Tag: Jesus

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

wrestlersDear Father, it seems I am a wrestler.

Jacob wrestled with You one night. He held on till daybreak, and You blessed him. In Your blessing, he became part of the promise You gave to Abram: to make him father of a great nation, make his name great, and bless all the earth through him.

For Jacob (renamed Israel) was Abram’s (renamed Abraham’s) grandson. And down through their lineage, You came as Jesus Christ, Messiah and Savior, blessing all the world.

My wrestling is not so productive as Jacob’s.

With simple things: decisions, relationships, or issues which may be meaningless in the grand scheme of things; I spend time and waste energy grappling with whether or not I made a good decision. I review the options, second guessing myself, wondering and worrying about how other choices would have played out. There is no winning there, and no blessing in that.

So Father, help me seek Your godly wisdom in my decisions. Help me bring every choice to You and ask for Your perspective. You tell believers to ask when we need wisdom, and You will give it to us.

Show me how to hear Your voice of truth and then have peace about the decision when made, without revisiting it over and over.

Rather than continue to wrestle with relationships, Lord, I give them to You. Show me how to spend my time and energy, and who to spend it with. Beginnings and endings are hard for me, and I know sometimes You bring a person into my life for a season. But I struggle when that season is over, to know how to let go.

Most of my life I was the one who literally left, moved to a different place. I never really learned how to move on from being close to someone. How do I say good bye when there is no geographical separation? But hanging on too long isn’t working out either.

Move me into and out of the relationships You want me to have, so that I can give and receive the blessings You intended for each of us.

I also wrestle with issues in my life when I have had a single viewpoint. Some are things I learned as a child and accepted without question. Now I have grown and learned that things are not as absolute as I once believed. And even though these beliefs are holding me back and potentially harming me, it’s hard to let go.

Help me have discernment when it comes to examining issues that affect my life, my behavior, even my sense of identity.

Father, as I wrestle with all these things, let me take hold of and cling to only You.

Pry my fingers off of the things that are not important. And bless me as I cling forever to You. Amen

Genesis 32:22-30

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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 powerful hand of healing on us.

Some need a physical healing. Our bodies are weak and wracked with diseases of all sorts, from fevers and rashes to cancer.  In Your Word You healed all who came to You.  Heal us.

Some have mental stress that has caused emotional problems and we are heartsick and even become trapped in addictions.  Heal us.

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.  Heal us.

Father, use Your mighty power to make us a living testimony for You.

I praise You because You not only have the power, but also the authority and the will to heal us. Thank You that You are willing and able.

I welcome Your presence into 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 gratefully give You all that I am. Thank You. Amen

Matthew 8:1-17

Jan 5 I call to You

sky-2667455_640 (1)Psalm 5:3 says “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.”

This has become true as I read Your Word and it becomes the substance of my prayers. So today, I lay myself and my loved ones, one by one before You.

I ask for Your hand to be at work in each of these relationships, and in all our circumstances.

Father, You know what each of us needs better than I do, so I ask for You to work in each of our lives to bring about Your perfect will. In some cases, to break our own will where it is in opposition to Yours and set us back on Your path.

I ask to heal our bodies where there is sickness; to turn our spirits to You where there has been rebellion or going our own way; to soften our hearts so we seek You for help and direction.

Show us how to call out to You where there is disappointment or despair and give us a realization and acknowledgment of the blessings in our lives which come from You.

Where our troubles are the result of bad choices, teach us to learn from them so the experience is not wasted.

Where we are wrestling with spiritual forces, rulers, principalities, authorities, and powers of this dark world and the heavenly realms; destroy them Lord! Declare them guilty O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them and their evil plans from our lives .

I lay our lives at Your feet, knowing that You have the resources, the authority, and the power to achieve even more than I can ask or even imagine. I wait for Your hand to be made visible in the lives of my family and myself so that I can see and rejoice.

We take refuge in You, and in Your mighty power! Spread Your protection over us. Surround us with Your favor as with a shield.

We rejoice in You and we sing for joy! We love Your Name O Lord. Jehovah! Yahweh! Jesus! Messiah! For there is no other name by which we can be saved! Amen

Psalm 5:1-12

Jan 4 the Promise of the Rainbow

rainbow mountains-436171_960_720

Father, I have seen rainbows in the sky all my life.  They are such a beautiful, delicate things.  But more than that, they are a reminder of Your promise to never again destroy the earth by water because of man’s inhumanity to man.

