May 18 My Good Shepherd

Sheep??  Father here You refer to believers as sheep again.   Those dumb, smelly animals that seem to have no sense at all! 

stained-glass-1751919_640Without a shepherd looking out for them and rescuing them, they will perish.  They walk into running water, and due of the weight of their wet hair can be pulled under and drown.

They walk into briers and thorny thickets and get their hair so tangled they can’t move and will stand there till they starve.  Or they will wander away until they are too far from their protection and fall victim to predatory animals.

But in the same way, they are perfect to describe me.

I can go after something I think I want, taking risks till I am in a place where I am lost, and no longer safeI can find myself entangled in circumstances and relationships feeling like there’s no way out.

I have found myself in over my head with things moving so fast around me I become unbalanced and in danger of being swept awayI too need a shepherd.

You describe Yourself as The Good Shepherd, who knows His sheep, who will not lose one of His sheep, and who lays down His life for His sheep.  And takes it up again.  And for my part, even a stupid sheep knows their Shepherd’s voice.  And I have heard Yours.

You speak to me in Your Word of Your unconditional, sacrificial love for me.  You encourage me with scriptures that offer inspiration and strength.  You offer me direction with an inaudible voice in my heart.

You protect me when the wolf comes to attack.  And defend me from every enemy.  You amaze and bless me with the beauty and diversity of Your Creation: flowers, sunsets, vistas of mountains and beaches, a child’s face, a friend’s smile.

Thank You that You are my Good Shepherd, Lord.  And that I am Your sheep.  Amen

John 10:1-21

May 17 How do I praise?

Psalm 113 uses the word “praise” five times in three verses.  It must be important.  And yet not one I use much in everyday conversation.

praisesky-49520_640Yet PRAISE is one very significant way I demonstrate that You are a part of my life.  I give honor, worship, adoration to You, God in recognition of who You are, and in gratitude and thanks for what You have done.

I like to use acrostics to help me remember things.  To help me make PRAISE an intentional, doable action  – I see PRAISE as

                                                Putting

                                                Real

                                                Adoration

                                                Into

                                                Situations

                                                Every day

To me that means:

Putting:  I intentionally and on purposedo something

The groceries and the dishes don’t get put away unless someone does it.  It’s the same with Praise –it doesn’t just happen, someone has to do it.

Real:  in a genuine and sincere way, honest – not forced, not hurried

I take time to literally communicate to You.  Sometimes it’s by words, a statement or a prayer, sometimes I write it down in a letter or journal, or I might write a poem, or song – I might sing it!  Or just take a walk, taking a moment to speak to You in my heart.

Adoration:  my appreciation, thanks, gratitude, even simple acknowledgment of who You are and what You’re doing, and have the power to do.

I hardly ever take a drive, that I don’t notice the mountains, or the sky or sunset.  But I don’t say “Wow, Mother nature is something!”  No, I thank You as the Creator of it all for giving me such a beautiful world to live in and look at!

Into Situations:  into the middle of whatever circumstances come my way: good or bad, deserved or unfair, difficult and trying or pleasant and joyful.

So if I see my child being awesome, I thank You for making me a mother!  Or I pass a car accident, and ask You to help the people involved and strengthen the ones giving assistance, and then I thank You for protecting me from dangers, and all the accidents You have kept me from that never happened.

Every day:  on a daily basis.  I don’t wait for a holiday or Sunday to come around, but praise You spontaneously!

As things happen, thanks and appreciation is voiced.  It may sound silly or awkward at first, but the more I do it, it just becomes a way of life.

So P-R-A-I-S-E, Putting Real Adoration Into Situations Every day means:

Intentionally, genuinely and sincerely, take time to communicate to You, my appreciation, thanks and gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way on a daily basis.

Father, help me remember to fill my life with praise for You!  Amen

Psalm 113:1-3

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

praying-hands-on-bibleFather, I pray the words of this Psalm for myself, and my loved ones.

I give You praise! 

I am blessed because I fear You – have an earnest respect for You – and delight in knowing and obeying Your commandsMay my children be mighty in the futures You have promised them.  May they live uprightly so their generation will be blessed.

Thank You that I possess wealth and riches.  Perhaps not as the world recognizes wealth and riches, but as You count them.   And thank You that Your righteousness remains with me forever.

Even in the dark and challenging times, let me live in Your light as You give me grace and compassion to deal with whatever comes.  Your goodness pours into my life.  Let me generously pass that goodness on to others.  I will seek Your justice in conducting my affairs and act in accordance.

As I have planted my faith in You, I will never be shaken.  The circumstances of the world will not make me fall apart.  Keep my heart strong even in the face of bad news, so I will not fear.  And draw me ever closer to You, who I trust completely.

Because I know that You win in the end, my heart and mind are secure.  I know that at the end of the age, when You return, all Your foes will be vanquished, and I will look triumphantly on those enemies.

I will send my service and prayers and financial support to the poor, here and around the world.  Let Your righteousness done through me be remembered forever.  And my family be remembered honorably.  Amen

Psalm 112:1-9

May 15 Faith like David

Father, let my faith be like that of David. 

As a child I learned of the battle of David and Goliath.  I think most people know it as a reference that describes any underdog fighting an overwhelmingly huge giant, whether in sports or business, countries or individuals.

In three main ways, I ask You to grow my faith to be like David’s.

1 – He looked beyond himself.  He did not just take Goliath as a personal threat the way the soldiers did, but recognized someone in defiance of You.

Like most people, I interpret things in light of how they affect me, or my family.  That limits the scope of the solutions I can perceive.  It puts the focus on me to find a solution that I can perform.

David saw an affront to You, making it Your battle“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

2 – He trusted that You had already prepared him for the battle.  “When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and killed it.”

And because of that, was able to turn from pressure to do what others suggested – the armor, helmet and sword.

I trust that You have already brought circumstances into my life to teach and prepare me for whatever is to come.  Intentionally, purposefully, You have given me spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences to make me who I am.

Help me use those things instead of feeling like I have to conform to what others expect of me.  Give me confidence in Your preparation for whatever battle I face.

3 – He voiced confidence in You and gave You the glory for the victory even before it happened!  “…but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.   This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”

My confidence is not always so certain.  Sometimes I even try and do things as quietly as possible, so if I fail, it won’t reflect badly on You.

Father, let my fear shrink and my faith grow!  Even with all that is happening in the world today, let me look beyond myself to all You can do in and through me.  I trust in Your purposefulness and Your preparation.  And I will be victorious!  Amen

I Samuel 17:1-58

May 14 Help me choose obedience

obedience-to-god-3-638Dear Father, let me learn the lesson of Saul from this passage of scripture.  Let me remember that to obey is better than sacrifice.

Father, what You want is obedience: meaning I put what You tell me above all else.  I hold true to Your Word no matter what other people think or say.

I do not bow to peer pressure.  I do not change what You have sent me to do because I am afraid.

Saul weakened in the face of the opinion and pressure of the people, and did not obey completely.  He even reasoned a way to convince himself he had indeed obeyed.  But the prophet Samuel saw the truth of it and confronted him.

Saul’s disobedience cost him the leadership of Israel.  He would soon be replaced as king.

I need to remember that it is not how often I pray, or whether I make monetary donations to ministries, or give my time in mission work.  The question is whether I have done what You have told me, specifically me, to do.

Help me hear You clearly, Lord. 

And empower me to be strong enough to follow through completely.

Father, give me whatever I need, so I can stand in the end, and say I was truly obedient.  Amen

I Samuel 15:1-35 

May 13 Praying Your Word

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You that You hear and answer my prayers.  Thank You that You have and will continue to deliver me from trouble and tragedies I will never even know about because of Your divine protection.

sword-790815_640You tell me that my struggle is not with flesh and blood.  So I pray this psalm against the rulers, powers, and world forces of this present darkness.  I claim these verses against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

I ask for Your victory as they exert their strength against my health, my relationships, my emotions, my faith and the work of my hands as I seek to honor and glorify You.

Lord Jesus Christ, these forces are wicked and deceitful.  They open their mouths against me and speak against me with lying tongues.  With words of hatred they surround me and attack me without cause.  They accuse me and repay evil for good.

They love to pronounce a curse – so let curses come upon them; they find no pleasure in blessings, so let blessing be far from them.  They wear cursing as a garment so let it enter into their body like water and into their bones like oil.  May their curses be like a cloak wrapped around them with a belt constantly tied around them.

Appoint an evil man to oppose them; let an accuser stand at their right hand.  When they are tried, let them be found guilty, and may their prayers condemn them.

Lord Jesus Christ, let these forces be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame.  Let them know that it is Your hand that has vanquished them!

They may curse me, but You, O Lord, bless meI will lift Your name up in praise!   I will make known that You save according to Your love.  And that You stand ready to save us from those powers who would condemn.

I praise You that Your powers are greater than any other, in heaven or on the earth.  You are Supreme!  Amen

Psalm 109:1-31; Ephesians 6:12

May 12 There is none like You

guitarplayBecause You can be trusted, O Lord, my heart is strong and steady.  I am secure in my faith.  I will stand steadfast and give You the praise You deserve! 

I will shout and sing!  I will make music that honors You with all that is in me!  I will sing along with praise music.  Add my voice to those of others in praise and worship.  And will compose new songs that tell of Your faithfulness to me!

I will stay up late to praise You Father!  I will even get up early when the sun is coming up to honor You!  Break out the guitars, pianos, cymbals, harps, harmonicas, drums, whatever instruments can make music that acknowledges Your love and faithfulness!

Your love is boundless!  As high as I can see with my eyes or even perceive with satellites to the farthest reaches of our galaxy – Your love goes farther still!  Beyond what is calculable or even imaginable!

I stretch out my arms to encompass all I can measure from end to end till it wraps around the earth and begins again – that’s the way Your unending faithfulness is.  You are over and above and beyond all that I can see or comprehend!  I place Your name above all others.  Your glory is limitless!

With just the power and strength in Your right arm, You can save me from any foe, rescue me from any enemy, deliver me from any calamity.  Deliver me Lord, from the lies and deceit of the evil one.  Do not let me be pulled into false philosophies, lying schemes, or political intrigues only to see the truth when it is too late and I have been corrupted.

I am Yours, Lord.  Defend me and bring me to Your fortified place.  Free me from the weaknesses of my flesh: selfishness, laziness, lust, jealousy, pride, arrogance, and greed.  Help me against all these enemies from inside myself.

And deliver me from the enemies without – those in the world right now.  No one can help me like You.  There is none like You!

With You, I am victorious!  With You, nothing is impossible!  Thank You for coming to my aid.  Thank You for loving me faithfully.  And for being lovingly faithful.  Amen

Psalm 108:1-13

May 11 Consider the great love of the Lord!

They:                                                              But God:

Wandered in desert wastelands with no place, no home; hungry, thirsty, fading Led them by a direct path to a city with a place for home, good food and drink, revitalized them
Depressed, prisoners, suffering  in chains, in bitterness rejected the Lord Freed them, broke their chains, brought them out of darkness and gloom, loved them
Rebelled in foolishness bringing suffering upon themselves, dying Healed them, saved their lives
Sought adventure and wealth, befallen by tragedy, discouraged, lost Delivered from distress, calmed storms, provided safety, brought them home
Were needy Blessed them, lifted out of their affliction, increased their numbers, fed them

Imagine what He is willing to do for you !!  And me!!  Amen

Psalm 107:1-43

May 10 Best Parent Ever!

father-and-son-1717770_640O Father, how many times have I behaved like the Israelites here, and asked for something so I could be like everyone else?  Instead of trusting Your will and the plan You had for me, I settled for what You allowed because I asked for it.

So many times the wisdom of the world seems right. 

It makes sense to the mind.  It pleases the eye.  It pacifies the emotions.  But one can follow logic and still be dead wrong.   A person can feel like things are going well, when they are not.  Things can look good, but be rotten to the core.  This is proven each time someone is tricked or duped; because we trust our eyes and our logic.

But You, Father, can see the end from the beginning.  You have a perspective that I do not. 

I protect my child when I prevent them from a danger I can see that they cannot.  To them, it may feel like I am restricting them, not protecting them.   Hopefully as they grow, they trust my judgment until they can see the dangers for themselves. 

And sometimes, I need to let them make their own choices, even if they are unwise, in order to learn for themselves.  For instance, when you eat a tube of raw cookie dough, there are unpleasant consequences, even though it tastes really good during the eating part.

Though I like to think of myself as independent and smart enough to make wise decisions, I have learned that simply lining up pros and cons and judging by worldly standards is not the only or the best method.

I have access to the God who created the universe!  You have wisdom I could never in a million years attain.   And praises to You, You are willing to share it with me!

Father, when I want something, remind me to examine my motive. Help me discern what is best from Your perspective.

Give me godly understanding that surpasses the world’s view.  And help me accept that wisdom if it turns out that what I think I want is not the right thing.  Help me wait for the best thing.  Teach me to be wise.  Amen

I Samuel 8:1-22

May 9 Remembering 101

Lord, thank You for the reminders in scripture today.  Reminders of things You’ve already shown me this year, but bear repeating so I can really get it!  I need to mark the victories in my life, and trust that You can do much with little.

elephant-1090834_640When You defeated the Philistines with Your thunder, Samuel set up a stone there and named it Ebenezer.  From the Hebrew “even” – pronounced eh-ben – meaning  stone and “ezer” meaning help: it is a “stone of help.”

Stones would last a long time, so for generations, when anyone passed by the “Stone of Help” they would be reminded that God helped and delivered them at this place in the battle against the Philistines.

I too can commemorate significant moments in my life with things that remind me of Your deliverance and impact.  It could be a piece of art, or jewelry, a song, poem or picture, something placed on my desk or walls or in my home or yard that has meaning to me.

Then when someone comments on it, I can give the reason for its significance.  That would be a fitting testimony to Your greatness.  More than that, whenever I see it, it would be an encouragement to me of Your faithfulness and power in my life.

When You took the small offering of a young boy, two fish and five barley rolls, and fed five thousand with it, with much left over to spare; it reminds me that whatever gifts I bring to You, You can bless and multiply and use for purposes to glorify Your name. 

On those days when I feel like I have little to offer, I will remember that when I give it to You, the result is not dependent on the size of the gift.  Whatever I bring, You can do and accomplish much more that I can even imagine. 

And I will learn what my gifts are, and give them over to You to multiply and use to bless others.

ebenezerThank You for these reminders today, Lord.  In remembering times and events where You impacted my life in significant ways, I will make my own “Ebenezers.” They will be reminders for me and markers for others.

Thank You for knowing I need help remembering.  Right now is a perfect time for looking back and remembering.  Amen

I Samuel 7:7-14; John 6:1-13

May 8 Make me like Samuel

bible-coffeedrawnearLord God, make me as Samuel. 

Samuel was only a child here, but he grew up in Your presence. You were with him and he felt it. Sensitize my heart, my eyes, my ears; to see You at work, to hear Your voice, to feel Your presence. 

Father, You know everything about me, even my thoughts.  Help me grow in awareness that You are with me wherever I go.   Let me recognize where You are, and see Your purpose in having me where I am.  

And let that be both a powerful deterrent and an awesome reassurance.

Samuel heard Your voice, and although he did not understand it all at first, he answered and was obedient.  Father, when I hear Your voice, let my response also be “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening.” 

Reveal Yourself to me through Your Word: the Bible.  Don’t let me read Your scripture and walk away unchanged.  But let Your words sink deep into my spirit and mind.  Let them take root in my life and be the foundation for all I do and all I am. 

Let me hear You speak to me through nature, Your creation.  And as I pray.  And through other believers.  And in visions. And through my circumstances.

Help me set my priorities so I spend time in Your Word every day.  Every day let me make time to listen for Your voice.  And then let my actions, attitudes and words show other people that I have spent time with You

Let hearing Your voice change me. And like Samuel, let me grow in stature and in favor with You and with men.  Amen

I Samuel 2:26; 3:1-19

It’s all about You

Father, let me be like Hannah. 

Hannah wordsLet me be earnest and persistent in prayer as Hannah was, pouring out my feelings and heartaches to You.

Father, there is much in the world to heartbroken over: illness, abuse, death, poverty, political disunity, injustice.  And You know each individual and their personal needs.   You know the desire of my heart as You knew Hannah’s.  Help me not give up, but persevere, keep praying, trusting in Your timing: for healing, for salvation, for peace.

And like Hannah, when I make a promise to You, help me be true to my word, no matter how hard it is.  Hannah gave back to You the very thing she prayed for: a precious son.

Help me hold Your blessings loosely enough that I do not love them more than I love You.

I will rejoice as Hannah did over all You do for me.  Help me acknowledge that all my blessings come from You.  It is You who give life and take it away, You who send poverty and wealth. You who heal and save.

It is not by strength that any of us prevails, but You who deliver, give me strength, and give victory over our enemies.

You are the Lord God Almighty who knows all and weighs all deeds.  You laid the foundations of the world and set it in place.  There is no one holy like You.  You are the Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the darkness.  You are my God.

Thank You for answering prayer.  Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen

I Samuel 1:1-2:11

May 6 Faith = things hoped for but not yet seen

shield-492992_640Lord, may my faith be like that of the royal official.  He asked for You to come and heal his child who was close to death.  You simply told him “Go, your son will live.”  And he took You at Your word and left.

Even before he saw it with his own eyes, the circumstances proved that You did what You said You would do.  They even revealed that it happened exactly when You spoke! 

