Tag: hope

Sept 18 Always Your child

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Father, thank You for making me Your heir.  Thank You for sending Your Spirit into my heart so I can call out “Abba, Father”.

 

 

Just like with my earthly parents, my position as their child will never change.  I may move far away, or be upset with them, or they with me, but I will always be their child.  The quality of our relationship may have its ups and downs.  So the closeness of our interaction may fluctuate, but my position as their child remains the same.

You have given me the full rights of being Your child and Your heir.  As such; “My salvation comes from You…My soul finds rest in You alone…You alone are my Rock, my fortress…I will never be shaken.”

Things may happen to me that shake my confidence in other people, in circumstances, in things I have come to depend on, even in myself.  But in You I will always find hope.  I will always be able to rest in Your abundant provision and security.  I will always know that even if I cannot understand, that Your purpose and Your plan will not be thwarted.

Many words describe safe places here on earth: refuge, fortress, tower, stronghold.  These are solid, unshakable places people run to for safety.  These are the exact words scripture uses to describe You!  Father, You are all these and more.  In You I can be shielded. I am protected, I am safe.

When needed, I can pour out my heart to You.  You listen.  And You comfort.  You give me wisdom.  And encourage me.  Lord, give me Your wisdom now.  Let me see Your perspective on the difficulties and challenges in my life right now.

I am resting in You, and I am hopeful.  Show me the next step I should take.  Do not let me get ahead of Your plan or Your timing.   Give me the patience I need to see Your blessing come to fruition.

I trust You.  I know that “You are strong, and that You are loving.”  I will wait with You, my Father.  Amen

Galatians 3:23-4:7; Psalm 62:1-12

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Sept 1 Unworthy but loved and blessed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job 40:1-42:17

Aug 26 God of all comfort

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  

hand-in-hand-1686811_640 Father, over and over I have seen this play out. I have seen someone in an ICU give, then receive, and then give back comfort as the circumstances changed.  We can experience such pain, and yet You know the comfort we need and You place people right there with us.

Sometimes it happens immediately. Sometimes, it may be years before I come across someone who is hurting over something I’ve experienced myself. You remind me of how You helped me through it, and I can help them. Or vice versa. Those past hurts help us reach out and genuinely connect with other people. It’s hard to imagine, but sometimes those places of pain provide a more significant connection than any other experience we have in common.

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”  

There are times when there seems to be no place else to turn, and I think all is lost.   And I forget to turn to You – the One who has the real power to help me. When I hear of someone in dire circumstances, I often pray that they will turn to You, Lord. That You would not let the hardship and pain be wasted, but that it would bring them into closer relationship with You.   Partly because I believe there is joy in that relationship no matter what happens. But also because You are the One with the power to help them!

“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril and He will deliver us.  On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.”  

 You have delivered me in the past. And that in itself gives me hope!  “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name!”

Singing that song, for years I didn’t know what a “sweetest frame” was. It is anything else I might choose to lean on or rely on: another person, a pastor, a president, a doctor, my rights, what seemed fair to me. Everything will collapse under me, except You!

“Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”  

 It does not take “many” to pray to be heard and answered by You. You have answered prayers I have uttered only in my spirit, when alone. But when many pray together, then there are many to praise You, and to thank You for Your answer and good news. It reinstates the hope of many. And builds and strengthens their faith.

Thank You that You are the God of all comfort. Amen!

II Corinthians 1:1-11

Aug 24 Raised Indestructible

“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow he does not endure.”

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“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath.”

Lord, today is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death. Family funerals seem to abound, with my own father’s passing still fresh in my memory. A dear friend and mentor who battled cancer three times is now with You as well. And today I received my own personal “wake up call” diagnosis.

All around me is the evidence of how fragile life is. How fleeting it seems. How quickly it passes. I say all the time that the days sometimes drag on, but the years fly by.   Father, You know I thought the days of changing diapers and wiping faces would never end. Now in their thirties, I wonder how my children got to be so grown; how I got to be so old.

