Jan 20 Indescribable Uncontainable

jesus-and-worldI continue to be amazed, Lord God, at the magnitude of the height of Your glory. You made the sun and stars, everything in the heavens.

As humans, we are just beginning to understand the depth of the workings of the cosmos. All we know about our universe could fit on the head of a pin compared to what You were able to imagine and bring into being. Even beyond our meager understanding, You had the ability, the power to create what You imagined. And by Your hand it is all kept in balance and in motion.

Yet, with the incredible greatness and the boundless vastness of Your power and sovereignty, You still know each one of us, each of Your creations, by name. I marvel at the love You have for us, and the care You take with us.

You can see the past and the future. You are outside of time. You knew when a famine was coming in Egypt, and cared to let them know in advance. You spoke revelation through dreams and gave the interpretation to Joseph. And because of that, people were saved from the famine, and Your promise was preserved; Your covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was upheld.

As great as You are, You still communicate with us in ways we can understand; as an example: parables. We can understand a crop with weeds sewn into it, and how harvest time works. We can see when a tiny seed grows into a large tree, or the action of yeast causing bread dough to rise. We know the draw and value of treasure and pearls.

Thank You for caring to communicate with us; to show us the way to have relationship with You: the Almighty God of the Universe. And as we can only voice our faith and trust in You through the words we understand, we join with the Psalmist David in saying; “You are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. You are my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to You, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.” Amen

Genesis 41:17-42:17; Matthew 13:24-46; Psalm 18:1-3

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Jan 19 Make my life a stage

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Dear Lord, I want to be just like Joseph. Only without all the hardship.

I don’t want to lose my freedom and be sold into slavery. And I definitely don’t want to be imprisoned. I don’t want a family that is jealous of me and treats me with murderous hate. But in two very significant ways, I do want to be just like him.

First, that You were with Joseph, and second, that others saw that You were.

Genesis says “the Lord was with Joseph…and his master saw that the Lord was with him.” Your presence in Joseph’s life must be what enabled him to endure such hardships as enslavement and imprisonment. And it was not only an internal sense that Joseph had personally, but it was evident to others around him that that Your blessing was on him, and that You were at work in and touching his life

I already know that You are with me always, because I have the Holy Spirit living in me; given as a seal of my salvation. There has been a merging: You are in me and I am in You through Jesus Christ. But I also know that I can feel far from You when I am walking in disobedience or sin.

Help me see through whatever lie, deception or distraction might cause me to miss where a temptation would lead, so I can turn away from it before I am enticed into sin. Show me the way of escape so I can avoid the sin trap. That way I can be fully in Your presence and will be able to bear up under whatever the circumstances are, like Joseph did.

And Lord, like Joseph, I desire that my life would be a stage upon which You act out Your purpose and Your will, so others will see You. Jesus told a parable about seed that fell on different kinds of soil. I want to be the good soil that produces a crop yielding thirty or sixty or a hundred times what was sown. That way people will see what is produced and give You glory.

I may never have a prophetic dream, or give the interpretation of one, or save my entire family from famine like Joseph did. But I ask that whatever You have planted in me, You would bring to fruition so others would see You, through me. I ask in Your name. Amen

Genesis 39:1-23; Matthew 13:1-23; I Corinthians 10:13

Jan 18 every high and low

rollercoasterup

Heavenly Father, thank You that I can trust You through the ups and downs, the highs and lows of my life.

There are times when things are going so well I feel on top of the world. And there are other times when it seems as if nothing is going right, and never will. It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything because everything seems to work out wrong and there is no sign that things will change for the better.

Israel’s son Joseph must have thought that when he was first thrown into a well by his jealous and conniving brothers, then sold to slave traders and carried off to Egypt far away from home. He was completely out of control of his own future at that point. But You were in control. And You had a master plan.

I know from scripture how Joseph’s life turned out: all for the good, and for the saving of his family. But I cannot see into the future to know the twists and turns my own life will take, or how it will turn out. And that is the challenge of life here on earth.

There are so many things I cannot control. They become a source of anxiousness, worry, and wringing my hands. Other things, I try to control, but they slip through my fingers like water or sand. They are the source of making plans, and back up plans, contingencies and manipulation; again, stressful. And there are the things that I seem to control and am pleased with, but am misled, because in truth, I am not in control at all. I only think I am.

I could continue to live this misguided life of false security, manipulation and anxiety. But I choose to lay it all down. Father, instead, I choose the peace of giving it all to You. This is where trust comes in. I choose to believe Your Word: that You have a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future, to never leave me or forsake me.

You have proven Yourself steadfast and trustworthy throughout the ages. You created the heavens and the earth and everything in them and have sustained them. You have kept Your covenants and Your promises to men; every one. You have given revelation and prophecy that so far, has all come true. By Your power, the earth turns and the sun rises every morning.

Just like in Joseph’s life, I trust that You will position me where I need to be, when I need to be there. I trust You to prepare me for what comes next. And to guide me through it by being with me.

I trust You will keep me safe. In You I take refuge. You are my Lord. Apart from You I have no good thing. In You I trust. Amen

Genesis 37:1-36; Psalm 16:1-2; Jeremiah 29:11

Jan 17 Be my guide

right-238369_1280Lord, I desire to dwell with You in Your sanctuary. And to live on Your holy hill. Your Word tells me how.

Help me keep my walk blameless and do what is righteous according to Your standards. When I am not sure which is the right way, give me discernment. When I know what is right, give me strength to do what is right. Keep me from temptation that would entice me to act unjustly or immorally. Do not let me be drawn into evil or behave badly for personal gain.

Help me speak the truth from my heart, even when it is more convenient to lie. I desire to be honest in my speech and in my actions. Do not allow me to speak ill of others or be a gossip.

Help me treat my neighbor as I want to be treated, with respect and compassion. Teach me to hate what is wrong and vile; not calling what is good evil, or what is evil, good. And to stand up for right, defending those who are defenseless. Show me how to recognize and give honor to those who are godly and live their lives in the fear of the Lord.

When I make a promise, help me keep my word, even when it is not convenient. Even when it costs me more that I thought it would. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

When I can lend to one in need, do not let me take advantage of their need for my own profit. But let me act compassionately. When it is profitable to deceive others, let me turn away from that temptation. Do not let me accept a bribe or cause harm to the innocent.

Teach me and strengthen me to walk in this way, to live uprightly and to love mercy. Living this kind of life will give me confidence and courage. It will be an example to my children and to others. And it will help me to honor You. This is my desire. Amen

Psalm 15:1-5

 

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

Dear Father, it seems I am a wrestler. Jacob wrestled with You one night. He held on till daybreak, and You blessed him. In Your blessing, he became part of the promise You gave to Abram: to make him father of a great nation, make his name great, and bless all the earth through him. For Jacob (renamed Israel) was Abram’s (renamed Abraham’s) grandson. And down through their lineage, You came as Jesus Christ, Messiah and Savior, blessing all the world.

My wrestling is not so productive as Jacob’s.

wrestlersWith simple things: decisions, relationships, or issues which may be meaningless in the grand scheme of things; I spend time and waste energy grappling with whether or not I made a good decision. I review the options, second guessing myself, wondering and worrying about how other choices would have played out. There is no winning there, and no blessing in that.

So Father, help me seek Your godly wisdom in my decisions. Help me bring every choice to You and ask for Your perspective. You tell believers to ask when we need wisdom, and You will give it to us. Show me how to hear Your voice of truth and then have peace about the decision when made, without revisiting it over and over.

Rather than continue to wrestle with relationships, Lord, I give them to You. Show me how to spend my time and energy, and who to spend it with. Beginnings and endings are hard for me, and I know sometimes You bring a person into my life for a season. But I struggle when that season is over, to know how to let go.

Most of my life I was the one who literally left, moved to a different place. I never really learned how to move on from being close to someone. How do I say good bye when there is no geographical separation? But hanging on too long isn’t working out either. Move me into and out of the relationships You want me to have, so that I can give and receive the blessings You intended for each of us.

I also wrestle with issues in my life when I have had a single viewpoint. Some are things I learned as a child and accepted without question. Now I have grown and learned that things are not as absolute as I once believed. And even though these beliefs are holding me back and potentially harming me, it’s hard to let go. Help me have discernment when it comes to examining issues that affect my life, my behavior, even my sense of identity.

Father, as I wrestle with all these things, let me take hold of and cling to only You. Pry my fingers off of the things that are not important. And bless me as I cling forever to You. Amen

Genesis 32:22-30

Jan 15 His eye is on the sparrow…

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Oh God my Father, I too, sometimes have days where I feel like the Psalmist David who writes this prayer for help in trouble. He sings his troubles to You O Lord, as he writes this to his chief musician.

Like David, I also pour out my heart to You, Oh God. There are circumstances in my life where I feel You have turned away from me, hidden Your face from me. I cannot see You, or feel Your presence and do not know when You will act.

I pray and call out for You to make it right: for healing, for restoration, for vindication, for strength, for wisdom, for justice. I can think of challenges, troubles, where I need each of these; and You know them too, because You know all things.

There are places in my life of such hurt and frustration. They cause sorrow to fill my heart. I feel as if I have fought a battle and my enemies have defeated me. My strength is gone. I cry out for You to hear me, come to me, and lift me up. Almighty God, do not let my enemies have the victory. Do not let them say they have vanquished me with rejoicing in their camp.

Even facing all this, I trust wholeheartedly in Your mercy. I know that my salvation is sure. All else pales in the light of Your love and care for me. Whatever happens to me here on earth, I know my future in eternity is secure in You.

So I will sing to You. I will lift up Your Holy Name. I will rejoice abundantly because of what You have done for me. You know the number of hairs on my head, and that is a number that changes daily! Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from Your will.

I trust in Your will completely. I trust the plans that You have for me, to prosper me and not to harm me; plans to give me a hope and a future. So in You will I rest. Amen

Psalm 13: 1-6; Jeremiah 29:11

Jan 14 Wisdom over Deception

deceive-1299043_1280“Help Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, ‘We will triumph with our tongues;’.” Arise Lord and protect me from those who malign me and take unfair advantage. Protect me from the deceit of the world, the flesh, and the evil one. “O Lord, You keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.”

You watched over and provided for Jacob when his father-in-law Laban cheated him and changed the terms of his wages ten times. You spoke and told him what to do and protected he and his family. Father, protect me as well, when others seek to deceive and swindle and mislead me. I turn to You for godly wisdom. Let me listen for Your voice, and understand what You say, trusting Your wisdom over what may seem right by earthly intellect.

You sent Your disciples out “as sheep among the wolves”. We, Your children, are often referred to as sheep. Thank You for being our shepherd; for watching over us, for driving away predators, for leading us to green pastures and still waters. Thank You for calming us the way a shepherd does his sheep so we can rest. There are many ‘wolves’ who seek our destruction, to get us away from the protection of our Shepherd knowing that’s when we are vulnerable.

Proverbs tells us we are blessed when we find wisdom – that it is more profitable than silver or gold and more precious than rubies. Help me discern godly wisdom; not just the logic of the mind or the reasoning of man. Lead me to seek “the wisdom that comes from heaven: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This is the wisdom that leads to righteousness.

Open my eyes to the lies and deceit of men. Let me see Your wisdom in the circumstances of my life. Keep my lips from speaking lies. Help me live honorably as one of Your sheep. Amen

Genesis 31:1-13; Matthew 10:16; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15; James 3:17

 

Jan 13 I am Your child

religion-1139050_1920Lord God, thank You that You are my heavenly Father.

Thank You that You love me as Your child. And thank You it is with love that You make godly correction to my path when I stray from You.

I have such a negative impression of ‘discipline’ because it has come to be identified with punishment or abuse of power. On earth this is often true. But when You, my heavenly Father discipline me, it is to lift me up to correct, teach, encourage me to be on the path of becoming more like You – a ‘disciple’ of You.

It doesn’t mean the lessons are easy to learn, or that I enjoy them, or even that I catch on right away. Often a child doesn’t understand a parent insisting on behavior that provide for safety, like running out into the street. So I may not see the benefit of Your instruction right away.

Sometimes Your discipline feels like a step backward, or a delay in what I perceive to be the right way. Help me stop and ask for Your perspective when I don’t understand something. Help me see from Your viewpoint, what is happening, and how I should respond.

I do desire to be seen as a disciple of Almighty God, Jesus Christ, the Holy One. And I’m the first to admit that my life does not look like that now. So I welcome Your instruction, Your course corrections, Your rebuke, and Your discipline.

Help me learn quickly when You have something to tell me or teach me. Help me be willing to change direction when I am going the wrong way. I know that You delight in me and love me. And that You discipline those You love. Help me embrace that love. Amen

Proverbs 3:11-12

Jan 12 Trust God with it all

Thank You for sharing the secret to prosperity with us in today’s Proverb. It is a simple statement, but holds the key.

You instruct us to “honor You with our wealth, with the firstfruits of our crops”. We so often consider “honoring You with our wealth’ to be tithing money to an affiliated church. Period. And while money is certainly a part of our ‘wealth’ it is not the only thing.

Some of us have a wealth of talent, some a wealth of personality, some a wealth of time, or of good health and energy. All these things are gifts from the Father of Lights from whom every good and perfect gift comes. So we need to consider giving of our talents, our time, our energy, our relationships, all in a way that brings honor to You.

Lord, help me think beyond the change in my pocket. Let me glorify You in how I treat other people, how I speak to them, how I look on them in my heart attitude. Let the bounty of Your provision to me in time and talent overflow onto those around me.

Help me spend the minutes in my day as carefully as the dollars in my purse, in a way that points to You, and brings acknowledgement and praise to You. Help me turn away from greed, selfishness, pride, arrogance; and reflect the righteous qualities of the fruit of the Spirit: goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, patience, peace, love, joy, and self-control.

The second part of the key is timing. The firstfruits of a crop are what is harvested before the rest of the crop is mature and ready to be gathered. Earthly wisdom would be to ‘get what you can, can what you get, and sit on the can’. It would be to bank a ‘sure thing’; and then wait to see if the rest of the crop comes in. After all, there could be floods, winds, freezes, insects or disease that could overtake a ripening crop and destroy it completely. Then nothing would be left to sustain the grower and give profit.

But You tell me to honor You with the firstfruits. It’s an exercise in trust.

It means I am willing to sacrifice a ‘sure thing’ because I trust the One who is in control of it all. Help me act in faith, being willing to show I trust in You and in Your will for my life, by giving You what is given to me first. Don’t let me be fearful of the future and stockpile the firstfruits for myself, then be satisfied with ‘tipping’ You if any is left over.

Father, thank You for this reminder that speaks again to the reassurance I have in You. You are the One with the power and the might and the authority and the sovereignty over all things. It reminds me that I can trust You with all things in the present and the future. I choose to trust You with my words, my actions and my prayers. Amen

Proverbs 3:9-10

Jan 11 Be like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_wellpainting of Rebeca by Michael Deas 1995

Oh Father, may we be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord”, how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her. When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately. She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her.

Give me Rebekah’s courage. Let me be willing to go when You say ‘Go’. Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.” I ask for that blessing for myself as well. Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she “went to inquire of the Lord”. You gave her an answer and a revelation.

May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation. Let me not lean on my own understanding. But give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence to point to that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level.

In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23

Jan 10 Jehovah Rophe – God who Heals

I AMHeavenly Father, thank You for coming to earth in the flesh and preserving Your Word so that all can know of it and of Your great love for us: how You lived and walked among us; how You taught us by Your words and Your actions; how You miraculously healed so many.

You fulfilled all the prophecies spoken by Your prophets. Isaiah says “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” You did this freely, and with authority and power. I believe You still do this today. So many need a healing, Lord. Will You come and lay Your hand of healing power on us.

Some need it because of a physical ailment, some a mental. Others need for You to touch our spirits and bring light and life back into us where we have lost hope and are filled with discouragement. Father, use Your mighty power to make us a living testimony for You.

I praise You because You have the power, the authority and the will to heal us. Thank You that You are willing and able. I welcome Your presence in our lives to dispel the darkness. Bring us peace, Lord. Bring us back to wholeness in You.

I realize that Your perfect healing may not look like what I think it should look like from an earthly perspective. But I trust Your perfect plan. I fall on my knees before You to receive all You have for me. I lift up Your name Lord Jesus Christ, for in You is all that I need. As I receive from You, let me sense You in a tangible way. I give You my thanks. I give You all that I am. Thank You. Amen

Matthew 8:1-17

Jan 9 Creation – infinitely diverse!

I will praise You O Lord! With all my heart and mind and soul and strength! I will sing praise to Your name, for You are Most High! I will tell of Your wonders! For You have created the magnificent heavens and earth, and everything in them. Your imagination and creativity and diversity are beyond measure! Every time I hear of a new bit of biology, or physics, or chemistry, I am overwhelmed and amazed!

You thought up and created a tiny beetle that defends itself by shooting 2 separate chemicals out of its body that join in mid-air to produce intense stinging and burning irritation. You designed the beauty and delicateness of a colorful butterfly that flutters so gently, but has a chemical covering that tastes so bad that predators stay away from it. The list is endless of amazing developments, biological and behavioral, simply in the insect world!

And I can rejoice and be glad because You, this powerful and creative God, know me, and love me, and hear my prayers, and answer them! I could not be more blessed.

With the perfection in all You made, and how it works in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, I am amazed that we humans are so far from perfect . We are so frail and flawed, especially when it comes to knowing You, hearing You and obeying You.

Thank You for Abraham’s example of obedience. His faith was so great he left home to follow You to an unknown place. He made mistakes and had very human failings, yet was obedient to the point of being ready to sacrifice his son’s life as an offering to You.

I cannot even imagine how incredibly hard that must have been. Even with much smaller challenges and tests in my own life, I worry and drag my feet, looking for ways I can justify a disobedient response.

Teach me Lord. Train me to hear Your voice. Help me be obedient. Every opportunity You give me is a chance to obey. And You are with me, coaching me to win.

Thank You for these opportunities to draw close to You – in prayer, through Your Word, and in the challenges, trials and blessings of my daily circumstances. With every one I get to experience You. It builds and strengthens my faith. It deepens my trust in You. And I continue to marvel, that You, the Almighty Creator of the universe, who reigns forever, are my personal life coach. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Genesis 21:1-9; 22:1-24; Psalm 9:1-2

Jan 8 Creation – infinite universe!

night-skyI love Psalm 8! It makes me wonder how many times David must have gazed up at the stars in the heavens and contemplated You, the Creator of it all. As a shepherd, he would have spent many, many nights outside with the sheep; resting, guarding the flock, alone with his thoughts.

The skies where I live are never really dark. We have the light from a major city and suburbs all around. The stars are visible, but not nearly as impressive as when I saw them from the middle of the Sinai Peninsula. We stepped out of a bus on a lonely road in a part of the world where light pollution is not even a remote issue, and were completely amazed at the number and brilliance of stars visible to our naked eye.

It was one of those ‘awe’ moments. You just stand, mouth agape, drinking in the magnitude of the millions of stars. It makes you oddly aware of how huge the universe is, stretching out before your eyes; and how small and miniscule a single person is, standing on one spot of one planet in one solar system of one galaxy in that universe.

Today, the skies above the hills around Jerusalem are also filled with light. But how dark it must have been back then. How truly bright and brilliant the night sky must have been when one lonely shepherd looked up and pondered the universe and its Maker.

God, You truly have set Your glory in the heavens. And “when I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have made and set in place” – I also marvel that “You are mindful of man”. Who am I that You concern Yourself with what concerns me? How is it that You can know the number of hairs on my head: a number that changes every day? And You don’t just know me by what You see on the outside, You know my innermost thoughts, my motivations, my words before I speak them.

