Tag: faith

Jul 15 Lessons from David

board-LessonsDavid, who was known as a “man after God’s own heart” ordered that a census be taken of the Israelites.  The implication here is that he wanted to know how many fighting men he had available.  It seems like a reasonable thing to do to the logical mind.  But what the scripture says is that “satan incited David to take a census of Israel.”

So the question becomes: how or why did this happen?

One observation is that “In the Spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem.”  So it’s possible that if he had been present with the troops, where he should have been, he would have seen first-hand how many men he had.

Or it could be that his faith in Your ability to continue to give him military victories was waning and he wanted to bolster his confidence by seeing the numbers?

What he should have done when this idea came to him, was hold it up to what he knew of You.  And seek Your counsel on whether or not to go ahead with it.  Even his commander Joab knew this was a bad thing.   His response to David was “Why does my lord want to do this?  Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”

So Father, help me to learn from this mistake David made.  First, if there is a place I am supposed to be, do not let me make excuses to avoid being there.  Help me take my responsibilities seriously and not be swayed by fear, or laziness, or arguments to the contrary.  If I am in the center of Your will, I am less vulnerable to the suggestions and oppression of satan.

Next, bolster my faith so it doesn’t fail me.  When I hear the whisperings of satan telling me to question myself or Your love and faithfulness to me, let me come against those lies with the truth of scripture.  If satan tells me “What do you think you’re doing?  You can’t do that?”  Let me respond with “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13

If he taunts me with “You’re not good enough/smart enough” let me respond with Your truth that I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the work which He has prepared in advance for me.”  Ephesians 2:10.

If I hear a voice saying ‘”You’ve made so many mistakes, you’re worthless,” I can boldly respond with “I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12

If You place people in my life to speak the truth to me, like Joab did for David, do not allow me to be too stubborn or bull-headed to listen to them.

Mostly, Father, let me be consistent to always lay my plans before you, asking if it is Your will.  Then listen to and be obedient to Your response to me.  Regardless of how illogical it may seem, or how much sense it may make to others, I desire to follow Your voice: the voice of my Shepherd.

David and his people paid a terrible price for his disobedience.  Let me learn from his mistake, and be led by You.  Amen

I Chronicles 21:1-30; 1 Chronicles 20:1

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Jun 30 Faithful Living

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Paul’s last words to the leaders of the church at Ephesus set quite an example for believers to follow. I also pray that I will be able to say to my friends: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came to you… I served the Lord with great humility and with tears…I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you…to turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Lord, help me be consistent in my actions and live out my service to You in a way that will show my friends what I believe and what I stand for.  Help me be humble in my manner, not seeking personal recognition or displaying a prideful attitude.  Let me use my words and my behavior to teach others how to love You and serve You.   Help me be an encouragement to their faith.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say, that I have “finished the race and completed the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”

So Father show me what is next.  Show me how to join You in Your work in a way that will deepen our relationship, and bring You glory.   Open my eyes and ears and heart to You so I don’t miss out!  Amen

Acts 20:17-38

Jun 28 In God I trust

coins-1277095_640O Father, how easy it is to follow someone when they bring good into my life.

When the Israelites escaped the power of Aram (the opposing, oppressive kingdom) it was easy to look at Jehoahaz, their own king, and follow him.  But the deliverance came from You, not Jehoahaz, and the people continued to follow him in evil idolatry.

Jeroboam, grandson of Jehoahaz recovered the lost territories and restored the boundaries to Israel, but also led the people into sin, doing evil in Your eyes.

Still today, military victories draw people to follow the man who brings them.

People of my times follow, even worship, those with money, fame, political power.  They are awed and swept away to place their trust in those who mislead and later, disappoint them.  They support these “champions” by touting their philosophies, defending their causes, sending them money.  This is a form of worship.

Even good men, who desire to lead godly lives, pastors and evangelists; fail morally. And those who put their faith in them, lose that faith.  I have looked up to such men: pastors, athletes, politicians, and been pained to watch them fall.

You tell me “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.”   My faith has always been based on You, and Your truth.  It is You, who made the earth and the heavens, the sea and everything in it.  You who works through men to accomplish Your will.  And it is You, alone, who save.

You, the Lord Jesus Christ, defend, uphold, feed, free, heal, encourage, love, care for, and sustain me.  You frustrate the way of the wicked in my defense.   You are the only One who has the power to reign and rule in my heart.  You are the Author of my faith.  Your plan will never fail.  It will never end, because You do not end.

Father show me if I begin to follow another other than You.   I desire to stay on Your path.  Do not let my foot slip.  Do not let me stray one step away from You.  I praise You, O Lord.  You reign forever!  Amen

2 Kings 13:1-8; 14:23-29; Psalm 146:1-10

May 30 You are Hope and Help

Heart of handsFather, make me more like David.   Even when fleeing from Jerusalem, a time of distress and uncertainty, his faith was strong knowing You were with him.  The people he ruled over loved him and wept as he fled.

The priests made intercession and offered sacrifices as David left the city.  They were prepared to go with him, but obeyed his request to stay behind and use their sons as secret couriers for David.  Another friend agreed to stay behind and act as a spy.  David prayed that the council of his enemy would be “turned into foolishness.”

A servant met him on the road with provisions, food, and donkeys for David and his household.   And when a man came showering stones and dirt clods on him, he took no revenge, but was humble to accept whatever You might allow to happen to him.

Father, when I am in trouble, do the same for me.   Call in others to intercede and pray for me.  Let me see support from those You have placed around me.  Bring friends who are willing to act on my behalf and are faithful and loyal to me.  And in their time of difficulty, let me be a loyal support for them.

Thwart the plans of my enemy, by turning their counsel into foolishness.   Bring people alongside me who can encourage me and offer what I need to get through the hardship.

And help me, like David, keep a faithful and humble attitude; accepting whatever comes from Your hand, not insisting on my own edification or revenge.

Lord, I know hard times will come.  Thank You that I can call on You and depend on You to get me through them.   You will sustain me according to Your promise, uphold me, and deliver me.  And You will never let my hopes be dashed.

You will take care of me as You did David.  Thank You that I can depend on You.  Thank You that I can trust You.  I give You all my praise.  Amen

2 Samuel 15:23-16:23; Psalm 119:116-117

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

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Father, I pray the words of this Psalm for myself, and my loved ones.

I give You praise!

Blessed am I because I fear You – have an earnest respect for You – and delight in knowing and obeying Your commands.  May my children be mighty in the futures You have promised them.  May they live uprightly so their generation will be blessed.

Thank You that I possess wealth and riches.  Perhaps not as the world recognizes wealth and riches, but as You count them.   And thank You that Your righteousness remains with me forever.

Even in the dark times, let me live in Your light as You give me grace and compassion to deal with whatever comes.  Let goodness pour into my life.  And let me generously pass that goodness on to others.  I will seek Your justice in conducting my affairs and act in accordance.

As I have planted my faith in You, I will never be shaken.  The world will not make me fall apart.  Keep my heart strong even in the face of bad news, so I will not fear.  And draw me ever closer to You, who I trust completely.

Because I know that You win in the end, my heart and mind are secure.  I know that at the end of the age, when You return, all Your foes will be vanquished, and I will look triumphantly on those enemies.

I will send my service and prayers and financial support to the poor, here and around the world.  Let Your righteousness done through me be remembered forever.  And my family be remembered honorably.  Amen

Psalm 112:1-9

May 15 Faith like David

picture by Malcolm Gladwell

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Father, let my faith be like that of David.

As a child I learned of the battle of David and Goliath.  I have seen it reenacted in pictures, on felt boards with paper figures, in Claymation, live with children or adults in costume, and in movies about the Bible.  I think most people know of it as it has been referenced in many tv shows, movies, and news stories to describe any underdog fighting an overwhelmingly huge giant, whether in sports or business, countries or individuals.

In three main ways, I ask that You would grow my faith to be like David’s.

1 – He was able to look beyond himself.  He did not just take Goliath as a personal threat the way the soldiers did, but recognized someone in defiance of You.

Like most people, I interpret things in light of how they affect me, or my family.  That limits the scope of the solutions I can perceive.  It puts the focus on me to find a solution that I can perform.

David saw an affront to You, making it Your battle.  “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

2 – He trusted that You had already prepared him for the battle.  “When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and killed it.”

And because of that, was able to turn from pressure to do what others suggested – the armor, helmet and sword.

I trust that You have already brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to deal with things.  And that this has prepared me for what is to come.  You have already intentionally, purposefully, given me spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences to make me who I am.

Help me use those things instead of feeling like I have to conform to what others expect of me.  Give me confidence in Your preparation for whatever battle I face.

3 – He voiced confidence in You and gave You the glory for the victory even before it happened!  “…but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.   This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”

My confidence is not always so certain.  Sometimes I even try and do things with as little notice as possible, so if I fail, it won’t reflect badly on You.   This is another way I focus on myself, and what I can do.

Help me see that the battle is Yours.  And You can conquer all Your enemies!  You will attain the victory!

Father, let my fear shrink and my faith grow!  Let me look beyond myself to all You can do in and through me.  I trust in Your purposefulness and Your preparation.  Help me exemplify all this in the challenges I meet.  Amen

I Samuel 17:1-58

May 12 There is none like You

Because You can be trusted, O Lord, my heart is strong and steady.  I am secure in my faith.  I will stand steadfast and give You the praise You deserve!

I will shout and sing!  I will make music that honors You with all that is in me!  I will sing along with praise music.  Add my voice to those of others in praise and worship.  And will compose new songs that tell of Your faithfulness to me!

guitarplayI will stay up late to praise You Father!  I will even get up early when the sun is coming up to honor You!  Break out the guitars, pianos, cymbals, harps, harmonicas, drums, whatever instruments can make music that acknowledges Your love and faithfulness!

Your love is boundless!  As high as I can see with my eyes or even perceive with satellites to the farthest reaches of our galaxy – Your love goes farther still!  Beyond what is calculable or even imaginable!

I stretch out my arms to encompass all I can measure from end to end till it wraps around the earth and begins again – that’s the way Your unending faithfulness is.  You are over and above and beyond all that I can see or comprehend!  I place Your name above all others.  Your glory is limitless!

With just the power and strength in Your right arm, You can save me from any foe, rescue me from any enemy, deliver me from any calamity.  Deliver me Lord, from the lies and deceit of the evil one.  Do not let me be pulled into false philosophies, lying schemes, or political intrigues only to see the truth when it is too late and I have been corrupted.

I am Yours, Lord.  Defend me and bring me to Your fortified place.  Free me from the weaknesses of my flesh: selfishness, laziness, lust, jealousy, pride, arrogance, and greed.  Help me against all these enemies.  No one can help me like You.  There is none like You!

With You, I am victorious!  With You, nothing is impossible!  Thank You for coming to my aid.  Thank You for loving me faithfully.  And for being lovingly faithful.  Amen

Psalm 108:1-13

 

May 6 Faith = things hoped for but not yet seen

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Lord, may my faith be like that of the royal official.  He asked for You to come and heal his child who was close to death.  You simply told him “Go, your son will live.”  And he took You at Your word and left.

Even before he saw it with his own eyes, the circumstances proved that You did what You said You would do.  They even revealed that it happened exactly when You spoke!

Father, help me trust in You and what You tell me, even when I can’t see the results immediately.   When it is not in front of my eyes and the doubt of the world pushes in, don’t let my faith waver.  When it doesn’t seem to be happening quick enough let me be patient and trust that Your timing is perfect.

Reminds me of an old country hymn.  Part of the lyrics say:  “Take Him at His word when it’s not lookin’ good, believe that He’ll do what He said that He would…’”

I believe.  Amen

John 4:43-54

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

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“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life.  Father, I devote that life to You.  You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

Lord, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now.  Things that I cannot see, and have no evidence will ever happen.  I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar.

First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him and persisted asking for Your help.

So when I have a need, let me come straight to You; confident that You have the desire and the power to help.  And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked what he wanted, he knew exactly.  Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, as You answered the beggar’s, let other people see it and praise You!

Lord, as I bring my requests to You, I come praising You with all my heart.  I praise You that when I am under attack I can ask for Your strength.  I appreciate that sense of Your presence when I feel discouraged.

I exalt You for teaching me truth from Your Word and showing me how to apply it to my life; thus increasing my faith.  I glorify Your name as You guide me in Your wisdom, and give me discernment.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble.  I know You will answer me.  For all this and more, I thank You Lord.  Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

Apr 16 Your voice, not the world’s

Lord, let me and let my sons be like Caleb and Joshua.

ToHear God's Voice

They spied out the Promised Land and saw all the goodness there.   They also saw the enemy for who they were, but knew that You would give victory and deliver them according to Your Word.

They held to their convictions and lived a long life receiving all You had promised.  Even in their old age, they were strong and vigorous because they served You wholeheartedly.

I know that both goodness and enemies lie before me.  But I know if I serve You wholeheartedly, I will receive all You promise.  Your will, Your plan will not be thwarted.  Even in my old age, help me be faithful, and I will be blessed and receive an inheritance from You.

Father, let me also be like the widow who made her plea to the judge so persistently that she received the justice she wanted.  Let my faith be that I will not give up, but always lift my concerns and needs to You in prayer.

When You return, let me be found faithful, continuing in prayer, not being dissuaded by circumstances or the influences of this world.

Also, Lord, keep me mindful that my only righteousness comes from You, so I will not look down on anyone else, but remain humble.  I am ever dependent on You, on Your mercy and on Your grace for my life and all that I have.  Thank You for Your faithfulness – to warriors, to widows, to me.  Amen

Joshua 14:6-15; Luke 18:1-14

Apr 11 Courage for the next step

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

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

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“Awaken Your might!  Come and save me!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr 10 Make me like Moses, Joshua, and Rahab

O Lord, You encourage me with people like Moses and Joshua and Rahab.  You took these three ordinary and flawed people and used them mightily for Your glory, to bring about Your plan.

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It gives me hope that You can use me too.

You brought Moses, born of slaves, cursed by Pharaoh to be killed in the Nile, out of the deadly waters and empowered him to be Your instrument in freeing Your people from slavery and leading them to the Promised Land.

Father, help me be obedient to all You say to me, as Moses was.  Use me in Your plan.  Let it be said of me as it was of Moses: when she was old “[her] eyes were not weak nor [her] strength gone.”

Joshua was willing to voice his faith and trust in You when the prevailing views were opposed.  You made him strong and very courageous.  Help me “obey Your law” and “not turn to the right or to the left from it” so I may be successful wherever I go.

Let me not be tempted off Your path by the world or it’s values, but cling to what I know is right in Your eyes.  Let me not ignore what Your Word, the Bible tells me is true.  Remind me to read it so I know what is in it.  How else will I know what is right?  I know, like Joshua did, that You are “with me wherever I go” so I will not be terrified or discouraged.

And even when all around me are situations and powers that represent and support the lure of the world and the lust of the flesh, let me be like Rahab, listening to and trusting in the Holy Spirit.  By doing so she saved her family.  Strengthen me to be willing to take risks for you.

All these remind me of a song from my childhood: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.   I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”

Father, help me be brave enough to stand alone if need be, on Your Word.   Let me be so sure of how You are leading me that there is no fear in standing up for You.

Speak to me and give me understanding.  Show me how to apply that understanding to my life in ways that bring honor to You.  Thank You.  Amen

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24

Mar 30 Real Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

What amazing faith!

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

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

Luke 8:40-56

 

Mar 29 What Would Jesus Do?

illustration by Good News Productions Int.

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Dear Lord, when I read this report of You being asleep in the boat when the squall came up, it seemed so amazing.

Instead of relaxing like You did, people usually get more anxious when things intensify and we begin to feel out of control.

That may be the key – You knew that nothing could happen that was out of Your control!

But why didn’t the disciples know that?

They had witnessed You performing many, many miracles.  Not only healing the sick and lame and blind, but raising people from the dead!  So if they had listened to Your words and trusted them, it seems they would have had more confidence in the outcome, squall or no.   What You said was, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.”

Lord, I want to be so confident with You that when You tell me, “Let’s do something” I will trust You so completely that there is no question of whether it will be accomplished or not.

