Tag: circumstances

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

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Jan 5 I call to You

sky-2667455_640 (1)Psalm 5:3 says “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.”

This has become true as I read Your Word and it becomes the substance of my prayers. So today, I lay myself and my loved ones, one by one before You.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 5:1-12

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s perspective

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

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

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

Lord, I want to persevere under trials because You say I will receive a blessing when I endure.  Part of that blessing comes simply from my turning to You.   By being in relationship with You, hearing from You, and seeing Your deliverance, whatever that looks like.

Thank You for the times You have been there for me in the past.  It builds my faith in Your ability and in Your desire to help me in the future.

I can identify with the Psalmist, who says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.”  Like the Psalmist, I have felt “overcome by trouble and sorrow.”

There have been times when I did not see a way that anything good could come from my situation.  But You, who are “gracious and righteous…and full of compassion” saved me, delivered me, showed me a way to redeem the situation.  And it was usually in the most unique way, that no one else I had gone to had thought of.

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

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

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

 

 

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

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“Shout for joy…

Worship with gladness…

Come before Him with joyful songs…

Enter …with thanksgiving”

 

Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father.  And some days it is easy.  When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings.

But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship.  It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for.  And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things.

When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness.  When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help.

When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work.

Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that.   I rejoice that You are my God!  That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in!

I thank You that You have given me friends.  And that I can pray with them and for them.  I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by.  Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it.

Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home.  Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I praise You that Your power supersedes any other.  And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You.  I can still worship with gladness and have joy!  Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 3 Your Presence

blue-1238986_640Father, 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 be near me.  For showing me how to recognize Your presence.  For allowing me Your peace.  Amen

Philippians 4:4-9

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

Aug 9 Your Word lights my way

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Father, thank You for Your Word that guides me every day in my prayers and in the choices I make in life. In today’s scriptures there are many reminders of things that deserve my attention.

First, like Ezra, I need to remember that my actions speak louder than my words, and my actions reveal what I believe about You.   Ezra didn’t ask for a military escort because it would look as if he didn’t trust in Your protection.

What do my actions say to others around me about my faith in You? When I seem afraid and worried over circumstances, does that show others I don’t really trust Your protection and provision? Father help me show my faith in You in my responses to difficulties.

When things don’t go my way, remind me that You are in control, and that You have my back!

There is absolutely nothing that can happen to me that You are unaware of. And I believe that You filter everything that comes to me, through Your fingers of love. Even in the bad times, You have prepared me, and You are with me. Thank You that You never, ever leave me.

Ezra fasted. I believe this is something that You honor. And it is good for me to relinquish something in order to spend time in prayer and humble myself before You. Sometimes it’s food. Sometimes it’s an activity, like the internet, or tv, or addicting games.

Whatever it is, I believe it is the act of focusing my attention and energy on hearing from and submitting to You.   Father, I express my desire for You to “clear my plate” of anything that is not of You.  Help me see my attitudes and actions from Your perspective, and tap into Your power for course correcting changes.

Ezra felt personally the burden of the sin of his people and interceded for them. I also have a burden for the “corporate” sin of my nation. I think of how far my country has come away from Your precepts, from Your commands, and I weep. I cry out with Ezra, “O my God, I am too ashamed to lift up my face to You, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached the heavens…we have disregarded the commands You gave…”

But Father, I have faith that You are still in control. That You have the power to move in the hearts of men and women, young and old, and call us back to You. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.”

Your work is not done and You are not finished with my country yet. Or my family. Or me.

Thank You Father for the hope You give me. You are my “rock of refuge, a strong fortress”. And I trust in You.  Amen

Ezra 8:21-9:15; Psalm 31:1-8; Proverbs 21:1

 

July 7 Hear my morning prayer

Like You acted in Paul’s life, would You orchestrate my circumstances to allow for opportunities to bring You glory, and would You fill my mouth with the words to say as I give testimony to Your greatness.

Although Paul’s situation of being in prison did not change, You allowed a greater and greater audience for Your truth to be spoken.   There are situations in my life that I would prefer be changed so I don’t have to deal with the hardships they bring and the worry they cause. But I am willing to accept whatever conditions You allow, knowing that You are with me, and will defend me, and will use them to Your glory.

prayer-401401_640Thank You Lord, that this “morning You heard my voice. As I laid my requests before You,” I know You are listening and are able to act in even the most complicated of circumstances. And I am able to get up and go on with my day, knowing and trusting that You are in control as I “wait in expectation”.

I pray Your words back to You: “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness…make straight my way before me. I take refuge in You, so let me be glad; let me ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over me, and all who who love Your name and rejoice in You…Surround me with Your favor as with a shield.”

