Tag: blessing

June 14 Obedience is better than sacrifice

letter to GodFather, here are three examples of people You told specifically what to do.  The ones who disobeyed You, paid a terrible price

1  Rehoboam, Solomon’s son who inherited the kingdom, was given a word by You through Shemaiah.  Although it was Rehoboam’s plan to rally the forces and attack Israel, he stopped that plan, obeying Your instruction.  All his army went home, safe.

2  Jeroboam had been told at his anointing, that he would be king over ten tribes of Israel, and have a dynasty as enduring as David’s.  Jeroboam would rule over all his heart desired IF he would obey Your commands and walk in Your ways, and do what is right in Your eyes.   But he did not.  He made golden idols and led the people to worship them instead of You.  This led to his downfall and destruction.

3  A man You sent to prophesy against the altar Jeroboam set up, did as You said at first.  His prophecies came true.  But he was tricked, deceived into stopping to eat and drink where You had told him not to.  He paid with his life that day.

Father, help me take seriously what You instruct me to do. 

Strengthen me to be obedient – to change my plans if need be – in order to obey.  Even if what You tell me goes against what seems to be logical human thought – let me clearly understand what I am to do, and recognize if I am straying from it. 

Protect me from those who would deceive or trick me into being led away from Your command. 

Help me, through obedience, to stay in Your blessing and in Your will.  Amen

I Kings 11:29-39; 12:20-13:34

June 10 I seek Your blessing

child-praying-hands-1510773_640 (1)O Lord, I desire to be blessed by You.  I fear You with respect to the acknowledgement of who You are: Creator, Savior, Deliverer, the One True God.

My attitude towards You is one of reverence and honor.  You are so high above me, yet You invite me to come to You, to approach You, and to be in Your presence.

That in itself is a blessing.  Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond what I can think or even imagine.

Father, help me know Your ways and walk in them as I live day to day.  Show me how to honor You by living according to Your commands.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to know what is right and honoring to You.

And give me the strength of character to choose the right and turn away from the wrong.  Being obedient to Your ways keeps me under the umbrella of Your protection and blessing.

I ask for Your blessing all the days of my life.  For protection, prosperity, purposeful living in joy, health, wholeness, security – summed up in the word “shalom”- peace.

Thank You for Your shalom, for Your “peace.”   Amen

Psalm 128:1-6

June 8 Thank You for the people in my life

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Father, help me be more like Solomon.  When You told him “Ask for whatever you want Me to give you.”  He was not quick with a Christmas list of desired material possessions.  Even before You granted him wisdom beyond all human possibility, he answered wisely.

He began by acknowledging Your kindness and faithfulness to his father David.  He focused on You, and what You had already done in his life.  Then he presented himself humbly – as an individual and as a ruler.  He recognized the enormity of both the blessing and the responsibility You had given him.  And in the face of this, he asked for wisdom.

Let this be a pattern for my prayer life as well.

Lord, I truly acknowledge Your faithfulness to me.  I can’t begin to understand all the pieces You brought into place for my being here now, as one of Your children.

How interconnected are the lives of the people You orchestrated to impact my life: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, Sunday school teachers, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, co-workers.  You not only coordinated who they were and how they influenced me, but where they were, as I moved across the country almost every year growing up.  That blows my mind!

You have blessed me in the roles I play to others: daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother, friend, teacher, labor coach, and in the intimate way I have been able to relate to people at significant times in their lives.  I feel very inadequate to fill the needs of the people You give me opportunities to minister to.  On my own, I cannot do it.

Give me a discerning heart to speak to and relate to those You bring into my life.  Help me distinguish between right and wrong and be able to speak the truth in love into their lives as I live my life according to Your guidance.   Show me when to speak and when to keep silent.  Show me how to share the understanding You have given me when it comes to teaching and encouraging others.

Father, thank You for the blessing of all those You have brought into my life.  Help me care for them in Your love, in Your strength, and in Your name.  Amen

I Kings 3:4-9

June 5 All I have is from You

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Dear Lord, I see myself all over today’s scriptures.  Like David taking a census of Israel, I sometimes do things that are not right for my family or me.  I persist in the activity or behavior by some sense or motivation that I become adamant about.

Father, open my ears to the wise counsel You send into my life.  Let me be dissuaded from pursuing ungodly ends.

Lord, I identify with the man at the gate, crippled from birth.  Surely I was also unable to walk in Your light until I came to know You.

But Peter said “Look at us!”  And when the man gave them his attention, he received.

It wasn’t until I gave You my full attention, read Your Word, really listened to the lessons others taught me from Your Word, that I received the ability to walk in Your truth, Your light.  Thank You for sending each one of these helpers into my life.  Thank You for directing my understanding, and opening my eyes to Your truth.

Peter also said “And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made …”

I too am an heir of all that You revealed through the prophets – because I live in a time when I can see that they have been fulfilled in You!

Like the psalmist, I also “lift up my eyes to You.”  I live only because of Your mercy.

Although I am not familiar with being a slave, I can understand that a slave receives only what is provided by the master.

I realize that all I have comes from You: the goodness and blessing I do not deserve, the loving family and friends, the freedoms I enjoy in this country, the medical and technological advances I benefit from.  Thank You for choosing this time and place for me to be born.  All I have is from You, and I am richly, richly blessed.

Lead me in the way that will direct my words, my actions, my attitudes to honor You and bring glory to Your name.  Amen

2 Samuel 24:1-25; Acts 3:1-26; Psalm 123:1-2

June 2 Guide me

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Father, thank You for meeting me where I am. Don’t ever let me try to live life without You.  Even when I don’t know which way to go, I desire the companionship of Your company and the blessing You offer when I am following Your instruction. 

After Your resurrection, several of Your disciples returned to fishing.  But one long night when their efforts yielded no catch, You found them.  From the shore, You told them to throw down their nets on the right side of the boat.  And an enormous catch was brought in.  You blessed their obedience.

Lord, there are so many things pulling at me, personally and in our world today – Covid, injustice, disunity, evil abounding in abuse of power.  So many things seem broken; and that’s on the large scale of what’s happening in the world and in my country.  I am saddened and overwhelmed.

Father, please bring comfort and healing to those families who have suffered at the hands of evil men and women.  Rescue them and bring them the peace that only You canExpose and punish the evil ones.  Let us see Your justice.

Father, when we feel lost, individually or as a nation; find us wherever we are. Show us how to be obedient and where the blessing is.  Thank You for this lesson that even when I come to the end of my efforts and have tried to do things on my own, You stand ready to show me the wayHelp me be humble enough to accept Your instruction, and obedient to follow it.  Amen

John 21:1-14

May 2 All His Benefits…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 103

Apr 9 God bless you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We kneel before You to receive this divine blessing.  Amen

Deuteronomy 33:1-29

Apr 6 Blessing or Curse ?