I want to do what I see You doing.   If You are resting, that’s my cue that I can rest too.  Because if it doesn’t bother You, and I am with You, then it shouldn’t bother me.

So, even in the hard part, the storm, if they had asked back then WWJD?   What would Jesus do?  The answer was right in front of them: sleep!

So when the hardest part comes, yes, I want to be sure I’m doing my part.  But rather than quake with fear, or anxiously try and control the outcome, let me do what I see You doing.  And be so confident in my trust, that I become calm, and at rest.

Bottom line:  if I am with You, it will all work out.

Either I will reach the destination with You, or I will perish: in which case I will also be with You.  It’s a win-win!  Amen

Luke 8:22-26

Mar 13 Egypt or Wilderness?

direction-1033278_640The Israelites.

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

All they knew: slavery = more of the same.

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

So in this newfound freedom after leaving Egypt, when problems rose, like no food or water for two million people, it was a big deal.  And they were not prepared to cope.

Those things had been provided for them before.  And even though their labor had been hard and bitter, it was at least predictable.   So during these times, it was so easy for one of them to look back to when there was a bit of security and minimal provision; and convince others that what was behind them was preferable to the unknown ahead.

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

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

Father I pray You would help me be courageous in accepting what comes from Your hand.  If it requires change on my part, let me be willing to take the necessary steps without whining and complaining.

Remind me of the times in the past when You have rescued, delivered and supported me through difficulties and challenges.  Let those memories add to my faith and increase my trust in You.

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

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

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

Feb 27 Can…and WILL

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Lord, I can so identify with the father who asked You to deliver his son from the evil spirit.  His words were, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

As I read through Your Word and see the miracles You have done, the healings, the deliverances of people groups and individuals, the amazing ways You impacted a person’s life and used them mightily, I marvel, and believe.

When people tell me all You have done in their lives, how You have worked things out that should never have happened, and saved them from something in the nick of time, I believe that.

But when it comes to my own life, while I totally believe You CAN do anything; I often fall short in believing that You WILL.   Where it’s easy for me to see You acting in others’ lives, I feel so undeserving of Your attention.

But I continue to call out to You for my family, my children and grandchildren.  I believe that Your purpose is not to harm them, but to give them a hope and a future.  I claim that promise, and await the deliverance.

I call forth things that be not, as though they were, and will be.  And I look forward to the day when they will once again worship You in spirit and in truth being guided by Your Word.

I totally believe You can accomplish this.  Your power is so great that nothing can stand against You.  Help me, Lord, overcome any doubt that remains in me.

I will trust in You.  I will trust in You.  Amen

Mark 9: 14-29; Romans 4:17

Feb 21 Healing and Forgiveness

Dear Father, even though You no longer walk this earth in the flesh, Your power is still present here.  Each believer has the Holy Spirit and can call on You in prayer to effect Your purposes.

prayer-888757_1920So we bring our loved ones and the people of the earth before You.  We ask for healing from physical ailments.  We ask for an end to suffering, whether at the hands of ungodly persecutors, or by the powers of this present darkness that work for the evil one.

We ask for salvation to come to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.  Lord, be the light in their lives that heals and frees and saves.

Like Jairus, I put my faith in Your power to touch and heal.   You are a God of miracles.

I also realize that when I intercede, or pray on behalf of others, I need to be clean before You.  Unconfessed sin can get in the way of our communication.  David says that his sin caused health to leave his body, guilt to overwhelm him.

I too need to confess my sin before You and ask forgiveness.  Show me the sin in my life Lord, and as I agree with You and turn from it, cleanse me anew.

Thank You for Your forgiveness.  Thank You for purifying me from all sin’s unrighteousness.  Thank You for allowing me, like Jairus, to ask in faith for Your healing.

Help me pray in Your will, because I trust that Your will is the absolute best for each of us.  And help me rest in Your answers and Your timing.  Amen

Mark 5:21-43; Psalm 38:1-22

Feb 20 In the storms

i-know-notFather, so many times I act just like the disciples in the boat during the storm.

I choose to focus on the storm around me.  In the face of the strong winds, the high waves, the tossing of the boat, I look at the opposition, the circumstances that block my way, and the hopelessness of things turning out right.

All the time forgetting Your promises of protection.  Even though I know You are there with me, I do not see how You are at work in the situation, and I cry out to stir You to my cause.   “Lord, don’t You care…?”

Many times, I can almost hear You say the same words to me that You spoke then; “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

Sometimes You do calm the wind and still the waves.  Other times You simply hold me in Your arms while the waves buffet me.  And sometimes You inspire me and increase my faith with a vision of future calm waters and blue skies, reassuring me that it will be all right.

Thank You for being with me in the storms.  Thank You for speaking to me in songs, scriptures, promises, and visions.

Thank You for the truths You give me in Psalm 37: “My salvation comes from the Lord; You are my stronghold in time of trouble.  You help me and deliver me; and save me. Because I take refuge in You.”  Amen

Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 37:39-40

Feb 3 Apple or Potato prayers?

“Hear my voice when I call O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.  My heart says of You, “Seek His face!”  Your face, Lord, I will seek.” 

Oh Father, thank You that I can know that You do hear me.  Sometimes I sing out my praise, or I call out my thanksgiving, or I weep and whisper out my needs, pr my heart is so broken I can only weep.  But the Holy Spirit intercedes for me and even the groanings of my heart that cannot be expressed in words are heard.

Thank You that in Your mercy, You answer me every time.  I appreciate and love the times Your answer is “yes” and I can see the fruit of my prayers immediately.  They are like apples I can see growing and maturing on a tree, right before my eyes.

The buds come, the blossoms open, then the fruit appears, grows and matures while I watch the whole process.  With a prayer like this, I can see you at work and be encouraged.

But I understand that at times the answer is “wait.”  Then it’s more like growing potatoes.  The plant is there, but the fruit, the potato, is growing underground and cannot be seen until it is time to harvest.  It takes faith to dig up the plant looking for the potatoes underneath.

These are harder prayers because they feel like nothing is happening.  The truth is, You are at work answering the prayer, just not in ways visible to the human eye.

And I also must acknowledge that sometimes the answer is “no.”  And I have to choose to trust that Your will is best for me, even if I don’t understand it at the time.

Like the Psalmist Lord, I will seek Your face.  I will read and study Your Word and apply its lessons and teachings to my life.  I will come to You in prayer, allowing time not only for talking, but also listening for what You want to say to me.

I will look for those places where You insert Yourself into my life through circumstances; using events or occurrences, contacts or everyday things to speak to me and heighten my awareness of You.

You remind me of Your beauty in a sunset.  You make Your sovereignty known when I look at the stars.   You reassure me of Your love and care when You have a friend call or pray for me.   And these are just some of the ways You communicate with me.

Whether praying apples or potatoes, hearing a “yes” or “no,” I am encouraged with these words of David: “I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

And especially for those “potato” prayers, You say “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  Father, help me wait and not fall into discouragement, self-pity or giving up.  Keep my faith strong and my trust in You solid; so that at the end of the waiting, I will sing of the wonders of the Lord!  Amen

Psalm 27:7,8,13,14; Romans 8:26

Feb 1 Exodus Deliverance Prayer

Father, I pray this for many who are undergoing trials which seem overwhelming right now.

I pray that according to what the Holy One did for those who left Egypt when He delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh at the Sea of Reeds in Exodus 14:19-31, He will do for you in your time of trial, difficulty or crisis.

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[He interposed Himself between Pharaoh’s army and His people who were in the desert trapped up against the Sea of Reeds.  He kept them safe all night as He prepared their way of escape.  He threw the enemy into a panic and vanquished them.  He gave them safe passage, making a way where there seemed to be none. And He gave them a wonderful deliverance.]

May God physically place Himself between you who He loves and has redeemed and whatever threatens your safety, your security and welfare; and personally assume responsibility for your protection – not because you deserve it by anything you have done, but for the sake of the eternal relationship He has with you.

May He keep vigil over you and send His almighty spirit to make a way of escape to deliver you.  May He watch over you through the night, the dark time when you cannot see His hand at work on your behalf – may you feel His protection even in light of seemingly overwhelming circumstances when you focus on the enemy.

As in Exodus 14:21 when God sent the “Ruach kadim” generally translated as ‘east wind’ but literally meaning ‘the breath that was from before the first that was in the very beginning’ (reference to Genesis 1:2 when the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the waters, and the Ruach [the breath or Spirit] of the Holy One moved over the face of the deep) may you feel the Ruach or Spirit of God moving in whatever challenge is facing you, as He makes a way of escape for you.

May He set panic in the heart of your enemy and send them into confusion so they may not harm you.  May none of their weapons find their targets.  May they even turn on themselves in the confusion.

May He vanquish your enemy before your eyes.  May they fall into the very pit they have dug for you and into the hands of a jealous and mighty God.  May He totally repel and defeat them on your behalf, because He loves you.

Do not underestimate the power of the Holy One, your covenant partner.  He knows what you need and will provide your safe passage to the place of fulfillment of your purpose in life.  You are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the works He prepared in advance for you.  And He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.  God can and will do whatever He has to do to make a way even when there seems to be no way.

And May our Lord give you an awesome aftermath, where you can tell others about the wondrous and mighty work of the Holy One on your behalf.  May He give you a heart of gratitude and thanks that acknowledges Him and gives Him the glory.  May your testimony be that in faith, you stood and saw the deliverance of the LORD.

based on Exodus 13:17-14:31

and teaching from The Rabbi’s Son, Torah Teacher

Jan 25 I trust Your perfect plan

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Oh God I praise You that nothing can thwart Your plans!

Although evil is in this world, and is in positions of power and authority, it is nothing compared to You and Your ability to preserve Your will!

I ask for Your will to be done in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. I trust that Your plan is the best possible. Do not let any powers or influences get in the way of effecting Your will in our lives.

Your purpose was fulfilled in Joseph’s life. And in spite of slavery, prison and the selfishness and greed of Joseph’s brothers, it played right into Your plan to save Israel’s descendants.

Then hundreds of years later, when the new Pharaoh tried to kill the male Hebrew babies, You again had a plan for those children and the peoples’ deliverance. By human reckoning it took a miracle – because a baby in a basket floating in crocodile infested waters would have no chance of surviving. But You provided for this Hebrew baby to be raised in the palace as Pharaoh’s own grandson!

Even when Jesus tried to explain Your majestic plan for the salvation of all people -His disciples didn’t understand it. Peter said to Jesus “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” And Jesus had to rebuke him.

And even after Peter saw Jesus transfigured and walking with Moses and Elijah, and heard Your own voice saying “This is My Son…Listen to Him.” Peter tried to interfere as Jesus was taken into custody in the Garden of Gethsemane. If he had understood the whole plan, would he have done that?

I often cannot make sense of the twists and turns my life takes. There are times I don’t know whether to stay or go, to act or wait. I cannot see how things will play out but I make a plan. But it doesn’t always turn out the way I expect.  How many times do we switch to Plan B, or Plan C, or D,E,F…

How then do I make decisions? Move forward? Live my life?

I echo the words of King David: “For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”

I too trust in You, the Lord, the Most High. I ask You, Lord God to show me enough light for the next step I am to take. Help me listen for Your response and obey what I hear. And trust that even if it doesn’t make sense to me, it will turn out according to Your plan.

I trust You.  My security is in You – even when nothing I can see supports my feeling safe.

Because of Your unfailing love for me, I can remain at PEACE. Meaning I can: Possess Equilibrium Amid Chaotic Events. You have the power, You have the ability and expertise, You have the sovereignty and the willingness to bring Your plans to fruition.

So let it be done. On this earth.  In this country.  In my life.  Amen

Exodus 1:1-2:10; Matthew 16:21-17:9; Psalm 21:7

Jan 21 It’s all perspective

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Holy Father, Your will often puzzles me. I cannot see from Your perspective or understand the effects of actions looking forward into the future.

Your servant John the Baptist lived as a righteous man. He was a believer and taught of Your kingdom. He even baptized Jesus! He was a great part of Your plan; yet he was beheaded by an unrighteous, evil, manipulative man.

In our human understanding of fairness that seems so wrong.

Yet, again, our perspective is not Yours. And our life here on earth is not the end of it all. There is also what comes after: where and how we spend eternity.

So can I still pray for things to work here out here on earth, in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones? Yes.

And can I ask in faith, believing, and not doubting? Absolutely!

But I must remember that You answer prayer from a greater perspective.

My sight and my ability to see “the solution” are very limited. Even in my own life, I have prayed and You have answered in ways far better than anything I had asked for, or could have even imagined.

And can I trust Your answer? Without a doubt!

Even if I can’t understand the “why” of it at the time, I know that Your love for me is great. And You are trustworthy. And Your sense of mercy and justice are right.

So no matter how things look from my perspective, I will proclaim boldly with the Psalmist, “As for God, His way is perfect!”

Matthew 14:1-12; Psalm 18:30

Jan 20 Indescribable Uncontainable

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I continue to be amazed, Lord God, at the magnitude of the height of Your glory. You made the sun and stars, everything in the heavens.

As humans, we are just beginning to understand the depth of the workings of the cosmos.

All we know about our universe could fit on the head of a pin compared to what You were able to imagine and bring into being.

Even beyond our meager understanding, You had the ability, the power to create what You imagined. And by Your hand it is all kept in balance and in motion.

Yet, with the incredible greatness and the boundless vastness of Your power and sovereignty, You still know each one of us, each of Your creations, by name. I marvel at the love You have for us, and the care You take with us.

You can see the past and the future. You are outside of time. You knew when a famine was coming in Egypt, and cared to let them know in advance. You spoke revelation through dreams and gave the interpretation to Joseph. And because of that, people were saved from the famine, and Your promise was preserved; Your covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was upheld.

As great as You are, You still communicate with us in ways we can understand; as an example: parables. We can understand a crop with weeds sewn into it, and how harvest time works. We can see when a tiny seed grows into a large tree, or the action of yeast causing bread dough to rise. We know the draw and value of treasure and pearls.

Thank You for caring to communicate with us; to show us the way to have relationship with You: the Almighty God of the Universe.

And as we can only voice our faith and trust in You through the words we understand, we join with the Psalmist David in saying; “You are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. You are my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to You, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” 

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.” Amen

Genesis 41:17-42:17; Matthew 13:24-46; Psalm 18:1-3

Jan 12 Trust God with it all

Thank You for sharing the secret to prosperity with us in today’s Proverb. It is a simple statement, but holds the key.

You instruct us to “honor You with our wealth, with the firstfruits of our crops.”

We often consider “honoring You with our wealth” to mean tithing money to an affiliated church. Period. And while money is certainly a part of our “wealth” it is not the only thing.

Some of us have a wealth of talent, some a wealth of personality, some a wealth of time, or of good health and energy. All these things are gifts from the Father of Lights from whom every good and perfect gift comes.

So we need to consider giving of our talents, our time, our energy, our relationships, all in a way that brings honor to You.

Lord, help me think beyond the change in my pocket. Let me glorify You in how I treat other people, how I speak to them, how I look on them in my heart attitude. Let the bounty of Your provision to me in time and talent overflow onto those around me.

Help me spend the minutes in my day as carefully as the dollars in my purse, in a way that points to You, and brings acknowledgement and praise to You.

Help me turn away from greed, selfishness, pride, arrogance; and reflect the righteous qualities of the fruit of the Spirit: goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, patience, peace, love, joy, and self-control.

The second part of the key is timing. The firstfruits of a crop are what is harvested before the rest of the crop is mature and ready to be gathered.

Earthly wisdom would be to “get what you can, can what you get, and sit on the can.” It would be to bank a “‘sure thing” and then wait to see if the rest of the crop comes in. After all, there could be floods, winds, freezes, insects or disease that could overtake a ripening crop and destroy it completely. Then nothing would be left to sustain the grower and give profit.

But You tell me to honor You with the firstfruits. It’s an exercise in trust.

It means I am willing to sacrifice a “sure thing” because I trust the One who is in control of it all!

Help me act in faith, being willing to show I trust in You and in Your will for my life by giving You what is given to me first. Don’t let me be fearful of the future and stockpile the firstfruits for myself, then be satisfied with ”tipping” You if any is left over.

