given to me from, and is dependent on You, Lord. I am weak and imperfect and I so easily fall into sin. Who am I that You would concern Yourself with me?

“There is no one like You, O Lord, and there is no God but You.” You Lord God, on the other hand, are One of a kind. You are Supreme, Sovereign, Almighty, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Forever Faithful, Eternally Strong, Infinitely Wise, Unfathomably Creative, Immeasurably Imaginative, Inexhaustibly Compassionate, Unceasingly Merciful, and Everlastingly Loving.

I am forever grateful and eternally blessed to have You as my Father, my Savior, my Counselor, my Friend, my Lord.   Amen

I Chronicles 16:37-17:27; Psalm 103: 14-16  

July 13 Creation Speaks

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Father, I have heard many stories of how missionaries would go into a place no ‘civilized’ man had been before, and the native people already knew of You. They had a name for You. They knew Your character. And that You are the One True God who created and rules the universe.

Even if they have never seen a Bible, a preacher, or watched the “Jesus” film, they already knew of Your love and Your sacrifice for them and their sin. They understand their need of a Savior to be in restored relationship with You. When I read Romans, it became clear that this is part of Your plan. You are not dependent on modern methods to spread Your Gospel, the Good News.

When I first saw “Jesus Christ Superstar”, I resonated with the line in the song “if You’d come today You could have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4BC had no mass communication”.   Meaning that if You had waited, You could have had world wide coverage of the event and practically everyone in the world could have watched Your birth, life, death and resurrection on CNN or a televised reality show. But that wasn’t Your plan.

Paul writes such long and wordy sentences that it’s sometimes hard to follow. But I’m understanding that it is not in Your character to judge someone who is unaware of who You are. So to be just, You have given everyone this knowledge. Paul is saying that You are judging people who know You but intentionally suppress the truth of who You are.

They know this, because You have made it plainly clear to them. Ever since You created the world, You used that creation to display and clearly reveal Your eternal power and Divine Nature. That means man is without excuse! There is no reason, when seeing this world and all that’s in it, anyone could deny Your existence, Your character, or Your power.

Thank You for reaching every person with an understanding of who You are. Thank You for showing me so much of Your amazing creation. I have seen Your majesty in the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, vast oceans, wooded valleys, mighty rushing rivers, wide meadows, sand filled deserts. I have seen Your imaginative beauty in dazzlingly colorful sunrises and sunsets, fields of vibrantly colored flowers, and in the eyes and smiles of people of all colors.

I have watched Your mighty power in thunderheads building, lightening storms flashing, tornadoes whirling, waves crashing. Your spectacular creativity is displayed in the vivid and delicate colors of nature – especially in birds and bugs. Your dizzying workings are seen in the intricacies of tree roots and nervous and circulatory systems.

Thank You that You have made Yourself evident. And for the unimaginably beautiful and amazing way You have done it. Amen

Romans 1:18-20

July 12 Give me Victory!

Father, I want to be like the men You sent to be with David to make up his great army. These were men described as “armed for battle…ready for battle…brave…experienced…of undivided loyalty…armed with every type of weapon.”   I want to be ready for the battles I face. My flesh wars with me, tempting me into sin. The world around me seeks to draw me into its ungodly values. The evil one desires my destruction. Give me the discernment to know right from wrong in these confusing times and the courage to be loyal to You. Help me be prepared to stand up for what is right.

war-2362300_640You have given me weapons: Your Word, prayer, Your promise of wisdom when I ask for it, other believers around me for support. I know the power there is real. I have seen it over and over again. I have experienced Your blessings and amazing responses to prayer time and time again.

I also desire to be like the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”   Give me insight into the political and national issues and wisdom to understand the agendas behind the movements going on in my world today. Help me see the truth of things. Teach me to understand how to follow You and show me how to respond rightly.

Do not let me stand alone, Lord. You sent Paul “so that he might impart to you [other believers] some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”   In a similar way Lord, let me encourage and strengthen other believers around me, and let them encourage my faith.

Father, thank You for the friends and all those You have sent to walk beside me. Thank You for those who have prayed for me and for the prayers I make for them.   Your armor is the best. Your plan is sure. And I have read the end of the Book – You win!! I am so glad to be on Your team! Thank You for choosing me. Amen

I Chronicles 12:19-40; Romans 1:11-12

July 11 Make Mighty Men

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Father, I pray that my sons would be Mighty Men. Like those men You brought to surround and support David, let my sons be able and capable. Let them know what is right and not be afraid to stand up and fight for it.

I don’t mean I want them to be killers of men as David’s Mighty Men had to be, but to be of strong character. All the verses in today’s scriptures contain wisdom for those who would be open to learn. Father, let my sons have open eyes, ears and hearts to learn from You and Your Word. Show them truth in their lives, and do not let them be swayed or misled by the lies and deceit of the world or the evil one.

Like David’s Mighty Men, let them see Your hand at work in the world, and go to join You in it. Let them have the skills they need to be victorious in today’s battles. Today’s battles are not against the Philistines, but against greed, lust, envy, entitlement, spiritual strongholds, social pressures, political agendas and those who would derail them from Your purpose for their lives. Father, let them know the truth that will combat these lies and set them free.

Paul quoted the prophet Isaiah about the condition of the Israelites. Lord, let my sons be the opposite. So when they hear Your Word, let them understand it, as they see You at work, let them perceive how to work with You. Do not let their hearts become calloused, their ears deaf, or their eyes blind. But let them be open to You and understand with their hearts, and turn to You for healing.

Along with the psalmist, let them “praise You, O Lord, with all their hearts. Let them tell of Your wonders and be glad to rejoice in You. Let them sing praise to Your name. Turn their enemies back and cause them to stumble and perish.”  Uphold my sons, Lord. Teach them that You judge righteously.

As the Proverbs teach, Lord, “let their walk be blameless. Do not let them become fools with perverse lips. Do not let them be hasty and miss the way, or have zeal without knowledge. Do not let them rage against You. Help them learn from mistakes, so they will not ruin their lives with folly.” All these things will make them mighty men of the Lord. They will know You and trust in You, for You have never forsaken those who seek You.

