Tag: heart

Aug 16 Your eyes, Your ears, Your heart

shield-441403_640Father, thank You that I have a permanent righteousness that comes from You; so I can know that when You talk about “the righteous” in scripture, I am included.   And Your promises to them are true for me.

First of all, “Your eyes are on me,” is a powerful deterrent.  Realizing that You are watching helps me remember that I am accountable for my actions.

You instruct me to “keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies.”  And since I know You are watching, that is enough to stop me in my tracks, and make me think before I speak or act.  If I would think to impress someone or sway them with an exaggeration or lie, Your Holy Spirit reminds me that You know when I lie.  And I would have to live with not only the consequences, but also conviction and guilt if I proceed.

It’s so easy to step into sin, to follow a broad path that others around me are taking without a thought.  But You tell me to “turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.”  You remind me to be intentional about doing good.  And challenge me to think about what I’m doing, regardless of what others might be doing.

When doing good, it’s not likely that I will do what is evil.  So protection from evil is built in to doing good and seeking peace.

But also, “Your eyes are on me” is an awesome reassurance!  I know that You see everything!  Nothing that happens to me is beyond Your notice.   And You will rescue and defend me when I need help.

Your ears are attentive to my cry.”   You are as close as a whisper.  And when I call, “You hear me; You deliver me from all my troubles.”  Does this mean I will never have difficulties?  No.  But I will always know that You are with me.  That You will deliver me and give me Your peace.

“You are close to the brokenhearted.”  Oh Father, I have been there.  Circumstances in my life that have been the result of illnesses, accidents, injustice, evil – even my own ignorance or pride – break my heart and bring me to my knees.  But in it all, I know You are here and that You care for me.  You will help me through, no matter what.  You will lend me Your strength.

Thank You Father, that I have these assurances of Your attention, of Your presence, of Your power to save me.  That is all I need.  Amen

Psalm 34:11-22

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Aug 3 Your Word changes my heart

ygjyfwmec68-david-bealeOh Father.  Today in Your Word, I am told that while “the men did their work faithfully” at the orders of twenty-six year old King Josiah, they “found the Book of the Law in the Temple of the Lord.”  It had been lost, ignored throughout the eighteen years Josiah had been king, and during the reign of his evil father.

When it was brought before the young king, he heard the Word of the Law and his heart was responsive as he understood its meaning.  He humbled himself before You and sought Your will.

Lord, I wonder if today, Your Word has again gotten “lost in the house of the Lord.“ The church is Your house, and it has Your Word, yet are they ignoring it?  Are they teaching it to their people?  Or do they pick and choose what they like and go on with their lives as they want.

Father, I pray that Your believers, Your church, will once again “hear” Your Word.  And that they would understand what they read with a responsive heart.  Father, let them see where “they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”  And be humbled and change where they are not doing all You command.

I also understand that my body is Your “temple.”   Don’t let Your Word be lost in me!  Open my ears to truly “hear” all that Your Word says.  Even the parts that may not sit easily with me.  Even the parts  I wish I didn’t have to obey.

Make my heart responsive to what I hear from You.  Let me be like Josiah, and be humbled and weep before You when I see where I have not been obedient.

Show me how to live by Your Word, with a heart that is responsive to and humbled by what I have heard.  Amen

2 Chronicles 34:1-33

Apr 19 Only God can make a tree

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

Oh Father, I am sick of waiting for some people to make good on their promises.

The delays that come are hard to take.  Even when I can understand there may be a good and logical reason behind postponements, it doesn’t make the waiting any easier.  And when no reason is apparent, the frustration builds up and I literally feel ill.

This happens time and time again when I put my hope in people.  The wondering if they will come through, the anxiousness of not knowing when things can be planned due to the uncertainty, the anticipation of desiring something but having it drag on indefinitely – all these things bring mental exhaustion and emotional collapse!

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

camperdown-elm-316360_640When I think of all a tree provides, it is comforting.

A tree is beautiful to look at.  It is sturdy and provides shelter to sit or stand under or hide behind.  It’s boughs and leaves give shade from the heat.  I can lean up against it, climb it, sit in it, hide in it.