“But now Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.”  

I have confidence You are in control. And because of Your power and authority and sovereignty, no one, not any power or circumstance, can take away even a single minute of life that has been ordained by You. “Man’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set the limits he cannot exceed.”

Father, I know there are many things I cannot grasp while here on earth. But I love the picture You give of how I will be raised.

When I plant a seed in the ground, it does not look like what will come up. A tomato seed does not look like a tomato or the plant it grows on. Neither does a pumpkin seed, or a carrot seed, or an apple seed, or a peach pit. So my earthly body is like the seed. And my heavenly body is like the plant that springs from it.

My earthly body is fragile, but I will be raised with You indestructible!   I live in weakness and with embarrassment, but I will return with You in power and with glory!

Because I look to You for my eternal future, there is no fear, because Yours is the victory! “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”   Thanks be to You! You have given me victory through my Lord Jesus Christ!” Amen

Job 14:1-5; I Corinthians 15:29-58; Psalm 39:1-7

Aug 9 Your Word lights my way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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 23 Help me parent

hands-1022028_640Lord, I think of how far Rehoboam fell from the standards of his father, Solomon and grandfather, David. It is so sad that all the faith and wisdom died with the very next generation!

If David took such care to prepare the work of his son, why didn’t Solomon do the same with his son Rehoboam?

Earthly fathers are so flawed compared to You. Some do a wonderful job of teaching their children about You and reflecting the love and acceptance that You have for each of us.

Unfortunately, some do not. Some are the source of awful pain and harsh treatment. Sometimes their hardness even blocks their children from coming to know You for a long, long time.

But thanks be to You! “Who reached down from on high and took hold of me; You drew me out of deep waters. You rescued me from my powerful enemy, from those who were too strong for me…You were my support! You brought me out into a spacious place; You rescued me because You delighted in me.”

Thank You for providing salvation and hope for those who were not as fortunate as I in having a loving, caring father. Thank You that whatever the hurt, You can heal and protect.

Father, help me be a loving, caring, godly parent. Forgive the mistakes I’ve made. Help my children overcome them and find their way to the gifts and the purpose You have for them. And protect them from mistakes I’ll make in the future.

I look to You for wisdom in guiding and teaching them. Help me pass on a real and living faith to the next generation, whether my own children, or others You bring into my life. Help me live out my faith in a visible, tangible way that will be a light to their path and be an inspiration to their lives.   “Your way is perfect. Your Word is flawless”. Let my life illustrate that. Amen

2 Chronicles 8:11-10:19; Psalm 18:16-19

July 17 Your truth delivers me

Dear Father, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” It seems some days are harder than others. If even one negative thought comes into my head, it can bring me down. I glumly mull it over and the thought generates an emotional response. Very easily other negative thoughts join in and pile up on each other till I am feeling discouraged.

Helmet of Salvation

Quickly enough, discouragement heaps on even more ‘should have, would have, could haves’ until I am feeling out of control, overwhelmed and depressed and join with the psalmist in saying “Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death”. In my own words, ‘Help me or I’ll just die.

It is surprising how quickly simple thoughts can lead to anger, fear, frustration, until I am not only emotionally upset, but also experience a physical response which can leave me with a headache or feeling sick to my stomach. It impairs my judgment and my ability to function efficiently, whether at work or at home. I can’t even relate to people normally in my agitated condition.

“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”   You have already given me a wonderful solution to this problem. If only I would remember to use it!

The battle begins in my mind. And You have given me a piece of armor to protect my mind – the Helmet of Salvation.   It guards my thoughts and gives me the ability to take them captive and hold them up to Your truth. It also gives me the ability to understand and memorize Your truth so I have it at the ready when I need it.

Your truth can help me stop the flow of wrong and negative thoughts. The evil one uses these, preferring that I remain sidelined in discouragement and depression, unable to defend myself. He will use these kinds of half-truths and deceiving lies to mislead and condemn me. But when held up to the truth, they are shattered and scattered.

