Author: hearmorefromgod

Feb 21 Healing and Forgiveness

Dear Father, even though You no longer walk this earth in the flesh, Your power is still present here.  Each believer has the Holy Spirit and can call on You in prayer to effect Your purposes.

prayer-888757_1920So we bring our loved ones and the people of the earth before You.  We ask for healing from physical ailments.  We ask for an end to suffering, whether at the hands of ungodly persecutors, or by the powers of this present darkness that work for the evil one.

We ask for salvation to come to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.  Lord, be the light in their lives that heals and frees and saves.

Like Jairus, I put my faith in Your power to touch and heal.   You are a God of miracles.

I also realize that when I intercede, or pray on behalf of others, I need to be clean before You.  Unconfessed sin can get in the way of our communication.  David says that his sin caused health to leave his body, guilt to overwhelm him.

I too need to confess my sin before You and ask forgiveness.  Show me the sin in my life Lord, and as I agree with You and turn from it, cleanse me anew.

Thank You for Your forgiveness.  Thank You for purifying me from all sin’s unrighteousness.  Thank You for allowing me, like Jairus, to ask in faith for Your healing.

Help me pray in Your will, because I trust that Your will is the absolute best for each of us.  And help me rest in Your answers and Your timing.  Amen

Mark 5:21-43; Psalm 38:1-22

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Feb 20 In the storms

i-know-notFather, so many times I act just like the disciples in the boat during the storm.

I choose to focus on the storm around me.  In the face of the strong winds, the high waves, the tossing of the boat, I look at the opposition, the circumstances that block my way, and the hopelessness of things turning out right.

All the time forgetting Your promises of protection.  Even though I know You are there with me, I do not see how You are at work in the situation, and I cry out to stir You to my cause.   “Lord, don’t You care…?”

Many times, I can almost hear You say the same words to me that You spoke then; “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

Sometimes You do calm the wind and still the waves.  Other times You simply hold me in Your arms while the waves buffet me.  And sometimes You inspire me and increase my faith with a vision of future calm waters and blue skies, reassuring me that it will be all right.

Thank You for being with me in the storms.  Thank You for speaking to me in songs, scriptures, promises, and visions.

Thank You for the truths You give me in Psalm 37: “My salvation comes from the Lord; You are my stronghold in time of trouble.  You help me and deliver me; and save me. Because I take refuge in You.”  Amen

Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 37:39-40

Feb 19 Whoever has ears, let him hear

close-up-18753_640“Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me ears to hear.

Help them to be tuned in to Your frequency so I can hear Your voice, or see, what You are saying to me in Your Word, in prayer, through other believers, and in my circumstances.

Help me keep my ears clean of the build up that might block my hearing You – the negative talk I say to myself, the self-doubt and self-criticism.  And keep them clear of infection; sin which would dull my senses to what You would say.

Forgive me for the times I have blocked my ears because I did not want to hear the correction You were speaking to me, or the step I was too afraid to take.

I pray that in hearing, I would gain understanding.

Hearing is only half the process.  Not only do I need to hear what You are saying, but also understand what it means to me.

Thank You for the times You explained what You meant in scripture parables so the message would be clear.

Thank You for the times You have provided confirmation to me when I was unsure.

Thank You that the more I listen and obey, the more I understand.

I have ears to hear, let me hear.   Amen

Mark 4:1-25

Feb 18 Living A to Z

ffzjspuwc_i-diomari-madularaFather, help me embody the alphabetical list of traits in this Psalm.

In his old age David gives us instructions for living.  Of course the Hebrew alephbet goes from Aleph to Tav, not A to Z, but what was true then is still true now.

It’s hard to see evil people prosper knowing that the wrong they do causes harm to others.  And when they seem to be getting away with it, I wonder where Your justice is.

But as David says, “like the grass, they will soon wither.”  And I must wait on Your justice, which will come.  My responsibility is to do what You have told me to do and live how You have shown me to live.  This is what I am accountable for.

As I trust in You Lord, help me do good to others whenever it is within my power to do so.  Let me find my delight in You, and not be envious of others’ ill-gotten gain.

Help me commit my way to You so I look to You for guidance and direction and not toward my own selfish gain.  Several times I’ve been in circumstances where I was wronged and had a defensible position to press for my rights. I did not speak out because I trusted in You to fight for my cause.

It was hard to do, but You did not fail me.  In time the truth came to light without my having to say a word.  You defended me and my rightness was made even more evident because it was not me who spoke out.

Help me be still before You and wait patiently.  Even when I feel I’m justified in fighting.  Being “still” here means don’t move and don’t make a noise.  So help me not make a move without Your direction, and not rant or rave or carry on.

Remind me that prayer is a mighty weapon.   Help me pray for myself, the situation, and for my enemies to come to a saving knowledge of You, and stop their evil ways.

Help me turn away from anger and wrath.  One kind of anger boils over into uncontrolled lashing out.  Another kind seethes, simmering under the surface plotting and planning revenge, building up, until the perceived hurt is blown out of proportion.

Both of these responses are damaging to me.  I need to remember that vengeance is Yours, not mine.

Following these instructions will allow me to live in peace.  Meekness is not weakness.  But it is power under control.  Help me live a Holy Spirit-controlled life.  Amen

Psalm 37:1-11

Feb 17 Sacrifice for all

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Lord God, it strikes me as I read this passage in Leviticus, that all these offerings are for unintentional sin.

This is a sin that the person is unaware of when they do it.  Then, when they become aware of their sin, they are to bring the appropriate animal, lay their hand on it as it is sacrificed in a way of transferring the sin to the animal who pays the price for the sin: death.  These are ways to restore relationship with You when there is no intent in the sin.

When the sin is deliberate, intentional, there is often no sacrifice, no substitute to bear the penalty.  Death is the penalty.  The person who sins is accountable for that debt.

But praise to You, Lord!  You have made another way for sinners to be restored into right relationship with You.

When Jesus came, He ate with and spent time with “sinners” to show them the good news.  There was now going to be a sacrifice that would pay the penalty for their sin!  The blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Your blood, would take away the sin of the world.  All the sin.

Because “Your love, Oh Lord, reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness stretches to the skies; because Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice like the great deep,”  You have preserved man, and provided him with salvation!

Both high and low among men and women and children can come to You and find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  For within You is the fountain of life.

And when I have You, I have life!   Amen

Leviticus 4:1-5:19; Mark 2:13-17; Psalm 36:5-9

Feb 16 A Good Friend

Lord Jesus, when I read about the paralytic man who had four friends who brought him to You, I marvel at his good fortune.

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How blessed he was to have four such close and loyal friends who would not give up in bringing him to You for healing.  They not only carried him from wherever they came from but were so determined in their efforts that they climbed up onto the roof and dug a hole in it.  Then, carefully, they lowered their friend down into Your presence with ropes.

It makes me wonder what kind of man he must have been to have earned such loyalty and devotion.  We don’t know how long he had been paralyzed, but he obviously needed help with a great many things and relied on others’ assistance and generosity, perhaps even pity.

I have been around people who were in need like this who were not pleasant.  Their own frustration with their limitations resulted in much anger and bitterness that spilled over into their attitude and treatment of others.

Oh Lord, when I am in situations where I am dependent on others to do for me, please let me remember this man.  Let me be patient and kind to those who help me.  Remind me to be thankful and grateful for their support and continued friendship.

Let my circumstances bring out kindness and appreciation rather than bitterness.