Depending on the type, it’s leaves may be a balm of healing, or its fruit may be nourishment.   A tree is life giving and life sustaining.

This verse paints a beautiful picture of Your provision in a world where there can be so much disappointment.

Thank You Father, that all Your promises are true.

You promise salvation and You deliver.  Your mercy and grace are renewed every day.  You always forgive and never leave me.  All this is according to Your Word, Your promise.

Father, I place my trust, my hope in You.  If I have hopes or longings that are not honoring to You, please remove them.  Do not let me become sick waiting or hoping for something that is not right for me.  Show me if I need to move my focus or change my perspective.

When I need to wait on Your plan or purpose, help me wait patiently, purposefully and prayerfully.  And when my longings are fulfilled, remind me to thank You and give You the credit.

For all You have already done, and for all You will do, thank You Father.  Amen

Proverbs 13:12

Mar 5 All I am, All the time

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Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That is a mouthful!

 

The Greek words from this scripture where You quote the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today.  But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord.  There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking.  I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.

When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

  “I am a child of God” John 1:12

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.”  Colossians 3:12

“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul.  That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word.  So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seek “godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  The wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind, and the weight of pros and cons are only understood by a limited human viewpoint.

Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions.  As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination.  Help me realize when my strength is enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?!  It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own.  I will never be able to love You this perfectly.

Fortunately, “with God, all things are possible!”  So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory.  This is how I desire to be obedient.  Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Dec 24 Search my heart

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Father, it is the condition of my heart that You are concerned with.  Through Zechariah, You told the people of Bethel that it was not simply the observance of anniversaries, holy festivals, feasts and fasting, which pleased You.

While it is true that those things can be done as acts of worship to honor You, the Lord Almighty, they can also be done for the sake of the activity.  You alone know the hearts of the people involved; whether they participate to please themselves or to honor You.

Father, today help me examine myself.  Search my heart, look at my motives.  Do not let me simply “go through the motions.”  Fill my spirit!

When I praise You, I will do it with a full and sincere heart.

When I give money or time or energy, I will do it gladly as an act of worship.

When I read Your Word, I will do it with an open mind and spirit to hear and receive what You have to say to me.

When I feast or fast, I will do it not for the recognition of others, but for an audience of One – You.  And whether I am celebrating Christmas or Passover I will do it with sensitivity to the spiritual meaning, not just what history or the world has made it to be.

Father, I acknowledge and thank You for Your deeds.  I celebrate and trust the way You do things.  I don’t always understand, because Your ways are not my ways – but I trust them.  And I cannot wait until every knee bows to You, and every tongue confesses that You, indeed, are Lord!  Amen!

Zechariah 7:1-14

Dec 20 Stir up Your Spirit in me

Stir up Holy Spirit

Father, I wonder if I have been like the people Haggai is speaking to?

I believe You placed in me a desire to be part of something bigger than myself, something monumental, that will glorify and honor You.  But it is something I will never be able to do on my own.

You spoke to these people, telling them “You have planted much, but harvested little.  You eat, but never have enough.  You drink, but never have your fill.”  I get the message.  Although effort is being made, until You are “in” it, only little will be accomplished.

It reminds me of an old song where the refrain goes “little is much when God is in it.”

You made little of what these people did because their hearts were wrong.  But here comes the hope!  They listened to Your Word, and obeyed!  

“I am with you declares the Lord.  So the Lord stirred up the spirit” of the people so they would accomplish much!

O Father, stir up Your Spirit in me!  Let me be empowered with Your blessing!

You told the people “the silver is mine and the gold is mine.”  I understand the tools and gifts and talents I will be using are Yours.  But what You can accomplish is incredible, indescribable, uncontainable!  Far beyond anything I can do alone.

You told them “From this day on I will bless you.”  Father, let me live in Your blessing.  If I have been consumed with building my own house while disregarding Yours, then change my heart and my focus.