Father, help me trust in You and what You tell me, even when I can’t see the results immediately.   When it is not in front of my eyes and the doubt of the world pushes in, don’t let my faith waver.  When it doesn’t seem to be happening quick enough let me be patient and trust that Your timing is perfect.

Even now, we are waiting with baited breath, to see when our country will return to normal…for people to get their jobs back, to travel freely without fear of exposure, connect again with those they have missed for so long with visitation shut down in our hospitals, nursing homes and prisons.

Father, we are calling out to YouLet us hear Your answer.  And then go on our way in faith.  Trusting, that You’ve got this.

Reminds me of an old country hymn.  Part of the lyrics say:

“Take Him at His word when it’s not lookin’ good,

believe that He’ll do what He said that He would…’”

I believe.  Amen

John 4:43-54

May 5 To save You reach around the world

Lord God, You amaze me at how You use simple, ordinary people, men and women, to accomplish Your purpose.  You sent believers all the way to Moab, at least sixty miles across the desert during a famine to reach Your faithful servant Ruth.

She made the famous statement, “Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay, your people will be my people and your God my God” to her mother-in-law Naomi.   Her faith and trust in You led her to be part of Your amazing plan of salvation, as she was in the lineage You were born into.

Here in the flesh You stopped in a Samaritan town and spoke to an immoral woman; something a respectable Jew would not have done.  And in doing so, brought her the message of Your salvation.  Through her, You saved many Samaritans that day.

You chose for me to be born into a believing family.  Wherever I was, You were there with me: Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, France, Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, Virginia, Colorado.  All through those formative years, You made Your presence known to me.  Even though everything else about my life changed: house, school, church, community, friends; You were always there.

There are so many who still do not believe You are who You are – Creator, Savior, King of Kings, Master, Wonderful Counselor, the One True God.  But I know that You will move heaven and earth to reach them.

You can use natural and divine events, travel across continents, reach into unrespectable communities, to make Yourself known.

You can speak through a hurricane or a whisper, reveal Yourself in a majestic mountain or a delicate flower.   You can speak through and in spite of  pandemic  and bring unity and salvation from a disaster.

I trust You can bring the loved ones I pray for to a saving knowledge of You.

Help me do my part.  I will pray.  I will let them see me praise You in good times and in bad.  I will love them, and do my best to give them godly assistance and direction.

Show me when to speak and when to hold my tongue.   Show me how to behave in a way that will draw them to You.  Help me remove any stumbling block that would keep them from coming to You.

Lord I thank You and praise You in advance for the celebration in heaven when they come to know You as Savior and live to glorify Your Name!  Amen

Ruth 1:1-22; John 4:4-42

May 4 Freedom isn’t License

“In those days, Israel had no king and everyone did as he saw fit.”

What a gruesome and shocking act to read about in scripture.  Yet this is what it took to wake up the Israelites to how bad things had gotten.

usa-1491732_640I wonder, God, what it will take to wake up the people in my country?  We do not have a king.  But we have so many freedoms that pretty much everyone does as they see fit.

We take the lives of the old and infirmed and call it mercy.  We murder the innocent unborn and call it choice.   We legalize immorality and call it lifestyle.  Then our lawmakers vote raises for themselves and we stick our heads back in the sand.

You love the people, O Lord.  But bad and wrong decisions aboundWe have been misled.  Even when You came in person from heaven and testified about heaven, not many believed You.  It seems it’s still that way today.

Father, lead our nation back to You.  Return to every believer the joy of their salvation.  Bring a Revival of faith to our country that will return godly morality and love for each other as a way of life.  Move us forward to be the greatest nation because it is in God we trust!

As the Psalm says: I will sing songs of praise to You as long as I live!  I will meditate on Your Word.  Praise the Lord, O my soul!  Praise the Lord!  Amen

Judges 19:1-20:48; John 3:31-36; Psalm 104:33

May 3 Breath of Life

What an interesting picture You painted for the man I call “Nic at night” the Pharisee who came to You at night to ask questions.  When he asked about being part of the Kingdom of God, You said to enter the Kingdom of God, one “must be born of water and the Spirit.”

breathofGod

One birth is from a watery darkness, the other a spiritual darkness.  Our physical birth is from a dark, water-filled womb into the light of the sun here on earth.  Our spiritual birth is from the dark realm of the evil one into the Light of the Son and into the kingdom of God.

Adam and Eve are the only humans born only of the Spirit.  You created their bodies and breathed Your breath into them, giving them physical AND spiritual life.

The Hebrew word “ruach” is translated as breath and spirit.  They were spiritually alive and were able to walk and talk and have relationship with You.

When they sinned, the punishment was physical and spiritual death.  Physically, their bodies would die.  And spiritually, they were separated from You and no longer had the same intimate fellowship with You.

Every human being since them was born by water, but is not spiritually alive until Your “ruach,” Your breath or spirit enters them.  This happens at their spiritual birth.

Probably the most well known scripture is in today’s reading.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This is Your provision for that spiritual birth.

When a person believes the truth of Your sacrifice and accepts that offer of Your sacrifice to pay for their sin, Your “ruach,” Your breath, the Holy Spirit enters into them.

Father, in the difficulty of the condition of the world this past year, we need a fresh, renewing breath from You; to encourage us, to empower us, to refocus us on eternal things.  Growing up singing hymns.  I remember these words penned by Edwin Hatch in 1878:

person-864804_640

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Thank You Father for Your great love.  Thank You for having a plan of spiritual birth giving me eternal life even after sin had entered the world and affected every human being.  And for being willing to make the tremendous sacrifice for me to be able to join the Kingdom of God.  Amen

John 3:1-21

To hear the song: https://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Breathe_on_Me_Breath_of_God/

May 2 All His Benefits…

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”

gratitude-1251137_640O Lord, if I took a whole day, I could never list all the benefits You lavish on me.  I take so many things for granted.  Often I don’t even think about how every breath that I take is from You!  And I should be thankful.

Beginning when I wake up in the morning, I am thankful that I do wake up!  And that I can breathe clean air in a warm bed, in a secure house, with a family I love, with food to eat and clean water to drink and bathe in.  I have more clothes in my closet than some people on this planet ever own in a lifetime!  And many pairs of shoes.

It’s a choice for me to eat breakfast or not.  And if I choose to eat, I have several options of clean, untainted food in a kitchen with running water and convenient appliances to make food preparation almost effortless.  My fridge keeps my food cold to preserve its freshness until I want it.  Then, at the turn of a switch or the push of a button, I can cook it.  Another button and my dishes are washed.

Just this part of my day is blessed far more than most of the people on this earth.

I live in freedom to be what I want to be, go where I want to go, with whom I want to be with.  I can choose my career, my husband, my entertainment.  I can worship You in the open however I want, read scripture without fear of arrest or imprisonment.  I can attend public church services without being detained and beaten, or having my property seized, or my life forfeited.

When I step outside my house, I see a beautiful sky, majestic mountains, flowering trees, gorgeous flowers.  We have warm, rainy, windy Springs, temperate Summers, gorgeously colored, cool Falls, and crisp, snow covered Winters – all four seasons in a beautiful and varied environment rich with birds of many kinds, singing their Spring songs and migrating south in the Fall.

On top of all this, You preserve my life, forgive my sins, deliver me from the oppression and deceit of satan.  You show me love I did not earn, and pour out mercy and compassion on me I do not deserve.

You satisfy my desires with good things, or remove those wrongful desires from me.  You answer my prayers, guide me with Your wisdom, encourage me with Your Word, and have promised to take me into paradise with You for all eternity.

Father, help me remember every day to thank You for something.  Open my eyes to things I take for granted, and accept my praise for Your goodness.  Remind me at the beginning of every month, to come back and read Psalm 103 and spend time “forgetting not, all of Your benefits”.  Amen

Psalm 103

May 1 I Believe

219785

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In today’s scripture You come onto the scene and are recognized as Messiah, the Lamb of God, the One who saves!

You came in the flesh, to my physical world to sacrifice Yourself to make a way for me to be reconciled to You.  You are the Only Way.  Yet there are still people who do not recognize You for who You are.

John recognized You because he was spiritually aware.  You revealed to him that the one on whom he saw the Spirit of a dove come down and rest, was the Son of God.  He saw the Spirit rest on You so he could know for certain, proclaim and testify that You are the Son of God.

Two of John’s disciples first followed You because they had studied with John.  They knew the scriptures, the prophecies and trusted John’s testimony, so they believed.  Nathanael believed because You knew things about him You could not have naturally known.

Lord God, You call and You saveBut it is my personal decision whether to respond to or ignore Your call.

I accept Your free gift of eternal salvation, but there are so many who do not.

Lord God, Your Word says it is Your will that every single human being would be saved from the penalty of their sin.  That penalty is death, eternal separation from You.  You desire that they would answer Your call and accept Your payment for that sin and be reconciled to You.

Some will come to You because they are aware of spiritual truth, like John.

Some will come because they study out the scriptures for themselves, or because someone they trust will share with them, like John’s disciples.

Some will come because they see You doing things, miracles, that are not naturally possible.

This  last year with the pandemic has caused many people to consider eternity and what happens after our life here on earth. Father, lead them to a saving knowledge of You.

Open their ears so they hear Your call. Sensitize their minds, hearts, and spirits so they are ready to accept Your salvation.  And show me how I can speak or act in a way that will draw people to You.  Use me to point them to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

A time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  I can’t wait!  Amen

John 1:29-51

Apr 30 The Power of Words

Jephthah is the very definition of a rash vow, a careless oath, a promise made without thinking.   At least he lived by his word and upheld his vow, but it cost his daughter her life!

board-1106649_640Lord God, how often do I speak without thinking?  Have I made promises I either had no way to meet or no intention of keeping?

Help me be more aware of how I speak.    Do not let me take my words lightly.   Let my yes be yes and my no mean no.

In Your Word, You teach me not to lie or give false testimony.  As You became flesh and dwelt among us, You were a living example of speaking truth.  So, I am to speak the truth in love and use words that are edifying to the other person.

I desire to use my voice to bless others, to offer godly wisdom, to sing of Your love and justice, and to praise You.

Even in this time of somewhat isolation from so many friends and loved ones, words can reach across the street, across the country and around the world.  Give me words of encouragement and love to share.  Let me speak life and healing over those who are sick.  Encouragement and love over the discouraged and depressed.  And Your peace and comfort over the grieving.

Lord, set a watch over my mouth to make me aware of all I say.  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord.  Amen

Judges 11:29-40; Psalm 19:14

Apr 29 Teach me from ALL of Your Word

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

“Everything must be fulfilled about Me that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.  Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

child-945422_1920Father, explain to me and open my mind so I can understand the Scriptures!

You are the God of both Testaments!  Of the whole Bible!

What I was brought up calling the Old Testament, Jews refer to these as The Tanakh.

Made up of three parts: The Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim, the Torah is the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.   The Neviim are the Prophets, so the twelve books of the minor prophets and nine written by major Prophets.  The Ketuvim are the books of wisdom, scrolls and history.

So much of the meaning in the Old Testament is lost to me unless I learn about the Hebrew customs and language.   When I only see what You said and did in the New Testament, I miss the depth of meaning without the context of what came before.

You are part of the Trinity in Genesis 1.  When You said “Let Us make man in our image…” it was plural; in Hebrew “Elohim.”

When the prophet Isaiah spoke it was You he saw who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace!  He described You in his words when he said a man of sorrows, familiar with pain, despised and rejected.”

Zechariah saw that You would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, that You would die a violent death for all mankind.

There are 351 prophecies in this Scripture that You fulfill.   And more yet to be fulfilled!

How much more marvelous to know You as the One who speaks of the future, AND has the power to bring it to pass!

Understanding who You are and have been since the beginning helps me know and love You more.  And the more I understand the prophecies, the better prepared I can be to face the future, trusting in You as my Savior.  

Thank You for being true to Your Word.  Thank You that as I read and study, You reveal more and more of Yourself to me: my God in whom I trust!  Amen

Luke 24:13-45

Apr 28 Teach me to be humble

ChristLikeHumility

O Lord, Gideon was so courageous to lead Your people into battle, and so wise to refuse lordship over them when asked.  He was discerning and humble enough to say that You were the One to rule over them, not him or his son.

But he took the spoil from that victory, and used the gold to make a chest piece.  It became a snare to him and his family and the Israelites who worshipped it.

Forgive me Lord when I act like that.

When I have a victory in my life, I desire to celebrate it!  Show me how to celebrate humbly: how to give the rightful honor to You and not myself.  Get my attention if I stray into worshipping what You have given me, instead of You, the giver.

Help me be humble like Gideon was.  And like Gideon, help me point people to You instead of accepting acclaim for myself.

By the same thinking, do not let me worship or revere another person because of their success.   Do not let me idolize them or give them the attention that is due You.

It is so easy to want to rub shoulders with the famous and powerful, hoping that some of their notoriety or success will transfer to me through the connection.

No matter the circumstances, remind me Lord, that my hope is in You.

It is You I trust with the plan for my life.  It is You who can make things happen and bring about goodness and blessing.

I trust Your timing and Your provision.  And I give You the glory and thanks for all that comes my way.  Amen.

Judges 8:22-28

Apr 27 Your Attention, Your Abundance

O Jesus, it is so hard to read of the awful beatings and the terrible crucifixion You endured.  I cannot even imagine the pain You suffered and the overwhelming agony

So many called for Your death.  Yet You called out for their forgiveness. And even as You were dying on the cross, You were not too busy to listen to the petition of one of Your hurting children: the man on the cross next to You. 

golgotha-1863767_640You gave him Your attention. And then You gave him Your abundance.  Over and above.

He asked only that You remember him, and You gave him paradise.  

You are like that with me. 

You hold the whole world together by Your power: the earth, the stars, the solar system.  The motion of the seas is in Your hand, every storm, every person on the earth, even a sparrow does not fall without Your awareness.  Yet You are never too busy to hear my cry, my prayer, my thanks.

You give me Your attention.  And You always give more than I ask. 

Your mercy and grace overflows.  Your lavish abundance is so great.  Many times I ask for something and You blow me away with Your grace and generosity. 

And even when the answer is no, or wait, I can trust that You have my best in mind.  Thank You for knowing even better than I, what I need.  And for providing it. 

The thief said “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” 

It’s the same with me.  My deeds deserve death.   Only Your blood pays the penalty for my sin, and awards me life, not death.   

Thank You for enduring death on a cross, so that I can walk with You in eternity.  Thank You Father, for paradise.   Amen

Luke 23:32-43

Apr 26 Hearing God’s Voice

Father, thank You for the example of Gideon.  On two occasions Gideon asked for a sign before moving forward. What a great illustration to show me it’s ok to ask You for confirmation that I am indeed hearing from You.

There are times when I am sure I hear You and understand what I am to do.

But other times when, due to fear or reluctance on my part, I second guess myself and wonder if I have misunderstood You. So I am glad to know it is all right to ask for that reassurance.

 I desire to follow in Gideon’s footsteps.

His first confirmation:  The offering he brought was consumed by fire.

His first obedience: Upon receiving absolute proof he was hearing from You, Gideon tore down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole and built an altar acknowledging You as The One True God. Even though he did this fearfully, You protected and blessed him.

His second confirmation: A wet fleece on dry ground, followed by the dry fleece on wet ground.

His second obedience:  Gideon followed through with Your plan to save Israel.

Gideon used a good example of something that would be unlikely if not impossible to happen naturally. I too, need to be sure I’m not asking for a sign that will simply support my own desire; like, “Lord, if the sun comes up tomorrow I will know You mean…”

How do I verify I am hearing from You? 

Asking You to combust food or wet a fleece like Gideon may not the best route to go these days, although not beyond Your ability.  And You have left Your written Word as a guide for me.  So, I have learned to ask three questions:

            1 – Does what I hear agree with Scripture?  The answer must be “yes.”  I believe You will never tell me anything that contradicts what You have already told me in Your Word. Consequently, I must be familiar with Your Word.

            2 – What will the result, or the fruit of the act be?  It should lead to and produce the fruit of the Spirit; which is peace, patience, love, joy, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control.   The acts of the flesh are immorality, idolatry, impurity, debauchery, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, and the like.  So I can look at the expected result and see where I am headed.

            3 – Will it benefit my relationship with You, Lord?  Everything I do will either draw me closer to You or pull me farther away in our relationship.

So I can ask the three questions.  But if confusion still exists, it is good to know that I can come to You with whatever concern I have and know that You will answer me so I can be sure of Your direction.

Thank You that You let me hear Your voice.

Give me the courage to be like Gideon and act on all You tell me.  Amen

Judges 6:11-40; Galatians 5:17-23

Apr 25 Remember – Commemorate

praise-1154566_640Heavenly Father, my memory is so bad when it comes to recalling all the times You have stepped in to rescue me.

There have been relatively small things and really big things where You have acted on my behalf or worked things out for me.  And at those times, words of thanks went up; but I wouldn’t say I did an adequate job of expressing my gratitude to You or cementing Your blessing in my memory.

Why is it I can remember toothpaste or cereal jingles from when I was a child, but can’t remember when You made a significant impact in my life?  If only I could write a silly jingle whenever I am thankful…

Your people were so greatly impacted with the victory over Sisera and Your defeat of his army, freeing them from twenty years of oppression, that they wrote and sang a song about it.  What a great way to commemorate the occasion and pass on what happened to others!  Perhaps that would be something that would improve my memory too!