If I live long enough, it is likely these times will come.  As our bodies age, there is often weakness and infirmity.  Be my strength, and let Your strength shine through my weakness.

Let me be a blessing to those around me.  And may “my tongue speak of Your righteousness and of Your praises all day long.”  Amen

Mark 2:1-12; Psalm 35:28

Feb 15 Me? A Disciple?

picture0223Holy Father, may I be like those You called to follow You as disciples.  May I be willing to leave my family, my occupation to go with You wherever You lead me, leaving behind the security I would lean on in place of You.

Although I was not present in Capernaum where You began teaching with such authority, let me learn from the amazing lessons in Your Word.

You have given me the Holy Spirit to teach me, correct me, guide me.  Make me sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Help me listen to godly wisdom when it comes to opportunities and circumstances; not just take the easy way, or most logical way.  I will call on You, and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Though I may not have seen You perform miracles in Galilee, You have answered prayers and done miraculous things in my life and in the lives of others I know.  Let me be bold about sharing those experiences and so spread the word as Your disciples did.

“I have the assurance that You will contend with those who contend with me and will fight against those who fight against me.  You will take up shield and buckler, arise and come to my aid.  You will brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.  You will disgrace and put to shame those who seek to ruin my life; and turn back in dismay those who plot my ruin.“

As David wrote these words about the men who were literally seeking his life, I seek Your deliverance from the oppression of the powers of this present darkness at work in the world today; from the spiritual forces at work against You, and so also against me as I live in Your light.

“My soul rejoices in You.  I delight in Your salvation.”  I place my complete trust in You, for there is none like You.  I know that “Your wisdom will reward me.”  Thank You for being my Savior.  Amen

Mark 1:16-28; Psalm 35:1-4,9; Proverbs 9:11

Feb 14 Gifts

loop-572859_640Dear Lord, how wonderful it would be to be like Bezalel or Oholiab.

These two are singled out by name as being chosen by You, and filled with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.  They knew metalwork on gold, silver and bronze, stone cutting and setting, how to work with wood, yarn, linen as craftsmen and designers.  And they had the ability to teach others these things.

They worked effectively with all the others You gave skill and ability to, to carry out the work of constructing the tabernacle and all the things in it.

You have said that each believer receives a spiritual gift or gifts, as well as skills and talents.  How wonderful it would be to be aware of that gift and have the opportunity to use it to create something that would point people to You and bring honor to Your name.

Father, help me be like Bezalel and Oholiab.  Help me refine my gifts and talents, work on them and develop them to be ready for use when You give the opportunity.

They did not shrink back from using their gifts.  Sometimes I feel my talent isn’t good enough to be of use.  Rather than step forward, I shrink back.  I am often sure that the gifts of others are more valuable than mine.

Help me trust that You  knew what You were doing when You handed out the gifts.  Help me accept who I am and what I have to offer, and make the most of it.

Are people the only ones of Your creation who doubt themselves and are envious?

I doubt that an apple tree ever wishes it could produce peaches.  Or a monkey ever wishes it had a fluffy tail like a fox.  It’s easy for me to see and trust Your plan as it worked out in the lives of Moses, Bezalel, and Oholiab.

Take away the doubts I have when it comes to me.  Help me see Your plan and Your purpose, and be bold in doing my part.  Amen

Exodus 35:30-35; 37:1-38:23

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You

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So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord.

In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe.

These were not easy promises to fulfill.  They were quite costly.  Jesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way.  And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.

So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit.  But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition.  You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons as well as Your faithfulness, Your trustworthiness to Your promises, Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, “I will extol You!”

According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You.  I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips.  My soul will boast in You!“

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen.

I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations.  I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain.

I will let them know that You are in the business of revealing wisdom when I ask for help making decisions and don’t know the way to go.  When I have felt trapped, You made a way out of the situation I had never thought of or considered.

I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help.

I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good.

Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You.  And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need.  Amen

Matthew 27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Feb 12 Proof of Your Presence

Dear Father, how awesome would it be if every time I came away from reading or studying Your Word, or spending time in prayer, there was a visible glow on my face!

Some outward evidence, physically apparent, to anyone who saw me that I had spent time with the Author and Creator of the universe!

When Moses spent time with You on Mount Sinai his face was so radiant that the people were afraid of him.  He began wearing a veil over his face unless he was speaking to You, Lord, or telling the Israelites what You had said.

I don’t mean that I want to wear a veil, Lord, but give me a radiance of spirit that can be a witness to others, a testimony that You have left an impact on Me from my spending time with You.  Something that will let people know that I know the Savior, and can help them if they need directions to get to You also.

There is a danger inherent in that of course:  if people know when I have been in Your presence, then they would also know when I have not.  And there have been stretches Lord, when I have not spent much time in Your presence.

Keep me drawn to You.  Help me have the mindset I need, to go to You, with joy, with sorrow, with excitement, with concerns.

It’s so easy to find someone else to commiserate with, to approve of my own plans, to join in my pity party.  But I desire to please You; to walk in the way You have planned out for me.

I trust in Your plan; and believe it is the best possible for me.

“Your eyes are on me Lord, because I fear You, revere You, and because my hope is in Your unfailing love.  Deliver me.  You are my help and my shield.  In You my heart rejoices, for I trust Your holy name.  Let Your unfailing love rest on me O Lord.”

Let others see it too.  Amen

Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 33:18-22

Feb 11 Omnipotent

eye-of-god-nebulaLord, I believe Your Word is right and true; and that You are faithful in all You do.  So when the Word tells me You created the heavens and the earth, I believe it and am amazed.

Not only did You have the imagination and endless creativity to think it all up, You had the power and sovereignty over the elements and forces to do the creating!

How?  I don’t know.

Science is still wrestling with the questions of how our universe works.  Theories come and go about physics, matter, gravity wells, space and time; more than I can grasp.

Every generation we learn more, sometimes refuting what was previously believed.  I don’t know that we will ever reach a level of truly understanding it.

But I know that when I see the diversity and organization, I marvel at it – and see past it to the Creator.

I can look through a microscope or a telescope and see things beyond my imagination that amaze me.  I can observe connections and repeated patterns that cannot possibly exist by coincidence.

The recognition and glory are due the Creator.  “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him,” meaning I will acknowledge Your handiwork and have the utmost respect for Your power and authority over all our world.

“The Lord foils the plans of nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.  But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” 

 The Israelites were a stiff-necked people and disobeyed You over and over again.  Yet still You made them Your chosen people, a people set apart, to this day.

The disciples Jesus gathered around Him betrayed and denied Him, then scattered.  And yet, they spread the word of salvation through the work of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection.

I have been known to be stiff-necked and disobedient.  And there have been times I have not followed through on all You have shown me.  Yet I trust that Your plans, through me or in spite of me, will stand.  I am not much, but in Your hands, I am a tool wielded by the almighty Creator of the universe.  And what You can accomplish by the work of Your hands is limitless.

I praise You that Your plans stand firm.

Thank You that the purpose of Your heart was to provide a way to reconcile us, Your creation, to Yourself again.

I will sing of the mercy of the Lord!  Your faithfulness endures forever!  Amen

Exodus 32:1-14; Matthew 26:69-27:5; Psalm 33:1-11

Feb 10 Teach me

school-1063558_640Thank You Father, that You have promised to “instruct me and teach me in the way I should go.” Help me be a good student of Your instruction.  Give me the ability to hear You above all the other voices: anger, fear, temptation, discouragement, stress.

