Tag: God’s Word

Oct 31 Don’t drift away

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Father, Paul reminds the Hebrews of something I need to remember too:  “We must pay more attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

  “What we have heard” is the message spoken by You through Your prophets and Your Word.

If I do not pay attention, I may misunderstand or misinterpret what You are saying to me.   If I do not study to understand the context of Your Word, I may miss the true meaning.

I have heard verses of scripture taken completely out of context to make a point.  But when placed back with the other verses around them, and looking at what the author was saying and to whom he was speaking, it can make an entirely different point!   So I must pay careful attention to understand Your Word correctly.

Besides merely understanding what is said, which is a big thing in itself, I must be sure I am not drifting away from what it means in my own life.

How many times have I read a scripture and missed seeing a personal application?

jetty-1245749_640To make sure I “do not drift away”, I need to ask questions as I read Your Word; such as:

Is this giving me an example of what to do?  Of what not to do?

Is it a warning to heed?

Is it teaching me something about You I need to know?  About myself?

About my motives, attitudes, or relationships that need changing?

Here’s one way to picture it:

rope-1305658_640Your Word is a dock, and I am in a small boat.

If I tie my rope to the dock, I will not drift, or be carried away by currents or by storms.

But first I need to recognize where I can tie up, and then I must actually tie up there.  So I need to understand, and act on Your Word.

Lord, help me pay better attention to Your Word.

Show me how to apply it to my life.

Teach me how to follow through on what You tell me. Amen

Hebrews 2:1-4

Oct 24 the Answer IS Your Word

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Father, what a wonderful list of things to both pursue and stay away from, for my own good!  I love that You say to “flee the evil desires of youth” because not all desires of youth are evil.  Being young doesn’t mean one is evil, just that one might be more susceptible to evil.

When I was younger, it was more important to me to be “right” so I would press my point and become involved in unproductive arguments.  You refer to them as “foolish and stupid.”  I agree, and have since learned the value of a soft word and gentle instruction.

Even so, You share that “…in the last days…people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth”.  Paul saw this already in his day.  I see it all around me.

It almost seems there is an entire generation described above.  Paul says: “they will not get very far because…their folly will be clear to everyone”.  Unfortunately, with an entire generation behaving like this, it appears as the norm.

Television shows and media portray fathers, police, authority figures as idiots, not worthy of obedience or respect.  More and more our political leaders and sports heroes turn out to be corrupt cheaters.  Some of our children grew up knowing You and were taught Your values, but they have turned away from You in this permissive and deadly society.

But there are many who love You and follow You.  Let them be role models and mentors to this generation and the next.  And let me live a godly life as an example.

I seek and value You and Your characteristics, but sometimes pride and ungratefulness, for example, rear their ugly heads in me.   I have Your Word as my guide.  Your Word is effective for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”   And it will “equip me for every good work.” 

For all of us the answer is in Your Word, and IS Your Word.  Keep it in the forefront of my mind as a guide.  But also let me use it wisely in gently correcting and praying for others.  Father, return this generation of self absorbed, materialistic, pleasure-seeking people to the godly values that will save them.  They have been deceived.

Open their eyes Lord, before it’s too late.  Bring the Prodigal sons and daughters home.  Amen

2 Timothy 2:22-3:17

Aug 17 Your Name, Your Word is power

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Father, most days I don’t feel like I’m in a battle. I don’t see people who “seek my life”, “plot my ruin”, or who are “hiding nets” and “digging pits” for me. Most of the time I live oblivious to the spiritual battles that go on around me.

But I believe there is a spiritual realm.

You speak about spiritual powers: rulers, authorities, and spiritual forces of evil, which have an effect on this world and on me. It may be a battle to control the minds and hearts of people; or it may affect actual circumstances. There are times I sense such calmness and peace in my spirit that does not come from my circumstances or the people around me. And there are other times when the atmosphere seems charged with negativity, an oppressiveness that feels truly evil; spawning confusion, disunity and fear.