Seriously – I could adapt the song “Jesus loves me…”

Jesus loves me this I hear

For He healed my young son’s ear

Doctors sang a surgery song

Jesus healed it – they were wrong!

Jesus loves me this I think

‘cause He saved our backed up sink

Others had costly plumbing jobs

But now our water drains, no clogs!

It’s no “Deborah’s Song” but the sentiment is genuine, the gratitude sincere, and I will remember this – and even sing it to friends!

Whether with songs or words, prayers or journals, I will be more intentional about recording the ways You impact my life and reveal Your love for me.  Ways that I can demonstrate my gratitude, record for my own memory, and share with others.

What songs will You give me about this Covid-19 experience?  Even farther back, what things do You want me to remember and commemorate now?

Thank You in advance for helping me remember, record, and share the amazing ways You work in my life!  Amen

Judges 4:1-5:31

Apr 24 God’s Protection

“Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail.”

jesus-3618220_640Father, this reminds me that although satan seems to have power on this earth, his power is temporary and limited

He must ask permission to have access to even one of Your children

So I can know, if there is oppression in my life from the evil one, (which I have not invited) that it is limited, and that it has first been filtered through Your fingers of love

That gives me a real sense of securityYou have set a limit and the evil one can go no farther.

And You are interceding, praying for my faith to be strong, so I will not fail. That helps me feel courageous.  If You are on my side, and praying for me, then whatever happens, I cannot fail.

You have the power to create a universe and destroy it.  The beauty of Your imagination is seen in every sunrise and sunset.   The deafening crash of the waves is like a whisper of Your voice. 

You are exalted, lifted up forever.  And yet, You bend down to me. 

You have given me peace in times of stress and hardship that has defied understanding.  You have calmed me down when circumstances were upsetting.   You have shown me wisdom when I could not think of a solution.   You have encouraged me with visions that brought understanding and reassurance when I was afraid.

Even in times of crisis, help me remember that You are with me.

Thank You for caring for me.  For protecting me.  For interceding for me.  Amen

Luke 22:31-32

Apr 23 Time Management

O Father, You have always been my God.  Even before I knew who You were, I saw the beauty of Your creation.  You put the mountains in place, You created the seas and all that is in them.  Yet even before there was earth and sky, You were there.

You are “from everlasting to everlasting.”   You are Timeless.

You tell me “a thousand years is like a day in Your sight.” Your sense of time is far different from mine.  I cannot even imagine it.

So I ask You, who knows time and all things, to teach me to live each day to the fullest.  Teach me how to measure out my energy for what is important.

Do not let me fall victim to the “tyranny of the urgent.”  Help me put thought into setting my priorities for spending my time and my energy.

Many things of value are not urgent, but are significant.  If I only deal with the urgent, the important things slip by.

I desire to live intentionally; not let my life pass by without doing all I can to honor and glorify You.

But already, days slip by, weeks, seasons and even years; and I wonder where the time went.   Father, do not let one more day pass without my considering what You want me to accomplish.  And show me how to make time for it.

Give me a revelation, a vision for the next part of my life.  Show me how to get from here to there in steps I can seeHelp me know when something interrupts, whether it is a distraction or a divine opportunity.

I lay my life before You Lord.  Guide me.  Show me.   Thank You for the years I’ve already lived.  And let me live each new one for You.  Amen

Psalm 90:1-12

Apr 22 One True God

When I say, “I will serve the Lord,” these are words of intention and obligation.  I do not just sit back and allow whatever comes to come, saying “It must be the will of the Lord.”

idolatrySaying “I will serve the Lord”, carries the responsibility to recognize and reject all other powers and gods that have somehow gotten into my life, and to act intentionally to perform service affirming that You, the Lord, are my God.

What does serving and worshipping You look like? 

I can certainly avoid setting up a statue of wood or stone and laying offerings in front of it as acts of worship.  But in my world today, besides countless religions, there are many forms of “worshipping other gods.”   They are often looked upon as entertainment or common sense.

For the sake of “entertainment” many people are enticed by the idea they can learn the future, or “dabble in the occult.” They may read horoscopes, go to fortune tellers, read Tarot cards, play with ouija boards, channel or séance to speak to the dead, even summon satan.

The “fun” they participate in opens their hearts and spirits to unseen powers of influence they may not realize.

The truth is, there is power there that scripture tells us to have nothing to do with! Participating in those practices is a form of worship.  Believing as truth what is revealed there is attributing a godlike power to the activity or persons involved.

It is common sense to take care of our environment, reduce our carbon footprint, not waste resources.  But there are those who do this because they believe in and worship the earth as a power itself.  Environmentalism has become a religion, worshiping “Mother Earth.”

And then, there are some who elevate the desire for money, or success, or looking youthful to a level of worship, as it guides and motivates everything they do; how they make decisions, where they spend their money.

It’s so easy to allow things I enjoy or love to become an unhealthy form of worship; whether it’s my children, my job, sports, movies, food, self.

Lord, help me be vigilant to worship only the One True God.  And turn from any form of idolatry so that I only serve You.  Amen

Joshua 24:14-24 

Apr 21 Obey Your Word, Walk in Your Presence

In today’s scripture, You give two passages that tell me how to be blessed.  I acknowledge and desire to follow those instructions.

ljqedqamani-ben-white1 – Lord, help me “be very strong; to be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.  I will not associate with those who do not follow You by invoking the names of their gods or swear by them.  I will not serve them or bow down to them.  I will hold fast to You.” 

Lord, I can only be careful to obey Your Word if I know Your Word.  So I will read it and study to understand it.  I will pray and ask for understanding when I am confused or in doubt.

I will not ever call upon the names of other gods, because there is no other God but You.  There is none like You.  There is no other name under heaven by which I am saved.

Your power alone created the universe.  I will worship You alone, and seek Your direction and wisdom for my life.

2 – tells me “blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence.”

Father, I give glory to Your name only, because of who You are and what You have done.  You are Most Holy God.  You are all-powerful and all-knowing.  You created the heavens and the earth.

You created man and set him in this place to have fellowship with You.  When he broke that fellowship by sinning, You made a way of reconciling man to You: through Your blood on the cross.  And because I accept that gift I can walk in the light of Your presence once again.

The light of Your presence is where truth is revealed, nothing is hidden, nothing is feared.  Your presence dispels darkness.  To be present with You is to talk with You and listen to You – Your responses to my prayers, in Your Word and through the Holy Spirit.  It is to rest in You, fearing nothing.

I rejoice in Your name.  I trust in Your righteousness.  You are my protection, my King, the Holy One.   And I am blessed.  Amen

Joshua 23:6-11; Psalm 89:15-18

Apr 20 Love and Faithfulness

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever”

sing of love faith pianoSo many songs have been written about Your love:

“Jesus Loves Me” comes to mind.  Others are “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane…”  “Your love never fails.”  So many I could sing for a long time about Your love without even repeating or making up my own.

My own songs would reflect how You loved me before I was even born.  You loved me growing up, before I even knew You.

Your love protected me and brought me to a place where I understood who You are and what You did for me because of Your love.  You love me when I am unlovely, when I behave badly, when I am cross, tired, frustrated, selfish, prideful, totally undeserving of anyone’s love.

“with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.”

There are probably just as many songs about Your faithfulness: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”  “Amazing Grace.”  But beyond singing about Your faithfulness to every promise You’ve made in Your Word, to Your chosen people, to the prophecies in the Bible; I can tell of Your faithfulness to my nation, my family, to me.

You have been faithful when I have not.  You have carried and protected my family from tragedy and trouble time and again.

Every single day, I can tell one person an example of Your faithfulness in my life.   I can write these things down, so others can read them when I am gone.  I can post them on social media.  I can be sure younger people are aware that You love them, and that You will keep Your promises to them too.

Another song says: “There is none like You.  I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You.”  Not in heaven.  Not on earth.  Not under the earth. 

No other has Your Sovereignty, Your Power, Your Authority, Your Compassion, Your Creativity, Your Wisdom, Your Faithfulness, Your Love.  None.

And I will proclaim it!  Amen

Psalm 89:1-14

Apr 19 Hopes fulfilled in God

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

alone-62253_640Oh Father, I am sick of waiting for some people to make good on their promises.

The delays that come are hard to take.  Even when I can understand there may be a good and logical reason behind postponements, it doesn’t make the waiting any easier.  And when no reason is apparent, the frustration builds up and I literally feel ill.

This happens time and time again when I put my hope in peopleThe wondering if they will come through, the anxiousness of not knowing when things can be planned due to the uncertainty, the anticipation of desiring something but having it drag on indefinitely – all these things bring mental exhaustion and emotional collapse!

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When I think of all a tree provides, it is comforting.

camperdown-elm-316360_640A tree is beautiful to look at.  It is sturdy and provides shelter to sit or stand under or hide behind.  It’s boughs and leaves give shade from the heat.  I can lean up against it, climb it, sit in it, hide in it.

Depending on the type, it’s leaves may be a balm of healing, or its fruit may be nourishment.   A tree is life giving and life sustaining.

This verse paints a beautiful picture of Your provision in a world where there can be so much disappointment.

Thank You Father, that all Your promises are true.

You promise salvation and You deliver.  Your mercy and grace are renewed every day.  You always forgive and never leave me.  All this is according to Your Word, Your promise.

Father, I place my trust, my hope in You.  If I have hopes or longings that are not honoring to You, please remove them.  Do not let me become sick waiting or hoping for something that is not right for me.  Show me if I need to move my focus or change my perspective.

When I need to wait on Your plan or purpose, help me wait patiently, purposefully and prayerfully.

And when my longings are fulfilled, remind me to thank You and give You the credit.

For all You have already done, and for all You will do, thank You Father.  Amen

Proverbs 13:12

Apr 18 Learn from a tax collector

ZacchaeusLord, make me like Zacchaeus! 

Let me be willing to do whatever I need to do to see You and hear from You personally!

Even if it means doing something that might make me look silly to others; like climbing a tree!  (as Zacchaeus did)

Let me be completely changed by Your presence and Your words. 

Zacchaeus became charitable.  And he was willing to recognize his wrongs, and right them!  Help me look and see where I need to right any wrongs I’ve done and take on new, positive character traits.

Remind me to set aside time to hear from You.  Show me how to grow in my spiritual life.  Open my spiritual eyes and ears to hear what You have to say to me, and respond with understanding and obedience.

For being a “wee little man” Zacchaeus made a BIG impact on people around him; especially those who saw the change in him.  Father, change what needs to be changed in me, and let me make a godly impact on all those around me.  Amen

Luke 19:1-10

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

boy-2026186_640“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life.  Father, I devote that life to You.  You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

Lord, there are so many things I am trusting You for right nowthings that I cannot see, and have no evidence will ever happen.  I guess that’s what faith is all about: believing in what is not yet seen.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar.

First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him and persisted asking for Your help.

So when I have a need, let me come straight to You; confident that You have the desire and the power to help.  And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked what he wanted, he knew exactly.  Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, as You answered the beggar’s, let other people see it and praise You!

Lord, as I bring my requests to You, I come praising You with all my heart.  I praise You that when I am under attack I can ask for Your strength.  I appreciate that sense of Your presence with me when I feel discouraged.

I exalt You for teaching me truth from Your Word and showing me how to apply it to my life; which increases my faith.  I glorify Your name as You guide me in Your wisdom, and give me discernment.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble.  I know You will answer me.  For all this and more, I thank You Lord.  Amen

Psalm 86:1-13; Luke 18:35-42

Apr 16 Your Voice, not the world’s

Lord, let me and let my sons be like Caleb and Joshua.

ToHear God's VoiceThey spied out the Promised Land and saw all the goodness there.   They also saw the enemy for who they were, but knew that You would give victory and deliver them according to Your Word.

They held to their convictions and lived a long life receiving all You had promised.  Even in their old age, they were strong and vigorous because they served You wholeheartedly.

Help  us not listen to the world or the voices of the enemy who wants us to be discouraged and overwhelmed.  Draw us to seek out Your promises and hold to those even in the face of trials and trouble.  Let us see Your hand at work in our lives.

Remind us that when we serve You, we will receive all You promise.  Your will, Your plan will not be thwarted.  Even in my old age, help me be faithful, and I will be blessed and receive an inheritance from You.

Father, let me also be like the widow who made her plea to the judge so persistently that she received the justice she wanted.  Let my faith be unstoppablenot giving up, but lifting my concerns and needs to You in prayer.

When You return, let me be found faithful, continuing in prayer, not being dissuaded by circumstances or the influences of this world.

Lord, keep me and my loved ones mindful that my only righteousness comes from You, so I will not look down on anyone else, but remain humble.  I am ever dependent on You, on Your mercy and on Your grace for my life and all that I have.

Thank You for Your faithfulness – to warriors, to widows, to me.  Amen

Joshua 14:6-15; Luke 18:1-14

Apr 15 Let me be the one

colorful-1191076_640

Only one in ten came back to thank You, Jesus, for a healing that was a complete miracle.

These men had become outcasts in their society.  They stood at a distance and shouted “unclean” because that’s what they were required to do by law.  A person with leprosy was called “untouchable” and could not approach another person; but had to keep their distance from uninfected people.

Leprosy was a disease that progressed once you were infected, so there was really no hope of ever being cured or being able to participate in society again.  Family, loved ones, friends, all were relinquished, as these lepers were put out into communities of their own.

They would never again be able to hold their child, kiss their beloved, shake hands with a friend, or give a warm embrace to a family member.   This disease brought a new, cruel way of living to those cursed by it.

So for this disease process to be cured, reversed, was an absolute miracle!

For those ten men to once again enter society and be able to touch and be touched, changed every aspect of their lives completely.

I wonder then, why did only one turn and express his thanks? 

Were the other nine being obedient – going first to show the priest as You told them?    Did they intend to come back later?  Were they unsure the healing was real?  Were they so filled with joy at the prospect of all it meant to be healed, that they forgot You, their Healer?

You point out that the one who returned was a foreigner.  Perhaps that one did not feel worthy of a Jewish healing from a Jewish Master?  Perhaps the others felt deserving of what they received?

I don’t know.  But it does speak to my heart of how often I too, forget to thank You.

I take for granted so many things until I am reminded like this.  Or until I see someone who is worse off than me, or has bigger problemsOr until I lose something, and realize I wasn’t really grateful while I had it.

Thank You for the good times I’ve experienced and the blessings I’ve received from You.  And I also thank You for the trials.  For growing my faith and giving me the endurance I need to outlast the trials.

Father, help me begin every day with thanks and praise to You for life, for breath, for energy to rise, for clothes to wear, food to eat, clear thinking to reason with, a home to live in, transportation.  Thank You for loved ones in my life, family and friends who care, faith, hope, and loveHelp me express my gratitude and thank You in word, in song, in praise, in the way I treat others, for the trials and the blessings in my life!

Let me always be like the one.  Amen

Luke 17:11-19

Apr 14 Your Word over deception and lies

“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.  See how Your enemies are astir, how Your foes rear their heads.”

enemy-God-greatFor a limited time You have permitted satan to have limited power here.  With lies and deception, vain philosophies and worldly desires he confuses people and leads them astray.

He holds up the pride of accomplishment and the lusts of the eyes and of the flesh as the pinnacle of human achievement.  He elevates satisfaction and pleasure with material gain no matter the cost in human suffering.

And he stalks those who would seek to lead a godly life and bring You glory; hoping to derail their efforts and sideline them completely.

When I was born, I was automatically on satan’s team because of my sin nature.  Because Adam sinned, all sinned.  There is only one way to be reconciled to You and be on Your team:  accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus’ blood paid the price, the penalty for my sin.   Once on Your team, satan can never have me on his team again.  And because that makes him mad, he tries to ruin my team efforts or keep me off the field entirely.

I admit sometimes I am still misled by satan’s lies.  He deceives me to believe that I am not worthy, or good enough to be on Your team.  If he gets me discouraged enough, depressed, despairing, or distracted, I may just sit myself on the sideline.  He is cunning in his ways to deceive.  And he plots against Your players on all fronts: personally, professionally, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

But Lord, Your armor is the bestYour protection: absolute.

Thank You that You protect my mind, my thoughts, from the evil one with Your Helmet of Salvation, and use my faith as a shield.

Thank You that I have a weapon: Your Word, the Sword of the Spirit, to use against his lies and deceiving ways.

And thank You for fighting with me, to give me victory! 

Father, make Your enemies like refuse on the ground; like tumbleweeds that blow along, like chaff before the wind” that is blown and dissipates till it is no more. Consume Your enemies “like a fire consumes the forest or sets a mountain ablaze” as You “pursue and terrify them with Your hurricane power.”

“They will perish in disgrace, O Lord.  And know that You alone, are the Most High, over all the earth.”  Amen

Psalm 83:1-18

Apr 13 God’s Plan – not mine

keep-calm-and-stick-to-the-plan-2Lord God, once again You show that You have a plan and are willing to include man in it.  You gave specific details of what Joshua was to do in order to gain Your victory.

First, though, the Israelites had to purge the sin from within their midst.  It is the same for me.  I cannot ask You for victory when I am harboring sin.

Then You told them “do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  It would have been easy to dwell on their last failure and be fainthearted in the presence of the same enemy who had routed them before.

When I have tried to do something in my own strength, and failed, it is hard to get up and try again without fearing the same disastrous result.

Next they had to follow Your plan exactly, to Your specifications and in Your timing.  That can be hard as well.

