Tag: help

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

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“Shout for joy…

Worship with gladness…

Come before Him with joyful songs…

Enter …with thanksgiving”

 

Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father.  And some days it is easy.  When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings.

But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship.  It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for.  And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things.

When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness.  When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help.

When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work.

Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that.   I rejoice that You are my God!  That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in!

I thank You that You have given me friends.  And that I can pray with them and for them.  I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by.  Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it.

Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home.  Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I praise You that Your power supersedes any other.  And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You.  I can still worship with gladness and have joy!  Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

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Oct 21 A friend in need – have one – be one

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Father, You could have picked up Jeremiah and set him in a safe place far away from those who accused him and sought his life.  You could have lifted him out of that cistern Yourself!

He already had Your promise: “Do not be terrified…they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.”   But You didn’t give the details of what that rescue would look like.

Father, I seek to be obedient to all You tell me to do.  But sometimes, even acting honorably, I have been misunderstood.

Lord, when I am accused wrongly, bring those who will act on my behalf.  Like Ebed-Melek did for Jeremiah, let there be those who will support, defend, and help me.

Also, Father, use me.

Let me act like Ebed-Melek, defending others who You have sent to do Your work.   Spur me to action when I hear of wrongs.  Show me how to help, being commanding and compassionate as he was.

He didn’t just drop a rope, but interceded with authorities, got clothing for padding, and brought help to lift Jeremiah out of the mud-bottomed cistern.

Help me Lord to be trusting in trials; that You will send help.  And give me courage to help those who need it.    Amen

Jeremiah 1:17,19; 37:1-38:13

Oct 13 I need Your help

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

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

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

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

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

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

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

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

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

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

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Sept 13 Even in trials

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Father, whenever I experience trouble let me be like David is here.

He is being hunted for his life, yet his words vacillate between his trouble, his faith in You, and praise for You.

He has not forgotten the trial, but his focus is more on You than it.

Lord, there are times when I too cry out for Your mercy and “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.”

There, I know I am safe from any and every trouble that befalls me. You cover me from any danger with Your wings that offer complete and absolute protection. I know I can trust in Your limitless strength and care.

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

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

But all these things are in Your hands. None of them are beyond your help and influence. No matter the enemy, no matter the plot they have set against me, ”my heart is steadfast” in You.

So like David, I can pray. “I will sing and make music” and praise You. I praise You that there is no other power above You. I praise You for being Sovereign in all things. I praise You that nothing can thwart the plans You have made for me or anyone else.

Father, You are the Lord Most High. There is nothing that can outdo, out power, or outlast You. There is no one as faithful as You. So I choose to put my focus on You.

I praise and thank You with every breath I take. I choose to breathe in Your peace, Your comfort, Your wisdom, Your love. And I breathe out praises and thanks to the One: Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Glory, Highly Exalted, my God and my King. And I sing it!  Especially in trials. Amen

Psalm 57:1-11

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

Father, Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”  And it seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

Just because my life belongs to You doesn’t mean it will be all sunshine and lollipops. Because I live in a fallen world, and because there is an evil one, and even because I am flesh, there are opportunities for and occurrences of hardship. Some caused by my own mistakes and sin.

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And although I face challenges, temptations and trials, You have assured me You are always with me, and You will make a way for me.

It reminds me of a piece of framed art I saw once with the words of a poem by an unknown author. The beauty and the security of the promise in the poem struck me.

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through.
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Father, when I am hard-pressed, make me stronger. When perplexed, light my way with Your truth. When I am persecuted or struck down, raise me up in Your strength. Let all these things in my life bring You glory.

Thank You for Your grace and help. Thank You that You never leave me. That You will always love me. And that I will always be Yours. Amen

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 27 Help me help and be helped

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Dear Father, everyone has people in their lives who are weak and need help. Help me be aware of those You have placed in my life for me to help.

Sometimes there seem to be so many I am overwhelmed and end up doing nothing, or their needs are so great I feel that the little I can do will not make a difference.

And there are those who take advantage, pretending to be in need when they are not. I rely on You, Lord, to show me what I can do and where I can help. And even if I only do something small it can make a difference in someone’s life.

Father, when I think of You and Your immense power, I am the weak one. So I ask for Your protection. I cannot deal with things more powerful than me; preserve my life. I can see some traps or obstacles but many are invisible. Yet I can trust You to know when I need Your help, even if I don’t know that I do.

Thank You for being there for me when I can see my need and call on You. And thank You for being there for me when I don’t even know I am in need.

Father, my foes are many. Because I live in a fallen world, there are disease and disaster, man’s inhumanity to man, and the evil one lurks seeking to destroy Your believers. In all these things, only You can protect. Thank You that You are my strong deliverer who rescues and restores.   Thank You that You will not let my enemies triumph.

Thank You that You are from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen!

Psalm 41:1-3, 13

Aug 22 Help me stand strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You Father.  Amen

Job 4:1-7:21

 

Aug 15 God is in control

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“No temptation has seized you that is not common to man. And God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 

Father, this is a verse You have made personal in my life over and over again. What a great assurance that there is nothing I can be tempted with or have to face, that hasn’t been faced before by someone else somewhere.

Your Word tells me “There is nothing new under the sun.”   And although some of the specifics or details change over the generations, the temptation boils down to the same thing, the same weaknesses, the same sin.

In this, You reassure me that You are faithful. It is not a matter of opinion or feeling. It is a fact of Your identity – who You are, how You are. It cannot be changed.