Strengthen me to pay attention, make note of, and follow Your teachings in my personal life, relationships and in setting priorities.

Thank You for providing me with godly counsel.  Of all the voices I hear, I trust Yours as the wisest.

The wisdom the world has to offer, although it may seem logical, is not always the best.  Thank You that I can know that Your instructions for me will always be in agreement with Your Word.

With the Bible as my textbook I can find examples to follow, characters to learn from, and encouragement for my journey.

Thank You for watching over me.  Unlike other teachers, You have the ability to be with me at all times, wherever I am.  Your Holy Spirit in me coaches me as I go along, so I am never far from Your guidance; if I choose to accept it.

“Do not let me be like a horse or mule which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to You.”  But let me respond to the loving leading and gentle touch that keep me on the path of righteousness in my thoughts, my words, my attitudes, my motives and my actions.

Surround me with Your unfailing love, and I will sing to You and rejoice in You, and be glad!

Psalm 32:8-11

 

Feb 9 not my will…

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Lord God, what a blessing You gave me to be able to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk into the Garden of Gethsemane!  I am forever changed by that gift.  It was amazing!

On one hand, as a tourist, it seemed historically and intellectually reasonable to be seeing structures and walls that stood in Jesus’ time.  But as I sat, looking at two of the very olive trees that were standing in the garden when You were there, I marveled.  Utterly amazing!

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To see something that was alive, living then, and still alive and living now was incredible.  To think that I was in the presence of something that had been alive in Your presence here on earth…

In the quiet, my thoughts were drawn back to the night You came to pray the “not my will but Thine” prayer.  I reread that passage in Matthew that described that sorrowful and troubled plea.

Jesus laid all His personal potential down.  Father, I have hopes and dreams, goals, desires.   I desire to honor You with what I do.  I thought of what my biggest possible plan could be, all the potential I have, and how it would bring glory to You, thinking, if You would just make it happen…

And then I realized something:  if Jesus, with all the ability and power and potential that He possessed, (and He could have called ten thousand angels and made a spectacle the world had never seen before!)  was willing to put it all aside for God the Father’s holy and perfect will for His life; how can I do less?

What is there that I could possibly think of to do, that would be better than anything Jesus could have done?  And He could have done literally ANYthing!  Yet Jesus laid it all down to take up God the Father’s purpose.

I must do the same.   And so echo those words:  “not my will, Lord, but Thine.”

Jesus had the unlimited and infinite capability to accomplish whatever He wanted.  And He gave it all up to accept Your plan.  I have a very limited and puny capability for setting and accomplishing goals.

So rather than asking You to bless whatever plan I may be able to think up, I ask that You would show me the plan You have for this portion of my life.

And give me the courage and strength required to live it in a way that will bring You glory.  Amen.

Matthew 26:36-46

Feb 8 Praying Your words

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Your Words are holy.  Sometimes I simply pray Your very own words back to You!  It’s as if You already know what I need and have prepared the prayer for me.

“I trust in You.  My times are in Your hands;” They always have been whether I acknowledged it or not – my comings and goings, my living and dying, and all the moments in between, were already determined before even one of them came to be.

“Deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.”  Whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual adversaries – You are Sovereign over them all and can defeat them all.

“Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love.”  May I feel the impact of Your illuminating presence on my body, mind and spirit and be saved from harm not because of anything I have done or earned, but because of Your benevolent generosity and grace.

“Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to You; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.” Let me see victory in the utter defeat of our enemies and the fulfillment of Your justice. Strengthen me to walk in Your way.  Amen

Psalm 31: 14-17

Feb 7 God-given gifts

positive-1136861_640Lord God, You tell me that the kingdom of heaven is like a master who entrusts his servants with talents, then returns to receive their earnings.

I desire to be a good and faithful servant and to return to You more than was given me.  Yet I have always feared I would be the one who returned to You, only Your original investment.

By nature, I am not a risk taker.  I have a fear of losing what I have, or having it taken from me.  So I typically behave conservatively so as to not risk loss.  It seems to be a safe method of operation that has helped me maintain a prudent life.

However, I am beginning to see that what You have given me: the gifts entrusted to me, are not for me to hoard or hide.  They were given for the purpose of sharing; and in that sharing, a multiplication of blessing takes place.

I so want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  And it is occurring to me that in order for that to happen, I need to step out of my safety zone where I am comfortable, and take some risk.

It is something I do not do easily.  And I will need to rely on You for encouragement and even some daring.  But I can be reassured by Your words in I Timothy 1:7  ”God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind.”

And I can know that when I am obedient, You will protect me.  Regardless of the outcome, You will never leave me.

Please help me overcome my fears of being ridiculed, shamed, making the wrong choice, or disappointing You.

Help me recognize the next opportunity You place in my path.  And help me learn to let go of and use Your gift so it can multiply the blessing to myself and others, and please You: a win, win, win!

Thank You for Your words penned by David, which I echo as my prayer:

“In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in Your righteousness.  Turn Your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.  Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me. 

Free me from the trap that is set for me, for You are my refuge.  Into Your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. . . I trust in You!  I will be glad and rejoice in Your love…”  Amen

Matthew 25:14-30; Psalm 31:1-7

Feb 6 Little by little

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“Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” 

How well You, my Heavenly Father know me.  You know my strengths and also my weaknesses and limitations.

And You will never give me more than You know I can handle.

The challenge is: it is often more than I realize I can handle.  But You are always gentle with me, and faithful.

With the Israelites, You knew they would not be able to take possession of all of Your amazing gift of the promised land at one time.  You knew the blessing was too much for them with their limitations.  So You gave them what they could handle, and when they were ready, strong enough, You gave them more.

You’re like that with me too.  If I knew the full extent of the bountiful and abundant blessing You have in store for me, I would not be able to take it all in.  It would be too overwhelming and far too great for me to accept all at once.  So You show me the part I can accept, and work with me one step at a time.

Your forgiveness is a blessing.  But You are patient and do not overwhelm me by showing me all my sin at once.

Little by little, You teach me what is right and holy.  And little by little I see how I have fallen short of that, or have been downright disobedient.

And as I acknowledge my sin and accept Your forgiveness, I am blessed as You purify me from unrighteousness and free me from guilt and shame.

boy-1916204_640You know me so well, Lord.  And knowing what I will face, You prepare me with exactly what I need to meet each challenge, accept each blessing and appreciate Your hand at work in my life.

Go before me to prepare the way.  And prepare me, Father, to see and accept all that You have for me.

Help me be patient for Your timing.  Guide me and empower me to take the steps You have prepared for me.

Do not let me run ahead or lag behind.  But build me up, increase me, till I am ready to take possession of all that comes from Your hand.   Amen

Exodus 23:27-30

Feb 5 Immeasurable power – Infinite gentleness

michelangelo-71282_1280“The voice of the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful.  The voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks into pieces the cedars of Lebanon.   The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.  The voice of the Lord shakes the desert.  The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.”

Your voice, O Lord, is so mighty that it has the explosive power to burst open massive trees with a Word.

As deafening as standing by rapid waters that rush by, Your voice can be heard over that torrential noise.  As shocking and ear-splitting as a bolt of lightning, Your words flash with even more intense exclamation.

The vibrations that it would take to cause the sand, rocks and mountains of the desert to tremble are set off by Your utterances.  And the power of the hurricane wind that would twist trees and uproot them or tear away their bark, is found in Your mere whispers.

How is it then, that I can withstand this greatness and dare to ask to hear from You?