So often I second-guess You by trying to come up with my own plan.  There are ways that seem to make sense to man, but do not often yield the desired result.  So I must be willing to give up the direction my own thoughts lead me and be obedient to what You tell me.

Last, they enjoy the victory, giving thanks and credit to You.  They collected the spoil but went right to building an altar for offering sacrifices, acknowledging that You are the One who gave the victory.  Every person involved was present and attentive to Your words, being reminded of the blessings and the curses You promised.

god-5999775_640When things go well, it’s easy to sit back and take the credit, not including You until I need You again.

But it is vital I recognize that the victories in my life come from You.  I am learning how to give credit to You without sounding false or insincere.  And it strengthens me to know You are involved in my life.

What was the result of this successfully executed plan?  Even more kings came together to make war against them!

Sometimes the battles we face, challenging as they may be, are simply preparation for bigger battles to follow!   But we can know that having done well will lay the groundwork for the next success.

Victory is ours when the battle is the Lord’s!  Amen.

Joshua 8:1-9:2

Apr 11 Courage for the next step

“Hear me O Shepherd of Israel, You who led Joseph and his people like a flock” to greener pastures in Egypt because there was an extreme famine in the land.

“Hear me, You who sit enthroned between the cherubim on the golden Ark of the Covenant that Moses had made so the High Priest could seek Your face and wisdom

“Awaken Your might!  Come and save me!”

directory-1273088_640As the Israelites went into the Promised Land to take possession of all You had promised them, lead me, Lord, to what You have for me.  Let me see and possess all the blessings You have prepared for me.  Do not let me miss out on Your blessing because I am too afraid to get my feet wet! 

The Israelites had to step into the floodwaters of the Jordan River before You stopped the flow of water to let them pass.  Sometimes I also must take a step of faith to see Your provision in my life.  Show me that step so I can also come into all that You have for me.

What a missed opportunity, if they had lacked the courage to do as You said!

The same is true for the people You spoke about who were invited to a great banquet.  They made every excuse to stay away.  Although they were acceptable excuses for the day and time, they missed out on the bounty, provision, and the very salvation You had prepared for them.

How sad that I sometimes choose checking email over hearing from the God and Creator of the Universe who makes time to speak with me!  

“Restore me O God.  Make Your face to shine upon me that I may be saved.”  Restore me to right thinking so I will set my priorities straight, Lord.  Make Your face to shine on me so I may walk in the light of Your radiant presence.

Show me when I need to take a step of faith and get my feet wet.  When I make excuses, remind me of the rich banquet of blessing I am missing by not spending time with You.  Thank You for Your unending faithfulness.  Amen

Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:16-24; Psalm 80:1-3

Apr 10 Make me like Moses, Joshua, and Rahab

charactertraitsO Lord, You encourage me with people like Moses and Joshua and Rahab.  You took these three ordinary and flawed people and used them mightily for Your glory, to bring about Your plan.

It gives me hope that You can use me too.

You brought Moses, born of slaves, cursed by Pharaoh to be killed in the Nile, out of the deadly waters and empowered him to be Your instrument in freeing Your people from slavery and leading them to the Promised Land.

Father, help me be obedient to all You say to me, as Moses was.  Use me in Your plan.  Let it be said of me as it was of Moses: when she was old “[her] eyes were not weak nor [her] strength gone.”

Joshua was willing to voice his faith and trust in You when the prevailing views were opposed.  You made him strong and very courageous.  Help me “obey Your law” and “not turn to the right or to the left from it” so I may be successful wherever I go.

Let me not be tempted off Your path by the world or its values, but cling to what I know is right in Your eyes.  Let me not ignore what Your Word, the Bible tells me is true.  Remind me to read it so I know what is in it.  How else will I know what is right?  I know, like Joshua did, that You are “with me wherever I go” so I will not be terrified or discouraged.

And even when all around me are situations and powers that represent and support the lure of the world and the lust of the flesh, let me be like Rahab, listening to and trusting in the Holy Spirit.  By doing so she saved her family.  Strengthen me to be willing to take risks for you.

All these remind me of a song from my childhood: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.   I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”

Father, help me be brave enough to stand alone if need be, on Your Word.   Let me be so sure of how You are leading me that there is no fear in standing up for You.

Speak to me and give me understandingShow me how to apply that understanding to my life in ways that bring honor to You.  Thank You.  Amen

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24

Apr 9 God bless you

BlessingsLord, I believe everyone desires to be blessed.  I truly do.  But many people did not grow up receiving a blessing.

One result is that very few people know how to give a blessing to others.  The overused “Bless you” when someone sneezes carries little meaning.

Culturally, Jewish parents recite a blessing over their children every Shabbat (Sabbath) at Friday dinner.   In Old Testament times, before they died, Hebrew fathers spoke blessings over their sons as a way of passing on the leadership and possessions of the family.  Both of these have a prophetic piece to them, as well as words of favor resting on the receiver.

Even before that, You blessed Your creation of man and woman.  It was an empowerment for them to be all You created them to be; a release from any and all restrictions or limitations preventing them from reaching their potential to participate in their divine purpose.

In Hebrew, the verb form “to bless” means “to kneel;” while the noun for “blessing” means “a gift or present.”  So the concept is to bring or receive a gift or present, something of value, while kneeling out of respect.

The one who receives a blessing is changed, energized, empowered and enabled by the gift or the words of blessing.

Lord God, would You bless each one of us right now. Bless every reader as they speak this prayer, with the full definition of the meaning of the Hebrew word for bless:

Heavenly Father, infuse us, fill us, permeate us, saturate us with unlimited potential to achieve all You would invite us to do that will glorify You and bring honor to Your Name.

Release us from any restriction or limitation, whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, psychological, social, financial or personal that would prevent us or hold us back from becoming all You created us to be.

Empower, energize and enable us to reach the fullness of our divine purpose.

We kneel before You to receive this divine blessing.  Amen

Deuteronomy 33:1-29

Apr 8 Back to You

american-flag-1272115_640Father, like the Israelites, we have put You to the test.  Even as Believers, we have rebelled against You.  We pick and choose how we obey You, discounting some things claiming they were written for another time.  Or that the meaning was different so long ago.

We have placed greater importance on other things, like sports, fame, money, youth, rather than on worshipping You, the One True God, the Most High, who is deserving of all of our praise.

Do not reject us O God.  Do not abandon us.  But show us the error of our ways. Teach us to walk rightly again and make wise decisions that honor You.

Use these stressful times we live in to turn us back to a closer relationship with You.  Help me give You the place in my life that You deserve.

Remind me in this time of being at home, to make time to read Your word so it can guide and encourage me.  Help me set aside time to actually pray, for myself, my family, my neighbors, my church, my state, my country and the world.  And to listen for Your response to my prayers.

Train my ear to hear Your voice so I receive Your direction, Your wisdom, Your love, Your peace.  Open my eyes to see the real and tangible blessings You have placed in my life.

Turn our hearts, our minds, our spirits, our lives back to You.  Amen

Psalm 78:56-64

Apr 7 Your Strength, Your Courage

“Be strong and courageous.”  Lend me Your strength when I am weak.  Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You direct me to do.

Father, how do I appropriate Your strength and Your courage for myself?

wordsarmsoutstretchedskyThese are some things that have helped me:

1 – Read Your Word

Even sitting at my computer, I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards, each with an encouraging scripture.  And I carry one in my bag wherever I go.  It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally or just have one open for me to see.  I have typed in my name so they’re like personal messages from You to me.

“Do not fear Laura, for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

2 – Be obedient to Your Word

For instance – Today’s Proverb says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.”  So I need to speak honestly and tell the truth.  To be obedient to Your commands.

If You call me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.  There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.

3 – Remembering Your faithfulness in the past

Father, so many times You have protected me and helped me through hardships.  Recalling those times from the past helps me trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble.

I only journal sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points.

With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down.  They confirm Your faithfulness to me.

4 – Watch for courage in others

You have put people in my life who are living examples of how to get through difficulties.

I can watch and learn what encourages and strengthens them.  Some are in the midst of troubles right now.  Some have already come through a hard time.

5 – Trust that You are WITH me!

You promise Your presence: The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So when I am feeling weak I will remember that You are with me, and all the times You protected me and brought me through hardship in the past.  I will look to Your Word and do what it says, and to the people around me who are examples of courage and strength.

Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision!  I will draw on that.  Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Proverbs 12:22

Apr 6 Blessing or Curse ?

“See I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse.“  You presented the people with two choices.  Who in their right mind would choose to be cursed instead of being blessed??

Blessing CurseYet although You spell out very clearly the requirements for each; time and time again people chose to disobey, bringing curses into their lives.

You did not hide who You are or how to please You from these people.  You plainly spoke to them through Moses.  As Your Word says, You did not place this knowledge beyond their reach.  They did not have to mystically ascend to the heavens or even cross a sea to find it.

Neither do I.  You proclaimed it before them in words they understood.  And You share it with me, in many translations and versions of the Bible so I can know one from the other.

I choose blessing.

Centuries later You spoke with the Pharisees, pointing out their hypocrisy.  They wanted to look good from the outside but were not living honorable lives.  You challenged them to be humble and teach the people truth instead of hoarding status.

You challenged them to put down pride and be humble before the people they were supposed to be teaching.  You warned them that they were hindering the people in their understanding of scripture by loading them down with superfluous requirements they themselves didn’t even do.

You accused them of revering the prophets You had sent, only after they had killed them. As You spoke to them, they could have responded to all this teaching and rebuking with humility and obedience.  But they did notYou speak to hypocrisy in my life too. 

Father, let me respond with humility and obedience.  I choose the blessing. 

Your Word is freely available to me.  Your Word teaches me how to live in a way to receive Your blessing.  Not only that, but Jesus, You came to show me and teach me by example.

Help me live in obedience and humility to receive Your blessing.  Strengthen me to turn from hypocrisy and live in honesty in these times.

Only one way is life, all others are death.  I choose life.  Thank You for showing me the way.  Amen

Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Luke 11:37-54

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

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Heavenly Father, thank You for those times I literally cried out to You for You to hear me and come quickly; and You did.

Nights like the Psalmist experienced – when in distress over circumstances, I sought You.  One night I could not see a way out of or through my problems.

And though I had gone to bed, sleep was far from me.  My thoughts would not be still.  With each issue, another failure or complication seemed to pile on until I felt so overwhelmed I did not even know where or how to start to pray.

It was then that I remembered when in the past, You spoke to me, encouraged me, lifted my emotional distress.   There were literally times when You gave me songs to sing, new melodies and words, to let me know You were with me and things would be alright.

But this time, I did not feel that.  I felt far from You.  And wondered if this could be the end? Had I finally reached a point where You would not come and rescue me, but simply take me home to be with You in heaven?

That actually sounded like it would be the answer to all my troubles.  And while I believe You have shown me I have much to do before I die, there was a sense of relief in that thought.

That’s when it hit me – this thought was NOT from You.

It was from the evil one who would like nothing better than to sideline me – take me out of the game altogether!  If satan can get anyone to believe the lie that there is no hope, it immobilizes and freezes them.  Can even paralyze a Christian’s faith.

So I began praying – not about the circumstances that were overwhelming me – but any scripture I could remember:

The Lord’s prayer.  

The 23rd Psalm. 

“I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.” 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” 

“The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory!” 

“Jesus wept.” 

The more I quoted Your Word in prayer, the calmer I felt.  And soon fell asleep.

Thank You Lord, for sending Your calm, Your peace.  Thank You for sending sleep.

Thank You that in the morning, things didn’t look as bad as they had the night before!  Thank You that I could see resources and solutions I could not the night before.  In taking those steps back towards You, I felt Your presence once again.  It was not You who had moved.  But in believing a lie, I had.

Father, show us all the way back to You.  Draw us closer into Your Presence and Your Deliverance with the power of Your Word.  When we don’t know what to pray, bring scripture to our minds. 

 You are the God who performs miracles; You display your power among the peoples. With Your mighty arm, You redeemed me!” Amen

Psalm 77:1-15; Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 10:27; John 3:16; John 11:35; Deuteronomy 20:4

Apr 4 Teach me to pray

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Father, thank You that when asked by Your disciples, You taught me more than just some words to say when I pray.

In three verses You instruct me to honor Your Holy Name and ask for You to meet my needs.  You indicate it is important to confess my sin and be forgiven of it, as well as to forgive others who have sinned against me.  And You show me how to ask for Your divine direction and protection.

But You didn’t stop there.  You used further illustrations to teach me that I need to be persistent in my prayer life.  I am not to give up just because I don’t get an immediate answer. “For everyone who asks, receives; he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Next You reinforce that I can trust You for specific answers to prayer, through the Holy Spirit, because “You are the Father of Lights, and every good and perfect gift comes down from You.

Father, we approach You now to ask and seek and knock on the door of Your abundant provision in this time of challenge and disunity.  We ask for healing of those who are ill.  Return them to good health. And comfort for those who are hurting.  And justice for those who are oppressed.

We seek Your purpose for our lives and desire Your direction to help us fulfill all You created us for.

And we knock so You will open the door of provision for all those who are in dire need.  Father, release the abundance in Your storehouse and pour out a blessing so amazing that all will see it is from You, and give You thanks.

Thank You, precious Heavenly Father, that I can come to You with every joy, every sorrow, every praise, every need; and know that You hear me and You enter into dialogue with me.  Help me take time to listen for Your voice in answer; and not just call out my grocery list of wants. And open my ears and heart to all You will tell me.  Amen

Luke 11:1-13; James 1:17

Apr 3 The Good Samaritan

21_Parable_Good_Samaritan_1024Photo by http://www.LumoProject.com

Father, the Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the first I can remember hearing from the Bible when I was a little girl.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.”

It was a lesson on loving your neighbor as yourself, teaching us all in Sunday school that when anyone is hurt or hurting we are to do all we can to help them.  This is a value I have had all my life.

Much later in life, You opened my eyes to new levels of understanding of this parable.  I’ve learned more about how badly he was hurt and the level of commitment it took on the part of the Good Samaritan.  And the significance of the spiritual hypocrisy and political bigotry of the men who passed him by.  And the social discrimination that the Samaritan ignored or overlooked to help the wounded man.

So it’s hard for me to see people suffering at the hands of injustice and misunderstood bias against people groups. Lord would You help everyone look beyond their differences and just see people who are hurting, grieving, in need.  And have a heart to help those hurting people when they can.

Give us each the perspective to see that everything we have is blessing from You.  And that we are to share that blessing…with everyone.  Not just people who look like us.

Our church’s motto is “Live and Love like Jesus right where you are.” Help us be like the Samaritan too.  Open our eyes to see who is hurting right where we are – where You have put us. And give us Your heart to help them however we can.

Remove greed, selfishness, discrimination and hypocrisy from us during these times.  And let us emerge from this crisis of disunity a more loving, caring people who bring honor to Your name.  Amen

Luke 10:25-37

Apr 2 Lord of the harvest

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

markus-siemens-187509Lord, I didn’t grow up on a farm like my father did, so many scriptural references to farming culture require research for my understanding.  I do understand that a crop is planted and cared for, grows, and when it reaches maturity is harvested in some fashion to gain the benefit of consuming it.

A pastor pointed once, that as wheat grows, the topmost part of the stalk called the head, is where the grain is that constitutes the consumable portion of the plant.  As the individual kernels of wheat mature and ripen, they grow larger and heavier.

When the head of the stalk is heavy and bowed down, it is ready for harvest. 

So also, he said, it can be observed with people

The analogy here is that You Lord, are the farmer, the Lord of the harvest.  You plant and care for people in that You have ordained when each one of us will be born, and where and to whom.

People grow and mature also.  You “harvest” us for Salvation when we are ready to accept the truth that You are the One True God; and believe that Your Son Jesus died on the cross for our sin as the only way to be reconciled to You, and confess with our mouth that we accept that reconciliation and will serve You as our Lord.  When we are reconciled to You, we can join You and help with the harvest, bringing others to know You.

I can share that truth with others.  I just look to see if people are ready just like the wheat: when their heads are heavy and bowed down!

Right now, many people are suffering and looking for answers.  In that state they will often walk or sit with heavy thoughts that bow their head down. It may be that all I have to do is ask how they are, or if there is any way I can pray for them.

Father, help me be mindful of people who are ready to hear about You and how much You love them and want a personal relationship with them.  Give me the time to listen, and the words to say that will help me be an effective worker in the harvest.  Amen

Luke 10:1-2

Apr 1 I still belong to You

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Father, thank You for this scripture that reminds me that even in the midst of any challenge or crisis You are the strength of my heart.

You created me.  And called me to believe in You and I trust You with my life.

Because I call You Savior and Lord, I belong to You.  You have promised guide me with Your counsel.

So whatever is happening in the world I can trust that You will take my hand and be with me.  I can lean on You for support when I am feeling weak or overwhelmed.  Your counsel will give me the perspective I need to cope and prevail under any circumstances. In the heart of turmoil, You give me peace.

You rejoice with me in the victories.  You fight with me and for me in the battles.  And lead me to a glorious destiny, eventually to spend eternity with You.

Regardless of the condition of the world or the circumstances of my life, I have put my faith in You.  You are the strength that keeps me going.

Psalm 73: 23-26

Mar 31 God makes a little a lot

A crowd came because they were hungry to hear from and be healed by You, Jesus.  In staying late, they also grew hungry physically.  Your disciples had only five loaves of bread and two fish; not even enough to feed the twelve of them, much less a crowd of five thousand.