Father, thank You for this reminder that speaks again to the reassurance I have in You.  You are the One with the power and the might and the authority and the sovereignty over all things.

You remind me that I can trust You with all things in the present and the future. I choose to trust You with my words, my actions and my prayers. Amen

Proverbs 3:9-10

Jan 11 Be like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_wellpainting of Rebeca by Michael Deas 1995

Father, may we be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord,” how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her.

When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately.

She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her.

Give me Rebekah’s courage.

Let me be willing to go when You say ‘Go.’ Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.”

I ask for that blessing for myself as well.

Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands.

And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she “went to inquire of the Lord.” You gave her an answer and a revelation.

May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation.

Let me not lean on my own understanding, but give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level.

In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23

Jan 6 Choices

Father, thank You for showing real life examples that teach me how to make choices.

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Lot looked with his physical eyes and made his choice to move to the well watered land to the east. It did not work out well for him. Keep me from rushing headlong into decisions based only on what I think I see with my physical eyes. Or on what my flesh leads me to from misguided appetites.

Instead, teach me to see with Your eyes, from Your perspective; looking beyond the immediate appearance of reward. Help me think through and pray through decisions.  Especially when they also involve others and affect my relationships, and how I live.

Help me weigh the consequences and ask, “Will this draw me closer to God or take me further away?”

And as I move forward, let me be mindful of Your voice, trusting that You will guide and protect me.

If my choices go wrong, help me recognize the sinfulness around me, and separate myself from it.  Don’t let me tolerate evil or go along with it. Precept Bible Study taught me “sin will: take me farther than I ever meant to stray, keep me longer than I ever meant to stay, and cost me more that I ever meant to pay. “

Thank You for Abram’s example. He heard Your voice and obeyed, moving even before he had the whole picture and started off for the land You would show him. Let me also be obedient without insisting on having it all laid out before me.

Help me act in faith when You call. Help me believe and trust in Your promises. Even when You do not act according to my expected or desired time table.

Even when it seems like things are not going the way I have prayed they would.

Even when it seems worse than at the beginning.

Even when I cannot see You at work.

I know that Your thoughts are not my thoughts.  Your ways are not my ways. You have the advantage of infinite wisdom over infinite time and infinite sovereignty with infinite power.

Thank You for teaching me through example after example in the Bible that I can trust that You always keep Your promises. You are Almighty God. And I worship You alone. Amen

Genesis 13:5-15:6; Isaiah 55:8

Dec 26 in God I trust

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Father, people look to many things to protect them, to save them, from hardship and the trouble of this world.  Zechariah prophesied Your judgment on people here who had put their faith in and were trusting many things other than You.

These people were skillful.  It is easy to trust in yourself when you have skills.  You know what you are doing and you know that you do it well.  It offers you a sufficient level of confidence and security to be able to handle what you need to make a living and build a stronghold for protection.

People today trust in their abilities too.  They believe they can trade their skills for whatever else they need: food, clothing, shelter.  Beyond that, they may also derive their sense of self-worth from their abilities.

They had many possessions.  So much so, that they are described as having “heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets.”  When you have possessions, it is easy to feel insulated from need.  You can literally see your wealth around you.  If you have a need, you can always sell something to buy what you need.

Again, people in my day often trust in their possessions.  And they may also get their sense of personal value from what they own.

They had power.  When you have power, you can take what you want.  Your security comes from your strength.  As long as you maintain that strength, you have no need to fear anyone, or trust anything besides yourself.

People today trust in power.  They put their faith in their own personal power and their ability to control.  Or the power of their business, or their country, or their military.  They get their view of their worth from the power they can use to overcome others.

All these things are faulty reliances.

Zechariah tells me You will “take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea and she will be consumed by fire.”  “Her” and “She” refer to the cities and the people who oppress Your people.  But none of these things they trust in will save them.

It is the same today.  None of these things: abilities and skills, possessions and money, power and might, can save anyone.  No one and nothing can stand against You, Father.

So I agree with David.  No one is so great as You, or more worthy of praise.  Your glorious splendor and Your wonderful works have been passed down for generations.  Your character is unmatched.

To a greater extent than is humanly possible, You are good, gracious, compassionate, trustworthy, faithful, and righteous.  You are mighty and powerful above all things, but are just in all Your ways.

And I am blessed, supremely fortunate, that You are my God, my King.  You hold me up when I fall.  You satisfy me with good things.  You are always near to me and answer my call.  You watch over me although I have done nothing to deserve all this lavish care.

So I give You all my praise!  I worship You alone.  I look to You and trust in You, no matter what befalls me.  I know that Your faithfulness to me deserves my complete and absolute trust.

 “My mouth will speak in praise of You.”  I will join with every other creature Your hand has made, and praise Your Holy Name.  Amen

Zechariah 9:1-8; Psalm 145:1-21

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

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

boat carpenter

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

You know me so well.  You created me.  You knew beforehand the purpose of my life, the places I would go, the perils I would face.

Like a carpenter chooses the type of wood to match the force of the stresses that will be brought against the boat he is making, You, my good and wise Carpenter, lovingly chose how I would be made.

You carefully and masterfully fashioned me to create exactly what You envisioned I would need to meet the storms You knew I would have to face in my life.

I don’t know my own strength, but You do.  You built strength into me that will only be demonstrated by the storms I weather.

So, with confidence and faith, I will enter the darkness, the high winds, the deep swells, the powerful surges, the rain, thunder and lightening.  I will let them crash around me, and wash over me, and I will see my deliverance on the other side.  Where the waters are calm.   And the winds are favorable.   And the sky is blue.

And my Carpenter, who is my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, stands smiling.  Amen

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 21 Shield my head

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Father, what an incredible vision You gave John!  As he describes the scene and the action, it sounds like a great cosmic video game!  But this one does not play out over and over with a reset button when the player fails at the quest.

The revelation John sees here: “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” and “an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.”  These are not anime characters, but are signs that represent actual happenings.  The woman represents Israel, and the red dragon: satan.  Satan was hurled down to earth and roams here now to “lead the whole world astray.”

The bad news:  “woe to the earth and sea because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury…”.   The good news: “his time is short.”

Because satan roams the earth in his furious state, and has duped people into following him, I need You, Father, to “keep me safe from the hands of the wicked.”  It is not only the evil one, but also those under his authority who do his biding that I have seen at work.

I know sometimes I don’t make wise choices and must bear the consequences.  In those times Father, I ask for Your forgiveness and Your wisdom to learn from my mistakes.

And other times, I feel attacked; caught by surprise in situations and circumstances I did not anticipate.  I feel entrapped, tripped up, led into places, relationships, emotional states, and difficulties that feel like an oppressive force is orchestrating it all.

When I begin to feel discouraged and hopeless, when I find myself doubting Your goodness and Your love, I know there is some element of evil at work.  Thank You that You have promised to “shield my head in the day of battle.”  Your helmet of salvation protects my thoughts and reminds me of Your truth.  It helps me hold what I am feeling up against the truth of Your Word.

Thank You that I can be sure of Your love for me.  Thank You that I can know without a doubt, that Your purpose and plan for me are good.

Thank You that I know You will never, ever, leave me or forsake me.  And thank You that the devil’s time here on earth is short.  And a time will come when You will triumph over all!

In the meantime, I “will praise Your name”!  And “live [my life] in Your presence”, in safety, with You as “my strong deliverer”  awaiting Your “end game.”   Amen

Revelation 12:1-17; Psalm 140:1-13

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

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In the midst of Zephaniah’s vision of absolute devastation, You speak of a remnant: “the meek and humble.”  They will “trust in the name of the Lord.”   And You will gather them, honor them, restore their fortunes, take great delight in them and rejoice over them with singing.

You sing!!

Father, thank You for inventing music!

Thank You for melodies I have learned, and words that give voice to my praise!  So when David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart… I will sing Your praise”, I can join with him and praise You!

I know songs that praise Your name, Your power, Your attributes.  I sing to You at the top of my lungs, with my hands help up, facing the sun, or the mountains, or looking up to the sky.

I drive around with praise music playing loudly and sing along. I can sit at the piano and sing with my eyes closed, to the music so many have written to help me glorify You.

Or I can quietly bow my head or fall to the floor and sing, barely audibly – but knowing You can hear me.

Your love and Your faithfulness are praiseworthy.  Your faithfulness to me alone gives me reason to sing and praise You.  And when there is no song that expresses my thanks, I just listen, and You teach me a new one!

As great and exalted as You are, You are still willing to come to the aid of Your people.  When I call, You have answered.  Many times You have come to rescue me.  You see me wherever I am, and are right there beside me.

You have defeated my foes, encouraged me and made me bold enough to act when I was too fearful.  I love David’s words: “though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life.”

I have faith, and I trust, that Your plan is the absolute best for my life.  And that You can make that happen.  I know that You will never, ever leave me.  I praise You for Your steadfastness, Your faithfulness to who You are, and Your faithfulness to me and my loved ones!   Many thanks.  Amen

Zephaniah 3:9-20; Psalm 138:1-8

Dec 18 Rejoice…always

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Father, 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 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.

The 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.”

Habakkuk proposed “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 be none.  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!

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

Dec 3 Pray for peace

Father, my trips to the Holy Land were so wonderful!  They were spiritually uplifting, eye-opening and life-changing.  Our four weeks in Jordan, Israel and Egypt left me with the ability to visualize places now when I read Your Word, that make it come more alive!

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The eight days in Jerusalem amazed me as I saw people from all over the world visiting there.  It truly is the crossroads of three continents, with trade and cultural influences from Europe, Asia and Africa.

It is also a crossroad in a spiritual sense.

Muslims trace their roots back to Abraham, and worship there, holding Jerusalem as a holy place.  It is the place of David, Solomon and Jesus, peace be upon them, who were great prophets in Islam.  Besides Dome of the Rock being there, Jerusalem was the first city Muslims turned to pray towards, many years before it was changed to Mecca.

Jews also worship in Jerusalem as the seed of Abraham their patriarch, and believe it was given to them by You in Your promise to Abraham.  David brought the Arc of the Covenant there, and Solomon built a Temple where You placed Your Name and Your Presence was seen, making it a holy place.

And Christians hold Jerusalem in reverence because of the great history of our roots, but mostly because You walked, were crucified and rose from the dead there.

The prophets say You will come again to Jerusalem.  You are the Prince of Peace and You will bring peace.  David tells me in Psalm 122 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

So, Heavenly Father, I ask for Your peace in Jerusalem now.  Would You place in the hearts of each individual there, whether young or old, man or woman, Arab or Israeli, politician or shopkeeper, a sense of unity and a desire for Your peace to invade the Middle East.

Father, for the Christians there empower those believers with courage to live out their faith in unity as Your body.  Let there be unity in their churches, so the people who are seeing them are not put off of believing in You because of Your followers. Give these believers an extra dose of Your protection so they can live out Your love in front of an unbelieving world.

Lord, protect them as they witness to their unbelieving friends and neighbors.  Protect their lives, families, businesses, and possessions as they spread Your love and Your Word through their spoken and unspoken testimony.  Cause a revival in their lives, so they are filled to overflowing with Your love and Your blessing and want to share it with others.

Prepare the hearts and spirits of unbelievers to hear Your Word and believers’ testimonies.  Cause them to question whatever it is they are believing in now: another religion, a government power, a cultural system of beliefs.  Open their eyes and ears to see and hear what is happening around them.  And open their spirits to understand and discern spiritual truth.

Speak to unbelievers as only You can.  Give them dreams and visions that lead them to the truth of who You are.  Let them hear Your Word in their own language.  Let them see examples of godly lives lived out.

Tear the veil away from their minds that keeps Your truth in darkness.  Reveal Yourself to them in ways that will lead them to accept You as their own personal Savior.  And let that have an impact on them individually, and then on their families, their neighbors, their community, their culture and their nations.

Let Your message of truth and peace spread from one to another in a way that no government or oppressive organization can stop!

Father, because this is a world-wide issue, send and empower godly leaders and counselors to countries around the world who recognize and acknowledge You as Supreme and Sovereign God.

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I pray for Your Word to invade the earth.  And for Your Will to be done in all the earth.  If this will only happen when You return, then I pray for Your quick return.  For You are the Prince of Peace.  You wept over Jerusalem.  And You can bring peace back to her.   Father, bring Your peace.  Amen

Psalm 122:1-9

Nov 19 Your Word is wisdom

Father, James says Abraham’s “ faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”

bible-839093_1920I pray that my life and faith will be the same.

I understand that my actions alone will not save me.  That salvation comes by believing in You and accepting You as Lord of my life.

But I can also see that my actions bear out what I believe.   And since actions are what others can see, others will know my faith by my actions.

In addition to my actions, my words speak a lot about who I am and what I believe.   So set a guard on my tongue!

I have learned by experience that words cannot be unsaid.  Once spoken, their impact is made.  Father, forgive me for the times I have spoken without thinking, and in doing so, caused hurt to someone.

Forgive me for the times I spoke after thinking, but was wrong in the way the message was delivered.  For it is not only the words chosen, but also the way they are spoken that carries meaning and can cause trouble.

Words can tear down, damage, hurt, berate, mislead, manipulate, and deceive a person.  But they can also lift up, encourage, enlighten, inspire, bless and show love.   Father, give me wisdom for how and when to use my words.

Help me see through the “wisdom” the world offers.  Before I speak or act, let me think through what I “think” I want to say.

The wisdom of the world can come from my own flesh: a kind of “sensual wisdom” based on my own thoughts and feelings.  It will produce self-satisfaction and pride, and ultimately, guilt – as James tells me my own desires can lead to sin.

Or it can come from others in the world, leading to approval and acceptance from the crowd.   It produces disorder, and You have told me I should not be conformed to the pattern of this world.

Or it may be demonic wisdom that brings envy, immorality and leads me to worship other things, eventually producing fear.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  This wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in me.

Father, help me listen, and discern Your wisdom from all the others.  I desire to hear from and follow You alone.  Amen

James 2:18-3:18

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

 

 

Nov 16 Helpful Last Words

postit-1975188_640Father, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers…

Remember those in prison…

Marriage should be honored by all…

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”          

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

Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life.”  In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray.  They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep.

Today we also have spiritual leaders whose lives do not honor You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment so I will not ”be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bringing inner peace, to fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on bald heads!

There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You.  Very famous and powerful people buy into these ”religions.”

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

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews.  I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones.  It is what I seek with all my heart

“May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.”

Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me.  May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times.  Provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me.  Lead me to what will please You.  And may the success bring You glory!  For ever and ever.  Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-10; Hebrews 13:1-24

 

Nov 12 Make my Faith Light shine!

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Father, if faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”, I know that I have faith!

 

 

There are things in my life that I have no control over, and no way of making happen, but I trust that You will work it all out for the best.  And that means according to Your will.

Still, I would ask You to increase my faith.

As Paul says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command.”  And although I do not have a scientific understanding of exactly how that occurred, it has never been a stumbling block for me.

I simply know that it was all accomplished by You – in Your way, in Your time, by Your Word and hand.  Since I can trust You with the creation and the running of the entire universe, I can surely trust You with what goes on in my little corner of the world.

Some not only believed, but acted on their faith.  Noah was obedient in building an ark.  No small feat for a five-hundred-year-old!  And Abram had to leave his father’s family and go to a far-off unknown place, trusting the promise You had given him.

As I think of having to do either of these things, I wonder if my faith would be as strong.

There have been times when I felt You leading me to an opportunity.  But because of fear, I hesitated and missed out on some of them.  I could not see past the possibility of failure and ridicule to muster the boldness to act.  And as a result, satan has used those times to make me feel guilty and defeated over the years, and waste my time wondering what might have been.

Till my twenties I moved almost every year of my life.  I trusted that my parents would provide for me wherever we went.  But I also learned a wonderful lesson.  No matter where we went, You were always there.

There were always new and beautiful sights: examples of the marvelous diversity of Your creation.  There were always other believers to fellowship with.  There was always a church to help me learn more about You.  And when I prayed, whether in Arkansas, Texas, New Jersey, Kansas, Arizona or France, You always answered.

What a faith building experience!