It’s hard to put into words. But in those negative times, the waves of oppression are dispelled by calling on Your name: Lord Jesus Christ. I can speak scripture and am encouraged, strengthened by the power in it, as if I am wielding a sword, cutting through the darkness around me. It may seem the opposition is coming from a person or circumstance. Still, I do not pray against that person or circumstance, but against the power using or controlling them or it.

“Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.” Psalms like this one help me actually visualize what I cannot see in this battle, which takes place in the spiritual realm.

I can see You, Father, answering my cry, sending help to take up weapons against this enemy power. You pick up Your giant shield, strap on Your belt holding Your sword. You swing Your spear and javelin back and forth to ward off the enemy while advancing to my aid. These picture words help me “see” the fight that is before me, taking place in a realm I cannot yet see.

“May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away”.

There is a process of removing the dry, scaly outer husks of grain after it’s been harvested. For the grain to be usable, this casing must be separated from it. Pounding the harvested grain breaks the hull. Then the sifter tosses the grain up into a light wind and the seed, the heavier, edible grain, falls free from the outer hull. The breeze blows this outer piece, the chaff, aside, so the grain can be collected for food.

So now I can imagine these spiritual enemies, these powers that come against me, as the lightweight waste material, being blown away, tossed, whirled away from me, driven with the force of a powerful wind from You and Your angels.

“May their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.”

When a path is dark, I usually move more slowly to be safe. And if it is slippery, I go even slower to keep from falling; trying to plant every step. So I can see the evil enemy fumbling, slipping, falling, being hurt and defeated on a dark, slippery path because Your angels are pursuing them, chasing them down.

“May the net they hid entangle them.”

I can visualize the enemy placing a net so carefully to trap me, but then getting confused, turned around, falling into it themselves, becoming tangled in the cords and held fast. Or running blindly to escape Your attack and falling into the very pit they have dug to entrap me.

When I picture these scenes as I pray, I join the battle. I feel Your power and the defeat of the enemy. Thank you for the peace You bring with Your victory! “Who is like You”? There is none. I rejoice in You! Amen

Psalm 35:1-10

Aug 12 Working together

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Father, what a lesson from Nehemiah!

Two things stand out for me that apply to Your people today.

One: that sometimes there is opposition when we are doing Your work, such that we must work with one hand on the task and one hand on the sword.

And two: that we must not take advantage of or hinder our own people.

Father, whatever task, circumstance or relationship I’m involved with, help me see spiritual opposition. It may appear as overt resistance or an obstruction to what I’m trying to do. Or be an invisible undertone of grumbling, complaining, discouragement or division. Whatever the case, remind me that Your Word is my Sword – my weapon.

Your Word has power. It can overcome discouragement and repair disunity.   It can change my focus, reveal truth and tear down the lies of the opposition; even change the hearts of those against me. Ready my mind, Lord, to prepare me to fight the battle however it presents itself.

As the Jews were hindering their brothers, I see that sometimes I work against myself and may not realize that what I am doing is preventing someone else from doing their job. Show me from Your perspective if I am in any way, hindering a brother or sister. Show me how to encourage them and free them up to do what You have called them to do. As we work alongside each other for Your purpose, free us all to do our best.

I trust that You have prepared me for whatever comes against me, and for whatever task You have purposed for me to do.   Open my eyes to see it all clearly. Strengthen my arm to do the work. Sharpen my mind to know Your Word.   Embolden my Spirit to go forward. “Instruct me and teach me in the way I should go; counsel me and watch over me.” And “I will rejoice in You and be glad. And “Shout for joy!” Amen

Nehemiah 3:15 – 5:13; Psalm 32:8, 11

Aug 9 Your Word lights my way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

June 19 Your Word, Your Spirit, Your Voice

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Father, how amazing that You sent Your Word through prophets to the kings of Israel to give them direction, instruction, correction, even advice on successful battle plans! You sent specific word to Ahab to determine that he should fight against the thirty-three kings and their armies and chariots assembled. You told him who should lead the attack, when, and who would win!