13_Jesus_5000_1024But You took what was offered, looked up to heaven, gave thanks and broke it.  And that meager amount was miraculously multiplied to provide enough food for more than five thousand people to eat and be satisfied, with more left over than there was at the start!

Oh Lord, You have placed gifts in me and in each one of us that are to be shared.  Like the bread and the fish, it may not look like much to begin with.  But You do not make mistakes.

What matters is not what things look like here on earth through man’s eyes.  What matters is that the gifts are available to be used by You.

So Father, in these challenging times, help us each offer what we have.  Let us all look to You with thanksgiving in our hearts, asking that You bless us and break us to spread the gifts You have placed in each of us.  Use it to make a blessing for others that will bring honor and glory to Your name.

My resources are meager.  And my ability to make anything happen is feeble.  But I trust that in Your hands, You can do more than I could ask or even imagine!

Because You are the One True God, with You, nothing is impossible!  Amen

Luke 9:10-17

Mar 30 Real Faith

Dear Father, may I have faith like Jairus and the woman who reached out to touch the hem of Your robe.

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Jairus came to You knowing his daughter was sick unto death.  Probably the wisdom of doctors and medical science had done all they could; and still he came, believing, expecting that You could be the source of her healing.  Even when he received word that his daughter was dead, You told him not to be afraid, and he responded with faith.

So many times I let the circumstances around me determine how much faith I have. 

If things look good and I am reasonably sure they will work out, I have a greater level of faith that my prayer will be answered favorably.  After all, if it’s likely things will work out, I’m not really depending on You for that much.

If things look really bad, I may cry out, but am I really expecting You to act on my behalf?  Or do I hedge my bet?

The woman with an issue of blood believed she wouldn’t even have to ask; that if she merely touched You – wait, not even You, but only the hem of Your robe that she would be healed.   And she was!

What amazing faith!

They received these amazing, miraculous blessings, Lord, because their faith was in the One who is worthy.  My faith is also in the One who is worthy.

I am blessed, because the outcome is not dependent on me, but on You.  The outcome is not dependent on how the circumstances look.  All the faith in the world does no good if it is misplaced.  Thank You for being the Author and Perfecter of my faith.  Amen

Luke 8:40-56

Mar 29 What would Jesus do?

jesus-storm

Dear Lord, when I read this report of You being asleep in the boat when the squall came up, it seemed so amazing.

In general,  people get more anxious when things intensify and we begin to feel out of control.

And that may be the keyYou knew that nothing could happen that was out of Your control!

But why didn’t the disciples know that?

They had witnessed You performing many, many miracles.  Not only healing the sick and lame and blind, but raising people from the dead!  So if they had listened to Your words and trusted them, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake,”  it seems they would have had more confidence in the outcome, squall or no.

Lord, I want to be so confident with You that when You tell me, “Let’s do something” I will trust You so completely that there is no question of whether it will be accomplished or not.

I want to do what I see You doing.   If You are resting, that’s my cue that I can rest too.  Because if it doesn’t bother You, and I am with You, then it shouldn’t bother me.

if the disciples had asked back then WWJD?   What would Jesus do?  The answer was right in front of them: sleep!

When the hard part comes, the storm, I want to be sure I’m doing my part.  Rather than quake with fear, or anxiously try and control the outcome, help me be so confident trusting You, that I too am calm and at rest.

If I am with You, it will all work out.

Amen

Luke 8:22-25

Mar 28 Burnout or Peace?

Lord, I do not desire to be a stiff-necked person.  Yet there are so many times I have been obstinate, stubborn, and wanted my own way!

Situations come up in my life, and the first thing I think of is how it can work out best for me.  I don’t think of myself as selfish, but I certainly do prefer when circumstances benefit me and don’t rock my boat.

hurry-2119711_640There are so many things beyond my control that I seek to tightly control the things that are within my grasp.  I do what I can to plan my work and work my plan.  I try and keep a handle on and stay on top of events, relationships, finances, schedules, health issues, family, home.

The truth is: my being in control is just an illusion.  I am not really in control of anything.  [add in 2020 – This year and the corona crisis had made that remarkably clear for all of us.]

But by Your grace, I make it from one day to the next, one month to the next, one year to the next.

I believe You are a God of order.  You created the universe with order.  You ordered the solar system, and the seasons, life cycles and day and night.

If You can handle the universe, You can certainly handle the details of my life.  The control I desperately seek, I can trust to You.  I need to do my part, but I can release that part of me that seeks to insist on my own way; that seeks to “feel” in control.

A new way of thinking for me is to ask how the circumstances in my life can be used to bring You glory.  How can I respond in a way that shows that my peace and confidence come from You, the Lord God Almighty, instead of being dependent on whether or not things work out my way?

man on rok overlooking skysea

Help me LordKeep my heart sensitive to what You are doing so I can join you.  Keep my mind focused on what You are showing me and teaching me through Your Word, about how to let go.

I have heard that I cannot do Your part, and You will not do my partGive me the discernment to know which is which.   And the courage to let my actions reflect that.  Amen

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

Mar 27 Not by bread alone…

notbybreadalonemimeLord, today’s scripture passages are so rich, it is hard to chose one area of prayer focus.  In these verses You are instructive, encouraging, and even give warnings.  All are important.  But the ones that speak to me the most, remind me of how You care for me and how I should behave in response to that care and commitment.

I am holy to You, Lord.  That doesn’t mean I am perfect, but that I am set apart for You. And for Your purposes.

Like the Israelites, I have value because of who I am in Your eyes.  You did not set Your affection on me because I am the biggest, or best.  There is nothing I could have done to make You love me.  But You chose me.

You delivered the Israelites from slavery.  Because You love me, You promise to deliver me with a mighty hand from this world and its distressing values.

 You have provided for me in the past when I needed help, encouragement, and provision.  Although You provided physical sustenance for me, You have also taught me that there is more.

So I do not live on “bread” alone.  But my relationship with You and Your Word gives me peace and wholeness.  So I will spend time reading and studying Your Word, and listening for Your voice.

Often, especially in times of need – like now –  I am drawn to You.  And I need to be sure I give You the credit when You answer and provide. I express my thanks and gratitude in praise, in song, in telling others how You bring me through troubles and trials.

Every good thing I have has come from You.  It is You who make it possible for me to have the life I enjoy, to work and volunteer and help others.

I will pour out myself to honor You.  You have saved me!  From trouble, from trauma, from myself, from circumstances I have gotten myself into, and from eternal death.

You have answered my prayers, come to my rescue, given me hope, forgiven my sinI thank You and I praise You!  And I cannot wait to see what’s coming next!  Amen

Deuteronomy 7:7-98:1-20

Mar 26 Help me hear

girl-headphones-41553“We will listen and obey.”  This was the Israelites response to all You said on the mountain when they heard Your voice telling them how they should live.

Many things in the world keep me from hearing You.  Especially now, the world is a loud, noisy place, with so many voices that distract or actively deceive.

Those voices fill my mind with stress, fear, anger.  They are confusing, contradictory and portray hopelessness.  They tell me what I need and how I should live to be “accepted” and “successful” by the world’s standards.

They tempt me into materialism, humanism, and all kinds of ungodly ideologies.

So to “listen and obey” I must listen to You specifically and intentionally.  And live a lifestyle that purposely shows others what I believe.

Please remind me when I speak, act, or make a decision, that everything I do will either draw me closer to You, or move me away from You and Your will.  So let me listen carefully, and examine my thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes, to ensure that they are honorable.

When I am not speaking, my faith should still be obvious to others by my dress, my countenance, my attitudes, how I treat people.

In my emails, tweets, posts and any other presentation to the world, I must be mindful that I represent You.  As a Christ-follower, my presence in others’ lives shows whether I truly listen and obey, or whether I am a Christian in name only.

When I feel overwhelmed by the world and all its noise, remind me to make time to hear from You.

I will listen.  And I will obey.  Amen

Deuteronomy 5:1-29

Mar 25 Help me see

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Lord thank You for these pictures in scripture about the ability to see truth for what it is and to understand the meaning behind being a follower of Christ.

Your first picture reminds me that although a blind person who cannot see can help another blind person, there are blocks they will both stumble over due to their lack of vision.

And the second illustrates how I sometimes try and “help” someone else by fixing a problem I see in their life when I have bigger problems in my own life.

How many times have I relied on the advice and guidance of another person, who is “in the dark” as much as I am?

Rather than coming to You, my own lack of vision blinds me to the truth.

In both these examples, I need to remember to look to You for guidance, answers and perspective on issues in my life and seek Your help in correcting my own issues.

Your last illustration shows how important it is that when I come to You for “vision” I need to be obedient to what You tell me. You and Your wisdom and faithfulness build the foundation for my faith.  And in times like these, a firm foundation is absolutely necessary.

During these times of crisis and challenge, we need to know what our faith is based on.  And that its foundation is sure and reliable.  Father, You are that sure foundation that will keep us from collapsing.

Open my eyes of understanding.  I choose to turn – not to other blind people – but to the Creator who made my eyes and gives me sight.  Amen

Luke 6:39-49

Mar 24 Tracing God’s Faithfulness

Dear Lord, I don’t often take time to look back over my life to see where I’ve been and all I’ve come through.  I forget that remembering Your faithfulness to me in the past, builds my faith in the present, and for the future.

But this is what Moses is doing for these young Israelites who are about to come into their Promised Land.

It was Your miracle that delivered them and their parents from slavery in Egypt.  You who kept them alive through the desert and brought them to this place of promise.  And You who kept Your promise to their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

So this scripture impresses upon me now, that I should take time to see where I have come from, where I am going, and how Your hand has blessed me all along the way.  So many times You have protected me and helped me through hardship.  Recalling those times helps strengthen my faith in You.

Knowing You came through in the past allows me to trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble.  I once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points.  With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down that confirm Your faithfulness to me.

Life can sometimes seem like a desert, a dry time of focusing more on what I don’t have than what I do.  I’ve truly been given what I’ve needed, not lacking anything.  And I can say that “You have watched over my journey through this vast desert. You have truly blessed me, and been with me.”

Father be with me now, in this time of crisis.  Be with the people who are afraid.  Be with those who have suffered tragic loss.  Speak to our country’s leadersGuide us and guard us.  Deliver us out of danger and into Your promised land safely and quickly.  And we will give You praise.  Amen

Deuteronomy 2:1-29; especially 2:7

Mar 23 A Blessed Life

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“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.”

He has brought me into life in a time and place of His choosing; to a family of His providence.  He has watched over me and protected me from serious illness and injury, trouble and violence, time and again.

There were times when I cried out to Him for deliverance from circumstances, and He delivered me, or gave me what I needed to endure.  There were times when He rescued me from things that I was not even aware I needed rescuing from.

He allowed me an understanding of spiritual matters, so that I began to see how sinful I was, and in need of a Savior.  And that He, Jesus Christ, in love, shed His blood to pay the price, the penalty my sin had earned.  He showed me, taught me, that this is the only way to reconcile my sinful self with God, who is holy.

He has tested me and refined me like silver.

And although the process is not complete yet, each step in the process brings me closer to being Christ-like.  The best silver is put into the fire seven times and brought up to a temperature of heat that burns away the impurities, creating a purer, more valuable quality.   And though the process of purification is not comfortable, and is often painful, it yields a harvest of blessing.

He has blessed me with loved ones, with friends, with a sense of purpose in life.  He has provided me with hope, love, and a heavenly Father I can trust.

He has comforted me with scriptures, by singing me songs; with revelations of His perspective, by sending people to talk with me, counsel me, rejoice and cry with me.

He has given me the hope of an eternal existence with Him in the future, with promises that He will never, ever, no, not ever, leave me.

He has forgiven my sin.

He has promised that nothing will overtake me, but that He will always make a way for me to bear up under whatever He allows into my life.

How awesome are His deeds!  How great is His power!  Praise be to God! 

Father, let me never forget these things or all that You have done for me.  Let me never shy away from an opportunity to tell others about them and about You.  And that when they call on You as Savior, You will bless their lives too.   Amen

Psalm 66:1-20

Mar 22 You care for us

“O Father, who hears our prayers, forgive us when we are overwhelmed by sin.  You are the hope of all the ends of the earth.

You formed the mountains… and stilled the seas… and the turmoil of the nations.  You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly.”

panorama-3311973_640Father, care for us as You care for the land.  Pour out on us what we need for growth and fruitfulness in our spiritual livesProvide us with the nourishment we need to grow in maturity and grace.

You “drench its furrows and level its ridges, softening it with showers, blessing the land and crowning it with bounty and abundance.”   Father, drench us in Your love, even out our rough places, soften our hearts where they are hardened.

“You crown the year with Your bounty, and Your carts overflow with abundance.”

Father, this year continues the crisis and disunity in our lives, our nation and the world.  Draw us all to You, to seek Your will and purpose for our lives.  Answer us with awesome deeds and fill us with good things from Your house.

Open our eyes to acknowledge Your bounty and the abundance of blessing. And we will shout for joy and sing praises to You.  Amen 

Psalm 65:1-13

Mar 21 Overabundant blessing!

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O Lord, how often do I make my own plan, instead of seeking Yours, or going along with the one You started me out on?  How many blessings have I missed, because I went my own way?

The Reubenites and Gadites saw with their eyes, that the land they were on was good enough for them; and asked for it rather than waiting for the land You had promised to all the tribes.  In their view, what they were seeing was good enough, and it was given to them.  I wonder if they prayed about that decision?  Or how they sought wisdom on the matter?  Or if they were just tired of being on the move and wanted to stop and settle?

Down the road it caused misunderstanding and cost lives.  It was not Your plan, but You allowed it.

When Jesus taught and healed in the town of Capernaum in Galilee, the people searched Him out and tried to keep Him from leaving.  Who wouldn’t want to hang on to a miracle worker?  Healer?  Gifted teacher?   But the will of the people did not line up with Your divine purposes.

It was not Your plan, and You did not allow it.

Jesus was not a fisherman.  But He got into a fisherman’s boat.  He instructed the men to put out into deep water and let down the nets at a time and place that made no sense by fishermen’s wisdom.   The men did, acting in obedience to Your sovereignty.

When they obeyed and went along with Your plan, they were blessed to overflowing!  They had to call a backup boat, and even then, the boats filled to almost sinking with fish!

It was Your plan, and although it made no sense by human wisdom, it brought overabundant blessing!

Dear Father, I want that overabundant blessing in my life!  I desire to align myself with Your will and Your purpose.  I lay down my wish to “do it my way” or according to my own wisdom, in favor of Your revelation and Your blessing.

Help us lean into You! Hear Your instruction clearly.  Embolden us to act with godly wisdom.  Keep us on the path of Your plan.   And let us receive Your blessing with gratitude and thanksgiving!  Amen

Numbers 32:1-42; Luke 4:31-5:11

Mar 20 Trust – even in the desert

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“God, You are my God!  Earnestly I seek You.

 [My soul] thirsts for You and my body longs for You

 in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Father, on this earth, in this life, it does so often feel like trudging through a desert with no water in sight.

I have lived in New Mexico on the edge of the desert.  When we drove anywhere, we never left without five gallons of water and provisions to spend the night in case we broke down or had a flat.   Some of the places were so remote we could not count on help coming quickly.   After hearing stories of people perishing, we learned to adapt to the environment and its challenges.

It’s beginning to feel like our country has become a spiritual desert.  Oases of living water, wells of wisdom, pools of purity, have been blown over and filled in with the sands of sin and the dust of depravity.   

Truly, even those who call themselves Christians have been seared by the heat of materialism and humanism and tolerance, to the point that they are almost unrecognizable as followers of Christ.  A desert indeed.

But I have seen You at work – in my life – the lives of loved ones.  I have seen You answer prayer.  I have beheld Your power and glory!  And because of this, I will sing praise to You as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands to honor You.  Trying to fall asleep, I will count my blessings.

You satisfy my soul as my stomach is satisfied with the richest of flavors.  The deepest of chocolates!

You have been my help during times of stress, sorrow, helplessness, fear, anger, doubt, and frustration.  And also You have rejoiced with me in times of incomparable joy, happiness, thankfulness, relief, delight, and quiet contentment.

You are like a mother hen that spreads her wings of protection over her chicks.  Like Your child, I run under Your wings and cling to You.

Thank You!  That when I seek You, I find You.  That when I hunger and thirst for You, Your Word fills me up.  That when I cling to You, I am safe and protected.

Father, during this time of stress, fear, anger, disunity, helplessness, and sorrow, let us come to You as individuals, as families, as a country!  You are The Water of Life that saves us in the desert.  We give You praise!  Amen

Psalm 63:1-8

Mar 19 God’s Plan

These amazing assemblies that You had the Israelites learn and observe Lord, are more than just feasts and festivals for celebration’ sake.  They are the blueprint of Your plan for salvation and will play out to the end of the age, the end of the earth.

They have meaning in themselves, but are also prophetic of what is to come.

feastsoverviewAs Passover commemorates Your deliverance of the Israelites from death, by the blood of the lamb on the doorpostsJesus IS that Passover LambHis blood allows me to be delivered from eternal death: separation from You.

Firstfruits being offered to the Lord show that the Israelites trust the Lord to bring in the rest of the harvestJesus IS the firstfruit of the risen!  He was dead and is now alive, just as all who believe and die will rise to eternal life with Christ.

The Festival of Weeks is 50 days after Firstfruits.  It celebrates the bringing in of the first harvest –50 days after Jesus rose there was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit: Pentecost.