Another unchanging truth is that You’re in control. You have the power, the authority, the sovereignty to take charge of any situation, any circumstance. And while I do not always understand why some things happen, why they are allowed into my life; I choose to trust that You know better than me. I trust that You can see all the way into eternity, and know what You are doing.

And in that faithfulness and sovereignty, You set a limit on how far I will be tempted. The hard part here, the part that is so worrisome for me; is that what You know I can bear, is often much more than I think I can bear. And definitely, more than I want to bear.

So it is a challenge to remind myself that since You created me, You know me better than I know myself. And in that, there is a peace I can rely on.

I have heard, that the strength of a ship is only proven in the storm.   And that the beauty of music produced by a piano, is only possible by the 39,000 pounds of pressure applied to the strings!

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So, stress can provide what is needed for proving the strength and beauty within to be shown without.

When I am tempted, and I notice You didn’t say “if I am tempted”, You have promised a way of escape so I can stand up under it. The Greek word “hupomeno” used here means to “bear up under”. So the weight will not crush me. You will give me a way to persevere and endure.

Thank You Father that others have endured whatever I am to go through. Thank You that Your character of faithfulness is sure, and Your control is indisputable. I praise You that You direct Your faithfulness towards me, and that You know me personally, and so well, that You set the limit of my circumstances.

Thank You that I am assured, that no matter what, You will provide a way for me to endure. Only Your love would protect me like that. I am so blessed by knowing You. And by knowing I can trust You, in all things. No matter what. Amen

I Corinthians 10:13

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 26 Praying Psalm 20

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Your Word in Psalms today is a wonderful prayer. “May You answer me when I am in distress”.   Thank You Lord, that I can call on You any time. You are never too busy to hear my cry for help. And there is no kind of distress that You cannot handle.

You can help me when I am physically ill, hurt, weak, or weary.   You can handle it when I am in an emotional or psychological state of anxiety, sadness, depression, worry, fear, or grief. You can uplift me when I am in spiritual turmoil or confusion or when I am feeling tempted.

“May Your Name protect me.” Father, there is great power in Your name. Yahweh! Jehovah! Jesus! Almighty God! El Shaddai! Adonai! Your name reflects Your character: who You are and Your attributes. There is such power and reverence in Your name, some even avoid saying it at all, in order to not take it in vain. They write or speak ‘HaShem’ which in Hebrew means ‘The Name’, referring to You alone. May HaShem protect me!

“May You send me help from the sanctuary and grant me support from Zion.” From wherever I am, You can send help from wherever You are.  Your help is better than any the world can offer. It can deliver me from anything.   It can help me bear up under any circumstance or oppression.

“May You remember all my sacrifices and accept my burnt offerings.” The sacrifices You desire are obedience and a contrite or repentant heart. A burnt offering is one that is offered up totally. It is completely consumed in the fire. May my life be entirely and wholly offered to You. May my words, actions, and attitudes all honor You.

“May You give me the desires of my heart and make all my plans succeed.” Father, make Your desires mine. Take away any desires I have that are not God-honoring. Help me see Your plan and join You there. And within this framework Father, “grant all my requests.”

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but I trust in the Name of the Lord my God.” What is considered power and might in the world are worthless compared to Your power and might. I will not place my trust in politicians, or leaders, or in any person. I will not trust my future to a job or a paycheck. I will not find my sense of security in fame or position, good looks or good health.

But I will rely on You, trust in You, depend on You. For You alone are trustworthy. I will shout for joy when You bring victory into my life!   And glorify Your Name! Amen

Psalm 20:1-9

July 9 You are my Refuge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 7:1-17

 

June 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

June 3 Jehovah-Jireh = My Provider

office-594132_640Lord, thank You for this reminder to commemorate Your works in my life by writing about it.

Whether in a song like David, or poem, or letter form in a journal, it is important that I not only give You recognition, credit, and thanks, but that I leave a record for others to see and know of Your involvement in my life. So that others know how You love, rescue and deliver those who belong to You.

I may not fight battles with six-fingered giants, but there are forces acting against me today. In this fight, You are also my rock which I can rely on as immovable to stand on or hide behind. You are my fortress where I can find protection within.

You are the One by whose power I am delivered from the enemy. You are my shield that deflects the arrows and blows aimed at me. You are the source of my strength, and the place I can pull back to, to find rest and refuge. Your power and strength save me.

Thank You that I can call on You when I need help and have become exhausted. Thank You that You are faithful and trustworthy and come to my aid. As the Psalmist says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.” I can look to the beautiful, often snow capped mountains where I live. Their beauty and stability speak to me of Your strength and faithfulness.

But the Psalmist wrote this to be a song all the Israelites would sing either as they made their way up to Jerusalem from their hometowns, lower in elevation; or as they ascended the steps on the south wall of the Temple mount. This was Mount Moriah, where You blessed Abraham and provided the ram to sacrifice in place of his son.

As the Israelites looked up to the hills of Jerusalem, towards the Temple, they would be thinking of You, the offerings they brought, and the forgiveness, celebration and protection they would experience there.

Thank You that I am also reminded You watch over me, that You are my shade and my protector. Thank You that You keep me from harm and watch over my life. I am so grateful. Amen

2 Samuel 21:15-22:20; Psalm 121:1-8

 

May 30 You are Hope and Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14 Choose Obedience

photo by Good Hand Security products

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Dear Father, let me learn the lesson of Saul from this passage of scripture. Let me remember that to obey is better than sacrifice.

Father, what You want is obedience: meaning I put what You tell me above all else.

 

I hold true to Your Word no matter what other people think or say. I do not bow to peer pressure. I do not change what You have sent me to do because I am afraid.

