Tag: flesh

Nov 8 May the Truth set us free

usa-1491734_640Father, as I read this section of Psalm 106, I fear that I personally, and my country, have together made the same mistakes Your people made in the desert.  They were not satisfied with the life You gave them; even the miracles You performed!  You delivered them from the hand of the enemy who had relegated them to slavery for generations, and then was set on destroying them.

In the wilderness at Meribah where You brought water from a rock for them to drink, they rebelled against Moses and Your provision.  They forgot that You had done something so mighty as parting the Red Sea for them, and delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh and his army.

Instead, they focused on their fleshly desires, doubting You could quench their thirst.

I too, sometimes focus on my own desires rather than the great blessings You have already worked in my life.  And I too respond with whining instead of faith.

When they came into the Promised Land, they “mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.”  I fear I have done the same by participating in the social customs of my times.   I and my country, have mingled godly beliefs with the socially acceptable values of the times.

What You call sin is no longer looked upon as sin.  People today seem to have no concept of what is right and wrong, and so no self-governing set of morals that direct or protect them.

Many things in my culture take the place of passion for You.  Sports teams, fame, money, power, shopping, alcohol and drugs, status, cars, beauty, youth: so many things have become idols in the lives of so many, even believers.

“They sacrificed their sons and daughters to false gods.  They shed innocent blood…” Father, I grieve over the number of babies who have been sacrificed on the altar of “choice” and “convenience.”  This land is desecrated by their blood.   And it defiles the people involved because of the act of taking a life.

But it also exacts a price they often pay in long-term emotional and psychological damage, not to mention the spiritual battle that they have lost in giving over ground to the enemy.

Yet, You “took note of their distress when You heard their cry…and out of Your great love You relented.”

Father, I am in distress and I cry out to You: for my personal sin and for the sin of my country.  Forgive, Lord.

I acknowledge and agree with You that I and my country have acted in rebellion in going our own way without following the path You set before us. And that my country and I have participated in social customs and values that have become a snare to us, even to the point of idolatry.

Lord I turn away from anything that seeks to take Your place in my life.  Forgive us for focusing on the flesh over the spiritual.

“Save us Lord our God…that we may give thanks to Your Holy name and glory in Your praise.  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Let all the people say, ‘Amen!’”

Psalm 106:32-48

Oct 7 Guide my attitudes, actions

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

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

directory-1161965_640

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 4 Fill me!

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way:

 

overcoming-1697546_640

bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.  

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives: not the wisdom of the world, or the logic of the mind, or the sense of the flesh.  For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:1-17

Sept 26 My Teacher

Psalm51pic

“I am The Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Thank You Father that You are my God. Thank You that You know what is best for me and that You are willing to communicate that to me.

Open my ears and my eyes so I can understand what You are saying to me.

You tell me that “if only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”

How many times have I given up that peace because I thought I knew better than You? Or because I was afraid to go forward where You were leading me? I desire the peace and well-being only You can give me. Show me how to be bold enough to follow where You lead.

Father, as I look for the way You direct me and teach me to live, I do not have to look very far. In today’s scripture, You tell me plainly: “Do not live as the Gentiles do.” This is not a cultural judgment, but a spiritual condition.

You explain they have hardened their hearts to You and to spiritual matters which separates them from You. They live in ignorance and have a darkened understanding which dulls their sensitivity, allowing them to give in to sensuality and indulge in every kind of impurity, lust, and greed.

Father, be the light in my life that brightens my understanding and softens my heart to comprehend these Words of life You speak to me. I do not want to live separate from, but in community with You.

Your presence blesses me, comforts me, encourages me, protects me, motivates me and spurs me on to be better than I am without You.

Father, help me put off those dishonest and deceitful ways that my flesh leads me into. Help me control my tongue, my anger, my selfish tendencies and greed. These things come from the world, the flesh and the evil one who all seek to rule over and destroy me. Do not let them be master over me.

I desire what You offer me: Your peace and well-being. Let my actions and attitudes reflect that. I will look for You to teach me the way I should go in all my circumstances. And I will be blessed in following You. Thank You. Amen

Isaiah 48:17-18; Ephesians 4:17-32

Aug 2 You encourage me

joshua-earleGreater is He

photo by Joshua Earle

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

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

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

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

The world and the flesh and the devil echo these words to try and make me doubt.