The Feast of Trumpets called Israel together to prepare for the Day of Atonement, which was ten days later.  It is not tied to any historical event in Israel’s past.   And thus has not yet been fulfilled.  Believers look to the book of Revelation:  when the trumpet sounds and Jesus returns to call the living and the dead to rise for eternal judgment.

Father, how amazing that You laid out this plan, all before the foundations of the earth.

You knew all that it would take to reconcile Your people to You after sin entered the world.  And You have laid the groundwork for my understanding of what has happened, and what is to come, in these festivals and holy days.

Thank you that You reveal Your plan to man.  Thank You that Your plan is good and true; and that I can trust You to have the sovereignty and power to make it so.

Help me be mindful of the fullness of my history as a believer, both in the Old and New Testaments.  And prepare me for all that is to come.

Reveal Your plan to me for my life, and lend me Your strength to be obedient to it.   Amen

Numbers 28:16-29:40

Mar 18 Heaven or Earth?

O Lord, what a wonderful and confusing prayer here from David.

I’m not exactly sure of his meaning; but like many prayers, it shows the divided interests and longings of many believers.

On one hand, I have been through a lot.  As a nation we have been through a LOT right now.  Life is challenging, and sometimes I want to just give up. Like David says: “my heart grows faint.”  I feel anxious to be done with this earthly life and all its problems.  “I long to dwell in Your tent forever.”

Thinking about that, all pain and suffering would be over in heaven.  No more battles to fight.  I would be in the presence of my Lord and Savior.  What could possibly be better!

heaven or earthOn the other hand, You have given me blessings here, Lord.  I desire to fulfill all You have planned for me, and bring glory and honor to Your name here on earth.  And hopefully bring many to a saving knowledge of You while doing it.

So I echo “increase the days of my life, my years for many generations.”  How awesome would it be to see my children grown and serving the Lord, and grandchildren, and great grand children!

Bottom line: I trust You with all my days.  Whether here on earth or with You in heaven, I rely on You and Your perfect will to know the length of my days, and prepare me for them.

I thank You that You knew all my days before even one of them came to be.  And that no power can take away even one hour You have promised me.  I trust in, and rest in, Your power and Your wisdom, Your mercy, and Your plan.  Amen

Psalm 61:1-8

Mar 17 Growth

sapling-154734_640Lord Jesus, we know very little about Your childhood from the scriptures.  We do know that You were remarkable.  From Your eighth day, we know that “He grew and became strong, was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.” 

And when twelve years old, You ”sat among the teachers in the temple courts, amazing childhood people at His understanding and answers.” 

Then we learn You were obedient to Your earthly parents and “grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

Lord, that is my desire as well, to grow “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

I pray You would help me grow in being able to understand, remember, and apply learning and knowledge to my life; which we call wisdom.  But not just from a worldly viewpoint.  I would desire to have godly wisdom, from the Holy Spirit, to teach me of You, to know You better, to see things from Your perspective.   

Lord, help me grow in stature, which means maturity.  That may require reexamining and putting away some childish thoughts and behaviors.  It means not being led only by ego, or emotions or selfishness.  Instead, lead me to develop a responsible sense of accountability when it comes to my relationship with You and with others.

Lord, I mostly desire to grow in favor with You.  Show me where I am missing that mark, and turn my path back to You.  Before I act, let me ask, “Will this draw me closer to the Lord, or farther away?”  

Sometimes I feel close to You when I am strong, because I know that my strength comes from You.  Other times I feel closer to You when I am weak and in dire need of Your help, encouragement, and guidance.  I believe my trust in and dependence on You also honors You, as Your strength is shown through my weakness.

Father, let my favor with man be such that I can be a witness to man, rather than being taken in by the traditions and values of man.  As You give me favor, keep me mindful that my home is in heaven – this is just a temporary stopover.

How wonderful it would be to be like Jesus in this.  Thank You for Your help.  Amen

Luke 2:39-52

Mar 16 A Savior who is Christ the Lord

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What better message for the world today – than of a Savior?

O Father, I love this passage in Luke.  It has become one of the best-known passages of Your Word that tells the gospel, the good news, the coming of our Savior!  

Thank You for inspiring whoever made the Charlie Brown Christmas Special to include this scripture, presented in such a wonderful way.  Your words, in that show, have been seen and heard by millions and millions of people who might never open a Bible, or know what Christmas is really all about.

I cannot read these words without picturing the scene on the school stage and hearing Linus’ voice repeating the words that describe the Holy birth of our Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

Movies depict it, church presentations act it out.  Even some civic displays portray it.  There is such power in the simple scene and those precious words.

Lord, as our world grows more cynical, skeptical and politically correct, this story, Your story, is in danger of being squeezed out.  Already in many arenas it is considered inappropriate and reflective of an intolerance of diverse lifestyles.  Our country is interpreting scripture as “hate talk” and it is being censored by law.

Father, raise Your hand to protect the presentation of Your truth to people everywhere.  Let it continue to be displayed, portrayed, acted out, not only inside churches, but in the public view.  Let it continue to be sponsored for commercial and public broadcast to billions of people around the world for years, decades, and centuries to come, to enlighten their spirits and change their lives. 

Bless those who support it and those who hear it, for generations to come.

Father, let the uncertainty of today draw people to nail down the certainty of their eternal life. And let the message of Your Good News change lives around the world! For You have sent to us A Savior, who is Christ, the Lord. Amen

Luke 2:1-14

to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special video clip, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGXokSE6Bq0

 

Mar 15 A donkey speaks!

donkey-105719_640O God, do for me what You did for Balaam.

If I am ever on a reckless path, Father, send an angel to block my way.  Let a traveling companion turn me off the road, or crush my foot or stop me in my path until You open my eyes to see what is really going on from Your perspective.

If need be, send an ass to speak to me to get my attention!

Let me hear Your voice and be obedient, not drawn away into the world or the material riches it can offer.  Even though Balaam continued to bless Your people, as You had told him, he relied on sorcery to earn his living and ultimately betrayed Your people.

Help me stay focused on You and the blessings You give, like Elizabeth and Zechariah.  Your blessing to them was an answer to many of their prayers and the fulfillment of prophecy.  They were faithful to Your instructions in handling the blessing You gave them – their son John the Baptist.

Lord, help me be faithful to the blessings You give me.  And handle them according to Your instructions.

Let me grow strong in spirit as John the Baptist did, and proclaim Your wonders to others.

You have made a path of redemption, sent a means of salvationJesus is His name.  In Him is the victory over death and all enemies.  In Him is eternal life.  I am ever humbled and blessed.  Amen

Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80 

Mar 14 Love and Faithfulness

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“Great is Your love, higher than the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

O Lord, Your love and Your faithfulness are hallmarks of Your character.  Your love is not just friendship, or fondness as we use the word.  It is even more than tenderness or a fleeting feeling of overwhelming affection.

It is a boundless, limitless, overabundant, unconditional choice to create, nurture, protect, cherish, treasure, care for, invest in and sacrifice for Your creations.

It is not due to the object of this love.  The object (us) is often actually unlovely, unkind, rebellious, demanding, selfish, and undeserving of this kind of love.  It is only made possible because of You – the One doing the loving, and Your Divine nature.

I am loved not because I have earned love or because my personality or appearance draw it out; but only because Your very nature pours forth love and lavishes it on me.

When I say “higher than the heavens” it’s a word picture that compares the quality and quantity of your love to something that for me is immeasurable.  The attributes of Your love and the amount You have to give are infinitely higher above the farthest reach I can even imagine.

Faithfulness used to be a highly valued trait.  Husbands and wives partnered for life.  Companies desired long-term employees and provided benefits to keep employees happy.   People formed lifelong friendships.  These days it seems to be a fair-weather and fleeting measure of comparative loyalty until something better comes along.

Your faithfulness is another character quality that depends on who You are.  You are unswerving in Your loyalty, unshakable in Your dedication, immovable in Your devotion.  You are faithful to Your character – Your attributes are true one hundred percent of the time; faithful to Your promises and covenants; faithful to Your children.

As far as I can stretch my arms apart, or see from one horizon to the other, and beyond the heights of the sky, I cannot contain Your faithfulness.  You are worthy of every ounce of trust and allegiance I am capable of.

You are God Most High.  Be exalted!  Let Your glory fill the earth!  I will praise You and sing of You!  My faithful and loving God!  Amen

Psalm 57:9-11

Mar 13 Egypt or Wilderness?

direction-1033278_640The Israelites.

For several hundred years they had not been in charge of their fate and lived as slaves.  They never really had the freedom to choose what to do, where to go, or what to eat.  And had no time to worship You, or even think about what their future might hold.

All they knew: slavery = more of the same.

And while their freedoms had been stripped away, there was stability and security in what they had.  Barring illness or disobedience, they were provided for, albeit to keep them in working condition for the Pharaoh.

So in this newfound freedom after leaving Egypt, when problems rose, like no food or water for two million people, it was a big deal.  And they were not prepared to cope.

Those things had been provided for them before.  And even though their labor had been hard and bitter, life was at least predictable.   So during these times, it was so easy for one of them to look back to when there was a bit of security and minimal provision; and convince others that what was behind them was preferable to the unknown ahead.

Lord, how many times have I preferred the predictable to the unfamiliar?  It takes courage to step out in a new direction, to get up off the couch of complacency.

I go back and forth between disbelief at how the Israelites rebelled against You even in the presence of the observable and awesome miracles; and being able to understand where they were coming from.

Father I pray You would help me be courageous in accepting what comes from Your hand.  If it requires change on my part, let me be willing to take the necessary steps without whining and complaining.

Remind me of the times in the past when You have rescued, delivered and supported me through difficulties and challenges.  Let those memories add to my faith and increase my trust in You.

And I will say, “whenever I am afraid I will trust in You” and “walk before You in the light of life”.  Amen

Numbers 20:1-13; Psalm 56:3,13

Mar 12 God is with us

jackson-lake-80570_640“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you”

How many times, O Lord, have I seen You sustain me during times of stress and trouble?  You have proven Yourself reliable over and over again.

Sometimes when I cast my cares on You, You actually change my circumstances, so the cause of my worry disappears.  That is always appreciated, and often the solution I am seeking.   But there are many other ways You ”sustain” me!

At times You don’t change the circumstances, but You change my perspective.  You allow me to see things from a different view.  It’s like when a toddler runs to their mother and is picked up and held in her arms.  The child can see from a higher, safer perspective than from the height of a child.   Looking down from that height, the bad things don’t look so big and overwhelming.

Another way You sustain me is by simply being with me.  Maybe the circumstances don’t change, and my perspective is the same; but the fact that You are near me, encouraging me, comforting me, reminding me that You are in control and that I can trust You, is what gets me through the hard time.

Sometimes You distract me with a blessing in one part of my life that so outweighs the rest, the worry fades in significance.

Sometimes You teach me to choose my battles, and show me that in relation to the bigger picture, I can let go of this worry.

 At other times You impress upon me the lessons I’m learning in dealing with the hardship actually outweigh the difficulty in getting through it.

And still other times You create a surprise ending through the struggle that works out even better than I could have ever imagined!

It is still not easy when challenges and troubles come.  Truth be told, I’d prefer to avoid them altogether.  But You have shown me that You can work good out of anything when I trust You.  I know that no matter what, You will sustain me.

YOU – the all-mighty, all-knowing Creator God, who has the power and resources of the universe at His disposal, will sustain me.

You WILLa certainty because of Your faithfulness to Your promises and Your unchangeable character and Your unfailing love for me, sustain me.

You will SUSTAINkeep, preserve, defend, support and encourage, zealously guard and treasure, me

You will sustain MEYour child, Your servant, one who loves and worships and believes in and trusts in You.

YOU WILL SUSTAIN ME!  And I will praise You!  Thank You.  Amen

Psalm 55:22

Mar 11 from Beginning to End

alpha_and_omega_bookThank You Lord, is not enough to say to You, for enduring such a horrible crucifixion and death so that I could be reunited and reconciled, into fellowship with You.  Thank You that the precious blood You shed washes away my sin and pays the penalty my sin deserves.

I cannot begin to imagine the horror of all You felt and went through.  Movies that depict it are difficult to watch and fill me with sorrow and shame, that it was for my sin You chose to go through it all.

It boggles my mind, that this was planned before the foundation of the world!  You already knew what would happen with sin being a part of the world You created, and what it would take to make it right again.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they died spiritually, as they were separated from Your presence.  And eventually died physically.  They continued in sin, as did all man for centuries, and a system of shedding innocent blood and making offerings was instituted.

In the desert when Korah sinned against You and rebelled, You swallowed him up in the earth with his followers.  Yet sin continued. As did sacrifices as a way to enter Your presence, first in the Tabernacle, then the Temple.

In the fulfillment of Your prophecies, You came to the earth as Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the perfect, innocent Lamb of God and became the ultimate sacrifice, laying down Your life once for allall the sin, all the people, for all time.  Yet all have not accepted that gift.

One day Your world will be free of sin again as You judge all the living and the dead – even the angels – and create a new heaven and a new earth.

You will have delivered Your people from all trouble, and will look triumphantly upon all Your foesThey will be brought down to eternal death, separated from You for all eternity. And Your people will live with You forever.

I am eternally blessed to be Your childThank You.  Amen

Numbers 16:1-40; Mark 15:12-38; Psalm 54:7

Mar 10 Fear or Faith ?

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Ten said No. 

Two said Go! 

Interesting Lord, that only two of those who went to see the goodness of the land You promised to give the Israelites, had the faith to take You at Your word and go forward to take possession of it.

The other ten saw the goodness, but they also saw the size of those living there.

They could have compared the size of the enemy to the size of their Godwho had delivered them from the entire Egyptian Army!

And brought them through the desert!

And who fed them every day, a miraculous food they had never seen, that came from nowhere!

And Who was leading them with an awesome pillar of cloud by day and fire by night!

But instead, they focused on themselves.  They compared the size of their perceived “enemy” to their own puny, whiny selves, and were filled with fear and dread.  Even worse, they spread fear, discouragement and rebellion to the people!

What a typical human response.  How many times have I looked at my own circumstances, and figured that I couldn’t win?  Forgetting that I can call on You as my ally – the One who can do miracles!

The One who keeps His promises!

The One who is faithful to His Word!

Forgive me Lord, for giving up before the battle.  Especially when I haven’t even called on You, trusting in faith, believing that You could and You would make a difference.  Forgive me when I focus on the challenges before me instead of the ally standing beside me!

I desire to be like Caleb and Joshua who said GO!  They compared the size of their enemy not to themselves, but to their Great God!

Let me see Your promises to me for all the blessing they are!  Let me see that the future You have planned for me is exceedingly goodLead me into my promised land and help me take it.

Do not let me disobey and rebel.  Do not let my fear get the better of me and keep me away.

Let me realize that when You are with me, there is no protection for the enemy!  Help me take possession of all You have for me.  I want to live in my Promised Land!  Amen

Numbers 14:1-10

Mar 9 The Olive Tree

O Father, thank You for teaching me about the significance of an olive tree.  As I studied in the Garden of Gethsemane, I learned of the value of all that the olive tree stands for and produces.

So I pray the verses with new understanding“As for me, I am like an olive tree flourishing in the House of God”

olive and me

As for me, Lord, may I be like a green olive tree flourishing in Your House:
May I be alive, vibrant, and growing
May I produce abundant fruit in season,
May I have long thick roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil.

May I grow protected from harm and harshness because I abide in Your House O Lord.  Thank You that as my gardener, You tend to me personally to be sure I have everything I need to grow healthy and strong.

May I grow in community, surrounded by others, our roots and trunks intertwining like olive trees grow, without comparing myself to them, but shading them, and drawing needed shade from them.

May I draw on the strength of being in community with those You have placed around me so I can persevere and remain strong even when the winds come, leaning on others and providing stability for them in return.

May I stand in the midst of others for years and years and years to come, like the two 2400 year old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  They stood by You as  You knelt on that fateful night and prayed before Your arrest and Crucifixion.

Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful to look at and amazing in purpose.

May others see me and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me.

As the olive tree produces food to eat, and oil for lamps, soaps for cleansing, and ointments for anointing and healing; let me be nourishment and light and cleansing and blessing and healing to those around me.

I will trust in Your loving-kindness and unfailing love for ever and ever –

Even when I am confused
Even when I can’t see Your will at work
Even when I don’t feel Your presence
Even when the world denies it
Even through tears and pain and sorrow

I will thank You for all You have done
I will hope in Your Name, for it is good
I will praise You – forever. Amen

Psalm 52:8-9

Mar 8 Only You

dvxgnwnywem-giulia-bertelliThank You for having mercy on me O Lord.  Thank You for withholding from me the penalty that my sins deserve.

I praise You that Your mercies are new every morning; that You are not like a human, who would reach a limit of forgiveness or loving kindness.

I am so fortunate that I am not dependent on my own goodness or ability to “earn” any kind of favor from You, but that I am at the mercy of Your great, unfailing love and boundless compassion.

Because of this, Lord, You blot out my transgressions, wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from all my sin.  And because Your love for me is so great, You only show me what I can bear at any given time.  Your Holy Spirit convicts my heart, but does not condemn me.

I will be cleansed only when You cleanse me.  Only You have this power.   You can wash me whiter than the pure, sparkling snow.

You do not desire legalism or jumping through hoops to earn forgiveness; but desire my own recognition of my sin, and my true repentance.