Saul weakened in the face of the opinion and pressure of the people, and did not obey completely. He even reasoned a way to convince himself he had indeed obeyed. But the prophet Samuel saw the truth of it and confronted him. Saul’s disobedience cost him the leadership of Israel. He would soon be replaced as king.

I need to remember that it is not how often I pray, or whether I make monetary donations to ministries, or give my time in mission work. The question is whether I have done what You have told me.

Help me hear You clearly, Lord. And empower me to be strong enough to follow through completely. Give me whatever I need, so I can stand in the end, and say I was truly obedient. Amen

I Samuel 15:1-35

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

Mar 25 Help me see

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Lord thank You for these pictures in scripture about the ability to see truth for what it is and to understand the meaning behind being a follower of Christ.

 

Your first picture reminds me that although a blind person who cannot see can help another blind person, there are blocks they will both stumble over due to their lack of vision. Yet, how many times have I relied on the advice and guidance of another person, who is ‘in the dark’ as much as I am when it comes to seeing things from Your perspective? Rather than coming to You, I seek help from another ‘blind’ person who is in no better spiritual position than I am.

Interesting that Your next ‘illustration’ has to do with vision too. Contrasting when I go to another for help, this next one shows that when I try and ‘help’ someone else by fixing a problem I see in their life. There’s a good chance I have bigger problems in my own life that should be a priority for my attention. Only after my own bigger problems are dealt with can I see well enough to be of help to anyone else, should they ask.

In both these examples, my own lack of vision blinds me to the truth. I need to remember to look to You for guidance, answers and perspective on issues in my life. And before I look too closely at a friend’s life and shortcomings, I need to examine myself. And then, again, seek Your help in correcting the issues I find there.

Another example You give has to do with how I act on what You tell me when I turn to You for the ‘vision’ I lack. It is not enough to simply call on You for guidance. It is also imperative that I listen for Your response and do what You say! Otherwise, all I do is based on my own, unreliable, limited understanding and will fold in on me like a house built with no foundation.

Father, I desire to obey You so my efforts won’t be wasted; so what I do has a firm foundation, and will stand solid against any difficulty or challenge that comes. And the challenges will come. You are the solid foundation I can put my trust in and gain confidence from. Open my eyes of understanding. Do not let me turn to other blind people, but to the One who made my eyes and gives me sight.

And I will be glad and rejoice with You; happy and joyful! Amen

Luke 6:39-49

Mar 12 God is with us

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“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you”

How many times, O Lord, have I seen You sustain me during times of stress and trouble? You have proven Yourself reliable over and over again.

Sometimes when I cast my cares on You, You actually change my circumstances, so the cause of my worry disappears. That is always appreciated, and often the solution I am seeking. But there are many other ways You ‘sustain’ me!

At times You don’t change the circumstances, but You change my perspective. You allow me to see things from a different view. It’s like when a toddler runs to their mother and is picked up and held in her arms. The child can see from a higher, safer perspective than from the height of a child.   Looking down from that height, the bad things don’t look so big and overwhelming.

Another way You sustain me is by simply being with me. Maybe the circumstances don’t change, and my perspective is the same; but the fact that You are near me, encouraging me, comforting me, reminding me that You are in control and that I can trust You, is what gets me through the hard time.

Sometimes You distract me with a blessing in one part of my life that so outweighs the rest, the worry fades in significance. Sometimes You teach me to choose my battles, and show me that in relation to the bigger picture, I can let go of this worry.

At other times You impress upon me the lessons I’m learning in dealing with the hardship actually outweigh the difficulty in getting through it. And still other times You create a surprise ending through the struggle that works out even better than I could have ever imagined!

It is still not easy when challenges and troubles come. Truth be told, I’d prefer to avoid them altogether. But You have shown me that You can work good out of anything when I trust You. I know that no matter what, You will sustain me.

YOU – the all-mighty, all-knowing Creator God, who has the power and resources of the universe at His disposal, will sustain me.

You WILL – a certainty because of Your faithfulness to Your promises and Your unchangeable character and Your unfailing love for me, sustain me.

You will SUSTAIN – keep, preserve, defend, support and encourage, zealously guard and treasure, me

You will sustain ME – Your child, Your servant, one who loves and worships and believes in and trusts in You.

YOU WILL SUSTAIN ME! And I will praise You! Thank You. Amen

Psalm 55:22

Feb 18 Living A to Z

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Father, help me embody the alphabetical list of traits in this Psalm. In his old age David gives us instructions for living. Of course the Hebrew alephbet goes from Aleph to Tav, not A to Z, but what was true then is still true now.

It is hard to see evil people prosper knowing that the wrong they do causes harm to others. And when they seem to be getting away with it, I wonder where Your justice is.   But as David says, “like the grass, they will soon wither”. And I must wait on Your justice, which will come. My responsibility is to do what You have told me to do and live how You have shown me to live. This is what I am accountable for.

As I trust in You Lord, help me do good to others whenever it is within my power to do so. Let me find my delight in You, and not be envious of others’ ill-gotten gain.

Help me commit my way to You so I look to You for guidance and direction and not toward my own selfish gain. Several times I have been in circumstances where I was wronged and had a defensible position to press for my rights. I did not speak out because I trusted in You to fight for my cause. It was hard to do, but You did not fail me. In time the truth came to light without my having to say a word. You defended me and my rightness was made even more evident because it was not me who spoke out.

Help me be still before You and wait patiently. Even when I feel I am justified in fighting. Being “still” here means not to move and not to make a noise. So help me not make a move without Your direction, and not rant or rave or carry on. Remind me that prayer is a mighty weapon.  Help me pray for myself, the situation, and for my enemies to come to a saving knowledge of You, and stop their evil ways.