I would desire to be all these things as well, Lord; to have these character traits, and be mighty in my faith. Let me be a good role model to my children and all those around me. Thank You, for doing more than I can even ask or imagine. Amen

I Chronicles 11:1-12:18; Acts 28: 25-27; Psalm 9:1-12; Proverbs 19:1-3

 

July 10 Time for Reconciliation

e92l8pwchd4-ben-white.jpgFather, You allowed the people of Judah and Israel to be taken captive, out of and away from the land You promised them: a land flowing with milk and honey. This was to be their resting place. This land, chosen from all the earth, would be where they could live in peace and worship You as they had promised to do. They would live out the covenant You had made with them and enjoy Your blessings all the days of their lives.

This land would produce crops enough to support the people. It would yield grass enough to support all the livestock so they would be healthy enough to reproduce with abundant milk to nurse the young. The flowering plants would provide ample pollen so the bees could make lots of honey. Thus: a land flowing with milk and honey!

But the people were unfaithful to You. They fell away from what they had promised to do, and worshipped idols like the pagan cultures around them. They gave offerings of all kinds to stone and wood figures. And even sacrificed their precious, living children as burnt offerings.

Yet, even in Your judgment of their unfaithfulness and idolatry, there was a limit. For You had promised that “if Your people, who were called by Your name, would humble themselves, and seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways, that You would forgive their sin and heal their land.” And at the end of their set time, they did indeed seek You.   And You brought them back.

O Father, thank You for this picture of reconciliation. It mirrors what You offer me. There are consequences when I sin. But You have promised that when I humble myself and turn from my sin, and seek Your forgiveness, that You will forgive my sin. Lord, there are so many ways I fall short of Your standard. I miss the mark. There are things I do that I shouldn’t, and things I should do that I don’t. I have spoken wrong words, done wrong things, thought wrong thoughts, and had wrong attitudes.

Lord, as You bring these to my mind, I agree with You that they are sin. I confess my sin and do not try and justify or legitimize it. I turn from it and ask for Your forgiveness. Thank You that You forgive. Thank You that Your blood pays the price my sin deserves. And that You purify me from my unrighteousness.  Thank You that You are a God of second chances…and third…and fourth… And that You have the power to free me from my sin.

And beyond that, when other believers also agree with You about what is sin in their lives, You hear their payers. Father, our culture is sin sick too. Open our eyes to the unfaithfulness and sin in our lives. When we call to You, and humble ourselves and turn away from that sin, You are able to heal our land. We need You Father, heal our land! Amen

1 Chronicles 9:1; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:9

July 9 You are my Refuge

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“Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.”

 

Father, I don’t use the word ‘refuge’ too often. But from the time I was young, I remember hearing about ‘refugees’ escaping other countries because the circumstances they lived in were so bad they had to flee to even survive. Some came on boats with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They had no food, no other clothing, no source of help. But they believed if they could only reach America, there would be hope and the possibility of a new, safe, good life.

So a ‘refuge’ is the place they go. It is the place where there is safety, protection, relief, shelter, help, provision.  It allows security from the pursuit of danger or trouble. So as these people fled the threats of their government and political and physical danger to find refuge in America, so I can come to You to find relief from the onslaught of attacks against me.

The flesh, the world and the evil one are all influences that war against Your wisdom, Your plan and Your purpose for my life. So I ask You to come to my aid. Defend me against all that seeks to destroy me, my godly relationships, my adoration and worship of You, my ministry in Your name, and my freedom to read and study Your Word. The evil one seeks to keep me fearful, discouraged, frustrated, and make my faith in You waver because of difficult circumstances. He desires my financial ruin, the destruction of my marriage, the smearing of my reputation, and personal moral failure. The enemy is always crouching at my door, waiting to devour me.

So I ask Father, for You to arise! “Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies… O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart…You will not back down from the fight, but will sharpen Your sword; and will bend and string Your bow. You have prepared deadly weapons; and have made ready Your flaming arrows.”

And “I will give thanks to You because of Your righteousness and will sing praise to Your name: The Lord Most High.” Thank You for being my refuge; for delivering me from the hand of the evil one who comes to harm, kill, and destroy. You are more powerful than anything he can bring against me. You are more powerful than all the world can throw at me, or even that my flesh can tempt me with. I trust in You. You are my refuge. Amen

Psalm 7:1-17

July 8 You are our Hope

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Be merciful to me, Lord…O Lord, heal me.” Father, there have been times when not only my body, but my soul have been sick with grief, with fear, with frustration. There are times when I do not understand why such bad things happen to good, seemingly innocent people and children.

Or why tragedies come: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires. Such devastation is hard to watch as the suffering and loss is personalized by the news reporting teams. And that doesn’t even include man’s inhumanity to man as I hear about shootings and bombings and the violent plans of bloodthirsty men.

As hard as all this is to take in, there are the invisible tragedies as well. These are the spiritual disasters that occur when people are deceived and led away from You into lives of confusion and sin. As I see hate and mistrust grow in my family, community and nation I wonder where it will end. How bad can it get O Lord, before You come and deliver?

I see children rebelling, pulling away from the godly way their parents have raised them. When will they come to their senses Lord? I see young people swayed into immoral lifestyles by the social tolerances of the day. What one generation has allowed in moderation, the next has taken to excess. Greed runs rampant. Self is exalted. Consequences are non-existent. But the spiritual cost is beyond measure.

While it all looks fun on the outside, many of these people are tortured in their personal life. They are trapped in a web of self-doubt and pain, discontented with life. The more they seek to satisfy ‘self’ the more dissatisfied and confused they are. The further away they get from Your truth, the more lost they are, and unable to even recognize truth.

“How long, O Lord, how long? Turn and deliver; save because of Your unfailing love.” Your love and deliverance are the only hope.   For my family, my community, my nation. Father, turn the hearts of sons back to fathers. “Open the eyes of those who have been drawn away from You, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to You, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in You.”