If my husband or sons or I have offended each another, let us be soft-hearted towards one another. Rather than being like fortified cities, where entry is barred, let them open their gates to each other and welcome each other in brotherly love. Bless them Lord, and surround them also, with Your favor. Amen

Acts 25:1-27; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 18:19

July 5 My Defense

How amazing You are, Father. You knew what Paul was headed for and You told him to “Take courage” just when he needed it. You also worked out that a relative learned about the plot against Paul’s life. And predisposed the Commander of the barracks to be willing to listen to a boy. Because he took the boy’s story seriously, it preserved Paul’s life and gave him the opportunity for a greater testimony.

There is no doubt that You involve Yourself with life circumstances here on earth. And intercede to bring about Your purposes. Thank You that I am assured that You not only know what will come next in my life, but will prepare me for it, encourage me through it, and cause things to work together for me. I can trust this to happen, because I can trust You.

roman shield

 

“O Lord, no matter how many are against me, You are a shield around me.” You protect me from their attack. You repel the arrows fired at me. You stop the fiery darts flung at me. You deflect the blows directed at me. I can stand behind You, as I would stand behind a battle shield and be safe.

Not a flimsy garbage can lid, but a battle shield: reaching from my head to my feet. And wide enough to cover me so that when I stand next to another, our shields meet and form a wall. This shield is thick enough and covered with materials that will prevent penetration by darts or arrows. And it is shiny to reflect the sun and blind the enemy so I am a hard target to find.

“When I cry out to You, You answer me!” You speak to me through Your Word and in prayer. You have ways to reach me I haven’t even imagined. “And when I lie down, and sleep, I wake again because You watch over me. You sustain me.” When I cannot defend myself, You are there, protecting me.

So “I will not fear – even when I see my enemy drawn up against me…You will arise! You will deliver me!” Thank You Father for Your immeasurable love for me, for Your unfathomable power which You use to strike down my enemies. All praise to You! Amen

Acts 23:11-35; Psalm 3:1-8

June 13 You still and quiet my soul

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Father, how often do I come before You in prayer feeling so overwhelmed by life? There are some times when I feel like things are going well. I feel in the center of Your will and I have no concerns. I feel blessed in the sense of peace all around me.

There are times when I have small issues that are so easy for You to show me solutions. They may take time and action, but are easily handled with Your help. And then there are times when I am so anxious over circumstances that I lay my heart open for You to see and heal. I prepare for battle with Your armor and You send me out with marching orders against the enemy.

But there are still times, when I see the overwhelming personal issues: illness, death; and larger ones that ravage the world, my country, Your people: suffering, hunger, corruption, oppression, terrorism, to name a few. And I am overcome by how small I am and how helpless I feel.

These are the times I come to You and lay my head on Your shoulder. I wrap my arms around You, bury my face in Your robes and nuzzle in, breathing in Your power, and Your peace.

I am calmed, because I know that You are in control. I understand that this is not a battle You have called me to, but that You have it completely in hand. And I need not worry about it.

These verses describe what I feel:

“My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul like weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

I know there are things You deal with that are too big for me to even be a part of. And like a child who no longer breastfeeds, when that child goes to its mother, there is no physical hunger to be satisfied –only a peace and calm derived from the safety and security the mother offers.

That’s what I feel in You. I know that the world is in Your capable hands, and I can rest contented. Thank You for this lovely picture.   And for being the One I can trust and rest in. Amen

Psalm 131:1-3

May 17 How do I praise?

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Psalm 113 uses the word “praise” five times in three verses. That must mean it’s an important word. And yet not one I use much in everyday conversation.

Yet PRAISE is one very significant way I demonstrate that You are a part of my life. I give honor, worship, adoration to You, God in recognition of who You are, and in gratitude and thanks for what You have done.

I like to use acrostics to help me remember things.  To help me make PRAISE an intentional, doable action  – I see PRAISE as

Putting

Real

Adoration

Into

Situations

Every day

To me that means:

Putting:  I intentionally and on purpose – do something

The groceries and the dishes don’t get put away unless someone does it. It’s the same with Praise –it doesn’t just happen, someone has to do it.

Real:  in a genuine and sincere way, honest – not forced, not hurried

I take time to literally communicate to You.  Sometimes it’s by words, a statement or a prayer, sometimes I write it down in a letter or journal, or I might write a poem, or song – I might sing it! Or just take a walk, taking a moment to speak to You in my heart.

Adoration: my appreciation, thanks, gratitude, even simple acknowledgment of who You are and what You’re doing, and have the power to do.

I hardly ever take a drive, that I don’t notice the mountains, or the sky or sunset. Do I say ‘wow, Mother nature is something!’ No, I thank You as the Creator of it all for giving me such a beautiful world to live in and look at!

Into Situations: into the middle of whatever circumstances come my way: good or bad, deserved or unfair, difficult and trying or pleasant and joyful.

So if I see my child being awesome, I thank You for making me a mother! Or I pass a car accident, and ask You to help the people involved and strengthen the ones giving assistance, and then I thank You for protecting me from dangers, and all the accidents You kept me from that never happened.