Although at this point in my life, I enjoy the stability of being in one location; I would follow You anywhere.  Like the song says: ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.  My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.’

Father, help me continue to believe, trust, and have faith in You for the things that are important.  Help me let go of worry, guilt or shame when I don’t see things working out.  Make me bold when I need to act.

Let it be said of me that I lived a life of faith in You.  Amen

Hebrews 11:1-16

Oct 20 Example of obedience

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Father, let me learn a lesson and be like the Rekabites.

You instructed Jeremiah to go to them and invite them to do something that was contrary to how they had faithfully chosen to live.

Their forefather had told them “Neither you nor your descendants must ever drink wine.  Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents…”  And they did it!

You rewarded them for their faithfulness and made them an example to be followed for the people of Judah and Jerusalem.  And for believers today.

It is not that I should never do these specific things, or live in a tent, but that I should be faithful to what You tell me.  Help me “learn this lesson and obey Your words”.

You told Your people to “turn from their wicked ways and reform their actions; do not follow other gods to serve them.”  Father, the world I live in is so very far from Your standards in its values and morality.  Show me if I have any “wicked ways” that need to be changed.

Speak to me of the values You want me to have – in my attitudes, my speech, my thoughts, my relationships, my vote.  Father, I open everything in my life for Your evaluation and Your comment.  I desire to bring it all into alignment with You.

Lord, if there are actions I have taken that need reforming, show me those and how to make them right.  Likewise, if there are actions I have not taken that I need to, move me to be obedient.

I do not want to “follow other gods” or “serve them.”  Show me if there is anything or anyone I have put before You in my life.  Sometimes I may not even realize the significance or influence I am drawn to or led by. So I depend on You to keep me faithful to only You as my God and my Lord.

Thank You for this faithful example, that I don’t remember ever noticing before.  But will remember now.  Amen

Jeremiah 35: 1-19

Oct 15 Call us back to You

U Turn

Father, even now, You give Words to Jeremiah for the people’s salvation.  Your mercy is so great that even after all they have done, You will spare them, if only they will turn back to You.

This is Your heart.  That Your people will do the right thing.  That they will love You, and return to You.  That they will turn away from the things that are bringing them harm and death, and turn to You to receive life!

They had Your Word.  It had been found in the Temple when Josiah, King of Judah had the Temple repaired.  It caused a major revival in the young King.  And in the people too, for a time.

But Josiah’s son, who came next, was not a godly king.  And the pull of idolatry was strong.  And Your Word was not readily available to the people, so they relied on the leaders and priests to lead them.

Unfortunately, the priests had been doing their own thing for so long, most were not familiar with or devoted to Your Word.

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Father, I have loved ones who are also pretty much doing their own thing.  Yet You are calling them back to You with that same heart, wanting them to come to You and receive life.

My world is full of all kinds of idolatry, and the pull is strong.  Father, send someone into their lives who they will listen to.  Help them let go of the things that are causing them harm and leading them to death.

And let my faith be as strong as Jeremiah’s.  Even in the face of threatened death, He stood strong in knowing You were there.  You had told him: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”  And “Do not be terrified…they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.”

Father, those words are for me too.  And just as You knew Jeremiah, even before he was born, You also know me.  Just as You rescued him, You have rescued me.

You are the Lord of peace.  Father, I so need Your peace.  From my own doubts in understanding Your direction for my life, to relationships that are not all they could be, to the direction my country and the world seem to be heading.

Would You “give me peace at all times and in every way.”  I cling to You.  And look to You.  Only Your peace satisfies.  Amen

Jeremiah 1:5,17,19; 26:1-15; 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Oct 11 A tree planted by the water

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This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  

That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes… 

 

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But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. 

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

Father, what a clear picture comparing those who trust in You and those who do not.  I have lived in the desert.  I have seen bushes living in the wasteland.  They do not grow tall.  They don’t look healthy.  They barely look alive.  And they don’t last long.   And I have seen tall, lush, full, green, long-lived trees that grow by the water.  What a contrast!

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

Because of this, the tree is saturated with the moisture it needs to withstand periods of even extreme heat and drought.  There is enough to sustain green leaves that gather the sunlight to store as energy.  There is always sufficient energy and life in this tree to produce fruit in season.

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Oct 9 Evidence of belief

hammer-802296_640Father, Jeremiah saw wicked people prospering and called for their demise.  You answered saying their end was coming.

I see much the same today.  People who have denied You and live their lives for fame, power or profit are indeed prospering.

My society elevates them rather than calling for righteousness.  And every day the time approaches when You will uproot and destroy them.

So how do I choose to live in these times?  I will remember that You have chosen me.  You have set me apart.  So I will not seek the things society promotes.  But will seek to be like the believers at the church at Thessalonica.  Paul said of them: “Your faith has become known everywhere”.   Father, let me live a life that these words will be true of me also.

Many years ago, a Sunday School teacher was telling about believers who were being persecuted in another country.  And she asked, ‘If you were on trial today, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?’  That really stuck with me.  Help me live in a way that my faith in You is evident without a doubt.

Like the Thessalonians, let me also show “[my] work produced by faith, [my] labor prompted by love, and [my] endurance inspired by hope in [my] Lord Jesus Christ.”  Show me how to work alongside You, not just look for anything I can do to stay busy.  Let me see where You are working, and join You in a faithful labor of love.   Let my hope in You inspire and hearten me to continue in whatever task You show me.

The Thessalonians were inspired to endure hardship and trials by the hope that You would return to earth soon.  I too am encouraged to be steady in my faith, believing that the time is nearing when You will return to earth, bringing eternal rewards.  Thank You that Your Word is true.  Thank You that Your justice is right.  And that in Your Sovereignty and Authority, You are righteous!  Amen

Jeremiah 12:1-17, I Thessalonians 1-2:8

Oct 6 Your Word is my path

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“Stand at the crossroads and look;  ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,  and you will find rest for your souls”.

Father, destruction was coming and You instructed Your people with this verse.

Yet they did not obey or follow You.  Do not let me reject Your wisdom.  Today I stand seeking.  I look to You to guide and direct my thoughts.  Show me the way to go. Help me be steadfast to walk in Your way.  I trust Your leading.  Even if it is not the “popular” path.  Or the one that seems “logical” at the time.  Or the “easiest” one that seems to be clear of obstacles.  Give me strength to be obedient to what I hear You saying.

Paul said it this way:  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

There are many followings today, many belief systems that are portrayed in the media as right and credible.  Do not let me be misled by these false, socially acceptable representations.  You have taught me the truth.  And I have aligned myself with You by faith, by public profession, by baptism and by the way I choose to live.

Just as false religions lead me away from You, so do the attitudes that would bind me to legalistic practices that come from man.  Such rules and regulations that many keep, and look down on those who do not, are just as damaging.  Their obedience is based on human commands and teachings of men’s interpretation.  Believers are Your Body.  And when the members of Your Body obey only each other, they have lost connection with You, their Head.

Bottom line Lord: let me hear Your voice, and obey what You tell me.  Let me truly live my life for an Audience of One.  You.  Amen

Jeremiah 6:16-21; Colossians 2:8-23

 

Oct 5 I look to You

Father, my country is so like Your people of old.  Your Name is not honored.  You are ignored, or worse.  You poured out Your judgment on them.  Will You also pour out Your judgment on my nation?

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Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see,   who have ears but do not hear…Should you not fear me, declares the Lord?  Should you not tremble in my presence? ”

Father, draw us back to You – my nation, my family, myself. I proclaim You as my Lord and Savior.  And I see Your warnings in this evil world.

Let “no one deceive me with fine-sounding arguments”.  Do not let me be persuaded to go against what You stand for by some reason of relative morality.  Do not let my values be swayed by society’s sense of right and wrong when they do not agree with Yours.

My roots are in You, let them go down deep and drink in Your strength and wisdom. Let my faith stand strong, unwavering as I live a disciplined life in You. Show me from Your perspective, how to make decisions that will lead me in the way that will honor You.

Caution me when I am in danger of going the wrong way, or have taken a wrong turn.  Don’t let any experience be wasted, but help me learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.

I offer You all thanks and praise, Lord.  You saw the earth when it was formless and void, and in Your mighty power created all I see.  You made light with Your Word, made the mountains and the seas.  You fashioned every bird and fish and animal.

All creation is under Your authority.  You set the limits of the waters of the earth.  Nothing can prevail against You and Your will.  Thank You that You care for me.  That You teach me and love me as Your beloved child.  That You strengthen and uphold me.

You are Lord and I am blessed.   Amen

Jeremiah 5:19-31; Colossians 1:28-2:7

Sept 27 The Price of Salvation

Father, sometimes I forget all You went through in order for me to have salvation and be back in right standing and in right relationship with You.  It’s so easy to focus on my own problems and all the things that are falling short of my hopes for me, and my family members.  It must sound like childish whining compared to what You endured for my sake.

cross-106416_640Isaiah tells me You were “despised and rejected…a man of suffering, familiar with pain…

You took up our pain and bore our suffering…

were pierced for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on You, and by Your wounds, we are healed.”

And the infamous words: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and The Lord has laid  on Him, the iniquity of us all.”

So it was my doing that brought You to the place of suffering.  You endured betrayal, beating, whipping, scourging, unbelievable pain, unbearable suffering, and  crucifixion on a cross; all so I can be healed of my sin – choosing my own way.

I am so humbled.  And so ashamed.  And so very grateful.

Thank You for enduring all You did, for me.  Remind me every time I start to whine, or complain about my own problems, that in comparison, they are light and temporary trials.

Thank You that even with all You went through for me, You still love me.  You still care for me.  Remind me to approach You — not with an attitude of greediness, but with one of gratefulness.

In proving Your love so completely, I can only have faith, that whatever I face now, You will deliver me, in Your own providential, miraculous or mysterious way.

I believe that what You say You will do, You are able and capable to do.  I completely trust in Your faithfulness.  Thank You that You are my Father, my Savior, my King.  Amen

Isaiah 53:3-12

Sept 10 Give me understanding

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Father, what a vision You gave Isaiah! It’s as if he were privileged to peek into the actual Throne Room in Heaven itself! His eyes were opened and he saw and described amazing things that are like nothing ever seen on earth.

And once again, when confronted with glimpses of Your glory, the human response is the recognition of our unworthiness. In the presence of such greatness and holiness, human frailty pales in comparison.

You gave Isaiah a message for Your people. You directed him to say to King Ahaz in the face of military invasion: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”. It was true then, and it is true today. A paraphrase I heard growing up was “If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.”

Because I believe You are God, Creator of the universe and the only Savior for all who You created, I can stand. My faith is the firm base I need to plant my feet on. You are a firm and solid rock.

Sometimes it helps to have scripture verses that remind me of these truths. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Sometimes, it helps to remember statements of truth that are based on scripture. “God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do.”

Or to proclaim in song, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” These are some ways I find reassurance when I feel afraid or doubtful.

Father, I do not want to be “ever hearing but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving”, with my “heart calloused”, my “ears dull”, and my “eyes closed.” I want to “see with my eyes, hear with my ears and understand with my heart…and be healed.”

When You open my eyes and ears, I have understanding. And I can stand. Father, help me stand even in the face of the invasion of the enemy

Help me remember Your truths. Help me recall Your faithfulness to me in the past. These things build my faith even stronger. And give me a firm place to stand. Amen

Isaiah 6:1-10

 

Aug 25 Last words

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O Father, how I agree with the words of Job! “I know that my Redeemer lives! And that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.”

Father, I know, without a doubt, that You exist. That You are alive. That You are in control. And that one day all this earth will pass away, but You will still be. And because I am Yours, I will see You! And in so many ways, I truly yearn for that day.

But You bring my mind back to the present. And how I must live my days out on earth. Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Corinthians. And much like me saying good-bye to my children, and trying to get every last thought of instruction and encouragement in, he includes a short paragraph that sums up his reminders for faithful living.

“Be on your guard”. Father, help me see everything I need to be aware of. Help me discern Your true wisdom, and reject the wisdom of the world and of the evil one. Open my eyes and my spirit to temptations that would lead me into sin. Do not let me be swept up into or be part of causing division in my church.

“Stand firm in the faith”. Lord, help me read and study Your Word so I understand what my faith is based on. Show me how to apply Your Word to my life today. And do not let me stray from it. Instead, help me live out what I believe. My actions, my attitudes, my words, all need to be in agreement because they show outwardly what I really believe inwardly. Help me enjoy the freedoms of my faith but also be aware and careful not to be a stumbling block to others.

“Be men of courage; be strong”. Father, strengthen me against the laxity of society.   Embolden me to use the spiritual gifts You have placed in me.   Help me to encourage others. When I need to speak out, fill my mouth as I open it. When I need to act, I will draw my strength from You.

“Do everything in love.” Finally, help me to be more loving. In all I do, show me what You would do, how You would do it. Before I speak, let me ask myself if I am speaking in love. Before I act, remind me to ask myself if I am acting in love.   So many emotions and motivations influence and drive me, Father.   Help me seek love as my primary motivating factor.

Help me live out my days in a way that honors You. And when You take me home, I will rejoice! Amen

Job 19:25-27; I Corinthians 16:13-14

Aug 22 Help me stand strong

valley-2575839_640O Lord, I have never experienced the misery and suffering of Job, but his pain and the depth of his despair are clear to me.   So it seems to me that what his friend is saying is terribly insensitive.  It sounds as if he is trying to encourage Job to trust in his own righteousness.

The belief then was that trouble came from sin, so Job should confess his sin to You.  The presumption is that Job brought this upon himself, and there is an easy fix.  But that is not the truth.

What I do like about what this friend is saying is that they all have faith in You, Lord and in Your power.   And that Job should “appeal to You and lay his cause before You.”  For no matter what the problem, You are the solution.  You always have the power and authority to act.

The friend spells out Your power in a way that encourages me.  “You perform wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

I get to see some of those wonders and miracles every day when I see the strength of majestic mountains or the wide open sky, or the beauty of a sunset, the flight of birds, the colors of a rainbow, the faces of my loved ones.  Or when I see and feel and smell the deep velvety red richness of my roses.  Or when I feel the coolness of the air and smell the freshness after a rain.  Or when I play or hear music that reaches a place in my spirit that fills me with elation.

I too, believe in and trust in Your power, Your ability to do wonders and perform miracles.

One thing Job asks: “I would not deny the words of the Holy One”.  Job says that even in unrelenting pain, he would have joy if he could still stand strong in his faith and not deny You.

I echo that prayer Father.  I ask that whatever comes into my life, You would take me before I shame or dishonor You.

Strengthen me to endure whatever You allow.  You know me best.  And if something that You know is stronger than I have it in me to bear, just take me to be with You.

Thank You Father.  Amen

Job 4:1-7:21

 

Aug 21 Blessed be Your name

wooden-2562242_640Father, I have often wondered why You singled out Job and allowed so much suffering to come into one life. How tragic, and yet how strong his faith in You, that it stood up to all satan threw at him. He did not curse You, but said those famous words, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; may the name of the lord be praised.”

I would not want Job’s misfortunes. When much less has happened to me, I have heard my own thoughts turn to thinking it would have been better had I never been born. Easier, certainly. But what a testimony that he could still praise You in the face of all the tragedy and suffering! It makes me wonder, have I made comfort and ease idols?

Father, my life is so blessed. With so much. And I take so much of it for granted. Help me be more thankful to You for all You have given me. Help me have an “attitude of gratitude” in my daily life. Remind me to express my thanks to others, and my praise to You. Gratitude and thankfulness are signs of my faith. In this I do want to be more like Job.

There is a praise song by Matt Redman that expresses just this thought:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Father, let that describe me. Amen

Job 1:1-3:26

Aug 19 Like Esther

such a time as thisFather, here is one of the great faith statements. Mordecai has no doubt that You will save him and his people. He sends this message to Esther “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your family will perish.”   His faith is strong. He is sure that You will save Your people. The only question is how.

Father, strengthen my faith, so that even in the darkest time, there is no doubt in my mind or heart that You will deliver me. The problems I deal with seem so small compared to the circumstances here. No one has ever marked me and my family or church for death. But I know that the difficulties I face in my life are a concern of Yours as well.