One way I can know if a thought comes from You, is that You convict whereas satan condemns. He would make me feel like a hopeless, dirty, rotten, sinner. You may correct me, but Your words lift me up, motivate and empower me to make the needed corrections. Your words generate hopefulness. His produce hopelessness.

Lord, remind me, to use this amazing gift! When a negative thought comes, prompt me to hold it up to Your truth immediately. Help me build into my memory an arsenal of truth from Your scriptures. When I memorize scripture I can use it to combat the lies seeking to discourage me and control my thinking. Then I can confidently deal with whatever truth You show me. “I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me!” Amen

Psalm 13:1-6

July 8 You are our Hope

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Be merciful to me, Lord…O Lord, heal me.” Father, there have been times when not only my body, but my soul have been sick with grief, with fear, with frustration. There are times when I do not understand why such bad things happen to good, seemingly innocent people and children.

Or why tragedies come: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires. Such devastation is hard to watch as the suffering and loss is personalized by the news reporting teams. And that doesn’t even include man’s inhumanity to man as I hear about shootings and bombings and the violent plans of bloodthirsty men.

As hard as all this is to take in, there are the invisible tragedies as well. These are the spiritual disasters that occur when people are deceived and led away from You into lives of confusion and sin. As I see hate and mistrust grow in my family, community and nation I wonder where it will end. How bad can it get O Lord, before You come and deliver?

I see children rebelling, pulling away from the godly way their parents have raised them. When will they come to their senses Lord?

I see young people swayed into immoral lifestyles by the social tolerances of the day. What one generation has allowed in moderation, the next has taken to excess.

Greed runs rampant. Self is exalted. Consequences are non-existent. But the spiritual cost is beyond measure. While it all looks fun on the outside, many of these people are tortured in their personal life. They are trapped in a web of self-doubt and pain, discontented with life. The more they seek to satisfy ‘self’ the more dissatisfied and confused they are. The further away they get from Your truth, the more lost they are, and unable to even recognize truth.

“How long, O Lord, how long? Turn and deliver; save because of Your unfailing love.”

Your love and deliverance are the only hope.   For my family, my community, my nation. Father, turn the hearts of sons back to fathers. “Open the eyes “ of those who have been drawn away from You, “and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to You, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in You.”

“Father, hear my cry for mercy. Accept my prayer.” I long for and wait for the time when all Your enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; and will turn back in sudden disgrace.” And You will be remembered and worshipped as the One True God. In my family. In my nation. In the world. I need, we need Your mercy Father. And Your healing. Thank You that You hear my cry, and answer. Amen

Acts 26:18; Psalm 6:1-10

June 27 Even me

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Father, I am so encouraged to read about Joash, one of the kings of Judah. He was seven years old when he began to reign. Seven years old! And You worked mightily through him!

During his forty-year reign, he effected repairs on the temple, and brought the people back to following You. He did what was right in Your eyes.

I often wonder how I am equipped to serve You. I am not a healer, or preacher, or famous author with a large following. I’m not a missionary in a far off land, or a concert singer or evangelist.

Often Your Word says You use ordinary people.   “Elijah was a man just like us…” and yet Elijah became a powerful prophet. Moses claimed to be “slow of speech” yet he was Your instrument for delivering Your people from four hundred years of slavery.

It’s so easy to look at great people: both from Biblical times and those of my day, and feel completely inadequate.   Yet, here is this seven-year-old boy. And it gives me such hope, that if You would use a seven-year-old boy, You would use me too.

It reminds me that it is not the ‘person’ with their talents, gifts, skills, and abilities that accomplishes anything. It is You! You are the One! It is Your power which accomplishes Your will. What You can do with any person who is sold out to You, is limitless! Even a seven-year-old boy. Even a simple, untrained girl. Even a sixty-year-old woman. Even me. Amen

2 Kings 12:1-21

May 31 A Sure Thing

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Once again, Father, You have proven Yourself, as the events unfolded exactly as You prophesied they would.