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

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

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

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

I choose blessing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 30 Real Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

What amazing faith!

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

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

Luke 8:40-56

Mar 23 A Blessed Life

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

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

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

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

He has tested me and refined me like silver.

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

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

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

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

He has forgiven my sin.

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

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

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

Psalm 66:1-20

Mar 22 You care for us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 65:1-13

Mar 21 Overabundant blessing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 15 A donkey speaks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80 

Mar 6 Receive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 6:24-26

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You

worship-435108_640So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 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 blessingBut 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.

You 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.

boy-1916204_640Go 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 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 15:19-22; 16:27-28; 17:3, 7; Psalm 27:5-6

Jan 31 Thank You Thank You Thank You!

pzvi92s-zms-lifelike-creations“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Two 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 will ever 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 24 Speak a blessing

godbless-youHoly 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 to speak before I think, 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.  In this I seek to be like him also.  Father, direct my path so that I finish the work You have sent me here 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 those who cross my path.  Amen

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

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

Dear Father, it seems I am a wrestler.

wrestlersJacob 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 11 Make me like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_well1995 painting of Rebeca by Michael Deas

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 9 Creation – Infinitely Diverse!

blue-979387_640

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!

butterfly-1575701_640You 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 in its predator.

You designed the beauty and delicateness of a colorful butterfly that flutters so gently, but has a chemical covering that tastes so bad that predators stay away from it.

The list is endless of amazing developments, biological and behavioral, simply in the insect world!

And I can rejoice and be glad because You, this powerful and creative God, know me, and love me, and hear my prayers, and answer them!

I could not be more blessed.

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

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

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

Teach me Lord. Train me to hear Your voice.

Help me be obedient. Every opportunity You give me is a chance to obey. And You are with me, coaching me to win.

Thank You for these opportunities to draw close to You – in prayer, through Your Word, and in the challenges, trials and blessings of my daily circumstances. With every one I get to experience You.

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 21:1-5; 22:1-19; Psalm 9:1-2

Jan 5 You hear my voice…

praying-614374_1920“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.”

This is the substance of my prayer today.  I lay myself and my loved ones, one by one before You, asking for Your hand to be at work in each of these relationships, and in our circumstances.

Father, You know what each of us needs better than I do, so work in each of our lives to bring about Your perfect will.

Where we have set our own will in opposition to Yours – set us back on Your path.

Some of our bodies need a physical healing; some a spiritual one.  Heal us.

Where there has been rebellion, turn our spirits to You.

Where our hearts are hard, soften them.

Give us Your help and direction.

Where there is disappointment or despair, give us a realization of Your blessings in our lives.

Where our troubles are the result of bad choices, show us those mistakes. Teach us to learn from them so they are not wasted.

Where we are wrestling with spiritual forces, rulers, principalities, authorities, and powers of this dark world and in the heavenly realms; destroy them Lord! Declare them as guilty O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their sins and rebellion against You.

We take refuge in You, and in Your mighty power! You have the resources, the authority, and the power to achieve even more than I can ask or even imagine.

Spread Your protection over us. Surround us with Your favor as with a shield. I wait for Your hand to be made visible in the lives of my family and myself so that I can see and rejoice in You and 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 1 Blessing for 2021

Father, in these words 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.

new-jersey-77916_1280

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 10 The lion has roared

leo-350690_640“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.” 

Father, You gave a special message to a shepherd, Amos.  His was not in a priestly or kingly line, yet You gave him an important message for the people.  He was a shepherd of Tekoa, a place about six miles south of Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem.

At the time, the people he spoke to thought they were doing well.  But about thirty years later, the Assyrians took Israel into captivity.  He voiced Your displeasure and coming judgment on a list of nations that were eventually judged.

Father, it seems to me that when You choose to bless a nation, You hold that nation responsible for its national conduct.  Surely each person was not guilty of the offenses listed, but the nations were judged nonetheless.

My country has been blessed.  And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct.  Right now, that is not looking good.

Amos questioned “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?”  Then answered: “The lion has roared – who will not fear?”  He was telling people there was a real and present danger.  I believe my country is being warned of a real and present danger if the people do not turn back to You.

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

In obedience to these words, would You help me remember that You are my first love; that You come before anything else in my heart.  And let me act accordingly.

Like the church in Ephesus, do not let me tolerate wicked people, or listen to false teachers, or follow the Nicolaitan teachings of lustful immorality and lording church positions and power over lay people.  Give me the strength to “persevere…endure hardships for Your name, and not grow weary

Like the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum, let me remember my wealth comes from my relationship with You.  Show me where the evil one is influencing me, or my loved ones so we can reject it.

Increase our faith 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 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17

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.” 

I do not just seek a return to simpler times.  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 to 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 1:17-25; Proverbs 29:16

Dec 2 Your Word – still our prayer

 Father, these exact 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:

foundingfathersprayLord, 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

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s Perspective

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

Even though I know You tell me that these trials produce good things in my life: “perseverance,” making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything”; I do not always rejoice when difficulties come my way.  And I don’t feel like I am being made “complete.”  I often feel just the opposite, as if I am being broken down.

road-sign-940630_640 (1)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 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 116:1-14

Oct 4 Fill me!

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

 through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him 

in every way:  

overcoming-1697546_640bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience,
and
giving joyful thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
 

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives:

not the wisdom of the world,
or the logic of the mind,
or the sense of the flesh.

For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:9-14

Oct 3 Your Presence

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Father, be near me today.  I know You have already promised never to leave me, but let me feel You especially near today.

It helps me “not be anxious about anything.”  When I feel You near, I rest in Your protection and in Your presence.

I talk to You more about what is on my mind.  If I have concerns, or questions, or praises or thanks to voice, I communicate more when I feel You near me.

It also helps me focus my thoughts on good things.  Paul said: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  That is so much easier to do when I can sense Your presence.

No matter what I’m going through, when I am conscious of Your company, I am calmer.  Though it doesn’t make sense to others, I can feel at peace even in the worst of circumstances.  Your peace, gives me the ability to rise over and above my current condition and not let it bother me as much.  I am able to transcend events and situations with a new perspective and a greater understanding from You.

It’s as if the peace You offer creates a wall around my heart and mind that tempers my thoughts and emotions, and so my responses and actions.  You guard me.  And bless me with something I can clearly see that others who do not know You, don’t have.

Thank You Father, for Your promise to never leave me.  For showing me how to recognize Your presence.  For allowing me Your peace.  Amen

Philippians 4:4-9

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return!

your-righteousness-is-perfect_blogYou bring reward to Your people.  You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.  Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

Father, help me keep my eyes on that future.  And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth.

Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track.  I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences.

They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my nation and its values.  And I wonder: Do You see?  Do You see what is happening in Your world?  The one You created so carefully?  So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

So I will remember Your promisesI trust Your plan.  And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.    

Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.”

Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You!  Thank You!  Amen

Isaiah 62:8-12; 65:8-25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 26 My Teacher

 

“I am The Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

 

Thank You Father that You are my God. Thank You that You know what is best for me and that You are willing to communicate that to me.

Open my ears and my eyes so I can understand what You are saying to me.

You tell me thatif only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

How many times have I given up that peace because I thought I knew better than You? Or because I was afraid to go forward where You were leading me? I desire the peace and well-being only You can give me. Show me how to be bold enough to follow where You lead.

Father, as I look for the way You direct me and teach me to live, I do not have to look very far. In today’s scripture, You tell me plainly: “Do not live as the Gentiles do.” This is not a cultural judgment, but a spiritual condition.

You explain they have hardened their hearts to You and to spiritual matters. This separates them from You. They live in ignorance and have a darkened understanding which dulls their sensitivity, allowing them to give in to sensuality and indulge in every kind of impurity, lust, and greed.

Father, be the light in my life that brightens my understanding and softens my heart to comprehend these Words of life You speak to me. I do not want to live separated from You, but in community with You.

Your presence blesses me, comforts me, encourages me, protects me, motivates me and spurs me on to be better than I am without You.

Father, help me put off those dishonest and deceitful ways that my flesh leads me into. Help me control my tongue, my anger, my selfish tendencies and greed. These things come from the world, the flesh and evil one who all seek to rule over and destroy me. Do not let them be master over me.

I desire what You offer me: Your peace and well-being.  Let my actions and attitudes reflect that. I will look for You to teach me the way I should go in all my circumstances. And I will be blessed in following You. Thank You. Amen

Isaiah 48:17-18; Ephesians 4:17-32

 

Sept 15 Blessings: Old and New

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

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

For Christians – show them the value and blessing to be had in the Tanakh: our Old Testament.  For although the Law You gave Moses is not the basis of salvation, that comes by grace through faith in You, there is blessing for everyone in that Law: for instance, in observing the Sabbath, and honoring our parents. 

In fact, what are known as the Ten Commandments, along with other Jewish writings that contain things spoken by You, are actually “Divine empowerments” that can release us from bondage to sin and bring us blessing. 

Too often the groups look at each other with misunderstanding and throw out even the good that would bless them.  Father, teach me to embrace Your whole truth, and live according to it. 

You are my God – who delivers me, who protects me, who arises to help me conquer whatever enemies come against me.  “You are my Strength… my fortress, my loving God.” 

Old Testament and New are filled with pictures of You, of Your strength, Your character.  Let me revel in the whole entirety of my Savior.  I sing Your praises!  Amen

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

Sept 11 Seek God’s Wisdom and Blessing

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

First they “rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah.”  These were the softly running streams of Northern Israel that brought water to provide abundant harvests of grain, but represented the provision You afforded them as a blessing.   Yet the people were not satisfied with what You supplied.

They sought other gods.  So You brought against them “mighty floodwaters of the River – the king of Assyria with all his pomp…to overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep onto Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.”  The Assyrian Empire was centered on the Tigris and Euphrates, two of the largest and mightiest rivers.  The Assyrians would spill over into Israel and flood up to their necks.  Not the kind of water that was useful for life, but a devastating, destructive flood.

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

Next, Your people ignored the signs and prophecies You gave them, and instead, sought the wisdom and guidance of mediums and spiritualists.

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

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

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

Father, if and when You send me a message like this, tenderize my heart to see to the real problem.  Do not let me ignore the spiritual issues in my life.  Prompt me to respond to those with humility and repentance.  If all is right between us, the rest will take care of itself.

It is not by might I will endure, but by Your grace, Your mercy, Your love, compassion and provision.  And it is the same for my country.  Tenderize our leaders’ hearts to see the real problem, to seek You, worship You, and turn to You for guidance.  Thank You for these lessons.  Help me remember them.  Amen

Isaiah 8:5-8; 19-22; 9:8-12

Sept 1 Unworthy…but loved and blessed

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

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It is an emotional response from a man at the end of himself, beholding Your immensity and magnificence.  But it is also a statement of fact, that is true for me and every one of Your creations.

I am unworthy.  Unworthy of Your attention, of Your blessing, of Your love.  And yet all that I enjoy in my life and in my relationship with You has nothing to do with my worthiness, or my ability to somehow earn anything from You.

I am blessed and loved and cared for, because of who You are.  Your love transcends my unworthiness.  Your faithfulness trumps my undeserving state. 

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

I know that You can do ALL things.  I have no doubt that You can heal all my infirmities.  You can take unhealthy tissue and make it whole again.

You can heal my relationships and make them god-honoring.

You can guide my children into Your wisdom and give them a hunger and thirst for You.

You can bless them with godly mentors and success in all they put their hand to.

You can return the prodigal son to right relationship with You.

Father, I believe that there is nothing in this world, or above it, or below it, that can thwart Your plans.  I trust that the plans You have for me and all my family are plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future.  I know that You are faithful to complete the good work You began in each of us.

Even if we have chosen to leave the path You have laid out for each of us, I trust that You will call us back.

You know best how to reach each of us.  Father, open our ears to hear You, and open our hearts and spirits to desire to obey You.   Strengthen our spirits when our flesh is weak.

I praise You Father, that this power resides in You.   And that in Your love and grace, “You made [Job] prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…You blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.”

Thank You for this example of Your goodness and Your blessing.   Thank You for this story of his faithfulness to You.

I pray that I too, at the end of my life, no matter what comes, I will be able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Amen

Job 40:1-42:17

Aug 18 You: behind the scenes

film-maker-294496_640Dear Heavenly Father, how unusual that Your name doesn’t even appear in the book of Esther! However, there is no doubt that all the events were orchestrated by You!

You must have known the evil in the heart of Haman who sought to destroy all Your people throughout the empire. These were Your people who You had taken into captivity for punishment of their idolatry and sinfulness. But still, there was mercy in Your action, and You protected them.

Only You could have influenced Queen Vashti to disobey the King, costing her the crown and making way for Esther, a Jew, to move into her place.

Only You could have made the servants and people around Esther so impressed with her and kind to her.

It must have been You who guided Esther to accept the advice of the eunuch in charge of the harem as she went to be presented to the King.

And only You held the heart of this king in Your hand, as he chose her for Queen.

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

Father, with all these people, places, plots, and details in Your control, how can I doubt that You know what is going on in my life?

How can I think that anything would get by You? There is no way; even if someone plotted to harm or kill me; that it would escape Your notice. And You would have a plan already in place, to deal with it. Thank You.