From our side it brings us a sense of wonder and security.  From Yours it is a sign of restraint.  It is a promise that even in Your great power, You will never again destroy all You have created by water. Your love for us is great and Your faithfulness is even greater!

You have sent Your Son, Jesus to walk the earth without sin to be an example for us and a Savior for all mankind.  Thank You for His teachings found in scripture, and for His healings and miracles.

As He healed and gave mercy and relief from distress to the people around Him, You also answer my similar prayers.  I so need your mercy and relief from distress.  When I am overwhelmed, You bring me peace.  When I am set upon by evil, You give me deliverance and relief.

Help me live by Your example.  Do not let me shame You with my words, actions or attitudes.  Teach me to live by the Word You have written.   Show me how to guard my thoughts and my tongue, how to treat others, and be humble.  Do not let me be deceived or misled by the evil one, but open my eyes to those lies.

Father, I believe You have set me apart for Yourself.  I trust completely that what You have planned for me is the best.  Let Your face smile on me.  Fill my heart with joy.  Give me peaceful sleep.  Keep me safe.  I trust in You.  Amen

Genesis 9:8-17; Matthew 4:23-25; Psalm 4:1-8

Dec 28 Wedding Feast of the Lamb

wedding-365943_1920Father, how it seems as if Zechariah and John are talking about the same thing: the end times

 “On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against [Jerusalem]…”  Could that be the battle of Har Meggido [Armageddon]?

In John’s description: “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and all their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.”

And the result of each?  From Zechariah “On that day I will strike every horse with panic and every rider with madness” and from John “The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

banquet-453799_1920Father, in that day there will be such an amazing celebration for You in the heavens!  And with the believers both in heaven and on the earth.  For the day of the wedding supper will have come!

It will be the culmination of the Divine Romance.  According to Jewish customs, the Father of the Groom chooses the Bride.  You, the Father, chose each and every believer!

Also, the Bridegroom traveled from his home to the Bride’s.  You left the majesty of heaven as Jesus and came to earth.

And the Bridegroom paid the price for the Bride – in this case, it was Your very life!  You shed Your precious blood to pay the price for me!  The Bridegroom makes the offer, but the Bride can accept or reject.  You invited me into relationship with You, as You invite each one here on earth.  I accepted the offer to become Your Bride.

Just as in Jewish wedding custom, when I accepted, we became betrothed.  As each believer is now in a state of betrothal, we are set apart, belonging to You, and have the Holy Spirit as a pledge, a seal of the relationship.

The Groom then leaves to prepare a place for them to live.  You left earth, and have gone to prepare a place for me and every believer to join You.  And at the right time, known only by the Father of the Groom, the Groom returns to take the Bride to be together.

The right time, known only to You, the Father, is this day these prophets are speaking about when they say: “The wedding of the Lamb has come.”

And what an entrance You make!  No better scene was ever directed in an epic movie!

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True… His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.   He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.   Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations…On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” 

What a glorious day!!  What a day of rejoicing!  I can’t wait!  Amen!

Zechariah 12:1-9; Revelation 19:1-21

 

Dec 25 God in flesh

Father, John tells of a day when Your wrath will be poured out upon the earth.  After the seven seals are broken with their judgments, and the seven trumpets sound with their disasters, then the seven bowls of Your wrath will be given to angels to pour out upon the earth.  And then,  “out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” 

Your ultimate judgment will be carried out.  “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, You who are and who were…true and just are Your judgments.”

I do not know when that day will come.  But I trust in Your righteousness.  And I trust in Your timing.  And if I am alive then, I will rejoice in that day.

20161223_231820Today, however, is a day of a different kind of rejoicing.  Although it is not historically accurate, it is the day chosen and set aside to remember and celebrate when You came to earth to bring salvation!

It is the day believers all over the world celebrate the day You clothed Yourself in the flesh of a tiny babe.  You gave up all the glory and splendor of heaven to be with people here on earth.  You submitted Yourself to the frailties of flesh to be an example to everyone, of how to live, and how to love.

You brought Your love to earth in a way people could see and follow.

Today: a remembrance and celebration of the love You poured out on earth.

One day in the future: of Your judgment poured out on earth.

