Tag: character

Feb 18 Living A to Z

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 37:1-11

Dec 1 Love what’s eternal

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

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

Help me love my brother and sister: other believers who You have put in my life.

sandpapercrossedSome of them are so loving to me that it is easy to love them back.   They have been like “iron sharpening iron.”  We hone one another to be better and “sharper. “

But some are like sandpaper to me.  We do not get along, and although they may “sand off’” some of my rough spots, mostly they are just an irritant and cause sore, raw spots that hurt.  These people are harder to love.  They are the ones I need Your help with.

Remind me that each one of them is one of Your amazing creations who You love greatly.  I know that You love them; show me how to do the same.

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

The first two are the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes.”  The word lust here is a “strong desire of any kind, good or bad, but evil if not submitted to the will of God. “

So whether it is for intimacy, or pleasure, or just comfort, I would usually rather feel comfort than pain, a full stomach than hunger, warm and safe than cold and fearful.  It can be hard to turn away from things that offer me a sense of satisfaction in food, comfort or safety.   But I need to be sure my flesh and my eyes are not pulling me to just go my own way and satisfy worldly appetites.

Father, show me how to maintain proper limits and boundaries.

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

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

I John 2:1-17

Oct 18 Promise Fulfilled

Father, part of Jeremiah’s prophecy has already come true.  You did indeed send Your people “into the hand of the king of Babylon.”  And seventy years later, You did “gather them from the lands where You banished them.”  They once again bought and sold fields in the land.  Jerusalem was rebuilt.

sky-684322_1920I love the words of Jeremiah’s prayer, and have sung them before: “Ah Lord God, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power – Ah Lord God You have made the heavens and the earth by Your outstretched arm.  Nothing is too difficult for You…”

The earth is Your creation, truly the work of Your hand and arm.  All power and honor and sovereignty are due You, and only You.  And there is literally, nothing beyond Your ability and power.  Nothing.

Part of Jeremiah’s words are yet to be fulfilled.  You promised Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and never again be demolished.  And although the city was rebuilt when the king of Persia sent the Israelites back, it has been destroyed again and again.

Also, they were to “live in safety.”  But the Israelites have been under the rule of many conquerors since then.  Even today, as a formal nation, their neighbors are not on peaceful terms with them, and war is an ever-present concern.  So those “days” have not arrived yet.

But Your fulfillment of Your promises in the past assures me that Your promises for the future are true.  And that the prophecies You have given will all come true.

One day, “All will know the Lord, from the least …to the greatest.”  So in the meantime, I desire to live a life guided by Your instruction.  It seems the list of qualities Paul gives is a good place to start.

Father, help me be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunk or violent or quarrelsome or a lover of money.”  If I am drawn away from or drift away from these qualities, rein me back in so I will not be an embarrassment to You.

Thank You, that You, the Creator, Almighty God, King of the Universe, cares enough to let me know, through Your Word, of Your faithfulness to keep all the promises You have made.  And for showing me what is to come.

I thank You for showing me how to live until that time: in great hope and in humble obedience.   Amen

Jeremiah 31:27-40; 32:16-1732:36-41I Timothy 3:1-13

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.”

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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.

I 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 7 Guide my attitudes, actions

Father, the scribes and priests of old had Your Word, but even they did not live by it or teach others correctly.  They rejected Your wisdom, but called themselves “wise.”

In seeking Your wisdom, help me get my focus off earthly concerns, and onto heavenly things.  The “earthly” things have to do with the negative side of my flesh.    These are the things You punished Israel and Judah for.

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In addition to spiritual idolatry that took their worship away from You, they treated each other with greed and deceit.  They were shameless in their lusts and immorality.  These are the things I must put to death in my own flesh.  Because You gave me a new life in saving me from the penalty of my sin, I seek to live that life in You.

As You are from heaven, those “heavenly” traits I must cultivate are “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…forgiveness…love.”  Father, help me have these character qualities and treat others with them.  When faced with situations, show me the appropriate response that will be framed in these attributes.

