Tag: future

Mar 19 God’s Plan

These amazing assemblies that You had the Israelites learn and observe Lord, are more than just feasts and festivals for celebration’ sake.  They are the blueprint of Your plan for salvation and will play out to the end of the age, the end of the earth.

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They have meaning in themselves, but are also prophetic of what is to come.

As Passover commemorates Your deliverance of the Israelites from death, by the blood of the lamb on the doorposts – Jesus IS that Passover Lamb.  His blood allows me to be delivered from eternal death: separation from You.

Firstfruits being offered to the Lord show that the Israelites trust the Lord to bring in the rest of the harvest – Jesus IS the firstfruit of the risen!  He was dead and is now alive, just as all who believe and die will rise to eternal life with Christ.

The Festival of Weeks is 50 days after Firstfruits.  It celebrates the bringing in of the first harvest –50 days after Jesus rose there was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit: Pentecost.

The Feast of Trumpets called Israel together to prepare for the Day of Atonement, which was ten days later.  It is not tied to any historical event in Israel’s past.   And thus has not yet been fulfilled.  Believers look to the book of Revelation:  when the trumpet sounds and Jesus returns to call the living and the dead to rise for eternal judgment.

Father, how amazing that You laid out this plan, all before the foundations of the earth.

You knew all that it would take to reconcile Your people to You after sin entered the world.  And You have laid the groundwork for my understanding of what has happened, and what is to come, in these festivals and holy days.

Thank you that You reveal Your plan to man.  Thank You that Your plan is good and true; and that I can trust You to have the sovereignty and power to make it so.

Help me be mindful of the fullness of my history as a believer, both in the Old and New Testaments.  And prepare me for all that is to come.

Reveal Your plan to me for my life, and lend me Your strength to be obedient to it.   Amen

Numbers 28:16-29:40

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Mar 18 Heaven or earth?

O Lord, what a wonderful and confusing prayer here from David.

heaven or earthI’m not exactly sure of his meaning; but like many prayers, it shows the divided interests and longings of many believers.

On one hand, I have been through a lot.  Life has been challenging, and sometimes I want to just give up: “my heart grows faint.”  I feel anxious to be done with this earthly life and all its problems.  “I long to dwell in Your tent forever.”

Thinking about that, all pain and suffering would be over in heaven.  No more battles to fight.  I would be in the presence of my Lord and Savior.  What could possibly be better!

On the other hand, You have given me blessings here, Lord.  I desire to fulfill all You have planned for me, and bring glory and honor to Your name here on earth.  And hopefully bring many to a saving knowledge of You while doing it.

So I echo “increase the days of my life, my years for many generations.”  How awesome would it be to see my children grown and serving the Lord, and grandchildren, and great grand children!

Bottom line, I trust You with all my days.  Whether here on earth or with You in heaven, I rely on You and Your perfect will to know the length of my days, and prepare me for them.

I thank You that You knew all my days before even one of them came to be.  And that no power can take away even one hour You have promised me.  I trust in, and rest in, Your power and Your wisdom, Your mercy, and Your plan.  Amen

Psalm 61:1-8

Mar 7 Follow the leader

Lord, I love how You are always available to me.  I can come to You any time to ask for wisdom and direction. There is no question too big or too small for You to answer.   And You never make me feel bad for asking.

cloud-pillar_imgarcade.comThe Israelites came and inquired of You through Moses about a problem for some wanting to celebrate the Lord’s Passover.  In response, You told them exactly what to do.  Not only did You answer their question, but Your presence was visible in the camp as a cloud over the Tabernacle.  When You remained, the people remained where You were.  When Your presence moved, they moved.

How I would love to have my own pillar of cloud appear before me and stay with me to direct my path!

Then I would know precisely if I were in Your perfect will or if I were ever in danger of straying from it.  I would know when to move on and when to stay put.  There would be no question of misinterpreting what You were telling me.

And what an accountability factor!  If I were not near the pillar, everyone would know it was me who had moved away – who chose not follow.