Thank You for taking such care creating earth: this amazing place You made for us to live. Its beauty, its vastness, and its infinite diversity blow my mind! Its magnitude is incomprehensible. As much as I can know about this world in my lifetime, I can never begin to understand all the things You hold in balance so this planet stays together and is capable of supporting the lives You’ve placed on it.

But I can give You the credit due You alone as the Author, the Creator, the imagination and the power behind its creation. I can acknowledge that it is You who keeps it all together and in motion. And honor You as Almighty God. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” Amen

Psalm 8:1-9

Jan 7 the Lord’s Prayer

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Dear Father and Creator of us all, who dwells in heaven and whose name is holy, I pray for Your will and Your kingdom to be manifested here on earth as it already is in heaven where You reign.

Bless me with all I need today. I trust that You know better than I do, what that is. I accept what comes from Your hand.

Forgive my sin against You and others (specifically say the sins you repent of) and help me be forgiving of those who have sinned against me.

Lead me away from whatever or whoever would tempt me; and rescue me from evil.

I worship You, honor You, and give You glory. Yours is the power eternally. Amen

Matthew 6:9-13

Jan 6 Choices

Father, thank You for showing real life examples that teach me how to make choices.

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Lot looked with his physical eyes only to make his choice to move to the well watered land to the east. It did not work out well for him. Keep me from rushing headlong into decisions based only on what I think I see with my physical eyes. Or on what my flesh leads me to from misguided appetites.

Instead, teach me to see with Your eyes, from Your perspective; looking beyond the immediate appearance of reward. Help me think through and pray through decisions. Especially when they also involve my family, work, relationships, where and how to live.

Help me weigh the consequences and let me ask, ‘Will this draw me closer to God or take me further away?’. And as I move forward, let me be ever mindful of Your voice, trusting that You will guide and protect me.

If my choices go wrong, help me recognize the sinfulness around me, and separate myself from it. Don’t let me tolerate evil or go along with it. Precept has taught me: “sin will: take me farther than I ever meant to stray, keep me longer than I ever meant to stay, and cost me more that I ever meant to pay. “

Thank You for Abram’s example. He heard Your voice and obeyed, moving even before he had the whole picture and simply started off for the land You would show him. Let me also be obedient without insisting on having it all laid out before me.

Help me act in faith when You call. Help me believe and trust in Your promises. Even when You do not act according to my expected or desired time table. Even when it seems like things are not going the way I have prayed they would. Even when it seems worse than at the beginning. Even when I cannot see You at work.

I know that Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. You have the advantage of infinite wisdom over infinite time and infinite sovereignty with infinite power.

Thank You for teaching me through example after example, that I can trust that You always keep Your promises. You are Almighty God. And I worship You alone. Amen

Genesis 13:5-15:6; Isaiah 55:8

Jan 5 Ordinary People

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Lord, thank You for using ordinary people to do extraordinary things through Your power.

You took a regular man like Abram, and chose to use and bless him. Only by Your promise and power was he made into a great nation with a great name, through whom all peoples of the earth have been blessed. You looked far into the future, beyond the limitations of the flesh, and brought a Savior from his line.

Even with the mistakes he made, the bad choices, the lack of faith he showed at times, You kept Your word to him. Your promises are never just empty words. You have the sovereignty and the power to make good on all You say You will do.

Thank You that You still bless people today. Thank You that You still accomplish Your perfect will in the lives of people who, like Abram, make mistakes, and fall short, and choose fear over faith. Please use me Lord. Teach me how to make wise choices. Increase my faith. Help me be obedient. Bless me. And use me to bless others.

Psalm 5:3 says “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” This has become true as I read Your Word and it becomes the substance of my prayers. Thank You for guiding me with Your Word. Amen

Genesis 12:1-13:4; Psalm 5:3

 

 

Jan 4 Promise of the Rainbow

rainbow mountains-436171_960_720

Father, I have seen rainbows in the sky all my life. They are such a beautiful, delicate things. But more than that, they are a reminder of Your promise to never again destroy the earth by water because of man’s inhumanity to man.

From our side it brings us a sense of wonder and security. From Yours it is a sign of restraint. It is a promise that even in Your great power, You will never again destroy all You have created by water. Your love for us is great and Your faithfulness is even greater!

You have sent Your Son, Jesus, to walk the earth without sin to be an example for us and a Savior for all mankind. Thank You for His teachings found in scripture, and for His healings and miracles. As He healed and gave mercy and relief from distress to the people around Him, You also answer my similar prayers. I so need your mercy and relief from distress. When I am overwhelmed, You bring me peace. When I am set upon by evil, You give me deliverance and relief.

Help me live by Your example. Do not let me shame You with my words, actions or attitudes. Teach me to live by the words You have written. Show me how to guard my thoughts and my tongue, how to treat others, and be humble. Do not let me be deceived or misled by the evil one, but open my eyes to those lies.

Father, I believe You have set me apart for Yourself. I trust completely that what You have planned for me is the best. Let Your face smile on me.   Fill my heart with joy. Give me peaceful sleep. Keep me safe. I trust in You. Amen

Genesis 8:18-9:17; Matthew 4:23-25; Psalm 4:1-8

Jan 3 Make me like Noah

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Lord God Almighty, I know it is only by Your great mercy, and Your steadfastness, and holding to Your promise to Noah and the animals, that You do not destroy the earth again by flood.

Surely there is as just much, if not more evil and corruption now, in my time, as there was then. When You see the earth once again full of violence, are You saddened and grieved to see how people treat You, Your earth and each other? You have the power to wipe man and beast from the face of the earth again. I am in awe of Your restraint, and grateful You do not.

Father, help me be more like Noah. Let me hear Your voice like Noah did: in a way that I understand who You are and what You are telling me to do. And help me respond as Noah did, in complete obedience, doing all that You command.

Show us all Lord, how to draw away from the violent, corrupt, evil influences of the earth and our flesh. Let us see where in our circumstances we are not listening to Your voice or receiving Your instruction. There will be temptations. Even You, when You walked the earth, were tempted. You went into the wilderness where needs became great, yet were not overcome by the devil’s temptings.

We also are tempted: by our own appetites, our desire for fame and for power. Yet You have promised that You will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear – because of Your faithfulness. You will show us a way of escape.

Give us the strength to overcome temptations, and take the way of escape. Help us make righteous choices when tempted. Help us remember that when we submit to You, and resist the devil, then he will flee. Let us remember that we are Your children, Your sons, Your daughters; and find strength in that relationship.

Father, I desire to worship and serve only You. Strengthen me to withstand temptation. And send Your angels to come and attend when I am weak and in need. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 6:1-7:24; Matthew 4:1-11

Jan 2 Keep me from Serpent Speak

snake-1322240_1920O Father, Proverbs tells me “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Lord, I do not wish to be a fool. Help me keep my sense of awe and respect for You. I yearn for Your wisdom and instruction. Keep me teachable and open to hear Your voice and see Your wonders.

I completely acknowledge You as Creator of the Universe and all that is in it. You alone possess the Sovereignty and Authority and Power to rule over and be Lord over all. What an infinite imagination to think up all the combinations of flowers, birds, animals and insects! And not just how they look, but how they sound, and smell! I am amazed by You!

Surely, Eve must have been amazed by You too; walking in the Garden of Eden that You created! Yet she gave in to temptation.   She listened to the serpent and was deceived. (And I’m still blown away that she didn’t seem surprised at all that a serpent was speaking!) When the serpent misquoted You, she did not check it out. And when he told a half-truth, that she would “be like” You, she believed it. She trusted what she understood with her own eyes and logic instead of coming to You.

Father, do not let me make these mistakes. When I hear a voice tempting me with something You have already spoken about, help me remember what You’ve said. If I do not, remind me to come to You for direction. Keep me from rushing to accept what is said without checking it out. Let me be wise to the tactic of using just enough truth to sound right as a scheme to derail me.

Lord, do not let me be misled by falsehoods or half-truths. It is not just the voice of the evil one, but this world and my own flesh that lead me down a wrong path, away from You. Many temptations would lure me to be more or have more than I am, playing into greed or pride, a sense of self-importance, inflated ego, fame or fortune. But as seen here, this temptation was only half true, and had a huge price.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” This sounds like she was being perfectly logical, if it weren’t for the fact that You had already told her it was wrong! Sometimes I can logically think my way into a wrong answer too. Remind me, Father, to come to You, to seek Your perspective above all others. Whether considering an opportunity, or dealing with a hardship: if there seems to be wisdom the world offers, or a logic to my mind, or a sense in my flesh, let me submit them all to You.

And thank You Father, that even when I make mistakes, and sin; as with Adam and Eve, You have shed Your blood and covered me. You have made a way for me to be back in fellowship with You, forever. You are amazing! Amen

Genesis 3:1-24; Proverbs 1:7-9

Jan 1 Blessing for the year

Father, in these words You tell me how to be blessed. Help me, my husband, sons, and loved ones obey these word to receive Your blessing.

Oh Lord God, do not let us heed or walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. Let us recognize this evil for what it is. Give us a hunger and thirst for Your counsel, Your way, Your truth and Your wisdom so we will be seated with those who know and follow You. Let our delight be in Your law, Oh Lord. Let us read it, memorize it, recall it and meditate on it, thinking about how to apply it to our own lives and circumstances. Let Your perfect law color my thoughts and attitudes.

new-jersey-77916_1280Make us like trees planted by streams of water, which yield fruit in season. Show us Your perfect will for our lives and Your timing so we will produce fruit that will honor and glorify You and Your name. Do not let us wither, but keep us strong and hearty. Let all we do prosper and bring You honor.

Allow us to see that the wicked cannot stand, but are blown away like chaff before the wind. And that the works of the evil ones will not prosper or enjoy Your gift of Salvation.

Lord, please watch over me and my loved ones – keep us on the path You have set before each one of us. I totally trust in Your perfect will for all our lives. May we come to trust You and Your guiding hand. May we feel You watching over us. And may that sense of Your presence be a powerful deterrent and an awesome reassurance. Amen.

Psalm 1:1-6

Dec 31 Alpha and Omega

O Father, You are “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”. You are faithful to Yourself, by Your Word and by Your actions. You are faithful to Your creation and to me. You existed at the beginning of all things, and You will be there at the end of all things as I know them.

You will create a new heaven and a new earth. Malachi talks about that day when the righteous will be healed and the evil, set on fire. John, the same: the righteous will live with You, seeing Your face, and the evil are thrown into the lake of fire.

Father, You have been faithful to me each and every day this year. Each day, You have shown me in Your Word how to pray: from the first day of the year to the last, from the beginning of Your Word, to the end. Thank You!

I am both amazed at Your faithfulness to me, and at the same time, not surprised by it. Of course I know and believe in Your faithfulness. But now, I have felt the blessing of it personally. Thank You Father, for walking through each day of this year with me. Thank You for leading me through Your Word in such a meaningful way.

And now Father, like the Proverbs 31 woman,“clothe [me] with strength and dignity; let [me] laugh at the days to come”. [Help me] speak with wisdom, and put faithful instruction on [my] tongue. [Help me to] watch over the affairs of my household and not eat the bread of idleness. [Let my] children arise and call me blessed; [my] husband also, and praise [me].   [I am] a woman who fears You!”

“I praise You Father in Your sanctuary” – under the sky You created, in the forest and in the open, I kneel before Your great presence and acknowledge Your authority. I lift my voice to give glory to You. With every person I see Your creativity and diversity. With every bird and flower and creature, I observe Your infinite imagination. With the cycle of seasons, I marvel at Your ingenuity.

I cannot wait to see You face to face and live with You throughout eternity. I believe “You are coming soon. Come! Come Lord Jesus!” Amen

Malachi 4:1-6; Revelation 20:11-15; 22:12-21; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 31:25-31

Dec 30 Eternity

heavenpainting by Danny Hehlbohm

O Father, I can only think this Revelation of John’s is where many ideas of heaven are found: streets of gold, pearls for gates, “You will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” It is how the New Jerusalem is described, after all mankind and angels have been judged, and the earth and heavens as we know them have been swept away.

It is certainly a place I would want to spend eternity. You, Yourself, will always be present. Your presence provides all the light that is needed.   And there is a promise, a security, in there being nothing “impure…shameful or deceitful” ever being there.   Only Your people, Your children, will inherit all this.

The Psalmist says “Sing to the Lord a new song, [sing] His praise in the assembly of His faithful people.” That will truly be able to happen in this Holy City.

Thank You for Your promises of help while here on earth. And thank You for the promise of my eternal future with You. Your praise is ever on my lips! Amen

Revelation 21:1-27; Psalm 149:1-9

Dec 29 All Creation Praises You!

man-look-over-natureFather, how does the earth praise You? When I hear recorded sounds of whales in the deep oceans sing, are they praising You? When I hear the melodic song of the birds, are they singing of Your greatness? When the winds howl and the lightening cracks across the sky are they declaring Your majesty?

Do the trees affirm You with their upturned branches, their leaves, blossoms, fruit, and their gorgeous colors? Do flowers bless You as their blooming faces turn to You? When the wind stirs the golden Aspen leaves, is their shimmering applause for Your being?

A line in a poem, Trees by Joyce Kilmer touched me at a young age. It read: ‘A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray’.   Since then I have wondered exactly how Your creation acknowledges and exalts You. And what I can learn from Your creation about how to laud You. Here are some thoughts stirred by Psalm 148:

I will join with the earth in rejoicing in my LORD and recognizing my Savior

As the rocks and stones cry out, I will add my voice:

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

in sickness and in health I will give the LORD His due

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

But it is the response of my recognition of who God is

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His Name, the Only Name.”

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it…the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…were judged…anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Father, there was a day when You created the heavens and the earth, the moon and stars, the birds and beasts, and man; when all acknowledged You as Creator and worshipped You and had fellowship with You. One day, it will be that way again. All that You create will know You, will worship You, will give You praise. Again, I can’t wait! Amen

Zechariah 14:1-9; Revelation 20:11-15; Psalm 148:1-14

Dec 28 Wedding Feast of the Lamb!

wedding-365943_1920Father, how it seems as if Zechariah and John are talking about the same thing! The end times! “On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against [Jerusalem]…” Could that be the battle of Har Meggido [Armageddon]? In John’s description: “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and all their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.” And the result of each? From Zechariah “On that day I will strike every horse with panic and every rider with madness”, and from John “The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

banquet-453799_1920Father, in that day there will be such an amazing celebration for You in the heavens! And with the believers both in heaven and on the earth. For the day of the wedding supper will have come! It will be the culmination of the Divine Romance! According to Jewish customs, the Father of the Groom chooses the Bride. You chose each and every believer!

Also, the Bridegroom traveled from his home to the Bride’s. You left the majesty of heaven as Jesus and came to earth. And the Bridegroom paid the price for the Bride – in this case, it was Your very life! You shed Your precious blood to pay the price for me! The Bridegroom makes the offer, but the Bride can accept or reject. You invited me into relationship with You, as You invite each one here on earth. I accepted the offer to become Your Bride.

Just as in Jewish wedding custom, when I accepted, we became betrothed. As each believer is now in a state of betrothal, we are set apart , belonging to You, and have the Holy Spirit as a pledge, a seal of the relationship. The Groom then leaves to prepare a place for them to live. You left earth, and have gone to prepare a place for me and every believer to join You. And at the right time, known only by the Father of the Groom, the Groom returns to take the Bride to be together. The right time, known only to You, the Father, is this day these prophets are speaking about when they say: “The wedding of the Lamb has come”.

And what an entrance You make! No better scene was ever directed in an epic movie! “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True… His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations…On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written:   KING OF KINGS and LORDS OF LORDS 

What a glorious day!! What a day of rejoicing! I can’t wait! Amen!

Zechariah 12:1-9; Revelation 19:1-21

 

Dec 27 A sheep in Your flock

CindySheepFather, the picture You paint for Zechariah of Your people is “the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd”. Many times sheep get themselves into trouble on their own. They wander away, eat what they shouldn’t, become prey for wolves or lions. They get caught in thorns, fall into deep water, or become lost. But no danger is greater than that of not having a good shepherd.

A shepherd provides for his sheep in so many ways. He looks out for them. He prepares good pasture by removing noxious and poisonous weeds before the sheep get there. He makes sure the area has sufficient clean, still water for them to drink. He protects them from predators, and goes after them when they wander off. He carefully examines them to see if they are in need of medicine to keep them healthy and free from parasites. He provides shelter from inclement weather and moves them to new pastures before the grass becomes over-grazed; or to completely new areas when the weather turns too cold.

Israel’s priests and leaders were not being good shepherds to the people. And You pronounced “Woe to the worthless shepherd who deserts the flock!”

But blessed am I – for You are my Good Shepherd! You do not turn me over for slaughter. “You are the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – You remain faithful forever.”!  When I get into trouble, You answer my call and come to my rescue. When I wander, You call me back. I know Your voice because You have called me by name, and I have learned I can trust that voice. You give me the Holy Spirit that speaks to me and warns me away from poisonous things that would make me sick; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You protect me from the evil one who prowls around like a predatory lion looking for someone to devour.
When I get caught in thorny situations, You provide a way of escape. If I will but keep my eyes and ears open for Your leading, I will see the way out. When I fall into deep water, or walk out there on my own, You are with me in the water, and You do not let the flood overtake me. You are my Help! You are my Hope! You are my Good Shepherd. And “I will praise You all my life”. Amen

Zechariah 1:10-11:17; Psalm 146:1-10

 

Dec 26 In God I trust

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Father, people look to many things to protect them, to save them, from hardship and the trouble of this world. Zechariah prophesied Your judgment on people here who had put their faith in and were trusting many things other than You.

These people were skillful. It is easy to trust in yourself when you have skills. You know what you are doing and you know that you do it well. It offers you a sufficient level of confidence and security to be able to handle what you need to make a living and build a stronghold for protection. People today trust in their abilities too. They believe they can trade their skills for whatever else they need: food, clothing, shelter. Beyond that, they may also derive their sense of self-worth from their abilities.

They had many possessions. So much so, that they are described as having “heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets”. When you have possessions it is easy to feel insulated from need. You can literally see your wealth around you. If you have a need, you can always sell something to buy what you need. Again, people in my day often trust in their possessions. And they may also get their sense of personal value from what they own.

They had power. When you have power, you can take what you want. Your security comes from your strength. As long as you maintain that strength, you have no need to fear anyone, or trust anything besides yourself. People today trust in power. They put their faith in their own personal power and their ability to control. Or the power of their business, or their country, or their military. They get their view of their worth from the power they can use to overcome others.

All these things are faulty reliances. Zechariah tells me You will “take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea and she will be consumed by fire.” “Her” and “She” refer to the cities and the people who oppress Your people. But none of these things they trust in will save them.

It is the same today. None of these things: abilities and skills, possessions and money, power and might, can save anyone. No one and nothing can stand against You, Father.

So I agree with David. No one is so great as You, or more worthy of praise. Your glorious splendor and Your wonderful works have been passed down for generations. Your character is unmatched. To a greater extent than is humanly possible, You are good, gracious, compassionate, trustworthy, faithful, and righteous. You are mighty and powerful above all things, but are just in all Your ways.

And I am blessed, supremely fortunate, that You are my God, my King. You hold me up when I fall. You satisfy me with good things. You are always near to me and answer my call. You watch over me although I have done nothing to deserve all this lavish care. So I give You all my praise! I worship You alone. I look to You and trust in You, no matter what befalls me. I know that Your faithfulness to me deserves my complete and absolute trust. “My mouth will speak in praise of You.” I will join with every other creature Your hand has made, and praise Your Holy Name. Amen

Zechariah 9:1-8; Psalm 145:1-21

Dec 25 God in flesh

20161223_231820 (1)Father, John tells of a day when Your wrath will be poured out upon the earth. After the seven seals are broken with their judgments, and the seven trumpets sound with their disasters, then the seven bowls of Your wrath will be given to angels to pour out upon the earth. And then, “out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” 

Your ultimate judgment will be carried out. “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, You who are and who were…true and just are Your judgments.”

