Tag: challenges

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

Father, Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”  And it seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

Just because my life belongs to You doesn’t mean it will be all sunshine and lollipops. Because I live in a fallen world, and because there is an evil one, and even because I am flesh, there are opportunities for and occurrences of hardship. Some caused by my own mistakes and sin.

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And although I face challenges, temptations and trials, You have assured me You are always with me, and You will make a way for me.

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 4:8-9

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Aug 12 Working together

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Father, what a lesson from Nehemiah!

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

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

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

Father, whatever task, circumstance or relationship I’m involved with, help me see spiritual opposition. It may appear as overt resistance or an obstruction to what I’m trying to do. Or be an invisible undertone of grumbling, complaining, discouragement or division. Whatever the case, remind me that Your Word is my Sword – my weapon.

Your Word has power. It can overcome discouragement and repair disunity.   It can change my focus, reveal truth and tear down the lies of the opposition; even change the hearts of those against me. Ready my mind, Lord, to prepare me to fight the battle however it presents itself.

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

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

Nehemiah 3:15 – 5:13; Psalm 32:8, 11

Aug 2 You encourage me

photo by Joshua Earlejoshua-earleGreater is He

Father, thank You for the words of encouragement Hezekiah gave his men. The same words are encouraging to me today, because I know that no matter what hardship or battle or enemy I face, You are greater than any of them. And You are with me!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of” (fill in the bank with my hardship) “and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him! With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

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

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

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

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

The truth is, I am weak, but “Your strength is made perfect in my weakness”. I am unworthy of Your help. I can never ‘earn’ Your help. But Your help comes because of Your unchanging character, flowing from Your grace and mercy! It never was dependent on anything I could ever do.

Others may have fallen who were stronger than me, but I will be victorious because of Your strength, not my own.   And despite the devil, I will not judge Your love by my circumstance, but by Your Word. It says Your love never changes, it is everlasting, enduring forever. And I will choose to look at You, not focus only on my circumstances.

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

I will remember that You are a greater power. And that You are with me! Praise be to You! Amen

2 Chronicles 32:1-23; Psalm 25:16-22; 2 Corinthians 12:9

June 26 You are my God

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

“You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. My shield, in whom I take refuge…Part the heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightening and scatter the enemies; shoot Your arrows and rout them. Reach down Your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”  

Father, You never promised I would not have to face difficulties, but You have promised to always be with me. You have said “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you…”. Help me take hold of Your hand and stand strong against the rushing waters the enemy sends to sweep me off my feet. Let me see through the veil of lies and deceit the enemy would use against me.

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

Father, in rescuing me, You have “filled my barns with every kind of provision.” You know what I need to meet the coming challenges You allow into my life. Meet those needs in a way that I know without a doubt that You have done it.

Prepare me to face challenges in faith and strength of character so I will be a strong witness for You. Meet my physical and economic needs. Bless my household out of Your abundant provision.   Show me how to share with others from the bounty You provide for me.

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

Psalm 144:1-15; Isaiah 43:1-13

Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

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Several times today the words “Be strong and courageous” appear. O Lord, make me strong and courageous! Lend me Your strength when I am weak. Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You direct me to do.

How do I appropriate Your strength? Reading Your Word is a good start. It is encouraging just to read Your words that sit by my computer today – “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards with encouraging scriptures. It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally, or just having them sit out, open to a verse.  They are like personal messages from You to me.

It also helps to know I am being obedient to what Your Word says to do. There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Even if You are calling me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.

Father, so many times You have protected me and helped me through hardships. Recalling those times from the past helps me trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble. I only journal sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points. With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down. They confirm Your faithfulness to me.

And You have put people in my life who I can observe being courageous with their own challenges. Some are in the midst of them right now. Some have already come through a hard time. I can watch and learn what encourages them. They are living examples of how to get through difficulties. Some have even leaned on me. And when I need to, I can lean on them.

So You give me Your Word. You protect me wherever You call me to be. You Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past. You put helping relationships in my life. And most importantly, You promise Your presence: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision. Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

Jan 23 What a ride – Here I am!

fun-937105_640O 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, and he was not the favorite. 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 15 His eye is on the sparrow…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 13: 1-6; Jeremiah 29:11

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

boat carpenter

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

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

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

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

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 5 You give Peace in the storms

Jesus calms sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You calm me down, You give me peace

You make this battle inside of me cease

You give me hope to carry on

when all the hope the world can give is gone

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

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

Nov 16 Helpful last words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 13 I need Your help

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

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

 

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

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

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

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

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

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Oct 10 Send an Encourager

truth-2069846_640Father, in Jeremiah’s time, even the priests and prophets were lying to their leaders and the people. They reported only what the people wanted to hear: that they would be safe; that there would be peace, and that these words came from ‘the Lord’. Father, would You send a true prophet, like Jeremiah, to the nations’ leaders of the world, and open their ears to Your truth. Jeremiah was not popular because he told it like it was. He relayed Your truth, not pacifying lies. I fear many of our nations’ counselors are not being ‘Jeremiahs’.