In Jerusalem, when Your disciples asked about their future, You revealed events that would help them prepare for the dangers and challenges to come.  You also reminded them to watch for signs and pay attention to the things around them that would help them discern what was coming.  And warned them about false prophets.

As Your Word warns, help me also keep watch and be prepared.

In Psalm 50:15 You tell me to call on You in the day of trouble and You will deliver.  Again showing Your availability and desire to respond when I ask.  I can trust that You, the mighty Creator of the universe, are available to help me, whenever, wherever, however a need arises.

“The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous.” And You have shown me that way.  You came and lived on earth to be my example by showing how to treat people and live a moral and godly life.

Also, through Your sacrifice, death and resurrection, You showed me the way to have eternal life.  And gave me the gift of Your Word so I would have it written down, to read and study and memorize and hide in my heart.

You are my refuge.  Thank You for being my sheltered, protected place of sanctuary.   Thank You for being ready with whatever I need.  And for knowing what I need even when I do not.

I am so grateful to have a God who hears, who is able, who is available, and who is willing.  Amen.

Numbers 9:1-23; Mark 13:14-37; Psalm 50:15; Proverbs 10:29

Jan 26 Do I get a map?

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Lord God, You are so wise. How often do I want to see Your plan for my life all laid out for me– at least the next chapter?

You gave Moses a look at all that was coming next. You shared Your plan to deliver the Hebrew people, saying “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… I am sending you to Pharaoh…”

And Moses starts back-peddling! You answered all his questions and revealed the plan, promising deliverance and riches to the people. You told Moses what to say, and how Your mighty hand would compel Pharaoh and perform wonders. Yet still Moses balked.

Jesus told His disciples how the plan of salvation would play out. He showed how prophecy was coming to pass right before their eyes! They knew Elijah must come first – Jesus explained that John the Baptist was Elijah. How did they respond? They demonstrated “so little faith” and were “filled with grief.”

So I can see why You don’t show me the miles of path before me. I would probably balk and try to get You to change Your mind, or display too much emotion and not enough “getting on board” with the plan.

When I used to ride horses, I never told the horse in advance where we would be riding that day. I never brought a map to show him where our trail would take us.

I’m pretty sure he knew he would end up back at the stable, his home. But I would guide him along as we went. Sometimes we would stop and rest for a bit. We would go fast or slow, left to the stream, or right to the hilltops, according to my leading, my plan.

Because a horse could not read or understand a map, I never showed him one. I daresay I would not understand Your plan if You showed it to me either. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so Your ways are higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts.”

And I’m okay with that. Because I trust Your thoughts, and Your ways, and Your plans; even if I can’t see or don’t understand them. And I know where I will end up: in my true home, spending eternity with You.

I agree with David who wrote, ”In You our fathers put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them. They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.”

I put my trust in You. You have already delivered me from the evil one by dying on the cross in my place. You have saved me from that eternal death into eternal life. And I know that at the end of my ride, I will not be disappointed. Amen

Exodus 3:1-22; Matthew 17:10-22; Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 22:4-5

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 18 every high and every low

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

There are times when things are going so well I feel on top of the world. And there are other times when it seems as if nothing is going right, and never will.

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It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything because everything seems to work out wrong and there is no sign that things will change for the better.

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

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

There are so many things I cannot control. They become a source of anxiousness, worry, and wringing my hands.

Other things, I try to control, but they slip through my fingers like water or sand. They are the source of making plans, and back up plans, contingencies and manipulation; again, stressful.

And there are the things that I seem to control and am pleased with, but am misled, because in truth, I am not in control at all. I only think I am.

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

You have proven Yourself steadfast and trustworthy throughout the ages. You created the heavens and the earth and everything in them and have sustained them.

You have kept Your covenants and Your promises to men; every one. You have given revelation and prophecy that so far, has all come true. By Your power, the earth turns and the sun rises every morning.

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

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

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

Jan 15 His eye is on the sparrow

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Oh God my Father, I too, sometimes have days where I feel like the Psalmist David who writes this prayer for help in trouble. He sings his troubles to You O Lord, as he writes this to his chief musician.