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

But Your Word builds me up.  It reminds me that I am Yours and You have promised never to leave me.

You have given me armor, both offensive and defensive, to help me.  The Helmet of Salvation bears Your insignia, in whose army I fight.  And it protects my thoughts.  So many battles are won and lost in the mind before even one arrow flies.  It reminds me to take every thought captive so I can hold it up to truth.

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

Others may have fallen who were stronger than me, but I will be victorious because of Your strength, not my own!

And despite the devil, I will not judge Your love by my circumstance, but by Your Word.  It says Your love never changes, it is everlasting, enduring forever.  And I will choose to look at You, not focus only on my circumstances.

This is how I will triumph over challenges.  Even in the conditions of today’s Psalm: “I am lonely and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart have multiplied…my enemies have increased and hate me fiercely…”  I will put my eyes on You and not my circumstances.

I will answer the lies I hear from the other voices, with Your voice of truth; as You voiced it through Hezekiah: I will be strong and courageous.  I will not be afraid or discouraged.

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

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

Jan 2 Keep me from “Serpent speak”

O Father, Proverbs tells me “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Lord, I do not wish to be a fool.  Help me keep my sense of awe and respect for You.  I yearn for Your wisdom and instruction.  Keep me teachable and open to hear Your voice and see Your wonders.

snake-1322240_1920

I completely acknowledge You as Creator of the Universe and all that is in it. You alone possess the Sovereignty and Authority and Power to rule over and be Lord over all.

What an infinite imagination to think up all the combinations of flowers, birds, animals and insects!  And not just how they look, but how they sound, and smell!  I am amazed by You!

Surely, Eve must have been amazed by You too; walking in the Garden of Eden that You created!  Yet she gave in to temptation.   She listened to the serpent speak and was deceived. (And I’m still blown away that she didn’t seem surprised at all that a serpent was speaking!)

When the serpent misquoted You, she did not check it out.  And when he told a half-truth, that she would “be like” You, she believed it.  She trusted what she understood with her own eyes and logic instead of coming to You.

Father, do not let me make this mistake.

When I hear a voice tempting me with something You have already spoken about, help me remember what You’ve said.  If I do not, remind me to come to You for direction.  Keep me from rushing to accept what is said without checking it out.  Let me be wise to the tactic of using just enough truth to sound right as a scheme to derail me.

Lord, do not let me be misled by falsehoods or half-truths.

It is not just the voice of the evil one, but also this world and my own flesh that lead me down a wrong path, away from You.  Many temptations lure me to be more or have more than I am, playing into greed or pride, a sense of self-importance, inflated ego, fame or fortune.  But as seen here, this temptation was only half true, and had a huge price.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”  This sounds like she was being perfectly logical, if it weren’t for the fact that You had already told her it was wrong!

Sometimes I can logically think my way into a wrong answer too.  Remind me, Father, to come to You, to seek Your perspective above all others.  Whether considering an opportunity, or dealing with a hardship: if there seems to be wisdom the world offers, or a logic to my mind, or a sense in my flesh, let me submit them all to You.

And thank You Father, that even when I make mistakes and sin; as with Adam and Eve, You have shed Your blood and covered me.  You have made a way for me to be back in fellowship with You, forever.  You are amazing!  Amen

Genesis 3:1-24; Proverbs 1:7-9

Dec 25 God in flesh

Father, John tells of a day when Your wrath will be poured out upon the earth.  After the seven seals are broken with their judgments, and the seven trumpets sound with their disasters, then the seven bowls of Your wrath will be given to angels to pour out upon the earth.  And then,  “out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” 

Your ultimate judgment will be carried out.  “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, You who are and who were…true and just are Your judgments.”

I do not know when that day will come.  But I trust in Your righteousness.  And I trust in Your timing.  And if I am alive then, I will rejoice in that day.

20161223_231820Today, however, is a day of a different kind of rejoicing.  Although it is not historically accurate, it is the day chosen and set aside to remember and celebrate when You came to earth to bring salvation!

It is the day believers all over the world celebrate the day You clothed Yourself in the flesh of a tiny babe.  You gave up all the glory and splendor of heaven to be with people here on earth.  You submitted Yourself to the frailties of flesh to be an example to everyone, of how to live, and how to love.