It is only because of Your infinite self-control that when You lean down to speak to me, You do not destroy me.  It is because You desire for me to know You and have relationship with You that I am able to hear and understand Your voice.

You have all this amazing power at Your disposal and could utterly destroy me with a breath; yet You seek me out, as You do each one of Your creations, to have fellowship with me and to reveal Yourself to me and to show Your boundless abundant love to even me.

“You give strength to Your people; and You bless me with peace.” Give me strength, Father. Bless me.  And give me Your peace.  Amen

Psalm 29:3-11

 

Feb 4 Eternal Priorities

 

Three words I never want to hear: “Woe to you.”

With these words You gave warning to the Pharisees and called them into account for their actions and deeds.  Even now, it’s so easy to say “I would never be like them!”  I do not want to follow in their footsteps, like judging others while projecting seeming innocence.  So correct me if You see in me what You saw in them.

They had their priorities backwards, saying the gold was more valuable than the temple it was in, and the sacrifice more valuable than the altar it was offered on.

Help me make and keep my priorities straight.  Help me understand the true value of things as they are in Your economy so I do not elevate the profane and dishonor the holy.

Many of the things the world places value on are not truly valuable.  The world sees from a limited, short-term perspective and often places more significance on the created thing, than the Creator Himself.

Help me see things for their eternal value.

I love Your humor when You say they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!”  Teach me to see the bigger picture and focus on the important things and not be legalistic over the smaller insignificant ones.

I can get so carried away with the urgent that sometimes I don’t make time for the important things.   Show me how to spend my energy and time on what is significant.

You paint a striking picture when You describe a cup: clean on the outside but dirty on the inside; or a whitewashed tomb, clean on the outside but full of death on the inside.  You see not only the outward appearance, but see into man’s heart to know him.

Let me be as concerned with being pure and clean on the inside as I am with being presentable on the outside.   Help me be authentic and transparent; so my walk agrees with my talk.  Let me put as much time into developing my character as my wardrobe.

I desire to be all You have created me to be.  But it is so easy to follow the way of the world and look for the easy way – to make a big deal over what the world says is a big deal.  I know that most of the world does not seek You to worship You or follow You.

Broad is the path that leads to destruction.  Help me find that narrow way, and stay on that path: the one that brings joy and not woe.  Amen

Matthew 23:13-39; Matthew 7:13

Feb 3 Apple or Potato prayers?

“Hear my voice when I call O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.  My heart says of You, “Seek His face!”  Your face, Lord, I will seek.” 

Oh Father, thank You that I can know that You do hear me.  Sometimes I sing out my praise, or I call out my thanksgiving, or I weep and whisper out my needs, pr my heart is so broken I can only weep.  But the Holy Spirit intercedes for me and even the groanings of my heart that cannot be expressed in words are heard.

Thank You that in Your mercy, You answer me every time.  I appreciate and love the times Your answer is “yes” and I can see the fruit of my prayers immediately.  They are like apples I can see growing and maturing on a tree, right before my eyes.

The buds come, the blossoms open, then the fruit appears, grows and matures while I watch the whole process.  With a prayer like this, I can see you at work and be encouraged.

But I understand that at times the answer is “wait.”  Then it’s more like growing potatoes.  The plant is there, but the fruit, the potato, is growing underground and cannot be seen until it is time to harvest.  It takes faith to dig up the plant looking for the potatoes underneath.

These are harder prayers because they feel like nothing is happening.  The truth is, You are at work answering the prayer, just not in ways visible to the human eye.

And I also must acknowledge that sometimes the answer is “no.”  And I have to choose to trust that Your will is best for me, even if I don’t understand it at the time.

Like the Psalmist Lord, I will seek Your face.  I will read and study Your Word and apply its lessons and teachings to my life.  I will come to You in prayer, allowing time not only for talking, but also listening for what You want to say to me.

I will look for those places where You insert Yourself into my life through circumstances; using events or occurrences, contacts or everyday things to speak to me and heighten my awareness of You.

You remind me of Your beauty in a sunset.  You make Your sovereignty known when I look at the stars.   You reassure me of Your love and care when You have a friend call or pray for me.   And these are just some of the ways You communicate with me.

Whether praying apples or potatoes, hearing a “yes” or “no,” I am encouraged with these words of David: “I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

And especially for those “potato” prayers, You say “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  Father, help me wait and not fall into discouragement, self-pity or giving up.  Keep my faith strong and my trust in You solid; so that at the end of the waiting, I will sing of the wonders of the Lord!  Amen

Psalm 27:7,8,13,14; Romans 8:26

Feb 2 I choose praise!

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Heavenly Father, You have shown me two different responses the Israelites made in the presence of Your blessing.

The first is one of dancing and singing praises to You.  When You delivered them from Pharaoh by having them cross through the waters of the sea on dry ground, Miriam took a tambourine and led Moses and the Israelites in singing of Your miraculous deliverance.

But another time, when these people grumbled for food in the wilderness, You promised and delivered a blessing of meat in the evening and bread in the morning.   That night You brought them quail to eat and in the morning You created and gave them manna: something so marvelous and unknown they didn’t know what to call it.  They even called it “manna” which means “what is it?”

There is no mention of rejoicing, or an outpouring of gratitude or thanks – even though there was no other place for them to get food in the desert.  What they did was respond with disobedience.  They did not gather according to Your instructions.

And although You continued this particular blessing six days a week (with extra gathered the 6th day for the Sabbath) for forty years, (that’s 12,480 times !!) it wasn’t long before they were grumbling again unappreciatively.

I pray Father, that I will respond to Your hand of blessing in my life like the first example.  Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, highly exalted – You are my God and my King!

I will write songs and sing of Your wonders!  I will tell others of Your greatness and Your blessing in my life.  I will write and send emails to communicate them!

But even if I stand in a room alone with my hands and voice raised to You, even if I sing off key, even if no one else knows, do not let me miss an opportunity to acknowledge Your power and involvement in my life with gratitude.

Open my eyes Lord, so I will see and understand all of Your blessings.

Prompt me when I forget to acknowledge Your gifts.

Do not let me take Your blessings for granted; or respond with disobedience. I desire to make a “sacrifice to You of shouts of joy!  I will sing and make music to the Lord!”

Exodus 15:19-17:7; Psalm 27:6

Feb 1 Exodus Deliverance Prayer

Father, I pray this for many who are undergoing trials which seem overwhelming right now.

I pray that according to what the Holy One did for those who left Egypt when He delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh at the Sea of Reeds in Exodus 14:19-31, He will do for you in your time of trial, difficulty or crisis.

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[He interposed Himself between Pharaoh’s army and His people who were in the desert trapped up against the Sea of Reeds.  He kept them safe all night as He prepared their way of escape.  He threw the enemy into a panic and vanquished them.  He gave them safe passage, making a way where there seemed to be none. And He gave them a wonderful deliverance.]

May God physically place Himself between you who He loves and has redeemed and whatever threatens your safety, your security and welfare; and personally assume responsibility for your protection – not because you deserve it by anything you have done, but for the sake of the eternal relationship He has with you.

May He keep vigil over you and send His almighty spirit to make a way of escape to deliver you.  May He watch over you through the night, the dark time when you cannot see His hand at work on your behalf – may you feel His protection even in light of seemingly overwhelming circumstances when you focus on the enemy.