Like David, I also pour out my heart to You, Oh God. There are circumstances in my life where I feel You have turned away from me, hidden Your face from me. I cannot see You, or feel Your presence and do not know when You will act.

I pray and call out for You to make it right: for healing, for restoration, for vindication, for strength, for wisdom, for justice. I can think of challenges, troubles, where I need each of these; and You know them too, because You know all things.

There are places in my life of such hurt and frustration. They cause sorrow to fill my heart. I feel as if I have fought a battle and my enemies have defeated me. My strength is gone.

I cry out for You to hear me, to come to me, and lift me up. Almighty God, do not let my enemies have the victory. Do not let them say they have vanquished me with rejoicing in their camp.

Even facing all this, I trust wholeheartedly in Your mercy. I know that my salvation is sure. All else pales in the light of Your love and care for me. Whatever happens to me here on earth, I know my future in eternity is secure in You.

So I will sing to You. I will lift up Your Holy Name. I will rejoice abundantly because of what You have done for me. You know the number of hairs on my head, and that is a number that changes daily! Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from Your will.

I trust in Your will completely. I trust the plans that You have for me, to prosper me and not to harm me; plans to give me a hope and a future. So in You will I rest. Amen

Psalm 13: 1-6; Jeremiah 29:11

Dec 29 All Creation praises You!

man-look-over-natureFather, how does the earth praise You?

When I hear recorded sounds of whales in the deep oceans sing, are they praising You?  When I hear the melodic song of the birds, are they singing of Your greatness?

When the winds howl and the lightening cracks across the sky are they declaring Your majesty?

Do the trees affirm You with their upturned branches, their leaves, blossoms, fruit, and their gorgeous colors?  Do flowers bless You as their blooming faces turn to You?  When the wind stirs the golden Aspen leaves, is their shimmering applause for Your being?

A line in a poem, Trees by Joyce Kilmer touched me at a young age.  It read:  “A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray.”

Since then I have wondered exactly how Your creation acknowledges and exalts You.  And what I can learn from Your creation about how to honor You.  Here are some thoughts stirred by Psalm 148:

I will join with the earth in rejoicing in my LORD and recognizing my Savior

As the rocks and stones cry out, I will add my voice:

 

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

in sickness and in health I will give the LORD His due

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

 

But it is the response of my recognition of who God is

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

“The Lord will be king over the whole earth.  On that day there will be one Lord, and His Name, the Only Name.” 

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it…the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…were judged…anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Father, there was a day when You created the heavens and the earth, the moon and stars, the birds and beasts, and man; when all acknowledged You as Creator and worshipped You and had fellowship with You.

One day, it will be that way again.  All that You create will know You, will worship You, will give You praise.  Again, I can’t wait!  Amen

Zechariah 14:1-9; Revelation 20:11-15; Psalm 148:1-14

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 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 2:1-13; Revelation 13:1-18

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

Nov 4 Trust the plan

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Father, You had a plan when You punished Israel and sent them into exile.  And when You brought judgment on the remnant.

You had a plan for bringing Your people back to the land and giving them a new heart, a new spirit and a better salvation.

I believe You have a plan for me and my life as well.

Like Your people before me, it may not be what I expect.  But I completely trust You.

You may not give me visions like Ezekiel.  You may not exile me from my home.  You may not use another nation to exact my liberation.  But I know that whatever Your plan – it is one that will be new and unique, designed perfectly for the gifts and talents You’ve placed in me.

Father, I trust that You will show me what I need to know, exactly when I need to know it.  Open my eyes and ears so I do not miss anything You have for me.

Lord, my own personality sometimes leads me in a direction that may or may not be Yours.  Help me let go of what I think I should be doing for You.

Make me bold enough to act on what You lead me to.  Give me courage to persevere in the way You are showing me.

Help me be satisfied with Your plan for me.   And seek only You.  Amen

Ezekiel 11:14-21

Oct 18 Promise fulfilled

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

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

The earth is Your creation.  All power and honor and sovereignty is due You, and only You.  It is truly the work of Your hand and arm.  And there is literally, nothing that is beyond Your ability and power.  Nothing is too hard or difficult for You.