I am truly blessed to be alive between the two.  I can experience the salvation You brought.  I can live in the love You showed, and be inspired to live my life as a reflection of that love.

Father, help me follow Your example.

As You poured out Your love and sacrifice, bringing salvation to earth, let me show a bit of that unconditional love to those around me.  Let me be show kindness, patience, support, being generous with all You have given to me.

One day You will “Part Your heavens, Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke.   Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.”  For now, “You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge”.

And I am blessed.  Thank You.  Amen

Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-8

 

Dec 5 Peace in the storm

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

Jesus calms sea

Father, You are 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 shown 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 3 Pray for peace

Father, my trips to the Holy Land were so wonderful!  They were spiritually uplifting, eye-opening and life-changing.  Our four weeks in Jordan, Israel and Egypt left me with the ability to visualize places now when I read Your Word, that make it come more alive!

Jerusalemdscn0137

The eight days in Jerusalem amazed me as I saw people from all over the world visiting there.  It truly is the crossroads of three continents, with trade and cultural influences from Europe, Asia and Africa.

It is also a crossroad in a spiritual sense.

Muslims trace their roots back to Abraham, and worship there, holding Jerusalem as a holy place.  It is the place of David, Solomon and Jesus, peace be upon them, who were great prophets in Islam.  Besides Dome of the Rock being there, Jerusalem was the first city Muslims turned to pray towards, many years before it was changed to Mecca.

Jews also worship in Jerusalem as the seed of Abraham their patriarch, and believe it was given to them by You in Your promise to Abraham.  David brought the Arc of the Covenant there, and Solomon built a Temple where You placed Your Name and Your Presence was seen, making it a holy place.

And Christians hold Jerusalem in reverence because of the great history of our roots, but mostly because You walked, were crucified and rose from the dead there.

The prophets say You will come again to Jerusalem.  You are the Prince of Peace and You will bring peace.  David tells me in Psalm 122 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

So, Heavenly Father, I ask for Your peace in Jerusalem now.  Would You place in the hearts of each individual there, whether young or old, man or woman, Arab or Israeli, politician or shopkeeper, a sense of unity and a desire for Your peace to invade the Middle East.

Father, for the Christians there empower those believers with courage to live out their faith in unity as Your body.  Let there be unity in their churches, so the people who are seeing them are not put off of believing in You because of Your followers. Give these believers an extra dose of Your protection so they can live out Your love in front of an unbelieving world.

Lord, protect them as they witness to their unbelieving friends and neighbors.  Protect their lives, families, businesses, and possessions as they spread Your love and Your Word through their spoken and unspoken testimony.  Cause a revival in their lives, so they are filled to overflowing with Your love and Your blessing and want to share it with others.

Prepare the hearts and spirits of unbelievers to hear Your Word and believers’ testimonies.  Cause them to question whatever it is they are believing in now: another religion, a government power, a cultural system of beliefs.  Open their eyes and ears to see and hear what is happening around them.  And open their spirits to understand and discern spiritual truth.

Speak to unbelievers as only You can.  Give them dreams and visions that lead them to the truth of who You are.  Let them hear Your Word in their own language.  Let them see examples of godly lives lived out.

Tear the veil away from their minds that keeps Your truth in darkness.  Reveal Yourself to them in ways that will lead them to accept You as their own personal Savior.  And let that have an impact on them individually, and then on their families, their neighbors, their community, their culture and their nations.

Let Your message of truth and peace spread from one to another in a way that no government or oppressive organization can stop!

Father, because this is a world-wide issue, send and empower godly leaders and counselors to countries around the world who recognize and acknowledge You as Supreme and Sovereign God.

PrayforPeace

I pray for Your Word to invade the earth.  And for Your Will to be done in all the earth.  If this will only happen when You return, then I pray for Your quick return.  For You are the Prince of Peace.  You wept over Jerusalem.  And You can bring peace back to her.   Father, bring Your peace.  Amen

Psalm 122:1-9

Sept 30 Time to Arise!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept 28 Victory in Jesus!

Father, I desire to “be strong in You and in Your mighty power.”   And to “take my stand against the devil’s schemes.”

I realize that my battle is not with the people around me, or my circumstances, although I sometimes feel at war with these.  My struggle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  And the armor You have given me is perfectly suited to what I need.

roman shieldI wear the “Helmet of Salvation” – which bears Your insignia, letting all know in whose army I fight.  It guards my head, but also my thoughts.  It reminds me to take every thought captive and compare it to Your truth.