Thank You for Your blessing in my life every day. Help me see each one as I go through my day: waking, breathing, eating, walking, talking, learning, seeing, working, singing, praising, sharing, loving, resting, sleeping. Thank You for the peace I can rest in because I trust in You. In Your plan. In Your justice. In Your deliverance. Forever. Amen

Esther 1:1-3:15

July 31 Leaders like Hezekiah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

June 14 Obedience is better than sacrifice

letter to GodFather, here are three examples of people You told specifically what to do.  The ones who disobeyed You, paid a terrible price.

1  Rehoboam, Solomon’s son who inherited the kingdom, was given a word by You through Shemaiah.  Although it was Rehoboam’s plan to rally the forces and attack Israel, he stopped that plan, obeying Your instruction.  All his army went home, safe.

2  Jeroboam had been told at his anointing, that he would be king over ten tribes of Israel, and have a dynasty as enduring as David’s.  Jeroboam would rule over all his heart desired IF he would obey Your commands and walk in Your ways, and do what is right in Your eyes.   But he did not.  He made golden idols and led the people to worship them instead of You.  This led to his downfall and destruction.

3  A man You sent to prophesy against the altar Jeroboam set up, did as You said at first.  His prophecies came true.  But he was tricked, deceived into stopping to eat and drink where You had told him not to.  He paid with his life that day.

Father, help me take seriously what You instruct me to do.

Strengthen me to be obedient – to change my plans if need be – in order to obey.  Even if what You tell me goes against what seems to be logical human thought – let me clearly understand what I am to do, and recognize if I am straying from it.

Protect me from those who would deceive or trick me into being led away from Your command.

Help me, through obedience, to stay in Your blessing and in Your will.  Amen

I Kings 11:29-39; 12:20-13:34

June 10 I seek Your Blessing

child-praying-hands-1510773_640 (1)O Lord, I desire to be blessed by You.  I fear You with respect to the acknowledgement of who You are: Creator, Savior, Deliverer, the One True God.

My attitude towards You is one of reverence and honor.  You are so high above me, yet You invite me to come to You, to approach You, and to be in Your presence.

That in itself is a blessing.  Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond what I can think or even imagine.

Father, help me know Your ways and walk in them as I live day to day.  Show me how to honor You by living according to Your commands.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to know what is right and honoring to You.

And give me the strength of character to choose the right and turn away from the wrong.  Being obedient to Your ways keeps me under the umbrella of Your protection and blessing.

I ask for Your blessing all the days of my life.  For protection, prosperity, purposeful living in joy, health, wholeness, security – summed up in the word “shalom”- peace.  Thank You for Your shalom, for Your “peace.”   Amen

Psalm 128:1-6

June 8 Thank You for the people in my life

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Father, help me be more like Solomon.  When You told him “Ask for whatever you want Me to give you.”  He was not quick with a Christmas list of desired material possessions.  Even before You granted him wisdom beyond all human possibility, he answered wisely.

He began by acknowledging Your kindness and faithfulness to his father David.  He focused on You, and what You had already done in his life.  Then he presented himself humbly – as an individual and as a ruler.  He recognized the enormity of both the blessing and the responsibility You had given him.  And in the face of this, he asked for wisdom.

Let this be a pattern for my prayer life as well.

Lord, I truly acknowledge Your faithfulness to me.  I can’t begin to understand all the pieces You brought into place for my being here now, as one of Your children.

How interconnected are the lives of the people You orchestrated to impact my life: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, Sunday school teachers, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, co-workers.  You not only coordinated who they were and how they influenced me, but where they were, as I moved across the country almost every year growing up.  That blows my mind!

You have blessed me in the roles I play to others: daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother, friend, teacher, labor coach, and in the intimate way I have been able to relate to people at significant times in their lives.  I feel very inadequate to fill the needs of the people You give me opportunities to minister to.  On my own, I cannot do it.

Give me a discerning heart to speak to and relate to those You bring into my life.  Help me distinguish between right and wrong and be able to speak the truth in love into their lives as I live my life according to Your guidance.   Show me when to speak and when to keep silent.  Show me how to share the understanding You have given me when it comes to teaching and encouraging others.

Father, thank You for the blessing of all those You have brought into my life.  Help me care for them in Your love, in Your strength, and in Your name.  Amen

I Kings 3:4-9

June 2 Guide me

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Father, thank You for meeting me where I am. Don’t ever let me try to live life without You.  Even when I don’t know which way to go, I desire the companionship of Your company and the blessing You offer when I am following Your instruction.

After Your resurrection, several of Your disciples returned to fishing.  But one long night when their efforts yielded no catch, You found them.  From the shore, You told them to throw down their nets on the right side of the boat.  And an enormous catch was brought in.  You blessed their obedience.

Lord, there are so many things pulling at me in our world today – the pandemic, injustice, disunity, evil abounding in abuse of power.  So many things seem broken; and that’s on the large scale of what’s happening in the world and in my country.  I am saddened and overwhelmed.

Father, please bring comfort and healing to those families who have suffered at the hands of evil men and women.  Rescue them and bring them the peace that only You can.  Expose and punish the evil ones. Let us see Your justice.

Father, when we feel lost, individually or as a nation; find us wherever we are. Show us how to be obedient and where the blessing is.  Thank You for this lesson that even when I come to the end of my efforts and have tried to do things on my own, You stand ready to show me the way.  Help me be humble enough to accept Your instruction, and obedient to follow it.  Amen

John 21:1-14; Psalm 120:1-4

May 7 It’s all about You

Father, let me be like Hannah.

Hannah words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Samuel 1:1-2:11

May 2 All His benefits…

gratitude-1251137_640“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even in this time of distancing and isolation, I am safer and better off than most of the rest of the world.  Even in this temporary, difficult time, I have so much to be thankful for.

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

Psalm 103

April 9 God Bless you

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord God, would You bless each one of us right now, with the full definition and meaning of the Hebrew word for bless:

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

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

Empower, energize and enable us to reach the fullness of our divine purpose.  We kneel before You to receive this divine blessing.  Amen

Deuteronomy 33:1-29

April 6 Blessing or Curse?

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

Blessing Curse

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

And they still do today.  But I choose blessing.

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

They refused your advice.  People still do today.

But I choose blessing.

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

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

Psalm 78 says,“O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  Then they will put their trust in God, not forget His deeds, and keep His commands.”

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

Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Luke 11:37-54; Psalm 78:1-8  

Mar 30 Real Faith

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

hem-garment1Jairus came to You knowing his daughter was sick unto death.  Probably the wisdom of doctors and medical science had done all they could; and still he came, believing, expecting that You could be the source of her healing.  Even when he received word that his daughter was dead, You told him not to be afraid, and he responded with faith.