And we haven’t even seen all You can do!  For part of Jeremiah’s words are yet to be fulfilled.  You declared “The days are coming when this city will be rebuilt…will never again be uprooted or demolished”.  And although the city was rebuilt when the king of Persia sent the Israelites back, it has been destroyed again and again.  And rebuilt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 31:27-38; I Timothy 3:1-13

 

Oct 16 Trust God’s plan

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

 

 

These wonderful words of life and promise and hope that so many believers have claimed as personal encouragement were given first to a specific group of Your people who had rejected You.  They endured hardship by being forcibly removed from their homes and land.  They had been seized by a military force and taken to a foreign country to live as captives.

I cannot even imagine the trauma of being relocated like that.  I would imagine escape back home would have been considered.  Or revolt.  Some attempt to regain freedom.

But even if escape were possible, home was a thousand miles away!  And now comes this letter from Jeremiah to say “Accept captivity!  Settle down!  Live in the new land.  Pray for your new home!  For seventy years!”

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

Father, I know I sometimes wonder if where I am is really the place You want me to be.  I trust the plans You have for me.  Even if it means I have to wait on Your timing.  But please don’t let it take seventy years, Lord!

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

Father, open my eyes to the truth of where I am right now.

If I have gotten myself off Your path, show me how to return to it.  If I am where You want me to be, help me hear your voice of encouragement.  Help me feel Your presence here with me.  And if waiting is involved, help me wait patiently, prayerfully, praise-fully, and productively.

Show me those plans as I need to see them.  My hope and my future are in You.  Amen

Jeremiah 29:1-14

 

Oct 8 Worship the Creator not the created

idol-1067151_640Jeremiah points out the worthlessness of the idols that the people made for themselves.  They were made of wood or stone.  They had to be carried from place to place.  They had no awareness and no power.  Yet the people superstitiously bowed down to them.

What a stark contrast to You!  There is “No one like You, Lord”.

You made, literally created, the earth!  You imagined it, and then spoke it into being.  When You speak, it trembles.  When You thunder, the waters storm with hurricane force.  “You are the Creator of everything that exists.”

If I were to worship anything else, I would be as Jeremiah described his people, and the whole human race: “stupid and foolish…without knowledge”.

Jeremiah also encourages me not to fear the predictions of those who look elsewhere for their wisdom.  So I need not be afraid of false prophets, horoscopes or those who seek to divine the future from the stars.  You made the stars.  So I worship the Maker, not what was made.

Paul was in chains for speaking out about who You are.  That is not a current threat where I live.  Help me “be wise in the way I act towards outsiders, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let my conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone.”

Show me when to speak, and what to say.  And when to hold my tongue.   So many people are put off of Christianity because of the actions and attitudes of Christians.  Let me be a beacon of light to others as I walk the walk, and talk the talk in grace and love.

Show me what it means to “Devote myself to prayer, being watchful and thankful”.  I strive to express my thanks in prayer and allow time for You to speak to me, not just deliver a list of requests.

Thank You Father, that You, the matchless King of the Universe, hear my prayers.   And thank You that You answer them.  Help me to be watchful for Your answers.  And wait on Your timing.  I trust in the Creator of all things.  Amen

Jeremiah 10:1-16; Colossians 4:2-6

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

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Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return!

You bring reward to Your people.  You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.

Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

Father, help me keep my eyes on that future.  And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth.

Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track.  I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences.

They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my society and its values.  And I wonder: Do You see?  Do You see what is happening in Your world?  The one You created so carefully?  So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

But I will remember Your promises.  I trust Your plan.  And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.   

Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.”

Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You!  Thank You!  Amen

Isaiah 62:8-12; 65:8-25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 30 Time to Arise!

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“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

Father, what a glorious picture You paint of a time when You come to the earth.  I have no idea when it will be, whether I will be alive and able to see it first hand, or whether many more generations will pass before it happens.  But I believe all will be as You describe.

I believe You give me a picture of what it will be like to give me hope for the future, and to spur me on to live as I should right now.  It’s hard to see injustice and people being treated badly.  But what a promise that one day there will be justice and vindication!  Father, help me hold on to that hope as I pray for that day to come soon.