You brought Your love to earth in a way people could see and follow.

Today: a remembrance and celebration of the love You poured out on earth.

One day in the future: of Your judgment poured out on earth.

I am truly blessed to be alive between the two.  I can experience the salvation You brought.  I can live in the love You showed, and be inspired to live my life as a reflection of that love.

Father, help me follow Your example.

As You poured out Your love and sacrifice, bringing salvation to earth, let me show a bit of that unconditional love to those around me.  Let me be show kindness, patience, support, being generous with all You have given to me.

One day You will “Part Your heavens, Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke.   Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.”  For now, “You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge”.

And I am blessed.  Thank You.  Amen

Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-8

 

Dec 1 Love what’s eternal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I John 2:1-17

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 8 May the Truth set us free

usa-1491734_640Father, as I read this section of Psalm 106, I fear that I personally, and my country, have together made the same mistakes Your people made in the desert.  They were not satisfied with the life You gave them; even the miracles You performed to deliver them from the hand of the enemy who had relegated them to slavery for generations, and then was set on destroying them.

In the wilderness at Meribah where You brought water from a rock for them to drink, they rebelled against Moses and Your provision.  They forgot that You had done something so mighty as parting the Red Sea for them, and delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh and his army.

Instead, they focused on their fleshly desires, doubting You could quench their thirst.  I too, sometimes focus on my own desires rather than the great blessings You have already worked in my life.  And I too respond with whining instead of faith.

When they came into the Promised Land, they “mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.”  I fear I have done the same by participating in the social customs of my times.   I and my country, have mingled godly beliefs with the socially acceptable values of the times.

What You call sin is no longer looked upon as sin.  People today seem to have no concept of what is right and wrong, and so no self-governing set of morals that direct or protect them.

Many things in my culture take the place of passion for You.  Sports teams, fame, money, power, shopping, alcohol and drugs, status, cars, beauty, youth: so many things have become idols in the lives of so many, even believers.

“They sacrificed their sons and daughters to false gods.  They shed innocent blood…” Father, I grieve over the number of babies who have been sacrificed on the altar of “choice” and “convenience.”  This land is desecrated by their blood.   And it defiles the people involved because of the act of taking a life.

But it also exacts a price they often pay in long-term emotional and psychological damage, not to mention the spiritual battle that they have lost in giving over ground to the enemy.

Yet, You “took note of their distress when You heard their cry…and out of Your great love You relented.”

Father, I am in distress and I cry out to You: for my personal sin and for the sin of my country.  Forgive, Lord.

I acknowledge and agree with You that I and my country have acted in rebellion in going our own way without following the path You set before us. And that my country and I have participated in social customs and values that have become a snare to us, even to the point of idolatry.

Lord I turn away from anything that seeks to take Your place in my life.  Forgive us for focusing on the flesh over the spiritual.

“Save us Lord our God…that we may give thanks to Your Holy name and glory in Your praise.  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Let all the people say, Amen!”

Psalm 106:32-48

Oct 13 I need Your help

help-2478193_640Father, I echo the words in Paul’s prayer here for the Thessalonians.

And I ask that You would “make [me] worthy of Your calling”.

Lord, there are times I do not display the characteristics and attitudes of a faithful and humble follower of You, the Creator and Lord of the Universe.

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

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

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

Often, I desire to do good but things get in the way.  It may be circumstances, busyness, other people, or the timing doesn’t work out.  Or it may be my own emotions and frustrations that hinder and sabotage my efforts.

Same thing happens with ideas that are born of my faith in You.  I have the desire but not the know-how.

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

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

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Oct 7 Guide my attitudes, actions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 4 Fill me!

overcoming-1697546_640“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way:

bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.   

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives: not the wisdom of the world, or the logic of the mind, or the sense of the flesh.  For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:1-17

 

 

Aug 2 You encourage me

photo by Joshua Earlejoshua-earleGreater is He

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 9 You are my Refuge

“Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.”

battlements-1238908_1920

Father, I don’t use the word ‘refuge’ too often. But from the time I was young, I remember hearing about ‘refugees’ escaping other countries because the circumstances they lived in were so bad they had to flee to even survive. Some came on boats with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They had no food, no other clothing, no source of help. But they believed if they could only reach America, there would be hope and the possibility of a new, safe, good life.