Every day: on a daily basis. I don’t wait for a holiday or Sunday to come around, but praise You spontaneously!

As things happen, thanks and appreciation is voiced. It may sound silly or awkward at first, but the more I do it, it just becomes a way of life.

So P-R-A-I-S-E, Putting Real Adoration Into Situations Every day means:

Intentionally, genuinely and sincerely, take time to communicate to You, my appreciation, thanks and gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way on a daily basis.

Father, help me remember to fill my life with praise for You! Amen

Psalm 113:1-3

Mar 30 Real Faith

hem-garment1Dear Father, may I have faith like Jairus and the woman who reached out to touch the hem of Your robe.

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

Jan 18 every high and low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 9 Creation – infinitely diverse!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 18 Rejoice…always

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Oct 16 Trust God’s plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 12 Rejoice and Pray

Father, two of today’s verses have saved me when I needed to recite Bible verses as a child. As far as I know, they are two of only three verses that contain only two words. I Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always” and 5:17 “Pray continually”. Because they contain only two words, (making them easy to memorize and remember) and are so straightforward and to the point, I’ve always considered them important.

I loved English in school, and learned that when no subject is present, like these verses, the subject ‘you’ is understood. So whomever the speaker is speaking to is commanded to do the verb that follows. A command is stronger than a simple statement. When given by someone with authority it means to obey immediately, without further thought or discussion. In these cases, I am to “rejoice” and “pray”.

sunset-1012477_640Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight. It is the opposite of showing sadness.   It is not whining or complaining. It is not arguing or showing anger. I don’t think it means I can never have a negative emotion or express my feelings, but I should be looking to see the good side of what is going on in my life. I should be watching for things to be joyful about, and then let others see why I am joyful.

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Pray, very simply, means to talk to You. The adverbs that follow each verb tell me how to do the action the verb specifies. So when it comes to “rejoice”, the word is “always”. In other words (or in the same words) in ‘all ways’, in all things, in all circumstances, I need to be looking for the joy You bring me.

And the adverb for “pray” is “continually”, meaning ‘all the time, repeated frequently, constantly, without interruption’.

So, at all times, in all situations, in all things, I should strive to show my joy and be in communication with You. Along with “give thanks in all circumstances”, “this is God’s will for you”, these directives tell me it is Your desire to hear from me. And to hear my gratefulness.

Paul said these words to believers who were enduring hardship and persecution. How much more should I be able to find things in my easy, twenty-first century life of freedom to be thankful and joyful about? These are convicting Words, Father. And Words of instruction and encouragement! Thank You for making them so easy to remember! Amen

I Thessalonians 5:16-17

May 17 How do I praise?

Psalm 113 uses the word “praise” five times in three verses. That must mean it’s an important word. And yet not one I use much in everyday conversation.

One very significant way, I demonstrate that You are a part of my life Lord, is Praise. I give honor, worship, adoration to You, God in recognition of who You are, and in gratitude and thanks for what You have done.

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I like to use acrostics to help me remember things.  To help me make PRAISE an intentional, doable action  – I see PRAISE as

Putting

Real

Adoration

Into

Situations

Every day

To me that means:

Putting:   intentionally and on purpose, I do something

The groceries and the dishes don’t get put away unless someone does it. It’s the same with Praise –it doesn’t just happen, someone has to do it.

Real:    in a genuine and sincere way, honest – not forced, not hurried

I take time to literally communicate to You.  Sometimes it’s by words, a statement or a prayer, sometimes I write it down in a letter or journal, or I might write a poem, or song – I might sing it! Or just take a walk or take a moment and speak to You in my heart.

Adoration:   my appreciation, thanks, gratitude, even simple acknowledgment of who You are and what You’re doing, and have the power to do.

I hardly ever take a drive, that I don’t notice the mountains, or the sky or sunset. Do I say ‘wow, Mother nature is something!’ No, I thank You as the Creator of it all for giving me such a beautiful world to live in and look at!

Into Situations:   in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way, good or bad, deserved or unfair, difficult and trying or pleasant and joyful.

So if I see my child being awesome, I thank You for making me a mother! Or I pass a car accident, and ask You to help the people involved and strengthen the ones giving assistance, and then I thank You for protecting me from dangers, all the accidents I never knew about because they didn’t happen.

Every day:   on a daily basis. I don’t wait for a holiday or Sunday to come around! But spontaneously!

As things happen, thanks and appreciation is voiced. It may sound silly or awkward at first, but the more I do it, it just becomes a way of life, life in You.

So P-R-A-I-S-E, Putting Real Adoration Into Situations Every day means:

Intentionally, genuinely and sincerely, take time to communicate to You, my appreciation, thanks and gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way on a daily basis. Father, help me remember to fill my life with praise for You! Amen

Psalm 113:1-3

 

Mar 30 Real Faith

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

Jairus came to You even 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 on You?

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, also, is 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