In knowing how to live during this time, help me “stand firm in one Spirit, striving together [with other believers] as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way…”  In these times there will be troubles, but I have “encouragement from being united with You.”

So when I face a challenge, don’t let me run away from my faith in order to meet my needs.  Don’t let me compromise my beliefs in order to “fit in” with the prevailing social attitudes.  Show me how to draw strength and support from other believers; and strengthen and support them.

Father, help me follow Your example: being humble and obedient, thinking of others before myself.  Let my motivation be to be more like You, not seeking selfish ambition or vain conceit.

Father, I pray for Your swift return, when “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Amen

Isaiah 60: 1-62:5; Philippians 1:27-2:18

Sept 1 Unworthy but loved and blessed

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Finally Father, I am to the end of the book of Job where You literally spoke to him. And when he actually beheld You, after all his suffering, and all his questioning, all he could say was “I am unworthy…”

It is an emotional response from a man at the end of himself, beholding Your immensity and magnificence. But it is also a statement of fact, that is true for me and every one of Your creations.

I am unworthy. Unworthy of Your attention, of Your blessing, of Your love. And yet all that I enjoy in my life and in my relationship with You has nothing to do with my worthiness, or my ability to somehow earn anything from You. I am blessed and loved and cared for, because of who You are. Your love transcends my unworthiness. Your faithfulness trumps my undeserving state.

Job follows Your statements of greatness with, “I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted.” And I echo those words, Father.

I know that You can do ALL things. I have no doubt that You can heal all my infirmities. You can take unhealthy tissue and make it whole again. You can heal my relationships and make them god-honoring. You can guide my children into Your wisdom and give them a hunger and thirst for You.   You can bless them with godly mentors and success in all they put their hand to.   You can return the prodigal son to right relationship with You.

Father, I believe that there is nothing in this world, or above it, or below it, that can thwart Your plans. I trust that the plans You have for me and all my family are plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future. I know that You are faithful to complete the good work You began in each of us. Even if we have chosen to leave the path You have laid out for each of us, I trust that You will call us back.

You know best how to reach each of us. Father, open our ears to hear You, and open our hearts and spirits to desire to obey You.  Strengthen our spirits when our flesh is weak.

I praise You Father, that this power resides in You.   And that in Your love and grace, “You made [Job] prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…You blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.”

Thank You for this example of Your goodness and Your blessing.   Thank You for this story of his faithfulness to You.

I pray that I too, at the end of my life, no matter what comes, I will be able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord”. Amen

Job 40:1-42:17

July 20 Direct my path

shield-490808_640Father, like Solomon who built a Temple to house Your glorious Name, I long to build something of substance with my life that will bring You recognition and glory. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive edifice sparkling with gold and jewels.   But it is the desire of my heart, that when I leave this earth, others who come behind me will see my faithfulness and be pointed to You.

Paul left a different kind of testament to You with the letters he wrote. His explanations, though sometimes long and arduous, explain the basis of much of my faith. He explains that before You came and died on the cross, I was a slave to sin. But because I put my faith in You, and am united with You, crucified on the cross with You; I died to sin. I am no longer its slave, because death frees one from the bondage they lived in.

So I am raised from the dead with You, a free believer – no longer a slave to sin! You set me free with Your death and resurrection! Since my life is with You, and I live it freely; if I sin, it is because I choose to, since I am no longer a slave to it. Lord, help me choose daily, to walk away from sin.

Show me how to walk with You in righteousness; how to live my life as a testimony to You.  Empower me to face the choices I have to make every day. Don’t let me just pick what is the easiest, or safest, or most popular.   Let me look at my options from Your perspective. Let me make decisions based on the long, eternal view, not just for the immediate benefit.

I trust You. “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.”   Amen

2 Chronicles 3:1-17; Romans 6:1-23; Psalm 16:1-11

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

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

Mar 18 Heaven or Earth?

heaven or earth

 

O Lord, what a wonderful and confusing prayer here from David. I’m not exactly sure of his meaning; but like many prayers, it shows the divided interests and longings of many believers.