Show me through Your Spirit stirred up in me, what to do.  Father, use me like Zerubbabel or Joshua or one of the remnant.  Help me not to fear, but to “Be strong…and work.  For You are with me.”   Amen

Haggai 1:1-2:9

Dec 12 a famine of the Word

Famine hunger

Father, You showed Amos two punishments, judgments for Israel and then said “This will not happen.”  You relented, yielded, turned away from those judgments in favor of another.

What a heart You have for Your people that You withheld the punishment they deserved out of Your love.  You knew they would not be able to bear up under it or survive.

How often have You spared me from the punishment my words and actions, my sins deserve?  No doubt, daily.  Were You not my Sovereign Lord, I would not survive.  Thank You for Your mercy.

You told Amos “The days are coming when I will send a famine thorough the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Words of the Lord.”

This was certainly fulfilled in the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, when no further prophetic word was given.  But it can also be true of our world today.  Right now, I can enjoy the freedom to worship You, to study Your Word, to attend church.  But even now, the reading and public speaking of Your Word is being called ‘Hate Speech.’

Hate Speech is said to offend, threaten, or insult groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.  Many universities, for years the havens of “free speech” have adopted codes prohibiting speech that offends any group based on the traits listed above.

While the intent is good, to protect people groups from racial slurs, intimidation, and threats, it is becoming more popular to also outlaw scripture and categorize it as “hate speech.”  Already Christian speakers on radio have been told to watch what they say about topics that are considered politically incorrect, lest they lose their funding and rights to broadcast.

Father, give the leaders of my country godly wisdom to know where to set the limits of public broadcasting, so that people are protected, but religious freedoms are not restricted.  Don’t let us throw out the baby with the bath water.

There may come a time in my country, where believers have to go underground, smuggle Your Word, and study it in secret.   Father, help me hide Your Word in my heart so I have a storehouse of scripture for times of famine.  Help me share what I know of Your Word with others so they can be fed on Your Word and not hunger or thirst, and turn to other gods.  While I can, let me feast on all that You show me in Your Word.  Let me never go hungry.

Thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for the freedom I have to enjoy it and worship You.  Thank You that I can trust my future to You.  I “put my hope in You both now and forevermore.”  Amen

Amos 7:1-6; 8:11-12; Psalm 131

 

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 4 Apply my heart to what You teach

Wisdom

Father, I do desire to have Your wisdom. So I will heed the words Solomon wrote.

“A good name is better than fine perfume.” I want my name to stand for loyalty, honor, noble character and honesty.

So help me act in a way that when people hear my name, they will think well of me. And they will know that You are my God and that I am Your servant.

“Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city.” Wisdom is greater than power. So when a wise person corrects me, let me learn from it. Let me reject pride that would keep me in ignorance. Help me embrace patience. Do not let me be quickly provoked, or waste time yearning for ‘the good old days’.

Let me not simply seek the approval of fools. Instead, help me turn and apply wisdom to the present circumstances of my life. Rather than be a fool, I want to recognize and learn from wisdom. Let it shelter me, preserve me, and give me an advantage.

Father, in this wisdom, let me be obedient to the authorities You put over me. Give me a wise heart so I will know the proper way to act at the proper time.

There are many things that only You know and I will never understand or see the reason behind it all. That is as it should be. But regardless, let me always seek the way of Your wisdom.

Help me “pay attention and turn my ear to the sayings of the wise; apply my heart to what You teach…so that my trust will be in the Lord”.   For You are “Great and most worthy of praise…You are my God forever and ever; You will be my guide even to the end.” Amen

Ecclesiastes 7:1-19; Psalm 48:1-14; Proverbs 22:17-19

Aug 16 Your eyes, Your ears, Your heart

shield-441403_640

Father, thank You that I have a permanent righteousness that comes from You; so that I can know when You talk about “the righteous” in scripture, I am included.   And Your promises to them are true for me.  It’s like You are speaking right to me.

“Your eyes are on me.” What a powerful deterrent that is, realizing that You are watching me. It helps me remember that I am accountable to You for my actions.