Thank You that there is no problem too big for You to handle. And thank You that there is also no problem too small for You to help me with. Thank You that like Mordecai’s and Esther’s, You answer my prayers as well.

Here is also one of the great challenges in scripture. Mordecai includes in his message: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”   It is so evident that He believes You orchestrated the events in this time and of Esther becoming queen. The question is, will she rise to be the instrument of deliverance You placed her there to be?

She did. But Lord, will I?

Is there something You have orchestrated in my life that I need to respond to, because You have placed me where I am “for such a time as this”?

Father, open my eyes to see if there is something You are preparing me for, calling me to. And give me the courage to act.

It may not be as big or as risky as Esther’s call. It may only be something small: inviting someone to church, praying with a friend or stranger, reaching out to someone who has no one.

Help me see Lord, where You could use me, how You can use me. Don’t let me do it in my own strength, but like Esther, let me go forward in prayer and in Your power. Amen

Esther 4:1- 7:10

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

 

Aug 4 The Faith train

“You are my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

Yet sometimes I have felt in the dark. I have been afraid of what may happen to me or to my loved ones. Sometimes I feel so ill prepared to handle what comes up that it leaves me feeling overwhelmed – with emotion, with circumstances, with decisions, with worry. I have been anxious over so many things that never happened. And a theme here is that I am relying on “feelings”.

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The truth is that my “faith” is based on “facts”. The “facts” fuel my “faith” which is the engine that drives the train. They pull my “feelings” along behind like a caboose.

The problem is that I sometimes forget and allow myself to be driven by the caboose.

The fact is “in the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Father, You have promised to keep me safe. And my faith in You is steadfast. But sometimes when I don’t “feel” You near me, I forget that You are there. The fact is You have promised never to leave me! So just because I cannot feel You, doesn’t mean You are not there. Again, I let myself be driven by my feelings.

When I remember the facts of who You are: Creator God, Yahweh, the Great I Am, Jehovah Jirah – my provider, El Shaddai; I can say in the strength of my faith: “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”

When I state these “facts”, and speak aloud the truth of my faith, my feelings fall into line. And I am strengthened and encouraged. “You are my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”  A-MEN !

Psalm 27:1-6

July 28 Family and Spiritual heritage

photographs-1209751_640O Father, when I think of how fortunate I am, and all the blessings You have given me, it takes my breath away, and I am humbled to tears. Even before I was born, You determined when I would be born, and where, and to whom. There were generations that came before me who knew You and worshipped You. That is a godly heritage I must not take for granted.

David was a man after Your own heart. And yet his lineage is full of men who were idolatrous, murderous, and evil. Jehoshaphat followed You and taught others to worship You, yet his own firstborn, Jehoram, when given the rule, murdered all his brothers to secure his reign. He married a daughter of Jezebel, a manipulative and evil woman. After Jehoram’s gruesome death, his youngest son, Ahaziah took over and was encouraged into more evil by his mother. Later, this evil mother, upon learning of her own son’s death, murdered all the siblings and offspring so she could reign in her son’s place!

But she missed baby Joash. Joash was hidden and raised by godly people. When he came to reign at the age of seven, he ruled rightly in Your eyes.

I know, Father, that You call each of us. Some come from broken homes and dark, painful backgrounds. But we each owe You a debt of gratitude for every divine influence and godly person You put in our path. I can think of relatives, Sunday School teachers, preachers who taught me to love You and seek to know You. But I also remember neighbors, friends, even strangers, who taught me godly lessons – some without even knowing it. I am grateful, and thank You for each one of these.

As I look back over my life, I can see that I would not have all I have now, be all I am now, or love You the way I do, without Your intervention and Your loving care. There is no doubt in my mind – You were involved in a personal relationship with me before I even knew You.   Thank You for all You have done.

Father, it also challenges me to be that divine influence in the lives of others You bring across my path. Help me see opportunities to point others to You. Open my eyes to recognize when I can say something, do something, be something that will benefit the faith of others. Use me Lord, to pass on the blessing. Amen

2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21

July 21 I am chosen!

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Father, what an amazing legacy David left because You chose him!

He was the youngest of all his brothers. Normally that meant he would not be the leader of the family or inherit a large portion from his father. Those were the things that usually brought significance in those times.   But You chose him!

Three of his older brothers went to battle with Saul. They were men’s men, while David cared for the flocks, and spent his days with smelly, stupid, sheep. But You chose him!

Because of Your choosing, he was anointed to deliver his people from the threat of the Philistines. He slayed a giant! Not as a mighty warrior, but as a boy, with a stone and a slingshot. He was humble and would not go against Saul, and was patient and waited on Your perfect timing. He even had to run and hide out time and time again, because Saul chased him down to kill him. But You protected him, because You chose him.

Now we see Solomon, David’s son, completing the work of building the Temple that David had envisioned and prepared for. The desire to build a Temple for Your Name was David’s. And he passed that vision on to his son.

That Temple became the place where all the people would come and bring offerings and sacrifices, and worship You. It was the place where You literally touched earth. Your presence, Your Glory, was actually physically seen and felt as You met with men. It lasted for generations. An amazing legacy, because You chose David. And You showed Your faithfulness, fulfilling all Your promises.

Father, You have also chosen me.  You tell me I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Col 3:12 “I am chosen and dearly loved by Christ to bear his fruit.”   John 15:16

I am no David, but I can know that You will fulfill all Your promises to me too.   Help me look to You, not man or earthly treasures for my inheritance. Remind me to use the gifts You have given me, not idly wish that I had the gifts and talents of others. Teach me to be humble, and to wait on Your perfect timing for everything in my life.  Show me when to back down and rely on Your protection.

Father, help me pass my love of You on to my children and to others around me.   I may not be much by the world’s standards, but let me have a mighty legacy like David. Help me live my life in a way that inspires faith and devotion to You.   “I call on You, Lord, for You will answer me.”   Amen

2 Chronicles 4:1-6:11; Psalm 17:6

July 15 Lessons from David

board-LessonsDavid, who was known as a ‘man after God’s own heart’ ordered that a census be taken of the Israelites. The implication here is that he wanted to know how many fighting men he had available. It seems like a reasonable thing to do to the logical mind. But what the scripture says is that “satan incited David to take a census of Israel”.

So the question becomes: how or why did this happen? One observation is that “In the Spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem.” So it’s possible that if he had been present with the troops, where he should have been, he would have seen first-hand how many men he had. Or it could be that his faith in Your ability to continue to give him military victories was waning and he wanted to bolster his confidence by seeing the numbers?

What he should have done when this idea came to him, was hold it up to what he knew of You. And seek Your counsel on whether or not to go ahead with it. Even his commander Joab knew this was a bad thing.   His response to David was “Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”

So Father, help me to learn from this mistake David made. First, if there is a place I am supposed to be, do not let me make excuses to avoid being there. Help me take my responsibilities seriously and not be swayed by fear, or laziness, or arguments to the contrary. If I am in the center of Your will, I am less vulnerable to the suggestions and oppression of satan.

Next, bolster my faith so it doesn’t fail me. When I hear the whisperings of satan telling me to question myself or Your love and faithfulness to me, let me come against those lies with the truth of scripture. If satan tells me ‘What do you think you’re doing? You can’t do that?’. Let me respond with “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13.

If he taunts me with ‘You’re not good enough/smart enough’ let me respond with Your truth that I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the work which He has prepared in advance for me.” Ephesians 2:10. If I hear a voice saying ‘You’ve made so many mistakes, you’re worthless’, I can boldly respond with “I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12.

If You place people in my life to speak the truth to me, like Joab did for David, do not allow me to be too stubborn or bull-headed to listen to them.

Mostly, Father, let me be consistent to always lay my plans before you, asking if it is Your will. Then listen to and be obedient to Your response to me. Regardless of how illogical it may seem, or how much sense it may make to others, I desire to follow Your voice: the voice of my Shepherd.

David and his people paid a terrible price for his disobedience. Let me learn from his mistake, and be led by You. Amen

 Chronicles 21:1-30; 1 Chronicles 20:1

July 12 Give me victory

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Father, I want to be like the men You sent to be with David to make up his great army. These were men described as “armed for battle…ready for battle…brave…experienced…of undivided loyalty…armed with every type of weapon.”   I want to be ready for the battles I face.

My flesh wars with me, tempting me into sin. The world around me seeks to draw me into its ungodly values. The evil one desires my destruction. Give me the discernment to know right from wrong in these confusing times and the courage to be loyal to You. Help me be prepared to stand up for what is right.

You have given me weapons: Your Word, prayer, Your promise of wisdom when I ask for it, other believers around me for support. I know the power there is real. I have seen it over and over again. I have experienced Your blessings and amazing responses to prayer time and time again.

I also desire to be like the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Give me insight into the political and national issues and wisdom to understand the agendas behind the movements going on in my world today. Help me see the truth of things. Teach me to understand how to follow You and show me how to respond rightly.

Do not let me stand alone, Lord. You sent Paul “so that he might impart to you [other believers] some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”   In a similar way Lord, let me encourage and strengthen other believers around me, and let them encourage my faith.

Father, thank You for the friends and all those You have sent to walk beside me. Thank You for those who have prayed for me and for the prayers I make for them.

Your armor is the best. Your plan is sure. And I have read the end of the Book – You win!! I am so glad to be on Your team! Thank You for choosing me. Amen

I Chronicles 12:19-40; Romans 1:11-12

June 29 Standing firm

Lincold stand firmO Father, how Your heart must ache when Your people choose to turn away from You!

You have given me all I need for an abundant life, yet the society I live in, and the one the Israelites lived in, pull people away from You to continually seek after other things.

When the kings over Your people were bad, they worshipped idols in the open, even sacrificing living children by fire.   They fought battles according to their own strength, or bought allies with the treasures from Your Temple.

When the kings were not evil, and led the people back to worship You, they still did not remove the high places and Asherah poles, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

The values and attitudes of their society had become so evil, that this behavior was accepted by even the good kings. But it was not acceptable by You. And eventually You sent armies from the east to conquer and capture Your people, taking them into exile.   This was as You had promised. You outlined their options for blessing and cursing, and they made their choice.

Lord, how often in my life do I allow the ungodly values of my society to sway me, divert me from what You have told me is true? Often what is evil is accepted as good. And even the good leaders abide by it as if it were ok.

Do we think as a society that there will be no accounting? That’s what the Israelites thought. Didn’t work out so well for them. And I fear it won’t work out in my times either.

When Your Word spread in Ephesus, people who practiced sorcery burned their scrolls, and idol worshippers stopped buying the silver idols. As the economic impact increased, so did the opposition!

Society today would also prefer that believers keep their faith to themselves. When it begins to impact political issues or economic factors, there is friction.

Father, as You have called me to live in the world, You have also separated me, set me apart from it. Help me understand how to be ‘in’ the world while being separate from it. Remind me to question values, holding them up against what Your Word says. Only then will I know I am on solid ground.

Show me if there is any value or attitude I need to change to be right with You. And strengthen me to do it, amid, or even against, the pull of society. Amen

2 Kings 15:17-16:20; Acts 19:13-41

June 25 Miracle Worker!

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Lord God, You never cease to amaze me! You are involved so intimately in the lives of Your people. You genuinely care for them. It gives me such hope!

 

You warned the man and woman who made a room for Elisha to leave the country to spare them from a seven-year famine. And when they returned to beg for their house and land, You orchestrated that the king who could grant their plea, had just then heard about the miracle of Elisha raising their son from the dead! The timing couldn’t have been better! They received back what they had given up to obey You, and more!

When the ruler-ship had gotten so bad; leading Your people into idolatry and doing only evil in Your eyes, You took action. You had a just and godly ruler anointed over Israel. Under Jehu, the line of Ahab was removed. The people were able to return to worshiping You.

When Your servants Paul and Silas were imprisoned, beaten, and put under special guard, You orchestrated an earthquake to free them! Even more, You allowed them to work in the lives of their enemy, sharing the Gospel with their jailer, and bringing salvation to him and his family!

How can I doubt that You, who have done all this on behalf of Your people, will do the same for me? How can I think that my problems are beyond Your help? You, who control earthquakes and famines, kings and jailers!

I am Your servant, Lord. So I cry to You for mercy. I rely on Your character of faithfulness and righteousness to defeat the enemy that pursues me and crushes me to the ground.

Even when circumstances discourage me, and cause my spirit to grow faint and my heart to be dismayed, I remember these and other works of deliverance. I meditate on all You have done and consider the power in Your hands.

And I know, without a doubt, that You will preserve me in Your righteousness. And that I am Yours forever. Amen

2 Kings 8:1-6; 9:1-13; Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 143:1-12

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

June 1 Help me act in belief

“Stop doubting and believe.”

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Often I have heard that people think being a Christian means checking your brain at the door and believing in something blindly.   But Jesus, here You give me an example of just the opposite.

You say to Thomas (who has been forever since called ‘Doubting Thomas’) to ‘stop doubting and believe’. But You were not just a voice in the dark asking him to believe blindly. You were standing right in front of him. You were offering to let him see and touch and feel what was real. You provided proof for his faith.

But it is often the same with me. I can be stubborn in my reluctance to go forward out of fear of failure or embarrassment or things not working out; even when You are standing in front of me.   You can offer proof to me because You see things I can’t. You already know how things will work out.

Lord, help me take the steps You direct me to take, in boldness. Don’t let me be frozen by fear, or hesitate in half-heartedness. Do not let me doubt Your Word or Your leading. Remind me of Your faithfulness to me in the past.

As You breathed the Holy Spirit on Your disciples, breath a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit on me. Let me be empowered anew by You living in me.

As Thomas responded with belief, it seems he should be known as ‘Believing Thomas’. But I think more people can relate to his position before he saw You. So it’s a good lesson for everyone. Thank You for showing me that I need not doubt. Help me be bold, in belief. Amen

John 20:19-29  

May 30 You are Hope and Help

Heart of handsFather, make me more like David. Even when fleeing from Jerusalem, a time of distress and uncertainty, his faith was strong knowing You were with him. The people he ruled over loved him and wept as he fled.

The priests made intercession and offered sacrifices as David left the city. They were prepared to go with him, but obeyed his request to stay behind and basically use their sons as secret couriers for David. Another friend agreed to stay behind and act as a spy. David prayed that the council of his enemy would be “turned into foolishness”.

A servant met him on the road with provisions, food, and donkeys for David and his household.   And when a man came showering stones and dirt clods on him, he took no revenge, but was humble to accept whatever You might be allowing to happen to him.

Father, when I am in trouble, do the same for me.  Call in others to intercede and pray for me. Let me see support from those You have placed around me. Bring friends who are willing to act on my behalf and are faithful and loyal to me. And in their time of difficulty, let me be a loyal support for them.

Thwart the plans of my enemy, by turning their counsel into foolishness.   Bring people alongside me who can encourage me and offer what I need to get through the hardship. And help me, like David, to keep a faithful and humble attitude; accepting whatever comes from Your hand, not insisting on my own edification or revenge.

Lord, I know hard times will come. Thank You that I can call on You and depend on You to get me through them.   You will sustain me according to Your promise, uphold me, and deliver me. And You will never let my hopes be dashed.   You will take care of me as You did David. Thank You that I can call on You. Thank You that I can depend on You. Thank You that I can trust You. I give You all my praise. Amen

2 Samuel 15:23-16:23; Psalm 119:116-117

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

Father, I pray the words of this Psalm for myself, and my loved ones.

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I give You praise!

Blessed am I because I fear You – have an earnest respect for You – and delight in knowing and obeying Your commands. May my children be mighty in the futures You have promised them. May they live uprightly so their generation will be blessed.

Thank You that I possess wealth and riches. Perhaps not as the world recognizes wealth and riches, but as You count them.   And thank You that Your righteousness remains with me forever.

Even in the dark times, let me live in Your light as You give me grace and compassion to deal with whatever comes. Let goodness pour into my life. And let me generously pass that goodness on to others. I will seek Your justice in conducting my affairs and act in accordance.

As I have planted my faith in You, I will never be shaken. The world will not make me fall apart. Keep my heart strong even in the face of bad news, so I will not fear. But draw me ever closer to You, who I trust completely.