 

On one hand, I have been through a lot. Life has been challenging, and sometimes I want to just give up: “my heart grows faint”. I feel anxious to be done with this earthly life and all its problems. “I long to dwell in Your tent forever”. Thinking about that, all pain and suffering would be over. No more battles to fight. I would be in the presence of my Lord and Savior. What could possibly be better!

On the other hand, You have given me blessings here, Lord. I desire to fulfill all that You have planned for me, and bring glory and honor to Your name here on earth. And hopefully bring many to a saving knowledge of You while doing it. So I echo “increase the days of my life, my years for many generations”. How awesome would it be to see my children grown and serving the Lord, and grandchildren, and great grand children!

Bottom line, I trust You with all my days Lord; whether here on earth or with You in heaven. I rely on You and Your perfect will to know the length of my days, and prepare me for them. I thank You that You knew all my days before even one of them came to be. And that no power can take away even one hour You have promised me. I trust in, and rest in, Your power and Your wisdom, Your mercy, and Your plan. Amen

Psalm 61:1-8

 

Jan 18 every high and low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 7 New Covenant for Eternity

dawn eternityFather, even with the detestable ways Your people sinned; so much so that You compared them to an adulterous, unfaithful wife; You promised them restoration. You made a way of atonement for them. Not as we might see the restoration of an individual from one day to the next, but as a people, Your people. You are so much more long-sighted than we humans are. We can barely see to the next day, but You look throughout eternity and see things from a different perspective.

Paul saw this new covenant. What You gave Your people in the wilderness was a shadow of what was to come. You showed them how to approach You in the Tabernacle – only through the earthly High Priest who was born into the line of Aaron, and who offered blood sacrifices. What Paul saw, and what I have as a believer, is a new High Priest! You!

With a shadow, something real has to cast that shadow. The reality of what made the shadow of the old covenant, is when You, Yourself became my High Priest when You walked the earth as the Lord Jesus Christ, and made atonement for my sin with Your perfect blood sacrifice!

Paul quotes Jeremiah, saying “The days are coming…when I will make a new covenant…I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people”. It hasn’t happened for all of Israel yet, but it has happened for me! I have You in me, as the Holy Spirit.

Thank You Father, that I am in You, and that I have You in me! Thank You for putting Your law in my mind – for bringing Your Word to me – for placing me in a country and at a time when I can read and study Your Word freely and openly. Thank You that I was born to parents who worshipped You and gave me that example of worshipping and serving You.

Thank You Father, that You are in heaven now, on Your throne – in the true Tabernacle. I long for the day when I will see You in all Your glory. When every knee will bow and all will know that You are Lord. And I will praise You forever! Amen

Ezekiel 16:42-63; Hebrews 8:1-13

Nov 4 Trust the plan

sky-414199_640Father, You had a plan when You punished Israel and sent them into exile. And when You brought judgment on the remnant.   You had a plan for bringing Your people back to the land and giving them a new heart, a new spirit and a better salvation.

You had a plan when You visited the ten plagues on the Egyptians. You could see into their hearts and used them as a tool of deliverance for Your people there.

I believe You have a plan for me and my life as well. Like Your people before me, it may not be what I expect. But I completely trust You. You may not give me visions like Ezekiel. You may not exile me from my home. You may not use another nation to exact my liberation. But I know that whatever Your plan – it is one that will be new and unique, designed perfectly for the gifts and talents You’ve placed in me.

Father, I trust that You will show me what I need to know, exactly when I need to know it. Lord, open my eyes and ears so I do not miss anything You want me to know. Make me bold enough to act on what You lead me to. Give me courage to persevere in the way You are showing me.

Lord, my own personality sometimes leads me in one direction that may or may not be Yours. Help me to let go of what I think I should be doing for You. Let me be satisfied with Your plan for me.   And seek only You. Amen

Ezekiel 11:14-21; Psalm 105:16-36

Oct 18 Promises fulfilled

sky-684322_1920Father, part of Jeremiah’s prophecy has already come true. You did indeed send Your people “into the hand of the king of Babylon”. And seventy years later, You did “gather them from the lands where You banished them”. They once again bought and sold fields in the land. Jerusalem was rebuilt. I love the words of Jeremiah’s prayer, and have sung them before: “Ah Lord God, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power – Ah Lord God You have made the heavens and the earth by Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You…Great and Mighty God, Your name is the Lord Almighty”.