You instruct me to “keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking lies”. And since I know You are watching me, that thought is enough to sometimes stop me in my tracks, and make me think before I speak or act. If I would think to impress someone or sway them to my argument with an exaggeration or lie, Your Holy Spirit reminds me that You know when I lie. And I would have to live with not only the consequences, but also that conviction and guilt if I proceeded with it.

You tell me to “turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it.” It is so easy to step into sin, to follow a broad path that others around me are taking without a thought. But knowing “Your eyes are on me” challenges me to think about what I’m doing, regardless of what others are doing.

You remind me to be intentional about doing good. When doing good, it is not likely that I will do what is evil. So protection is built in to doing good and seeking peace.

But “Your eyes are on me” is also an awesome reassurance! I know that You see everything! Nothing that happens to me is beyond Your notice.   And You will rescue and defend me when I need help.

Your ears are attentive to my cry.”   You are as close as a whisper. And when I call, “You hear me; You deliver me from all my troubles”.   Does this mean I will never have difficulties? No. But I will always know that You are with me. That You will deliver me and give me Your peace.

“You are close to the brokenhearted.” Oh Father, I have been there. Circumstances in my life that have been the result of illnesses, accidents, injustice, evil – even my own ignorance or pride – they break my heart and bring me to my knees. But in it all, I know that again, You are here. You are with me. You will help me through, no matter what. You will lend me Your strength.

Thank You Father, that I have these assurances of Your attention, of Your presence, of Your power to save me. It is all I need. Amen

Psalm 34:11-22

Aug 6 I sing! for thanks, for hope, for help

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Father, “To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”   They have no hope. And see no chance for rescue.

Lord, my life seems easy enough. I have what I need to get from day to day. I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I have more freedoms than most people in the world. And a safe place to live with family and friends who care about me. But when I think about some of the people I love, there is pain. There are those I don’t believe know You, and it grieves my heart.

So here is where “I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help.” Father when I think of mistakes I’ve made with people who I love, I am filled with remorse. I cannot go back and “undo” what I have done. And I wonder and worry if anything I did or said, set them on a path away from You.

O Father, forgive me. If there is a way I can make it right, show me. Take away this guilt I live with, and replace it with something from You that will heal and help them. Show me how to say, what to say, when to say; or what to do to unravel any knots I may have been part of in their lives.

Soften their hearts to Your truth, and to Yourself and to the call of the Holy Spirit.   Turn them away from the darkness they live in, some, without even realizing it. Bring them into the light of Your love. Father, this is the deepest desire of my heart: that those who You have entrusted to me as family and friends, will all know You as Savior, and be together in heaven with You and with me.

It is something only You can do. Only You call. And only You save. And I will sing: “Praise to the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy! The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks in song”. Amen

Psalm 28:1-9

July 19 Walk Your path of Righteousness

adventure-1846095_640Father, David proclaimed “Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things”. He was amazed and pleased at the abundance of gifts the people poured out for the building of Your Temple. And he acknowledged “Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.” I completely agree.

Like the Israelites, teach me to be generous with all You have given me: money, energy, time, words, music, talents, spiritual gifts. Help me spend myself on You and Your purposes and Your people. David prayed for the people, and I echo “keep this desire in my heart forever, and keep my heart loyal to You…give me wholehearted devotion to keep Your commands.”

Since I have Your righteousness, Lord, help me behave that way. Remind me to speak the truth from my heart. If I open my mouth to speak a lie or to deceive, shut it. Show me how to speak the truth in love, and not be hurtful to people in the name of ‘honesty’.

Help me treat my neighbor with decency and fairness, not cheating or taking advantage.   Keep me away from malicious gossip. Give me the fortitude to turn away from those who are evil and untrustworthy, even if society embraces them or it seems it would benefit me. Let me truly love and support those who honor and respect You and Your values.

Help me be true to my word, even when it costs me. Teach me to be smart with my finances, to be generous, and not extort interest from the needy. Strengthen me so I am not tempted by bribes.

Psalm 15 promises that those “who do these things will never be shaken”. Father, You give me solid ground to stand on. Help me be unwavering and not overwhelmed by forces that seek to undo me.   With Your help I can stand strong, and not be moved. Thank You. Amen

I Chronicles 29:1-30; Psalm 15:1-5

June 24 You are my Rescuer

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 5 All I am, All the time

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Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” That is a mouthful!