I often wish there were such easily discernable ways I could hear from You. If only You would send me an email, or write across the sky to inform me about decisions or concerns I face.

And then I realize – You have written me a letter! It’s Your Holy Word. If I take the time to read it, often, things become clear. If I had never read the Bible, I wouldn’t know that in it, You have already included instructions for godly, moral living.

You have already made Yourself very clear on many topics that relate to me today. Instead of hearing of and memorizing only scattered verses, I need to feed myself, and know the entirety of what You have to say to me.

So, reading Your word is a start. Studying it for a deeper understanding is also important. Then connecting the dots to how what You have said impacts my life, is crucial. Some Bible study methods have big words for this: observation, interpretation, application. Very simply, it is asking: What are You saying? What does it mean? What does it mean to me?

A big part of the burden to hear from You, then, is on me to listen to what You have already said. But to help me even more, You have given me, and every believer, the Holy Spirit. Part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to help me understand, apply, and live by what Your Word says to me. I need to pay attention to what it is telling me, and be obedient, not ignore, discard, or drown out what I hear.

Thank You that I can hear from You just as specifically as those who heard the prophets speak. You have given me so much more to help me in knowing You and understanding You

Thank You for Your Word.

Thank You for the Holy Spirit.

Help me make reading and studying Your Word a priority for my time and energy.

Do not let me quench the Holy Spirit.

And thank You that I can even talk to You personally in prayer. And know that You hear me. And trust that You’ll answer. What an awesome God! Amen

I Kings 20:1-22

 

 

May 29 You Word is Light!

book light on girlLord Jesus, thank You for sending Your Word to me. You created this entire place for me to live, the planet, solar system, universe; much like I would plan a nursery for a loved and expected baby. You worked out everything just right – gravity, air pressure, temperature, light, radiation – more things than I can imagine – to work together perfectly to sustain my life. Just seeing this amazing creation communicates the existence of the designer.

Somehow, Your existence was translated down so that even in places where no ‘modern’ man has ever been, there is knowledge of and worship of You. But for me, You made sure there was a written record of Your presence, of Your purpose, and of Your love for me.

“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” When it is dark, unseen hazards can trip me up, causing falls and even injuries. Things that could be stepped over or around if seen become potentially dangerous obstacles.

So it is in life. Even when the sun is out and visibility is good, unseen things are at work that can cause problems. Emotions, motivations, misinformation and schemes can all trip me up. Your Word can help me be aware of and deal with such issues so I can avoid the potential fall or injury.

Your Word shines a light on my circumstances by giving me perspective. Or by helping me see truth. Or by making me wise to my own condition. It gives me guidance in how to make decisions. Your Word provides me with a moral compass. It reminds me that my value comes from You, not the world’s view of ‘success’. It warns me of things like “pride goes before a fall” and “better to have a little honestly than much by illicit gain”.

By illuminating truth with Your Word, You keep my feet steady on the path and keep me from stumbling.  “Accept O Lord, the willing praise from my mouth.” Thank You! Thank You! Amen

Psalm 119:105,108

May 13 Praying Your Word

Lord Jesus Christ, thank You that You hear and answer my prayers. Thank You that You have and will continue to deliver me from trouble and tragedies I will never even know about because of Your divine protection.

sword-790815_640You tell me that my struggle is not with flesh and blood. So I pray this psalm against the rulers, powers, and world forces of this present darkness. I claim these psalm verses against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

I ask for Your victory as they exert their strength against my health, my relationships, my emotions, my faith and the work of my hands as I seek to honor and glorify You.

Lord Jesus Christ, these forces are wicked and deceitful. They open their mouths against me and speak against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me and attack me without cause. They accuse me and repay evil for good.

They love to pronounce a curse – so let curses come upon them; they find no pleasure in blessings, so let blessing be far from them. They wear cursing as a garment and it enters into their body like water and into their bones like oil. May their curses be like a cloak wrapped around them with a belt constantly tied around them.

Appoint an evil man to oppose them; let an accuser stand at their right hand. When they are tried, let them be found guilty, and may their prayers condemn them.