The earth is Your creation. All power and honor and sovereignty is due You, and only You. It is truly the work of Your hand and arm. And there is literally, nothing that is beyond Your ability and power. Nothing is too hard or difficult for You.

And we haven’t even seen all You can do! For part of Jeremiah’s words are yet to be fulfilled. You declared “The days are coming when this city will be rebuilt…will never again be uprooted or demolished”. And although the city was rebuilt when the king of Persia sent the Israelites back, it has been destroyed again and again. And rebuilt.  Also, they were to “live in safety”. But the Israelites have been under the rule of many conquerors since then. Even today, as a formal nation, their neighbors are not on peaceful terms with them, and war is an ever-present concern. So those “days” have not arrived yet.

But Your fulfillment of Your promises in the past assures me that Your promises for the future are true. And that the prophecies You have given will all come true.   One day, “All will know the Lord, from the least …to the greatest.” So in the meantime, I desire to live a life guided by Your instruction. It seems the list of qualities Paul gives for church leaders is a good place to start. Father, help me to be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunk or violent or quarrelsome or a lover of money.” If I am drawn away from or drift away from these qualities, rein me back in so I will not be an embarrassment to You.

Thank You, that the Creator, Almighty God, King of the Universe, cares enough to let me know, through Your Word, of Your faithfulness to keep all the promises You have made. And for showing me what is to come. And I thank You for showing me how to live until that time: in great hope and in humble obedience.   Amen

Jeremiah 31:27-32:44; I Timothy 3:1-16

Oct 16 Trust God’s plan

Vintage country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

your-righteousness-is-perfect_blog

Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return! You bring reward to Your people. You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.

 

Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

Father, help me keep my eyes on that future. And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth. Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track. I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences. They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my society and its values. And I wonder: Do You see? Do You see what is happening in Your world? The one You created so carefully? So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

But I will remember Your promises. I trust Your plan. And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel,  and afterward You will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail,
  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.” Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You! Thank You! Amen

Isaiah 62:6- 65:25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 30 You are my Light

blue-2571965_640

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

Father, what a glorious picture You paint of a time when You come to the earth. I have no idea when it will be, whether I will be alive and able to see it first hand, or whether many more generations will pass before it happens. But I believe all will be as You describe.

You give me a picture of what it will be like to give me hope for the future, and to spur me on to live as I should right now. It is hard to see injustice and people being treated badly. But what a promise that one day there will be justice and vindication for all! Father, help me hold on to that hope as I pray for that day to come soon.

In knowing how to live during this time, help me “stand firm in one Spirit, striving together [with other believers] as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way…” In these times there will be troubles, but I have “encouragement from being united with You”. So when I face a challenge, don’t let me run away from my faith in order to meet my needs. Don’t let me compromise my beliefs in order to ‘fit in’ with the prevailing social attitudes. Show me how to draw strength and support from other believers; and how to strengthen and support them.

Father, help me follow Your example, being humble and obedient, thinking of others before myself. Let my motivation be to be more like You, not seeking selfish ambition or vain conceit.

Father, I pray for Your swift return, when “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”. Amen

Isaiah 60: 1-62:5; Philippians 1:27-2:18

 

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

Mar 11 from beginning to end

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Thank You Lord, is not enough to say to You, for enduring such a horrible death so that I could be reunited, reconciled, into fellowship with You. Thank You that the precious blood You shed washes away my sin and pays the penalty my sin deserves.

I cannot begin to imagine the horror of all You felt and went through. Movies that depict it are difficult to watch and fill me with sorrow and shame, that it was for my sin You chose to go through it all.