Father, I ask You to do a work in me and purify my heartRenew a spirit in me that will not give way to these sins again.  That way, when I do sin, it will break my heart and make me aware immediately, so I can turn from it and return to You.

Return the joy of Your salvation to me Lord, and all that it means.

I am ever grateful for Your forgiveness, for Your cleansing, so I can again be in Your presence.  I open my mouth and declare that all blessing and honor are due You.  To You I give all glory, all praise, all thanksYours is the power and strength forever. Amen

Psalm 51:1-17; Revelation 7:12

Mar 7 Follow the Leader

Lord, I love how You are always available to me.  I can come to You any time to ask for wisdom and direction. There is no question too big or too small for You to answer.   And You never make me feel bad for asking.

cloud-pillar_imgarcade.comThe Israelites came and inquired of You through Moses about a problem for some wanting to celebrate the Lord’s Passover.  And You told them exactly what to do.  Not only did You answer their question, but Your presence was visible in the camp as a cloud over the Tabernacle.  When You remained, the people remained where You were.  When Your presence moved, they moved.

How I would love to have my own pillar of cloud appear before me and stay with me to direct my path!

Then I would know precisely if I were in Your perfect will or if I were ever in danger of straying from it.  I would know when to move on and when to stay put.  There would be no question of misinterpreting what You were telling me.

And what an accountability factor!  If I were not near the pillar, everyone would know it was me who had moved away – who chose not follow.

In Psalm 50:15 You tell me to call on You in the day of trouble and You will deliver.  Again showing Your availability and desire to respond when I ask.  I can trust that You, the mighty Creator of the universe, are available to help me, whenever, wherever, however a need arises.

Thank You for being ready with whatever I need.  And for knowing what I need even when I do not.

I am so grateful to have a God who hears, who is able, who is available, and who is willing.  Amen.

Numbers 9:1-23; Psalm 50:15

Mar 6 Receive

Father, I have heard this blessing many times throughout my life.  I used to hear it sung in Chapel – a beautiful melody and sentiment.  But it seemed more like a ritual refrain than words invoking a powerful blessing upon me personally.

Over the last years I have studied the Hebrew verbs at work in this blessing, and now it means so much more to me.

receiveblessingBless me.  Oh Father, may Your blessing be upon me.   As when You blessed Your creation: infuse me with unlimited potential and empower me.  Remove any and all limitations that would prevent me from achieving the fullness of Your purpose for me and my life.

Keep me.  Zealously cherish me and keep watch over me, my comings and goings, protecting and defending me from any physical, mental, emotional, psychological, financial, social or spiritual enemy or harm.

Let Your face shine on me.  Let the light of Your radiance be upon me to invigorate and empower me.  Let me live in the favor of Your presence and feel You near.

Be gracious unto me.  Let me see and recognize those times when You bestow gifts and unmerited favor on me.  Even when those gifts do not look like what I might expect.

Lift up Your countenance upon me.  O my God, do not turn Your face away from me, but continue to guide me and urge me on, speaking clearly and gently to me.

Let me live in the fullness of Your peace, Shalom: which means and encompasses wholeness, wellness, purposefulness with joy, abundant provision, harmony, tranquility, safety, and security.

Thank You Lord that You in all Your power and mercy, do bless me, keep me, make Your face to shine upon me, are gracious to me, lift Your countenance upon me, and give me Your perfect peace.  You are the Prince of Peace.   And these powerful Words are indeed a blessing.  Amen

Numbers 6:24-26

Mar 5 All I am, All the time

Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That is a mouthful!

The Greek words from this scripture quoting the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today.  But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord.  There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking.  I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.

When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

“I am a child of God” John 1:12
“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12
“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul.  That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word.  So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seekgodly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  The wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind, and the weight of pros and cons are only understood by a limited human viewpoint.

Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions.  As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination.  Help me realize when my strength isn’t enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?!  It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own.  I will never be able to love You this perfectly.

Fortunately, with God, all things are possible!”  So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory.  This is how I desire to be obedient.  Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Mar 4 Worship! And Stand!

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Clap your hands!  Raise your voice!  Sing hymns and worship songs at the top of your lungs! 

Put on a worship music tape and crank up the volume!  Don’t be bashful – show your joy!  God is the One and Only True God who has more power than any person, any force, any thing on this earth!

You, Lord are more powerful than Mother Nature!  You rose from the dead while other proclaimed “deities” are in their graves!

Your creation of the earth and choosing a people for Yourself has been a best seller ever since there has been a printing press!  As of September 2020 some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,415 languages!

I do not live in subject to a king, but Jesus Christ is my King – the King of Kings!  I owe You my praise and will sing out to You.   I will hum quietly, sway and clap, sing in the shower, and with others at gatherings.  I will play any instrument I can, write new songs, sing along with youtube videos that make me cry, and continue to sing through tears!

You reign and rule, but not from an earthly throne in a temple or synagogue or sanctuary.  And not on a mountaintop or in a river or floating on a cloud.

There is a reality that cannot be seen by the human eye and cannot be described completely by human words.  And in that place, is a great throne room, where You are seated on Your Holy throne.

Because I cannot see it, You draw me pictures with parables: a vineyard owner who went on a journey renting out the land.  This is something I can visualize and understand.  Though the owner is not present, he exists, and is still the owner, and is due the income from the land and the respect of the people.

It is the same with You.  Just because I cannot see You, I should not doubt You are real.  Or think that You will not come for what is Yours.

pexels-photoYou have chosen to bless us as a nation.  And show Your love to us in our freedoms and prosperity.  But I believe a storm has come to this country in my time.  When the storm is over, and has swept by; O Lord, may I still be standing firm.  Amen

Mark 12:1-12; Psalm 47:1-9; Proverbs 10:25

Mar 3 Hosanna!

Oh Lord, how wonderful it would have been to be one of the people who shouted to You “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

And to lay down palm branches and watch You ride onto Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.  What a prophetic time to live in.

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picture from LumoProject.com

I can just imagine the excitement of the moment, and the expectation of the people as they wondered if You really could be the Messiah.

Hosanna!  Waving my arms in the air, swaying with the crowd; having heard the stories of Your miracles and healing:

Water into wine!
Walking on water!
Healing with a touch, a word!
Raising the dead!
These must be signs of a long-awaited deliverance for our people!

But were these the same people who only a few days later called “Crucify Him!” and watched as You were led away?

How is it Jesus, that so near the end of Your time here, You are still to be found teaching.  Whole crowds were amazed at Your words when You threw out the money changers, enraging the chief priests and teachers of the law.

Thank You for teaching me one more time about prayer.  Your words remind me that I need to ask in faith, believing.  And that I need to ask according to Your will.  And that I need to be forgiving so I can be forgiven.

“You are my refuge!  And my strength!  My ever-present help in times of trouble.  Therefore, I will not fear.”  Amen

Mark 11:1-24; Psalm 46:1-2

Mar 2 Selfless Savior

clasped-hands-541849_640Lord Jesus, You amaze me! 

Walking on Your way to Jerusalem, You have just told the disciples that You are going to be personally betrayed.  Following that, You will be condemned to death, mocked and spit on, flogged and finally killed.   Your disciples respond by asking You to do them a favor – and a selfish one at that!

Then, as You come to the city of Jericho, You take time to heal a blind man calling out by the side of the road.  Amazing!

I would think that foremost in Your mind, would be the terrible death You are about to face.  I would think You would want some understanding, sympathy, comfort from those around You.  Yet I find You seeing to the needs of others, teaching them about servanthood, and healing a stranger.

Even in a time of personal need, You give more than anyone else possibly could.  You take Your eyes off Yourself and put them on others.  You use Your power to teach and to heal for the benefit of others. Again, You amaze me!

I wonder, did the disciples hear what You were saying, but think to themselves, “Yeah, but it will probably work out differently when we get there – this can’t be right?”   What else would explain their insensitivity?

Father, let this be a lesson to me to be present with people around me who are hurting.  When they tell me of their hardship, let me be comforting and encouraging.

Remind me to lift them up in prayer.  For although I probably won’t be able to solve their concerns, You most certainly can.

And even when I am hurting, don’t let me ignore others around me who are also hurting, like the blind man You healed.  Again, I cannot heal, but I can direct them to You – the One who always has the patience, the desire and the ability to help.

I am so glad You are my Savior, my Healer, my Father, my Friend.  Amen

Mark 10:32-52

Mar 1 By Your hand

surreal-1447617_1920Lord God, I acknowledge that all power and all authority rests with YouYou are Sovereign over all the earth, the heavens and all that is in them.

You made them and by Your hand, all things are sustained and kept in motion.  When Jesus says “all things are possible with God.”  I have no trouble believing it!

There is no power that can stand against You.

So when I’m feeling lost, or overwhelmed, or helpless, or even hopeless, I will remember that my God can do anything!  You can provide a way of escape.  Or move mountains.  Or work blessings out of tragedy.

You know of solutions I cannot even imagine.  You can make a way, where there is no way.

You can give me strength when I am weak.  Lift my spirit when I am down.  You know how to encourage me when I think I cannot go another step.

You inspire me to begin a journey.  And empower me to keep going.   You reveal wonders to me that are beyond my understanding.   And were I to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life, I would not begin to see all the things that are possible with You!

You amaze me!  I am so humbled and blessed, knowing that You are My God.  And I worship You.  Amen

Mark 10:27

Feb 28 Words can hurt

leo-350690_640“When words are many, sin is not absent…”

O Lord, twice I have learned the truth of today’s Proverb

Twice I have given full vent to my anger, spewing words at another person.  And both times the eruptions have caused me much grief

Even though I felt completely justified at the time for the hurt they had caused in my life or my child’s; the damage to the relationships and the way I felt afterwards was not worth the momentary release of anger and frustration.

The examples I have heard about words spoken are so true:  you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube – you can’t put all the feathers back in the pillow, you can’t un-break an egg… because you can never undo the impact words have, after they’ve been heard

“…but he who holds his tongue is wise.” 

Since those two occasions, I have become “wise.”    When the anger builds up and the words are on the tip of my tongue, the memory of those two outbursts comes to mind immediately, and I am able to hold my tongue and think before I speak.   

Thank You for imprinting them so indelibly on my memory to keep me from sinning in this fashion again.  Thank You for teaching me that these words which so easily roll off my tongue are not the godly way to handle situations.

Keep this lesson in the forefront of my mind so that my witness will not be wasted.  Let me honor You with my words.  Amen

Proverbs 10:19 ESV

Feb 27 Can…and WILL!

Lord, I can so identify with the father who asked You to deliver his son from the evil spirit.  His words were, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” 

believe-197091_640As I read through Your Word and see the miracles You have done: the healings, the deliverances of people groups and individuals, the amazing ways You impacted a person’s life and used them mightily, I marvel and believe

When people tell me all You have done in their lives, how You have worked things out that should never have happened, and saved them from something in the nick of time, I believe that.

But when it comes to my own life, while I totally believe You CAN do anything; I often fall short in believing that You WILL.   Where it’s easy for me to see You acting in others’ lives, I feel so undeserving of Your attention.

But I continue to call out to You for my family, my children and grandchildren.  I believe that Your purpose is not to harm them, but to give them a hope and a future.  I claim that promise, and await the deliverance.  

I call forth things that be not, as though they were, and will be.  And I look forward to the day when they will once again worship You in spirit and in truth being guided by Your Word.

I totally believe You can accomplish this.  Your power is so great that nothing can stand against YouHelp me, Lord, overcome any doubt that remains in me. 

I will trust in You.  I will trust in You.  Amen

Mark 9: 14-29; Romans 4:16-21

Feb 26 My Anchor, my “Tiqvah”

“Put your HOPE in God”

old-rig-1415697_640O Lord, the vain philosophies of man are overwhelming and dividing our country. People are blindly following the traditions of men rather than seeking spiritual values and answers.  Young people are being deceived as the evil one’s influence seeps into our values and behavior standards.

It’s as if a dark veil has been pulled over their senses and spirits.  This is why my spirit is so downcast.

But Your solution in this Psalm is to put my hope in You.

The Hebrew word for hope is “tiqvah”, defined as a cord that attaches one thing to another.  It’s from the root word “qavah” which means to bind together, twisted for increased strength.  It is the word used for the cord that binds a ship to its anchor.

A ship will drop its anchor in times of troubled seas, when it can no longer steer itself against the strong waves.  It is the anchor that keeps it from drifting too far and being completely lost.

You are my anchor, Lord.
You keep me from drifting too far and being completely lost.

My hope is what keeps me tightly and securely bound to You, keeping me safe in the storms of life.  And it is what gives me hope for my family and our nation.  There is life after storms.  And “I will yet praise You!” Amen

Psalm 42:1,2,5

Feb 25 Lord have mercy…

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Oh Lord, the commands You give your people here look like the Prime Time TV line up on any given night, or the most popular movies   Our “entertainment” is filled with murder, vampires drinking blood and every form of sexual immorality.  The culture and society of my country have become so profane – I am ashamed.

Looking historically, this nation has become all that Egypt represented in Exodus.  I look at this Psalm, and I pray for the United States: Lord, have mercy on us, as a nation; heal us, for we have sinned.”

Deliver us in times of trouble, protect and preserve our life;
bless us in this land and do not surrender us to the desire of our foes.
Sustain us on the sickbed of immorality and restore us from our bed of illness”

“O Lord, have mercy on us; raise us up
Praise be to the God of Israel (and hopefully the God of America)
from everlasting to everlasting. Amen”

 Leviticus 17:1-18:30; Psalm 41:1-13

Feb 24 Danger Zone

safety-44434_640Lord, for many chapters in Leviticus now You have shown me what is “unclean” – the Hebrew word tamei (taw-may).  It means more than what I think of as dirty or not clean.  Its definition also carries personal, psychological and spiritual elements.

Tamei is a state of fragmentation, of being incomplete, defiled, not whole, or unable to reach full potential.

Contact with certain physical things can make me tamei; but so can negative emotions and desires that arise from within me.

Under these circumstances, I am put into a state of heightened spiritual alertness for a time; like a danger zone of vulnerability where I need to be vigilant over my thoughts and words and actions.

It’s a time or portal of potential risk of drifting away from holiness.  Holiness is wholeness, unity, integration, represented by the Hebrew word t’hor (tu-hoar) and is the opposite of unclean.

Jesus recognized the Pharisees had become overzealous when it came to being “clean” only on the outside of their bodies, neglecting the spiritual aspects of tamei.

They missed the point that what makes man fragmented or shattered, is what comes from the heart – jealousy, arrogance, selfishness, lustfulness and evil thoughts.  These are what put man into a state of danger where they can fall into sin.

Father, raise my awareness of these times when I need to be on high alert.  Keep me vigilant over my thoughts and actions so I don’t drift away from You.

I desire to honor You with my lips and my heartTeach me to let go of legalism that has become the tradition of man; so that I can be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life.  Amen

Leviticus chapters 12-16; Mark 7:1-23

Feb 23 Time for God?

note-42883_640“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done…Jesus said ‘Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”

 Father, what a wonderful thing for all of us to do.

How long has it been since I came and reported, told You about all I have been doing?  And when was the last time I came away by myself with just You to a quiet place and got some rest?

I so greatly benefit from spending time with just You – in a place where the world doesn’t burst in interrupting with urgent texts, emails, phone calls.  Where everywhere I look I don’t see something to clean or organize or jump up and take care of.

I believe this is important: spending quiet, focused time with You.  In a time when multi-tasking has been raised to an art form, and busy-ness is worshipped, You have a message here that stops me in my tracks.  Help me make uninterrupted, intentional time with You a priority.

I have been on silent retreats before, just alone with You in a place that values exactly that.  It is so important to get away from the routine and distractions that eat away at my time and sap my energy.

It was wonderful to give You the first time in my day, and the last, and every minute in between.  On some occasions You have shown me a new direction or a specific answer to prayer, or a revelation of Your hand in my life.  Sometimes You have given me a fresh perspective or encouragement for the path I’m on.

Other times, I simply get to spend quality and quantity time with You, the Almighty Creator of the Universe.   Time well spent!

Thank You for the reminder of how important it is to come away with You to a quiet place and get some rest.  It’s been too long.  Amen

Mark 6:30

Feb 22 Who is Jesus to you?

who-is-jesusHeavenly Father, it amazes me that even in Your presence here on earth, with all the wisdom You shared in Your teachings, all the authority You spoke with, all the healings and miracles You performed, people didn’t recognize and acknowledge who You were.

Those in Your hometown wondered, amazed by You, but had no faith in someone they believed they already knew.  Others thought You were a prophet, or the reincarnated spirit of a prophet.

To some You were their healer, a miracle worker who raised loved ones from the dead.  To some, a blasphemer claiming divinity.  To others a confusing juxtaposition of holy teacher and friend of sinners.

To a very few, Messiah.

I wonder, who I would have thought You were, had I been alive and in the region at that time?

You said and did things that were against conventional teachingsYet all You did, You did in love.

You spoke to hundreds, thousands at a time, yet met each individual where they were.

You spoke in puzzling parables, yet to those who were called, they made perfect sense.

You fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, yet people who knew the prophecies, didn’t recognize what was happening.