As in Exodus 14:21 when God sent the “Ruach kadim” generally translated as ‘east wind’ but literally meaning ‘the breath that was from before the first that was in the very beginning’ (reference to Genesis 1:2 when the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the waters, and the Ruach [the breath or Spirit] of the Holy One moved over the face of the deep) may you feel the Ruach or Spirit of God moving in whatever challenge is facing you, as He makes a way of escape for you.

May He set panic in the heart of your enemy and send them into confusion so they may not harm you.  May none of their weapons find their targets.  May they even turn on themselves in the confusion.

May He vanquish your enemy before your eyes.  May they fall into the very pit they have dug for you and into the hands of a jealous and mighty God.  May He totally repel and defeat them on your behalf, because He loves you.

Do not underestimate the power of the Holy One, your covenant partner.  He knows what you need and will provide your safe passage to the place of fulfillment of your purpose in life.  You are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the works He prepared in advance for you.  And He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  God can and will do whatever He has to do to make a way even when there seems to be no way.

And May our Lord give you an awesome aftermath, where you can tell others about the wondrous and mighty work of the Holy One on your behalf.  May He give you a heart of gratitude and thanks that acknowledges Him and gives Him the glory.  May your testimony be that in faith, you stood and saw the deliverance of the LORD.

based on Exodus 13:17-14:31

and teaching from The Rabbi’s Son, Torah Teacher

Jan 31 Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

pzvi92s-zms-lifelike-creationsTwo blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard Jesus was passing by they called out. When You stopped, You asked what they wanted You to do for them. They asked for their sight. You had compassion on them and healed them. What a miracle!

I depend on Your mercy as well. And Your mercies are new every day. But if You were to ask what I want of You, I am already so blessed, it would be hard to answer.

You have already given me eternal life in Your presence for all time. You have forgiven my sin. You have allowed me to be born in a time when most disease is treatable, water and air are safe to drink and breathe, and injuries do not usually become life threatening.

I have no fear of wild animals attacking as I live in a safe place. You have placed me in a country where I have freedoms that most in the world do not. I can worship You freely, I can travel where I want, can vote for my form of government and live my life in peace within its protected borders, without persecution.

You have allowed me to be born into a loving, supportive, Christian family who raised me to love You. And who gave me not only adequate food, shelter, and an education, but loved me and encouraged me.

You have protected me and saved me from more tragedy and trauma than I know about. And have blessed me with a husband and children, and friends. I live in a beautiful place where every day I can look to the mountains and be reminded of Your strength and majesty.

I enjoy four seasons with all the consistent changes that come with them; weather, wildlife, life cycles of plants, flowers, trees. I have full use of all my senses that can take in the beauty around me and see your infinite diversity at work in birdsongs, floral aromas, the lushness of grass, the chill of fresh snow, the painted sky at sunrise and sunset.

As I think of all these things, my heart overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Forgive me for not voicing it every day. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You!

For as many days as I have left on this earth, there will always be something to thank You for. And when I pass into that next part of our eternal relationship, “I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving in my heart, and enter Your courts with praise!”

Matthew 20:29-34, Psalm 100:4

Jan 30 Salvation Lamb – Passover

What a beautiful depiction of Your amazing Salvation plan!

stained-glass-1626287_1280You delivered the Hebrews physically from the Pharaoh by the same way You deliver me into eternal life: by the blood of the lamb!

The last plague to fall on Pharaoh and Egypt was the death of their firstborn. And the Hebrew people were told to take a lamb from their flock, a male without defect, sacrifice it at a certain hour, and smear the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe of their house. When the Angel of death saw the blood, he would pass over those people within and they would be saved from physical death that night.

It was an exact representation of what would happen centuries later when Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life.

He was the spotless lamb, killed at that same hour, on that same day of the year that Hebrews celebrated down through generations: Passover. The blood He shed paid the price for our sin so we can be justified or reunited to You, a holy God.

When we appropriate that blood (or accept it as the free gift to pay the penalty for our sin), eternal death will pass over us, and we will remain to live with You forever!

Until that time of judgment when eternal life and eternal death are meted out, I echo David’s words to proclaim my trust in You. I acknowledge that You are “good and upright”, that “Your ways are loving and faithful.” And I ask that You would “deliver me from my enemies” and “keep me from shame.”

Show me more about You and the depth of Your love every day, and “teach me to walk in Your paths” – wherever You would lead me – without stumbling or turning away to the left or the right. Let me learn how Your truth should determine my actions, my words and my attitudes. Help me love my brother and my neighbor as myself.

I thank You for forgiving my sin as I continue to confess it before You: my disobedience, unjust actions, shortcomings and wrong attitudes. Instruct me and guide me every day, giving me strength to hold my tongue when I should, and courage to speak when I should.

I believe You have given me specific gifts and talents; help me use those to glorify You and to bless others. Bring people and resources to me that will empower and support these gifts. Help me be a guiding light for those who see me live my life, pointing them to You.

“My eyes are ever on You”, my Lamb, my Savior, my Lord. Amen

Exodus 11:1-12:13; Psalm 25:1-15

Jan 29 Omnipresent

Father, I truly believe that You created the heavens and the earth. And that everything in it belongs to You.

It blows my mind when I’m at a stoplight.

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I sit there in my car and marvel that no matter where I am, You are there with me.

And You have a specific awareness of who I am, where I am going, what I am thinking, the condition of my heart, spirit, and all that concerns me. You even know the number of hairs on my head.

Then I look up and realize You are also with every other person there at that intersection – knowing who they are, where they are going, what is happening in their lives, the condition of their hearts and their spirits

It’s Your quality of omnipresence.

Not only there at my intersection, but also everyone at every intersection up the road, and in my town. Beyond that, You are present with every person at every intersection in other towns, and in other states, in every country, every hemisphere, around the entire world! And that’s just people in their cars!

There are billions of people on this planet, and at any given moment, You are aware of each of them, and are present with them. Each one, every second of every day! It blows my mind.

Father, I love that You are omnipresent!  When I think of Your ability to be everywhere at the same time, I get a general sense of the great power You have, and think, “Of course, God is everywhere.”

But when I can actually picture specifics, like the number of people at my intersection, cars I can see, faces I can discern, and begin to multiply that by other familiar intersections, other towns; it quickly grows from proportions that I can quantify as impressive to numbers that are mind-boggling and totally beyond my comprehension.

And this is only one of Your amazing, immeasurable characteristics! No wonder Jesus said to his disciples, “with God all things are possible.

“You are the King of glory. You are strong and mighty. You are mighty in battle. You are the Lord God Almighty.” And I am in awe of You.

Thank You for drawing near to me. Thank You that in Your power, You care for and love each one of Your creations.

I praise You that in Your unfathomable greatness reaching across the galaxy, You are a personal Father who leans down know me intimately. I am amazed by You.

Psalm 24:1-10

Jan 28 My forgiving Shepherd

Jesus ShepherdLord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that I need to forgive others. The parable You share with Your disciples clearly depicts that I have been forgiven so much more than I can ever repay. From day to day, I forget that; and it seems so easy to harbor ill will toward those who hurt me, and want to see them punished.

It feels like if I forgive them, I’m letting them get away with something, releasing them from the consequences or punishment of their hurtful actions. Some who have grieved me don’t even ask for forgiveness.

The truth is: I am the one set free when I forgive. And I am being obedient. So I am doubly blessed when I can forgive others. Help me remember this the next time I face these circumstances.

And show me right now if there is someone that I haven’t forgiven. Lead me through whatever steps I need to take to get right with them and right with You.