So a ‘refuge’ is the place they go. It is the place where there is safety, protection, relief, shelter, help, provision.   It allows security from the pursuit of danger or trouble. So as these people fled the threats of their government and political and physical danger to find refuge in America, so I can come to You to find relief from the onslaught of attacks against me.

The flesh, the world and the evil one are all influences that war against Your wisdom, Your plan and Your purpose for my life. So I ask You to come to my aid. Defend me against all that seeks to destroy me, my godly relationships, my adoration and worship of You, my ministry in Your name, and my freedom to read and study Your Word.

The evil one seeks to keep me fearful, discouraged, frustrated, and make my faith in You waver because of difficult circumstances. He desires my financial ruin, the destruction of my marriage, the smearing of my reputation, and personal moral failure. The enemy is always crouching at my door, waiting to devour me.

So I ask, “Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies… O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart…You will not back down from the fight, but will sharpen Your sword; and will bend and string Your bow. You have prepared deadly weapons; and have made ready Your flaming arrows.”

And “I will give thanks to You because of Your righteousness and will sing praise to Your name: The Lord Most High.” Thank You for being my refuge; for delivering me from the hand of the evil one who comes to harm, kill, and destroy.

You are more powerful than anything he can bring against me. You are more powerful than all the world can throw at me, or even that my flesh can tempt me with. I trust in You. You are my refuge. Amen

Psalm 7:1-17

 

June 23 Strengthen me

thoughts words deeds cross

“Lord, I call to You; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to You.”

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

My mouth so often gets me into trouble. I speak before I think. Sometimes I hurt the ones I love. Sometimes my mouth leads me into gossip, or even lies to make myself look better in the eyes of others. Sometimes I reveal too much to people who don’t understand or appreciate it, like casting “pearls before swine”.

Instead, I would prefer to use my words to bless, encourage, teach, and show I care. Help me measure out my words like precious commodities. Teach me to take time to think before I rush into spilling out whatever is on my mind. Especially when I am upset, Lord, it is hard keep my mouth shut, instead of sharing my pain, frustration, or anger. Remind me I can come to You with anything and everything. You are the One who can offer healing, encouragement, and restoration better than anyone else.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. Keep me from the snares they have laid before me, from the traps set by evildoers. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”

Father, if there is a lure, remove the worm and reveal the hook so I will not be caught and reeled in like a fish caught on a line. If there are hidden nets or snares, show me the truth behind the lies and deceit that would coax me into the trap.

Lord, I know there are times when the evil one is out to derail me. But there are also times when my own flesh and the world’s desires tempt me into things I should not be involved with. Father, keep me from those things too. Do not let me even toy with the thought of wanting them, or thinking I deserve them, or thinking I can get away with having them. I have heard that voice in my head tempting me, trying to justify behavior I know is wrong.

Strengthen me with Your power: in my thoughts, my words and my actions. In You, I take refuge! You are my Sovereign Lord, and my eyes are fixed on You! Amen

Psalm 141:1-10

Jan 14 Wisdom over Deception

deceive-1299043_1280“Help Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, ‘We will triumph with our tongues;’.” Arise Lord and protect me from those who malign me and take unfair advantage. Protect me from the deceit of the world, the flesh, and the evil one. “O Lord, You keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.”

You watched over and provided for Jacob when his father-in-law Laban cheated him and changed the terms of his wages ten times. You spoke and told him what to do and protected he and his family. Father, protect me as well, when others seek to deceive and swindle and mislead me. I turn to You for godly wisdom. Let me listen for Your voice, and understand what You say, trusting Your wisdom over what may seem right by earthly intellect.

You sent Your disciples out “as sheep among the wolves”. We, Your children, are often referred to as sheep. Thank You for being our shepherd; for watching over us, for driving away predators, for leading us to green pastures and still waters. Thank You for calming us the way a shepherd does his sheep so we can rest. There are many ‘wolves’ who seek our destruction, to get us away from the protection of our Shepherd knowing that’s when we are vulnerable.