“Father, hear my cry for mercy. Accept my prayer.” I long for and wait for the time when all Your enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; and will turn back in sudden disgrace.” And You will be remembered and worshipped as the One True God. In my family, In my nation. In the world. I need, we need Your mercy Father. And Your healing. Thank You that You hear my cry, and answer. Amen

Acts 26:18; Psalm 6:1-10

July 7 Hear my morning prayer

sunrise-1513802_640Father, like You granted Jabez’s request, would You also “bless me and enlarge my territory. Let Your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.“

Like You acted in Paul’s life, would You orchestrate my circumstances to allow for opportunities to bring You glory, and would You fill my mouth with the words to say as I give testimony to Your greatness.   Although Paul’s situation of being in prison did not change, You allowed a greater and greater audience for Your truth to be spoken.   There are situations in my life that I would prefer be changed so I don’t have to deal with the hardships they bring and the worry they cause. But I am willing to accept whatever conditions You allow, knowing that You are with me, and will defend me, and will use them to Your glory.

Thank You Lord, that this “morning You heard my voice. As I laid my requests before You,” I know You were listening and are able to act in even the most complicated of circumstances. I was able to get up and go on with my day, knowing and trusting that You are in control as I “wait in expectation”.

“Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness…make straight my way before me. I take refuge in You, so let me be glad; let me ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over me, and all who who love Your name and rejoice in You…Surround me with Your favor as with a shield.”

If my husband or sons or I have offended each another, let us be soft-hearted towards one another. Rather than being like fortified cities, where entry is barred, let them open their gates to each other and welcome each other in brotherly love. Bless them Lord, and surround them also, with Your favor. Amen

1 Chronicles 4:9-10; Acts 25:1-27; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 18:19

July 6 I am a sheep

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

CindySheepThis reminds me of the 23rd Psalm. The sheep are made to “lie down in green pastures”.   And although I would much rather be thought of as an eagle or lion, I am very much like a sheep. I’ve recently learned that sheep need four things to be able to lie down and sleep. They need freedom from fear, anxiousness, hunger, and pests.

A sheep’s main fear is from predators. Because they don’t have speed or cunning or defensive claws, talons or fangs; they rely on their shepherd for protection from predators. Anything can spook them. It is the watchfulness and skill of their shepherd that allows them to feel safe enough to put fear out of their minds.   And it is the same with me. I know there is no enemy, real or imagined, that is too big, no foe more powerful than You, my Shepherd. You are my shield, my fortress, my deliverer. There is no enemy that is a match for Your power. You can see an enemy coming from any direction, any time, because You are everywhere, all the time.   So I am safe and can rest when I am in Your presence.

Anxiousness in the flock comes from the rivalry and competition for status and position. Like a ‘pecking order’ with chickens, sheep have a ‘butting order’. It’s hard to eat or sleep in peace when being rammed or butted out of the way is a possibility.   When the shepherd appears, the flock’s attention is shifted; the butting stops, and rivalries are forgotten.   Similarly, there is tension in many of my relationships. In some, there is jealousy, in some, rivalry, hurt feelings, or a sense of being ‘done wrong’ or not appreciated. But in Your presence Father, none of that matters. Those things fade. I’m humbled. I’m relaxed and content. When I put my focus on You, my Shepherd, I am in a place of peace.

When sheep are hungry, they will stay on their feet and continue to wander around for one more mouthful. Until they are satisfied, they will not lie down. Besides physical hunger, if I am emotionally or spiritually unsatisfied, I cannot rest. It is only You, Father, who can meet all my needs. Rather than continue to chew on the same old issues and sins, You have shown me a ‘promised land’ where I can live in Your victory and have all I need. There, is peace and safety.

Sheep can be tormented and driven to distraction by all kinds of flies and ticks. Without the care of a good shepherd who applies repellants, dips and balms, a flock will be unable to eat or sleep at all. They can literally be ‘bugged’ to death. When things ‘bug’ me, I too need to come to You, my Shepherd. Lying down to go to sleep, all the worries of the day return to replay in my mind.  There have been nights I hardly slept, anxious about my circumstances and what I would do. But when I give them over to You, Lord, You give me a new perspective. I see things differently. You show me ways to deal with things, solutions I couldn’t have imagined.  Or tell me to stand aside and You will handle it for me.   Or help me forget about it and move on. You give me peace, so I can sleep.

Thank You for being my Good Shepherd. Remind me to take advantage of the peace and safety You offer me. Remind me to spend time in Your presence. There I find freedom from all fears, anxiousness, hunger and pests. When my sleep is sweet, it is a gift from You. And You alone, O Lord. Amen

Psalm 4:8

July 5 My Defender

How amazing You are, Father. You knew what Paul was headed for and You told him to “Take courage” just when he needed it. You also worked out that a relative learned about the plot against Paul’s life. And predisposed the Commander of the barracks to be willing to listen to a boy. Because he took the boy’s story seriously, it preserved Paul’s life and gave him the opportunity for a greater testimony.

There is no doubt that You involve Yourself with life circumstances here on earth. And intercede to bring about Your purposes. Thank You that I am assured that You not only know what will come next in my life, but will prepare me for it, encourage me through it, and cause things to work together for me. I can trust this to happen, because I can trust You.

roman shield“O Lord, no matter how many are against me, You are a shield around me.” You protect me from their attack. You repel the arrows fired at me. You stop the fiery darts flung at me. You deflect the blows directed at me. I can stand behind You, as I would stand behind a battle shield and be safe. Not something that looks like a flimsy garbage can lid, but a battle shield: reaching from my head to my feet. And wide enough to cover me so that when I stand next to another, our shields meet and form a wall. This shield is thick enough and covered with materials that will prevent penetration by darts or arrows. And it is shiny to reflect the sun and blind the enemy so I am a hard target to find.

“When I cry out to You, You answer me!” You speak to me through Your Word and in prayer. You have ways to reach me I haven’t even imagined. “And when I lie down, and sleep, I wake again because You watch over me. You sustain me.” When I cannot defend myself, You are there, protecting me.