One thing I know will be difficult for me, is to forgive others who I believe have wronged me.   Sometimes the consequences of their actions are far-reaching and have harmed my loved ones as well.  But it helps me to remember that You have seen everything.

And vengeance belongs to You.  It also helps me when I realize all the things You have forgiven me.  And that I need to forgive others as You have forgiven me.

Father, I am grateful for the peace and love You give me.  Let them be the overarching qualities of my life.  Let all I do bring Your peace and Your love into the lives of those around me.   In Your name.  Amen

Jeremiah 8:8-13; Colossians 3:1-17

Aug 8 Help me be like…

Heavenly Father, what a rich heritage Ezra had.  Usually I just skim over the names listed in genealogies, but somehow this time, these names seemed familiar.

BelieversHeritage Tree

I know Hilkiah – during Josiah’s reign, he was the priest who found the Book of the Law that had been lost in the Temple.  He brought Your Word back to the people so they could hear Your Word and have their hearts respond with humility.  They returned to worship You.  In last week’s prayer I prayed that I would hear all Your Word has to tell me, and that my heart would be responsive and humble too.

I remember Zadok.  He was the priest who remained loyal to David when David’s son Absalom was chasing him out of Jerusalem.  Zadok prayed for David, offered sacrifices, and escorted him with the Arc of the Covenant.  Then at David’s request, he stayed behind in Jerusalem to be his spy. And I prayed that I would have the loyalty and support of my friends, and be a loyal support to them.

Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, stands out as a man who was so zealous for Your Word that he drove a spear through a Midianite woman and her Israelite lover who were flagrantly breaking Your Law.   This turned back Your wrath from the people and stopped a plague.  You gave Phinehas a covenant of peace and perpetual priesthood for he and his descendants.  Father, I desire to have that zeal for Your Word.

And Aaron, Moses’ brother, who You spoke through when You freed Your people from Egypt’s Pharaoh.  He became the first High Priest, entrusted with carrying out Your Law.  You separated him from the other tribes to be Your representative in intercession for all Israel.  Only the High Priest could approach You.

O Father, what a rich heritage for Ezra, who is now the one taking a copy of Your Word back from the Babylonian exile to the people.  He will be Your representative in the land, reading and teaching Your Law once again to Your people.

Father, let me be like Ezra and all those in his line.  Like Aaron, I can now approach You personally and come boldly before Your throne of grace because of Your redemptive work on the cross.

Give me a desire to obey You like Phinehas, and help me be loyal and an intercessor like Zadok.  Make my heart humble to Your Word revealed by Hilkiah and returned to Your people by Ezra.

Thank You Father for each one in this line, who zealously guarded and revealed Your Word to others.  Let me do the same.  Amen

Ezra 7:1-7

June 7 Wisdom and Integrity

David spoke a wonderful charge to his son, Solomon. It is also my prayer.

wisdom integrity path

Father, help my children and loved ones, and myself be strong.  Not simply in physical strength.  But help us be of strong character, so we can stand and not fall in the face of temptation.

Help us be tough and resilient in the face of hard times.  And just as gracious and generous in the good times.  Let us be known as men and women who are obedient to You, following You in the kind of life You teach us to live.

Help us walk in Your ways in the everyday decisions of our lives, and choose what is right and just.  Help us conduct our business and relationships openly and honestly, speaking the truth in love.

Teach us to hold to Your moral standards in our conduct and attitudes.  Give us understanding and discernment when we are unsure.   Remind us to study and know Your Word so it can guide and enlighten us.

Help us live out our lives in faith before You, Lord.  Not half-heartedly, but with all our heart and soul; seeking Your wisdom, and applying it correctly to our circumstances.  Let this yield prosperity in all we do wherever we go .

Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Let me, my family and loved ones know Your way.  Let us live our lives according to it and find eternal life with You.  Amen

1 Kings 2:1-4; Proverbs 16:25

Mar 14 Love and Faithfulness

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 57:9-11

Oct 7 Guide my attitudes, actions

Father, the scribes and priests of old had Your Word, but even they did not live by it or teach others correctly.  They rejected Your wisdom, but called themselves “wise.”   Since I seek Your wisdom, help me get my focus off earthly concerns, and onto heavenly things.

directory-1161965_640The “earthly” things have to do with the negative side of my flesh.    These are the things You punished Israel and Judah for.  In addition to spiritual idolatry that took their worship away from You, they treated each other with greed and deceit.

They were shameless in their lusts and immorality.  These are the things I must put to death in my own flesh.  Because You gave me a new life in saving me from the penalty of my sin, I seek to live that life in You.

As You are from heaven, those “heavenly” traits I must cultivate are “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…forgiveness…love.”  Father, help me have these character qualities and treat others with them.  When faced with situations, show me the appropriate response that will be framed in these attributes.

One thing I know will be difficult for me is to forgive others who I believe have wronged me.   Sometimes the consequences of their actions are far-reaching and have harmed my loved ones as well.  But it helps me to remember that You have seen everything.

And vengeance belongs to You.  It also helps me when I realize all the things You have forgiven me.  And that I need to forgive others as You have forgiven me.

Father, I am grateful for the peace and love You give me.  Let them be the overarching qualities of my life.  Let all I do bring Your peace and Your love into the lives of those around me.   In Your name.  Amen

Jeremiah 8:8-13; Colossians 3:1-17

Aug 8 Help me be like…

BelieversHeritage TreeHeavenly Father, what a rich heritage Ezra had. Usually I just skim over the names listed in genealogies, but somehow this time, these names seemed familiar.

I know Hilkiah – during Josiah’s reign, he was the priest who found the Book of the Law that had been lost in the Temple. He brought Your Word back to the people so they could hear Your Word and have their hearts respond with humility. They returned to worship You. In last week’s prayer I prayed that I would hear all Your Word has to tell me, and that my heart would be responsive and humble too.

I remember Zadok. He was the priest who remained loyal to David when David’s son Absalom was chasing him out of Jerusalem. Zadok prayed for David, offered sacrifices, and escorted him with the Arc of the Covenant. Then at David’s request, he stayed behind in Jerusalem to be his spy. And I prayed that I would have the loyalty and support of my friends, and be a loyal support to them.

Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, stands out as a man who was so zealous for Your Word that he drove a spear through a Midianite woman and her Israelite lover who were flagrantly breaking Your Law. This turned back Your wrath from the people and stopped a plague. You gave Phinehas a covenant of peace and perpetual priesthood for he and his descendants. Father, I desire to have that zeal for Your Word.

And Aaron, Moses brother, who You spoke through when You freed Your people from Egypt’s Pharaoh. He became the first High Priest, entrusted with carrying out Your Law. You separated him from the other tribes to be Your representative in intercession for all Israel. Only the High Priest could approach You.

O Father, what a rich heritage for Ezra, who is now the one taking a copy of Your Word back from the Babylonian exile to the people. He will be Your representative in the land, reading and teaching Your Law once again to Your people.

Father, let me be like Ezra and all those in his line. Like Aaron, I can now approach You personally and come boldly before Your throne of grace because of Your redemptive work on the cross.

Give me a desire to obey You like Phinehas, and help me be loyal and an intercessor like Zadok. Make my heart humble to Your Word revealed by Hilkiah and returned to Your people by Ezra.

Thank You Father for each one in this line, who zealously guarded and revealed Your Word to others. Let me do the same. Amen

Ezra 7:1-7

July 2 Teach me to number my days aright

hourglass-1623517_640Father, You sent word through Isaiah that Hezekiah would die.

I have often wondered: if I could know when I will die, would I want to? It’s an interesting question.

This kind of curiosity started in the Garden of Eden. When the serpent held out the possibility of being ‘like God’, having Your knowledge and wisdom, Eve bit!  But beyond the simple curiosity factor, how would I react if I knew when the end would come?