Help me turn away from anger and wrath. One kind of anger boils over into uncontrolled lashing out. Another kind seethes, simmering under the surface plotting and planning revenge, building up, until the perceived hurt is blown out of proportion. Both of these responses are damaging to me. I need to remember that vengeance is Yours, not mine.

Following these instructions will allow me to live in peace. Meekness is not weakness. But it is power under control. Help me to live a Holy Spirit-controlled life. Amen

Psalm 37:1-11

 

Feb 7 God-given gifts

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Lord God, You tell me that the kingdom of heaven is like a master who entrusts his servants with talents, then returns to receive their earnings. I desire to be a good and faithful servant and to return to You more than was given me. Yet I have always feared I would be the one who returned to You, only Your original investment.

By nature, I am not a risk taker. I have a fear of losing what I have, or having it taken from me. So I typically behave conservatively so as to not risk loss. It seems to be a safe method of operation that has helped me maintain a prudent life.

However, I am beginning to see that what You have given me: the gifts You have entrusted to me, are not for me to hoard or hide. They were given for the purpose of sharing; and in that sharing, a multiplication of blessing takes place.

I so want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” And it is occurring to me that in order for that to happen, I need to step out of my safety zone where I am comfortable, and take some risk. It is something I do not do easily. And I will need to rely on You for encouragement and even some daring. But I can be reassured by Your words in I Timothy 1:7 ”God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and a sound mind.” And I can know that when I am obedient, You will protect me. Regardless of the outcome, You will never leave me.

Please help me overcome my fears of being ridiculed, shamed, making the wrong choice, disappointing You. Show me the next opportunity You place in my path. And help me learn to let go of and use Your gift so it can multiply the blessing to myself and others, and please You: a win, win, win!

Thank You for Your words penned by David, which I echo as my prayer:

“In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in Your righteousness. Turn Your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for You are my refuge. Into Your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth. . . I trust in You! I will be glad and rejoice in Your love…” Amen

Matthew 25:14-30; Psalm 31:1-7

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

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

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

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

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

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 16 Though I sit in darkness…

adult-1869001_1920“Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” Micah 6:8

Father, I have so often been encouraged by this verse, this affirmation of Micah’s. He was speaking on behalf of his country, Israel.   He was assuring his enemies that although they seemed to enjoy victory over Israel at this time, You were completely in control of what was happening.

Micah understood that Israel must bear the consequences of their sin, but that ultimately, You would “plead [their] case and uphold [their] cause. You will bring [them] out into the light;” and Your righteousness would be seen by the enemy who would be “covered with shame” and “trampled underfoot”.

Father I have called on this verse for strength when facing all kinds of enemies. You know how many things, forces, circumstances have gotten the better of me, and I felt alone in the ”darkness” in one way or another.

There have been times when physical illness or injuries have made me feel helpless, in the dark. No matter, for You can bring healing into any illness or injury You choose. And if not the healing I would hope for, You bring light to help me understand and deal with it.

At times, circumstances have left me in the dark for want of a good solution. When I cannot perceive a way out, it feels like the darkness immobilizes me. I can go through the process of making logical choices and weighing options, but none seem right. When I call out to You, so often You bring light to the subject in a way that shows me a solution I had never thought of!

Other times, my emotions have weighed heavily on me in a negative way. Discouragement, anxiousness, depression, and hopelessness lead to a very dark place indeed. In this darkness, I cannot see to help myself, and often cannot even see to reach out to a friend. The darkness almost seems to press in on me and pull me down, keeping me isolated and out of reach from everyone else. But You can always reach me. You remind me that even in the dark, You placed the stars to be light in the sky.   And although they are there in the daytime too, it is only at night, in the dark, that they are visible. For me to see those stars, it must be dark…

And there have been times of spiritual darkness, when I felt under attack by forces I could not see, but could sense were there. Then, I am somewhat fighting “in the dark” because I cannot see the enemy. But You are light. You walk in the light. And when I walk with You, I can see by Your light!

Thank You for Your light that lets me see in the darkness! I praise You that there is no darkness which You cannot dispel! That Your power overcomes any darkness of any kind. That Your light brings healing and hope and life! I praise Your Name! Hallelu Yah!

Micah 5:1-7:20

Dec 11 You are the One

michelangelo-71282_1280Father, so many times You sent messages to the people and leaders of Israel to return to You, and they did not. You sent death in famine, drought, blight, locusts, plagues, and military defeats as a way to get their attention. Father, when challenges and difficulties come to me, I will come to You. You are the One who can help and heal me. You are the One who can show me wisdom and how to cope with whatever You allow into my life.

Lord, when it is so easy to fret and worry, and grumble and complain to friends, and look to the world for answers, remind me that the source of all I need is You! Calm my heart when I am anxious. Shut my mouth when I whine. Turn me around when I go toward the world’s solutions. I will pour out my heart to You. I will seek wisdom in Your Word. I will not just talk during prayer, but will listen, so I can hear what You have to say to me. I will open my eyes and ears to discern when You are showing and teaching me; and where You are leading me. I will let go of my own way and humble myself to obey You.