So “I will not fear – even when I see my enemy drawn up against me…You will arise! You will deliver me!” Thank You Father for Your immeasurable love for me, for Your unfathomable power which You use to strike down my enemies. All praise to You! Amen

Acts 23:11-35; Psalm 3:1-8

July 4 We depend on You

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O Father, Your people didn’t think that judgment would come. But You sent Pharaoh Neco from Egypt in the west to take Judah’s king in chains and tax and oppress the people. Then Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon in the east came twice to burn Jerusalem and strip the land of the last of its treasures and people. Your people went into exile, taken from their land, to be prisoners in a foreign place.

It was just as You had promised. Your people ignored Your covenant and the prophets You sent and followed their leaders into disobedience and idolatry. And paid the price for their choices.

Father, You give me a choice today. You show me how to live by Your Word. You teach me right from wrong. Your values and morality are clear. But my society lives by a different standard. And most of the people believe You will not judge. Although You have the greatest love, You also hate sin. And You have said there will come a time for judgment.

I believe that time is nearing. Father, help my nation hear Your warnings and turn back to You. Help me in my own life, make choices that are according to Your Word. Help me not simply make the easiest choices, or the most popular ones; but give me understanding to know how to make the right choices. Let me live my life for an audience of One: You.

Help me recognize my own sin and turn from it. Strengthen me to do what is right even when it is hard. Let others see that I love You. And that I live my life accordingly.

“Let the kings be wise; and the rulers of the earth be warned. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. And all who take refuge in the Lord will be blessed.” Amen

2 Kings 23:31-25:30; Psalm 2:1-12

July 3 Your Word nourishes me

Father, at age twenty-four, King Josiah read Your Words for the first time. They affected him so profoundly that he wept and tore his robes. He gave orders to the priests and others to bring the country’s worship practices in line with what You commanded. He rid the nation of all other idolatry and led his people in worshiping the One True God.

O Lord, I pray that Your Word would still have that effect on people. Let it be true in my life, that when I read Your Word, it’s meaning is clear to me, and I immediately obey what it says. If I misunderstand, let me hear Your voice correcting me. If I forget to obey, remind me.   And if I don’t want to obey, change my attitude.

tree streamAs in the Psalm, make me like a tree planted by streams of water. This is a tree that will always have the moisture it needs for its roots to go down deep into the soil and feed from the rich nutrients in the earth to make it strong. Such a tree will not wither or loose its leaves, but will remain healthy and strong the whole year. Let me grow in this manner so my faith will yield abundant and good fruit when the time is right: fruit that will glorify and bring honor to You. Make me strong in my faith, able to withstand the heat, the cold, the wind and storms. Bless my actions and my service to You with abundance.

Father, let me know Your Word intimately so it is my strength and my guide. Let me speak boldly of my relationship with You to encourage others. And let these things create in me the fruit in me, like the tree, that brings about a bountiful harvest that honors You and nourishes others. Amen

2 Kings 22:3-23:30; Psalm 1:1-6

July 2 Teach me to number my days

hourglass-1623517_640Father, You sent word through Isaiah that Hezekiah would die.   I have often wondered: if I could know when I will die, would I want to? It’s an interesting question. This kind of curiosity started in the Garden of Eden. When the serpent held out the possibility of being ‘like God’, having Your knowledge and wisdom, Eve bit!

But beyond the simple curiosity factor, how would I react if I knew when the end would come?

Even though I know intellectually, that everyone dies, including me, it’s not something I think about from day to day.   I tend to put it out of my mind and live as if I have years or even decades ahead of me. But, if, for instance, I received information that I have a medical condition that comes with an expiration date, it would be a sobering realization.

If I were given such information, would I set about reworking my priorities?   Would I ‘put my house in order’ as Hezekiah was told to do? Would I cry out to You for more time? It would definitely disrupt my thinking, my activities, my attitudes, and the way I relate to people. I would be more motivated to orchestrate my remaining time…

Father, help me live my life now, as if every day were a precious gift from You, not to be wasted or squandered. Show me how to arrange my priorities, recognizing what is really important. Do not let me waste time in foolish pursuits or on meaningless tasks. Show me the godly relationships You want me to cultivate, and how to let go of and separate myself from the ungodly ones.

I want to be thankful for every single day You give me. So I will praise You every day. Father, I worship You for who You are: Your character that never changes, Your faithfulness, Your gentleness, Your love towards me, Your righteousness and Your omnipotence. I thank You for all You have done: created this amazing universe, established a way of salvation, given me Your Word for instruction and encouragement.   I appreciate Your hand of protection and provision in my life, as I have food, shelter, clothing, family, friends, and freedom.

And when I think about the end of my time here on earth, I have no fear of what comes after. Because I know You, I am not anxious about my future. I know I will spend eternity with You, and I can’t wait! Amen

2 Kings 20:1; Psalm 150:1-6; Psalm 90:12

July 1 A good king – a great prayer!

Finally Father, a good king! Hezekiah was a good king (few and far between) of the southern kingdom of Judah. He removed the high places that other kings had allowed to be used for pagan worship and smashed all the sacred stones and Asherah poles.

During one of Assyria’s attacks, Hezekiah prayed to You because the Assyrian king mocked and ridiculed You, claiming You could not save Your people. And You answered and delivered them.  I echo those powerful words.

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“Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made heaven and earth.  Give ear, Oh Lord, and hear; open Your eyes Oh Lord, and see, listen to the words [of the world and the evil one], sent to insult the living God. “

“It is true, Oh Lord, that (the evil one) has attacked and laid waste (to many, winning victories over their lives).  Now, Oh Lord, our God, deliver (me and my loved ones) from the hand of the enemy “- from any plot or plan to derail me, or us from the purpose and plan You have for our lives  – from any lies or deception the world or the evil one would use to oppress us – from any harm the enemy would seek to do in our lives, whether physical, mental, emotional, psychological, intellectual, social, financial, political or spiritual – “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, alone, Oh Lord, are God. “

My loved ones and I may not have to do battle on horseback with spears, but our enemies are real.  Powers and forces come against our family, our godly values, our emotions, our finances, our life circumstances; all trying to defeat us and make us lose our faith in You.