The 23rd Psalm is the first passage of scripture I memorized. You tell us to hide Your Word in our hearts, and this is one that I did. Thank You that You are my Good Shepherd. Don’t know that I like being characterized as a sheep all that much; they are such smelly, stupid animals.

But I understand a lot of accurate parallels can be drawn. And the depiction of the care and protection the shepherd provides paints a wonderful picture of Your love for man and for me.

Thank You for providing for my needs. Thank You for knowing when I need to rest and be restored; and for affording those times of rest and restoration, making sure I have what I need physically and spiritually.

Thank You for leading me in the path You have chosen for me; and for being there with me so there is no need to fear. When evil threatens, I am calmed and quieted by trusting Your presence and Your ability to defend me completely.

I draw strength from Your promises to protect and provide for me all the days of my life, and then to take me to be with You for all eternity. My Shepherd. My Savior. Amen

Matthew 18:23-35; Psalm 23

 

Jan 27 I want to obey You

bible-380848_1920O Lord, I read about Moses and wonder how he could have backed away from the great opportunity You gave him to be a part of Your miraculous plan. It seems he made every excuse in the book to avoid joining You in the amazing deliverance of his people.

Then I wonder if I have been guilty of the same.

Have there been times when You offered me an opportunity to accomplish something with You and I chose the safer, easier path with no risk?

Have You allowed me to be in situations where I could have told someone about who You are, and I chose not to speak?

Have there been circumstances when I could have offered to go and do, to act as Your hands and Your feet, but I chose the response that afforded me more leisure?

Have there been occasions when I might have stood up and spoken out for what is right, but remained silent under the socially acceptable guise of being tolerant?

Have there been times when I opted to remain in my comfort zone rather than step out of it in a way that would have honored You?

I believe there have been. And ask myself “Why?” Is it that I doubt the power of the God who created the universe? Do I doubt that You will be true to Your Word?

No.

I believe it is rather, that I doubt myself. I may doubt that I’m hearing You clearly. Because if not, then I have walked out on a limb that could easily but cut off from under me.

Or I doubt my ability to carry through and finish what I start in Your name, bringing embarrassment to both of us. Or I fear it might hold me up to ridicule. So, bottom line, I fear what other people will think about me.

Please forgive me for the times I’ve let You down. Help me be so strong in recognizing that my identity comes from You, and in believing what You say about me, that I am not swayed by fear of what others think of me.

Help me recognize the next time You give me an opportunity. And help me be courageous enough to act “I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and a sound mind.”

Oh Lord, fulfill Your purpose through me! Amen

Exodus 4:1-17; 2Timothy 1:7; Psalm 138:8 ESV

Jan 26 Do I get a map?

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Lord God, You are so wise. How often do I want to see Your plan for my life all laid out for me– at least the next chapter?

You gave Moses a look at all that was coming next. You shared Your plan to deliver the Hebrew people, saying “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… I am sending you to Pharaoh…”

And Moses starts back-peddling! You answered all his questions and revealed the plan, promising deliverance and riches to the people. You told Moses what to say, and how Your mighty hand would compel Pharaoh and perform wonders. Yet still Moses balked.

Jesus told His disciples how the plan of salvation would play out. He showed how prophecy was coming to pass right before their eyes! They knew Elijah must come first – Jesus explained that John the Baptist was Elijah. How did they respond? They demonstrated “so little faith” and were “filled with grief.”

So I can see why You don’t show me the miles of path before me. I would probably balk and try to get You to change Your mind, or display too much emotion and not enough “getting on board” with the plan.

When I used to ride horses, I never told the horse in advance where we would be riding that day. I never brought a map to show him where our trail would take us.

I’m pretty sure he knew he would end up back at the stable, his home. But I would guide him along as we went. Sometimes we would stop and rest for a bit. We would go fast or slow, left to the stream, or right to the hilltops, according to my leading, my plan.

Because a horse could not read or understand a map, I never showed him one. I daresay I would not understand Your plan if You showed it to me either. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so Your ways are higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts.”

And I’m okay with that. Because I trust Your thoughts, and Your ways, and Your plans; even if I can’t see or don’t understand them. And I know where I will end up: in my true home, spending eternity with You.

I agree with David who wrote, ”In You our fathers put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them. They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.”

I put my trust in You. You have already delivered me from the evil one by dying on the cross in my place. You have saved me from that eternal death into eternal life. And I know that at the end of my ride, I will not be disappointed. Amen

Exodus 3:1-22; Matthew 17:10-22; Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 22:4-5

Jan 25 I trust Your perfect plan

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Oh God I praise You that nothing can thwart Your plans!

Although evil is in this world, and is in positions of power and authority, it is nothing compared to You and Your ability to preserve Your will!

I ask for Your will to be done in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. I trust that Your plan is the best possible. Do not let any powers or influences get in the way of effecting Your will in our lives.

Your purpose was fulfilled in Joseph’s life. And in spite of slavery, prison and the selfishness and greed of Joseph’s brothers, it played right into Your plan to save Israel’s descendants.

Then hundreds of years later, when the new Pharaoh tried to kill the male Hebrew babies, You again had a plan for those children and the peoples’ deliverance. By human reckoning it took a miracle – because a baby in a basket floating in crocodile infested waters would have no chance of surviving. But You provided for this Hebrew baby to be raised in the palace as Pharaoh’s own grandson!

Even when Jesus tried to explain Your majestic plan for the salvation of all people -His disciples didn’t understand it. Peter said to Jesus “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” And Jesus had to rebuke him.

And even after Peter saw Jesus transfigured and walking with Moses and Elijah, and heard Your own voice saying “This is My Son…Listen to Him.” Peter tried to interfere as Jesus was taken into custody in the Garden of Gethsemane. If he had understood the whole plan, would he have done that?

I often cannot make sense of the twists and turns my life takes. There are times I don’t know whether to stay or go, to act or wait. I cannot see how things will play out but I make a plan. But it doesn’t always turn out the way I expect.  How many times do we switch to Plan B, or Plan C, or D,E,F…

How then do I make decisions? Move forward? Live my life?

I echo the words of King David: “For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”

I too trust in You, the Lord, the Most High. I ask You, Lord God to show me enough light for the next step I am to take. Help me listen for Your response and obey what I hear. And trust that even if it doesn’t make sense to me, it will turn out according to Your plan.

I trust You.  My security is in You – even when nothing I can see supports my feeling safe.

Because of Your unfailing love for me, I can remain at PEACE. Meaning I can: Possess Equilibrium Amid Chaotic Events. You have the power, You have the ability and expertise, You have the sovereignty and the willingness to bring Your plans to fruition.

So let it be done. On this earth.  In this country.  In my life.  Amen

Exodus 1:1-2:10; Matthew 16:21-17:9; Psalm 21:7

Jan 24 Speak a blessing

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Holy Father, here You depict another way I desire to be like Israel: speaking words of blessing over his sons and grandsons.

I pray that my words would be a blessing to my children.

So many times, I open my mouth before I speak, and the result is not a blessing.

Father, train me in the ability to speak the truth in love. Set a watch over my mouth to stop unthinking or hurtful words before they are spoken, and damage is done. For once spoken, words cannot be unheard.

I believe You must have revealed to Israel what to say to each son, where to put his hands for the blessing, even as he intentionally switched his hands to bless Joseph’s sons. This was not according to the tradition of the time. Neither was the blessing where he gave Judah leadership of the house of Israel and Joseph the double portion. Those both should have been passed to the oldest.

Oh Lord, let me be so close to You that I also hear what You are telling me and let me be obedient even if it goes against the traditions of man or of the times.

