Tag: encourage

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

 

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July 26 Praying Psalm 20

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Your Word in Psalms today is a wonderful prayer. “May You answer me when I am in distress”.   Thank You Lord, that I can call on You any time. You are never too busy to hear my cry for help. And there is no kind of distress that You cannot handle.

You can help me when I am physically ill, hurt, weak, or weary.   You can handle it when I am in an emotional or psychological state of anxiety, sadness, depression, worry, fear, or grief. You can uplift me when I am in spiritual turmoil or confusion or when I am feeling tempted.

“May Your Name protect me.” Father, there is great power in Your name. Yahweh! Jehovah! Jesus! Almighty God! El Shaddai! Adonai! Your name reflects Your character: who You are and Your attributes. There is such power and reverence in Your name, some even avoid saying it at all, in order to not take it in vain. They write or speak ‘HaShem’ which in Hebrew means ‘The Name’, referring to You alone. May HaShem protect me!

“May You send me help from the sanctuary and grant me support from Zion.” From wherever I am, You can send help from wherever You are.  Your help is better than any the world can offer. It can deliver me from anything.   It can help me bear up under any circumstance or oppression.

“May You remember all my sacrifices and accept my burnt offerings.” The sacrifices You desire are obedience and a contrite or repentant heart. A burnt offering is one that is offered up totally. It is completely consumed in the fire. May my life be entirely and wholly offered to You. May my words, actions, and attitudes all honor You.

“May You give me the desires of my heart and make all my plans succeed.” Father, make Your desires mine. Take away any desires I have that are not God-honoring. Help me see Your plan and join You there. And within this framework Father, “grant all my requests.”

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but I trust in the Name of the Lord my God.” What is considered power and might in the world are worthless compared to Your power and might. I will not place my trust in politicians, or leaders, or in any person. I will not trust my future to a job or a paycheck. I will not find my sense of security in fame or position, good looks or good health.

But I will rely on You, trust in You, depend on You. For You alone are trustworthy. I will shout for joy when You bring victory into my life!   And glorify Your Name! Amen

Psalm 20:1-9

June 24 You are my Rescuer

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“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him; before Him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way…In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. Listen to my cry for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.”

 

Father, there are things in my life that are too difficult for me. Things happening that I have no control over. Some anger or frustrate me, but some break my heart and I can hardly bear it. So I pour out my heart to You.

I tell You all my troubles because You care for me. Because You can encourage and comfort me. Because You can help me cope. I know You can help me get a fresh perspective. You show me how to take action when I need to. And how to wait on Your deliverance when that is the case.

I turn to You because I am Yours; and You have resources I cannot even fathom or imagine. When troops had come to capture Elisha, he was not anxious or worried. You had already prepared deliverance for him and he was unafraid because You had opened his eyes to Your rescue. With confidence, he answered his servant: ”Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prayed for You to open his servant’s eyes to see the “hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around them”.

I have never seen horses or chariots of fire come to my aid; but there have been times when, without a doubt, You organized my rescue; my deliverance out of a situation where I saw no escape. I remember times when I was so frightened at the possibility of tragedy, and You gave me a picture of peace that carried me through. You showed me new ways to face what lay before me, and encouraged me to go on.

“You are my refuge…I will praise Your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.” I will share what You have done for me – not only to give You the praise and honor You deserve, but also to encourage other believers. What You do for me, You do for them. We encourage each other when we acknowledge Your deeds and give You glory. And You are glorious! Amen

2 Kings 6:15-17; Psalm 142:1-7

Mar 2 Selfless Savior

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Lord Jesus, You amaze me! Walking, on Your way to Jerusalem, You have just told the disciples that You are going to be personally betrayed. Following that, You will be condemned to death, mocked and spit on, flogged and finally killed.   Your disciples respond by asking You to do them a favor – and a selfish one at that!

 

Then, as You come to the city of Jericho, You take time to heal a blind man calling out by the side of the road. Amazing! I would think that foremost in Your mind, would be the terrible death You are about to face. I would think You would want some understanding, sympathy, comfort from those around You. Yet I find You seeing to the needs of others, teaching them about servanthood, and healing a stranger.

Even in a time of personal need, You give more than anyone else possibly could. You take Your eyes off Yourself and put them on others. You use Your power to teach and to heal for the benefit of others. Again, You amaze me!

I wonder, did the disciples hear what You were saying, but think to themselves, ‘Yeah, but it will probably work out differently when we get there – this can’t be right’?   What else would explain their insensitivity?