The manner of Your death on the cross, how Your clothes were divided, that Your bones were not broken, that Your side was pierced; all these things happened according to what You had already told us in Your Word. Yet the people who carried out these atrocious acts were not aware of the prophecies, or that they were fulfilling them.

These words were handed down to different prophets at different times, yet all came to pass. It is no wonder I can say with the writer of Psalm 119, “I have put my hope in Your Word”!

ropeThis is not a simple unfounded ‘hope like ‘I hope I win the lottery.’ The Hebrew word translated as ‘hope’ comes from the word used for the triple twisted rope that binds an anchor to a ship to keep it in place. It’s a sure thing. It can be counted on! My hope in You is a sure thing, Lord. It is something I can count on, always. It anchors me in the water. It keeps me from drifting in a storm.

That means I can count on You in my day to day life circumstances, good or bad. And I can rely on You when things get really tough. Thousands of years haven’t changed Your faithfulness or trustworthiness. You have been, You still are, and You always will be.

Your Word has stood the test of time and still its prophecies are still coming true. I can trust You, and Your Word, and its power in my life, completely. In all situations, at all times. And I do! Thank You for this wonderful gift of hope that gives me stability in my daily life, and keeps me anchored. Amen

John 19:23-37; Psalm 119:129-152

 

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 6 Faith = things hoped for but not yet seen

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Lord, may my faith be like that of the royal official. He asked for You to come and heal his child who was close to death. You simply told him “Go, your son will live.” And he took You at Your word and left.

 

Even before he saw it with his own eyes, the circumstances proved that You did what You said You would do. They even revealed that it happened exactly when You spoke!

Father, help me trust in You and what You tell me, even when I can’t see the results immediately.   When it is not in front of my eyes and the doubt of the world pushes in, don’t let my faith waver. When it doesn’t seem to be happening quick enough let me be patient and trust that Your timing is perfect.

Reminds me of an old country hymn. Part of the lyrics say: ‘Take Him at His word when it’s not lookin’ good, believe that He’ll do what He said that He would…’

I believe. Amen

John 4:43-54

Apr 19 Only God can make a tree…

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”

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 of life 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

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 23 A blessed life

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.”

kneeling-1989128_640He has brought me into life in a time and place of His choosing; to a family of His providence. He has watched over me and protected me from serious illness and injury, trouble and violence, time and again. There were times when I cried out to Him for deliverance from circumstances, and He delivered me, or gave me what I needed to endure. There were times when He rescued me from things that I was not even aware I needed rescuing from.

He allowed me an understanding of spiritual matters, so that I began to see how sinful I was, and in need of a Savior. And that He, Jesus Christ, in love, shed His blood to pay the price, the penalty my sin had earned. He showed me, taught me, that this is the only way to reconcile my sinful self with God, who is holy.

He has tested me and refined me like silver. And although the process is not complete yet, each step in the process brings me closer to being Christ-like. The best silver is put into the fire seven times and brought up to a temperature of heat that burns away the impurities, creating a purer, more valuable quality.   And though the process of purification is not comfortable, and is often painful, it yields a harvest of blessing.

He has blessed me with loved ones, with friends, with a sense of purpose in life. He has provided me with hope, love, and a heavenly Father I can trust. He has comforted me with scriptures, by singing me songs; with revelations of His perspective, by sending people to talk with me, counsel me, rejoice and cry with me.

He has given me the hope of an eternal existence with Him in the future, with promises that He will never, ever, no, not ever, leave me. He has forgiven my sin. He has promised that nothing will overtake me, but that He will always make a way for me to bear up under whatever He allows into my life.

How awesome are His deeds! How great is His power! Praise be to God!