 

 

 

The Greek words from this scripture quoting the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today. But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord. There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking. I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.   When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

“I am a child of God” John 1:12

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12

“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul. That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word. So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seek “godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”; whereas the wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind and often the weight of pros and cons as they are understood by a limited human viewpoint. Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions. As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination. Help me realize when my strength is enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?! It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own. I will never be able to love You this perfectly. Fortunately, “with God, all things are possible!” So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory. This is how I desire to be obedient. Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Jan 29 All things are Possible

possible-410241_1280Father, thank You for the example of the young man of great wealth who came asking Jesus how to be saved. He was seeking salvation by means of things he could do. Jesus named several commandments and the man acknowledged he had done those things. But he pressed on, “What do I still lack?”

When Jesus responded for him to sell all his possessions and follow Him, it wasn’t the money He needed. It was to be first in the man’s heart. But the man misunderstood and went away sad.

Father, I understand that it is not outward behaviors that earn me salvation. What You desire refers to the condition of my heart – whether You are my first love, my King, Messiah, Savior. I can never be good enough or totally free from sin. So You came and died on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin, providing salvation for me and everyone else in the world who would accept this free gift.

That is why when the disciples asked “Who then can be saved ?” , the answer was, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” You have made the salvation of the world possible

“You are the King of glory. You are strong and mighty. You are mighty in battle. You are the Lord God Almighty.” And I am in awe of You. Thank You for drawing near to me. Thank You that in Your power, You care for and love each one of Your creations. I praise You that in Your unfathomable greatness, You are a personal Father who leans down know me intimately. I am amazed by You.

Matthew 19:16-30: Psalm 24:8

 

Dec 24 Search my heart

Father, it is the condition of my heart that You are concerned with. Through Zechariah, You told the people of Bethel that it was not simply the observance of anniversaries, holy festivals, feasts and fasting, which pleased You. It is true that those things can be done as acts of worship to honor You, the Lord Almighty. But they can also be done for the sake of the activity. You alone know the hearts of the people involved; whether they participate to please themselves or to honor You.

box-1373480_1920

Father, today help me examine myself. Search my heart, look at my motives. Do not let me simply ‘go through the motions’. Fill my spirit!

When I praise You, I will do it with a full and sincere heart.

When I give money or time or energy, I will do it gladly as an act of worship.

When I read Your Word, I will do it with an open mind and spirit to hear and receive what You have to say to me.

When I feast or fast, I will do it not for the recognition of others, but for an audience of One – You. And whether I am celebrating Christmas or Passover I will do it with sensitivity to the spiritual meaning, not just what history or the world has made it to be.

Father, I acknowledge and thank You for Your deeds. I celebrate and trust the way You do things. I don’t always understand, because Your ways are not my ways – but I trust them. And I cannot wait until every knee bows to You, and every tongue confesses that You, indeed, are Lord! Amen!

Zechariah 7:1-14

Nov 23 Mold me, make me holy

Father, You gave Ezekiel a recap of the physical sacrifices that were to be offered to You, when and where and how in specific detail. For You are a Holy God and the offerings and sacrifices provided atonement and consecration for Your people then.

free-1785964_640Now comes Peter writing to remind believers that now they “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices…” The Israelites had to go to a specific place, the Temple, and have their sacrifices presented by priests. But now believers’ bodies are the ‘temple’ and believers, themselves, are the priests. And the sacrifices offered are the spiritual sacrifices of praise, and a contrite heart.

You are Holy because of who You are. But believers are made holy not by the sacrifices of goats and lambs with flour and oil; but “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”. Believers “purify yourselves by obeying the truth…born again…through the living and enduring Word of God”.

Further, Peter tells me to be holy in all I do: to “prepare [my] mind for action; be self-controlled”. And “as an obedient child, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance”. “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”

opening clay.jpgHow do I do this?