Your response to Hezekiah was positive and powerful. I desire the same victory You gave Him, Father:   “The enemy will not enter (my life or the lives of my loved ones) or launch an attack (against us).  The enemy will not come against us with shield or build a siege ramp against us (to gain a foothold in our lives or cause devastation within our walls).  By the way that the enemy came (to oppress us,) he will leave and will not enter.  You will defend us and save us, for Your own sake. “    

You were true to Your Word to Hezekiah, and I know You will be faithful to me. Father, thank You that there is nothing too big and nothing too small for me to ask of You.   You have the power, the authority and the desire to act. Thank You that You can do immeasurably more than I can ask, or even imagine, in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones – so that You will get all the glory!  Amen

2 Kings 18:13-19:37

June 30 Faithful living

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Paul’s last words to the leaders of the church at Ephesus set quite an example for believers to follow. I also pray that I will be able to say to my friends: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came to you… I served the Lord with great humility and with tears…I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you…to turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Lord, help me to be consistent in my actions and live out my service to You in a way that will show my friends what I believe and what I stand for. Help me be humble in my manner, not seeking personal recognition or displaying a prideful attitude. Let me use my words and my behavior to teach others how to love You and serve You.   Help me be an encouragement to their faith.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say, that I have “finished the race and completed the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” So Father show me what is next. Show me how to join You in Your work in a way that will deepen our relationship, and bring You glory.  Open my eyes and ears and heart to You so I don’t miss out! Amen

Acts 20:1-38

June 29 Standing Firm

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O Father, how Your heart must ache when Your people choose to turn away from You! You have given me all I need for an abundant life, yet the society I live in, and the one the Israelites lived in, pull people away from You to continually seek after other things.

When the kings over Your people were bad, they worshipped idols in the open, even sacrificing living children by fire.   They fought battles according to their own strength, or bought allies with the treasures from Your Temple. When the kings were not evil, and led the people back to worship You, they still did not remove the high places and Asherah poles, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

The values and attitudes of their society had become so evil, that this behavior was accepted by even the good kings. But it was not acceptable by You. And eventually You sent armies from the east to conquer and capture Your people, taking them into exile.   This was as You had promised. You outlined their options for blessing and cursing, and they made their choice.

Lord, how often in my life do I allow the ungodly values of my society to sway me, divert me from what You have told me is true? Often what is evil is accepted as good. And even the good leaders abide by it as if it were ok. Do we think as a society that there will be no accounting? That’s what the Israelites thought. Didn’t work out so well for them. And I fear it won’t work out in these times either.

When Your Word spread in Ephesus, people who practiced sorcery burned their scrolls, and idol worshippers stopped buying the silver idols. As the economic impact increased, so did the opposition! Society today would also prefer that believers keep their faith to themselves. When it begins to impact political issues or economic factors, there is friction.

Father, as You have called me to live in the world, You have also separated me, set me apart from it. Help me understand how to be ‘in’ the world while being separate from it. Remind me to question values, holding them up against what Your Word says. Only then will I know I am on solid ground. Show me if there is any value or attitude I need to change to be right with You. And strengthen me to do it, amid, or even against, the pull of society. Amen

2 Kings 15:1-16:20; Acts 19:13-41

June 28 In God I Trust

coins-1277095_640O Father, how easy it is to follow someone when they bring good into my life.

When the Israelites escaped the power of Aram (the opposing, oppressive king) it was easy to look at Jehoahaz, their own king, and follow him. But the deliverance came from You, not Jehoahaz, and the people continued to follow him in evil idolatry. Jeroboam, grandson of Jehoahaz recovered the lost territories and restored the boundaries to Israel, but also led the people into sin, doing evil in Your eyes.

Still today, military victories draw people to follow the man who brings them. People of my times follow, even worship, those with money, fame, political power. They are awed and swept away to place their trust in those who mislead and later, disappoint them. They support these ‘champions’ by touting their philosophies, defending their causes, sending them money. This is a form of worship.

Even good men, who desire to lead godly lives: pastors, evangelists; fail morally, and cause others who put their faith in them, to lose that faith. I have looked up to such men: pastors, athletes, politicians, and been pained to watch them fall.

You tell me “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.”   My faith has always been based on You, and Your truth. It is You who save; You, who made the earth and the heavens, the sea and everything in it. You are the one who works through men to accomplish Your will.

Father, it is You, the Lord Jesus Christ, who defends, upholds, feeds, frees, heals, encourages, loves, cares for, and sustains me. You frustrate the way of the wicked in my defense. You are the only One who has the power to reign and rule in my heart. You are the Author of my faith. Your plan will never fail. It will never end, because You do not end.

Father show me if I begin to follow another person, rather than You.   I desire to stay on Your path. Do not let my foot slip. Do not let me stray one step away from You. I praise You, O Lord. You reign forever! Amen

2 Kings 13:1-14:29; Psalm 146:1-10

June 27 Even me

use me handsFather, I am so encouraged to read about Joash, one of the kings of Judah. He was seven years old when he began to reign. Seven years old! And You worked mightily through him! During his forty-year reign, he effected repairs on the temple, and brought the people back to following You. He did what was right in Your eyes.

I often wonder how I am equipped to serve You. I am not a healer, or preacher, or famous author with a large following. I’m not a missionary in a far off land, or a concert singer or evangelist.   Often Your Word says You use ordinary people.   “Elijah was a man just like us…” and yet Elijah became a powerful prophet. Moses claimed to be “slow of speech” yet he was Your instrument for delivering Your people from four hundred years of slavery.