Father, let me never forget these things or all that You have done for me. Let me never shy away from an opportunity to tell others about them and about You.   Amen

Psalm 66:1-20

Feb 26 My Anchor, My “Tiqvah”

old-rig-1415697_640O Lord, this week I have been feeling overwhelmed by the direction of politics and society; by the vain philosophies of man our people seem to be blindly following, by the traditions of men that seem to deceive many of our young people, and by the work of the evil one seeping into our values and behavior standards. It’s as if a dark veil has been pulled over their senses and spirits. This is why my spirit is so downcast.

But Your solution in this Psalm is to put my hope in You. The Hebrew word for hope is “tiqvah”, defined as a cord that attaches one thing to another. It’s from the root word “qavah” which means to bind together, twisted for increased strength. It is the word used for the cord that binds a ship to its anchor.

A ship will drop its anchor in times of troubled seas, when it can no longer steer itself against the strong waves. It is the anchor that keeps it from drifting too far and being completely lost.

You are my anchor, Lord. You keep me from drifting too far and being completely lost. My hope is what keeps me tightly and securely bound to You, keeping me safe in the storms of life. And it is what gives me hope for our nation. There is life after storms. And “I will yet praise You!”

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You O God. My soul thirsts for You, the Living God.” Amen

Psalm 42:1, 2, 5

Jan 10 Jehovah Rophe – God who Heals

I AMHeavenly Father, thank You for coming to earth in the flesh and preserving Your Word so that all can know of it and of Your great love for us: how You lived and walked among us; how You taught us by Your words and Your actions; how You miraculously healed so many.

You fulfilled all the prophecies spoken by Your prophets. Isaiah says “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” You did this freely, and with authority and power. I believe You still do this today. So many need a healing, Lord. Will You come and lay Your hand of healing power on us.

Some need it because of a physical ailment, some a mental. Others need for You to touch our spirits and bring light and life back into us where we have lost hope and are filled with discouragement. Father, use Your mighty power to make us a living testimony for You.

I praise You because You have the power, the authority and the will to heal us. Thank You that You are willing and able. I welcome Your presence in our lives to dispel the darkness. Bring us peace, Lord. Bring us back to wholeness in You.

I realize that Your perfect healing may not look like what I think it should look like from an earthly perspective. But I trust Your perfect plan. I fall on my knees before You to receive all You have for me. I lift up Your name Lord Jesus Christ, for in You is all that I need. As I receive from You, let me sense You in a tangible way. I give You my thanks. I give You all that I am. Thank You. Amen

Matthew 8:1-17

Dec 21 Shield my head

red-dragon-revelation

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 12 A Famine of the Word

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.

Famine hunger.png

 

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 7:1-8:14; Psalm 131

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

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

When living in or crossing the desert, a find like this can be the difference between life and death.

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

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

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

Father, do You delight in each one of us, and then anguish when we fall away from You? I am Your child. Keep me from turning away from You. Show me clearly where and when there are idols I have been drawn to: pride, possessions, money, fame, popularity, whatever.

Help me and my children and loved walk in a manner worthy of You. Father, let “our mouths be filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” . We give You thanks and praise!  Amen

Hosea 9:10; Psalm 126:1-6

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

Nov 12 Make my Faith Light shine!

black-1837288_640Father, if faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”, I know that I have faith! There are things in my life that I have no control over, and no way of making happen, but I trust that You will work it all out for the best. And that means according to Your will. Still, I would ask You to increase my faith.

As Paul says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command”. And although I do not have a scientific understanding of exactly how that occurred, it has never been a stumbling block for me. I simply know that it was all accomplished by You – in Your way, in Your time, by Your Word and hand. Since I can trust You with the creation and the running of the entire universe, I can surely trust You with what goes on in my little corner of the world.

Some had to not only believe, but act on their faith. Noah was obedient in building an ark. No small feat for a five hundred year old! And Abram had to leave his father’s family and go to a far-off unknown place, trusting the promise You had given him. As I think of having to do either of these things, I wonder if my faith would be as strong.