Psalm 119 answers this, and so it has become my prayer. “Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of Your commands; for there I find delight.

Turn my heart toward Your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.”

Father, let me live and walk and worship according to these Words. Let me be taught by You. Break down whatever habits or tendencies I have that war against Your precepts or keep me from following Your path wholeheartedly. Enrich me through Your unfailing love. I lift my hands to You. Amen

Ezekiel 45:13-46:24; I Peter 1:13-2:10; Psalm 119:33-48

Oct 3 Your Presence

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Father, be near me today. I know You have already promised never to leave me, but let me feel You especially near today. It helps me “not be anxious about anything”. When I feel You near, I rest in Your protection and in Your presence.

 

I talk to You more about what is on my mind. If I have concerns, or questions, or praises or thanks to voice, I communicate more when I feel You near me.

It also helps me focus my thoughts on good things. Paul said: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”. That is so much easier to do when I can sense Your presence.

No matter what I am going through, when I am conscious of Your company, I am calmer. Though it doesn’t make sense to others, I can feel at peace even in the worst of circumstances. Your peace, gives me the ability to rise over and above my current condition and not let it bother me as much. I am able to transcend events and situations with a new perspective and a greater understanding from You.

It is as if the peace You offer creates a wall around my heart and mind that tempers my thoughts and emotions, and so my responses and actions. You guard me. And bless me with something I can clearly see that others who do not know You, don’t have.

Thank You Father, for this blessing. For being with me. For showing me how to recognize Your presence. For allowing me Your peace. Amen

Philippians 4:1-23

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

Mar 5 All I am…All the time

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Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” That is a mouthful!

The Greek words from this scripture quoting the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today. But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord. There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking. I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.   When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

“I am a child of God” John 1:12

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12

“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul. That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word. So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seek “godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”; whereas the wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind and often the weight of pros and cons as they are understood by a limited human viewpoint. Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions. As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination. Help me realize when my strength is enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?! It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own. I will never be able to love You this perfectly. Fortunately, “with God, all things are possible!” So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory. This is how I desire to be obedient. Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Dec 24 Search my own heart

 

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Father, it is the condition of my heart that You are concerned with.  Through Zechariah, You told the people of Bethel that it was not simply the observance of anniversaries, holy festivals, feasts and fasting, which pleased You.  It is true that those things can be done as acts of worship to honor You, the Lord Almighty.  But they can also be done for the sake of the activity.  You alone know the hearts of the people involved; whether they participate to please themselves or to extol You.

Doing these things with the wrong motives does not please You.  You would rather see Your people:  “Judge fairly, and show mercy and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners or the poor.  Do not plot evil against one another.”

Father, today, I examine myself.  I will search my own heart, look at my motives, and see where I have fallen short.  Father, do not let me simply ‘go through the motions’.  But inspire my spirit!  When I praise You, I will do it with a full and sincere heart.  When I give money or time or energy, I will do it gladly as an act of worship.  When I read Your Word, I will do it with an open mind and spirit to hear and receive what You have to say to me.  When I feast or fast, I will do it not for the recognition of others, but for an audience of One – You.  And whether I celebrate Passover or Christmas, I will do it with sensitivity to the spiritual meaning, not just what history or the world has made it to be.

Father, I love that someone put a melody to the song of Moses and of the Lamb.  It has assisted me in memorizing that verse, and allowed me to use it to give You praise the way it is done in heaven.  But rather than just singing a song, I want to paraphrase to see the meaning so I can understand and agree with each part:

All that You do is great and marvelous!  Amen!

Your character is just and true.  Absolutely!

Every living being on the earth should be in reverent awe of and honor You!

Only You are truly holy

When the time comes that all You have done is revealed, every nation will bow down before You and worship You!

Father, I say an emphatic Amen after each of these statements!  I acknowledge and thank You for Your deeds.  I celebrate and trust the way You do things.  I don’t always understand, because Your ways are not my ways – but I trust them.  And I cannot wait until every knee bows to You, and every tongue confesses that You, indeed, are Lord!  Amen!

Zechariah 6:1-7:14; Revelation 15:1-8