I do not know when that day will come. But I trust in Your righteousness. And I trust in Your timing. And if I am alive then, I will rejoice in that day.

Today, however, is a day of a different kind of rejoicing. Although it is not historically accurate, it is the day chosen and set aside to remember and celebrate when You came to earth to bring salvation! It is the day believers all over the world celebrate the day You clothed Yourself in the flesh of a tiny babe. You gave up all the glory and splendor of heaven to be with people here on earth. You submitted Yourself to the frailties of flesh to be an example to everyone, of how to live, and how to love. You brought Your love to earth in a way people could see and follow.

Today: a remembrance and celebration of the love You poured out on earth.

One day in the future: of Your judgment poured out on earth.

I am truly blessed to be alive between the two. I can experience the salvation You brought. I can live in the love You showed, and be inspired to live my life as a reflection of that love.

Father, help me follow Your example. As You poured out Your love and sacrifice, bringing salvation to earth, let me show a bit of that unconditional love to those around me. Let me be show kindness, patience, support, being generous with all You have given to me.

One day You will “Part Your heavens, Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke.  Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.” For now, “You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge”. And I am blessed. Thank You. Amen

Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-8

Dec 24 Search my heart

Father, it is the condition of my heart that You are concerned with. Through Zechariah, You told the people of Bethel that it was not simply the observance of anniversaries, holy festivals, feasts and fasting, which pleased You. It is true that those things can be done as acts of worship to honor You, the Lord Almighty. But they can also be done for the sake of the activity. You alone know the hearts of the people involved; whether they participate to please themselves or to honor You.

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Father, today help me examine myself. Search my heart, look at my motives. Do not let me simply ‘go through the motions’. Fill my spirit!

When I praise You, I will do it with a full and sincere heart.

When I give money or time or energy, I will do it gladly as an act of worship.

When I read Your Word, I will do it with an open mind and spirit to hear and receive what You have to say to me.

When I feast or fast, I will do it not for the recognition of others, but for an audience of One – You. And whether I am celebrating Christmas or Passover I will do it with sensitivity to the spiritual meaning, not just what history or the world has made it to be.

Father, I acknowledge and thank You for Your deeds. I celebrate and trust the way You do things. I don’t always understand, because Your ways are not my ways – but I trust them. And I cannot wait until every knee bows to You, and every tongue confesses that You, indeed, are Lord! Amen!

Zechariah 7:1-14

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

boat carpenter

David says, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way”. I echo those words Lord. I know that You can see me and can tell how I am dealing with all I am going through.

I know this, because in the past, You have been there with a word of encouragement, a call from a friend, a letter from someone, a song, a verse – exactly what I have needed, exactly when I have needed it.

You know me so well. You created me. You knew beforehand the purpose of my life, the places I would go, the perils I would face. Like a carpenter chooses the type of wood to match the force of the stresses that will be brought against the boat he is making, You, my good and wise Carpenter, lovingly chose how I would be made. You carefully and masterfully fashioned me to create exactly what You envisioned I would need to meet the storms You knew I would have to face in my life.

I don’t know my own strength, but You do. You built strength into me that will only be demonstrated by the storms I weather. So, with confidence and faith, I will enter the darkness, the high winds, the deep swells, the powerful surges, the rain, thunder and lightening. I will let them crash around me, and wash over me, and I will see my deliverance on the other side. Where the waters are calm.  And the winds are favorable.  And the sky is blue. And my Carpenter, who is my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, stands smiling. Amen

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 22 Patient endurance

board-928392_1920Father, what amazing visions You have given Zechariah and John! Besides the plain meaning of their words, I know there is another level of understanding to be grasped. There is symbolism, and foretelling of what is to come.

Zechariah records You saying “…in that day…many nations will be joined with the Lord and become Your people. You will live among [them]”.   He records that You declare “I myself will be a wall of fire around [Jerusalem] and I will be its glory within.”

John is recording a vision that will ultimately get us there; when You are living in peace with many nations, in Jerusalem.   But before that comes, there will be this time of turmoil and woe and devastation that John refers to with dragons, beasts, blaspheming and idolatry.   Are these real beasts? Are they people? Are they nations or other powers? Even with great study and debate, some of these answers are not yet revealed.

Will I be alive during these times? Again, that is not yet known. But You do say “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.” So Father, give me the patient endurance I need. Teach me to be faithful. Nothing even remotely close to this turmoil has happened to me, yet I find myself often in a state of impatience and doubt.

Lord, I look at my life and am impatient to have my family all living their lives for You. I am anxious to get to a place in life where finances aren’t an issue, and where my children are all successful and happy. I am frustrated when my loved ones don’t do things the way I think they should. I am restless to have a closer, deeper, more meaningful relationship with close family members.

I fear my country is going the wrong direction. I grieve that young people are being deceived away from patriotism and godly values. I see unjust people prospering and wonder if my being faithful to godly values really counts for anything. And I wonder how long my faith can endure all this.

Father, help me to endure, what I need to endure. I trust that You will give me what I need when I need it. Grow my faith big enough that it can shelter others under it, so their faith can be nurtured and grow too. I know You have a plan. I trust in Your plan. For my life. For today. For tomorrow. For the future. For eternity. Amen

Zechariah 2:1-3:10; Revelation 13:1-18

Dec 21 Shield my head

red-dragon-revelation

Father, what an incredible vision You gave John! As he describes the scene and the action, it sounds like a great cosmic video game! But this one does not play out over and over with a ‘reset’ button when the player fails at the quest.

 

The revelation John sees here: “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” and “an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads”. These are not anime characters, but are signs that represent actual happenings. The woman represents Israel, and the red dragon, satan. Satan was hurled down to earth and roams here now, to “lead the whole world astray”.

The bad news: “woe to the earth and sea because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury…”.   The good news: “his time is short”.

Because satan roams the earth in his furious state, and has duped people into following him, I need You, Father, to “keep me safe from the hands of the wicked”. It is not only the evil one, but also those under his authority who do his biding that I have seen at work.

I know that sometimes, I don’t make wise choices, and must bear the consequences. In those times Father, I ask for Your forgiveness and Your wisdom to learn from my mistakes. But at other times, I feel attacked, caught by surprise in situations and circumstances I did not anticipate. I feel entrapped, tripped up, led into places, relationships, emotional states, and difficulties that feel like an oppressive force is orchestrating it all.

When I begin to feel discouraged and hopeless, when I find myself doubting Your goodness and Your love, I know there is some element of evil at work. Thank You that You have promised to “shield my head in the day of battle”.   Your helmet of salvation protects my thoughts and reminds me of Your truth. It helps me hold what I am feeling up against the truth of Your Word.

Thank You that I can be sure of Your love for me. Thank You that I can know without a doubt, that Your purpose and plan for me are good. Thank You that I know You will never, ever, leave me or forsake me. And thank You that the devil’s time here on earth is short. And a time will come when You will triumph over all!

In the meantime, I “will praise Your name”! And “live [my life] in Your presence”, in safety, with You as “my strong deliverer”. Awaiting Your ‘end game’. Amen

Revelation 12:1-17; Psalm 140:1-13

Dec 20 Stir up Your Spirit in me

Father, I wonder if I have been like the people Haggai is speaking to. I believe You placed in me a desire to be part of something bigger than myself, something monumental, that will glorify and honor You. But it is something I will never be able to do on my own. You spoke to these people, telling them “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill.” I get the message. Although effort is being made, until You are ‘in’ it, only little will be accomplished.

stir-up-holy-spirit

 

It reminds me of an old song where the refrain goes ‘little is much when God is in it’. You made little of what these people did because their hearts were wrong. But here comes the hope! They listened to Your Word, and obeyed! “I am with you declares the Lord. So the Lord stirred up the spirit” of the people so they would accomplish much!

O Father, stir up Your Spirit in me! Let me be empowered with Your blessing! You told the people “the silver is mine and the gold is mine”. I understand the tools and gifts and talents I will be using are Yours. But what You can accomplish is incredible, indescribable, uncontainable! Far beyond anything I can do alone.

You told them “From this day on I will bless you”. Father, let me live in Your blessing. If I have been consumed with building my own house while disregarding Yours, then change my heart and my focus. Show me through Your Spirit stirred up in me, what to do. Father, use me like Zerubbabel or Joshua or one of the remnant. Help me not to fear, but to “Be strong…and work. For You are with me.”   Amen

Haggai 1:1-2:9

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

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In the midst of Zephaniah’s vision of absolute devastation, You speak of a remnant: “the meek and humble”. They will “trust in the name of the Lord”.   And You will gather them, honor them, restore their fortunes, take great delight in them and rejoice over them with singing. You sing!!

Father, thank You for inventing music! Thank You for melodies I have learned, and words that give voice to my praise! So when David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart… I will sing Your praise”, I can join with him and praise You!

I know songs that praise Your name, Your power, Your attributes. I sing to You at the top of my lungs, with my hands help up, facing the sun, or the mountains, or looking up to the sky. I drive around with praise music playing loudly and sing along. I can sit at the piano and sing with my eyes closed, to the music so many have written to help me glorify You. Or I can quietly bow my head or fall to the floor and sing, barely audibly – but knowing You can hear me.

Your love and Your faithfulness are praiseworthy. Your faithfulness to me alone gives me reason to sing and praise You. And when there is no song that expresses my thanks, I just listen, and You teach me a new one!

As great and exalted as You are, You are still willing to come to the aid of Your people. When I call, You have answered. Many times You have come to rescue me. You see me wherever I am, and are right there beside me. You have defeated my foes, encouraged me and made me bold enough to act when I was too fearful. I love David’s words: “though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life”.

I have faith, and I trust, that Your plan is the absolute best for my life. And that You can make that happen. I know that You will never, ever leave me. I praise You for Your steadfastness, Your faithfulness to who You are, and Your faithfulness to me and my loved ones!   Many thanks. Amen

Zephaniah 3:9-20; Psalm 138:1-8

Dec 18 Rejoice…always

rejoice-1-1148146Father, Habakkuk sees the injustice of the wicked prospering and succeeding in their treachery. He prays: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”. I would echo his words, Father. How I long for You to make such a display of Your power that none can deny You. That everyone in the world would see what I see in You! Then all would worship You as You deserve.

This prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Job in the final assessment of his condition. Job said “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him”. Amazing! Habakkuk was just as steadfast in his statement of faith. He painted a dire picture of possible conditions, then restated that he would still “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God my Savior”.

Looking at his picture of possibility, he included “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.” This would have been a dire circumstance in deed. 

As I learned before, a fig tree takes longer to mature and produce fruit than most fruit trees. So no buds means no figs! This would mean that years of effort and care had come to nothing. Also, as they are the last fruit to appear, at the end of the summer, they would have been the last hope of food to get them through winter. Figs can be eaten fresh, or dried and pressed into cakes to store for later use. No figs would mean no food stores to last till the next year’s crops came in.

With no grapes on the vine, there would be no wine! Wine and bread were the staples of the diet. And wine was also instrumental in celebrations. So no celebrations! Drying the grapes produced raisins that, again, could be eaten or pressed into cakes and stored.

Olives were a crop that had many uses. Besides eating olives, the oil was pressed and used in soaps, cosmetics, cooking and medicines. It was also used for fuel in their lamps. So no olives meant literally, dark times indeed.

In Habakkuk’s time people depended on the crops they planted to provide food for their tables. Without these crops, there would simply be no food. The only meat in their diet was from the sheep and cattle in the stalls. Without them, famine and starvation were in their future.

This picture Habakkuk paints is one of complete failure of his basic needs for life. Yet he is willing to accept it all and still rejoice in You! It would be as I see some families in the news today who lose everything to a flood or storm.   Father, give me a steadfastness of faith like Habakkuk had. Help me in all circumstances to “rejoice in the Lord”! Help me, when there seems no hope by earthly standards, to “be joyful in God my Savior”. I praise You Father, and I stand in awe! Amen

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Dec 17 Two things I ask

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“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Father, I see much wisdom in these words. I would also ask these two things of You.

First, do not let me entangle myself in telling lies. Let me be true to You, speaking the truth in love. And not just by the words I say, but in the way I allow others to perceive me. Do not let me put on airs or mislead anyone into thinking I am something I am not. And the reverse: do not let me be misled by the lies and falsehoods of others. Help me see truth. Let me understand by Your light shining, dispelling the darkness of lies and deception.

Second, let me live with what I need. Not in poverty and not in riches. Each of these might cause me to overlook You and focus on my circumstances. For in both directions, I have seen people take their eyes off You. If the need is so great, it can be a temptation to sin by stealing and cursing You. And if the excess is too great, it can lead to pride, greed, and a self-sufficiency that disregards the need for You.

These are wise words Father, and they are my prayer. Amen

Proverbs 30:7-9

 

Dec 16 Though I sit in darkness…

adult-1869001_1920“Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” Micah 6:8

Father, I have so often been encouraged by this verse, this affirmation of Micah’s. He was speaking on behalf of his country, Israel.   He was assuring his enemies that although they seemed to enjoy victory over Israel at this time, You were completely in control of what was happening.

Micah understood that Israel must bear the consequences of their sin, but that ultimately, You would “plead [their] case and uphold [their] cause. You will bring [them] out into the light;” and Your righteousness would be seen by the enemy who would be “covered with shame” and “trampled underfoot”.

Father I have called on this verse for strength when facing all kinds of enemies. You know how many things, forces, circumstances have gotten the better of me, and I felt alone in the ”darkness” in one way or another.

There have been times when physical illness or injuries have made me feel helpless, in the dark. No matter, for You can bring healing into any illness or injury You choose. And if not the healing I would hope for, You bring light to help me understand and deal with it.

At times, circumstances have left me in the dark for want of a good solution. When I cannot perceive a way out, it feels like the darkness immobilizes me. I can go through the process of making logical choices and weighing options, but none seem right. When I call out to You, so often You bring light to the subject in a way that shows me a solution I had never thought of!

Other times, my emotions have weighed heavily on me in a negative way. Discouragement, anxiousness, depression, and hopelessness lead to a very dark place indeed. In this darkness, I cannot see to help myself, and often cannot even see to reach out to a friend. The darkness almost seems to press in on me and pull me down, keeping me isolated and out of reach from everyone else. But You can always reach me. You remind me that even in the dark, You placed the stars to be light in the sky.   And although they are there in the daytime too, it is only at night, in the dark, that they are visible. For me to see those stars, it must be dark…

And there have been times of spiritual darkness, when I felt under attack by forces I could not see, but could sense were there. Then, I am somewhat fighting “in the dark” because I cannot see the enemy. But You are light. You walk in the light. And when I walk with You, I can see by Your light!

Thank You for Your light that lets me see in the darkness! I praise You that there is no darkness which You cannot dispel! That Your power overcomes any darkness of any kind. That Your light brings healing and hope and life! I praise Your Name! Hallelu Yah!

Micah 5:1-7:20

Dec 15 When?

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Father, I wonder what the people thought when they heard this prophecy from Micah? Were some moved to change their ways? Did some campaign for a national awakening and shift in policy?

Did they just think it was for another generation? Or that it would never happen?

Did they believe it at first, and then as time passed and destruction did not come, think they were safe in their sin, and settle back into complacency?

How was it in Noah’s time? Did they all scoff at the ship builder’s efforts?

Micah at least gave hope, that after the calamity there would be a time of peace again. Even though the Israelites were delivered from Babylon, was Micah looking even further into the future?

Moving from Micah’s prophecy to John’s Revelation puts the prophecy squarely into my time for consideration. I have heard of ‘the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ since I was very young. And as I grew to understand that they were a part of a bigger picture of the Revelation given in the Bible about end times, I began to wonder if these things would come in my lifetime.

Forty-five years ago as a young woman in college, I heard some sermons and read some pamphlets and believed the end times were upon us. When I told my parents of my ‘discovery’, they said that they too, when they had been in college twenty-five years earlier, had also made connections from prophecy to current events. They had thought the same thing in their time.

It has been seventy years my father has waited, and now he is old. It has been forty-five years for me, and I am old.   Will John’s Revelation come to pass in my lifetime? I do not know. Your time, Father, is not the same as my time. Psalm 90:4 says “A thousand years in Your sight is like a day…”.

I have studied this Revelation enough to know that man will not know the day and time, but can certainly recognize the signs of its coming which You have revealed. For me and my life, I can do no more than praise You as Your servant, minister in Your Name, and tell others of Your wonderful greatness. O Lord, “May You bless [me] from Zion, You, who are the Maker of heaven and earth”. Amen

Micah 4:1-13; Revelation 6:1-17; Psalm 90:4; 134:1-3

Dec 14 I am so Jonah!

sea-79836_1280Father, what wonderful lessons I’ve learned from Jonah! And about Jonah and about You. He is so human… And You are so God…

You spoke to Jonah, giving him a view of Your plan for him and specific directions using the gifts and talents You placed in him.  And You speak to Your people today. You have given each of us gifts and talents to use in accordance with Your plan.  Help me hear Your voice clearly when You speak. Give me direction and a view of Your purpose for my gifts.

Jonah thought he could get away with being disobedient. He thought he could hide from You. Silly man. And silly me! There have been times when I did not follow Your direction. I never ended up in the belly of a great fish, but I did miss out on some wonderful opportunities. Remind me of that when I consider disobedience in the future.

You have everything under Your control! Not only did You see where Jonah went, meaning there in no place to hide from You; but You were in control of everything around him. The weather? You brought the storm! And calmed it. A large fish? You brought it to swallow Jonah, and it obeyed Your command to vomit him onto dry land. The same thing is true of the events and circumstances, relationships and opportunities in my life. Remind me that You see me wherever I am. And that there is nowhere I can go away from You. And nothing beyond Your power.

Jonah called out to You, “In [his] distress…”. Even when he thought his life was over, and knowing he had been disobedient, he prayed to You. There is no circumstance where I cannot call on You. It is never too late, I can never be too bad, I am never too far-gone.

You answered! Even in the bowels of death and disobedience, You heard and answered Jonah’s prayer and rescued him. You are a God of second chances! And third and fourth… You want Your people to be obedient. You coach them to win, giving them every opportunity to do so. And I am one of Your people. Thank You for giving me second chances and more. Thank You for always hearing my prayer and answering me.

Jonah obeyed eventually. What I take from this is: obey the first time – it will save me a lot of grief!

Thank You for this view into Jonah’s life. It is a view into my own. And into Your greatness. Because You are so God… And I am so human… Amen

Jonah 1:1-3:3

Dec 13 Holy, Holy, Holy

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Father, once again, a vision of such great detail and magnificence!

This could be a scene in a fantasy movie, or one of those wild, imaginative video games. From John’s words, I can hear the rumbling thunder. I can see the bright almost blinding flashes of lightening. And between flashes, can see a halo of green glow, arching over and around a magnificent, brilliant throne. I can feel the heat of seven torches with burning flames.

In the foreground I can see a shiny sea of crystal glass and twenty-four elders seated on twenty-four small thrones, but bending down to kneel before the magnificent throne, and the One who sits on it.

But in the center of my view, what captures my attention, are four unbelievable, huge creatures: the likes of which I have never seen before! It is truly the stuff dreams are made of! Or nightmares! “The first living creature was like a lion the second was like an ox, the third had the face of a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under it’s wings.” And these creatures fly; encircling the One who sits on the throne who could only be described as looking like beautiful, gleaming jewels.