Because I know that You win in the end, my heart and mind are secure. I know that at the end of the age, when You return, all Your foes will be vanquished, and I will look triumphantly on those foes.

I will send my service and prayers and financial support to the poor, here and around the world. Let Your righteousness done through me, be remembered forever. And my family be remembered honorably. Amen

Psalm 112:1-9

May 15 Faith like David

painting-david-and-goliath(picture by Malcolm Gladwell)

Father, let my faith be like that of David.

As a child I learned of the battle of David and Goliath.

I have seen it reenacted in pictures, on felt boards with paper figures, in Claymation, live with children or adults in costume, and in movies about the Bible.

I think most people know of it as it has been referenced in many tv shows, movies, and news stories to describe any underdog fighting an overwhelmingly huge giant, whether in sports or business, countries or individuals.

In three main ways, I ask that You would grow my faith to be like David’s.

1 – He was able to look beyond himself . He did not just take Goliath as a personal threat the way the soldiers did, but recognized someone in defiance of You. Like most people, I interpret things in light of how they affect me, or my family. That limits the scope of the solutions I can perceive. It puts the focus on me to find a solution that I can perform. David saw an affront to You, making it Your battle.

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

2 – He trusted that You had already prepared him for the battle. “When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and killed it.”

And because of that, was able to turn from pressure to do what others suggested – the armor, helmet and sword.   I trust that You have already brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to deal with things. And that this has prepared me for what is to come. You have already intentionally, purposefully, given me spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences to make me who I am. Help me use those things instead of feeling like I have to conform to what others expect of me. Give me confidence in Your preparation for whatever battle I face.

3 – He voiced confidence in You and gave You the glory for the victory even before it happened!

“…but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.   This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”   My confidence is not always so certain. Sometimes I even try and do things with as little notice as possible, so if I fail, it won’t reflect badly on You.  This is another way I focus on myself, and what I can do. Help me see that the battle is Yours. And You can conquer all Your enemies! You will attain the victory!

Father, let my fear shrink and my faith grow! Let me look beyond myself to all You can do in and through me. I trust in Your purposefulness and Your preparation. Help me exemplify all this in the next challenge I meet. Amen

I Samuel 17:1-58

May 6 Faith = things hoped for but not yet seen

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Lord, may my faith be like that of the royal official. He asked for You to come and heal his child who was close to death. You simply told him “Go, your son will live.” And he took You at Your word and left.

 

Even before he saw it with his own eyes, the circumstances proved that You did what You said You would do. They even revealed that it happened exactly when You spoke!

Father, help me trust in You and what You tell me, even when I can’t see the results immediately.   When it is not in front of my eyes and the doubt of the world pushes in, don’t let my faith waver. When it doesn’t seem to be happening quick enough let me be patient and trust that Your timing is perfect.

Reminds me of an old country hymn. Part of the lyrics say: ‘Take Him at His word when it’s not lookin’ good, believe that He’ll do what He said that He would…’

I believe. Amen

John 4:43-54

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

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“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life. Father, I devote that life to You. You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

Father, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now. Things that I cannot see how, and have no evidence will ever happen. I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen. There are so many hopes and dreams I have that may never come true. Yet I completely trust that if they are what is best for me or my family, You will bring them to be.

Because You make Your servant glad, and bring me joy!   And out of that abundance, I will give glory to Your name.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar. First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him. Father, when I have a need, let me come straight to You confident that You have the desire and the power to help. And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked, he knew exactly what he wanted. Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, as You answered the beggars, let other people see it and praise You!

I praise You Lord, with all my heart, as I bring my requests to You. I ask for Your strength when I am under attack. When I am discouraged let me feel Your presence. Increase my faith as I learn truth from Your Word and apply it to my life. Guide me in Your wisdom, and give me discernment.   Let me always honor and revere You.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble. I know You will answer me. For all this and more, I thank You Lord. Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

Apr 14 You Word over deception and lies

enemy-God-great“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how Your enemies are astir, how Your foes rear their heads.”

I live at a time in the history of earth, when You have permitted satan to have limited power here. With lies and deception, vain philosophies and worldly desires he confuses people and leads them astray. He holds up the pride of accomplishment and the lusts of the eyes and of the flesh as the pinnacle of human achievement. He elevates satisfaction and pleasure with material gain no matter the cost in human suffering. And he stalks those who would seek to lead a godly life and bring You glory; hoping to derail their efforts and sideline them completely.

When I was born, I was automatically on satan’s team because of my sin nature. Because Adam sinned, all sinned. There is only one way to be reconciled to You and be on Your team: that is to accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His blood paid the price, the penalty for my sin.   Once on Your team, satan can never have me on his team again. And because that makes him mad, he tries to ruin my team efforts or keep me off the field entirely.

I admit sometimes I am still misled by satan’s lies. He deceives me to believe that I am not worthy, or good enough to be on Your team. If he gets me discouraged enough, depressed, despairing, or distracted, I may just sit myself on the sideline. He is cunning in his ways to deceive. And he plots against Your players on all fronts: personally, professionally, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

But Lord, Your armor is the best. Your protection: absolute. Thank You that I can protect my mind, my thoughts, from the evil one and use my faith as a shield. Thank You that I have a weapon: Your Word, to use against his lies and deceiving ways. And thank You for fighting with me, to give me victory! Father, make Your enemies like refuse on the ground; “like tumbleweeds that blow along, like chaff before the wind” that is blown and dissipates till it is no more. Consume Your enemies “like a fire consumes the forest or sets a mountain ablaze” as You “pursue and terrify them with Your hurricane power”.

“They will perish in disgrace, O Lord. And know that You alone, are the Most High, over all the earth.” Amen

Psalm 83:1-18

Apr 11 Courage for the next step

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“Hear me O Shepherd of Israel, You who led Joseph and his people like a flock” to greener pastures in Egypt because there was an extreme famine in the land. “Hear me, You who sit enthroned between the cherubim” on the golden Ark of the Covenant that Moses had made so the High Priest could seek Your face and wisdom in making atonement when Your presence dwelt there in the form of a pillar of cloud. “Awaken Your might! Come and save me!”

As the Israelites went into the Promised Land to take possession of all You had promised them, lead me, Lord, to what You have for me. Let me see and possess all the blessings You have prepared for me. Do not let me miss out on Your blessing because I am too afraid to get my feet wet! The Israelites had to step into the floodwaters of the Jordan River before You stopped the flow of water to let them pass. Sometimes I also must take a step of faith to see Your provision in my life. Show me that step so I can also come into all that You have for me.

What a missed opportunity that would have been, had they not had the courage to do as You said! The same for the people You spoke about who were invited to a great banquet. They made every excuse to stay away. Although they were acceptable excuses for the day and time, they missed out on the bounty, provision, and the very salvation You had prepared for them.

I am sad to say that very often, I delay our time together because there are errands to run, shopping to do, bills to pay, or meals to fix. These are all things that really do need to be done, but it shows that my priorities are not right. How sad that I sometimes choose checking email over hearing from the God and Creator of the Universe who makes time to speak with me!

“Restore me O God. Make Your face to shine upon me that I may be saved.” Restore me to right thinking so I will set my priorities straight, Lord. Make Your face to shine on me so I may walk in the light of Your radiant presence. Show me when I need to take a step of faith and get my feet wet. When I make excuses, remind me of the rich banquet of blessing I am missing by not spending time with You. Thank You for Your unending faithfulness. Amen

Joshua 3:1-4:24; Luke 14:7-24; Psalm 80:1-3

Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

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

Mar 26 Help me hear

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“We will listen and obey.” This was the Israelites response to all You said on the mountain when they heard Your voice telling them how they should live.

Many things in the world keep me from hearing You. The world is a loud, noisy place, with so many voices that distract or actively deceive. Those voices suggest what I need and how I should live to be ‘accepted’ and ‘successful’ by the world’s standards. They tempt me into materialism, humanism, and all kinds of ungodly ideologies.

But to listen and obey, I must listen specifically and intentionally. I need to walk a path, live a lifestyle that purposely shows others what I believe.

Please remind me when I speak or act or make a decision, that everything I do will either draw me closer to You, or move me away from You and Your will. Help me examine my thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes, to ensure that they are honorable and do not cause distance or separation from You.

To obey these commands I am also responsible to teach others about You and Your truth. So I need to live what I believe – talk about my faith and who You are to me and how You impact my life. Help me do that when I have others in my home. And when I travel. From the time I get up until the time I go to bed.

When I am not speaking of You, my faith should still be obvious to others by my dress, my countenance, my attitudes, how I treat others. When people come to my home, they should see more than just the symbols of the world’s values. They should sense Your peace.

In my emails, social media and any other presentation to the world, I must be mindful that I represent You. As I am a Christ-follower, my presence in others’ lives shows whether I truly listen and obey, or whether I am a Christian in name only.

I will listen. And I will obey. And I will “proclaim the power of God”! Amen

Deuteronomy 5:1-6:9; Psalm 68:34

Mar 10 Fear or Faith

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Ten 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 that size 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

Feb 27 Can…and WILL

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Lord, I can so identify with the father who asked You to deliver his son from the evil spirit. His words were, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

As I read through Your Word and see the miracles You have done, the healings, the deliverances of people groups and individuals, the amazing ways You impacted a person’s life and used them mightily, I marvel, and believe. When people tell me all You have done in their lives, how You have worked things out that should never have happened, and saved them from something in the nick of time, I believe that.

But when it comes to my own life, while I totally believe You CAN do anything; I often fall short in believing that You WILL.  Where it’s easy for me to see You acting in others’ lives, I feel so undeserving of Your attention.

But I continue to call out to You for my sons.  I believe that Your purpose is not to harm them, but to give them a hope and a future.  I claim that promise, and await the deliverance.  I call forth things that be not, as though they were, and will be.  And I look forward to the day when they will once again worship You in spirit and in truth being guided by Your Word.

I totally believe You can accomplish this. Your power is so great that nothing can stand against You. Help me, Lord, overcome any doubt that remains in me. I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Amen

Mark 9: 14-29; Romans 4:17

Feb 21 Healing and Forgiveness

Dear Father, even though You no longer walk this earth in the flesh, Your power is still present here. Each believer has the Holy Spirit and can call on You in prayer to effect Your purposes.

prayer-888757_1920So we bring our loved ones and the people of the earth before You. We ask for healing from physical ailments. We ask for an end to suffering, whether at the hands of ungodly persecutors, or by the powers of this present darkness that work for the evil one.   We ask for salvation to come to those who are lost and in need of a Savior. Lord, be the light in their lives that heals and frees and saves.

Like Jairus, I put my faith in Your power to touch and heal. You are a God of miracles.

I also realize that when I intercede, or pray on behalf of others, I need to be clean before You. Unconfessed sin can get in the way of our communication. David says that his sin caused health to leave his body, guilt to overwhelm him. I too need to confess my sin before You and ask forgiveness. Show me the sin in my life Lord, and as I agree with You and turn from it, cleanse me anew.

Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for purifying me from all sin’s unrighteousness. Thank You for allowing me, like Jairus, to ask in faith for Your healing.  Help me pray in Your will, because I trust that Your will is the absolute best for each of us. And help me rest in Your answers and Your timing. Amen

Mark 5:21-43; Psalm 38:1-22

Feb 20 In the Storms

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Father, so many times I act just like the disciples in the boat during the storm. I choose to focus on the storm around me. In the face of the strong winds, the high waves, the tossing of the boat, I look at the opposition, the circumstances that block my way, and the hopelessness of things turning out right. All the time forgetting Your promises of protection. Even though I know You are there with me, I do not see how You are at work in the situation, and I cry out to stir You to my cause.   “Lord, don’t You care…?”

Many times, I can almost hear You say the same words to me that You spoke then; “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Sometimes You do calm the wind and still the waves. Other times You simply hold me in Your arms while the waves buffet me. Sometimes You inspire me and increase my faith with a vision of future calm waters and blue skies, reassuring me that it will be all right.

Thank You for being with me in the storms. Thank You for speaking to me in songs, scriptures, promises, and visions. Thank You for the truths You give me in Psalm 37: “My salvation comes from the Lord; You are my stronghold in time of trouble. You help me and deliver me; and save me. Because I take refuge in You.” Amen

Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 37:39-40

Feb 3 Apple or Potato Prayers?

“Hear my voice when I call O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Oh Father, thank You that I can know that You do hear me. Sometimes I sing out my praise, sometimes I call out my thanksgiving, sometimes I weep and whisper out my needs, sometimes my heart is so broken I can only weep. But the Holy Spirit intercedes for me and even the groanings of my heart that cannot be expressed in words are heard.

Thank You that in Your mercy, You answer me every time. I appreciate and love the times Your answer is ‘yes’ and I can see the fruit of my prayers immediately. They are like apples I can see growing and maturing on a tree, right before my eyes. The buds come, the blossoms open, then the fruit appears, grows and matures while I watch the whole process. With a prayer like this, I can see you at work and be encouraged.

But I understand that at times the answer is ‘wait’. Then it’s more like growing potatoes. The plant is there, but the fruit, the potato, is growing underground and cannot be seen until it is time to harvest. It takes faith to dig up the plant looking for the potatoes underneath. These are harder prayers because they feel like nothing is happening. The truth is, You are at work answering the prayer, just not in ways visible to the human eye.

And I also must acknowledge that sometimes the answer is ‘no’. And I have to ‘choose’ to trust that Your will is best for me, even if I don’t understand it at the time.

Like the Psalmist Lord, I will seek Your face. I will read and study Your Word and apply its lessons and teachings to my life. I will come to You in prayer, allowing time not only for talking, but also listening for what You want to say to me. I will look for those places where You insert Yourself into my life through circumstances; using events or occurrences, contacts or everyday things to speak to me and heighten my awareness of You. You remind me of Your beauty in a sunset. You make Your sovereignty known when I look at the stars.   You reassure me of Your love and care when You have a friend call or pray for me.  And these are just some of the ways You communicate with me.

Whether praying apples or potatoes, hearing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, You have encouraged me with these words of David: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And especially for those ‘potato’ prayers, You say “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Father, help me in the waiting, not fall into discouragement, self-pity or giving up. Keep my faith strong and my trust in You solid; so that at the end of the waiting, I will sing of the wonders of the Lord! Amen

Psalm 27:7,8,13,14; Romans 8:26

Jan 20 Indescribable Uncontainable

jesus-and-worldI continue to be amazed, Lord God, at the magnitude of the height of Your glory. You made the sun and stars, everything in the heavens.

As humans, we are just beginning to understand the depth of the workings of the cosmos. All we know about our universe could fit on the head of a pin compared to what You were able to imagine and bring into being. Even beyond our meager understanding, You had the ability, the power to create what You imagined. And by Your hand it is all kept in balance and in motion.

Yet, with the incredible greatness and the boundless vastness of Your power and sovereignty, You still know each one of us, each of Your creations, by name. I marvel at the love You have for us, and the care You take with us.

You can see the past and the future. You are outside of time. You knew when a famine was coming in Egypt, and cared to let them know in advance. You spoke revelation through dreams and gave the interpretation to Joseph. And because of that, people were saved from the famine, and Your promise was preserved; Your covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was upheld.

As great as You are, You still communicate with us in ways we can understand; as an example: parables. We can understand a crop with weeds sewn into it, and how harvest time works. We can see when a tiny seed grows into a large tree, or the action of yeast causing bread dough to rise. We know the draw and value of treasure and pearls.

Thank You for caring to communicate with us; to show us the way to have relationship with You: the Almighty God of the Universe. And as we can only voice our faith and trust in You through the words we understand, we join with the Psalmist David in saying; “You are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. You are my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to You, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.” Amen

Genesis 41:17-42:17; Matthew 13:24-46; Psalm 18:1-3

Jan 12 Trust God with it all

Thank You for sharing the secret to prosperity with us in today’s Proverb. It is a simple statement, but holds the key.

You instruct us to “honor You with our wealth, with the firstfruits of our crops”. We so often consider “honoring You with our wealth’ to be tithing money to an affiliated church. Period. And while money is certainly a part of our ‘wealth’ it is not the only thing.