One way I can bless my children is by using Your very words. Today I pray these words for my sons by inserting their names:

 “O Lord, answer _______ when he is in distress;” (place in his heart the desire to call out to You, and let him hear Your voice above all else going on in his life) “may the name of the God of Jacob protect _______.” (protect his life, his health, his relationships, his mind, his emotions, his spirit, his work, his comings, his goings)

“May You send _______ help from Your sanctuary” (where You sit enthroned and have angels to be Your messengers and do Your bidding) “and grant him support from Zion. “

“Would You give _______ the desire of his heart” (and remove any desires that would take him away from You) “and make all his plans succeed.” (as You direct his steps)

 “We will shout for joy when _______ is victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God!” Amen !

When his work was done, Israel “drew his feet up into his bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.” Israel finished the work You sent him to do.

Knowing what awaits me as a believer, I so desire to be with You rather than in the dimness of this earth. Do not let me outstay my usefulness to You. Please don’t leave me here one minute beyond what is necessary. I want to do and be all You have sent me here for. And bless all those cross my path.  Amen 

Genesis 48:1-49:33; Psalm 20:1-2,4-5

Jan 23 What a ride! Here I am

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O Lord, I think of all You allowed Jacob (renamed Israel) to go through, and I wonder how difficult his life must have been. He was a twin, compared from birth to a brother who was very different from him.

His father chose a favorite son, not him. His mother schemed for him to receive his father’s blessing, resulting in his exile from home to a place far away.

He worked happily for seven years to earn a bride, but was deceived on his wedding night with a different woman. He worked another seven years and still had nothing to call his own.

Then, things started coming together. He gains large flocks, gets away from his manipulative father-in-law, reconciles with his brother, returns to his father, has many children, including two sons by his beloved wife Rachel. But then she dies in childbirth. And later, her older son is taken from him, presumed dead. His life falls apart again. Talk about ups and downs!

My life has had its ups and downs. There have been times of delirious joy as well as disappointment and sorrow. I feel sometimes as if I am barely able to get up for a new day. And I have Your Holy Spirit in me from whom I can draw strength! I have scriptures I can read to be encouraged. I have praise music I can play or sit at the piano and sing.

How did Jacob do it? How did Israel get through one more day of grieving his beloved wife Rachel, missing his son Joseph; managing his large family with misbehaving sons Simeon, Reuben, Judah and Levi; all in a day and time of famine, with hunger and need all around him?

Yet when You called him in a time of famine, to relocate to a foreign land, he still didn’t give up. Whatever You had in store for him, he simply answered “Here I am”.

O God, help me be that resilient.

Help me get through dark times and be ready to say “Here I am” when You call. Help me hear Your voice above whatever else is going on in my life. Tune my ears so I will hear You and recognize Your call.

Lord, let me hear clearly, and be obedient to all You reveal to me. Open my ears to the message of Your words that bring personal meaning and conviction to my life.

Prune away any misunderstanding I have been living by. Cut away the dead and unproductive parts. Revive me and make me fruitful again. I long to honor and glorify You.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

How can I do any less?

Genesis 46:2 (and Jacob’s life); Psalm 19:1

Jan 22 Death to life!

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Holy Father, I cannot even imagine the depth of joy Israel must have felt at the realization that the son he thought he had lost forever, was alive!

I cannot imagine grieving for a son for so long, dealing with a sense of loss so great that it makes you physically ill and emotionally destitute; then to discover that the object or your intense love and devotion has been resurrected and returned to you!

But You are a God of resurrection miracles! You are the One with the power of restoration! And there will be another great reunion as we see all our loved ones who love You, again, when we spend eternity together in Your presence.

It must have seemed like a miracle to Israel: Your bringing the son that was dead to him, back into fellowship and life. How awesome is Your power!

You are not limited by what we have come to understand are the limits and laws of our physical world. You walked on water! You healed the sick and dying with a touch! You multiplied five pieces of bread and two fish to feed literally thousands of hungry people. And that was only during the first twenty-four hours after hearing of Your own personal loss: the death of Your cousin, John the Baptist!

Twice during that time, you withdrew to be alone to pray. How hard it must have been to remain in this physical world with all its pain and grief, suffering, sickness and evil, knowing Your true home was in heaven. You could have left it all behind in an instant.

Thank You for continuing to walk the path that would lead to Your sacrifice and the saving of mankind; rejoining us to Yourself, our heavenly Father, bridging the chasm between our sinfulness and Your holiness.

Holy, Holy, Holy are You, Lord God Almighty!

Genesis 44:18-45:28; Matthew 14:13-36

Jan 21 It’s all perspective

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Holy Father, Your will often puzzles me. I cannot see from Your perspective or understand the effects of actions looking forward into the future.

Your servant John the Baptist lived as a righteous man. He was a believer and taught of Your kingdom. He even baptized Jesus! He was a great part of Your plan; yet he was beheaded by an unrighteous, evil, manipulative man.

In our human understanding of fairness that seems so wrong.

Yet, again, our perspective is not Yours. And our life here on earth is not the end of it all. There is also what comes after: where and how we spend eternity.

So can I still pray for things to work here out here on earth, in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones? Yes.

And can I ask in faith, believing, and not doubting? Absolutely!

But I must remember that You answer prayer from a greater perspective.

My sight and my ability to see “the solution” are very limited. Even in my own life, I have prayed and You have answered in ways far better than anything I had asked for, or could have even imagined.

And can I trust Your answer? Without a doubt!

Even if I can’t understand the “why” of it at the time, I know that Your love for me is great. And You are trustworthy. And Your sense of mercy and justice are right.

So no matter how things look from my perspective, I will proclaim boldly with the Psalmist, “As for God, His way is perfect!”

Matthew 14:1-12; Psalm 18:30

Jan 20 Indescribable Uncontainable

jesus-and-world

I 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

Jan 19 Make my life a stage

redcurtain-stage

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 every low

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.

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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.  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?

wrestlersDear 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.

With 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

sparrow

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, to 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

“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;’.”

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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

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Lord 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 – Your “disciple.”

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 provides 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 often consider “honoring You with our wealth” to mean 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.

You remind 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

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 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 powerful hand of healing on us.

Some need a physical healing. Our bodies are weak and wracked with diseases of all sorts, from fevers and rashes to cancer.  In Your Word You healed all who came to You.  Heal us.

Some have mental stress that has caused emotional problems and we are heartsick and even become trapped in addictions.  Heal us.

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.  Heal us.

Father, use Your mighty power to make us a living testimony for You.

I praise You because You not only have the power, but also the authority and the will to heal us. Thank You that You are willing and able.

I welcome Your presence into 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 gratefully give You all that I am. Thank You. Amen

Matthew 8:1-17

Jan 9 – 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. You crowned us at the top of Your creation, yet we are so frail and flawed, especially when it comes to knowing You, hearing You and obeying You.

Thank You for the example of Abraham’s obedience. His faith was so great he left home to follow You to a place You would show him. 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. I can only pray that knowing You are with me every step of the way, You will insure I understand exactly what You say to me, and will prepare and empower me to take whatever steps I need to, to act in obedience to You.

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.

You build and strengthen my faith with each challenge. 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 minuscule 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 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 are 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

religious-316272_1280Dear 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 gratefully 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 and made 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 others and affect my relationships, and how I live.

Help me weigh the consequences and ask, “Will this draw me closer to God or take me further away?”