Lord Jesus Christ, let these forces be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame. Let them know that it is Your hand that has vanquished them!

They may curse me, but You, O Lord, bless me. I will lift Your name up in praise!   I will make known that You save according to Your love. And that You stand ready to save from those powers who would condemn. I praise You that Your powers are greater than any other, in heaven or on the earth. You are Supreme! Amen

Psalm 109:1-31; Ephesians 6:12

Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

“Everything must be fulfilled about Me that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

child-945422_1920Father, explain to me and open my mind so I can understand the Scriptures! The Scriptures You referred to here are the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. I was brought up referring to them as the Old Testament. Jews refer to these same books as The Tanakh. Made up of three parts: The Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim, the Torah is the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.   The Neviim are the Prophets, so the twelve books of the minor prophets and nine written by major Prophets. The Ketuvim are the books of wisdom, scrolls and history.

You explained to the disciples that You are the Messiah promised in these Scriptures. You are the God in both Testaments! You are God of the whole Bible!

So I need to be familiar with all parts to understand You fully.  Lord teach me from both, and help me see the blessing in the connections. So much of the meaning in the Old Testament is lost to me unless I learn about the Hebrew customs and language. When I see what You said and did in the New Testament, I miss the depth of meaning without the context of what came before.

You are part of the Trinity in Genesis 1. When You said “Let Us make man in our image…” it was plural; in Hebrew “Elohim.”   When the prophet Isaiah spoke it was You he saw who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace! He described You in his words when he said “a man of sorrows, familiar with pain, despised and rejected.” Zechariah saw that You would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, that You would die a violent death for all mankind.

There are 351 prophecies in this Scripture that You fulfill.   And more yet to be fulfilled! How much more marvelous to know You as the Promise Keeper, the Prophecy Fulfiller! You are the One who speaks of the future, and has the power to bring it to pass!

The more I understand of who You are and all that You have done, the better I can know You. The more I know You, the more fully I can love You.   And the more I understand about prophecies yet to be fulfilled, the better prepared I can be to face the future, trusting in You as my Savior.

Thank You for being true to Your Word. Thank You that as I read and study, You reveal more and more of Yourself to me: my God in whom I trust! Amen

Luke 24:13-53

Apr 21 Obey Your Word, Walk in Your Presence

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In today’s scripture, You give two passages that tell me how to be blessed. I acknowledge and desire to follow those instructions

 

 

Lord, help me “be very strong; to be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. I will not associate with those who do not follow You by invoking the names of their gods or swear by them. I will not serve them or bow down to them. I will hold fast to You.”

Lord, I can only be careful to obey Your Word if I know Your Word. So I will read it and study to understand it. I will pray and ask for understanding when I am confused or in doubt. I will not ever call upon the names of other gods, because there is no other God but You. There is none like You. There is no other name under heaven by which I am saved. Your power alone created the universe. I will worship You alone, and seek Your direction and wisdom for my life.

The next passage tells me “blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence”.   Father, I give glory to Your name only, because of who You are and what You have done. You are Most Holy God. You are all-powerful and all-knowing. You created the heavens and the earth. You created man and set him in this place to have fellowship with You. When he broke that fellowship by sinning, You made a way of reconciling man to You: through Your blood on the cross. And because I accept that gift I can walk in the light of Your presence once again.

The light of Your presence is where truth is revealed, nothing is hidden, nothing is feared. Your presence dispels darkness. To be present with You is to talk with You and listen to You – Your responses in prayer, in Your Word and through the Holy Spirit. It is to rest in You, fearing nothing.

So I rejoice in Your name. I trust in Your righteousness. You are my protection, my King, the Holy One. And I am blessed. Amen

Joshua 23:6-16; Psalm 89:14-18

Apr 14 You Word over deception and lies

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 83:1-18

Mar 27 Not by bread alone

notbybreadalonemimeLord, today’s scripture passages are so rich, it is hard to chose one area of prayer focus. In these verses You are instructive, encouraging, illustrative, and give warnings. All are important. But the ones that speak to me the most, remind me of how You care for me and how I should behave in response to that care and commitment.