I can hear the living creatures say in unearthly voices that resound with deafening volume and fill my senses, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come”.

It is so easy to think of You as my Father, my Comforter, my Helper. But John reminds me here of Your immense Power with a capital P, and Sovereignty with a capital S! You are Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Power, Highly Exalted. You are more than anything I can imagine on this earth. You are more kingly that the most exalted king, stronger than the strongest man, wiser than the wisest sage, smarter than smartest scientist.

By Your hand, all things were created, and they continue to be in existence by Your command.   And not just people, which is an incomparably immense task in itself, but every insect, bird, lizard, fish, and mammal! All that people refer to as “Mother earth” came from You. And beyond that, the moon, the stars, the sun, the solar system, the galaxy, the universe!

There is none like You. You are The One and The Only Lord and God. You are the only One worthy to receive all the glory and honor and power. Receive my worship. I am in awe of You.   Amen

Revelation 4:1-11

Dec 12 A Famine of the Word

Father, You showed Amos two punishments, judgments for Israel and then said “This will not happen”. You relented, yielded, turned away from those judgments in favor of another. What a heart You have for Your people that You withheld the punishment they deserved out of Your love. You knew they would not be able to bear up under it or survive. How often have You spared me from the punishment my words and actions, my sins deserve? No doubt, daily. Were You not my Sovereign Lord, I would not survive. Thank You for Your mercy.

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You told Amos “The days are coming when I will send a famine thorough the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Words of the Lord.”

This was certainly fulfilled in the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, when no further prophetic word was given. But it can also be true of our world today. Right now, I can enjoy the freedom to worship You, to study Your Word, to attend church. But even now, the reading and public speaking of Your Word is being called ‘Hate Speech’.

Hate Speech is said to offend, threaten, or insult groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits. Many universities, for years the havens of “free speech”, have adopted codes prohibiting speech that offends any group based on the traits listed above.

While the intent is good, to protect people groups from racial slurs, intimidation, and threats, it is becoming more popular to also outlaw scripture and categorize it as “hate speech”. Already Christian speakers on radio have been told to watch what they say about topics that are considered politically incorrect, lest they lose their funding and rights to broadcast.

Father, give the leaders of my country godly wisdom to know where to set the limits of public broadcasting, so that people are protected, but religious freedoms are not restricted. Don’t let us throw out the baby with the bath water.

There may come a time in my country, where believers have to go underground, smuggle Your Word, and study it in secret.   Father, help me hide Your Word in my heart so I have a storehouse of scripture for times of famine. Help me share what I know of Your Word with others so they can be fed on Your Word and not hunger or thirst, and turn to other gods. While I can, let me feast on all that You show me in Your Word. Let me never go hungry.

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the freedom I have to enjoy it and worship You. Thank You that I can trust my future to You. I “put my hope in You both now and forevermore”. Amen

Amos 7:1-8:14; Psalm 131

Dec 11 You are the One

michelangelo-71282_1280Father, so many times You sent messages to the people and leaders of Israel to return to You, and they did not. You sent death in famine, drought, blight, locusts, plagues, and military defeats as a way to get their attention. Father, when challenges and difficulties come to me, I will come to You. You are the One who can help and heal me. You are the One who can show me wisdom and how to cope with whatever You allow into my life.

Lord, when it is so easy to fret and worry, and grumble and complain to friends, and look to the world for answers, remind me that the source of all I need is You! Calm my heart when I am anxious. Shut my mouth when I whine. Turn me around when I go toward the world’s solutions. I will pour out my heart to You. I will seek wisdom in Your Word. I will not just talk during prayer, but will listen, so I can hear what You have to say to me. I will open my eyes and ears to discern when You are showing and teaching me; and where You are leading me. I will let go of my own way and humble myself to obey You.

For it is “You who forms the mountains, who creates the wind,  and who reveals Your thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—    the Lord God Almighty is Your Name.” You are mine, and I belong to You.  You redeem me with Your love, renew me with Your presence, restore me with Your touch. Amen

Amos 4:1-13

Dec 10 The lion has roared…

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“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.”

Father, You gave a special message to a shepherd, Amos. His was not in a priestly or kingly line, yet You gave him an important message for the people. He was a shepherd of Tekoa, a place about six miles south of Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem. At the time, the people he spoke to thought they were doing well. But about thirty years later, the Assyrians took Israel into captivity. He voiced Your displeasure of and coming judgment on a list of nations were eventually judged.

Father, it seems to me that when You choose to bless a nation, You hold that nation responsible for its national conduct. Surely each person was not guilty of the offenses listed, but the nations were judged nonetheless. My country has been blessed. And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct. Right now, that is not looking good. Amos questioned “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?” Then answered: “The lion has roared – who will not fear?” He was telling people there was a real and present danger. I believe my country is being warned of a real and present danger if the people do not turn back to You.

You also revealed Your plan to John through Revelation.   He wrote down Your Words to specific churches. I believe they were real churches at the time, but I also believe the same words are meant for Your church today.

In obedience to these words, would You help me remember that You are my first love; that You come before anything else in my heart. And let me act accordingly. Like the church in Ephesus, do not let me tolerate wicked people, or listen to false teachers, or follow the Nicolaitan teachings of lustful immorality and lording church positions and power over lay people. Give me the strength to “persevere…endure hardships for Your name, and not grow weary”.

Like the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum, let me remember my wealth comes from my relationship with You. Show me where the evil one is influencing me, or my loved ones so we can reject it. Increase our faith so we have the perseverance to remain true to Your Name. Do not let us be led away from Your teachings by the temptations of Balaam who tempted the Israelites into immorality and idolatry.

Father, thank You for revealing Your plan to Your servants the prophets. Let me hear and heed these words that are for my life and my country. Open my ears and my understanding. Amen

Amos 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17

Dec 9 Blessed is he who reads and hears and heeds

trumpeter-921677_1280Father, I believe “the Day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand…”. You gave Daniel dreams about the end times. You showed Ezekiel, and now Joel and John. All these prophets heard from You at different times, yet the message was the same. The time has come to “Blow the trumpet…sound the alarm…”.

I do not pretend to know the day or time, but I know that each day that goes by, is one day closer. It will be the end of everything known: the earth, the sun, moon and stars. But there is still time. You desire that all people will ”return to You with all [their] heart”.   Amazing things will happen. There will be spiritual signs, “wonders in the heavens” and many will be saved – everyone who calls on You. And there will be a new day, with blessings for Your people. And You will avenge.

John writes that You will bless everyone who “reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it…” In John’s Revelation, he not only saw with great detail: “dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.  The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.  His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” but was also given the interpretation of the meaning of what he saw. And all this was to be passed on to the seven churches so believers would know what was and what is and what is to come.

Proverbs tells me that “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction”.   And right here, You are giving a revelation!   Father, let me read and hear and heed what You have given here and in the whole of Your Word! Do not let me “cast off restraint” and walk in the way of the world. But let me sound the alarm to call people’s attention to Your wisdom, Your Word, and the blessing You want to give to all: salvation and eternal life with You! For the alternative is still eternal life, but separated from You. Vengeance is Yours. And You will avenge when the end comes. You are allowing time so all may come to You. And You have sent Your Word so all can know. I pray that all will “hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Amen

Joel 1:1-3:21; Revelation 1:1-20; Proverbs 29:18

Dec 8 May America blossom

easter-1270523_1920O Father, I pray that America will return to You. “[Our] sins have been [our] downfall! Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” It is not just a return to simpler times that I seek. I do not wish to go back to covered wagons or shorter life expectancies because of disease and wars. But I long for my country to worship You; to acknowledge that all we have been so generously given comes from You.

Lord, other powers, philosophies or ideologies cannot save us. We need to return to You and receive Your healing.

Father, as in Jude’s time, many men have “slipped in among us” to lead us away from You. In Jude’s words, “godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny You” as Sovereign and Lord.   Show me how to see these people, these philosophies for what they really are, and not be misled by them.   Jude’s warning is just as important today as it was then.

Proverbs says: “When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall”.   Father, the wicked seem to be truly thriving today.   And sin has increased. How long can it go on before You bring their downfall? Your discipline will bring peace; Your correction will bring wisdom. When America returns to You, the people will be blessed again as You “heal [our] waywardness and love [us] freely…Your anger turned away”. America and its people will “blossom like a lily” and “like a cedar of Lebanon will send down roots…young shoots will grow”.

All this, I pray for my country, my family, myself. Help us return to You so we will acknowledge and praise You! Reveal the wickedness and godlessness that has led us astray. Let us accept Your correction and discipline and grow wise in our faith. Let us send down roots into Your rich, spiritual soil and blossom.

“To You, who is able to keep [me] from falling…be glory, majesty, power and authority…before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen”

Hosea 14:1-9; Jude 1:1-25

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

Father, what a picture of joy and hope when You say “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert”. Because in the desert, very little grows. The lack of water and the intense heat plus sandy soil produce low, scrawny plant life. But to find grapes: something juicy and good that can nourish, is a wonderful and valuable find!

When living in or crossing the desert, a find like this can be the difference between life and death.

A similar picture is seen in the next part of the verse: “when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree”. For a fig tree is different from most other fruit trees. It will take four to five years, and sometimes six or seven years for a fig tree to produce it’s first crop of figs. So all those years, care must be taken to keep it watered and fertilized and protected from the weather and winds, parasites and disease so it will be healthy enough to produce. Then, when seeing the early fruit, you know it has all been worth it! There is success! And hope of many more harvests to come.

Both of these create an emotional response of relief, satisfaction – that the future is secure and what has been done and accomplished was worth it. I love seeing this in projects or ministries I have been involved with. Or when I think of lives I have impacted. It is a good feeling that any positive influence will continue and go on. I feel it when I think of my children. I feel delight and hope.

But then that was all taken away when You saw what happened. “…they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved”.   Delight is erased. Hopes are dashed. Joy is replaced with sadness, grief and anguish over the loss of those involved and the prospect of the joyous future that had been envisioned.

Father, do You delight in each one of us, and then anguish when we fall away from You? I am Your child. Keep me from turning away from You. Show me clearly where and when there are idols I have been drawn to: pride, possessions, money, fame, popularity, whatever.

Help me and my children and loved walk in a manner worthy of You. Father, let “our mouths be filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” . We give You thanks and praise!  Amen

Hosea 9:10; Psalm 126:1-6

Dec 6 Rebellion to Repentance

american-flag-1020853_640“Hear the word of the Lord, you [Americans], because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.  There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away;’”

Father, as Israel was in its idolatry and rebellion, so is America today. My heart grieves for the way my country and its people have fallen so far away from the godly, moral values America was founded on. When I was growing up, I heard older people saying that what one generation tolerates, the next takes to excess. At the time I was proud to be in a generation who was finding ‘freedom’ in establishing new social norms that were allowing equality between races and genders and socio-economic groups. But what I have seen is that many of those freedoms were taken advantage of, and prostituted for monetary gain, selfishness, power and corruption.

I see that in my country, there is no faithfulness to You. That even my freedoms to express my spiritual viewpoint are being stifled when they are not ‘politically correct’. The list You gave Hosea of “cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery” sounds like the description of most of what Americans call ‘entertainment’.  Forgive our sin Father, turn the hearts of the American people back to You and bring healing to our land.

You tell me “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken and endures forever.” Father, I know I will endure forever as I have eternal life with You. Help me now, in this life, not to be shaken from Your truth and what I know to be right. Give me strength of faith and of character to walk in obedience to You, not in the way of the world. Let me be faithful and acknowledge You in my land.

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so You surround Your people both now and forevermore.” Let me feel You surrounding me, encompassing me Lord: shielding and protecting me, lifting me up. Thank You that You are faithful to all Your promises. Amen

Hosea 4:1-3; Psalm 125:1-5

Dec 5 You give Peace in the storms

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“[My] help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Father, You are the help I have, the help I turn to when things are not going well.   You are the help I acknowledge when things are going right.   I love the old hymn:

“O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter in the stormy blast and our eternal home.”

You are my place of shelter and of rest. I live on the earth now, and You shelter me. One day I will have rest in my eternal home with You.

Like David does in this Psalm, I can look back over my life and see times when I was guarded and protected by Your hand. I can say with David: “if You had not been on [my] side when people attacked [me], they would have swallowed [me] alive when their anger flared against [me]; the flood would have engulfed [me], the torrent would have swept over me, the raging waters would have swept [me] away.”

I have faced circumstances I thought would do me in. Times when I could see no way out to be at peace again.   Some were physical challenges or health issues with myself or loved ones.   Some were situations at work or with relationships I thought could never be reconciled. Some were simple hardships like times of being out of work, or the basement flooding. At times it actually felt like turbulent, raging waters pulling me down, away from my ability to cope.

But Father, You have showed up to give me hope when the world offered no hope. You would often sing me a new song along with scripture to help me sense Your presence and be encouraged. One such song’s chorus goes:

You calm me down, You give me peace

You make this battle inside of me cease

You give me hope to carry on

when all the hope the world can give is gone

Thank You that You are my hope, my help. Thank You that John reminds me that You have given me eternal life. Let me remember to focus on that when challenges come. He reminds me that I can have confidence in approaching You: that “if I ask anything according to Your will, You hear me”. Father, help me see and know Your will. Align my desires with Your will. So that when difficulties come, and they will, I will be able to ask for Your perfect will to be done, knowing that even if I have to walk through hardship, You will be my help. Amen

Psalm 124:1-8; I John 5:13- 15

Dec 4 God is love – He loves me!

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Father, You have given me the confidence to live my life encouraged. Through John, You have shown me how to discern truth from falsehood and how important love is. Holding on to those things will help me live a godly life.

There are so many influences in the world today it can be hard to know which are truly good and which are truly evil. Evil masquerades as good. It can appear justified, acceptable, even beneficial. Evil influence can even come from well-intentioned people.  You assure me that when I come up against evil, worldly influences, “greater is He that is in me, than he who is in the world”.

Since You ARE love, every one who belongs to You will have that love in them. Your love is total, complete, sacrificial, perfect, and saves me. This is not ‘I love ice cream’ kind of love, or brotherly love, or even romantic love.   It is the Greek word ‘agape’ love – a total, selfless, unconditional love that overcomes sin. You loved each one of us before we loved You or even knew of You.. It is a perfect love that has no fear, but drives out fear.

It is Your love, Father, that I seek in my life every day! I need it to drive out the fear that gains a foothold in me through circumstances I don’t understand, through stressful things happening to my loved ones, through the evil I see prospering in the world.

Father, there are days I feel so overwhelmed and unlovable that I deny Your love because I don’t ‘feel’ it. Forgive me when I doubt Your amazing, perfect love. Do not let me be led by my feelings – they have nothing to do with the truth of and the absolute certainty of Your love.

Help me sense Your love, and be lifted up by it, so I can share it with my brothers and sisters. Let me walk in Your love till the end of days, or the end of my days, whichever comes first. Thank You for Your amazing love. Amen

I John 4:1-21

Dec 3 Prayer for peace

Father, my trips to the Holy Land were so wonderful! They were spiritually uplifting, eye-opening and life-changing. Our four weeks in Jordan, Israel and Egypt left me with the ability to visualize places now when I read Your Word, that make it come more alive!

dscn0137The eight days in Jerusalem amazed me as I saw people from all over the world visiting there. It truly is the crossroads of three continents, with trade and cultural influences from Europe, Asia and Africa.   It is also a crossroad in a spiritual sense. Muslims trace their roots back to Abraham, and worship there, holding Jerusalem as a holy place. It is the place of David, Solomon and Jesus, peace be upon them, who were great prophets in Islam. Besides Dome of the Rock being there, Jerusalem was the first city Muslims turned to pray towards, many years before it was changed to Mecca.

Jews also worship in Jerusalem as the seed of Abraham their patriarch, and believe it was given to them by You in Your promise to Abraham. David brought the Arc of the Covenant there, and Solomon built a Temple where You placed Your Name and Your Presence was seen, making it a holy place. And Christians hold Jerusalem in reverence because of the great history of our roots, but mostly because You walked, were crucified and rose from the dead there.

The prophets say You will come again to Jerusalem. You are the Prince of Peace and You will bring peace. David tells me in Psalm 122 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

So, Heavenly Father, I ask for Your peace in Jerusalem now. Would You place in the hearts of each individual there, whether young or old, man or woman, Arab or Israeli, politician or shopkeeper, a sense of unity and a desire for Your peace to invade the Middle East.

Father, for the Christians there empower those believers with courage to live out their faith in unity as Your body. Let there be unity in their churches, so the people who are seeing them are not put off of believing in You because of Your followers. Give these believers an extra dose of Your protection so they can live out Your love in front of an unbelieving world.

Lord, protect them as they witness to their unbelieving friends and neighbors. Protect their lives, families, businesses, and possessions as they spread Your love and Your Word through their spoken and unspoken testimony. Cause a revival in their lives, so they are filled to overflowing with Your love and Your blessing and want to share it with others.

Prepare the hearts and spirits of unbelievers to hear Your Word and believers’ testimonies. Cause them to question whatever it is they are believing in now: another religion, a government power, a cultural system of beliefs. Open their eyes and ears to see and hear what is happening around them. And open their spirits to understand and discern spiritual.

Speak to unbelievers as only You can. Give them dreams and visions that lead them to the truth of who You are. Let them hear Your Word in their own language. Let them see examples of godly lives lived out.   Tear the veil away from their minds that keeps Your truth in darkness. Reveal Yourself to them in ways that will lead them to accept You as their own personal Savior. And let that have an impact on them individually, and then on their families, their neighbors, their community, their culture and their nations. Let Your message of truth and peace spread from one to another in a way that no government or oppressive organization can stop!

Father, because this is a world-wide issue, send and empower godly leaders and counselors to countries around the world who recognize and acknowledge You as Supreme and Sovereign God.   I pray for You Word to invade the earth. And for Your Will to be done in all the earth. If this will only happen when You return, then I pray for Your quick return. For You are the Prince of Peace. You wept over Jerusalem. And You can bring peace back to her.   Father, bring Your peace. Amen

Psalm 122:1-9

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Dec 2 Your Word is still our prayer

foundingfatherspray Father, these words of Daniel, oddly enough, seem to apply to my country and me in these times. America has enjoyed Your blessing and protection, but her people have turned away from You and Your values. Judgment and punishment are at our doorstep, and our only hope is to return to You. If we do not, I fear a great judgment is coming our way. So in the words of Daniel, “I pray to You, the Lord my God and confess:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps Your covenant of love with those who love You and keep Your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws.  We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our [government officials], our [spiritual leaders] and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Lord, You are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people [Your believers] and the inhabitants of [our cities] and all [America], both near and far…because of our unfaithfulness to you.  We and our [government officials], our [spiritual leaders] and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against You.   You, the Lord our God are merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against You; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws You gave us through Your servants the prophets.  All [America] has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, [we are in danger of them being] poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.   You [will fulfill] the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster.  Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. [And we are in danger of the same fate.] Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster [will] come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to Your truth.  You [will] not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for You, the Lord our God are righteous in everything You do; yet we have not obeyed You.

“Now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for Yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.  Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from [America]. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made [America] and Your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of Your servants. For Your sake, Lord, look with favor on [America].  Give ear, our God, and hear; open Your eyes and see the desolation of the [country] that [has borne] Your Name.  We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.  Lord, listen! Lord, forgive!  Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, my God, do not delay, because [America] and your people bear your Name.” Amen

Daniel 9:1-17

Dec 1 Help me love what’s eternal

Father, thank You for giving me Your Word so I will know how to live. Thank You that it usually does keep me from sin. But, if I mess up, thanks to You I have an advocate. Your atoning sacrifice bore the punishment and paid the price, “not only for [my sin], but for the sins of the whole world”.