Some of us have a wealth of talent, some a wealth of personality, some a wealth of time, or of good health and energy. All these things are gifts from the Father of Lights from whom every good and perfect gift comes. So we need to consider giving of our talents, our time, our energy, our relationships, all in a way that brings honor to You.

Lord, help me think beyond the change in my pocket. Let me glorify You in how I treat other people, how I speak to them, how I look on them in my heart attitude. Let the bounty of Your provision to me in time and talent overflow onto those around me.

Help me spend the minutes in my day as carefully as the dollars in my purse, in a way that points to You, and brings acknowledgement and praise to You. Help me turn away from greed, selfishness, pride, arrogance; and reflect the righteous qualities of the fruit of the Spirit: goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, patience, peace, love, joy, and self-control.

The second part of the key is timing. The firstfruits of a crop are what is harvested before the rest of the crop is mature and ready to be gathered. Earthly wisdom would be to ‘get what you can, can what you get, and sit on the can’. It would be to bank a ‘sure thing’; and then wait to see if the rest of the crop comes in. After all, there could be floods, winds, freezes, insects or disease that could overtake a ripening crop and destroy it completely. Then nothing would be left to sustain the grower and give profit.

But You tell me to honor You with the firstfruits. It’s an exercise in trust.

It means I am willing to sacrifice a ‘sure thing’ because I trust the One who is in control of it all. Help me act in faith, being willing to show I trust in You and in Your will for my life, by giving You what is given to me first. Don’t let me be fearful of the future and stockpile the firstfruits for myself, then be satisfied with ‘tipping’ You if any is left over.

Father, thank You for this reminder that speaks again to the reassurance I have in You. You are the One with the power and the might and the authority and the sovereignty over all things. It reminds me that I can trust You with all things in the present and the future. I choose to trust You with my words, my actions and my prayers. Amen

Proverbs 3:9-10

Jan 11 Be like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_wellpainting of Rebeca by Michael Deas 1995

Oh Father, may we be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord”, how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her. When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately. She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her.

Give me Rebekah’s courage. Let me be willing to go when You say ‘Go’. Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.” I ask for that blessing for myself as well. Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she “went to inquire of the Lord”. You gave her an answer and a revelation.

May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation. Let me not lean on my own understanding. But give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence to point to that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level.

In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23

Jan 6 Choices

Father, thank You for showing real life examples that teach me how to make choices.

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Lot looked with his physical eyes only to make his choice to move to the well watered land to the east. It did not work out well for him. Keep me from rushing headlong into decisions based only on what I think I see with my physical eyes. Or on what my flesh leads me to from misguided appetites.

Instead, teach me to see with Your eyes, from Your perspective; looking beyond the immediate appearance of reward. Help me think through and pray through decisions. Especially when they also involve my family, work, relationships, where and how to live.

Help me weigh the consequences and let me ask, ‘Will this draw me closer to God or take me further away?’. And as I move forward, let me be ever mindful of Your voice, trusting that You will guide and protect me.

If my choices go wrong, help me recognize the sinfulness around me, and separate myself from it. Don’t let me tolerate evil or go along with it. Precept has taught me: “sin will: take me farther than I ever meant to stray, keep me longer than I ever meant to stay, and cost me more that I ever meant to pay. “

Thank You for Abram’s example. He heard Your voice and obeyed, moving even before he had the whole picture and simply started off for the land You would show him. Let me also be obedient without insisting on having it all laid out before me.

Help me act in faith when You call. Help me believe and trust in Your promises. Even when You do not act according to my expected or desired time table. Even when it seems like things are not going the way I have prayed they would. Even when it seems worse than at the beginning. Even when I cannot see You at work.

I know that Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. You have the advantage of infinite wisdom over infinite time and infinite sovereignty with infinite power.

Thank You for teaching me through example after example, that I can trust that You always keep Your promises. You are Almighty God. And I worship You alone. Amen

Genesis 13:5-15:6; Isaiah 55:8

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

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

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

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

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

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 22 Patient endurance

board-928392_1920Father, what amazing visions You have given Zechariah and John! Besides the plain meaning of their words, I know there is another level of understanding to be grasped. There is symbolism, and foretelling of what is to come.

Zechariah records You saying “…in that day…many nations will be joined with the Lord and become Your people. You will live among [them]”.   He records that You declare “I myself will be a wall of fire around [Jerusalem] and I will be its glory within.”

John is recording a vision that will ultimately get us there; when You are living in peace with many nations, in Jerusalem.   But before that comes, there will be this time of turmoil and woe and devastation that John refers to with dragons, beasts, blaspheming and idolatry.   Are these real beasts? Are they people? Are they nations or other powers? Even with great study and debate, some of these answers are not yet revealed.

Will I be alive during these times? Again, that is not yet known. But You do say “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.” So Father, give me the patient endurance I need. Teach me to be faithful. Nothing even remotely close to this turmoil has happened to me, yet I find myself often in a state of impatience and doubt.

Lord, I look at my life and am impatient to have my family all living their lives for You. I am anxious to get to a place in life where finances aren’t an issue, and where my children are all successful and happy. I am frustrated when my loved ones don’t do things the way I think they should. I am restless to have a closer, deeper, more meaningful relationship with close family members.

I fear my country is going the wrong direction. I grieve that young people are being deceived away from patriotism and godly values. I see unjust people prospering and wonder if my being faithful to godly values really counts for anything. And I wonder how long my faith can endure all this.

Father, help me to endure, what I need to endure. I trust that You will give me what I need when I need it. Grow my faith big enough that it can shelter others under it, so their faith can be nurtured and grow too. I know You have a plan. I trust in Your plan. For my life. For today. For tomorrow. For the future. For eternity. Amen

Zechariah 2:1-3:10; Revelation 13:1-18

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

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In the midst of Zephaniah’s vision of absolute devastation, You speak of a remnant: “the meek and humble”. They will “trust in the name of the Lord”.   And You will gather them, honor them, restore their fortunes, take great delight in them and rejoice over them with singing. You sing!!

Father, thank You for inventing music! Thank You for melodies I have learned, and words that give voice to my praise! So when David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart… I will sing Your praise”, I can join with him and praise You!

I know songs that praise Your name, Your power, Your attributes. I sing to You at the top of my lungs, with my hands help up, facing the sun, or the mountains, or looking up to the sky. I drive around with praise music playing loudly and sing along. I can sit at the piano and sing with my eyes closed, to the music so many have written to help me glorify You. Or I can quietly bow my head or fall to the floor and sing, barely audibly – but knowing You can hear me.

Your love and Your faithfulness are praiseworthy. Your faithfulness to me alone gives me reason to sing and praise You. And when there is no song that expresses my thanks, I just listen, and You teach me a new one!

As great and exalted as You are, You are still willing to come to the aid of Your people. When I call, You have answered. Many times You have come to rescue me. You see me wherever I am, and are right there beside me. You have defeated my foes, encouraged me and made me bold enough to act when I was too fearful. I love David’s words: “though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life”.

I have faith, and I trust, that Your plan is the absolute best for my life. And that You can make that happen. I know that You will never, ever leave me. I praise You for Your steadfastness, Your faithfulness to who You are, and Your faithfulness to me and my loved ones!   Many thanks. Amen

Zephaniah 3:9-20; Psalm 138:1-8

Nov 19 Your Word is wisdom

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Father, James says Abraham’s “ faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did”. I pray that my life and faith would work the same way. I understand that my actions alone will not save me. That salvation comes by believing in You and accepting You as Lord of my life. But I can also see that my actions bear out what I believe.   And since actions are what others can see, others will know my faith by my actions.

In addition to my actions, my words speak a lot about who I am and what I believe.   So set a guard on my tongue! I have learned by experience that words cannot be unsaid. Once spoken, their impact is made. Father, forgive me for the times I have spoken without thinking, and in doing so, caused hurt to someone. Forgive me for the times I spoke after thinking, but was wrong in the way the message was delivered. For it is not only the words chosen, but also the way they are spoken that carries meaning and can cause trouble.

Words can tear down, damage, hurt, berate, mislead, manipulate, and deceive a person. But they can also lift up, encourage, enlighten, inspire, bless and show love.   Father, give me wisdom for how and when to use my words. Help me see through the ‘wisdom’ the world offers. Before I speak or act, let me think through what I ‘think’ I want to say.

The wisdom of the world can come from my own flesh: a kind of ‘sensual wisdom’ based on my own thoughts and feelings. It will produce self-satisfaction and pride, and ultimately, guilt – as James tells me my own desires can lead to sin. Or it can come from others in the world, leading to approval and acceptance from the crowd. It produces disorder, and You have told me I should not be conformed to the pattern of this world. Or it may be demonic wisdom that brings envy, immorality and leads me to worship other things, eventually producing fear.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in me.

Father, help me listen, and discern Your wisdom from all the others. I desire to hear from and follow You alone. Amen

James 2:18-3:18

Nov 12 Make my Faith Light shine!

black-1837288_640Father, if faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”, I know that I have faith! There are things in my life that I have no control over, and no way of making happen, but I trust that You will work it all out for the best. And that means according to Your will. Still, I would ask You to increase my faith.

As Paul says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command”. And although I do not have a scientific understanding of exactly how that occurred, it has never been a stumbling block for me. I simply know that it was all accomplished by You – in Your way, in Your time, by Your Word and hand. Since I can trust You with the creation and the running of the entire universe, I can surely trust You with what goes on in my little corner of the world.

Some had to not only believe, but act on their faith. Noah was obedient in building an ark. No small feat for a five hundred year old! And Abram had to leave his father’s family and go to a far-off unknown place, trusting the promise You had given him. As I think of having to do either of these things, I wonder if my faith would be as strong.

There have been times when I felt You leading me to an opportunity. But because of fear, I hesitated and missed out on some of them. I could not see past the possibility of failure and ridicule to muster the boldness to act. And as a result, satan has used those times to make me feel guilty and defeated over the years, and waste my time wondering what might have been.

Till my twenties I moved almost every year of my life. I trusted that my parents would provide for me wherever we went. But I also learned a wonderful lesson. No matter where we went, You were always there. There were always new and beautiful sights: examples of the marvelous diversity of Your creation. There were always other believers to fellowship with. There was always a church to help me learn more about You. And when I prayed, whether in Arkansas, Texas, New Jersey, Kansas, Arizona or France, You always answered. What a faith building experience!

Although at this point in my life, I enjoy the stability of being in one location; I would follow You anywhere. Like the song says: ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.’

Father, help me continue to believe, trust, and have faith in You for the things that are important. Help me let go of worry, guilt or shame when I don’t see things working out. Make me bold when I need to act. Let it be said of me that I lived a life of faith in You. Amen

Hebrews 11:1-16

Oct 15 Call us back to You

Father, even now, You give Words to Jeremiah for the people’s salvation. Your mercy is so great that even after all they have done, You will spare them, if only they will turn back to You. This is Your heart. That Your people will do the right thing. That they will love You, and return to You. That they will turn away from the things that are bringing them harm and death, and turn to You to receive life!

They had Your Word. It had been found in the Temple when Josiah, King of Judah had the Temple repaired. It caused a major revival in the young King. And in the people too, for a time. But Josiah’s son, who came next, was not a godly king. And the pull of idolatry was strong. And Your Word was not readily available to the people, so they relied on the leaders and priests to lead them. Unfortunately, the priests had been doing their own thing for so long, most were not familiar with or devoted to Your Word.

Father, I have loved ones who are also pretty much doing their own thing. Yet You are calling them back to You with that same heart, wanting them to come to You and receive life. My world is full of all kinds of idolatry, and the pull is strong. Father, send someone into their lives who they will listen to. Help them let go of the things that are causing them harm and leading them to death.

And let my faith be as strong as Jeremiah’s. Even in the face of threatened death, He stood strong in knowing You were there. You had told him: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” And “Do not be terrified…they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.” Father, those words are for me too. And just as You knew Jeremiah, even before he was born, You also know me. Just as You rescued him, You have rescued me.

Lord, evil was alive and well in Judah, and also when You walked the earth, it is alive and well in my time, and in my country. I echo Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: Father, “deliver [me] from wicked and evil people…strengthen and protect [me] from the evil one…direct [my] heart into Your love and perseverance”. Father, strengthen me to “never tire of doing what is good”.

You are the Lord of peace. Father, I so need Your peace. From my own doubts in understanding Your direction for my life, to relationships that are not all they could be, to the direction my country and the world seem to be heading. Would You “give me peace at all times and in every way”.   I cling to You. And look to You. Only Your peace satisfies. Amen

Jeremiah 1:5,17,19; 26:1-27:22; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Oct 11 A tree planted by the water

This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.  That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes…  But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”

bank-250252_640Father, what a clear picture comparing those who trust in You and those who do not. I have lived in the desert. I have seen bushes living in the wasteland. They do not grow tall. They don’t look healthy. They barely look alive. And they don’t last long. And I have seen tall, lush, full, green, long-lived trees that grow by the water. What a contrast!

 

new-jersey-77916_640Lord, let me be the tree planted by Your water! When planting, one plans the location based on the needs of the tree. Its roots grow quickly in the direction of the water. Because of this, the tree is saturated with the moisture it needs to withstand periods of even extreme heat and drought. There is enough to sustain green leaves that gather the sunlight to store as energy. There is always sufficient energy and life in this tree to produce fruit in season.

I desire this blessing, so I will turn away from trusting in man’s philosophies and knowledge. I will not count on my own strength to accomplish what the world would lead me to do. But I will turn to You for guidance. I will trust in Your wisdom, Your strength, and Your purpose for my life. As You are the Living Water, I drink deeply of Your love, Your truth, and Your provision for me. My roots are my faith, which is solidly grounded in the truth of who You are; and my identity which comes from You. So when ‘heat’ comes, hardship and trials, it is You who sustains me and Your power that produces fruit in me.

Even now, Lord, I seek direction on issues I face. Please speak to me and give me Your perspective and insight. And make me bold to act on what You say. I place my confidence in You. And this is the confidence that I have: not that things will always turn out well, but that regardless of how they turn out, You will be there with me, and use it for good.

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

Jeremiah 16:16-17:18

Oct 9 Evidence of Belief

Father, Jeremiah saw wicked people prospering and called for their demise. You answered saying their end was coming. I see much the same today. People who have denied You and live their lives for fame, power or profit are indeed prospering. My society elevates them rather than calling for righteousness. And every day the time approaches when You will uproot and destroy them.

hammer-802296_640So how do I choose to live in these times? I will remember that You have chosen me. You have set me apart. So I will not seek the things society promotes. But will seek to be like the believers at the church at Thessalonica. Paul said of them: “Your faith has become known everywhere”.   Father, let me live a life that these words will be true of me also.

Many years ago, a Sunday School teacher was telling about believers who were being persecuted in another country. And she asked, ‘If you were on trial today, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian?’ That really stuck with me. Help me live in a way that my faith in You is evident without a doubt.

Like the Thessalonians, let me also show “[my] work produced by faith, [my] labor prompted by love, and [my] endurance inspired by hope in [my] Lord Jesus Christ.” Show me how to work alongside You, not just look for anything I can do to stay busy. Let me see where You are working, and join You in a faithful labor of love. Let my hope in You inspire and hearten me to continue in whatever task You show me.

The Thessalonians were inspired to endure hardship and trials by the hope that You would return to earth soon. I too am encouraged to be steady in my faith, believing that the time is nearing when You will return to earth, bringing eternal rewards. Thank You that Your Word is true. Thank You that Your justice is right. And that in Your Sovereignty and Authority, You are righteous! Amen

Jeremiah 12:1-17, I Thessalonians 1-2:8

Oct 5 I look to You

anthony-tori-120173.jpgFather, how like Your people of old, is my country now. Your Name is not honored. You are ignored, or worse. You poured out Your judgment on them. Will You also pour out Your judgment on my nation? Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see,   who have ears but do not hear…Should you not fear me, declares the Lord? Should you not tremble in my presence? ”

Father, draw us back to You – my nation, my family, myself. I do proclaim You as my Lord and Savior. And I see Your warnings in this evil world

“Admonish and teach me with all wisdom”. Caution me when I am in danger of going the wrong way, or have taken a wrong turn. Show me from Your perspective, how to make decisions that will lead me in the way that will honor You. Don’t let any experience be wasted, but help me learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.