I am holy to You, Lord. That doesn’t mean I am perfect, but that I am set apart for You. I have value because of who I am in Your eyes; and You have a purpose for me. You did not set Your affection on me because I was the biggest, or best, for I was the least. There is nothing I could have done to make You love me. But because You love me, You promise to bring me out with a mighty hand and redeem me from the land of slavery and its power: this world and its distressing values. “The Lord my God IS God! You are the faithful God, keeping Your covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love You and keep Your commands!”

“But those who hate You, You will repay to their face by destruction.” Therefore I need to pay attention to what You say and how You direct me, so that I can live victoriously and be strong in the place You are bringing me. You always keep Your promises to me. You love and bless me.

You have provided for me in the past. Although You provided physical sustenance for me, You also taught me that there is more. I do not live on ‘bread’ alone, but my soul longs for a peace and wholeness that comes from my relationship with You and Your Word. So I will spend time reading and studying Your Word, and listening for Your voice in my life.

In times of need I am drawn to You for help, encouragement, and provision. But when enjoying that provision, I must be sure not to become proud or arrogant. I will express my thanks and gratitude in praise, in song, in telling others how You bring me through troubles and trials. It is You who make it possible for me to work and volunteer and help others. My gifts and talents come from You. And I thank You.

I will never serve another god. I see others chase after fame or money or power. They make their possessions or position their god. I will pour out myself to honor You. You have saved me! From trouble, from trauma, from myself, from circumstances I have gotten myself into, and from eternal death. You have answered my prayers, come to my rescue, given me hope, forgiven my sin. I thank You and I praise You! And I cannot wait to see what’s coming next! Amen

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

Feb 8 Praying Your Words

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Your Words are holy. Sometimes I simply pray Your very own words back to You! It’s as if You already know what I need and have prepared the prayer for me.

“I trust in You. My times are in Your hands;” (they always have been whether I acknowledged it or not – my comings and goings, my living and dying, and all the moments in between, were already determined before even one of them came to be)

“Deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.” (whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual adversaries – You are Sovereign over them all and can defeat them all)

“Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love.” (may I feel the impact of Your illuminating presence on my body, mind and spirit and be saved from harm not because of anything I have done or earned, but because of Your benevolent generosity and grace)

“Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to You; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.” (let me see victory in the utter defeat of our enemies and the fulfillment of Your justice; strengthen me to walk in Your way) Amen

Psalm 31: 14-17

Dec 21 Shield my head

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

 

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

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

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

I know that sometimes, I don’t make wise choices, and must bear the consequences. In those times Father, I ask for Your forgiveness and Your wisdom to learn from my mistakes. But at other times, I feel attacked, caught by surprise in situations and circumstances I did not anticipate. I feel entrapped, tripped up, led into places, relationships, emotional states, and difficulties that feel like an oppressive force is orchestrating it all.

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

Thank You that I can be sure of Your love for me. Thank You that I can know without a doubt, that Your purpose and plan for me are good. Thank You that I know You will never, ever, leave me or forsake me. And thank You that the devil’s time here on earth is short. And a time will come when You will triumph over all!

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

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

Nov 19 Your Word is wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

James 2:18-3:18

Nov 1 Your Word paints a picture

bible-1089930_640O Father, what an incredible picture You paint! I cannot even imagine seeing what Ezekiel saw! I don’t know if I would fall facedown like Ezekiel, cower in fear or simply stand, transfixed, unable to move by the sight of something so magnificently awesome and frightening!

I can see it in my mind’s eye, but what a powerful movie it would make! Every time I read the description of the four living creatures I find something new, and have tried to draw what You describe to increase my understanding.   When drawing, one has to pay very close attention to get all the details right.

Your Word says Ezekiel was so awed by what he had seen and heard, that he “sat among them [Israelite exiles] for seven days – overwhelmed.”