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

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

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

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

What amazing faith!

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

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

Luke 8:40-56

Mar 23 A blessed life

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

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

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

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

He has tested me and refined me like silver.

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

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

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

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

He has forgiven my sin.

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

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

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

Psalm 66:1-20

Mar 22 You care for us

panorama-3311973_640“O Father, who hears our prayers, forgive us when we are overwhelmed by sin.  You are the hope of all the ends of the earth.

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

Father, care for us as You care for the land.  Pour out on us what we need for growth and fruitfulness in our spiritual lives.  Provide us with the nourishment we need to grow in maturity and grace.

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

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

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

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

Psalm 65:1-13

 

Mar 21 Overabundant blessing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In these troubling times so many of my plans are falling apart.  People are scared.  Jobs are disappearing.  Celebrations are being called off and we are feeling alone and insecure.  We cannot see the future to make plans according to our “wisdom” any longer.

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

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

Mar 15 A donkey speaks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80 

Mar 6 Receive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 6:24-26

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.

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You 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 2 I choose Praise!

sing-a-new-song-2-1428461-639x582Heavenly 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 15:19-22; 16:1-17:7; Psalm 27:5-6

Jan 31 Thank You Thank You Thank You!

pzvi92s-zms-lifelike-creations“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Two 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 will ever 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 24 Speak a blessing

godbless-youHoly 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 to speak before I think, 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.  In this I seek to be like him also.  Father, direct my path so that I finish the work You have sent me here 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 those who cross my path.  Amen

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

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

Dear Father, it seems I am a wrestler.

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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 11 Be like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_well1995 painting of Rebeca by Michael Deas

O 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 9 Creation – Infinitely Diverse!

I will praise You O Lord! With all my heart and mind and soul and strength! I will sing praise to Your name, for You are Most High!

I will tell of Your wonders! For You have created the magnificent heavens and earth, and everything in them.

Your imagination and creativity and diversity are beyond measure! Every time I hear of a new bit of biology, or physics, or chemistry, I am overwhelmed and amazed!

You thought up and created a tiny beetle that defends itself by shooting 2 separate chemicals out of its body that join in mid-air to produce intense stinging and burning irritation in its predator.

You designed the beauty and delicateness of a colorful butterfly that flutters so gently, but has a chemical covering that tastes so bad that predators stay away from it.

The list is endless of amazing developments, biological and behavioral, simply in the insect world!

And I can rejoice and be glad because You, this powerful and creative God, know me, and love me, and hear my prayers, and answer them!

I could not be more blessed.

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

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

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

Teach me Lord. Train me to hear Your voice.

And help me be obedient to it. 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 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

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 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.  His was not in a priestly or kingly line, yet You gave him an important message for the people.  He was a shepherd of Tekoa, a place about six miles south of Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem.

At the time, the people he spoke to thought they were doing well.  But about thirty years later, the Assyrians took Israel into captivity.  He voiced Your displeasure and coming judgment on a list of nations that were eventually judged.

Father, it seems to me that when You choose to bless a nation, You hold that nation responsible for its national conduct.  Surely each person was not guilty of the offenses listed, but the nations were judged nonetheless.

My country has been blessed.  And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct.  Right now, that is not looking good.

Amos questioned “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?”  Then answered: “The lion has roared – who will not fear?”  He was telling people there was a real and present danger.  I believe my country is being warned of a real and present danger if the people do not turn back to You.

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

In obedience to these words, would You help me remember that You are my first love; that You come before anything else in my heart.  And let me act accordingly.

Like the church in Ephesus, do not let me tolerate wicked people, or listen to false teachers, or follow the Nicolaitan teachings of lustful immorality and lording church positions and power over lay people.  Give me the strength to “persevere…endure hardships for Your name, and not grow weary.”

Like the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum, let me remember my wealth comes from my relationship with You.  Show me where the evil one is influencing me, or my loved ones so we can reject it.

Increase our faith 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 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17

Dec 8 May America bloom

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O 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 to 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 1:17-25; Proverbs 29:16

Dec 2 Your Word is still our prayer

Father, exact 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

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s perspective

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

Even though I know You tell me that these trials produce good things in my life: “perseverance,” making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything”; I do not always rejoice when difficulties come my way.  And I don’t feel like I am being made “complete.”  I often feel just the opposite, as if I am being broken down.

road-sign-940630_640 (1)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 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

Oct 11 A tree planted by the water

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This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes… 

 

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But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”

Father, what a clear picture comparing those who trust in You and those who do not.  I have lived in the desert.  I have seen bushes living in the wasteland.  They do not grow tall or look healthy.  They barely look alive.  And they don’t last long.

And I have seen tall, lush, green, long-lived trees that grow by the water.  Saturated with the moisture they need, they can withstand periods of extreme heat and drought.  There is enough to sustain green leaves that gather the sunlight.  And there is always sufficient energy and life in these trees to produce fruit in season.  What a contrast!

Lord, let me be a tree planted by Your water!  When planting, one plans the location based on the needs of the tree.  Its roots grow quickly in the direction of the water.

I desire this blessing, so I will turn away from trusting in man’s philosophies and knowledge.  I will not count on my own strength to accomplish what the world would lead me to do.  But I will turn to You for guidance.  I will trust in Your wisdom, Your strength, and Your purpose for my life.

As You are the Living Water, I drink deeply of Your love, Your truth, and Your provision for me.  My roots are my faith, which is solidly grounded in the truth of who You are; and my identity which comes from You.  So when heat comes as hardship and trials, it is You who sustains me and Your power that produces fruit in me.

Even now, Lord, I seek direction on issues I face.  Please speak to me and give me Your perspective and insight.  And make me bold to act on what You say.  I place my confidence in You.

And this is the confidence that I have: not that things will always turn out well, but that regardless of how they turn out, You will be there with me, and use it for good.

Father, You are the One I praise.  You are the One I serve.  You are the One I worship.  You are my Hope and my Healer, my Savior and my Strength, my Fortress, my Refuge and my Reward.  And I am blessed.  Amen

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Oct 4 Fill me!

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way:

 

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bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.  

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives: not the wisdom of the world, or the logic of the mind, or the sense of the flesh.  For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:1-17

Oct 3 Your Presence

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Father, be near me today.  I know You have already promised never to leave me, but let me feel You especially near today.

It helps me “not be anxious about anything.”  When I feel You near, I rest in Your protection and in Your presence.

I talk to You more about what is on my mind.  If I have concerns, or questions, or praises or thanks to voice, I communicate more when I feel You near me.

It also helps me focus my thoughts on good things.  Paul said: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  That is so much easier to do when I can sense Your presence.