For it is “You who forms the mountains, who creates the wind,  and who reveals Your thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—    the Lord God Almighty is Your Name.” You are mine, and I belong to You.  You redeem me with Your love, renew me with Your presence, restore me with Your touch. Amen

Amos 4:1-13

Dec 6 Rebellion to Repentance

american-flag-1020853_640“Hear the word of the Lord, you [Americans], because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.  There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away;’”

Father, as Israel was in its idolatry and rebellion, so is America today. My heart grieves for the way my country and its people have fallen so far away from the godly, moral values America was founded on. When I was growing up, I heard older people saying that what one generation tolerates, the next takes to excess. At the time I was proud to be in a generation who was finding ‘freedom’ in establishing new social norms that were allowing equality between races and genders and socio-economic groups. But what I have seen is that many of those freedoms were taken advantage of, and prostituted for monetary gain, selfishness, power and corruption.

I see that in my country, there is no faithfulness to You. That even my freedoms to express my spiritual viewpoint are being stifled when they are not ‘politically correct’. The list You gave Hosea of “cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery” sounds like the description of most of what Americans call ‘entertainment’.  Forgive our sin Father, turn the hearts of the American people back to You and bring healing to our land.

You tell me “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken and endures forever.” Father, I know I will endure forever as I have eternal life with You. Help me now, in this life, not to be shaken from Your truth and what I know to be right. Give me strength of faith and of character to walk in obedience to You, not in the way of the world. Let me be faithful and acknowledge You in my land.

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so You surround Your people both now and forevermore.” Let me feel You surrounding me, encompassing me Lord: shielding and protecting me, lifting me up. Thank You that You are faithful to all Your promises. Amen

Hosea 4:1-3; Psalm 125:1-5

Dec 5 You give Peace in the storms

Jesus calms sea

“[My] help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Father, You are the help I have, the help I turn to when things are not going well.   You are the help I acknowledge when things are going right.   I love the old hymn:

“O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter in the stormy blast and our eternal home.”

You are my place of shelter and of rest. I live on the earth now, and You shelter me. One day I will have rest in my eternal home with You.

Like David does in this Psalm, I can look back over my life and see times when I was guarded and protected by Your hand. I can say with David: “if You had not been on [my] side when people attacked [me], they would have swallowed [me] alive when their anger flared against [me]; the flood would have engulfed [me], the torrent would have swept over me, the raging waters would have swept [me] away.”

I have faced circumstances I thought would do me in. Times when I could see no way out to be at peace again.   Some were physical challenges or health issues with myself or loved ones.   Some were situations at work or with relationships I thought could never be reconciled. Some were simple hardships like times of being out of work, or the basement flooding. At times it actually felt like turbulent, raging waters pulling me down, away from my ability to cope.

But Father, You have showed up to give me hope when the world offered no hope. You would often sing me a new song along with scripture to help me sense Your presence and be encouraged. One such song’s chorus goes:

You calm me down, You give me peace

You make this battle inside of me cease

You give me hope to carry on

when all the hope the world can give is gone

Thank You that You are my hope, my help. Thank You that John reminds me that You have given me eternal life. Let me remember to focus on that when challenges come. He reminds me that I can have confidence in approaching You: that “if I ask anything according to Your will, You hear me”. Father, help me see and know Your will. Align my desires with Your will. So that when difficulties come, and they will, I will be able to ask for Your perfect will to be done, knowing that even if I have to walk through hardship, You will be my help. Amen

Psalm 124:1-8; I John 5:13- 15

Dec 4 God is love – He loves me!

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Father, You have given me the confidence to live my life encouraged. Through John, You have shown me how to discern truth from falsehood and how important love is. Holding on to those things will help me live a godly life.

There are so many influences in the world today it can be hard to know which are truly good and which are truly evil. Evil masquerades as good. It can appear justified, acceptable, even beneficial. Evil influence can even come from well-intentioned people.  You assure me that when I come up against evil, worldly influences, “greater is He that is in me, than he who is in the world”.

Since You ARE love, every one who belongs to You will have that love in them. Your love is total, complete, sacrificial, perfect, and saves me. This is not ‘I love ice cream’ kind of love, or brotherly love, or even romantic love.   It is the Greek word ‘agape’ love – a total, selfless, unconditional love that overcomes sin. You loved each one of us before we loved You or even knew of You.. It is a perfect love that has no fear, but drives out fear.

It is Your love, Father, that I seek in my life every day! I need it to drive out the fear that gains a foothold in me through circumstances I don’t understand, through stressful things happening to my loved ones, through the evil I see prospering in the world.

Father, there are days I feel so overwhelmed and unlovable that I deny Your love because I don’t ‘feel’ it. Forgive me when I doubt Your amazing, perfect love. Do not let me be led by my feelings – they have nothing to do with the truth of and the absolute certainty of Your love.

Help me sense Your love, and be lifted up by it, so I can share it with my brothers and sisters. Let me walk in Your love till the end of days, or the end of my days, whichever comes first. Thank You for Your amazing love. Amen

I John 4:1-21

Dec 1 Help me love what’s eternal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I John 2:1-17

Nov 29 Let me be like Daniel

Daniel lion den“You are the Living God and You endure forever; Your kingdom will not be destroyed, Your dominion will never end. You rescue and You save; You perform signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. You have rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.”

O Father, do for me what You did for Daniel! When forces come against me with contrived plans for my demise, save me from their evil strategies! Deliver me from whatever punishment they seek to be my end. Put people in my life who will come to my defense like King Darius, and will pay back my enemies. And let me be like Daniel.   Let me steadfast in my faith, recognizing You are worthy to be worshipped no matter the social or political climate. Let me be faithful to pray, trusting in You no matter what.

An interesting point is that Daniel was in his eighties when he was thrown into the lion’s den. This means that since he was taken captive as a boy in his teens, he never lost faith in You! He continued his prayer life and godly lifestyle all throughout his years. He remained a man of integrity and faith. Even those jealous of his position found him to be “trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent”. Let this be true of me also.