You have given me a “Belt of Truth” with which I can recognize the lies of the enemy.  Help me not be mesmerized by what I think I want to hear, so that I do not look deeply enough to recognize a lie when I hear it.

You have given me a “Breastplate of Righteousness” so that stabs and attacks glance off without doing harm.  With deeper protection, it is like the forerunner to the bulletproof vest which stops and arrests projectiles before they can hurt me.

You “fit my feet with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace”.   People may remove their shoes when entering a home or as a sign of relaxing.  But when shoes are put on, it signifies a readiness for action.

As a believer, my action should be directed toward sharing the “Good News” or the “Gospel” with others.   My faith in the Good News of my salvation gives me traction to be able to “stand firm.”  “So that when the day of evil comes, I will be able to stand my ground.”

“In addition to all this, take up the Shield of Faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  This is not some little garbage can lid with a handle!  The shields Paul was seeing were those of the Roman guard.

They covered the soldier’s body and were wide enough so when they stood together it made a formidable wall.  And thick enough to block and stop sword, spear, arrow and javelin.

Father, every time You do what You say, keep Your promise, deliver me from some trouble, or stand with me in some hardship, it builds my faith.  It strengthens my Shield!  And when I stand beside other believers in their faith, I am protected even more!

And I take up the “Sword of the Spirit” – Your Holy Word.  There is such power in Your Word!  Evil trembles and turns back at the mention of Your name.  Praying Your Words back to You by using scripture empowers my prayers.

When I am dressed in Your armor, and wielding Your weapons, I am a mighty force!

Your armor is the best.  With it I can stand firm.  I can stand against the schemes of the evil one.

When You fight with me and for me, it is You who give me the victory!  And I receive the blessing.  Thank You!  Amen

Ephesians 6:10-17

Sept 27 The Price of Salvation

Father, sometimes I forget all You went through in order for me to have salvation and be back in right standing and in right relationship with You.  It’s so easy to focus on my own problems and all the things that are falling short of my hopes for me, and my family members.  It must sound like childish whining compared to what You endured for my sake.

cross-106416_640Isaiah tells me You were “despised and rejected…a man of suffering, familiar with pain…

You took up our pain and bore our suffering…

were pierced for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on You, and by Your wounds, we are healed.”

And the infamous words: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and The Lord has laid  on Him, the iniquity of us all.”

So it was my doing that brought You to the place of suffering.  You endured betrayal, beating, whipping, scourging, unbelievable pain, unbearable suffering, and  crucifixion on a cross; all so I can be healed of my sin – choosing my own way.

I am so humbled.  And so ashamed.  And so very grateful.

Thank You for enduring all You did, for me.  Remind me every time I start to whine, or complain about my own problems, that in comparison, they are light and temporary trials.

Thank You that even with all You went through for me, You still love me.  You still care for me.  Remind me to approach You — not with an attitude of greediness, but with one of gratefulness.

In proving Your love so completely, I can only have faith, that whatever I face now, You will deliver me, in Your own providential, miraculous or mysterious way.

I believe that what You say You will do, You are able and capable to do.  I completely trust in Your faithfulness.  Thank You that You are my Father, my Savior, my King.  Amen

Isaiah 53:3-12

Aug 29 The veil is torn

06_GNPI_098_Jesus_Dies_1024“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”!   What joyful words! Father, there was a curtain, a veil in front of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and in the Temple. It separated the people from Your personal presence.   Only the High Priest went inside the veil, and only once a year, to make atonement for all Your people.

But when You died on the cross in Jerusalem, the actual veil in the Temple there was literally torn. It was ripped in half from top to bottom, forever giving access, through the cross, to the Holy of Holies. To Your presence.

Where You are “there is freedom”.   But the world and the evil one seek to take that freedom away. The philosophies of man say there is no absolute truth, and that morality is relative to the times and accepted behaviors of whatever society I live in.

The world would have me walk around veiled by falsehoods that deny Your existence, Your power and Your authority on this earth. They deny You are the Creator, and encourage me to worship false idols, or even myself as “god.”