No matter what I am going through, when I am conscious of Your company, I am calmer.  Though it doesn’t make sense to others, I can feel at peace even in the worst of circumstances.  Your peace, gives me the ability to rise over and above my current condition and not let it bother me as much.  I am able to transcend events and situations with a new perspective and a greater understanding from You.

It is as if the peace You offer creates a wall around my heart and mind that tempers my thoughts and emotions, and so my responses and actions.  You guard me.  And bless me with something I can clearly see that others who do not know You, don’t have.

Thank You Father, for Your promise to never leave me.  For showing me how to recognize Your presence.  For allowing me Your peace.  Amen

Philippians 4:4-9

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return!

You bring reward to Your people.  You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.  Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

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Father, help me keep my eyes on that future.  And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth.

 

Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track.  I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences.

They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my society and its values.  And I wonder: Do You see?  Do You see what is happening in Your world?  The one You created so carefully?  So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

But I will remember Your promises.  I trust Your plan.  And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.   

Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.”

Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You!  Thank You!  Amen

Isaiah 62:8-12; 65:8-25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 26 My Teacher

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“I am The Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Thank You Father that You are my God. Thank You that You know what is best for me and that You are willing to communicate that to me.

Open my ears and my eyes so I can understand what You are saying to me.

You tell me that “if only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

How many times have I given up that peace because I thought I knew better than You? Or because I was afraid to go forward where You were leading me? I desire the peace and well-being only You can give me. Show me how to be bold enough to follow where You lead.

Father, as I look for the way You direct me and teach me to live, I do not have to look very far. In today’s scripture, You tell me plainly: “Do not live as the Gentiles do.” This is not a cultural judgment, but a spiritual condition.

You explain they have hardened their hearts to You and to spiritual matters which separates them from You. They live in ignorance and have a darkened understanding which dulls their sensitivity, allowing them to give in to sensuality and indulge in every kind of impurity, lust, and greed.

Father, be the light in my life that brightens my understanding and softens my heart to comprehend these Words of life You speak to me. I do not want to live separate from, but in community with You.

Your presence blesses me, comforts me, encourages me, protects me, motivates me and spurs me on to be better than I am without You.

Father, help me put off those dishonest and deceitful ways that my flesh leads me into. Help me control my tongue, my anger, my selfish tendencies and greed. These things come from the world, the flesh and the evil one who all seek to rule over and destroy me. Do not let them be master over me.

I desire what You offer me: Your peace and well-being. Let my actions and attitudes reflect that. I will look for You to teach me the way I should go in all my circumstances. And I will be blessed in following You. Thank You. Amen

Isaiah 48:17-18; Ephesians 4:17-32

Sept 15 Blessings: Old and New

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

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

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

In fact, what are known as the Ten Commandments, along with other Jewish writings, contain things that were spoken by You.  These are actually “Divine empowerments” that can release us from bondage to sin and bring us blessing.

Too often the groups look at each other with misunderstanding and throw out even the good that would bless them.  Father, teach me to embrace Your whole truth, and live according to it.

You are my God – who delivers me, who protects me, who arises to help me conquer whatever enemies come against me.  “You are my Strength… my fortress, my loving God.”

Old Testament and New are filled with pictures of You, of Your strength, Your character.  Let me revel in the whole entirety of my Savior.  I sing Your praises!  Amen

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

 

Sept 11 Seek God’s wisdom and blessing

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

TodaysLessonsboard.jpgFirst they “rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah.”  These were the softly running streams of Northern Israel that brought water to provide abundant harvests of grain, but represented the provision You afforded them as a blessing.   Yet the people were not satisfied with what You supplied.

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They sought other gods.  So You brought against them “mighty floodwaters of the River – the king of Assyria with all his pomp…to overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep onto Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.”  The Assyrian Empire was centered on the Tigris and Euphrates, two of the largest and mightiest rivers.  The Assyrians would spill over into Israel and flood up to their necks.  Not the kind of water that was useful for life, but a devastating, destructive flood.

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

Next, Your people ignored the signs and prophecies You gave them, and instead, sought the wisdom and guidance of mediums and spiritualists.

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

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

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

Father, if and when You send me a message like this, tenderize my heart to see to the real problem.  Do not let me ignore the spiritual issues in my life.  Prompt me to respond to those with humility and repentance.

If all is right between us, the rest will take care of itself.  It is not by might I will endure, but by Your grace, Your mercy, Your love, compassion and provision.  And it is the same for my country.  Tenderize our leaders’ hearts to see the real problem, to seek You, worship You, and turn to You for guidance.  Thank You for these lessons.  Help me remember them.  Amen

Isaiah 8:5-9:21

Sept 1 Unworthy but loved and blessed

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

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It is an emotional response from a man at the end of himself, beholding Your immensity and magnificence.  But it is also a statement of fact, that is true for me and every one of Your creations.

I am unworthy.  Unworthy of Your attention, of Your blessing, of Your love.  And yet all that I enjoy in my life and in my relationship with You has nothing to do with my worthiness, or my ability to somehow earn anything from You.

I am blessed and loved and cared for, because of who You are.  Your love transcends my unworthiness.  Your faithfulness trumps my undeserving state.

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

I know that You can do ALL things.  I have no doubt that You can heal all my infirmities.  You can take unhealthy tissue and make it whole again.

You can heal my relationships and make them god-honoring.

You can guide my children into Your wisdom and give them a hunger and thirst for You.

You can bless them with godly mentors and success in all they put their hand to.

You can return the prodigal son to right relationship with You.

Father, I believe that there is nothing in this world, or above it, or below it, that can thwart Your plans.  I trust that the plans You have for me and all my family are plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future.  I know that You are faithful to complete the good work You began in each of us.

Even if we have chosen to leave the path You have laid out for each of us, I trust that You will call us back.

You know best how to reach each of us.  Father, open our ears to hear You, and open our hearts and spirits to desire to obey You.   Strengthen our spirits when our flesh is weak.

I praise You Father, that this power resides in You.   And that in Your love and grace, “You made [Job] prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…You blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.”

Thank You for this example of Your goodness and Your blessing.   Thank You for this story of his faithfulness to You.

I pray that I too, at the end of my life, no matter what comes, I will be able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Amen

Job 40:1-42:17

Aug 18 Behind the scenes

film-maker-294496_640Dear Heavenly Father, how unusual that Your name doesn’t even appear in the book of Esther!  However, there is no doubt that all the events were orchestrated by You!

You must have known the evil in the heart of Haman who sought to destroy all Your people throughout the empire.  These were Your people who You had taken into captivity for punishment of their idolatry and sinfulness.  But still, there was mercy in Your action, and You protected them.

Only You could have influenced Queen Vashti to disobey the King, costing her the crown and making way for Esther, a Jew, to move into her place.