Thank You that Ezekiel could explain what he saw in terms I can understand. The words “immense fire…flashing lightening…glowing metal…burning coals of fire…appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day” are very descriptive, even though I feel sure that what he saw was beyond anything he had ever seen before.

The author of Psalm 104 also helps me see, visualize You creating the heavens and the earth, with words that paint a picture. I can see You “wrapped…in light as with a garment” as You “set the earth on its foundations” and “cover it with the deep as with a garment”. I can imagine the waters fleeing at Your rebuke, “flowing over the mountains”, going “down into the valleys, to the place You assigned them”.

Thank You again, for using words I can understand and envision. You, who have the imagination and power to create things I cannot even fathom, have leaned down from Your position of sovereignty on high, taken my face in Your hands, and whispered wonderful Words into my ear to show me Your lavish love and abundant provision for me. And I am forever amazed by You and am eternally in Your debt.   My Father.   My Creator.   My Savior. Amen

Ezekiel 1:1-28; Psalm 104:1-23

Oct 31 Don’t drift away

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Father, Paul reminds the Hebrews of something I need to remember too: “We must pay more attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”  

“What we have heard” is the message spoken by You through Your prophets and Your Word.

If I do not pay attention, I may misunderstand or misinterpret what You are saying to me.  If I do not study to understand the context of Your Word, I may miss the true meaning. I have heard verses of scripture taken completely out of context to make a point. But when placed back with the other verses around them, and looking at what the author was saying and to whom he was speaking, it may make an entirely different point! So I must pay careful attention to understand Your Word correctly.

Besides merely understanding what is said, (which is a big thing in itself) I must be sure I am not drifting away from what it means in my own life. How many times have I read a scripture and missed seeing a personal application? To make sure I “do not drift away”, I need to ask questions as I read Your Word; such as: Is this giving me an example of what to do? Of what not to do? Is it a warning to heed? Is it teaching me something about You I need to know? About myself? About my motives, attitudes, or relationships that need changing?

One way I can grasp it – it’s as if Your Word is a dock, and I am in a small boat. If I tie my rope to the dock, I will not drift, or be carried away by currents or by storms.  But first I need to recognize where I can tie up, and then I must actually tie there. So I need to understand, and act on Your Word.

Lord, help me pay better attention to Your Word and how to apply it to my life. Show me how to follow through on what You tell me. Amen

Hebrews 2:1-4

Oct 24 The Answer IS Your Word

bible-1001114_640Father, what a wonderful list of things to both pursue and stay away from, for my own good! I love that You say to “flee the evil desires of youth” because not all desires of youth are evil. Being young doesn’t mean one is evil, just that one might be more susceptible to evil. When I was younger, it was more important to me to be ‘right’ so I would press my point and become involved in unproductive arguments. You refer to them as “foolish and stupid”. I agree. And have since learned the value of a soft word and gentle instruction.

Even so, You share that “…in the last days…people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth”. Paul saw this already in his day. I see it all around me.

It almost seems there is an entire generation described above. Paul says: “they will not get very far because…their folly will be clear to everyone”. Unfortunately, with an entire generation behaving like this, it appears as the norm. Television shows and media portray fathers, police, authority figures as idiots, not worthy of obedience or respect. More and more our political leaders and sports heroes turn out to be corrupt cheaters. Some of our children grew up knowing You and were taught Your values, but they have turned away from You in this permissive and deadly society.

But there are many who love You and follow You. Let them be role models and mentors to this generation. And let me live a godly life as an example. I seek and value You and Your characteristics, but sometimes pride and ungratefulness (as an example) rear their ugly heads in me.   I have Your Word to be my guide. Your Word is effective for “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. And it will “equip me for every good work”.

For all of us the answer is in Your Word, and IS Your Word. Keep it in the forefront of my mind as a guide. But also let me use it wisely in gently correcting and praying for others. Father, return this generation of self absorbed, materialistic, pleasure-seeking people to the godly values that will save them. They have been deceived. Open their eyes Lord, before it’s too late. Bring the Prodigal sons and daughters home. Amen

2 Timothy 2:22-3:17

Sept 29 Remember and Praise!