Father, let this be a lesson to me to be present with people around me who are hurting. When they tell me of their hardship, let me be comforting and encouraging. Remind me to lift them up in prayer. For although I probably won’t be able to solve their concerns, You most certainly can.

And even when I am hurting, don’t let me ignore others around me who are also hurting, like the blind man You healed. Again, I cannot heal, but I can direct them to You – the One who always has the patience, the desire and the ability to help.

I am so glad You are my Savior, my Healer, my Father, my Friend. Amen

Mark 10:32-52

Mar 1 Your hand

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Lord God, I acknowledge that all power and all authority rests with You. You are Sovereign over all the earth, the heavens and all that is in them. You made them and by Your hand, all things are sustained and kept in motion. When Jesus says “all things are possible with God.” I have no trouble believing it!

There is no power that can stand against You.

So when I’m feeling lost, or overwhelmed, or helpless, or even hopeless, I will remember that my God can do anything! You can provide a way of escape. Or move mountains. Or work blessings out of tragedy. You know of solutions I cannot even imagine. You can make a way, where there is no way.

You can give me strength when I am weak. Lift my spirits when I am down. You know how to encourage me when I think I cannot go another step.

You inspire me to begin a journey. And empower me to keep going.  You reveal wonders to me that are beyond my understanding.  And were I to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life, I would not begin to see all the things that are possible with You!

You amaze me! I am so humbled and blessed, knowing that You are My God. And I worship You. Amen

Mark 10:27

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You!

worship-435108_640So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord. In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe.

These were not easy promises to fulfill. They were quite costly. Jesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way. And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.   So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit. But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition. You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons as well as Your faithfulness, Your trustworthiness to Your promises, Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, “I will extol You”! According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You. I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in You! “

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen! I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations. I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain.

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

I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help me. I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good. Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You. And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need. Amen

Matthew27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Dec 10 The lion has roared…

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

Father, You gave a special message to a shepherd, Amos. His was not in a priestly or kingly line, yet You gave him an important message for the people. He was a shepherd of Tekoa, a place about six miles south of Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem. At the time, the people he spoke to thought they were doing well. But about thirty years later, the Assyrians took Israel into captivity. He voiced Your displeasure of and coming judgment on a list of nations were eventually judged.

Father, it seems to me that when You choose to bless a nation, You hold that nation responsible for its national conduct. Surely each person was not guilty of the offenses listed, but the nations were judged nonetheless. My country has been blessed. And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct. Right now, that is not looking good. Amos questioned “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?” Then answered: “The lion has roared – who will not fear?” He was telling people there was a real and present danger. I believe my country is being warned of a real and present danger if the people do not turn back to You.

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

In obedience to these words, would You help me remember that You are my first love; that You come before anything else in my heart. And let me act accordingly. Like the church in Ephesus, do not let me tolerate wicked people, or listen to false teachers, or follow the Nicolaitan teachings of lustful immorality and lording church positions and power over lay people. Give me the strength to “persevere…endure hardships for Your name, and not grow weary”.

Like the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum, let me remember my wealth comes from my relationship with You. Show me where the evil one is influencing me, or my loved ones so we can reject it. Increase our faith so we have the perseverance to remain true to Your Name. Do not let us be led away from Your teachings by the temptations of Balaam who tempted the Israelites into immorality and idolatry.

Father, thank You for revealing Your plan to Your servants the prophets. Let me hear and heed these words that are for my life and my country. Open my ears and my understanding. Amen

Amos 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17

Nov 30 Lead me in the Light

light-on-manFather, thank You that You are light. You are The Light! I desire to walk in Your light. I understand that there is nothing that You do not already know, nothing is hidden from You. Even if I were to walk in the darkness, You would still see everything.  When there is sin in my life, sin is darkness. And because I do not want to be in the dark, I will confess my sin before You.

I am like a sheep that strays from the safety of its shepherd. You are my Shepherd. Father, seek me when I get lost. Return me to Your presence.

When I agree with You about what is sin in my life, and turn from it, You are faithful to forgive that sin and restore my fellowship with You. Again, thank You.

Like the Psalmist, I pray “May my cry come before You” so You will “give me understanding according to Your Word”.   When I cannot see what direction to go, Father, shine Your light on the path I should take. Help me recognize the difference between light and darkness so I can avoid the darkness.

Father, “may my lips overflow with praise” and “my tongue sing of Your Word”. Do not let me forget to be thankful, acknowledging when You rescue me, when You reveal truth to me, when You encourage me. Remind me to not only ‘stop and smell the roses’ but to express my gratitude to the Creator for the roses and for a nose.