It’s so easy to look at great people: both from Biblical times and those of my day, and feel completely inadequate.   Yet, here is this seven-year-old boy. And it gives me such hope, that if You would use a seven-year-old boy, You would use me too. It reminds me that it is not the ‘person’ with their talents, gifts, skills, and abilities that accomplishes anything. It is You! You are the One! It is Your power which accomplishes Your will. What You can do with any person who is sold out to You, is limitless! Even a seven-year-old boy. Even a simple, untrained girl. Even a sixty-year-old woman. Even me. Amen

2 Kings 10:32-12:21

June 26 You are my God

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“Praise be to You Lord! You are my Rock. You train my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” And I am in a battle Lord. A battle between good and evil rages in my country, my society. Help me stand firm for godly values amidst the onslaught of evil influences that elevate greed, selfishness, lust, envy, pride, laziness, murder, and all sorts of immorality.

“You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. My shield, in whom I take refuge…Part the heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightening and scatter the enemies; shoot Your arrows and rout them. Reach down Your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.” Father, You never promised I would not have to face difficulties, but You have promised to always be with me. You have said “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you…”. Help me take hold of Your hand and stand strong against the rushing waters the enemy sends to sweep me off my feet. Let me see through the veil of lies and deceit the enemy would try to use against me.

Make my sons “like well-nurtured plants”.   As plants need water, light and soil, let them grow strong and walk in the light of the “Son”.   Let them be watered by the Holy Spirit to revive and refresh them with Living Water. Give them a rich faith to nourish and feed them so they will produce fruit in season as a fruitful vine in Your care. Father, prune them to increase their fruitfulness so their lives bring honor and glory to You.   Make “my daughters like pillars”: strong and straight, beautiful to adorn a palace, of resilient character to stand for and display godly values.

Father, in rescuing me, You have “filled my barns with every kind of provision”. Meet my needs. You know what I need to meet the coming challenges You allow into my life. Prepare me to face them in faith and strength of character so I will be a strong witness for You. Meet my physical and economic needs. Bless my household out of Your abundant provision.   Show me how to share with others from the bounty You provide for me.

You have my thanks and my praise. “I will sing a new song to You.” You are my God. And I am blessed. Amen

Psalm 144:1-15; Isaiah 43:2a

June 25 Miracle Worker!

remember who God is_thumb[6]Lord God, You never cease to amaze me! You are involved so intimately in the lives of Your people! You genuinely care for them! It gives me such hope!

You warned the man and woman who made a room for Elisha to leave the country to spare them from a seven-year famine. And when they returned to beg for their house and land, You orchestrated that the king who could grant their plea, had just then heard about the miracle of Elisha raising their son from the dead! The timing couldn’t have been better! They received back what they had given up to obey You, and more!

When the ruler-ship had gotten so bad, leading Your people into idolatry, and doing only evil in Your eyes, You took action. You had a just and godly ruler anointed over Israel. Under Jehu, the line of Ahab was removed. The people were able to return to worshiping You.

When Your servants Paul and Silas were imprisoned, beaten, and put under special guard, You orchestrated an earthquake to free them! Even more, You allowed them to work in the lives of their enemy, sharing the Gospel with their jailer, and bringing salvation to him and his family!

How can I doubt that You, who have done all this on behalf of Your people, will do the same for me? How can I think that my problems are beyond Your help? You, who control earthquakes and famines, kings and jailers!

I am Your servant, Lord. So I cry to You for mercy. I rely on Your character of faithfulness and righteousness to defeat the enemy that pursues me and crushes me to the ground. Even when circumstances discourage me, and cause my spirit to grow faint and my heart to be dismayed, I remember these and other works of deliverance. I meditate on all You have done and consider the power in Your hands. And I know, without a doubt, that You will preserve me in Your righteousness. And that I am Yours forever. Amen

2 Kings 8:1-6; 9:1-13; Acts 16:16-40; Psalm 143:1-12

June 24 You are my Rescuer

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“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him; before Him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way…In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Listen to my cry for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.”

 

Father, there are things in my life that are too difficult for me. Things happening that I have no control over. Some anger or frustrate me, but some break my heart and I can hardly bear it. So I pour out my heart to You. I tell You all my troubles because You care for me. Because You can encourage and comfort me. Because You can help me cope. I know You can help me get a fresh perspective. You show me how to take action when I need to. And how to wait on Your deliverance when that is the case.

I turn to You because I am Yours; and You have resources I cannot even fathom or imagine. When troops had come to capture Elisha, he was not anxious or worried. You had already prepared deliverance for him and he was unafraid because You had opened his eyes to Your rescue. With confidence, he answered his servant: ”Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prayed for You to open his servant’s eyes to see the “hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around them”.

I have never seen horses or chariots of fire come to my aid; but there have been times when, without a doubt, You organized my rescue; my deliverance out of a situation where I saw no escape. I remember times when I was so frightened at the possibility of tragedy, and You gave me a picture of peace that carried me through. You showed me new ways to face what lay before me, and encouraged me to go on.

“You are my refuge…I will praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.” I will share what You have done for me – not only to give You the praise and honor You deserve, but also to encourage other believers. What You do for me, You do for them. We encourage each other when we acknowledge Your deeds and give You glory. And You are glorious! Amen

2 Kings 6:8-23; Psalm 142:1-7

June 23 Strengthen me

thoughts words deeds cross

 

“Lord, I call to You; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to You.”

 

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

 

My mouth so often gets me into trouble. I speak before I think. Sometimes I hurt the ones I love. Sometimes it leads me into gossip, or even lies to make myself look better in the eyes of others. Sometimes I reveal too much to people who don’t understand or appreciate it, like casting “pearls before swine”.

Instead, I would prefer to use my words to bless, encourage, teach, and show I care. Help me measure out my words like precious commodities. Teach me to take time to think before I rush into spilling out whatever is on my mind. Especially when I am upset, Lord, it is hard keep my mouth shut, instead of sharing my pain, frustration, or anger. Remind me I can come to You with anything and everything. You are the One who can offer healing, encouragement, and restoration better than anyone else.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. Keep me from the snares they have laid before me, from the traps set by evildoers. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”

Father, if there is a lure, remove the worm and reveal the hook so I will not be caught and reeled in like a fish caught on a line. If there are hidden nets or snares, show me the truth behind the lies and deceit that would coax me into the trap. Lord, I know there are times when the evil one is out to derail me. But there are also times when my own flesh and the world’s desires tempt me into things I should not be involved with. Father, keep me from those things too. Do not let me even toy with the thought of wanting them, or thinking I deserve them, or thinking I can get away with having them. I have heard that voice in my head that says such things, trying to justify my behaving in a way I know is wrong.