Father, help me see clearly, and not “drink the kool-aid” of these false beliefs. Do not let me be veiled by anything that would keep me from You. But let me “with unveiled face, reflect the Lord’s glory, being transformed into His likeness …”. So that others around me also see You through me.

Rid me of those things that are not of You: selfishness, greed, pride. Let me produce the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, faithfulness…

“Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain. To the place where You dwell.” Father, let me know Your truth, from Your Word, so well, that I recognize any falsehood. That way I will not be led astray by anything counterfeit. Keep me securely established and living in Your presence. For there is “my joy and my delight”. And I will praise You. Amen

II Corinthians 3:11-18; Psalm 43:3-4

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 20 Love

love-699480_640Father, help me be more loving. I am so convicted today of falling short in this area. Help me love my family the way You would love them. It seems they are the people I count on most for support, yet they are the ones that test me the most and I often end up acting the least loving towards.

Help me be patient with them, remembering how very patient You are with me. If I become angry, let me bring that to You and not take it out on them. Help me deal with the anger and frustration I feel prayerfully first. Then, let me go to them if there are issues, and speak the truth in love.

Help me let go of past hurts so I don’t’ “keep a record of wrongs” and try and even the score, or somehow treat them as though they owe me something.   You are very clear that if I do not have love, everything else I do is insignificant.

Help me love my friends more. It is somehow easier to be patient with my friends. But I find myself having to deal with attitudes and emotions like envy and pride. It’s so hard not to compare myself. And feelings of envy or jealousy definitely get in the way of relationships.   They color communication and hinder closeness.

Father, You are every one of these characteristics of love, perfected. And I need Your help. I don’t want to be a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. All the other things I have done for family and friends may fall away and be forgotten. But what they will remember is whether I loved them.

Lord, what I can see now is that envy, impatience, boasting, all the things that love is not, are childish. Help me “put childish ways behind me”. I have grown up physically and mentally. Help me to grow up spiritually. Help me treat the people You place in my life, first and foremost, with love.   Amen

I Corinthians 13:1-13

July 13 Creation Speaks

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Father, I have heard many stories of how missionaries would go into a place no ‘civilized’ man had been before, and the native people already knew of You. They had a name for You. They knew Your character. And that You are the One True God who created and rules the universe.

Even if they had never seen a Bible, a preacher, or watched the “Jesus” film, they already knew of Your love and Your sacrifice for them and their sin. They understood their need of a Savior to be in restored relationship with You.

When I read Romans, it becomes clear that this is part of Your plan. You are not dependent on modern methods to spread Your Gospel, the Good News.

When I first saw “Jesus Christ Superstar”, I resonated with the line in the song “if You’d come today You could have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4BC had no mass communication”.   Meaning that if You had waited, You could have had world wide coverage of the event. Practically everyone in the world could have watched Your birth, life, death and resurrection on CNN or a televised reality show. But that wasn’t Your plan.

Paul writes such long and wordy sentences that it’s sometimes hard to follow. But I’m understanding from him that it is not in Your character to judge someone who is unaware of who You are. So to be just, You have given everyone the knowledge of truth. Paul is saying that You are judging people who know You but intentionally suppress the truth of who You are.

They know this, because You have made it plainly clear to them. Ever since You created the world, You used that creation to display and clearly reveal Your eternal power and Divine Nature. That means man is without excuse! There is no reason, when seeing this world and all that’s in it, anyone could deny Your existence, Your character, or Your power.

Thank You for reaching every person with an understanding of who You are. Thank You for showing me so much of Your amazing creation.

I have seen Your majesty in the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, vast oceans, wooded valleys, mighty rushing rivers, wide meadows, sand filled deserts. I have seen Your imaginative beauty in dazzlingly colorful sunrises and sunsets, fields of vibrantly colored flowers, and in the eyes and smiles of people of all colors.

I have watched Your mighty power in thunderheads building, lightening storms flashing, tornadoes whirling, waves crashing. Your spectacular creativity is displayed in the vivid and delicate colors of nature – especially in birds and bugs. Your dizzying workings are seen in the intricacies of tree roots and human nervous and circulatory systems.

Thank You that You have made Yourself evident. And for the unimaginably beautiful and amazing way You have done it. Amen

Romans 1:18-20

June 2 Guide me

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Father, thank You for meeting me where I am. Don’t ever let me try to live life without You. Even when I don’t know which way to go, I desire the companionship of Your company and the blessing You offer when I am following Your instruction.