“Let me live that I may praise You”! My Creator. My Encourager. My Teacher. My Rescuer. My Restorer. My Shepherd. My Light! Amen

I John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:169-176

Nov 28 Santa or Sovereign

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Father, so much of the world looks for a god who is like Santa Clause.

They want someone who is happy, always smiling, and will give them whatever they ask for. They like to speak of love for everyone and unending tolerance. But You are a Holy God. And because of that You will have justice for all or there would be love for none.

King Belshazzar was judged by You, and You removed him from his position of power and took his life. You judged Your angels, and threw them into hell to await final judgment. You judged Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed the cities and the evil people who lived there. And You judged the ancient world when You sent the great flood, saving only eight people to continue mankind.

The Psalmist thought it was time for You to act against the evil people of his day. They are described as evil-minded, wicked, arrogant, ones who have divided loyalties and violated Your instructions. And in the hundreds of years since then, there has been so much injustice and evil done in the world, it is hard to believe You will hold off judgment much longer.

But Father, You know how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment”. “You are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of hope.” You will “sustain me”, “rescue”, “deal with me with unfailing love”, and “give me discernment”.  

As is the psalmist, I am instructed and strengthened by You, I will “obey the commands of My God”, “meditate continually on Your decrees”, and “understand Your laws”. For truly “I am Your servant…I tremble in fear of You; I stand in awe of Your regulations.” I believe Your teachings that there will come a day when You will reign over all the earth; and a final judgment will be handed down by Your righteous hand.

Father, until that day, keep me safe within Your Word. And keep me faithful to You, like Daniel. Amen

Daniel 5:1-31; II Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128

Nov 25 Live in the Light, like Daniel

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“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;  wisdom and power are Yours. You change times and seasons;  You depose kings and raise up others. You give wisdom to the wise   and knowledge to the discerning. You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness,  and light dwells with You. I thank and praise You…”  

 

 

 

Father, these words of Daniel’s are just as true today. We still praise You! After all these years of season after season, You are still the One who keeps the world in order. And after generations of kings, You are still the One who holds their hearts and all power in Your hand. All wisdom and knowledge are Yours. Hundreds of years of human advancements and scientific discovery and technology, haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding this amazing universe You created!

Father, Daniel held tightly to his beliefs about You and his convictions about how to live a godly life. And he did so in the midst of being kidnapped and taken a thousand miles away from home and family. As a young man it would have been so easy for him to simply go along with whatever his captors pushed on him. But even far away from family and the worship he knew, he knew that You were with him.

At the time, people worshipped pagan gods who they believed had power and influence over a specific thing like rainfall, crops, or fertility or a particular place.   But Daniel knew You were the One True God over all these things. And that no matter where he was, You were there.

“Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.” And You were faithful to Daniel. You allowed him to be faithful to the ways he had been taught and gave him success. In addition to this, You gave Daniel and his four friends wisdom and understanding far beyond that of all others.

Father, help me be like Daniel. Strengthen me to live the way You have taught me, and not give in to the pressures of whatever society offers. Let me stand out so others will see that I live differently from the pagan ways of my culture. Let the light that dwells in You, shine through me. Amen

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Nov 24 Help me walk in the Light

“Dear friends, I urge you…to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

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Father, help me live this kind of life. I am bombarded every day by media who through advertising and entertainment would have me believe that worldly values and immorality are the only way to be happy. Many of these skewed values presented would lead me into sin. Father, if I have embraced these desires, take them away from me. Let me be so busy enjoying doing good and pleasing You, that I do not even think about, or have time to be involved in ungodly activities. Bring opportunities to me that will use my gifts and bless others so that You will get the credit. Help me make choices that will honor You.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…”. I do not wish to be a doormat for others. I believe by ‘submission’ You mean power or strength under control. You, in the flesh, Jesus, had all the power in the world, but it was ‘submitted to’ or ‘under the control of’ Your will. Let me learn humility and submission by Your example. Give me Your strength, and help me submit it to Your will.

Father, in doing this, help me live in submission to the authorities You place in my life. This would be legal and government officials, those in positions of authority as I work and minister, and those You place in my personal life. Peter says “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Ultimately, I am a sheep, Your sheep. Father, let me flourish in Your flock, and always be near to and obedient to You, my Shepherd. Amen

I Peter 2:11-3:7

Nov 5 You are All-Knowing

ear-2372090_640Father, one way You characterize Your people, the Israelites, is that “they are a rebellious people”. They did not worship only You. They brought in other pagan practices, worshipped idols, did not accept Your instruction or correction, and denied Your true prophets and the prophecies. They were guilty of going their own way.