A time is coming when lawless, ungodly men will be judged. As the flood destroyed the earth once, You will destroy it again by fire. But I will see a new heaven and a new earth created by Your hand. As I await this day I want to live, like Daniel, a holy and godly life. Help me Lord.

In the Words of the Psalmist: “Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me…Make Your face shine upon Your servant and teach me Your decrees.” Father, this is how I can live the life I desire. With Your help, I can grow in Your grace and knowledge. Amen

Daniel 6:1-28; II Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 119:129-136

Nov 21 Your Word is Treasure

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Father thank You for warning me not to trust in earthly riches. Wealth, possessions, gold and silver are not the treasure I seek. They can lead to greed and the sins that greed temps a person to commit. Rather, I treasure Your Word. It gives me a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about how to receive Your blessing: something of far greater value.

You Word says I will be blessed when I “walk according to the law of the Lord…keep Your statutes and seek You with all [my] heart”. I can keep my way pure “by living according to Your Word”. So Father, “I seek You with all my heart: do not let me stray from Your commands.” I desire to be blessed; show me how to walk in Your path.

Lord, I will “hide Your Word in my heart”. I will read it, honor it, study to understand it, memorize it, and do what it says. When I do not understand it, I will pray for clarity of meaning and how to apply it to my life. When people around me say one thing and Your Word says another, give me the conviction to be obedient to Your truth. Help me see through the misleading lies and the deceiving values of society and not be tripped up by them. Give me the strength I need to be true to You.

Because You tell me how powerful prayer is, I will pray. I pray for the wisdom to stay on Your path.  I pray giving thanks when I am happy.   I pray for healing when I am sick. I pray for help when I am in trouble. I pray for forgiveness when I have sinned. Father, help my prayers be powerful and effective.

Besides me, so many people need Your help in so many ways. I believe praying for them is one way I can help; perhaps the best way I can help them.   Father, like Elijah, I pray earnestly and in faith, knowing that You are the One who can answer. You have the power, Lord. And You have the will. We are all Your creations, Lord. Thank You that You love and care for us. Amen

James 5:1-20; Psalm 119:1-16

Nov 20 while here on earth…

Father, how I long for the day when I will be in Your presence for all eternity. My real home is with You. I long to sit at Your feet, to see You face to face, to wrap my arms around You and rest in Yours.

GivinghandsandredpushpinBut for now, I must be here. And not just with You, but with billions of other imperfect people like myself, who I need to learn to get along with. Father, James tells me I need to live in this world, but not be friends with it. I need to relate to people, but without speaking badly of them or judging them. I need to suppress the desires within me that might cause me to selfishly fight and quarrel with others when I don’t get my way. And I need to recognize the devil and resist him.

Thank You for placing Your Holy Spirit in me to help me with all these things. Thank You for the grace You extend to me. James tells me the key is to submit to You and humble myself. So Father, I submit myself to You. When I am obedient to You, I will not obey the devil. I will not be selfish. I will not mistreat others.

Father, I give You my plans. Take the days of my life that You have already numbered, and show me how to live each one. Do not let me get ahead of You. And do not let me lag behind. I trust Your timing for all of it. Father, I draw near to You and ask You to search me and remove any desires that are not godly. If I ask for the wrong thing, or ask with a wrong motive, show me where I have messed up. If I become too attached to the things of the world, wean me from that dependence. For with You, I have all I need.

Father, examine my relationships. If there are any that do not serve Your purposes, then help me let them go. If I am quarreling with anyone, or am out of fellowship with them, show me what caused it, Your plan for the relationship, and how to make it right again. And when I am tempted by the devil, let me clearly see the ‘hook’ beneath the lure he is dangling before me. Strengthen me to resist, and turn away from that trap.

Father, as long as You have me living here on the earth, guide and strengthen me. Help me overcome my flesh and the evil one and the pull of the world. I choose to hold my possessions, my relationships, my plans loosely so I can follow Your will. Grant me success. Amen

James 4:1-12

Nov 15 Help me live in peace

Father, Paul gives some tall orders here: “…live at peace with all men and be holy…”. Allow “no bitter root to grow up.” Make moral decisions now because the consequences may be too much to bear.

god-1772560_640Because of my human nature, these are sometimes very difficult things to do. Give me Your peace so I can reflect peace to those around me. Help me see what is important and what is not so I will not be part of foolish arguments, but will be able to live at peace with men, and women too.

Being holy means to be set apart or to be dedicated to You. Help me live my life with an understanding I am Your creation, here for You purposes. Give me guidance and wisdom to be the best wife, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor I can be. And when You give me direction, give me the focus and energy to follow through on whatever it is. If I am not inclined to be obedient, change my view, my inclination.

When I feel wronged, or hurt, angry, disappointed or jealous; help me see from Your perspective so the root of bitterness doesn’t poison my relationships. When circumstances seem unjust or aren’t going my way, diffuse my anger before it ”causes trouble and defiles many.” Let me consider what You would have me do in response to any circumstance, rather than just react from an emotional place.

These are tough assignments. And Father, I need Your help in my life right now! Thank You that I can approach You every time I need support in any of these areas. You are my help. And there is none like You. Amen

Hebrews 12:1-4

Nov 11 Forewarned and defended by You

“So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.” Father, these two ‘women’ represented Your people. So when You say “all women may take warning and not imitate you” you mean all countries and all peoples can learn not to make the same mistake the Israelites made with idolatry. I pray that my country will learn from Your example here and not imitate the idolatry of Samaria and Jerusalem.

grateful-2006926_640Father, do not let this lesson go unnoticed. You are a just God and You judge rightly.   Those people only rejected the law of Moses and were judged. How much more will those be judged who live now and know of Your sacrifice on the cross?