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Father, You looked down on the people You created, and what a disappointment! You saw them in their “sinful greed” and “willful ways”. Even when they sought You with fasting, it was not in earnest. And was not acceptable to You. You told them how to behave to be blessed. Yet they still did not respond as You had instructed.

Their sin separated them from You. And so You achieved salvation for them by Yourself.   “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says The Lord. My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips…from this time on and forever, says The Lord.”

Father, I wonder how I disappoint You when You look at me. I so often think of my own needs and wants before others, and I want things my own way. That sounds a lot like ‘sinful greed’ and ‘willful ways’. But because I am Yours, I have Your Spirit in me, and I have Your Word. The Scriptures tell me how to live, and the Spirit prompts me in the right direction, even when I stray. I am thankful that You do not give up on me.

You have been with me since my youth, giving me hope and confidence; helping me when I needed help, rescuing me when I needed saving. Now, “deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.” As I face things that seek to pull me away from the path of righteousness, my emotions are strained, my good intentions eroded, and my character taxed.   But I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

It is You, Father, Your power that will work in me and through me to enable me to achieve all You have purposed for me. So rather than focus on my troubles, I chose to focus on You! I believe Your Word and I trust Your Spirit. Father, even now, help me remember Your faithfulness to me. Help me recall the times when You interceded to protect me, when You made a way of escape for me, when You stayed with me in the hard times and got me through them with a vision or a song or an answer to prayer.

As I remember them one by one, I will sing and give You praise! I will recall and tell others of Your greatness, and Your goodness to me.

Thank You that You are “my rock of refuge, to which I can always go”.   Thank You that “You are my strong refuge”. Thank You for these Words You sent me through David. I can almost use them word for word to praise You. They so elegantly voice the praise and thanks I want to express. Thank You that You are my God. Amen

Isaiah 57:15-59:21; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 71: 1-24

Sept 9 Recognize Truth

O Father. I pray that I will not be “deceived by the serpent’s cunning as Eve was”, and that my “mind would not be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ.”

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The serpent used deception to lure Eve into sin. He approached her boldly, the better to distract her. He called into question what You had really said, the better to confuse her. He cunningly suggested that what You wanted for her was not enough; was even bad for her, the better to entrap her.

Father, help me avoid falling into whatever traps the evil one sets for me. Let me see through them; beyond the lure of the sound of his words, to the hook buried beneath. The answer to this ‘serpent speak’ is ‘God speak’. I need to be listening, really paying attention to all that You are saying to me. In Hebrew, the word is sh’ma. It means to listen so closely, so deeply, so diligently, that the words change the listener from the inside out. The meaning also incorporates a response to those words as being similar to that of a mother who recognizes her baby’s cry and drops everything to respond immediately to it. Father, let me sh’ma You, listen deeply and respond to You.

For my mind to be guarded enough so that I am “not led away”, I need to take some action myself. You give me, and every believer, armor: protection against the enemy. One item is the Helmet of Salvation. I believe that this helmet bears Your insignia so that all who see it will know I fight on Your side. And it protects not only my head, but my mind inside: my thoughts. In doing so, many lies the evil one would have me believe simply bounce off and never even enter my mind.

However, some lies are disguised, or they have a little bit of truth in them, and I listen to them.   But it is a twisted bit of truth, or a half truth. So before I accept it, I need to “take every thought captive to God”. This means I need to examine it and hold it up to Your truth. When I don’t, problems begin. Even the little things I accept that are not true can pull me away from a “pure and sincere devotion to Christ”. And I may not even realize it until I have strayed significantly off course.

So Father, help me remember to examine any thoughts and compare them to what You have told me. I will use Your Word as a plumb line.   That string with a metal weight at the end is pulled by gravity so that the resulting line is absolutely straight. Anything can be measured against this line to determine if it is ‘true’, or not.