 

After Your resurrection, several of Your disciples returned to fishing. But one long night when their efforts yielded no catch, You found them. From the shore, You told them to throw down their nets on the right side of the boat. And an enormous catch was brought in. You blessed their obedience.

Father, when I feel lost, find me wherever I am. Show me how to be obedient and where the blessing is. Thank You for this lesson that even when I come to the end of my efforts and have tried to do things on my own, You stand ready to show me the way. Help me be humble enough to accept Your instruction, and obedient to follow it. Amen

John 21:1-14 

June 1 Help me act in belief

“Stop doubting and believe.”

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Often I have heard that people think being a Christian means checking your brain at the door and believing in something blindly.   But Jesus, here You give me an example of just the opposite.

You say to Thomas (who has been forever since called ‘Doubting Thomas’) to ‘stop doubting and believe’. But You were not just a voice in the dark asking him to believe blindly. You were standing right in front of him. You were offering to let him see and touch and feel what was real. You provided proof for his faith.

But it is often the same with me. I can be stubborn in my reluctance to go forward out of fear of failure or embarrassment or things not working out; even when You are standing in front of me.   You can offer proof to me because You see things I can’t. You already know how things will work out.

Lord, help me take the steps You direct me to take, in boldness. Don’t let me be frozen by fear, or hesitate in half-heartedness. Do not let me doubt Your Word or Your leading. Remind me of Your faithfulness to me in the past.

As You breathed the Holy Spirit on Your disciples, breath a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit on me. Let me be empowered anew by You living in me.

As Thomas responded with belief, it seems he should be known as ‘Believing Thomas’. But I think more people can relate to his position before he saw You. So it’s a good lesson for everyone. Thank You for showing me that I need not doubt. Help me be bold, in belief. Amen

John 20:19-29  

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 29 You Word is Light!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 119:105,108

May 28 Your protection

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Lord God, thank You for praying for me. Thank You for looking into the future and identifying “those who would believe in You through their [the disciples] message.” 

Thank You for protecting me by the power of Your name because I am Yours.

Thank You for praying for me Yourself, personally; not to take me out of this world, but to protect me from the evil one in this world.   That includes the arrogant who dig pitfalls for me trying to entrap me by their political intrigues, their social agendas, and their false philosophies that are contrary to what You teach in Your Word.

It includes those who would persecute me because they hate You, and those who want to see me wiped from the earth. And the wicked, waiting to destroy me, my health, my finances, my relationships, and defeat my spirit. Thank You that You have the power to preserve my life and all these things according to Your love.

When I do not feel strong help me remember Your Word. Your Word is eternal. Its promises are true forever. Just as the earth You created still stands, Your truth still stands. Your faithfulness and love are steadfast and boundless. Thank You for the encouragement of Your prayer for me. And for the protection I have in You. Amen

John 17:6-26; Psalm 119:81-96

May 27 Your Peace

jesuslookingatworld-975x1005Father, thank You that in these verses You are speaking to me plainly.   Thank You that You stand outside of time. You can see the end even before the beginning has happened.

Before You laid the foundation of the earth, You knew the people You would create would turn away from You, and would require the sacrifice only You could make. Thank You for the plan You put in place for my salvation and reconciliation with You.

The events You prepared Your disciples for were not the end. You told them what would happen so they would have peace. Not peace in their circumstances, but peace knowing who You were, and in the Holy Spirit You would send to comfort and teach them.

Even now is not the end! In these verses, You looked even farther forward to see when You overcome the world! So I, too, can take these words to heart. I have the whole of Your Word so I can know who You are, and in my relationship with You, I can have peace whatever my circumstances. In this world, I will have trouble. But I also know that You have overcome this world! And in the end, You triumph! And because I am with You, it is my triumph too!

While I am still here though, I join with the requests of the psalmist. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, Lord. I want to make wise decisions that support Biblical values. Teach me what You desire of me. Even if the arrogant disagree and slander me, keep me true to Your teachings. Give me the understanding I need to be able to apply what Your Word says to my life and circumstances. You made me and placed me in these times, in this family, in this culture. So help me discern across time and culture, how to walk in Your truth and live righteously.