John writes of how to live here, and also how to love. He says I am to love my brother and sister.   And I am not to love the world or anything in it. These are tall orders.

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Help me love my brother and sister: other believers who You have put in my life.Some of them are so loving to me that it is easy to love them back.   Some believers in my life have been like “iron sharpening iron”. We hone one another to be better and ‘sharper’. But some are like sandpaper to me. We do not get along, and although they may ‘sand off’ some of the rough spots on me, mostly they are just an irritant and cause sore, raw spots that hurt. These people are harder to love. They are the ones I need Your help with. Remind me that each one of them is one of Your amazing creations who You love greatly. I know that You love them; show me how to do the same.

Not loving the world is also a difficult task. While many things in the world are repulsive and easy to avoid, it was these same three things John mentions here that have drawn people into sin since Adam and Eve.

The first two are the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes”. The word “lust” here is ‘a strong desire of any kind, good or bad, but evil if not submitted to the will of God’. So whether it is for intimacy, or pleasure, or just comfort, I would usually rather feel comfort than pain, a full stomach than hunger, warm and safe than cold and fearful. It can be hard to turn away from things that offer me a sense of satisfaction in food, comfort or safety. But I need to be sure my flesh and my eyes are not pulling me to just go my own way and satisfy worldly appetites. Father, show me how to maintain proper limits and boundaries.

The third, “the pride of life” represents a moral arrogance or boasting of superior attitude or vanity. The world holds that the one with the best or the most wins. Your economy is different. It is not the elevation of possessions or self that will give me eternal life with You. Help me live a life of obedience to You and humility toward others.

I believe what John says: “the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever”. Do not let me invest in what will pass away, but in what is eternal. Amen

I John 2:1-17

Nov 30 Lead me in the Light

light-on-manFather, thank You that You are light. You are The Light! I desire to walk in Your light. I understand that there is nothing that You do not already know, nothing is hidden from You. Even if I were to walk in the darkness, You would still see everything.  When there is sin in my life, sin is darkness. And because I do not want to be in the dark, I will confess my sin before You.

I am like a sheep that strays from the safety of its shepherd. You are my Shepherd. Father, seek me when I get lost. Return me to Your presence.

When I agree with You about what is sin in my life, and turn from it, You are faithful to forgive that sin and restore my fellowship with You. Again, thank You.

Like the Psalmist, I pray “May my cry come before You” so You will “give me understanding according to Your Word”.   When I cannot see what direction to go, Father, shine Your light on the path I should take. Help me recognize the difference between light and darkness so I can avoid the darkness.

Father, “may my lips overflow with praise” and “my tongue sing of Your Word”. Do not let me forget to be thankful, acknowledging when You rescue me, when You reveal truth to me, when You encourage me. Remind me to not only ‘stop and smell the roses’ but to express my gratitude to the Creator for the roses and for a nose.

“Let me live that I may praise You”! My Creator. My Encourager. My Teacher. My Rescuer. My Restorer. My Shepherd. My Light! Amen

I John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:169-176

Nov 29 Let me be like Daniel

Daniel lion den“You are the Living God and You endure forever; Your kingdom will not be destroyed, Your dominion will never end. You rescue and You save; You perform signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. You have rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

O Father, do for me what You did for Daniel! When forces come against me with contrived plans for my demise, save me from their evil strategies! Deliver me from whatever punishment they seek to be my end. Put people in my life who will come to my defense like King Darius, and will pay back my enemies. And let me be like Daniel.   Let me steadfast in my faith, recognizing You are worthy to be worshipped no matter the social or political climate. Let me be faithful to pray, trusting in You no matter what.

An interesting point is that Daniel was in his eighties when he was thrown into the lion’s den. This means that since he was taken captive as a boy in his teens, he never lost faith in You! He continued his prayer life and godly lifestyle all throughout his years. He remained a man of integrity and faith. Even those jealous of his position found him to be “trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent”. Let this be true of me also.

A time is coming when lawless, ungodly men will be judged. As the flood destroyed the earth once, You will destroy it again by fire. But I will see a new heaven and a new earth created by Your hand. As I await this day I want to live, like Daniel, a holy and godly life. Help me Lord.

In the Words of the Psalmist: “Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me…Make Your face shine upon Your servant and teach me Your decrees.” Father, this is how I can live the life I desire. With Your help, I can grow in Your grace and knowledge. Amen

Daniel 6:1-28; II Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 119:129-136

Nov 28 Santa or Sovereign

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Father, so much of the world looks for a god who is like Santa Clause.

They want someone who is happy, always smiling, and will give them whatever they ask for. They like to speak of love for everyone and unending tolerance. But You are a Holy God. And because of that You will have justice for all or there would be love for none.

King Belshazzar was judged by You, and You removed him from his position of power and took his life. You judged Your angels, and threw them into hell to await final judgment. You judged Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed the cities and the evil people who lived there. And You judged the ancient world when You sent the great flood, saving only eight people to continue mankind.

The Psalmist thought it was time for You to act against the evil people of his day. They are described as evil-minded, wicked, arrogant, ones who have divided loyalties and violated Your instructions. And in the hundreds of years since then, there has been so much injustice and evil done in the world, it is hard to believe You will hold off judgment much longer.

But Father, You know how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment”. “You are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of hope.” You will “sustain me”, “rescue”, “deal with me with unfailing love”, and “give me discernment”.  

As is the psalmist, I am instructed and strengthened by You, I will “obey the commands of My God”, “meditate continually on Your decrees”, and “understand Your laws”. For truly “I am Your servant…I tremble in fear of You; I stand in awe of Your regulations.” I believe Your teachings that there will come a day when You will reign over all the earth; and a final judgment will be handed down by Your righteous hand.

Father, until that day, keep me safe within Your Word. And keep me faithful to You, like Daniel. Amen

Daniel 5:1-31; II Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128

Nov 27 Your gifts

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Prayer          Bible          Holy Spirit

Eternal Love          Constant Presence

Faithfulness          Forgiveness

Protection          Provision          Salvation

Direction          Fruit of the Spirit

“Your divine power has given [me] everything [I] need for a godly life…” “You have given [me] Your very great and precious promises…”. Thank You Father, that I have all that I need. I have prayer as a way to hear from and talk to You. I have Your Word as a guidebook. In You I have the Holy Spirit who reveals spiritual truth to me. You have promised me Your eternal love, Your constant presence, and Your faithfulness in my protection and provision.  All this because You are my personal Savior.

Since I belong to You, and You have given me all I need; help me to live in, and treat people with the qualities that will lead me to be effective and productive. Peter tells me these qualities are: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. Some of these are the Fruit of the Spirit and will grow in me as I am obedient to Your Spirit’s leading. Help me embrace opportunities for each of these qualities to grow in my life.

Recently I found myself walking with a group in the dark. I had a small flashlight which came in handy as the sidewalk was a broken and uneven surface. At first, I thought it would be best to shine the light way ahead of us so we could see where the path curved or stopped at a curb or was cut off by bushes. But it became clear that we could walk with the most certainty and speed when the light shone brightly on the very next step we were to take.

Looking ahead is good to get a sense of direction, but we needed the close, step by step guidance to be sure our ankles did not turn or slip off the narrow path.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Your Word, the Scriptures, are that light for me. When I am not sure which option is best, Your Word tells me “Trust in the Lord with all Your heart and lean not on Your own understanding.”

When I feel frustrated with some results, You tell me “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time [you] will reap a harvest…”. Or when I feel discouraged, alone and depressed, You tell me “I have carried you since your birth…I will continue to be with you and sustain you, even when you have gray hairs. I will always carry you; I will always sustain you; I will always rescue you.” [paraphrased to personalize]

Your Word helps me see that next step and take it. Thank You Father, that You care so much for me that even in the darkness of this world and its ‘wisdom’ You have made a way for me to stay on Your path and keep moving ahead safely. Amen

II Peter 1:1-11; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5; Galatians 6:9; Isaiah 46:3-4

Nov 26 Teach me

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Father, thank You for Peter’s reminder that as the end approaches, believers must be earnest in prayer, share Your deep love with others, and use our Spiritual gifts. Some of these sound so easy. None of them are. I can’t do any of them without Your help.

What I can do is come to You in prayer. You help me in so many ways. I love my conversations with You! Sometimes I feel closer to You when I walk around the lake, or through the trees, or can see the mountains. When I am surrounded by Your amazing creation, You often give me a word of instruction or encouragement. You have taught me things by watching geese flying above, or ducks feeding in the pond, or sunlight shining through dark clouds. You have shown me how to be humble through the faces of blossoms that track the sunlight across the sky, or sunflowers that have heads so heavy with seed that they bend low.

It is so easy to praise You in the presence of the beauty of Your creation, and when things are going well. But rejoicing in suffering is harder to do. Sometimes, my side of the conversation is sobbing and tears. It is anxious pleading with pain. You reach out to me then too. There is nothing You cannot handle. There is nothing too big or too small to bring to You. Thank You for this life-saving and life-giving privilege of prayer.

Father, teach me how to show Your great love to others. It feels easy to do with strangers. Kindness to a stranger is short-lived. Help me to be loving and forgiving and hospitable to those I know. Show me how to be humble, and not grumble.   And especially to those I know well, give me perseverance to act and speak in love for the long haul.

Lord, lead me in seeking out ways to join You where You are already at work, in ways that will use my Spiritual gifts. Give me the energy and stamina to serve.   Show me how to serve humbly so You get the credit. And let me recognize when to step back so another can use their gifts.

In all these things, let me also be aware of “[my] enemy the devil” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. Help me see through his lies and deceptions. Help me avoid his traps and temptations.  Strengthen me to resist him in all his cunning ways. Make me strong, firm and steadfast. Yours is the power forever. I know You will never fail me. Thank You. Amen

I Peter 4:7-5:14

Nov 25 Live in the Light, like Daniel

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“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;  wisdom and power are Yours. You change times and seasons;  You depose kings and raise up others. You give wisdom to the wise   and knowledge to the discerning. You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness,  and light dwells with You. I thank and praise You…”  

 

 

 

Father, these words of Daniel’s are just as true today. We still praise You! After all these years of season after season, You are still the One who keeps the world in order. And after generations of kings, You are still the One who holds their hearts and all power in Your hand. All wisdom and knowledge are Yours. Hundreds of years of human advancements and scientific discovery and technology, haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding this amazing universe You created!

Father, Daniel held tightly to his beliefs about You and his convictions about how to live a godly life. And he did so in the midst of being kidnapped and taken a thousand miles away from home and family. As a young man it would have been so easy for him to simply go along with whatever his captors pushed on him. But even far away from family and the worship he knew, he knew that You were with him.

At the time, people worshipped pagan gods who they believed had power and influence over a specific thing like rainfall, crops, or fertility or a particular place.   But Daniel knew You were the One True God over all these things. And that no matter where he was, You were there.

“Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.” And You were faithful to Daniel. You allowed him to be faithful to the ways he had been taught and gave him success. In addition to this, You gave Daniel and his four friends wisdom and understanding far beyond that of all others.

Father, help me be like Daniel. Strengthen me to live the way You have taught me, and not give in to the pressures of whatever society offers. Let me stand out so others will see that I live differently from the pagan ways of my culture. Let the light that dwells in You, shine through me. Amen

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Nov 24 Help me walk in the Light

“Dear friends, I urge you…to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

Word lamp unto my feet

Father, help me live this kind of life. I am bombarded every day by media who through advertising and entertainment would have me believe that worldly values and immorality are the only way to be happy. Many of these skewed values presented would lead me into sin. Father, if I have embraced these desires, take them away from me. Let me be so busy enjoying doing good and pleasing You, that I do not even think about, or have time to be involved in ungodly activities. Bring opportunities to me that will use my gifts and bless others so that You will get the credit. Help me make choices that will honor You.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…”. I do not wish to be a doormat for others. I believe by ‘submission’ You mean power or strength under control. You, in the flesh, Jesus, had all the power in the world, but it was ‘submitted to’ or ‘under the control of’ Your will. Let me learn humility and submission by Your example. Give me Your strength, and help me submit it to Your will.

Father, in doing this, help me live in submission to the authorities You place in my life. This would be legal and government officials, those in positions of authority as I work and minister, and those You place in my personal life. Peter says “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Ultimately, I am a sheep, Your sheep. Father, let me flourish in Your flock, and always be near to and obedient to You, my Shepherd. Amen

I Peter 2:11-3:7

Nov 23 Mold me, make me holy

Father, You gave Ezekiel a recap of the physical sacrifices that were to be offered to You, when and where and how in specific detail. For You are a Holy God and the offerings and sacrifices provided atonement and consecration for Your people then.

free-1785964_640Now comes Peter writing to remind believers that now they “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices…” The Israelites had to go to a specific place, the Temple, and have their sacrifices presented by priests. But now believers’ bodies are the ‘temple’ and believers, themselves, are the priests. And the sacrifices offered are the spiritual sacrifices of praise, and a contrite heart.

You are Holy because of who You are. But believers are made holy not by the sacrifices of goats and lambs with flour and oil; but “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”. Believers “purify yourselves by obeying the truth…born again…through the living and enduring Word of God”.

Further, Peter tells me to be holy in all I do: to “prepare [my] mind for action; be self-controlled”. And “as an obedient child, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance”. “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”

opening clay.jpgHow do I do this?

Psalm 119 answers this, and so it has become my prayer. “Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of Your commands; for there I find delight.

Turn my heart toward Your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.”

Father, let me live and walk and worship according to these Words. Let me be taught by You. Break down whatever habits or tendencies I have that war against Your precepts or keep me from following Your path wholeheartedly. Enrich me through Your unfailing love. I lift my hands to You. Amen

Ezekiel 45:13-46:24; I Peter 1:13-2:10; Psalm 119:33-48

Nov 22 Teach me to apply Your Word to my life

hand on BibleWhat an amazing Psalm is the 119th Psalm! It is the longest Psalm. It has more verses than 14 Old Testament books and 17 New Testament books. Within it is found the verse that lies in the very center of Scripture – halfway between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21.

This Psalm was constructed with twenty-two stanzas, each beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew Alephbet. And within each stanza, each of the eight verses begin with the letter of the stanza. In almost every verse, there is a word that describes Your teaching: Word, law, commands, statues, decrees, precepts. And almost each one teaches how to handle Your Word or be led and taught by it.

It is said that King David used this Psalm to teach his young son, Solomon the Alephbet. It represented all the letters, but also illustrated spiritual truth of how to live a godly life. So as I read it, Father, I also pray these verses as a guide for living according to Your Word.

“I will obey Your Word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law…do not hide Your commands from me.” Help me see beyond the Words to the meaning You have for these Words in my life. Show me marvelous things that deepen my devotion to You.

“…Teach me Your decrees. Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts; then I will meditate on Your wonders…strengthen me according to Your Word.” Father, beyond word studies and context references, reveal deeper meanings to me through Your Holy Spirit.   Show me how to be sensitive to the timing and teaching You use to increase my awareness and discernment. Understanding Your Word brings me strength! What an awesome gift!

Father, I choose Your truth and obedience to Your laws. “I set my heart on Your laws. I hold fast to Your statutes.“ “Be gracious to me… and do not let me be put to shame.” Father, I would rather You take my life than allow me to dishonor You. I am Your servant. You are my Master.   It is only by Your mercy and Your Word that I have life. Amen

Psalm 119:17-32

Nov 21 Your Word is Treasure

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Father thank You for warning me not to trust in earthly riches. Wealth, possessions, gold and silver are not the treasure I seek. They can lead to greed and the sins that greed temps a person to commit. Rather, I treasure Your Word. It gives me a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about how to receive Your blessing: something of far greater value.

You Word says I will be blessed when I “walk according to the law of the Lord…keep Your statutes and seek You with all [my] heart”. I can keep my way pure “by living according to Your Word”. So Father, “I seek You with all my heart: do not let me stray from Your commands.” I desire to be blessed; show me how to walk in Your path.

Lord, I will “hide Your Word in my heart”. I will read it, honor it, study to understand it, memorize it, and do what it says. When I do not understand it, I will pray for clarity of meaning and how to apply it to my life. When people around me say one thing and Your Word says another, give me the conviction to be obedient to Your truth. Help me see through the misleading lies and the deceiving values of society and not be tripped up by them. Give me the strength I need to be true to You.

Because You tell me how powerful prayer is, I will pray. I pray for the wisdom to stay on Your path.  I pray giving thanks when I am happy.   I pray for healing when I am sick. I pray for help when I am in trouble. I pray for forgiveness when I have sinned. Father, help my prayers be powerful and effective.

Besides me, so many people need Your help in so many ways. I believe praying for them is one way I can help; perhaps the best way I can help them.   Father, like Elijah, I pray earnestly and in faith, knowing that You are the One who can answer. You have the power, Lord. And You have the will. We are all Your creations, Lord. Thank You that You love and care for us. Amen

James 5:1-20; Psalm 119:1-16

Nov 20 while here on earth…

Father, how I long for the day when I will be in Your presence for all eternity. My real home is with You. I long to sit at Your feet, to see You face to face, to wrap my arms around You and rest in Yours.

GivinghandsandredpushpinBut for now, I must be here. And not just with You, but with billions of other imperfect people like myself, who I need to learn to get along with. Father, James tells me I need to live in this world, but not be friends with it. I need to relate to people, but without speaking badly of them or judging them. I need to suppress the desires within me that might cause me to selfishly fight and quarrel with others when I don’t get my way. And I need to recognize the devil and resist him.

Thank You for placing Your Holy Spirit in me to help me with all these things. Thank You for the grace You extend to me. James tells me the key is to submit to You and humble myself. So Father, I submit myself to You. When I am obedient to You, I will not obey the devil. I will not be selfish. I will not mistreat others.

Father, I give You my plans. Take the days of my life that You have already numbered, and show me how to live each one. Do not let me get ahead of You. And do not let me lag behind. I trust Your timing for all of it. Father, I draw near to You and ask You to search me and remove any desires that are not godly. If I ask for the wrong thing, or ask with a wrong motive, show me where I have messed up. If I become too attached to the things of the world, wean me from that dependence. For with You, I have all I need.

Father, examine my relationships. If there are any that do not serve Your purposes, then help me let them go. If I am quarreling with anyone, or am out of fellowship with them, show me what caused it, Your plan for the relationship, and how to make it right again. And when I am tempted by the devil, let me clearly see the ‘hook’ beneath the lure he is dangling before me. Strengthen me to resist, and turn away from that trap.

Father, as long as You have me living here on the earth, guide and strengthen me. Help me overcome my flesh and the evil one and the pull of the world. I choose to hold my possessions, my relationships, my plans loosely so I can follow Your will. Grant me success. Amen

James 4:1-12

Nov 19 Your Word is wisdom

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Father, James says Abraham’s “ faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did”. I pray that my life and faith would work the same way. I understand that my actions alone will not save me. That salvation comes by believing in You and accepting You as Lord of my life. But I can also see that my actions bear out what I believe.   And since actions are what others can see, others will know my faith by my actions.

In addition to my actions, my words speak a lot about who I am and what I believe.   So set a guard on my tongue! I have learned by experience that words cannot be unsaid. Once spoken, their impact is made. Father, forgive me for the times I have spoken without thinking, and in doing so, caused hurt to someone. Forgive me for the times I spoke after thinking, but was wrong in the way the message was delivered. For it is not only the words chosen, but also the way they are spoken that carries meaning and can cause trouble.

Words can tear down, damage, hurt, berate, mislead, manipulate, and deceive a person. But they can also lift up, encourage, enlighten, inspire, bless and show love.   Father, give me wisdom for how and when to use my words. Help me see through the ‘wisdom’ the world offers. Before I speak or act, let me think through what I ‘think’ I want to say.