There have been times when I felt You leading me to an opportunity. But because of fear, I hesitated and missed out on some of them. I could not see past the possibility of failure and ridicule to muster the boldness to act. And as a result, satan has used those times to make me feel guilty and defeated over the years, and waste my time wondering what might have been.

Till my twenties I moved almost every year of my life. I trusted that my parents would provide for me wherever we went. But I also learned a wonderful lesson. No matter where we went, You were always there. There were always new and beautiful sights: examples of the marvelous diversity of Your creation. There were always other believers to fellowship with. There was always a church to help me learn more about You. And when I prayed, whether in Arkansas, Texas, New Jersey, Kansas, Arizona or France, You always answered. What a faith building experience!

Although at this point in my life, I enjoy the stability of being in one location; I would follow You anywhere. Like the song says: ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.’

Father, help me continue to believe, trust, and have faith in You for the things that are important. Help me let go of worry, guilt or shame when I don’t see things working out. Make me bold when I need to act. Let it be said of me that I lived a life of faith in You. Amen

Hebrews 11:1-16

Nov 4 Trust the plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept 30 You are my Light

blue-2571965_640

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sept 22 Hope in the darkness

book-1936547_640O Father, these are some of the verses that have come to me in the darkest times. Times when I truly thought there was no hope. Times when I was at the end of all I could think to do to save myself from what appeared to be dire and dark circumstances that I believed held no happy ending.

These words are spoken by Your prophet Isaiah who is telling how it will be when the judgment of Israel is over. “You are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth! You will not grow tired or weary…You give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak…those who hope in You will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

What hope that gave me Father – because I was weary and weak. But because I know You as my Savior, I believed that these verses were true of me. It’s like You were speaking right into my heart then, and since then. You were promising to give me Your strength and power. You promised to renew my strength. When I felt like I could not take one more step, You empowered me to “walk and not grow faint”.

You told me “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my Righteous Right Hand.” And even more than that, You sang it to me. I could hear a melody in Your words. It became a theme that I could sing to myself over and over – Your words of encouragement and empowerment. I still sing them today.

Thank You Father, that Your Word, written down so long ago, has power and influence and still speaks right now. And not just to me, but to any and all who will seek You there.

And these words of Paul – I love them and have prayed them over and over again for myself, my family, and my loved ones. I pray them now, again Father, for everyone reading this prayer. “I give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know [1] the hope to which He has called you, [2] the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people [that’s us], and [3] His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Father, speak these words of comfort and empowerment to all who need to hear them from You.   When the evil one whispers ‘you’ve failed again, there’s no hope’, Let them know what it means to “not fear” and “not be dismayed”.   Give us victory! Amen

Isaiah 40:1-41:16; Ephesians 1:1-23

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 26 My Anchor, my Tiqvah

old-rig-1415697_640O Lord, this week I have been feeling overwhelmed by the direction of politics and society; by the vain philosophies of man our people seem to be blindly following, by the traditions of men that seem to deceive many of our young people, and by the work of the evil one seeping into our values and behavior standards. It’s as if a dark veil has been pulled over their senses and spirits. This is why my spirit is so downcast.

But Your solution in this Psalm is to put my hope in You. The Hebrew word for hope is tiqvah, defined as a cord that attaches one thing to another. It’s from the root word qavah which means to bind together, twisted for increased strength. It is the word used for the cord that binds a ship to its anchor.

A ship will drop its anchor in times of troubled seas, when it can no longer steer itself against the strong waves. It is the anchor that keeps it from drifting too far and being completely lost.

You are my anchor, Lord. You keep me from drifting too far and being completely lost. My hope is what keeps me tightly and securely bound to You, keeping me safe in the storms of life. And it is what gives me hope for our nation. There is life after storms. And “I will yet praise You!”

A picture of this: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You O God. My soul thirsts for You, the Living God.” Amen

Psalm 42:1,2,5

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.” 

0721_jesus_calms_storm_christian_cl

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