And as I move forward, let me be 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 Bible Study 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 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 in the Bible 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 I call to You

sky-2667455_640 (1)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. So today, I lay myself and my loved ones, one by one before You.

I ask for Your hand to be at work in each of these relationships, and in all our circumstances.

Father, You know what each of us needs better than I do, so I ask for You to work in each of our lives to bring about Your perfect will. In some cases, to break our own will where it is in opposition to Yours and set us back on Your path.

I ask to heal our bodies where there is sickness; to turn our spirits to You where there has been rebellion or going our own way; to soften our hearts so we seek You for help and direction.

Show us how to call out to You where there is disappointment or despair and give us a realization and acknowledgment of the blessings in our lives which come from You.

Where our troubles are the result of bad choices, teach us to learn from them so the experience is not wasted.

Where we are wrestling with spiritual forces, rulers, principalities, authorities, and powers of this dark world and the heavenly realms; destroy them Lord! Declare them guilty O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them and their evil plans from our lives .

I lay our lives at Your feet, knowing that You have the resources, the authority, and the power to achieve even more than I can ask or even imagine. I wait for Your hand to be made visible in the lives of my family and myself so that I can see and rejoice.

We take refuge in You, and in Your mighty power! Spread Your protection over us. Surround us with Your favor as with a shield.

We rejoice in You and we sing for joy! We love Your Name O Lord. Jehovah! Yahweh! Jesus! Messiah! For there is no other name by which we can be saved! Amen

Psalm 5:1-12

Jan 4 the Promise of the Rainbow

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

Jan 3 Make me like Noah

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Lord God Almighty, 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.

Father, I know it is only by Your great mercy, and Your steadfastness in 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.

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 temptation 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”

O 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.

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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 speak 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 this mistake.

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 also this world and my own flesh that lead me down a wrong path, away from You.  Many temptations 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 of Psalm 1 You tell me how to be blessed.  Help me, my husband, sons, and loved ones obey these words 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.  But let us recognize 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.

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Make 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

Alpha OmegaO 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] 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.

In every person I see Your creativity and diversity.  In every bird and flower and creature, I observe Your infinite imagination.  In 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 22:12-21; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 31:25-31

Dec 30 Eternity

heavenO 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…”

This 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 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 149:1-5

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 honor 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, the Father, 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 LORD 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

Father, the picture You paint for Zechariah of Your people is “the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd.”

CindySheepMany 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 10:1-3; 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

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.

20161223_231820Today, 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

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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.

While it is true that those things can be done as acts of worship to honor You, the Lord Almighty, 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.

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

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.

boat carpenter

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 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 2:1-13; 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 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.

And 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

Stir up Holy Spirit

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.

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

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Father, 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 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.

The 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.”

Habakkuk proposed “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 be none.  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!

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

number-two-1439808“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 also ask for these two things.

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…

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

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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 an enemy “in the dark”.  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!

Your power overcomes any darkness of any kind.

Your light brings healing and hope and life!

I praise Your Name!  Hallelu Yah!

Micah 7:8-13

Dec 15 When?

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?

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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 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 sixty-five 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 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!

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

sea-79836_1280You 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!

Father, once again, a vision of such great detail and magnificence could be a scene in a fantasy movie, or one of those wild, imaginative video games!

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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 huge creatures: the likes of which I have never seen!  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

Famine hunger

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.

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 7:1-6; 8:11-12; Psalm 131

 

Dec 11 Return to the Lord

Father, 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.

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When challenges and difficulties come to me, remind me to 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.

Let me pour out my heart to You and 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 4:6-13

Dec 10 the lion has roared…

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

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Father, You gave a special message to a shepherd, Amos.  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.  America has been blessed.  And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct.  Right now, that is not looking good.

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 and our 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 3:1-15; 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 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.”

And John 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 this IS revelation!

Father, let me read and hear and heed what You share 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!

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 all we have been so generously given is 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 1:1-10, 24-25Proverbs 29:16

 

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

purple-grapes-vineyard-napa-valley-napa-vineyard-45209Father, 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.

fig-tree-1658686_960_720A 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 and lives I have impacted.  It is a good feeling that any positive influence will continue on in their lives.  I feel that same delight and hope when I think of my children.

But then all was taken away: “…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 ones 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 126:1-3

Dec 6 Rebellion to Repentance

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“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.

Even my freedom to express my spiritual viewpoint is being stifled when it is 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 125:1-2

 

 

Dec 5 Peace in the storm

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

Jesus calms sea

Father, You are 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 shown 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.   And 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– 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 Pray 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!

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The 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 truth.

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.

PrayforPeace

I pray for Your 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

Dec 2 Your Word is still our prayer

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 using the very words of Daniel, “I pray to You, the Lord my God and confess:


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“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 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 and 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.

sandpapercrossedHelp 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.   They 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 my rough spots, 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 invest in what is eternal.  Amen

I John 2:1-17

Nov 30 Lead me in the Light

light on man

Father, 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 sin is 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 1:5-10; Psalm 119:169-176

Nov 29 Let me be like Daniel

“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.” 

Daniel lion den

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.

Let me be like Daniel.   Make me steadfast in my faith, recognizing You are worthy to be worshipped no matter the social or political climate.  Help 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.

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 119:133-135

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 2:1-10; Psalm 119:113-128

Nov 27 You light my path

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Father, recently I found myself walking with a group in the dark.

I had a small flashlight which came in handy as the sidewalk was broken and uneven.  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

Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5; Galatians 6:9; Isaiah 46:3-4

 

 

 

 

Nov 26 Teach me

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!

aec-1782427_640Sometimes 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 that time, people worshipped pagan gods who they believed had power and influence over a specific thing like rainfall, crops, 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

Word lamp unto my feet

“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.”

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 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.  While in the flesh, Jesus, You had all the power in the world, but it was still “submitted to” or “under the control of” God the Father’s will.

Let me learn humility and submission by Your example.  Give me Your strength, and help me submit it to Your will.

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

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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.

Now 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.”

How 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 “application”

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.”

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 You Word is Treasure

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.

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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

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giving thanks when I am happy

for healing when I am sick

for help when I am in trouble

for the wisdom to stay on Your path

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.

So, 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…

GivinghandsandredpushpinFather, 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.

But 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.

I draw near to You Father, 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.

As long as You have me living here on the earth, Lord, 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

Father, James says Abraham’s “ faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

bible-839093_1920I pray that my life and faith will be the same.

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 Be 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.

Teach me how to keep “a tight rein on [my] tongue;” how to listen more and speak less.  I want the blessing in doing this.

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

Father, help me “consider it pure joy whenever [I] face trials of many kinds.”

road-sign-940630_640 (1)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 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 it was usually 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.

Today we also have spiritual leaders whose lives do not honor You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment so I will 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 bringing inner peace, to fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on 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.  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 34:1-10; Hebrews 13:1-24

 

Nov 15 Help me live in peace

“…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.

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Because 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.

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. Help me live my life with the understanding that 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.

Father, thank You that I can approach You every time I need support in any of these areas.  Not like in Moses’ time where anyone who touched even the mountain where You were had to be killed. You have done with Your precious blood what the blood of goats and lambs could not.  I can now come to You directly, and hear Your voice without perishing.

I want to live in peace as Paul suggests.  You are my help.  And there is none like You: The Prince of Peace.  Amen

Hebrews 12:14-49

 

Nov 14 Help me run the race

Father, I love Your Words in today’s Scriptures!  And 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 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 12:1-3; Psalm 112:1-10; Proverbs 27:17