The wisdom of the world can come from my own flesh: a kind of ‘sensual wisdom’ based on my own thoughts and feelings. It will produce self-satisfaction and pride, and ultimately, guilt – as James tells me my own desires can lead to sin. Or it can come from others in the world, leading to approval and acceptance from the crowd. It produces disorder, and You have told me I should not be conformed to the pattern of this world. Or it may be demonic wisdom that brings envy, immorality and leads me to worship other things, eventually producing fear.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in me.

Father, help me listen, and discern Your wisdom from all the others. I desire to hear from and follow You alone. Amen

James 2:18-3:18

Nov 18 Quick to listen, slow to speak

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Father, James continues in giving good advice for righteous living. I ask You to help me to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. I can remember being told that ‘children should be seen and not heard’.   And ‘think before you speak – after all, you have two ears and only one mouth’; the message being that you should only speak half as much as you listen.   And ‘count to ten’ when you feel yourself getting angry so as to allow time to cool down and think before acting on your anger. I was taught these things as positive ways to get along with people. I did not know then they had Biblical roots for godly behavior!

 

So, help me truly listen to others with my mind and heart; not just count off time till it’s my turn to say something. Help me focus on the person speaking and what they are trying to convey. Then let me measure out my words carefully and respond, not just react. And if what I am hearing is not to my liking, and I have a strong emotional response, guard my tongue so I do not create conflict. But help me be a peacemaker.

Father, I am trying to follow James’ suggestion. He says “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”. So help me listen more intently and pay attention to what You have to say to me in Your Word. Do not let me miss anything You have to show me or teach me or say to me as an encouragement. Father, I want the blessing in doing this: Listen more and speak less. Teach me how to keep “a tight rein on [my] tongue”.

Father, You made my ears and my tongue. Help me use them to bring You honor and glory. Holy are You, Lord! Hebrew translation: Hallelu Yah! Amen

James 1:19-26

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s perspective

road-sign-940630_640 (1)Father, help me “consider it pure joy whenever [I] face trials of many kinds”.   Even though I know You tell me that these trials produce good things in my life: “perseverance”, making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything”; I do not always rejoice when difficulties come my way. And I don’t feel like I am being made “complete”. I often feel just the opposite, as if I am being broken down.

Father, give me Your perspective on these events and circumstances when they happen.   Let my first thoughts be to come to You to ask for what I need. Often what I need is wisdom. So remind me to “ask You, who gives generously to all without finding fault”.   Help me recognize Your wisdom when I hear it. And then be bold enough to act on what You tell me.

Lord, I want to persevere under trials because You say I will receive a blessing when I endure. Part of that blessing comes simply from my turning to You.   By being in relationship with You, hearing from You, and seeing Your deliverance, whatever that looks like. Thank You Father, for the times You have been there for me in the past. It builds my faith in Your ability and in Your desire to help me in the future.

I can identify with the Psalmist, who says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” Like the Psalmist, I have felt “overcome by trouble and sorrow”. There have been times when I did not see a way that anything good could come from my situation. But You, who are “gracious and righteous…and full of compassion” saved me, delivered me, showed me a way to redeem the situation. And usually it was in the most unique way, that no one else I had gone to had thought of.

How can I thank You? “How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?” I cannot ever repay the debt I owe You, Father. But I can sing my praises to You. I can tell others of Your great goodness. I can tell others of Your faithfulness to me. I can live joyfully in Your deliverance, and live faithfully as Your servant.

No matter what happens, I will rest in You. I will rejoice in You. I will live my life to bring glory to Your name. Amen

James 1:1-8; Psalm 116:1-19

Nov 16 Helpful last words

postit-1975188_640Father, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye. “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers…Remember those in prison…Marriage should be honored by all…Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”.

I do the same thing when my kids are leaving after a visit. Those parting words are the last chance to say important things, but often end up being a jumble of so many different things that none are particularly memorable.   Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life”. In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray. They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep. Like then, the outcomes of many spiritual leaders’ lives of today have not been holy or honoring to You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment, and Your help so I will not ”not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching”.   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bring the individual inner peace, to bring them fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on their bald heads! There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You. Very famous and powerful people buy into these ‘religions’.

Father, do not let me be enthralled by the sensationalism of any of them. Do not let me be intrigued by the power they profess to tap into, or the secrets they propose to know.   But keep me on the path that leads me ever closer to You.

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews. I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones. It is what I seek with all my heart. “May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.” Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me. May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times. Will You provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me. Lead me to what will please You. And may the success bring You glory! For ever and ever. Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-31; Hebrews 13:1-24

Nov 15 Help me live in peace

Father, Paul gives some tall orders here: “…live at peace with all men and be holy…”. Allow “no bitter root to grow up.” Make moral decisions now because the consequences may be too much to bear.

god-1772560_640Because of my human nature, these are sometimes very difficult things to do. Give me Your peace so I can reflect peace to those around me. Help me see what is important and what is not so I will not be part of foolish arguments, but will be able to live at peace with men, and women too.

Being holy means to be set apart or to be dedicated to You. Help me live my life with an understanding I am Your creation, here for You purposes. Give me guidance and wisdom to be the best wife, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor I can be. And when You give me direction, give me the focus and energy to follow through on whatever it is. If I am not inclined to be obedient, change my view, my inclination.

When I feel wronged, or hurt, angry, disappointed or jealous; help me see from Your perspective so the root of bitterness doesn’t poison my relationships. When circumstances seem unjust or aren’t going my way, diffuse my anger before it ”causes trouble and defiles many.” Let me consider what You would have me do in response to any circumstance, rather than just react from an emotional place.

These are tough assignments. And Father, I need Your help in my life right now! Thank You that I can approach You every time I need support in any of these areas. You are my help. And there is none like You. Amen

Hebrews 12:1-4

Nov 14 Help me run the race

Father, I love Your Words in today’s Scriptures! And so I pray them back to You.

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From Hebrews: “Therefore…let [me] throw off everything that hinders [me] and the sin that so easily entangles [me], and let [me] run with perseverance the race [You] marked out for [me]. Let [me] fix [my] eyes on You, the Author and Perfecter of [my] faith…”

Father, point out to me anything that is a hindrance to my being obedient to You; so I may follow the course You have laid out for me. I know You give me choices. There are many things I could do, many ways to spend the energy You give me that would serve You and be a blessing to others. But I also believe that when I am able to use the talents and spiritual gifts You have given specifically to me, I will experience more growth and more fruitfulness. In that role I believe I will have more perseverance, more joy, and more success than if I go off on my own. So I will fix my eyes on You, look to You for direction. Open my eyes to see You, and all You have to show me.

From Psalm 112: I pray that “[my husband and my sons] will be blessed as men who fear the Lord, who find great delight in Your commands. [May their] children be mighty in the land. [Would You place] wealth and riches in [their] houses and [let their] righteousness endure forever. Even in darkness, let light dawn [for them]. [Let them] be gracious and compassionate and righteous men. Let good come to [them when they are] generous… and conduct their affairs with justice. [Father, let them] never be shaken from their faith.”

“[Lord, let them] have no fear of bad news; [but let their] hearts be steadfast, trusting in You. [Whatever comes, let them] have no fear; and in the end, look in triumph on their foes. [Let them] scatter abroad their gifts to the poor. [Let their] righteousness endure, and lift [them] high in honor.” Father, if they are not as described here yet, bring them to this place. Draw them to You. Teach them. Let them know Your voice and feel Your love.

Lord, for them and myself, bring people and circumstances into our lives that will make us stronger, better, more obedient followers. Use others as iron to sharpen us to be useful tools in Your mighty hands. Thank You. Amen

Hebrews 12:1-4; Psalm 112:1-10; Proverbs 27:17

Nov 13 I am in Awe

Father, the city and leaders and people of Tyre had everything worldly possible to bring them success in material possessions and reputation. Yet, they fell. They took pride in their commerce and accomplishments and that pride kept them from worshipping You. They saw themselves as gods. And Your judgment fell on them.

Lord, do not let me think more highly of myself than I ought.   Thank You for Your example of being a humble servant.   As I try to follow Your example, if I ever think too much of myself, refocus me on Your greatness.

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Psalm 111 reminds me that ”Great are the works of the Lord…glorious and majestic are His deeds”. When I ponder all of creation, I am amazed by Your imagination! I am captivated by the diversity in size and color and design! I am overwhelmed by the power of Your mountains and seas and winds.

I love seeing pictures of majestic waterfalls, lush green jungles with brightly colored birds, schools of shiny fish swimming in the sea, brilliant flowers, water-colored sunsets. All this is just a part of what You do. Besides creating and sustaining all this, You have created the intricacies of each human body: from the tiniest of cells to the diversity of faces and fingerprints! And not just bodies, but You know the mind and spirit of each individual on the planet!   You’re indescribable – uncontainable – unfathomable! You blow my mind!

And a wondrous part of who You are is that You do not just set all this in motion and then sit back to see where it goes. You involve Yourself in the life of each of Your precious creations.   You speak, protect, provide, lead, feed, forgive, save. And all that You do is just and right. You have provided these later generations with Your written Word.   It teaches Your truth and Your character so all can know You, and Your faithfulness, Your uprightness and Your salvation.

You say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. The Hebrew word ‘yare’ translated as ‘fear’ here, is used in this sentence referring to a person in an exalted position: You. Thus, the meaning includes a reverence, a standing in awe, whereby the individual recognizes the power and position, and renders the proper respect. Father, I acknowledge Your power, Your sovereignty; and give You all honor and praise! Let me continue to grow in wisdom. How great and awesome You are! “To You belongs eternal praise”! Amen

Ezekiel 27:1-28:19; Psalm 111:1-10

Nov 12 Make my Faith Light shine!

black-1837288_640Father, if faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”, I know that I have faith! There are things in my life that I have no control over, and no way of making happen, but I trust that You will work it all out for the best. And that means according to Your will. Still, I would ask You to increase my faith.

As Paul says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command”. And although I do not have a scientific understanding of exactly how that occurred, it has never been a stumbling block for me. I simply know that it was all accomplished by You – in Your way, in Your time, by Your Word and hand. Since I can trust You with the creation and the running of the entire universe, I can surely trust You with what goes on in my little corner of the world.

Some had to not only believe, but act on their faith. Noah was obedient in building an ark. No small feat for a five hundred year old! And Abram had to leave his father’s family and go to a far-off unknown place, trusting the promise You had given him. As I think of having to do either of these things, I wonder if my faith would be as strong.

There have been times when I felt You leading me to an opportunity. But because of fear, I hesitated and missed out on some of them. I could not see past the possibility of failure and ridicule to muster the boldness to act. And as a result, satan has used those times to make me feel guilty and defeated over the years, and waste my time wondering what might have been.

Till my twenties I moved almost every year of my life. I trusted that my parents would provide for me wherever we went. But I also learned a wonderful lesson. No matter where we went, You were always there. There were always new and beautiful sights: examples of the marvelous diversity of Your creation. There were always other believers to fellowship with. There was always a church to help me learn more about You. And when I prayed, whether in Arkansas, Texas, New Jersey, Kansas, Arizona or France, You always answered. What a faith building experience!

Although at this point in my life, I enjoy the stability of being in one location; I would follow You anywhere. Like the song says: ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.’

Father, help me continue to believe, trust, and have faith in You for the things that are important. Help me let go of worry, guilt or shame when I don’t see things working out. Make me bold when I need to act. Let it be said of me that I lived a life of faith in You. Amen

Hebrews 11:1-16

Nov 11 Forewarned and defended by You

“So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.” Father, these two ‘women’ represented Your people. So when You say “all women may take warning and not imitate you” you mean all countries and all peoples can learn not to make the same mistake the Israelites made with idolatry. I pray that my country will learn from Your example here and not imitate the idolatry of Samaria and Jerusalem.

grateful-2006926_640Father, do not let this lesson go unnoticed. You are a just God and You judge rightly.   Those people only rejected the law of Moses and were judged. How much more will those be judged who live now and know of Your sacrifice on the cross?

You have made a new way for people today to approach You.   It is a better way! By Your shed blood, I have the privilege of approaching You boldly, with full assurance and confidence. So I draw near to You with a sincere heart, and ask that You would show me how to live, encouraging other believers, worshipping You, acting in love, doing good deeds, and defeating the enemy.

Father, the enemy uses all manner of evil to try to defeat me.   Help me, Lord; do not be silent. Fight against those who are against You and who attack me and my family. Show them that You are victorious while they are clothed with shame and disgrace.   And I will rejoice in my deliverance, extolling my Father with praise! Amen

Ezekiel 23:1-49; Hebrews 10:18-31; Psalm 109: 1-31

Nov 10 Let Your Light shine through us and overcome the darkness

Father, I wonder if You see in my country what You saw in the rebellion and idolatry of Israel and Judah. The list You make certainly seems familiar. Of Israel You said she treated parents with contempt, oppressed and mistreated the defenseless, despised what is holy and desecrated the Sabbath, liars, murderers, idolaters, lewd, lustful, immoral, kill for bribes, extort unjust gain, commit robbery; all while forgetting You. This list looks like the television line up for today’s entertainment!

So Your judgment will be just on my country too.

candles-1645551_640But one thing was missing from Israel. “You looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before You in the gap on behalf of the land so You would not have to destroy it, but You found no one.” Father, I believe many today hear the call to build up the wall around our country. It has been torn down by our sin and our turning from You. But many are praying for the revival and healing of our country. We cry out, distressed over the idolatry, over the evil that has taken root here.

We see that what is evil has been called good, and that our leaders and role models have fallen and led us away from You. Father, I am grieved that my generation has exalted self over You. And that we have allowed our freedoms to warp our sense of right and wrong. Father, I pray for Your mercy and for Your healing. Let Your light overcome the darkness that is covering this land.

I stand in the gap of the broken wall as a guard, sounding the alarm; that the time is late. And the people need to awaken to the truth. Your Truth. And turn away from the evil that entices us. Father, You have made a way for each person to be reconciled to You. Sacrifices do not need to be made in a temple, daily, any longer. You made the perfect sacrifice, once, for all. Let there be spiritual revival in my country and in its people!

Father, let those of us who pray for our country be enough. See us, and do not destroy. Let our fate be different from that of Israel. Amen

Ezekiel 22:1-31; Hebrews 10:1-17

 

Nov 9 The Shepherd’s Rod

Father, I can see a pattern in Your treatment of Your people. You revealed Yourself to them in Egypt and told them to “get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt”. And although You delivered them, they continued to worship a golden calf. Yet You did not destroy them, “for the sake of Your Name”.

shepherd rodIn the desert they rebelled again, but You did not pour out Your wrath, “for the sake of Your Name”. Then their children, who You led and protected in the desert, rebelled, not following You; but, “for the sake of Your Name” You preserved them.  Generations later, the nation of Israel continued to defile itself, and You acted to “disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries”.   However, You would not let them inquire of You, and spoke only through Ezekiel the Prophet. It was always Your purpose that they would be Your people and You would be their God. And Your judgment of them was just, as they “passed under Your rod”.

Father, I come now, to seek You, to inquire of You. There are so many things in my life that I need Your wisdom about, Your guidance, Your direction. I need Your strength to bear up under the challenges, and Your peace to sustain me through them. I need Your patience where I need to wait, and Your boldness where I need to act. I want to see where You would have me join You in Your work so I do not spend my energy on fruitless endeavors.

My part in this is to be sure my life is rid of idols. I will examine my actions, my attitudes, my relationships, to be sure nothing and no one is stealing my passion to live for You.   I want to “pass under Your rod” for Your inspection and loving care.

This is the same rod of which the Psalmist wrote “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me”. A shepherd uses his rod for many things. One is to have the sheep pass under it. It is a way of counting to be sure every sheep is where it should be and accounted for. It is also a way of inspecting them. As each sheep passes, the shepherd looks to see that each is well fed, rested, and not ill.   As the rod parts their hair, inspection is made of the skin for wounds, parasites, anything that would indicate a need for further care.

Father, I am a sheep of Your pasture. Inspect me. Look for any sign of weakness or disease in me. When so, heal me and I will be healed. Strengthen me with Your Word and with Your presence. Be sure that I am where I am supposed to be. I too, am called by Your Name. So I desire to live in obedience so that Your Name will be preserved and honored. Father, let my life glorify Your name. Amen

Ezekiel 20:1-38

Nov 8 May the Truth set us free

usa-1491734_640Father, as I read this section of Psalm 106, I fear that I personally, and my country, have together made the same mistakes Your people made in the desert. They were not satisfied with the life You gave them; even the miracles You performed to deliver them from the hand of the enemy who had relegated them to slavery for generations, and then was set on destroying them.

In the wilderness at Meribah where You brought water from a rock for them to drink, they rebelled against Moses and Your provision. They forgot that You had done something so mighty as parting the Red Sea for them, and delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh and his army. Instead, they focused on their fleshly desires, doubting You could quench their thirst. I too, sometimes focus on my own desires rather than the great blessings You have already worked in my life. And I too respond with whining instead of faith.

When they came into the Promised Land, they “mingled with the nations and adopted their customs”. I fear I have done the same by participating in the social customs of my times.   I and my country, have mingled godly beliefs with the socially acceptable values of the times. What You call sin is no longer looked upon as sin. People today seem to have no concept of what is right and wrong, and so no self-governing set of morals that direct or protect them.

Many things in my culture take the place of passion for You. Sports teams, fame, money, power, shopping, alcohol and drugs, status, cars, beauty, youth: so many things have become idols in the lives of so many, even believers.

“They sacrificed their sons and daughters to false gods. They shed innocent blood…” Father, I grieve over the number of babies who have been sacrificed on the altar of ‘choice’ and ‘convenience’. This land is desecrated by their blood.   And it defiles the people involved because of the act of taking a life. But it also exacts a price they often pay in long-term emotional and psychological damage, not to mention the spiritual battle that they have lost in giving over ground to the enemy.

Yet, You “took note of their distress when You heard their cry…and out of Your great love You relented”. Father, I am in distress and I cry out to You: for my personal sin and for the sin of my country. Forgive, Lord. I acknowledge and agree with You that I and my country have acted in rebellion in going our own way without following the path You set before us. And that my country and I have participated in social customs and values that have become a snare to us, even to the point of idolatry. Lord I turn away from anything that seeks to take Your place in my life. Forgive us for focusing on the flesh over the spiritual.

“Save us Lord our God…that we may give thanks to Your Holy name and glory in Your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, Amen!”

Psalm 106:32-48

Nov 7 New Covenant for Eternity

dawn eternityFather, even with the detestable ways Your people sinned; so much so that You compared them to an adulterous, unfaithful wife; You promised them restoration. You made a way of atonement for them. Not as we might see the restoration of an individual from one day to the next, but as a people, Your people. You are so much more long-sighted than we humans are. We can barely see to the next day, but You look throughout eternity and see things from a different perspective.

Paul saw this new covenant. What You gave Your people in the wilderness was a shadow of what was to come. You showed them how to approach You in the Tabernacle – only through the earthly High Priest who was born into the line of Aaron, and who offered blood sacrifices. What Paul saw, and what I have as a believer, is a new High Priest! You!

With a shadow, something real has to cast that shadow. The reality of what made the shadow of the old covenant, is when You, Yourself became my High Priest when You walked the earth as the Lord Jesus Christ, and made atonement for my sin with Your perfect blood sacrifice!

Paul quotes Jeremiah, saying “The days are coming…when I will make a new covenant…I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people”. It hasn’t happened for all of Israel yet, but it has happened for me! I have You in me, as the Holy Spirit.