Even though I know intellectually, that everyone dies, including me, it’s not something I think about from day to day.   I tend to put it out of my mind and live as if I have years or even decades ahead of me. But, if, for instance, I received information that I have a medical condition that comes with an expiration date, it would be a sobering realization.

If I were given such information, would I set about reworking my priorities?   Would I ‘put my house in order’ as Hezekiah was told to do? Would I cry out to You for more time? It would definitely disrupt my thinking, my activities, my attitudes, and the way I relate to people. I would be more motivated to orchestrate my remaining days…

Father, help me live my life now, as if every day were a precious gift from You, not to be wasted or squandered. Show me how to arrange my priorities, recognizing what is really important. Do not let me waste time in foolish pursuits or on meaningless tasks. Show me the godly relationships You want me to cultivate, and how to let go of and separate myself from the ungodly ones.

I want to be thankful for every single day You give me. So I will praise You every day, Father. I worship You for who You are, for Your character that never changes: Your faithfulness, Your gentleness, Your love towards me, Your righteousness and Your omnipotence.

I thank You for all You have done: created this amazing universe, established a way of salvation, given me Your Word for instruction and encouragement.   I appreciate Your hand of protection and provision in my life, as I have food, shelter, clothing, family, friends, and freedom.

And when I think about the end of my time here on earth, I have no fear of what comes after. Because I know You, I am not anxious about my future. I know I will spend eternity with You, and I can’t wait! Amen

2 Kings 20:1; Psalm 150:1-6; Psalm 90:12

 

June 7 Wisdom and Integrity

wisdom integrity pathDavid spoke a wonderful charge to his son, Solomon. It is also my prayer.

Father, help my children and loved ones, and myself be strong. Not simply in physical strength. But help us be of strong character, so we can stand and not fall in the face of temptation. Help us be tough and resilient in the face of hard times. And just as gracious and generous in the good times. Let us be known as men and women who are obedient to You, following You in the kind of life You teach us to live.

Help us walk in Your ways in the everyday decisions of our lives, and choose what is right and just. Help us conduct our business and relationships openly and honestly, speaking the truth in love. Teach us to hold to Your moral standards in our conduct and attitudes. Give us understanding and discernment when we are unsure.   Remind us to study and know Your Word so it can guide and enlighten us.

Help us live out our lives in faith before You, Lord. Not half-heartedly, but with all our heart and soul; seeking Your wisdom, and applying it correctly to our circumstances. Let this yield prosperity in all we do wherever we go .

Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Let me, my family and loved ones know Your way. Let us live our lives according to it and find eternal life with You. Amen

1 Kings 2:1-4; Proverbs 16:25

Feb 4 Help me have Eternal Value Priorities

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

They had their priorities backwards, saying the gold was more valuable than the temple it was in, and the sacrifice more valuable than the altar it was offered on. Help me make and keep my priorities straight. Help me understand the true value of things as they are in Your economy so I do not elevate the profane and dishonor the holy.   Many of the things the world places value on are not truly valuable. The world sees from a limited , short-term perspective and often places more significance on the created thing, than the Creator Himself.   Help me see things for their eternal value.

I love Your humor when You say they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” Teach me to see the bigger picture and focus on the important things and not be legalistic over the smaller insignificant ones. I can get so carried away with the urgent that sometimes I don’t make time for the important things.   Show me how to spend my energy and time on what is significant.

You paint a striking picture when You describe a cup: clean on the outside but dirty on the inside; or a whitewashed tomb, clean on the outside but full of death on the inside. You do not only see the outward appearance, but see into man’s heart to know him. Let me be as concerned with being pure and clean on the inside as I am with being presentable on the outside.  Help me be authentic and transparent; so my walk agrees with my talk. Let me put as much time into developing my character as my wardrobe.

I desire to be all You have created me to be. But it is so easy to follow the way of the world and look for the easy way – to make a big deal over what the world says is a big deal. But I know that most of the world does not seek You to worship You or follow You. Broad is the path that leads to destruction. Help me find that narrow way, and stay on that path: the one that brings joy and not woe. Amen

Matthew 23:13-39; Matthew 7:13