Father, comfort me with Your unfailing love. Teach me and treat me with compassion. When I am attacked or maligned, defend me.   Help me live according to all You show me in Your power and Your faithfulness. Encourage me. And give me Your peace. Amen

John 16:1-33; Psalm 119:65-80

May 25 Holy Spirit You are welcome here

earth-1738059_1920Lord, thank You for letting me live in a time when You have sent Your presence to be with believers continuously. In the Old Testament scriptures, You visited people in physical form, or You were ‘with’ them for a time, but not like You are now. I remember Gideon saw You, and after speaking face to face, made an offering You accepted and consumed with fire.

You were ‘with’ Saul, but then You left him. When You were with David, You promised to never take Your love away from him or his descendants, and to be their Father. This was something new.

When You walked on the earth, You were with Your disciples day to day in the flesh.   You taught and guided them in truth. But that was short-lived.  What You promised them, and what they received, had never been heard of before.

People made their own gods. They imagined what powers the god had, then they fashioned a wood or stone or a ceramic figure to worship. This god could only be at one place and only at one time, and could not hear or speak, move or act.

What You did was truly revolutionary!

You have sent a part of Yourself to every believer! Your presence can be felt and experienced by every single person who has accepted You as Lord. We call this presence the Holy Spirit, or the Counselor, or the Holy Ghost: the third part of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is given to every person who believes that You are the One True God. It is invisible but present as a Spirit of Truth who teaches, reminds, comforts, convicts, and guides.

Thank You for this marvelous presence that acts as a helper, teacher, revealer, comforter, strengthener, renewer, and so much more.

Thank You that You are real and true and not crafted by man. Help me hear what the Spirit says, and understand what the Spirit teaches. Do not let me do anything that would hinder or impede the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Thank You for this tremendous, invaluable gift. Amen

2 Samuel 7:1-29; John 14:15-31

May 24 Audience of One

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Father, may I share the joy that David showed as he danced and worshipped before You! I love the times when it’s just You and me, and I can sing as if no one else is listening, dance as if no one else is watching and pour out my heart to You. Whether in thanksgiving and joy or in discouragement and need, it is a truly special time. Thank You for those times of pure worship. I don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks – I have an audience of One.

And thank You for the reassurance that You have gone before me to prepare a place for me. And that You will come back and take me to be with You. As a reminder I have a half sheet of paper on my mirror that says:

‘Have gone to prepare a place for you – be back soon! Love, Jesus’

As if You just stepped out and may return any minute! I see it every day, and it reminds me of this truth. Thank You for this confidence. I may be here when You return, and will see You coming in the clouds to be reunited.   Or I may breathe my last and close my eyes on this earth to open them in Your presence.

Either way, what a blessing! In the words of Psalm 119, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things” You have for me, and have an understanding of the blessings of Your Word. Amen

2 Samuel 6:12-23; John 14:1-4; Psalm 119:18

May 23 Live in humility

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Dear Jesus, what a beautiful example You gave of servant leadership when You took it upon Yourself to do the menial job of washing Your disciples’ dirty feet.

These were not regularly pedicured, sweet smelling feet, but the dusty, stinky, calloused feet of men who traveled on foot wherever they went.   The paths they walked on were not paved or grassy. They were dirty and dusty, and were shared with not only people, but animals who no doubt used the paths for more than walking. I can imagine, try as one might, stepping in such deposits was inevitable.

But You took on the role of a servant to show that I too, need to be willing to act humbly.

I have attended marriage retreats and Christian women’s retreats where we did this activity. It was a humbling experience to have someone else wash my feet. And it felt more natural to me to wash someone else’s. But it goes beyond just the activity because it is symbolic.

It is easier to wash someone’s feet occasionally than to put their needs before my own on a daily basis. It is easier to wash just their feet than deal with the whole person; especially when they aren’t being pleasant, or I’m feeling unappreciated, or I really just want my own way.

Thank You for Your example. Help me live up to it with the people You put in my life. And thank You for the words of Psalm 119 that remind me how to live. Help me live my life making decisions and choosing behaviors that are in line with Your teachings. Teach me the meaning of Your instructions so I can live within Your blessing. Show me how to apply Your Word in my own life as I read, study, meditate, memorize and delight in it.