Thank You Father, that I am in You, and that I have You in me! Thank You for putting Your law in my mind – for bringing Your Word to me – for placing me in a country and at a time when I can read and study Your Word freely and openly. Thank You that I was born to parents who worshipped You and gave me that example of worshipping and serving You.

Thank You Father, that You are in heaven now, on Your throne – in the true Tabernacle. I long for the day when I will see You in all Your glory. When every knee will bow and all will know that You are Lord. And I will praise You forever! Amen

Ezekiel 16:42-63; Hebrews 8:1-13

Nov 6 The One True God

clouds-872143_1920What a reminder Lord, that You are in control of food supplies. You cause and can relieve famines. The lives of every person in the world, and every animal, are in Your hands. You also control the beasts, whether they are calm and docile, or whether they attack and kill.   You control armies, the leaders who deploy them, and the outcome of the battles – who lives, and who dies. And You control disease, outbreaks, plagues; and who lives or dies by them.

All these things You used against the Israelites. And it is the same today. All these things are still in Your hands. “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of The Lord or fully declare his praise?” There is no one. Because no one can fully understand the extent or measure of Your power. It is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I have seen great storms of such powerful strength that houses and trees are uprooted. You are more powerful. I have watched as rushing waters tore up highways and destroyed homes and shopping centers. Your strength is greater. I have seen the limits people will go to, to forgive a wrong that has harmed them greatly. Yet Your forgiveness goes farther. I have seen the deep love of a mother for her new child, willing to sacrifice all for that child. Yet Your love is deeper and greater in every way.

I cannot measure the breadth of Your mercy. And I cannot fathom the depths of Your wrath.   This is both reassuring and terrifying. I am reassured that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is beyond Your control. That means I have nothing to fear. I am blessed by Your love, Your mercy, Your forgiveness, Your provision. Even when I mess up, You have provided for that, and I can be reconciled to You.   And I am assured of my salvation.

But the depths of Your wrath will be released one day. Because You are just, You must judge. And the very security I have, that all things are in Your control, will be the terror of those who have rejected You.

I “give thanks to you, Lord, for You are good; Your love endures forever”.

Thank You that I can count on You. Thank You that the Savior I lean on, is the One and Only True God, who has power over everything. I believe in Your promises. And I sing Your praise. Amen

Ezekiel 14:12-23; Psalm 106:1-12

Nov 5 You are All-Knowing

ear-2372090_640Father, one way You characterize Your people, the Israelites, is that “they are a rebellious people”. They did not worship only You. They brought in other pagan practices, worshipped idols, did not accept Your instruction or correction, and denied Your true prophets and the prophecies. They were guilty of going their own way.

It was clear, Lord, that You could see what they were doing even when they thought it was in secret. And You paid back those who prophesied falsely and those who disheartened Your people with lies. You knew their actions, their motives, their thoughts. There is nothing hidden from You.

The same is true today, Lord. Before a word is even on my lips, You know it. You know me inside and out. There is nothing I can do in secret that You are not already aware of.   Once again, as it always has been, nothing is hidden from You.

Holy Father, I will worship You and only You. When something else starts to take Your place in my life or in my heart, show me immediately so I can repent and turn away from it.

You also said of Your people: “They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear”.   Show me if there are pagan practices in my own culture that take away from my worshipping You.   If You see me participating in something I should not, again, show me immediately so I can turn from it.

Father, help me receive Your instruction in obedience; and Your correction in humility. Help me understand how the prophecies You have given affect how I am to live. I know I often go my own way. If it is from impatience when waiting to hear from You, help me wait patiently till I do hear from You. If it is in disobedience and rebellion, show me my error, and how to get back on Your path.

Father, Ezekiel was Your man. He heard from You in a real way. And he was obedient. I desire to be like Ezekiel in this way. Let me hear from You in a real way. And guide me to be obedient. Amen

Ezekiel 12:1-14:11

Nov 4 Trust the plan

sky-414199_640Father, You had a plan when You punished Israel and sent them into exile. And when You brought judgment on the remnant.   You had a plan for bringing Your people back to the land and giving them a new heart, a new spirit and a better salvation.

You had a plan when You visited the ten plagues on the Egyptians. You could see into their hearts and used them as a tool of deliverance for Your people there.

I believe You have a plan for me and my life as well. Like Your people before me, it may not be what I expect. But I completely trust You. You may not give me visions like Ezekiel. You may not exile me from my home. You may not use another nation to exact my liberation. But I know that whatever Your plan – it is one that will be new and unique, designed perfectly for the gifts and talents You’ve placed in me.

Father, I trust that You will show me what I need to know, exactly when I need to know it. Lord, open my eyes and ears so I do not miss anything You want me to know. Make me bold enough to act on what You lead me to. Give me courage to persevere in the way You are showing me.

Lord, my own personality sometimes leads me in one direction that may or may not be Yours. Help me to let go of what I think I should be doing for You. Let me be satisfied with Your plan for me.   And seek only You. Amen

Ezekiel 11:14-21; Psalm 105:16-36

Nov 3 Nourish me, Use me

Father, I am at a point where I “grieve and lament over the detestable things that are done” in my country.

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Part of the problem is that people have been led astray by those who know better, and who should be teaching others what is right.

Part of the problem is that those who know, stick their heads in the sand in denial or so they will not be uncomfortable.

Part of the problem is that those who don’t know are not even searching for the truth.

I believe there will come a time when You will respond as You did in Ezekiel’s vision. In this vision, You had all the people marked who grieved and lamented over the ungodly and detestable things done. And then You sent “a man clothed in linen” through the city, not sparing anyone without the mark.

Father, take my head out of the sand! Show me what I need to know and how to fight against things that are detestable to You. Do not let me live just for the sake of being ‘comfortable’. If I am being led astray in any area of my life, get my attention and show me how to get back on the path You want me on. Show me how to teach others by example, or by whatever other means You would have me use.

Lord, keep me on a diet of solid spiritual food, so I can be nourished by Your Word, daily!   Grow me to maturity in You.   If I am to teach, show me who and how. Do not let me call evil good; or good, evil. But strengthen me to speak up for right. Even in a society that has its values upside down.

Father, I give thanks to You. And I will sing praises to Your Name!   Personally, in the quiet of my own home, and with other believers in worship to You. Father, You also say to “make known among the nations what You have done”. So help me know how to speak to unbelievers in a way that reaches them with Your truth. Father, I glory in Your Name. I look to You. I seek Your face, Your strength, Your blessing, always. Amen

Ezekiel 8:1-9:11; Hebrews 5:11-14; Psalm 105:1-6

Nov 2 Don’t miss it!

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Don’t let us miss the message today like the people did in Ezekiel’s time – but give us wisdom and discernment to recognize Your truth, and apply it to our lives…

 

Father, what You had Ezekiel do seems so hard. Surely people must have thought he was crazy! And yet, his strange behavior was an exact representation of all that would happen to Jerusalem! The number of days, the military siege, even his shaved hairs became a picture of what would happen to the people!

He obeyed You to be a warning to the people. But the people did not pay attention or return to You. It makes me wonder about prophetic messages You are sending today, that no one is taking seriously…

Today, there is still time for people to hear Your message and be saved. You say “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” The good news is still being proclaimed! But there are those who hear and it is “of no value to them, because  they do not share the faith…” Father, open their ears!   Soften their hearts!   Do not allow them to be swept away by believing the lies and deception of the evil one!

“Your Word is active and alive.” It is the truth that can set people free from the darkness and deceit of the world and the evil one. It can show them the way to go, and how to turn from evil desires. Father, You can give them the strength to walk away from what they have known, and toward what is right; because you, Yourself, have walked this path of flesh!

Thank You that because You lived a human life here on earth, You empathize with my weaknesses.   And thank You that You have invited me to “approach Your throne of grace with confidence…” in boldness, knowing I will “receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need”.

Father, help me hear Your truth however You would speak it to me. Use me in the lives of people whose hearts You are softening. Thank You for providing all that I need in my times of need. Thank You that You know what I need even before I do! Thank You that I can approach You with boldness and confidence, and that Your amazing mercy and grace has provided me with forgiveness and eternal salvation. “I will sing to You, my Lord, all my life. I will sing praise to You, my God, as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to You as I rejoice in You, my Lord.” Amen

Ezekiel 3:16-6:14; Hebrews 4:1-16; Psalm 104:33-34

Nov 1 Your Word paints a picture

bible-1089930_640O Father, what an incredible picture You paint! I cannot even imagine seeing what Ezekiel saw! I don’t know if I would fall facedown like Ezekiel, cower in fear or simply stand, transfixed, unable to move by the sight of something so magnificently awesome and frightening!

I can see it in my mind’s eye, but what a powerful movie it would make! Every time I read the description of the four living creatures I find something new, and have tried to draw what You describe to increase my understanding.   When drawing, one has to pay very close attention to get all the details right.

Your Word says Ezekiel was so awed by what he had seen and heard, that he “sat among them [Israelite exiles] for seven days – overwhelmed.”

Thank You that Ezekiel could explain what he saw in terms I can understand. The words “immense fire…flashing lightening…glowing metal…burning coals of fire…appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day” are very descriptive, even though I feel sure that what he saw was beyond anything he had ever seen before.

The author of Psalm 104 also helps me see, visualize You creating the heavens and the earth, with words that paint a picture. I can see You “wrapped…in light as with a garment” as You “set the earth on its foundations” and “cover it with the deep as with a garment”. I can imagine the waters fleeing at Your rebuke, “flowing over the mountains”, going “down into the valleys, to the place You assigned them”.

Thank You again, for using words I can understand and envision. You, who have the imagination and power to create things I cannot even fathom, have leaned down from Your position of sovereignty on high, taken my face in Your hands, and whispered wonderful Words into my ear to show me Your lavish love and abundant provision for me. And I am forever amazed by You and am eternally in Your debt.   My Father.   My Creator.   My Savior. Amen

Ezekiel 1:1-28; Psalm 104:1-23

Oct 31 Don’t drift away

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Father, Paul reminds the Hebrews of something I need to remember too: “We must pay more attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  

“What we have heard” is the message spoken by You through Your prophets and Your Word.

If I do not pay attention, I may misunderstand or misinterpret what You are saying to me.  If I do not study to understand the context of Your Word, I may miss the true meaning. I have heard verses of scripture taken completely out of context to make a point. But when placed back with the other verses around them, and looking at what the author was saying and to whom he was speaking, it may make an entirely different point! So I must pay careful attention to understand Your Word correctly.

Besides merely understanding what is said, (which is a big thing in itself) I must be sure I am not drifting away from what it means in my own life. How many times have I read a scripture and missed seeing a personal application? To make sure I “do not drift away”, I need to ask questions as I read Your Word; such as: Is this giving me an example of what to do? Of what not to do? Is it a warning to heed? Is it teaching me something about You I need to know? About myself? About my motives, attitudes, or relationships that need changing?

One way I can grasp it – it’s as if Your Word is a dock, and I am in a small boat. If I tie my rope to the dock, I will not drift, or be carried away by currents or by storms.  But first I need to recognize where I can tie up, and then I must actually tie there. So I need to understand, and act on Your Word.

Lord, help me pay better attention to Your Word and how to apply it to my life. Show me how to follow through on what You tell me. Amen

Hebrews 2:1-4

Oct 30 Great is Your Faithfulness

Father, Jeremiah continues here, not only beginning each stanza with successive letters of the Hebrew alephbet, but each verse within the stanza begins with the same letter! Still, the outpouring of the description of all this suffering continues. There are vivid word pictures and comparisons that describe personal devastation.

hai-hoa-beach-2162144_640Yet, in the middle of all of this, come the words fashioned into a famous hymn. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Even in the midst of the punishment, Jeremiah reflects on Your goodness. And instructs the people: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say; ‘We have sinned and rebelled…’.”  It’s the same today. Father, You seek the lost and the rebellious. You still hold out salvation for them. They need only come to You.

But there will be a time when it is too late. When You will surely punish.

O Father, turn the hardened hearts back to You before it is too late! In Jeremiah’s day, You spoke through prophets. But now You speak through Yourself. You walked the earth as Jesus Christ. There are people who are heavy on my heart now, who need You. Speak to these who need You in their lives. Show me how to encourage them toward You without being harassing or pushy. Bring someone into their lives who they will listen to. Use circumstances in their lives to get their attention directed to You. Convict their hearts that they need a Savior. Draw back the veil of lies and deceit they have been believing. Or they will “walk in darkness rather than the light”…they will be “dragged from the path and mangled and left without help”.

Your love for them is clear. Your compassion is renown. Your faithfulness is great. I rely on all these Lord, and totally trust in You! Amen

Lamentations 3:1-66; Hebrews 1:1-4

 

Oct 29 In Pain, in Praise, in Prophecy fulfilled

Hebrew_alphabetFather, as the first two chapters of Lamentations are acrostic poems, each new verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alephbet.   What an interesting and challenging way for Jeremiah to organize his thoughts! As I read the English translation, part of the beauty of this exercise is lost on me. Yet I wonder if I could write twenty-six thoughts aligned with the English alphabet.

I have made alphabetical lists of Your characteristics, Your names, and of things I am thankful for. That in itself is a challenge, especially when it comes to j, q and x. And yet Jeremiah has so much pain and sorrow, that he was able to pour it out through the alephbet twice!

Besides the organization of thoughts that I am drawn to, one part of one verse stands out to me: ”…pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.”   There have been times when I too am filled with concern and overwhelmed by life. And my words to You, my pleas to You, spill out of me without any effort at all – kind of the opposite of thoughtfully putting together an acrostic of prayer. And yet, I sense that you honor each way of connecting with You.

Before I speak, before a word is on my lips, You already know it. Thank You that You listen, and answer. Thank You that You have the power and the love to answer, not like some piece of wood or stone which cannot.   And yet it was to these pieces of wood and stone the Israelites turned to for worship! They did not believe You would truly make good on Your Word to punish according to the covenant You had made with them.

Not surprising. There are many today who do not believe there will be a time of judgment. They do not believe the prophecies of Daniel, and Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John. And certainly do not believe a god known for His love, would ever be party to judgment.

But I believe Your Word, Father. I believe there will be a time of reckoning. And then, there will be enough of Your justice to fill volumes of alphabetical lamentations; when people realize the righteousness of Your judgment. Maranatha! Translation: Come Lord Jesus! Amen

Lamentations 1:1-2:22

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

“Shout for joy…Worship with gladness…Come before Him with joyful songs…Enter …with thanksgiving.”

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Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father. And some days it is easy. When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings. But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship. It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for. And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things. When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness. When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help. When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work. Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that. I rejoice that You are my God! That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in! I thank You that You have given me friends. And that I can pray with them and for them. I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by. Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it. Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home. Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I thank You and praise You that You have made me a “sheep of Your pasture”. As Your sheep, I can ask for my Shepherd’s help for my home issues, for my family, for my friends, and for any in need due to natural disasters or violence. I praise You that Your power supersedes any other. And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You. I can still worship with gladness and have joy! Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 27 Yours is the power

lightning-bolt-768801_640“You made the earth by Your power; You founded the world by Your wisdom and stretched out the heavens by Your understanding.  When You thunder, the waters in the heavens roar; You make clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
You send lightning with the rain and bring out the wind from You storehouses.”

You are the Maker of all things, including the people of Your inheritance – the Lord Almighty is Your name.

Father, You are the One. You are the Only. You are forever my Creator and Savior. And no one and no thing can stand against You. No power, ruler, authority. Nothing in heaven, on the earth or below it. What You purpose will come to pass.

“The Lord reigns”!!! “Let the nations tremble”!!! Father, I believe one day soon, You will reign on earth. Nothing will be able to stand against You. And the nations will tremble.

Your people looked for You to deliver them out of the hand of Babylon. And You delivered. But You had an even greater deliverance in mind. “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” When You walked this earth and sacrificed Yourself on the cross, that bought salvation and offered it to all. And now, the world waits for “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”.

Father, You purified me with Your blood. You gave me Your Word to teach me how to live. Help me live as Yours. Amen

Jeremiah 51:1-53; Psalm 99:1-9

Oct 26 You control…

personwaterarmsup.jpegFather, at the time Babylon captured Your people Judah, she was just a tool in Your hand. Not the end-all power she believed she was. And she will be judged and punished, even as she was used as the tool to punish Israel. All the kingdoms You sent prophecies about fell as You said they would.

You sent Jeremiah carefully chosen words to describe the coming destruction of other kingdoms, and they all came true: ”Concerning Damascus…troubled like the restless sea”. “Concerning Kedar and Hazor…scatter to the winds”. “I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four corners of heaven”.   “Concerning Babylon…I will kindle a fire…that will consume all…a drought on her waters”. They remind me that You are in total control of Your creation! You control the winds, fire, drought and seas.

They responded at Creation when You made them and set their limits over the earth. When You walked the earth, You stood in a boat and spoke to a storm, commanding the winds and rain: “Peace, be still”.   And today’s Psalms speak of the earth being glad and rejoicing!

What a picture! “Clouds and thick darkness surround You…fire goes before You…Your lightening lights up the world.” All at Your command. You are still in control, holding authority over all the earth! The earth responds to You: “the earth sees and trembles…mountains melt like wax…heavens proclaim Your righteousness…seas resound…rivers clap their hands, mountains sing together for joy.”

If this is the response of the earth, how can I do less? Father, I shout for joy! I burst into jubilant song. I make music with whatever instrument I can – all to glorify my God! You are the only god who is the real God! I exalt You over all things, all people, all powers. I rejoice because You are a righteous and just God. Because You carry out Your judgments in righteousness. Because You are loving and faithful. Because You have saved me! You are the One True Almighty God. And there is no other! Amen

Jeremiah 49:23-50:46; Psalm 97:1-98:9

Oct 25 Worship for me

Father, I can come to You alone and pour out my heart. I can see beautiful pieces of Your amazing creation, and be filled with awe and wonder at Your power and creativity, and imagination.   I can read Your Word and know I am in touch with You as You open my eyes and mind to understanding something new I haven’t seen before.

choir-306900_640And although all of these are ways I connect with You, I feel a more complete sense of worship and abandonment when I raise my voice and sing to You. Even better if I am playing the guitar or piano too, because it involves more of my body participating in the rejoicing. Or if I use my hands and arms to do sign language as I sing, the motions make me feel as if my whole body is involved in worship. And when I can do this with other believers, the harmony and volume become a majestic symphony of adoration, filling my senses and pouring them back out to You.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord…Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…Sing to the Lord a new song…sing to the Lord; praise His Name…”

When You fill my heart, whether with joy, or thanksgiving, or pain, I write down what I hear You singing to me, and sing it back to You. It opens a door between us. Here’s one song You gave me that expresses just that:

When I sing to You I can feel Your Holiness

When I sing to You I can feel Your love

When I sing to You I can feel Your power in my life

God I know You hear me

I can feel You near me

When I sing to You

 

Amen

Psalm 95:1-96:13

 

Oct 24 The Answer IS Your Word

bible-1001114_640Father, what a wonderful list of things to both pursue and stay away from, for my own good! I love that You say to “flee the evil desires of youth” because not all desires of youth are evil. Being young doesn’t mean one is evil, just that one might be more susceptible to evil. When I was younger, it was more important to me to be ‘right’ so I would press my point and become involved in unproductive arguments. You refer to them as “foolish and stupid”. I agree. And have since learned the value of a soft word and gentle instruction.

Even so, You share that “…in the last days…people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth”. Paul saw this already in his day. I see it all around me.

It almost seems there is an entire generation described above. Paul says: “they will not get very far because…their folly will be clear to everyone”. Unfortunately, with an entire generation behaving like this, it appears as the norm. Television shows and media portray fathers, police, authority figures as idiots, not worthy of obedience or respect. More and more our political leaders and sports heroes turn out to be corrupt cheaters. Some of our children grew up knowing You and were taught Your values, but they have turned away from You in this permissive and deadly society.