It must have been a confusing time.  Yet thanks to You, I can know and be sure of my salvation because You have told me: You chose me before the foundation of the world.”  So, no matter when I was born, or where; to me You are Jeshua Meshiac, Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Son of God, my Savior, my God, my King.  Amen

Mark 6:1-6; Ephesians 1:4

Feb 21 Healing and Forgiveness

Dear Father, even though You no longer walk this earth in the flesh, Your power is still present hereEach believer has the Holy Spirit and can call on You in prayer to effect Your purposes.

prayer-888757_1920So we bring our loved ones and the people of the earth before You.  We ask for healing from physical ailments.  And for an end to suffering, whether at the hands of ungodly persecutors, or by the powers of this present darkness that work for the evil one.

We ask for salvation to come to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.  Lord, be the light in their lives that heals and frees and saves.

Like Jairus, I put my faith in Your power to touch and heal.   You are a God of miracles.

I also realize that when I intercede, or pray on behalf of others, I need to be clean before You.  Unconfessed sin can get in the way of our communication.  David says that his sin caused health to leave his body, guilt to overwhelm him.

I too need to confess my sin before You and ask forgiveness.  Show me the sin in my life Lord, and as I agree with You and turn from it, cleanse me anew.

Thank You for Your forgiveness.  Thank You for purifying me from all sin’s unrighteousness.  Thank You for allowing me, like Jairus, to ask in faith for Your healing.

Help me pray in Your will, because I trust that Your will is the absolute best for each of us.  And help me rest in Your answers and Your timing.  Amen

Mark 5:21-43; 1 John 1:8-9

Feb 20 In the storms

i-know-notFather, so many times I act just like the disciples in the boat during the storm.

I choose to focus on the storm around me.  In the face of the strong winds, the high waves, the tossing of the boat, I look at the opposition, the circumstances that block my way, and the hopelessness of things turning out right.

All the time forgetting Your promises of protection.  Even though I know You are there with me, I do not see how You are at work in the situation, and I cry out to stir You to my cause.   “Lord, don’t You care…?”

Many times, I can almost hear You say the same words to me that You spoke then; “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

Sometimes You do calm the wind and still the waves.  Other times You simply hold me in Your arms while the waves buffet me.  And sometimes You inspire me and increase my faith with a vision of future calm waters and blue skies, reassuring me that it will be all right.

 Thank You for being with me in the storms.  Thank You for speaking to me in songs, scriptures, promises, and visions.

Thank You for the truths You give me in Psalm 37: “My salvation comes from the Lord; You are my stronghold in time of trouble.  You help me and deliver me; and save me. Because I take refuge in You.”  Amen

Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 37:39-40

Feb 19 I have ears…let me hear

close-up-18753_640“Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me ears to hear.  

Help them to be tuned in to Your frequency so I can hear Your voice, all that You are saying to me in Your Word, in prayer, through other believers, and in my circumstances.   

Help me keep my ears clean of the build up that might block my hearing You – the negative talk I say to myself, the self-doubt and self-criticism.  And keep them clear of infection; sin which would dull my senses to what You would say.

Forgive me for the times I have blocked my ears because I didn’t want to hear the correction You were speaking to me, or the step I was too afraid to take.

I pray that in hearing, I would gain understanding. 

Hearing is only half the process.  Not only do I need to hear what You are saying, but also understand what it means to me. 

Thank You for the times You explained what You meant in scripture parables so the message would be clear. 

Thank You for the times You have provided confirmation to me when I was unsure. 

Thank You that the more I listen and obey, the more I understand.

You gave me ears to hear, let me hear.   Amen

Mark 4:1-20

Feb 18 Living A to Z

ffzjspuwc_i-diomari-madularaFather, help me embody the alphabetical list of traits in this Psalm.

In his old age David gives us instructions for living.  Of course the Hebrew Alephbet goes from Aleph to Tav, not A to Z, but what was true then is still true now.

It’s hard to see evil people prosper knowing that the wrong they do causes harm to others.  And when they seem to be getting away with it, I wonder where Your justice is.

But as David says, “like the grass, they will soon wither.”  And I must wait on Your justice, which will come.  My responsibility is to do what You have told me to do and live how You have shown me to live.  This is what I am accountable for.

As I trust in You Lord, help me do good to others whenever it is within my power to do so.  Let me find my delight in You, and not be envious of others’ ill-gotten gain.

Help me commit my way to You so I look to You for guidance and direction and not toward my own selfish gain.  Several times I’ve been in circumstances where I was wronged and had a defensible position to press for my rights. I did not speak out because I trusted in You to fight for my cause.

It was hard to do, but You did not fail me.  In time the truth came to light without my having to say a word.  You defended me and my rightness was made even more evident because it was not me who spoke out.

Help me be still before You and wait patiently.  Even when I feel I’m justified in fighting.  Being “still” here means don’t move and don’t make a noise.  So help me not make a move without Your direction, and not rant or rave or carry on.

Remind me that prayer is a mighty weapon.   Help me pray for myself, the situation, and for my enemies to come to a saving knowledge of You, and stop their evil ways.

Help me turn away from anger and wrath.  One kind of anger boils over into uncontrolled lashing out.  Another kind seethes, simmering under the surface plotting and planning revenge, building up, until the perceived hurt is blown out of proportion.

Both of these responses are damaging to me.  I need to remember that vengeance is Yours, not mine.

Following these instructions will allow me to live in peaceMeekness is not weakness.  But it is power under controlHelp me live a Holy Spirit-controlled life.  Amen

Psalm 37:1-11

Feb 17 Sacrifice for all

cross-1448946_640Lord God, it strikes me as I read this passage in Leviticus, that all these offerings are for unintentional sin.

This is a sin that the person is unaware of when they do it.  Then, when they become aware of their sin, they are to bring the appropriate animal, lay their hand on it as it is sacrificed in a way of transferring the sin to the animal who pays the price for the sin: death.  These are ways to restore relationship with You when there is no intent in the sin.

When the sin is deliberate, intentional, there is often no sacrifice, no substitute to bear the penalty.  Death is the penalty.  The person who sins is accountable for that debt.

But praise to You, Lord!  You have made another way for sinners to be restored into right relationship with You.

When Jesus came, He ate with and spent time with “sinners” to show them the good news.  There was now going to be a sacrifice that would pay the penalty for their sin!  The blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Your blood, would take away the sin of the worldAll the sin.

Because “Your love, Oh Lord, reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness stretches to the skies; because Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice like the great deep,” You have preserved man, and provided him with salvation!

Both high and low among men and women and children can come to You and find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  For within You is the fountain of life.

And when I have You, I have life!   Amen

Leviticus 4:1-5:19; Mark 2:13-17; Psalm 36:5-9

Feb 16 True Friendship

Lord Jesus, when I read about the paralytic man who had four friends who brought him to You, I marvel at his good fortune.

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How blessed he was to have four such close and loyal friends who would not give up in bringing him to You for healing.  They not only carried him from wherever they came from but were so determined in their efforts that they climbed up onto the roof and dug a hole in it.  Then carefully, they lowered their friend down into Your presence with ropes.

It makes me wonder what kind of man he must have been to have earned such loyalty and devotion.  We don’t know how long he had been paralyzed, but he obviously needed help with a great many things and relied on others’ assistance and generosity, perhaps even pity.

I have been around people who were in need like this who were not pleasant.  Their own frustration with their limitations resulted in much anger and bitterness that spilled over into their attitude and treatment of others.

Oh Lord, when I am in situations where I am dependent on others to do for me, please let me remember this man.  Let me be patient and kind to those who help me.  Remind me to be thankful and grateful for their support and continued friendship.

Let my circumstances bring out kindness and appreciation rather than bitterness.

If I live long enough, it is likely these times will come.  As our bodies age, there is often weakness and infirmity.  Be my strength, and let Your strength shine through my weakness.

Let me be a blessing to those around me.  And may “my tongue speak of Your righteousness and of Your praises all day long.”  Amen

Mark 2:1-12; Psalm 35:28

Feb 15 Me? A Disciple?

picture0223Holy Father, may I be like those You called to follow You as disciples.  May I be willing to leave my family, my occupation to go with You wherever You lead me, leaving behind the security I would lean on in place of You.

Although I was not present in Capernaum when You began teaching with such authority, let me learn from the amazing lessons in Your Word.

You have given me the Holy Spirit to teach me, correct me, guide me.  Make me sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Help me listen to godly wisdom when it comes to opportunities and circumstances; not just take the easy way, or most logical way.  I will call on You, and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Though I may not have seen You perform miracles in Galilee, You have answered prayers and done miraculous things in my life and in the lives of others I know.  Let me be bold about sharing those experiences and so spread the word as Your disciples did.

“I have the assurance that You will contend with those who contend with me and will fight against those who fight against me.
You will take up shield and buckler, arise and come to my aid.
You will brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.
You will disgrace and put to shame those who seek to ruin my life; and turn back in dismay those who plot my ruin.“

As David wrote these words about the men who were literally seeking his life, I seek Your deliverance from the oppression of the powers of this present darkness at work in the world today; from the spiritual forces at work against You, and so also against me as I live in Your light.

“My soul rejoices in You.  I delight in Your salvation.”  I place my complete trust in You, for there is none like You.  I know that “Your wisdom will reward me.”  Thank You for being my Savior.  Amen

Mark 1:16-28; Psalm 35:1-4,9; Proverbs 9:11

Feb 14 Gifts

loop-572859_640Dear Lord, how wonderful it would be to be like Bezalel or Oholiab.

These two are singled out by name as being chosen by You, and filled with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.  They knew metalwork on gold, silver and bronze, stone cutting and setting, how to work with wood, yarn, linen as craftsmen and designers.  And they had the ability to teach others these things.

They worked effectively with all the others You gave skill and ability to, to carry out the work of constructing the tabernacle and all the things in it.

You have said that each believer receives a spiritual gift or gifts, as well as skills and talents.  How wonderful it would be to be aware of that gift and have the opportunity to use it to create something that would point people to You and bring honor to Your name.

Father, help me be like Bezalel and Oholiab.  Help me refine my gifts and talents, work on them and develop them to be ready for use when You give the opportunity.

They did not shrink back from using their gifts.  Sometimes I feel my talent isn’t good enough to be of use.  Rather than step forward, I shrink back.  I am often sure that the gifts of others are more valuable than mine.

Help me trust that You knew what You were doing when You handed out the gifts.  Help me accept who I am and what I have to offer, and make the most of it.

Are people the only ones of Your creation who doubt themselves and are envious?

I doubt that an apple tree ever wishes it could produce peaches.  Or a monkey ever wishes it had a fluffy tail like a fox.  It’s easy for me to see and trust Your plan as it worked out in the lives of Moses, Bezalel, and Oholiab.

Take away the doubts I have when it comes to me.  Help me see Your plan and Your purpose, and be bold in doing my part.  Amen

Exodus 35:30-35; 37:1-38:23

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You

worship-435108_640So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord. 

In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe. 

These were not easy promises to fulfill.  They were quite costlyJesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way.  And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.  

So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit.  But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition.  You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons as well as Your faithfulness, Your trustworthiness to Your promises, Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, I will extol You!”

According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You.  I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips.  My soul will boast in You!“

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen. 

I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations.  I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain. 

I will let them know that You are in the business of revealing wisdom when I ask for help making decisions and don’t know the way to go.  When I have felt trapped, You made a way out of the situation I had never thought of or considered. 

I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help. 

I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good

Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You.  And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need.  Amen

Matthew 27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Feb 12 Proof of Your presence

Dear Father, how awesome would it be if every time I came away from reading or studying Your Word, or spending time in prayer, there was a visible glow on my face!

Some outward evidence, physically apparent, to anyone who saw me that I had spent time with the Author and Creator of the universe! 

When Moses spent time with You on Mount Sinai his face was so radiant that the people were afraid of him.  He began wearing a veil over his face unless he was speaking to You, Lord, or telling the Israelites what You had said.

I don’t mean that I want to wear a veil, Lord, but give me a radiance of spirit that can be a witness to others, a testimony that You have left an impact on Me from my spending time with You.  Something that will let people know that I know the Savior, and can help them if they need directions to get to You also.

There is a danger inherent in that of course:  if people know when I have been in Your presence, then they would also know when I have not.  And there have been stretches Lord, when I have not spent much time in Your presence.

Keep me drawn to You.  Help me have the mindset I need, to go to You, with joy, with sorrow, with excitement, with concerns.

It’s so easy to find someone else to commiserate with, to approve of my own plans, to join in my pity party.  But I desire to please You; to walk in the way You have planned out for me.

I trust in Your plan; and believe it is the best possible for me.

“Your eyes are on me Lord, because I fear You, revere You, and because my hope is in Your unfailing love.  Deliver me.  You are my help and my shield.  In You my heart rejoices, for I trust Your holy name.  Let Your unfailing love rest on me O Lord.”

Let others see it too.  Amen

Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 33:18-22

Feb 11 Omnipotent

God's eyenebulaLord, I believe Your Word is right and true; and that You are faithful in all You do.  So when the Word tells me You created the heavens and the earth, I believe it and am amazed.

Not only did You have the imagination and endless creativity to think it all up, You had the power and sovereignty over the elements and forces to do the creating!

How?  I don’t know.

Science is still wrestling with the questions of how our universe works.  Theories come and go about physics, matter, gravity wells, space and time; more than I can grasp.

Every generation we learn more, sometimes refuting what was previously believed.  I don’t know that we will ever reach a level of truly understanding it.

But I know that when I see the diversity and organization, I marvel at it – and see past it to the Creator.

I can look through a microscope or a telescope and see things beyond my imagination that amaze me.  I can observe connections and repeated patterns that cannot possibly exist by coincidence.

The recognition and glory are due the Creator“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him,” meaning I will acknowledge Your handiwork and have the utmost respect for Your power and authority over all our world.

“The Lord foils the plans of nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.  But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” 

I will sing of the mercy of the Lord!  Your faithfulness endures forever!  Amen

Psalm 33:1-11

Feb 10 Teach me

school-1063558_640

Thank You Father, that You have promised to “instruct me and teach me in the way I should go.” Help me be a good student of Your instruction.  Give me the ability to hear You above all the other voices: anger, fear, temptation, discouragement, stress.

Strengthen me to pay attention, make note of, and follow Your teachings in my personal life, relationships and in setting priorities.

Thank You for providing me with godly counsel.  Of all the voices I hear, I trust Yours as the wisest.

The wisdom the world has to offer, although it may seem logical, is not always the best.  Thank You that I can know that Your instructions for me will always be in agreement with Your Word.

With the Bible as my textbook I can find examples to follow, characters to learn from, and encouragement for my journey.

Thank You for watching over me.  Unlike other teachers, You have the ability to be with me at all times, wherever I am.  Your Holy Spirit in me coaches me as I go along, so I am never far from Your guidance; if I choose to accept it.

Do not let me be like a horse or mule which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to You.”  But let me respond to the loving leading and gentle touch that keep me on the path of righteousness in my thoughts, my words, my attitudes, my motives and my actions.

Surround me with Your unfailing love, and I will sing to You and rejoice in You, and be glad!

Psalm 32:8-11

Feb 9 not my will…

olive and meLord God, what a blessing You gave me to be able to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk into the Garden of Gethsemane!  I am forever changed by that gift.  It was amazing! 

On one hand, as a tourist, it seemed historically and intellectually reasonable to be seeing structures and walls that stood in Jesus’ time.  But as I sat, looking at two of the very olive trees that were standing in the garden when You were there, I marveled.  Utterly amazing!

To see something that was alive, living then, and still alive and living now was incredible.  To think that I was in the presence of something that had been alive in Your presence here on earth…

In the quiet, my thoughts were drawn back to the night You came to pray the “not my will but Thine” prayer.  I reread that passage in Matthew that described that sorrowful and troubled plea.

Jesus laid all His personal potential down.  Father, I have hopes and dreams, goals, desires.   I desire to honor You with what I do.  I thought of what my biggest possible plan could be, all the potential I have, and how it would bring glory to You, thinking, if You would just make it happen…

And then I realized something:  if Jesus, with all the ability and power and potential that He possessed, (and He could have called ten thousand angels and made a spectacle the world had never seen before!)  was willing to put it all aside for God the Father’s holy and perfect will for His life; how can I do less?

What is there that I could possibly think of to do, that would be better than anything Jesus could have done?  And He could have done literally ANYthing!  Yet Jesus laid it all down to take up God the Father’s purpose.

I must do the same.   And so echo those words:  “not my will, Lord, but Thine.”

Jesus had the unlimited and infinite capability to accomplish whatever He wanted.  And He gave it all up to accept Your plan.  I have a very limited and puny capability for setting and accomplishing goals.

So rather than asking You to bless whatever plan I may be able to think up, I ask that You would show me the plan You have for this portion of my life.

And give me the courage and strength required to live it in a way that will bring You glory.  Amen.

Matthew 26:36-46

Feb 8 Praying Your Word

Father, Your Words are holy.  Sometimes I simply pray Your very own words back to You!  It’s as if You already know what I need and have prepared the prayer for me.

Bibleprayerhands“I trust in You.  My times are in Your hands;” They always have been whether I acknowledged it or not – my comings and goings, my living and dying, and all the moments in between, were already determined before even one of them came to be.

“Deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.”  Whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual adversaries – You are Sovereign over them all and can defeat them all.

“Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love.”  May I feel the impact of Your illuminating presence on my body, mind and spirit and be saved from harm not because of anything I have done or earned, but because of Your benevolent generosity and grace.

“Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to You; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.” Let me see victory in the utter defeat of our enemies and the fulfillment of Your justice. Strengthen me to walk in Your way.  Amen

Psalm 31: 14-17