Strengthen me with Your power. In my thoughts, my words and my actions. In You, I take refuge! You are my Sovereign Lord, and my eyes are fixed on You! Amen

Psalm 141:1-10

June 22 God Delivers

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“Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men and women; protect me from people of violence who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up dissension and war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers in on their lips. Selah”

Father, as I think about this, I think of those who have made, planted and exploded bombs to hurt and kill random people, or targeted specific ones. And those who have taken lethal weapons and randomly attacked people around them. Some kill themselves in the process; some lay booby traps for even further devastation. The news reports on them and their stories. Some have political agendas. Some have emotional issues. Some are simply evil, and enjoy the resulting death and destruction.

Making their “tongues as sharp as serpents” allows them to masquerade as ‘normal’ until their deed is carried out. The poison in their words allows them to fool people around them into thinking nothing is wrong. Or possibly even lead others into the same darkness in which they operate. Their lies and deceit create confusion even after the fact, so that truth is hard to discern.

Father, “keep me from the hands of the wicked; protect me from people of violence who plan to trip my feet. They have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path.”

“Do not grant the wicked their desires. O Lord; do not let their plans succeed…”

Father, beyond those who would seek to kill, there are those who would delight in keeping me from Your righteous path; from living a godly life. Those who would enjoy the moral failure of any believer. Protect me and my loved ones from any who would act or plan to draw us away from You, or cause us to stumble in our pursuit of a closer relationship with You.  Do not allow ego, misunderstanding, or emotions to lead me away. Do not let me fall into hopelessness or depression that would keep me distant from You.   Protect my mind, my emotions, my body, my spirit from any and all attacks,

“You are my God! Hear, O Lord, my cry for mercy. O Sovereign Lord, my strong Deliverer…”  Amen

Psalm 140:1-13 

 

June 21 In You I am made and known

FatherShepherdCreatorOh Father! There is no person or created being like You! Nothing on earth, or beneath the earth, or in the heavens above. There is no other who knows me inside and out. Although billions and billions of people have lived, You are personally familiar with who I am. You recognize me; see what I do, when I come and where I go, when I lie down and when I get up. Other people might also know me that well, but You also know me on the inside. You know when I have a thought, and what it is. You see into my mind and heart to know my motivation for all that I do. When I am forming a sentence, You know what I will say even before I speak.

You are everywhere at all times. So there is no place I can go where You are not already there and can see me. There is no place to hide from Your presence. I could go as far as is humanly possible, into the depths of the earth, or beneath the sea, or out into the vastness of space beyond the other planets and stars; and You would already be there. There is nothing that can conceal me from Your watchful eye. Even darkness does not prevent You from seeing me.

In one way, You are like a parent who knows their child. A parent learns the aptitudes and personality of their child so well that the child’s actions do not surprise the parent. Even motivation can be seen sometimes because children are often so transparent in their behaviors.   Because they are younger, they are limited in their ability and thinking so a parent can often hem them in to protect and teach them. But You are much more than simply older and wiser than me, as a parent is to a child. As a child is amazed by the power and ability and wisdom of a parent, I am amazed by You – to the zillionth power!

In another way, You are like a Shepherd who knows his sheep. A shepherd knows what his sheep need; and sheep cannot provide what they need for themselves.   Sheep cannot feed themselves, protect themselves or heal themselves when they are sick. Beyond how to provide for their basic needs, the shepherd also knows the sheep individually: which sheep will be trouble and which are compliant. He knows the condition of each sheep at all times, and how to provide for whatever conditions demand.   The sheep depend on, rely on, their shepherd for their care from birth to death. But even as far beyond the understanding of a sheep the shepherd is, You are farther still above me.

In Your sovereignty and power, You created my body, my mind, my spirit – before I was even born! You formed all that would be me in my mother’s womb. How amazing is that!   You have the power of life! It is by Your design that I have two hands that give me the ability to work and craft, and gently hold a baby. It is by Your design that I have two eyes that can see the wonder You created in the beauty of the earth: flowers, birds, mountains, oceans, a sunrise! You gave me ears that hear, a brain that thinks, a mouth that speaks! You chose when I would be born, where, and to whom! And You will close my eyes when my time on earth is ended.

In all this, You gave me the ability to know You. As You reveal Yourself to me in Your Word, and as we communicate in prayer, I am blown away by who You are. Your thoughts, Your creativity defy human imagination and understanding. They are too wonderful for me. And I am blessed beyond measure to know You.

Continue to lead me, teach me, test me, mature me, Father. Know me. And let me know You. Amen

Psalm 139:1-24

June 20 Every Word counts

Psalm138banner“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me;”

Father, this verse has been so encouraging to me. Many times it has spoken to me of Your divine purpose, of Your sovereignty to act, or Your personal interest and caring love for me.

Funny how when I say a sentence, the meaning changes a little depending on which word I stress. So in learning more about this verse, to better hear what You are saying to me, I focus on one word at a time. Emphasizing each word, one at a time, meaning is added.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. The One. The Only. Not just any lord, but You: The Lord. The One who created the universe! Who made every animal, every plant, placed every star, and breathed life into man.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me – meaning that it is Your work to do it and Your power that will bring it about. While I need to be obedient and do my part, I don’t need to run around and worry about how it will all get done. You have prepared. You know the details. And it is by Your hand that all will be accomplished.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me – meaning that it is a certainty! It is to be accomplished.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me – not just do the minimum to get by, but achieve fully! All the requirements, all the necessities, will be taken care of completely.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. You have a plan. It is not required that I dream up something to do for You, but work with You in Your plan, not my own.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. I am not in this world by accident, or just to get by from one day to the next. There is a reason I am here. You already know the skills, talents, and gifts You have placed in me, and have carefully thought out and prepared something to motivate me with an end in mind.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. It is on behalf of and will benefit me.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me – not my brother or sister or my friend; but the unique individual You created to be me.