It boggles my mind, that this was planned before the foundation of the world was laid! That You already knew what would happen with sin being a part of the world You created, and what it would take to make it right again.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they died spiritually, as they were separated from Your presence. And eventually died physically. They continued in sin, as did all man for centuries, and a system of shedding innocent blood and making offerings was instituted.

In the desert when Korah sinned against You and rebelled, You swallowed him up in the earth with his followers. Yet sin continued, with more sacrifices being made as a way to enter Your presence, first in the Tabernacle, then the Temple.

In the fulfillment of Your prophecies, You came to the earth as Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the perfect, innocent Lamb of God and became the ultimate sacrifice, laying down Your life once for all – all the sin, all the people. Yet all have not accepted that gift.

One day Your world will be free of sin again, as You judge all the living and the dead, even the angels, and create a new heaven and a new earth. You will have delivered Your people from all trouble, and will look triumphantly upon all Your foes. They will be brought down to eternal death, separated from You for all eternity. And Your people will live with You forever. I am eternally blessed to be Your child. Thank You. Amen

Numbers 15:17-16:40; Mark 15:1-47; Psalm 54:7

Jan 18 Trust in every high and low

roller-coaster-263929_640

Heavenly Father, thank You that I can trust You through the ups and downs, the highs and lows of my life. There are times when things are going so well I feel on top of the world. And there are other times when it seems as if nothing is going right, and never will. It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything because everything seems to work out wrong and there is no sign that things will change for the better.

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

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

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

I could continue to live this misguided life of false security, manipulation and anxiety. But I choose to lay it all down. Father, instead, I choose the peace of giving it all to You. This is where trust comes in. I choose to believe Your Word: that You have a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future, to never leave me or forsake me. And You have proven Yourself steadfast and trustworthy all throughout the ages. You created the heavens and the earth and everything in them and have sustained them ever since. You have kept Your covenants and Your promises to men; every one. You have given revelation and prophecy that so far, has all come true. By Your power, the earth turns and the sun rises every morning.

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

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

Genesis 37:1-36; Psalm 16:1-2; Jeremiah 29:11; Deuteronomy 31:6

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

Father, what a picture of joy and hope when You say “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert”.  Because in the desert, very little grows.  The lack of water and the intense heat plus sandy soil produce low, scrawny plant life.  But to find grapes: something juicy and good that can nourish, is a wonderful and valuable find!  When living in or crossing the desert, a find like this can be the difference between life and death. figtree

A similar picture is seen in the next part of the verse: “when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree”.  For a fig tree is different from most other fruit trees.  It will take four to five years, and sometimes six or seven years for a fig tree to produce it’s first crop of figs.  So all those years, care must be taken to keep it watered and fertilized and protected from the weather and winds, parasites and disease so it will be healthy enough to produce.  Then, when seeing the early fruit, you know it has all been worth it!  There is success!  And hope of many more harvests to come.

Both of these create an emotional response of relief, satisfaction – that the future is secure and what has been done and accomplished was worth it.  I love seeing this in projects or ministries I have been involved with.  Or when I think of lives I have impacted.  It is a good feeling that any positive influence will continue and go on.  I feel it when I think of my children.  I feel delight and hope.

But then that was all taken away when You saw what happened.  “…they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved”.   Delight is erased.  Hopes are dashed.  Joy is replaced with sadness, grief and anguish over the loss of those involved and the prospect of the joyous future that had been envisioned.

Father, do You feel like this about each one of Your creations now?  Do You have delight in each one, and then anguish over their fall away from You into idolatry?  Father, I am Your child.  Keep me from turning away from You.  Show me clearly where and when there are idols I am in danger of being drawn to: pride, possessions, money, fame, popularity, whatever.  I believe You gave these words to John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”.

I echo these words for my own children.  And also “pray that [they] may enjoy good health and that all may go well with [them]”.   Father, help me and my children and loved ones be faithful to You.  Help us walk in a manner worthy of You, to show hospitality, not to gossip, to welcome believers, not to imitate what is evil, but to imitate what is good.  Father, let “our mouths be filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” because of the “great things You have done for us”!  Thank You for the great things You have done for us!  Amen

Hosea 9:10; III John 1:1-14; Psalm 126:1-6