Only You could have made the servants and people around Esther so impressed with her and kind to her.

It must have been You who guided Esther to accept the advice of the eunuch in charge of the harem as she went to be presented to the King.

And only You held the heart of this king in Your hand, as he chose her for Queen.

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

Father, with all these people, places, plots, and details in Your control, how can I doubt that You know what is going on in my life?

How can I think that anything would get by You?  There is no way; even if someone plotted to harm or kill me; that it would escape Your notice.   And You would have a plan already in place, to deal with it.  Thank You.

So like the psalmist, I agree that You will humiliate and disgrace those who rejoice at my troubles.  You will cover with shame and dishonor any who would seek to triumph over me.  And I will ever say “Great is the Lord, who delights in blessing His servant with peace.”

Thank You for Your blessing in my life every day.  Help me see each one as I go through my day: waking, breathing, eating, walking, talking, learning, seeing, working, singing, praising, sharing, loving, resting, sleeping.  Thank You for the peace I can rest in because I trust in You.  In Your plan.  In Your justice.  In Your deliverance.  Forever.  Amen

Esther 1:1-3:15; Psalm 35:17-28 

June 10 I seek Your blessing

child-praying-hands-1510773_640 (1)O Lord, I desire to be blessed by You.  I fear You with respect to the acknowledgement of who You are: Creator, Savior, Deliverer, the one True God.

My attitude towards You is one of reverence and honor.  You are so high above me, yet You invite me to come to You, to approach You, and to be in Your presence.

That in itself is a blessing.  Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond what I can think or even imagine.

Father, help me know Your ways and walk in them as I live day to day.  Show me how to honor You by living according to Your commands.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to know what is right and honoring to You.

And give me the strength of character to choose the right and turn away from the wrong.  Being obedient to Your ways keeps me under the umbrella of Your protection and blessing.

I ask for Your blessing all the days of my life.  For protection, prosperity, purposeful living in joy, health, wholeness, security – summed up in the word “shalom”: peace.  Thank You for Your shalom, for Your “peace.”   Amen

Psalm 128:1-6

June 8 Thank You for the people in my life

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Father, help me be more like Solomon.  When You told him “Ask for whatever you want Me to give you.”  He was not quick with a Christmas list of desired material possessions.  Even before You granted him wisdom beyond all human possibility, he answered wisely.

He began by acknowledging Your kindness and faithfulness to his father David.  He focused on You, and what You had already done in his life.  Then he presented himself humbly – as an individual and as a ruler.  He recognized the enormity of both the blessing and the responsibility You had given him.  And in the face of this, he asked for wisdom.

Let this be a pattern for my prayer life as well.

Lord, I truly acknowledge Your faithfulness to me.  I can’t begin to understand all the pieces that You brought into place for my being here now, as one of Your children.

How interconnected are the lives of the people You orchestrated to impact my life: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, Sunday school teachers, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, co-workers.  You not only coordinated who they were and how they influenced me, but where they were, as I moved across the country almost every year growing up.  That blows my mind!

You have blessed me in the roles I play to others: daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother, friend, teacher, labor coach, and in the intimate way I have been able to relate to people at significant times in their lives.  I feel very inadequate to fill the needs of the people You give me opportunities to minister to.  On my own, I cannot do it.

Give me a discerning heart to speak to and relate to those You bring into my life.  Help me distinguish between right and wrong and be able to speak the truth in love into their lives as I live my life according to Your guidance.   Show me when to speak and when to keep silent.  Show me how to share the understanding You have given me when it comes to teaching and encouraging others.

Father, thank You for the blessing of all those You have brought into my life.  Help me care for them in Your love, in Your strength, and in Your name.  Amen

I Kings 3:4-9

May 9 How to remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You for knowing I need help remembering.  Thank You for telling me over and over again about the things that are important, and of Your love for me.  Amen

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

May 7 It’s all about You

Father, let me be like Hannah.

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

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

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

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

It is not by strength that I or anyone else prevails, but You who guard my feet and give me strength and victory over my enemies.

I delight in Your deliverance and in Your justice.  You are the Lord God Almighty who knows and weighs all deeds.  You laid the foundations of the world and set it in place.  There is no one holy like You.

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen

I Samuel 1:1-2:11

 

May 2 All His benefits…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 103

Apr 12 I confess and You bless

maninfiledO Almighty God!

O Lord who is omnipotent,

all powerful,

omnipresent,

at all places

at all times,

and omniscient,

knowing all things.  It is hard to imagine the scope and depth of Your power and presence because it is so far beyond anything that is humanly possible.

Forgive me when I forget that You know all things, and try to hide my sin from You.

How foolish of me to think that I can keep something hidden from You and go on like it never happened.  You knew that some of the Israelites held back plunder from the victory at Jericho.  And there were consequences for their disobedience.  It cost thirty-six men their lives in a battle, and ultimately, the lives of all those who hid their sin.

It is so human of me, and yet so wrong, to think I can ask You to answer my prayers with blessing, when I am hiding sin.  I cannot expect You to bless me in my marriage, for instance, if I am gossiping, spreading disunity among my friends.  Before I can ask for Your favor, there are things I need to confess.

It’s not that I am telling You something You don’t already know.  The Greek word for confess is “homologo.”  It means “same word.”  So I am simply agreeing with what You already know; and with Your assessment that my action or attitude is sinful.

And You promise that when I confess my sin and turn from it, You are faithful, and will forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness and guilt.

Just like the Prodigal Son, when I return to You and confess my sin, You run to me, throw Your arms around me and celebrate my return to right relationship with You!

O Father, I desire miraculous victories like the Battle of Jericho in my life.  Keep me from temptation.  Help me quickly see sin for what it is and turn from it.

And when I stray from You, bring me to my senses and set my feet back on the path to You.  That is the path of blessing and victory! Amen

Joshua 7:1-15; Luke 15:11-24; I John 1:9   

Apr 11 Courage for the next step

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

“Hear me, You who sit enthroned between the cherubim” on the golden Ark of the Covenant that Moses had made so the High Priest could seek Your face and wisdom in making atonement when Your presence dwelt there in the form of a pillar of cloud.  

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“Awaken Your might!  Come and save me!”

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

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

What a missed opportunity that would have been, had they not had the courage to do as You said!

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

I am sad to say that very often, I delay our time together because there are errands to run, shopping to do, bills to pay, or meals to fix.  These are all things that really do need to be done, but it shows that my priorities are not right.

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

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

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

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

Apr 9 God bless you

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

Blessings

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

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

Even before that, You blessed Your creation of man and woman.  It was an empowerment for them to be all You created them to be.

In this empowerment there is a release from any and all restrictions or limitations preventing them from reaching their potential to participate in their divine purpose.