Proverbs tells us we are blessed when we find wisdom – that it is more profitable than silver or gold and more precious than rubies. Help me discern godly wisdom; not just the logic of the mind or the reasoning of man. Lead me to seek “the wisdom that comes from heaven: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This is the wisdom that leads to righteousness.

Open my eyes to the lies and deceit of men. Let me see Your wisdom in the circumstances of my life. Keep my lips from speaking lies. Help me live honorably as one of Your sheep. Amen

Genesis 31:1-13; Matthew 10:16; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15; James 3:17

 

Jan 6 Choices

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

choose-the-right-direction-1536336_1920

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

Nov 19 Your Word is wisdom

bible-839093_1920

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

Oct 13 I need Your help

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

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

 

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

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

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

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

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

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Oct 4 Fill me!

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.  For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

 overcoming-1697546_640Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s. Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have. Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval. Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness. But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives: not the wisdom of the world, or the logic of the mind, or the sense of the flesh. For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions. I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone. Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it. I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task. And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body. Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function. Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name. And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing. This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship. I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours. Amen

Colossians 1:1-17

Sept 20 Freedom in Christ

yes-661437_640When my first son was small, I remember wanting to avoid having a child who yelled ‘no’ all the time, so I tried to avoid saying ‘no’ to him if I could. Eventually, I did end up having to say ‘no’ much more than I wanted. It was such a convenient way to help him understand what was allowable and what was not.

There were so many ways to tell him what he could do because so many things were permissible. Yes, he could walk on the sidewalk, or on the rocks, or in the grass or on the bricks, or holding my hand or with granddaddy, but ‘no’ was the quickest, easiest way to make the point that he could not walk in the street. And it wasn’t long before he learned ‘no’ and with it came the desire to rebel against it.

How similar is my life of freedom in Christ. There are so many things that are good to choose from, it would take a lifetime to list them all. For instance, I can be told to speak to people in love, in truth, instructing, encouraging, in kindness, with joy, with laughter, personally, with others, in groups, tell jokes, share stories…the list could go on extensively. But it is simpler to give someone a standard of communicating by saying ‘don’t lie’.

And yet, this creates a list of ‘no’ that I find myself focusing on, filling my thoughts with the negative.   When I focus on the ‘no’ more than all the things that are ‘yes’, it gives me a sense that godly living is restrictive. And the desires that have ‘no’ in front of them are the things I spend more time thinking about so I can try and avoid them.

So when I hear “walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”, it is immediately freeing! It changes my focus onto all the freedoms that the Spirit gives me! When I am so focused on all the great things the Spirit shows me I can do, I will be so busy doing those things, that I will not have time think of the desires of the flesh. And by doing the ‘yes’ things the Spirit invites me to, I will automatically be avoiding the ‘no’ things, without even thinking about them!

Father, let me see past the ‘no’ statements to the freedom in the ‘yeses’! Help me reframe my thinking by looking to all the things the Spirit leads me to. Let me bless others with all the yesses. Let me live in the blessing of Your ‘yes’. Amen

Galatians 5:13-26

Dec 1 Love what’s eternal

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

files-crossed-2John writes of how to live here, and also how to love.  He says I am to love my brother and sister.   And I am not to love the world or anything in it.  These are tall orders.

Help me love my brother and sister: other believers who You have put in my life.  Some of them are so loving to me that it is easy to love them back.   Some believers in my life have been like “iron sharpening iron”.  We hone one another to be better and ‘sharper’.  But some are like sandpaper to me.  We do not get along, and although they may ‘sand off’ some of the rough spots on me, mostly they are just an irritant and cause sore, raw spots that hurt.  These people are harder to love.  They are the ones I need Your help with.  Remind me that each one of them is one of Your amazing creations who You love greatly.  I know that You love them; show me how to do the same.

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

The first two are the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes”.  The word “lust” here is ‘a strong desire of any kind, good or bad, but evil if not submitted to the will of God’.  So whether it is for intimacy, or pleasure, or just comfort, I would usually rather feel comfort than pain, a full stomach than hunger, warm and safe than cold and fearful.  It can be hard to turn away from things that offer me a sense of satisfaction in food, comfort or safety.   But I need to be sure my flesh and my eyes are not pulling me to rebel against You, go my own way, just to satisfy these worldly appetites.  Father, show me how to maintain proper limits and boundaries.

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

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

I John 2:1-17