The media has become a ‘prophet’ of the day. And their reports are very skewed, so that the people are controlled by political and social interests and schemes. And yet the people are not completely innocent either. For they have chosen one by one how to live their lives and who or what they will worship.

You gave Jeremiah a very difficult task in a very difficult time, but You promised to rescue and save him. You said, “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose”.   Father, show me Your good purpose. Help me be strong in my faith like Jeremiah was.

Friend Buddies Pals Best Friends Friendship

Lord, You sent Paul to be an encouragement to the Thessalonians. Would You also send someone into my life, and into the lives of my loved ones, to be a mentor like Paul was.

Each one of us needs to be encouraged in our walk with You. Each one of us faces specific challenges and difficulties.   We may not be able to find direction, understanding and encouragement on our own. But You, Father, know each of us so intimately, You would know the exact person to send, who can relate to us and speak words of encouragement and comfort and instruction into our individual lives. You know how each of us needs to be “urged to live lives worthy of You”.

Not just anyone qualifies to speak into our lives. Father, would You “clear the way” for Your specific mentor to come to each of us and speak Your truth.   And like Paul’s prayer, would You “make our love increase and overflow for each other…and strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless and holy in Your presence…”. Father, I need You and Your truth in my personal life and in my country. And Your encouragement to stay on the right path. Send Jeremiahs and Pauls. Send Your truth. Amen

Jeremiah 14:11-16; I Thessalonians 2:9-3:13

Apr 13 God’s plan, not my plan

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

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

Then You told them “do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”.   It would have been easy to dwell on their last failure and be fainthearted in the presence of the same enemy who had routed them before. When I have tried to do something in my own strength, and failed, it is hard to get up and try again without fearing the same disastrous result.

Next they had to follow Your plan exactly, to Your specifications and in Your timing. That can be hard as well. So often I second-guess You by trying to come up with my own plan. There are ways that seem to make sense to man, but do not often yield the desired result. So I must be willing to give up the direction my own thoughts lead me and be obedient to what You tell me.

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

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When things go well, it is easy to sit back and take the credit, not including You until I need You again. But it is vital I recognize that the victories in my life come from Your. I am learning how to give credit to you without sounding false or insincere. It strengthens me to know You are involved in my life.

 

What was the result of this successfully executed plan? Even more kings came together to make war against them! Sometimes the battles we face, challenging as they may be, are simply preparation for bigger battles to follow!   But we can know that having done well will lay the groundwork for the next success. Victory is ours when the battle is the Lord’s! Amen.

Joshua 7:16-9:2

Mar 13 Egypt or wilderness?

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

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

So in this newfound freedom after leaving Egypt, when problems rose, like no food or water for two million people, it was a big deal. And they were not prepared to cope. Those things had been provided for them before. And even though their labor had been hard and bitter, it was at least predictable. So during these times, it was so easy for one of them to look back to when there was a bit of security and minimal provision and convince others that what was behind them was preferable to the unknown ahead.

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

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

Father I pray You would help me be courageous in accepting what comes from Your hand. If it requires change on my part, let me be willing to take the necessary steps without whining and complaining. Remind me of the times in the past when You have rescued, delivered and supported me through difficulties and challenges. Let those memories add to my faith and increase my trust in You.

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

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

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 were to know 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 — and proceed 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.

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

Jan 9 Creation -infinitely diverse!

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

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

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

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

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

I cannot even imagine how incredibly hard that must have been. Even with much smaller challenges and tests in my own life, I worry and drag my feet, looking for ways I can justify a disobedient response. I can only pray that knowing You are with me every step of the way, You will insure I understand exactly what You say to me, and will prepare and empower me to take whatever steps I need to, to act in obedience to You.

Teach me Lord. Train me to hear Your voice. Help me be obedient. Every opportunity You give me is a chance to obey. And You are with me, coaching me to win. Thank You for these opportunities to draw close to You – in prayer, through Your Word, and in the challenges, trials and blessings of my daily circumstances. With every one I get to experience You. It builds and strengthens my faith. It deepens my trust in You. And I continue to marvel, that You, the Almighty Creator of the universe, who reigns forever, are my personal life coach. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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