Each time I restate it, the power of its truth grows. I need to know scripture. I need to understand what it means, and know how it applies to my life personally. Thank You for this one way of helping me get more understanding from scripture.

Psalm 138:8a English Standard Version

June 19 Your Word, Your Spirit, Your Voice

God's Word 3Precept??Father, how amazing that You sent Your Word through prophets to the kings of Israel to give them direction, instruction, correction, even advice on successful battle plans! You sent specific word to Ahab to determine that he should fight against the thirty-three kings and their armies and chariots assembled. You told him who should lead the attack, when, and who would win!

I often wish there were such easily discernable ways I could hear from You. If only You would send me an email, or write across the sky to inform me about decisions or concerns I face.

And then I realize – You have written me a letter! It’s Your Holy Word. If I take the time to read it, often, things become clear. If I had never read the Bible, I wouldn’t know that in it, You have already included instructions for godly, moral living. You have already made Yourself very clear on many topics that relate to me today. Instead of hearing of and memorizing only scattered verses, I need to feed myself, and know the entirety of what You have to say to me.

So, reading Your word is a start. Studying it for a deeper understanding is also important. Then connecting the dots to how what You have said impacts my life, is crucial. Some Bible study methods have big words for this: observation, interpretation, application. Very simply, it is asking: What are You saying? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?

A big part of the burden to hear from You, then, is on me to listen to what You have already said. But to help me even more, You have given me, and every believer, the Holy Spirit. Part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to help me understand, apply, and live by what Your Word says to me. I need to pay attention to what it is telling me, and be obedient, not ignore, discard, or drown out what I hear.

Thank You that I can hear from You just as specifically as those who heard the prophets speak. You have given me so much more to help me in knowing You and understanding You. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the Holy Spirit. Help me make reading and studying Your Word a priority for my time and energy. Do not let me quench the Holy Spirit. And thank You that I can even talk to You personally in prayer. And know that You hear me. And trust that You’ll answer. What an awesome God! Amen

I Kings 20:1-22

June 18 You know what I need

prayer answersFather, how reassuring to know that You listen to me; that You pay attention to my prayers. You listened to Elijah when he was so burned out. And to the believers gathered in Jerusalem who interceded for Paul’s release.

I too, have had times when I felt burned out; when I had done all I could possibly do, and was at the end of myself. With Elijah, You provided for him and gave him a plan. You appeared as an angel and fed him, then gave him directions for a personal meeting with You.   When he responded that he was overwhelmed and done, You gave him release from his ministerial duties. You allowed him to anoint replacements. Hazael and Jehu would take over the battle against the idolatrous rulers and people. And Elisha would become the next prophet. You heard the needs of Elijah and answered. How reassuring to know that You know me and know my limitations too, and will always have a plan to help me cope.

The believers in Jerusalem prayed; and as a response You sent an angel to release Peter from prison, sparing his life. This was a miracle, as he was literally shackled to two guards, and under the watch of sixteen of Herod’s soldiers.   How heartening to know that when You answer prayer, physical restrictions cannot limit You!

Already in my life I have seen answers to prayer. Sometimes the answer is “Yes”. Sometimes it is “No” for one reason or another, or “Wait”. Sometimes, it is “I will answer your prayer, child, but I have a better plan.” And I am usually amazed that You find ways of answering that surprise and delight me: things I had never thought of!

Thank You Father, that You are not limited by what I can think of as solutions to difficulties and problems. Thank You that Your power is not limited; it is boundless! Thank You that You are merciful and wise in Your answers: not always giving me what I ask for. Thank You, that You, the God of the Universe, listen to and answer prayer. Amen

I Kings 19:1-21; Acts 12: 1-19

June 17 Send Your Fire!

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For three years, Lord, You withheld rain and dew from the land. The people had to deal with severe drought. Not only did no rain mean the crops were scanty, and eventually dried up altogether; but the streams and brooks began to dry up too. Grain was harder and harder to find to make bread. Olive groves were not producing fruit so oil was hard to get too.

The drought had caused a famine so severe that not only crops, but grass for the livestock had vanished as well: to the point that King Ahab was going to have to kill livestock because they could not be kept alive.   All this happened because the people had turned away from You. They had abandoned what they knew to be right and true. They had not kept Your commands, but had followed and worshipped other gods.

Even in my times Father, You are not honored. You are not obeyed. Like then, people have been led away from You to worship many things: self, fame, money, possessions, status, environment, political ideologies, man’s philosophies.   The values people live their lives by are not godly ones. And there is a drought. The life-giving water of Your Word has not been acknowledged in a long time.

But rain is coming! The stage is set, and Elijah is sent to call the people back.   I Kings 18 tells of the showdown Elijah set up to prove Your supremacy. Since Baal was worshipped as a god of many things – rain, thunder, fertility of the land, agriculture; he should have been able to provide for the crops during those 3 years. He did not. He was also supposed to be the god of fire, so it should have been an easy thing for his power to burn up the offering his priests set up for him.   But although the priests called and danced and cut themselves, Baal did not answer.

At the end of the day, Elijah called the people and said, “Come to me”.   They did.   He soaked the wood and offering three times to make it even harder for a natural fire to be lit.   Then Elijah prayed. He prayed that the You would make Yourself seen and known to the people who were watching. That they would recognize and remember that You, the Lord, are God, and there is no other.   And that with this sign, this miracle, You would turn the people’s hearts back to You. You showed up!   The “fire of the Lord” fell and burned it all up!   And the people fell on their faces and cried “The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God!”

Father, would You send an Elijah to call the people back to You now.   Open the peoples’ ears to hear the call. Let them see Your miracle when it happens. Give them understanding to acknowledge Your hand in it. And let their faith be rekindled, renewed, as You turn people’s hearts back to You. So that from here on, people will trust that You, the Lord, are God; and there is no other. The stage is set. The time for so many people is now.   Father, send Your fire! Amen

I Kings 18:1-46