But there are many who love You and follow You. Let them be role models and mentors to this generation. And let me live a godly life as an example. I seek and value You and Your characteristics, but sometimes pride and ungratefulness (as an example) rear their ugly heads in me.   I have Your Word to be my guide. Your Word is effective for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. And it will “equip me for every good work”.

For all of us the answer is in Your Word, and IS Your Word. Keep it in the forefront of my mind as a guide. But also let me use it wisely in gently correcting and praying for others. Father, return this generation of self absorbed, materialistic, pleasure-seeking people to the godly values that will save them. They have been deceived. Open their eyes Lord, before it’s too late. Bring the Prodigal sons and daughters home. Amen

2 Timothy 2:22-3:17

Oct 23 Waiting – hardest thing to do

pause-for-a-moment-393837_640O Father. Have I been like these people? It seems they were truly seeking Your will, and promised to do whatever Jeremiah revealed as Your will. But when ten days went by, they had already evaluated their options and had come to a decision they thought was best for them. It seems once they had made up their minds, there was no room for Your Word to be heard.

I wonder if there have been times when I came to You, pouring out my heart because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do. Then, while waiting for Your response, I looked around for myself and became convinced of my best option.

Father, when faced with hardship and stress, would You help me be patient until I hear an answer from You.   Waiting can be very hard even in the best of situations. But when there is pressure to make a decision, or harm may occur without action, waiting can be unbearable. Help me bear it.

I’ve had people tell me ‘God can’t steer a parked car’. They ere encouraging me to get started in some direction, saying You will guide me once I committed to go. But sometimes that is not wise advice. I can become so committed to the direction I choose, that I refuse to course correct later.

When I do hear from You, reassure me it is truly Your Word. Even if it goes against what I might have thought, help me know without a doubt, that what I’ve heard is from You. While waiting, help me stay so close to You, that I recognize Your voice. And Father, empower me to be obedient. Don’t let me be defensive of any plan I have come up with myself, or think I know something You don’t. Time and time again, You have shown me that Your answers are far more creative, far more successful and far more wise than any I have ever thought up.

These people decided rather than stay in hardship one more day, they should go the way that seemed to benefit them. Father, if there comes a time when I must remain in a hard place, or endure Your correction, strengthen me to be able to do that. Even though it may seem I’m in the frying pan, I trust in Your wisdom, in Your perspective, and in Your perfect plan to keep me out of the fire.

That I have faith in You to direct my life is easy to say when the times are good. Father, strengthen and prepare me to be able to live out my faith, even when the times are not. Amen

Jeremiah 42:1-43:7

Oct 22 R – E – S – T

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Father, I claim “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”. You are the Most High and the Almighty God, and You allow me to dwell in Your shelter and rest in Your shadow.   The picture here is one of complete protection; safe from the elements, and safe from enemies.

It is not just a place I run to in times of trouble, but because You are my God, I can live there all the time. I always have a place of safety and security.

What I find there is rest. As I have spelled out before, I find elements of:

R- relaxation

E- enjoyment

S- security and

T- triumph.

Your shelter. Your shadow protects me in every way possible.  It includes the physical, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual; every way I need to be shielded. I am protected from entrapment and disease. In daylight and in darkness, I am covered.   Weapons, epidemics and mass death will not touch me. I will not be overcome by disaster or harm.

But I will see the wicked punished. I will receive help from Your angels. You promise to protect me, rescue me, answer my call, and always be with me. I have received Your salvation. I could not ask for more. Thank You.

Amen

Psalm 91:1-16

Oct 21 Have one…Be one

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Father, You could have picked up Jeremiah and set him in a safe place far away from those who accused him and sought his life. You could have lifted him out of that cistern Yourself! He already had Your promise: “Do not be terrified…they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.”   But You didn’t give the details of what that rescue would look like.

Father, I seek to be obedient to all You tell me to do. But sometimes, even acting honorably, I have been misunderstood. Lord, when I am accused wrongly, bring those who will act on my behalf. Like Ebed-Melek did for Jeremiah, let there be those who will support, defend, and help me.

Also, Father, use me. Let me act like Ebed-Melek, defending others who You have sent to do Your work. Spur me to action when I hear of wrongs. Show me how to help, being commanding and compassionate as he was. He didn’t just drop a rope, but interceded with authorities, got clothing for padding, and brought help to lift Jeremiah out of the mud-bottomed cistern.

Help me Lord to be trusting in trials; that You will send help. And give me courage to help those who need it.   Amen

Jeremiah 1:17,19; 37:1-38:13

Oct 20 Example of obedience

book-1209805_1920Father, let me learn a lesson and be like the Rekabites. You instructed Jeremiah to go to them and invite them to do something that was contrary to how they had faithfully chosen to live.   Their forefather had told them “Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents…” And they did!

You rewarded them for their faithfulness and made them an example to be followed for the people of Judah and Jerusalem. And for believers today. It is not that I should never do these specific things, or live in a tent, but that I should be faithful to what You tell me. Help me “learn this lesson and obey Your words”.

You told Your people to “turn from their wicked ways and reform their actions; do not follow other gods to serve them”. Father, the world I live in is so very far from Your standards in its values and morality. Show me if I have any “wicked ways” that need to be changed. Speak to me of the values You want me to have – in my attitudes, my speech, my thoughts, my relationships. Father, I open everything in my life for Your evaluation and Your comment. I desire to bring it all into alignment with You.

Lord, if there are actions I have taken that need reforming, show me those and how to make them right. Likewise, if there are actions I have not taken that I need to, move me to be obedient.

I do not want to “follow other gods” or “serve them”. So show me if there is anything or anyone I have put before You in my life. Sometimes I may not even realize the significance or influence I am drawn to or led by; so I depend on You to keep me faithful to only You as my God, my Lord.

Thank You for this faithful example, that I don’t remember ever noticing before. But will remember now. Amen

Jeremiah 35: 1-19

Oct 19 You speak to me…

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Father, You invite me to “Call to You and You will tell me great and unsearchable things I do not know.” Lord, I do call on You. For there is so much I do not know!

Father, would You help me understand more of Your Word. I have studied long and hard to answer the questions: What does scripture say? What does it mean? What does it mean to me? These are the three main questions scholars study to understand what is also called Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

I have looked up definitions of words used in the original Hebrew and Greek languages. And made lists of key words, comparisons and contrasts, people, places, events to make things clear in my mind. I have examined cross-references to see where words, phrases and concepts are used elsewhere in scripture to understand better. And read the same passage in different translations to shed more light on meaning. I have read about cultural, political, geographical, and literary contexts to get a better sense of background for scriptures. And looked for and assessed where symbolism is used in addition to the literal meaning.

These studies have brought me much understanding and clarity. And have changed the way I look at and value and am amazed by Your precious Word. Other times I have simply read Your Word, and feel as if You are speaking just to me, so clearly, and so intimately. Father, keep speaking! Use it all to make clear Your love for me, Your purpose for me, Your plan for my life. Let me see where You are working, and how I can join in with You.

I feel close to You when I get in touch with Your creation. When I see the colors of the leaves change, I marvel at the beauty, and how You make seasons for me that each have an attraction that I love. When I see the mountains I envision Your grandeur and strength. As I watch the ocean, I am awed by You immenseness. And by the absolute endless nature of one wave after another. It is mesmerizing, comforting. Floating on the waves, I feel the surge and power of the water, and the unseen forces that pull me out to sea. Your power is often unseen, but strong and mighty. All I experience, seen and unseen teaches me more about You. Continue to speak to me through Your marvelous creation.

Colors, sounds, wind, smells – all these things and more draw me to You and Your creative character. It all makes me wonder: what would this awesome, amazing, majestic God, want with me?

Father, show me how to use the gifts and talents and traits You have placed in me to glorify You. Show me how to overcome the obstacles of my flesh and the world and the evil one to honor You. Teach me how to not let my temper and irritability get the better of me. Show me how to be loving and compassionate when annoyed and frustrated. These are some of the things that I do not know that hamper my everyday living to honor You. So I call to You. As You answer me, reveal more great and unsearchable things to me. Amen

Jeremiah 33:3

Oct 18 Promises fulfilled

sky-684322_1920Father, part of Jeremiah’s prophecy has already come true. You did indeed send Your people “into the hand of the king of Babylon”. And seventy years later, You did “gather them from the lands where You banished them”. They once again bought and sold fields in the land. Jerusalem was rebuilt. I love the words of Jeremiah’s prayer, and have sung them before: “Ah Lord God, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power – Ah Lord God You have made the heavens and the earth by Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You…Great and Mighty God, Your name is the Lord Almighty”.

The earth is Your creation. All power and honor and sovereignty is due You, and only You. It is truly the work of Your hand and arm. And there is literally, nothing that is beyond Your ability and power. Nothing is too hard or difficult for You.

And we haven’t even seen all You can do! For part of Jeremiah’s words are yet to be fulfilled. You declared “The days are coming when this city will be rebuilt…will never again be uprooted or demolished”. And although the city was rebuilt when the king of Persia sent the Israelites back, it has been destroyed again and again. And rebuilt.  Also, they were to “live in safety”. But the Israelites have been under the rule of many conquerors since then. Even today, as a formal nation, their neighbors are not on peaceful terms with them, and war is an ever-present concern. So those “days” have not arrived yet.

But Your fulfillment of Your promises in the past assures me that Your promises for the future are true. And that the prophecies You have given will all come true.   One day, “All will know the Lord, from the least …to the greatest.” So in the meantime, I desire to live a life guided by Your instruction. It seems the list of qualities Paul gives for church leaders is a good place to start. Father, help me to be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunk or violent or quarrelsome or a lover of money.” If I am drawn away from or drift away from these qualities, rein me back in so I will not be an embarrassment to You.

Thank You, that the Creator, Almighty God, King of the Universe, cares enough to let me know, through Your Word, of Your faithfulness to keep all the promises You have made. And for showing me what is to come. And I thank You for showing me how to live until that time: in great hope and in humble obedience.   Amen

Jeremiah 31:27-32:44; I Timothy 3:1-16

Oct 17 Pray for others

Father, as I worship You, and speak to You in prayer, it is most often to give thanks with praise and to intercede for myself and those close to me. But today in scripture, You urge me to pray, intercede and give thanks for all people. What a huge task! It broadens my focus and gives me a small sense of Your job: to care for and love every single person on the planet! For they are each Your creation, and dear to Your heart.

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As I begin, it helps me to think of categories of people. So I pray first for all children. Would You provide for their needs: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Some are very well off, born to parents who love and value them and have the means to care for them. Do not let them be misled to think they have all they need, when what they need most is You. Other children are born into poverty, neglect, even abuse. Father, protect them and let them feel especially close to You. Reveal Yourself to them to encourage, empower and save them.  Teach them all to hear and understand Your voice and obey it, whatever their circumstances.  Bring a godly advocate into their lives who will stand up and speak for these without a voice.

Father, I ask that You would give every mother a heart for her child. Guide them to love and care for their children; to protect them and pray for them; to teach them about You. Give them the courage to correct them in love.

Lord, I lift up every man who is a father. Help them to see the position of accountability they are in in regards to their family. Show them how to provide for and love their children with a father’s love. Do not let them harm or exasperate their children. Impress upon them to set a godly example.

For men and women everywhere, whether married or single, Lord, bring them to a saving knowledge of who You are. Cause them to hunger and thirst for the truth, whatever their current state or religion. Place godly counselors and mentors in each life, who can lead them to You and encourage them in becoming believers. Help them stand strong in the face of temptation, fear and doubt; recognizing the lies and deceit of the evil one, and turning from it. Give them discernment and guidance for decisions they face.

Father, protect married couples in the face of the temptations of infidelity and other things that would seek to separate them: money problems, anger, greed, selfishness, violence. Forces in this world seek to destroy marriage and undermine the system of family that You set up.   Father, overturn those forces. Likewise, protect singles from the temptations of lust, loneliness, and the desires that would turn them to idolatry. Show them how to live with godly values.

Father, for those leaders of anything, or people in positions of authority over families, communities, churches, businesses, nations; bring them to a saving knowledge of You. Give them clarity in hearing Your voice in their personal and professional lives. Give them the courage to follow wherever You would lead them. Show them that with their position of authority comes responsibility and accountability. If they are persecuting believers, stop them. Open their eyes and change their hearts to know and follow You. Place godly role models, mentors, counselors and accountability figures in their lives. Give them godly wisdom to overcome obstacles, difficulties and problems to bring unity and peace to their respective arenas of authority.

Lord, as I pray, I picture elected officials in Washington DC, children in Africa, women in Afghanistan, the people of Thailand. All need Your touch on their lives. Every one is someone special to You. Every one is someone You died to save. Let each one of them know how very much You love them. And that You have a good plan and purpose for their lives. Amen

I Timothy 2:1-6

Oct 16 Trust God’s plan

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These wonderful words of life and promise and hope that so many believers have claimed as personal encouragement were given first to a specific group of Your people who had rejected You and endured such hardship that they had been forcibly removed from their homes and land. They had been seized by a military force and taken to a foreign country to live as captives.

I cannot even imagine the trauma of being relocated like that. I would imagine escape back home would have been considered. Or revolt. Some attempt to regain freedom. But even if escape were possible, home was a thousand miles away! And now comes this letter from Jeremiah to say ‘Accept captivity! Settle down! Live in the new land. Pray for your new home! For seventy years!’

That must have seemed just the opposite of what they wanted to do. And the harsh word, that this was Your doing must have been confusing and hurtful. But then, in the same breath, comes Your promise to them. “When seventy years are completed in Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill My good promise to bring you back to this place”.

Father, I know I sometimes wonder if where I am is really the place You want me to be. I trust the plans You have for me. Even if it means I have to wait on Your timing. But please don’t let it take seventy years, Lord! David prayed, and I do too, “Bring joy to Your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in You.” Thank You Lord, that You are “forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on You.” Thank You that You do “Hear my prayer, Lord,” and “listen to my cry for mercy.” I praise You that You are “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness”.

The Israelites must have looked at their circumstances and doubted whether it could really be Your will. Father, sometimes things don’t look too good to me either. And Iwonder how You will work things out for my good. But I totally trust that You will.   I completely “rely on Your faithfulness”.

Father, open my eyes to the truth of where I am right now. If I have gotten myself off Your path, show me how to return to it. If I am where You want me to be, help me hear your voice of encouragement. Help me feel Your presence here with me. And if waiting is involved, help me wait patiently, prayerfully, praise-fully, and productively.   Show me those plans as I need to see them. My hope and my future are in You. Amen

Jeremiah 29:1-14; Psalm 86:1-17

Oct 15 Call us back to You

Father, even now, You give Words to Jeremiah for the people’s salvation. Your mercy is so great that even after all they have done, You will spare them, if only they will turn back to You. This is Your heart. That Your people will do the right thing. That they will love You, and return to You. That they will turn away from the things that are bringing them harm and death, and turn to You to receive life!

They had Your Word. It had been found in the Temple when Josiah, King of Judah had the Temple repaired. It caused a major revival in the young King. And in the people too, for a time. But Josiah’s son, who came next, was not a godly king. And the pull of idolatry was strong. And Your Word was not readily available to the people, so they relied on the leaders and priests to lead them. Unfortunately, the priests had been doing their own thing for so long, most were not familiar with or devoted to Your Word.

Father, I have loved ones who are also pretty much doing their own thing. Yet You are calling them back to You with that same heart, wanting them to come to You and receive life. My world is full of all kinds of idolatry, and the pull is strong. Father, send someone into their lives who they will listen to. Help them let go of the things that are causing them harm and leading them to death.

And let my faith be as strong as Jeremiah’s. Even in the face of threatened death, He stood strong in knowing You were there. You had told him: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” And “Do not be terrified…they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.” Father, those words are for me too. And just as You knew Jeremiah, even before he was born, You also know me. Just as You rescued him, You have rescued me.

Lord, evil was alive and well in Judah, and also when You walked the earth, it is alive and well in my time, and in my country. I echo Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: Father, “deliver [me] from wicked and evil people…strengthen and protect [me] from the evil one…direct [my] heart into Your love and perseverance”. Father, strengthen me to “never tire of doing what is good”.

You are the Lord of peace. Father, I so need Your peace. From my own doubts in understanding Your direction for my life, to relationships that are not all they could be, to the direction my country and the world seem to be heading. Would You “give me peace at all times and in every way”.   I cling to You. And look to You. Only Your peace satisfies. Amen

Jeremiah 1:5,17,19; 26:1-27:22; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Oct 14 Grow Your Truth in me

Father, Jeremiah was Your man on the ground, Your man on the scene. He was the one of the few who spoke Your truth, yet no one listened to him or believed him and turned back to You because of it. Paul spoke Your truth and taught it to the Thessalonians, and it took root. Yet they were persecuted, endured hardship, and were deceived and confused by false teachers and liars.

Gospel_of_Mark_Chapter_4-1_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)It’s as if Your truth is seed that was scattered, but the ground Jeremiah sowed it on was too hard to accept it. It fell where it could not take root, and just blew away. The Thessalonians were better ground and accepted the seed, but it’s as if thorns grew up to choke out what sprouted, or birds tried to take it away. Paul’s second letter was a good reminder for them to pull the thorns out and shoo the birds away in order to hold on to the truth that had grown in them.

You have given me the ability to discern Your truth by giving me Your written Word, and Your Holy Spirit residing within me, who speaks truth to me.   I feel as if I have the benefit of being given the most fertile soil of all. And it is up to me to protect Your truth growing in me. I need to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings passed on to [me]”.

Father, help me be faithful to make time each day to read Your precious Word. And to come to You in prayer, and listen to You. Enlighten me with understanding Your Word and what You say to me in prayer. And strengthen me to be faithful and obedient to all I understand. Remind me to guard Your truth in my heart and mind, and bring every other thought and teaching, philosophy and prophecy, to be measured against the plumb line of Your truth.

Your Word has taken firm root in my life. Help me protect it and nurture it. Let it leaf and flower and produce good fruit all my days. I know that when Your timing is right, I will be with You for eternity. I agree with the Sons of Korah who say: “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” “Blessed is the one who trusts in You.” also rings true. I know I am blessed, because I trust in You. Amen

Jeremiah 23:21-25:38; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; Psalm 84:10-12

Oct 13 I need Your help

Father, I echo the words in Paul’s prayer here for the Thessalonians. And I ask that You would “make [me] worthy of Your calling”. Lord, there are times I do not display the characteristics and attitudes of a faithful and humble follower of You, the Creator and Lord of the Universe.

help-2478193_640I know that You have saved me. You have given me eternal life and paid the penalty for my sin with Your blood. And You have sent Your Holy Spirit to reside in me.   And yet still, I struggle with unforgiveness, selfishness, greed, anger, resentment, jealousy, lust – those flesh-driven temptations that I need to put to death in myself in order to live a life worthy of You.

 

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

Father, I ask You to use Your power to “bring to fruition [my] every desire for goodness and [my] every deed prompted by faith…so that Your Name may be glorified in [me]”.

Often, I desire to do good but things get in the way. It may be circumstances, busyness, other people, or the timing doesn’t work out. Or it may be my own emotions and frustrations that hinder and sabotage my efforts. Same thing happens with ideas that are born of my faith in You. I have the desire but not the know-how.

But You can show me how to avoid these pitfalls. You can help me conquer my flesh, my emotions, other people, and problems that arise and can show me the way to go.

I know in the end, You will be victorious. You will return to the earth in triumphant splendor and with righteous judgment. In the meantime, help me accomplish those good and faithful things that will bring You the recognition and glory You deserve. Amen

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12