Let “no one deceive me with fine-sounding arguments”. Do not let me be persuaded to go against what You stand for by some reason of relative morality. Do not let my values be swayed by society’s sense of right and wrong when they do not agree with Yours. My roots are in You, let them go down deep and drink in Your strength and wisdom. Let my faith stand strong, unwavering as I live a disciplined life in You.

I offer You all thanks and praise, Lord. You saw the earth when it was formless and void, and in Your mighty power created all I see. You made light with Your Word, made the mountains and the seas. You fashioned every bird and fish and animal. All creation is under Your authority. You set the limits of the waters of the earth. Nothing can prevail against You and Your will. Thank You that You care for me. That You teach me and love me as Your beloved child. That You strengthen and uphold me. You are Lord and I am blessed.   Amen

Jeremiah 5:19-31; Colossians 1:28-2:7

Sept 28 Victory in Jesus!

Father, I desire to “be strong in You and in Your mighty power”.  And to “take my stand against the devil’s schemes.” I realize that my battle is not with the people around me, or my circumstances, although I sometimes feel at war with these. My struggle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” And the armor You have given me is perfectly suited to what I need.

roman shieldI wear the “Helmet of Salvation” – which bears Your insignia, letting all know in whose army I fight. It guards my head, but also my thoughts. It reminds me to take every thought captive and compare it to Your truth.

You have given me a “Belt of Truth” with which I can recognize the lies of the enemy. Help me not be mesmerized by what I think I want to hear, so that I do not look deeply enough to recognize a lie when I hear it.

You have given me a “Breastplate of Righteousness” so that stabs and attacks glance off without doing harm. With deeper protection, it is like the forerunner to the bulletproof vest which stops and arrests projectiles before they can hurt me.

You “fit my feet with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace”.  People may remove their shoes when entering a home or as a sign of relaxing. But when shoes are put on, it signifies a readiness for action.   As a believer, my action should be directed toward sharing the ‘Good News’ or the ‘Gospel’ with others.   My faith in the Good News of my salvation gives me traction to be able to “stand firm”. “So that when the day of evil comes, I will be able to stand my ground.”

“In addition to all this, take up the Shield of Faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” This is not some little garbage can lid with a handle! The shields Paul was seeing were those of the Roman guard. They covered the soldier’s body and were wide enough so when they stood together it made a formidable wall. And thick enough to block and stop sword, spear, arrow and javelin.

Father, every time You do what You say, keep Your promise, deliver me from some trouble, or stand with me in some hardship, it builds my faith. It strengthens my Shield! And when I stand beside other believers in their faith, I am protected even more!

And I take up the “Sword of the Spirit” – Your Holy Word. There is such power in Your Word! Evil trembles and turns back at the mention of Your name. Praying Your Words back to You by using scripture empowers my prayers.

When I am dressed in Your armor, and wielding Your weapons, I am a mighty force! Your armor is the best. With it I can stand firm. I can stand against the schemes of the evil one. When You fight with me and for me, it is You who give me the victory! And I receive the blessing. Thank You! Amen

Ephesians 6:10-17

Sept 24 Strengthen me

“O Lord, out of Your glorious riches, would You strengthen me with the power through Your Spirit in my inner being.” Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and everything in it is Yours. And not just Your right of Sovereignty over all things, but the richness of Your character allows You to pour over me all that I might ever need.

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Father, would You strengthen me:

physically – give me Your healing in all the areas of my body where there is illness or weakness.   Increase my strength and stamina to be able to do the work You set before me;

mentally – when I need to focus, or clear my mind of distracting thoughts. Give me the ability and the diligence to take every thought captive to You, and to be alert to dangers around me. Do not let my thinking become muddled by the vain philosophies of man or the half-truths and lies of the evil one;

emotionally – give me relief from discouragement, sadness, fear, anger, guilt, anxiousness. Help me deal with my circumstances according to Your wisdom and not be led by my emotions;

spiritually –bolster my faith with the remembrance that no matter what – You are in control – that even if the fig tree does not blossom, no grapes appear on the vine, the olive crop fails and the fields produce no crops – I can still rejoice in You! And spiritual strength to recognize and combat the enemy, dressed in my spiritual armor.

Father, would You do this so that “You will dwell in my heart through faith”. Help me to “be rooted and established in love”. Lord, like a tree planted by the water, let my spiritual roots go down deep into the soil so I can draw deeply of Your love. You are love, so You are the true source of love that can strengthen and fill me. Father, help me understand Your love: “how wide and long and high and deep” it is. I ‘understand’ Your love in that I read about it. But Father, help me really know it, in my heart and in my spirit; not just in my head.

When I can fathom Your love, I will have wisdom that surpasses knowledge. And I will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of You.”

Thank You that “You are able to do immeasurably more that I can ask or even imagine, according to Your power that is at work in me.” I give You all the glory and praise, for ever and ever. Amen

Ephesians 3:16-21

 

Sept 13 Even in trials

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Father, whenever I experience trouble let me be like David is here. He is being hunted for his life, yet his words vacillate between his trouble, his faith in You, and praise for You. He has not forgotten the trial, but his focus is more on You than it.

Lord, there are times when I too cry out for Your mercy and “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed”. There, I know I am safe from any and every trouble that befalls me. You cover me from any danger with Your wings that offer complete and absolute protection. I know I can trust in Your limitless strength and care.

Father, You already know the difficulties I face right now. You see everything. No one is out to kill me as was David’s case. But I face problems just living with people because we are all so imperfect and hard to get along with. I face trials that come with change. Even when it is a good thing, it can be difficult to cope with change.

I have internal struggles: feelings that war within me against what I know is right and just. And I deal with unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes. Some struggles are more upsetting because they are far beyond my ability to affect, like what’s happening in my nation or the world.

But all these things are in Your hands. None of them are beyond your help and influence. No matter the enemy, no matter the plot they have set against me, ”my heart is steadfast” in You. So like David, I can pray. “I will sing and make music” and praise You. I praise You that there is no other power above You. I praise You for being Sovereign in all things. I praise You that nothing can thwart the plans You have made for me or anyone else.

Father, You are the Lord Most High. There is nothing that can outdo, out power or outlast You. There is no one as faithful as You. So I choose to put my focus on You. I praise and thank You with every breath I take. I choose to breathe in Your peace, Your comfort, Your wisdom, Your love. And I breathe out praises and thanks to the One: Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Glory, Highly Exalted, my God and my King. Amen

Psalm 57:1-11

Sept 10 Give me understanding

Father, what a vision You gave Isaiah! It is as if he were privileged to peek into the actual Throne Room in Heaven itself! His eyes were opened and he saw and described amazing things that are like nothing ever seen on earth. And once again, when confronted with glimpses of Your glory, the human response is the recognition of our unworthiness. In the presence of such greatness and holiness, human frailty pales in comparison.

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You gave Isaiah a message for Your people. You directed him to say to King Ahaz in the face of military invasion: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”. It was true then, and it is true today.

A paraphrase I heard growing up was ‘If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.’

Because I believe You are God, Creator of the universe and the only Savior for all who You created, I can stand. My faith is the firm base I need to plant my feet on. You are a firm and solid rock.

Sometimes it helps to have scripture verses that remind me of these truths. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 Sometimes, it helps to remember statements of truth that are based on scripture. ‘God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do.’ Or to proclaim in song, ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” These are some ways I find reassurance when I feel afraid or doubtful.

Father, I do not want to be “ever hearing but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving”, with my “heart calloused”, my “ears dull”, and my “eyes closed”. I want to “see with my eyes, hear with my ears and understand with my heart…and be healed”.

When You open my eyes and ears, I have understanding. And I can stand. Father, help me stand even in the face of the invasion of the enemy. Help me remember Your truths. Help me recall Your faithfulness to me in the past. These things build my faith even stronger. And give me a firm place to stand. Amen

Isaiah 6:1-10

May 16 Praying Your Word

Father, I pray the words of this Psalm for myself, and my loved ones.praying-hands-on-bible

I give You praise!

Blessed am I because I fear You – have an earnest respect for You – and delight in knowing and obeying Your commands. May my children be mighty in the futures You have promised them. May they live uprightly so their generation will be blessed.

Thank You that I possess wealth and riches. Perhaps not as the world recognizes wealth and riches, but as You count them.   And thank You that Your righteousness remains with me forever. Even in the dark times, let me live in Your light as You give me grace and compassion to deal with whatever comes. Let goodness pour into my life. And let me generously pass that goodness on to others. I will seek Your justice in conducting my affairs and act in accordance.

As I have planted my faith in You, I will never be shaken. The world will not make me fall apart. Keep my heart strong even in the face of bad news, so I will not fear. But draw me ever closer to You, who I trust completely.   Because I know that You win in the end, my heart and mind are secure. I know that at the end of the age, when You return, all Your foes will be vanquished, and I will look triumphantly on those foes.

I will send my service and prayers and financial support to the poor, here and around the world. Let Your righteousness done through me, be remembered forever. And my family be remembered honorably. Amen

Psalm 112:1-9

May 6 Faith=things hoped for but not yet seen

Lord, may my faith be like that of the royal official. He asked for You to come and heal his child who was close to death. You simply told him “Go, your son will live.” And he took You at Your word and left.shield-492992_640

Even before he saw it with his own eyes, the circumstances proved that You did what You said You would do. They even revealed that it happened exactly when You spoke!

Father, help me trust in You and what You tell me, even when I can’t see the results immediately.   When it is not in front of my eyes and the doubt of the world pushes in, don’t let my faith waver. When it doesn’t seem to be happening quick enough let me be patient and trust that Your timing is perfect.

Reminds me of an old country hymn. Part of the lyrics say: ‘Take Him at His word when it’s not lookin’ good, believe that He’ll do what He said that He would…’

I believe. Amen

John 4:43-54

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life. Father, I devote that life to You. You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

boy-2026186_640Father, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now. Things that I cannot see how, and have no evidence will ever happen. I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen. There are so many hopes and dreams I have that may never come true. Yet I completely trust that if they are what is best for me or my family, You will bring them to be. Because You make Your servant glad, and bring me joy!   And out of that abundance, I will give glory to Your name.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar. First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him. Father, when I have a need, let me come straight to You with it confident that You have the desire and the power to help. And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked, he knew exactly what he wanted. Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, my request, let other people see it and praise You!

I praise You Lord, with all my heart, as I bring my requests to You. I ask for Your strength when I am under attack. When I am discouraged let me feel Your presence. Increase my faith as I learn truth from Your Word and apply it to my life. Teach me Your way. Help me walk in Your truth.   Let me always honor and revere You.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble. I know You will answer me. For all this and more, I thank You Lord. Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

Apr 16 Your Voice, not the world

LToHear God's Voiceord, let me and my sons be like Caleb and Joshua. They spied out the Promised Land and saw all the goodness there.   They also saw the enemy for who they were, but knew that You would give victory and deliver them according to Your Word. They held to their convictions and lived a long life receiving all You had promised. Even in their old age, they were strong and vigorous because they served You wholeheartedly.

I do not know if goodness or enemies lie before me, but I know if I serve You wholeheartedly, I will receive all You promise. Your will, Your plan will not be thwarted. I will be blessed and receive an inheritance from You.

Father, let me also be like the widow who made her plea persistently. Let my faith be that I will not give up, but always lift my concerns and needs to You in prayer.   When You return, let me be found faithful, continuing in prayer, not being dissuaded by circumstances or the influences of this world.

Also, Lord, keep me mindful that my only righteousness comes from You, so I will not look down on anyone else, but remain humble. I am ever dependent on You, on Your mercy and on Your grace for my life and all that I have. Thank You for Your faithfulness – to warriors, to widows, to me. Amen

Joshua 14:6-15; Luke 18:1-14

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

 

Mar 10 Fear or Faith?

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Ten 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 that size 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

Feb 27 Can…and WILL

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Lord, I can so identify with the father who asked You to deliver his son from the evil spirit. His words were, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

As I read through Your Word and see the miracles You have done, the healings, the deliverances of people groups and individuals, the amazing ways You impacted a person’s life and used them mightily, I marvel, and believe. When people tell me all You have done in their lives, how You have worked things out that should never have happened, and saved them from something in the nick of time, I believe that.

But when it comes to my own life, while I totally believe You CAN do anything; I often fall short in believing that You WILL.  Where it’s easy for me to see You acting in others’ lives, I feel so undeserving of Your attention.

But I continue to call out to You for my sons.  I believe that Your purpose is not to harm them, but to give them a hope and a future.  I claim that promise, and await the deliverance.  I call forth things that be not, as though they were, and will be.  And I look forward to the day when they will once again worship You in spirit and in truth being guided by Your Word..

I totally believe You can accomplish this. Your power is so great that nothing can stand against You. Help me, Lord, overcome any doubt that remains in me. I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Amen

Mark 9: 14-29; Romans 4:17b

Feb 21 Healing and Forgiveness

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Dear Father, even though You no longer walk this earth in the flesh, Your power is still present here. Each believer has the Holy Spirit and can call on You in prayer to effect Your purposes. So we bring our loved ones and the people of the earth before You. We ask for healing from physical ailments. We ask for an end to suffering, whether at the hands of ungodly persecutors, or by the powers of this present darkness that work for the evil one.   We ask for salvation to come to those who are lost and in need of a Savior. Lord, be the light in their lives that heals and frees and saves.

Like Jairus, I put my faith in Your power to touch and heal. You are a God of miracles.

I also realize that when I intercede, or pray on behalf of others, I need to be clean before You. Unconfessed sin can get in the way of our communication. David says that his sin caused health to leave his body, guilt to overwhelm him. I too need to confess my sin before You and ask forgiveness. Show me the sin in my life Lord, and as I agree with You and turn from it, cleanse me anew.

Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for purifying me from all sin’s unrighteousness. Thank You for allowing me, like Jairus, to ask in faith for Your healing.  Help me pray in Your will, because I trust that Your will is the absolute best for each of us. And help me rest in Your answers and Your timing. Amen

Mark 5:21-43; Psalm 38:1-22

Feb 3 Apple or Potato?

“Hear my voice when I call O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Oh Father, thank You that I can know that You do hear me. Sometimes I sing out my praise, sometimes I call out my thanksgiving, sometimes I weep and whisper out my needs, sometimes my heart is so broken I can only weep. But the Holy Spirit intercedes for me and even the groanings of my heart that cannot be expressed in words are heard.

Thank You that in Your mercy, You answer me every time. I appreciate and love the times Your answer is ‘yes’ and I can see the fruit of my prayers immediately. They are like apples I can see growing and maturing on a tree, right before my eyes. The buds come, the blossoms open, then the fruit appears, grows and matures while I watch the whole process. With a prayer like this, I can see you at work and be encouraged.

But I understand that at times the answer is ‘wait’. Then it’s more like growing potatoes. The plant is there, but the fruit, the potato, is growing underground and cannot be seen until it is time to harvest. It takes faith to dig up the plant looking for the potatoes underneath. These are harder prayers because they feel like nothing is happening. The truth is, You are at work answering the prayer, just not in ways visible to the human eye.

And I also must acknowledge that sometimes the answer is ‘no’. And I have to ‘choose’ to trust that Your will is best for me, even if I don’t understand it at the time.

Like the Psalmist Lord, I will seek Your face. I will read and study Your Word and apply its lessons and teachings to my life. I will come to You in prayer, allowing time not only for talking, but also listening for what You want to say to me. I will look for those places where You insert Yourself into my life through circumstances; using events or occurrences, contacts or everyday things to speak to me and heighten my awareness of You. You remind me of Your beauty in a sunset. You make Your sovereignty known when I look at the stars.   You reassure me of Your love and care when You have a friend call or pray for me.  And these are just some of the ways You communicate with me.

Whether praying apples or potatoes, hearing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, You have encouraged me with these words of David: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And especially for those ‘potato’ prayers, You say “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Father, help me in the waiting, not fall into discouragement, self-pity or giving up. Keep my faith strong and my trust in You solid; so that at the end of the waiting, I will sing of the wonders of the Lord! Amen

Psalm 27:7,8,13,14; Romans 8:26