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

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

Lord God, would You bless me right now, and bless every reader as they speak this prayer, based on the definition and the full meaning of the Hebrew word for bless:

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

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

Empower, energize and enable us to reach the fullness of our divine purpose.  We kneel before You to receive this divine blessing.  Amen

Deuteronomy 33:1-29

 

Apr 6 Blessing or Curse ?

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

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

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

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

I choose blessing.

Centuries later when You ate with a Pharisee, and the other Pharisees questioned, You spoke plainly to them about the hypocrisy of their lives.  You told them it was more important to live a pure life in terms of character and attitude rather than just “look good” from the outside.  They were to give to the poor, not neglect justice, and be instruments of Your love.

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

You explained how they hid the key to knowledge so no one could enter in the door the key would have unlocked.  You accused them of revering the prophets You had sent, only after they had killed them.

As You spoke to them, they could have responded to all this teaching and rebuking with humility and obedience.  But they did not.  You speak to hypocrisy in my life too.  Father, let me respond with humility and obedience.

Again, I choose the blessing.

Psalm 78 says “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things, things from old … We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done…Then they will put their trust in God, not forget His deeds, and keep His commands.”

It goes on to tell how a stubborn and rebellious generation perished in disobedience.

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

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

Deuteronomy 30:1-20; Luke 11:37-54; Psalm 78:1-31 

 

Apr 1 Envy to Praise!

car-160343_640Sometimes it is hard to be in this world, Lord.

There are times I look around and it sure seems like the evil, immoral, prideful, arrogant people are prospering.  They seem to have lives of ease and problems that are fixed by money and power.  It is hard not to be envious when I see their beautiful bodies, homes and cars and it seems every need they have is met.

You are so good to me!  In 1990 You gave me a song to sing when I feel this way.  It always lifts my spirit.  And reminds me that You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!

Has a Reggae – Calypso kind of 4/4 feel…

Some times I look at my life, I don’t like what I see:

I’m not rich, I’m not famous – my glass is lookin’ half empty!

I don’t live in a mansion, I don’t drive a brand new car

Sometimes I look at the rich and want to be where they are!

 

Then I look at my Savior, and what He’s given to me:

Gave me love, gave me salvation, He gave me life eter-nally

He has to-tally cleansed me and washed me white as snow

And He taught me a very good lesson “Man does not – live by bread alone”

 

Chorus:

Je-sus  Je-e-sus  You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

 

Some people think that their life is just for collecting toys

They stockpile cars, boats and money and hope it will bring them joy but

That’s not the reason for livin’  No that’s not why He came

Jesus died, is now glorified and we can call on His name

 

Chorus

 

Now I look at my life – I’m happy with what I see

I’ve got peace, I’ve got contentment – My Lord Jehovah cares for me

I got a mansion in Heaven I know one day I’ll see

And I know my cup overflows with blessing poured out on me – from

fernando-brasil-103271Je-sus  Je-e-sus  You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

Amen

Psalm 73:1-28

Mar 24 Tracing God’s Faithfulness

Dear Lord, I don’t often take time to look back over my life to see where I’ve been.  Or evaluate how I got here.  But this is what Moses is doing for these young Israelite people who are about to come into their promised land.

Printable-Timeline-Template-for-StudentBecause their fathers and mothers rebelled against You and died in the desert over those last forty years, it is important that these young people know where they came from and how they got there.

Namely, that it was You who delivered them and their parents from slavery, which they probably don’t remember; and led them through the desert, which has been their only memory; and brought them to this place of promise, which they may or may not have been taught was promised long ago to their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is important that they see that You are their Deliverer, and their Promise Keeper.  That is was You who has brought them out of four hundred years of slavery with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.  They need to be aware of the miracles You did to free them from the Pharaoh.

One perspective on the relationship is that they need to understand You are a deserving, willing, and capable Bridegroom who has a marriage covenant with them, so they will remain faithful to You.  This is difficult for a generation who mostly missed the amazing, miraculous way You interceded on their behalf.

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

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

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

Unlike Moses, it has been over forty years for me.  Time to take a moment and give You thanks.  Amen

Deuteronomy 2:1-29; especially 2:7-8

Mar 23 A blessed life

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

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

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

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

He has tested me and refined me like silver.

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

He has blessed me with loved ones, with friends, with a sense of purpose in life.  He has provided me with hope, love, and a heavenly Father I can trust.  He has comforted me with scriptures, by singing me songs; with revelations of His perspective, by sending people to talk with me, counsel me, rejoice and cry with me.

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

He has forgiven my sin.

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

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

Father, let me never forget these things or all that You have done for me.  Let me never shy away from an opportunity to tell others about them and about You.   Amen

Psalm 66:1-20

 

 

 

Mar 21 Overabundant blessing!

fishinboat1O Lord, how often do I make my own plan, instead of seeking Yours, or going along with the one You started me out on?  How many blessings have I missed, because I went my own way?

The Reubenites and Gadites saw with their eyes, that the land they were on was good enough for them; and asked for it rather than waiting for the land You had promised to all the tribes.  In their view, what they were seeing was good enough, and it was given to them.

I wonder if they prayed about that decision?  Or how they sought wisdom on the matter?  Or if they were just tired of being on the move and wanted to stop and settle?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Help me hear Your instruction clearly.  Embolden me to act with godly wisdom.  Keep me on the path of Your plan.   And let me receive Your blessing with gratitude and thanksgiving!  Amen

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

Mar 18 Heaven or earth?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 61:1-8

Mar 15 A donkey speaks!

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O God, do for me what You did for Balaam.

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

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

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

Help me stay focused on You and the blessings You give, like Elizabeth and Zechariah.  Your blessing to them was an answer to many prayers on their part and prophecy on Your part.  They were faithful to handle that blessing as You instructed: their son John the Baptist.

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

Let me grow strong in spirit as John did.  And I will also proclaim Your wonders to others.  You have made a path of redemption, sent a means of salvation.  Jesus is His name.  In Him is the victory over death and all enemies.  In Him is eternal life.  I am ever humbled and blessed.  Amen

Numbers 22:21-23:30; Luke 1:57-80 

Mar 10 Fear or Faith

fear-441402_640Ten said No.

Two said Go!

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

The other ten saw the goodness, but they also saw the size of those living there.  They could have compared the size of the enemy to the size of their God – who had delivered them from the entire Egyptian Army!  And brought them through the desert!  And who fed them every day, a miraculous food they had never seen, that came from nowhere! And Who was leading them with an awesome pillar of cloud by day and fire by night!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 14:1-38

Mar 6 Receive

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

receiveblessing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 6:24-26

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.

04_lumo_jesus_paralysedman_1024

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 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 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

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 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 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