Your Word is truth. Your Word is the absolute. Thank You for Your Word.   Thank You for the Helmet of Salvation. Thank You that when I sh’ma You, I will not be deceived by the serpent or led astray, away from You. Amen

II Corinthians 11:1-4

Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” 

“Everything must be fulfilled about Me that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

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Father, explain to me and open my mind so I can understand the Scriptures! The Scriptures You referred to here are the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. I was brought up referring to them as the Old Testament. Jews refer to these same books as The Tanakh. Made up of three parts: The Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim, the Torah is the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.   The Neviim are the Prophets, so the twelve books of the minor prophets and nine written by major Prophets. The Ketuvim are the books of wisdom, scrolls and history.

You explained to the disciples that You are the Messiah promised in these Scriptures. You are the God in both Testaments! You are God of the whole Bible!

So I need to be familiar with all parts to understand You fully.  Lord teach me from both, and help me see the blessing in the connections. So much of the meaning in the Old Testament is lost to me unless I learn about the Hebrew customs and language. When I see what You said and did in the New Testament, I miss the depth of meaning without the context of what came before.

You are part of the Trinity in Genesis 1. When You said “Let Us make man in our image…” it was plural; in Hebrew ‘Elohim’.   When the prophet Isaiah spoke it was You he saw who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace! He described You in his words when he said ‘a man of sorrows, familiar with pain, despised and rejected’. Zechariah saw that You would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, that You would die a violent death for all mankind. There are 351 prophecies in this Scripture that You fulfill.   And more yet to be fulfilled! How much more marvelous to know You as the Promise Keeper, the Prophecy Fulfiller! You are the One who speaks of the future, and has the power to bring it to pass!

The more I understand of who You are and all that You have done, the better I can know You. The more I know You, the more fully I can love You.   And the more I understand about prophecies yet to be fulfilled, the better prepared I can be to face the future, trusting in You as my Savior.

Thank You for being true to Your Word. Thank You that as I read and study, You reveal more and more of Yourself to me: my God in whom I trust! Amen

Luke 24:13-53

Apr 7 Your Strength Your Courage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

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Heavenly Father, thank You for those times I literally cried out to You for You to hear me and come quickly, and You did.

 

There have been nights like the Psalmist experienced, when in distress over circumstances, I sought You. I could not see a way out of or through my problems. And though I had gone to bed, sleep was far from me. I tried, but could not get my thoughts to be still. With each issue, another failure or complication seemed to pile on top, until I felt so overwhelmed I did not even know where to start to pray.

It was then that I remembered times in the past, when You spoke to me, encouraged me, lifted my emotional distress.   There were literally times when You gave me songs to sing, new melodies and words, to let me know You were there and things would be alright.

But this time, I did not feel that. I felt far from You. And I wondered if this could be the end? Could it be that this would be the time of my undoing? Had I finally reached a point where You would not come and rescue me, but simply take me home to be with You in heaven?

That actually sounded like it would be the answer to all my troubles. And while I still feel You have shown me I have much to do before I die, there was a sense of relief in that thought. That’s when it hit me – this thought was NOT from You. It was from the evil one who would like nothing better than to sideline me or take me out of the game altogether! If satan can get anyone to believe the lie that there is no hope, it immobilizes and freezes the. Can even paralyze a Christian’s faith.

So I decided I would begin praying – not about the circumstances that were overwhelming me, but any scripture I could remember: The Lord’s prayer.   the 23rd Psalm. “I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.” “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” “Jesus wept.” “The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory!”

The more I quoted Your Word in prayer, the more calm I felt. Soon I fell asleep.

Thank You Lord, for sending Your calm. Thank You for sending Your peace. Thank You for sending sleep. Thank You that in the morning, things didn’t look as bad as they had the night before! Thank You that in the morning I could see resources and solutions I could not the night before. In taking those steps back towards You, I can feel I am at Your side once again. It was not You who had moved. But in believing a lie, I had.

“Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display your power among the peoples. With Your mighty arm, You redeemed me!” Amen

Psalm 77:1-15; Matthew 6:9-15; Psalm 23; Luke 10:27; John 3:16; John 11:35; Deuteronomy 20:4