You have made a new way for people today to approach You.   It is a better way! By Your shed blood, I have the privilege of approaching You boldly, with full assurance and confidence. So I draw near to You with a sincere heart, and ask that You would show me how to live, encouraging other believers, worshipping You, acting in love, doing good deeds, and defeating the enemy.

Father, the enemy uses all manner of evil to try to defeat me.   Help me, Lord; do not be silent. Fight against those who are against You and who attack me and my family. Show them that You are victorious while they are clothed with shame and disgrace.   And I will rejoice in my deliverance, extolling my Father with praise! Amen

Ezekiel 23:1-49; Hebrews 10:18-31; Psalm 109: 1-31

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

“Shout for joy…Worship with gladness…Come before Him with joyful songs…Enter …with thanksgiving.”

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Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father. And some days it is easy. When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings. But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship. It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for. And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things. When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness. When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help. When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work. Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that. I rejoice that You are my God! That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in! I thank You that You have given me friends. And that I can pray with them and for them. I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by. Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it. Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home. Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I thank You and praise You that You have made me a “sheep of Your pasture”. As Your sheep, I can ask for my Shepherd’s help for my home issues, for my family, for my friends, and for any in need due to natural disasters or violence. I praise You that Your power supersedes any other. And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You. I can still worship with gladness and have joy! Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 21 Have one…Be one

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Father, You could have picked up Jeremiah and set him in a safe place far away from those who accused him and sought his life. You could have lifted him out of that cistern Yourself! He already had Your promise: “Do not be terrified…they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.”   But You didn’t give the details of what that rescue would look like.

Father, I seek to be obedient to all You tell me to do. But sometimes, even acting honorably, I have been misunderstood. Lord, when I am accused wrongly, bring those who will act on my behalf. Like Ebed-Melek did for Jeremiah, let there be those who will support, defend, and help me.

Also, Father, use me. Let me act like Ebed-Melek, defending others who You have sent to do Your work. Spur me to action when I hear of wrongs. Show me how to help, being commanding and compassionate as he was. He didn’t just drop a rope, but interceded with authorities, got clothing for padding, and brought help to lift Jeremiah out of the mud-bottomed cistern.

Help me Lord to be trusting in trials; that You will send help. And give me courage to help those who need it.   Amen

Jeremiah 1:17,19; 37:1-38:13

Oct 13 I need Your help

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

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

 

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

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

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

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

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

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Sept 21 “Carry each other’s “burden”

Father, Your Word tells me to help others to carry their burden but to carry my own. I was confused until I looked at the original Greek and found that there are two different words.

In this passage of scripture, they are both translated as ‘burden’.   Where You say “Carry each other’s [burdens] and in this way fulfill the law of Christ”, that word is ‘baros’. Although it is translated four times to read ‘burden’ a more complete definition is ‘heaviness, weight that would weigh you down, pressing on you, difficult requirements’. But where You say “each one should carry their own [burden].” The word is ‘phortion’ which simply means ‘something to be carried’. So there is a difference here in the amount of weight and in the ‘burdonsomeness’ implied in the original meaning.

One way I think of it is that each person should be capable of carrying their own backpack – the weight of normal daily responsibilities. But they would need help with a steamer trunk – an extraordinarily unusual additional amount of hardship that would come with an illness, or accident or trouble.

Father, show me how to help others who are in need. Let me go out of my way to see how to help them. And Father, I trust You will bring help to me when I am in need as well.

Thank You for Paul’s words here reminding me how to relate to other believers. It is so easy to get off track by comparing myself to others. It sets the stage for jealousy, or pride. But You say to help those believers who are overcome by sin. And not to do it pridefully, but humbly and gently, aware that the same mistake could happen to me if I’m not careful.

Father, You made us to care for each other. You knew that this world would be a challenging place, and that we would need each other. Thank You for bringing friends and loved ones around me when I need their help. Sometimes I don’t even realize I need it, till You bring someone who calls and cheers me up, or says something encouraging.

Help me also “not become weary in doing good”, so that I also may “at the proper time reap a harvest if I do not give up”.   Thank You for the way You inspire believers to care for each other.   Amen

Galatians 6:1-10

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

Jan 23 What a ride! Here I am

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O Lord, I think of all You allowed Jacob (renamed Israel) to go through, and I wonder how difficult his life must have been. He was a twin, compared from birth to a brother who was very different from him. He had a father who chose a favorite son, and he was not the favorite. His mother schemed for him to receive his father’s blessing, resulting in his exile from home to a place far away. He worked happily for seven years to earn a bride, but was deceived on his wedding night with a different woman. He worked another seven years and still had nothing to call his own.

Then, things started coming together. He gains large flocks, gets away from his manipulative father-in-law, reconciles with his brother, returns to his father, has many children, including two sons by his beloved wife Rachel. But then she dies in childbirth. And later, her older son is taken from him, presumed dead. His life falls apart again. Talk about ups and downs!

My life has had its ups and downs. There have been times of delirious joy as well as disappointment and sorrow. I feel sometimes as if I am barely able to get up for a new day. And I have Your Holy Spirit in me from whom I can draw strength! I have scriptures I can read to be encouraged. I have praise music I can play or sit at the piano and sing. How did Jacob do it? How did Israel get through one more day of grieving his beloved wife Rachel, missing his son Joseph; managing his large family with misbehaving sons Simeon, Reuben, Judah and Levi; all in a day and time of famine, with hunger and need all around him?