It was clear, Lord, that You could see what they were doing even when they thought it was in secret. And You paid back those who prophesied falsely and those who disheartened Your people with lies. You knew their actions, their motives, their thoughts. There is nothing hidden from You.

The same is true today, Lord. Before a word is even on my lips, You know it. You know me inside and out. There is nothing I can do in secret that You are not already aware of.   Once again, as it always has been, nothing is hidden from You.

Holy Father, I will worship You and only You. When something else starts to take Your place in my life or in my heart, show me immediately so I can repent and turn away from it.

You also said of Your people: “They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear”.   Show me if there are pagan practices in my own culture that take away from my worshipping You.   If You see me participating in something I should not, again, show me immediately so I can turn from it.

Father, help me receive Your instruction in obedience; and Your correction in humility. Help me understand how the prophecies You have given affect how I am to live. I know I often go my own way. If it is from impatience when waiting to hear from You, help me wait patiently till I do hear from You. If it is in disobedience and rebellion, show me my error, and how to get back on Your path.

Father, Ezekiel was Your man. He heard from You in a real way. And he was obedient. I desire to be like Ezekiel in this way. Let me hear from You in a real way. And guide me to be obedient. Amen

Ezekiel 12:1-14:11

Nov 3 Nourish me, Use me

Father, I am at a point where I “grieve and lament over the detestable things that are done” in my country.

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Part of the problem is that people have been led astray by those who know better, and who should be teaching others what is right.

Part of the problem is that those who know, stick their heads in the sand in denial or so they will not be uncomfortable.

Part of the problem is that those who don’t know are not even searching for the truth.

I believe there will come a time when You will respond as You did in Ezekiel’s vision. In this vision, You had all the people marked who grieved and lamented over the ungodly and detestable things done. And then You sent “a man clothed in linen” through the city, not sparing anyone without the mark.

Father, take my head out of the sand! Show me what I need to know and how to fight against things that are detestable to You. Do not let me live just for the sake of being ‘comfortable’. If I am being led astray in any area of my life, get my attention and show me how to get back on the path You want me on. Show me how to teach others by example, or by whatever other means You would have me use.

Lord, keep me on a diet of solid spiritual food, so I can be nourished by Your Word, daily!   Grow me to maturity in You.   If I am to teach, show me who and how. Do not let me call evil good; or good, evil. But strengthen me to speak up for right. Even in a society that has its values upside down.

Father, I give thanks to You. And I will sing praises to Your Name!   Personally, in the quiet of my own home, and with other believers in worship to You. Father, You also say to “make known among the nations what You have done”. So help me know how to speak to unbelievers in a way that reaches them with Your truth. Father, I glory in Your Name. I look to You. I seek Your face, Your strength, Your blessing, always. Amen

Ezekiel 8:1-9:11; Hebrews 5:11-14; Psalm 105:1-6

Sept 21 “Carry each other’s “burden”

Father, Your Word tells me to help others to carry their burden but to carry my own. I was confused until I looked at the original Greek and found that there are two different words.

In this passage of scripture, they are both translated as ‘burden’.   Where You say “Carry each other’s [burdens] and in this way fulfill the law of Christ”, that word is ‘baros’. Although it is translated four times to read ‘burden’ a more complete definition is ‘heaviness, weight that would weigh you down, pressing on you, difficult requirements’. But where You say “each one should carry their own [burden].” The word is ‘phortion’ which simply means ‘something to be carried’. So there is a difference here in the amount of weight and in the ‘burdonsomeness’ implied in the original meaning.

One way I think of it is that each person should be capable of carrying their own backpack – the weight of normal daily responsibilities. But they would need help with a steamer trunk – an extraordinarily unusual additional amount of hardship that would come with an illness, or accident or trouble.

Father, show me how to help others who are in need. Let me go out of my way to see how to help them. And Father, I trust You will bring help to me when I am in need as well.

Thank You for Paul’s words here reminding me how to relate to other believers. It is so easy to get off track by comparing myself to others. It sets the stage for jealousy, or pride. But You say to help those believers who are overcome by sin. And not to do it pridefully, but humbly and gently, aware that the same mistake could happen to me if I’m not careful.

Father, You made us to care for each other. You knew that this world would be a challenging place, and that we would need each other. Thank You for bringing friends and loved ones around me when I need their help. Sometimes I don’t even realize I need it, till You bring someone who calls and cheers me up, or says something encouraging.

Help me also “not become weary in doing good”, so that I also may “at the proper time reap a harvest if I do not give up”.   Thank You for the way You inspire believers to care for each other.   Amen

Galatians 6:1-10