Yet when You called him in a time of famine, to relocate to a foreign land, he still didn’t give up. Whatever You had in store for him, he simply answered “Here I am”. O God, help me be that resilient. Help me get through dark times and be ready to say ‘Here I am’ when You call. Help me hear Your voice above whatever else is going on in my life. Tune my ears so I will hear You and recognize Your call.

Lord, let me hear clearly, and be obedient to all You reveal to me. Give me understanding so I don’t make the mistake of honoring tradition above Your command; or my own way above Yours. It is so easy to get wrapped up in legalism toward Your law, and be busy with activities that are good, and want to ‘look good’ to others around me. When that happens, I become dull to the message of Your words that bring personal meaning and conviction to my life. Prune away any misunderstanding I have been living by. Cut away the dead and unproductive parts. Revive me and make me fruitful again. I long to honor and glorify You.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

 How can I do any less?

Genesis 46:2 (and Jacob’s life); Matthew 15:1-20; Psalm 19:1

Jan 17 Be my Guide

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Lord, I desire to dwell with You in Your sanctuary. And to live on Your holy hill.

Help me keep my walk blameless and do what is righteous according to Your standards. When I am not sure which is the right way, give me discernment. When I know what is right, give me strength to do what is right. Keep me from temptation that would entice me to act unjustly or immorally. Do not let me be drawn into evil or behave badly for personal gain.

Help me speak the truth from my heart, even when it is more convenient to lie. I desire to be honest in my speech and in my actions. Do not allow me to speak ill of others or be a gossip.

Help me treat my neighbor as I want to be treated, with respect and compassion. Teach me to hate what is wrong and vile; not calling what is good evil, or what is evil, good. And to stand up for right, defending those who are defenseless. Show me how to recognize and give honor to those who are godly and live their lives in the fear of the Lord.

When I make a promise, help me keep my word, even when it is not convenient. Even when it costs me more that I thought it would. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

When I can lend to one in need, do not let me take advantage of their need for my own profit. But let me act compassionately. When it is profitable to deceive others, let me turn away from that temptation. Do not let me accept a bribe or cause harm to the innocent.

Teach me and strengthen me to walk in this way, to live uprightly and to love mercy. Living this kind of life will give me confidence and courage. It will be an example to my children and to others. And it will help me to honor You. This is my desire. Amen

Psalm 15:1-5

Dec 12 A Famine of the Word

 

Father, You showed Amos two punishments, judgments for Israel.  Then told him “This will not happen”.  You relented, or 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.

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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 speech that offends, threatens, or insults 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 that 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 7:1-9:15; Psalm 131

Dec 11 You are the One

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Father, so many times You sent messages to the people and leaders of Israel to return to You, and they did not.  You sent death in famine, drought, blight, locusts, plagues, and military defeats as a way to get their attention.  Father, when challenges and difficulties come to me, I will come to You.  You are the One who can help and heal me.  You are the One who can show me wisdom and how to cope with whatever You allow into my life.

Lord, when it is so easy to fret and worry, and grumble and complain to friends, and look to the world for answers, remind me that the source of all I need is You!  Calm my heart when I am anxious.  Shut my mouth when I whine.  Turn me around when I go toward the world’s solutions.  I will pour out my heart to You.  I will seek wisdom in Your Word.  I will not just talk during prayer, but listen, so that I can hear what You have to say to me.  I will open my eyes and ears to discern when You are showing and teaching me; and where You are leading me.  I will let go of my own way and humble myself to obey You.

For it is “You who forms the mountains, who creates the wind,  and who reveals Your thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—    the Lord God Almighty is Your Name.”  You are mine, and I belong to You.  Amen

Amos 4:1-13

Dec 5 Peace in the storm

“[My] help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Father, You are the help I have, the help I turn to when things are not going well.   You are the help I acknowledge when things are going right.   I love the old hymn: ‘O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter in the stormy blast and our eternal home’.  You are my place of shelter and of rest.  I live on the earth now, and You shelter me.  One day I will have rest in my eternal home with You.

Like David does in this Psalm, I can look back over my life and see times when I was guarded and protected by Your hand.  I can say with David: “if You had not been on [my] side when people attacked [me], they would have swallowed [me] alive when their anger flared against [me]; the flood would have engulfed [me], the torrent would have swept over me, the raging waters would have swept [me] away.” 

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I have faced circumstances I thought would do me in.  Times when I could see no way out to be at peace again.   Some were physical challenges or health issues with myself or loved ones.   Some were situations at work or with relationships I thought could never be reconciled.  Some were simple hardships like times of being out of work, or the basement flooding.  At times it actually felt like turbulent, raging waters pulling me down, away from my ability to cope.

But Father, You have showed up to give me hope when the world offered no hope.  You would often sing me a new song along with scripture to help me sense Your presence and be encouraged.  One such song’s chorus goes:

You calm me down, You give me peace

You make this battle inside of me cease

You give me hope to carry on

when all the hope the world can give is gone

Thank You that You are my hope, my help.  Thank You that John reminds me that You have given me eternal life.  Let me remember to focus on that when challenges come.  He reminds me that I can have confidence in approaching You: that “if I ask anything according to Your will, You hear me”.  Father, help me see and know Your will.  Align my desires with Your will.  So that when difficulties come, and they will, I will be able to ask for Your perfect will to be done, knowing that even if I have to walk through hardship, You will be my help.  Amen

Psalm 124:1-8; I John 5:13- 15