You promise to hear the prayers of the righteous. And because of Your sacrifice, I have Your righteousness. Thank You. Amen

John 13:1-30; Psalm 119:1-16; Proverb 15:29

 

May 20 Wisdom, prophecy, life, death

Wisdom, prophecy, life and death. All are in Your hands.

hands-reaching-outDavid showed Your wisdom when he did not kill Saul, the one You anointed as king over Israel. He prophesied when he said “the Lord Himself will strike him”. David recognized that a man’s life and death are for You to determine.

Saul showed wisdom when he acknowledged his sin acting like a fool trying to kill a man who had spared his life twice. He prophesied when he said, to David “you will do great things and surely triumph”. He too, recognized that You had spared his life through David and that David’s life was not his to take.

The woman who acted as a medium recognized her life could have been forfeit for what she did, had You not allowed Saul to hear again from Samuel the prophecy You had already given through him: that Saul would lose the kingdom because of his disobedience and it would be given to David. You also revealed that Saul would die the next day.

In one of Your most dramatic public miracles You demonstrated that You are the resurrection and the life by raising Lazarus to life. It was Your wisdom to wait when the word came He was sick so that this greater miracle could be done. You prophesied to Your disciples that “this sickness will not end in death” so that You would be glorified through the circumstances to follow. And although the disciples didn’t understand at the time, You were given glory as many who saw, believed.

Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year thought he was being wise, but actually prophesied when he said “it is better that one man die for the people than the whole nation perish”.   For You did indeed lay down Your very life so that Your people would have everlasting life.

Thank You that these important issues are in the hands of the One, Almighty God who judges justly and can be trusted because of Your faithfulness and love for Your people. My life and times are in Your hands. I know that my life came from You and nothing can take it out of Your hands.

Give me wisdom to live each day in faith. Show me how to use my gifts, talents, abilities and experiences to the fullest measure to bring You honor and glory every day that I have. And then close my eyes in peace when the final day arrives, to reawaken in Your eternal presence. Amen

I Samuel 26:1-25; 28:3-25; John 11:1-53

 

May 18 My Good Shepherd

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Sheep?? Father here you refer to believers as sheep again.   Those dumb, smelly animals that seem to have no sense at all! Without a shepherd looking out for them and rescuing them, they will perish. They walk into running water, and due of the weight of their wet hair can be pulled under and drown.

They walk into briers and thorny thickets and get their hair so tangled they can’t move and will stand there till they starve. Or they will wander away until they are too far from their protection and fall victim to predatory animals.

But in the same way, they are perfect to describe me. I can go after something I think I want, taking risks till I am in a place where I am lost, and no longer safe. I can find myself entangled in circumstances and relationships feeling like there’s no way out. I have found myself in over my head with things moving so fast around me I become unbalanced and in danger of being swept away. I too need a shepherd.

You describe Yourself as The Good Shepherd, who knows His sheep, who will not lose one of His sheep, and who lays down His life for His sheep. And takes it up again. And for my part, even a stupid sheep knows their Shepherd’s voice. And I have heard Yours.

You speak to me in Your Word of Your unconditional, sacrificial love for me. You encourage me with scriptures that offer inspiration and strength. You offer me direction with an inaudible voice in my heart. You amaze and bless me with the beauty and diversity of Your Creation: flowers, sunsets, vistas of mountains and beaches, a child’s face, a friend’s smile.

Thank You that You are my Good Shepherd, Lord. And that I am Your sheep. Amen

John 10:1-21

May 9 How to remember

elephant-1090834_640Lord, thank You for the reminders in scripture today. Reminders of things You’ve already shown me this year, but bear repeating so I can really get it! I need to mark the victories in my life, and trust that You can do much with little.

ebenezerWhen You defeated the Philistines with Your thunder, Samuel set up a stone there and named it Ebenezer. From the Hebrew ‘even’ – pronounced eh-ben – meaning stone and ‘ezer’ meaning help: it is a ‘stone of help’.   Stones would last a long time, so for generations, when anyone passed by the ‘Stone of Help’ they would be reminded that God helped and delivered them at this place in the battle against the Philistines.

I too can commemorate significant moments in my life with things that remind me of Your deliverance and impact. It could be a piece of art, or jewelry, a song, poem or picture, something placed on my desk or walls or in my home or yard that has meaning to me, so that when someone comments on it, I can give the reason for its significance. That would be a fitting testimony to Your greatness. More than that, whenever I see it, it would be an encouragement to me of Your faithfulness and power in my life.

When You took the small offering of a young boy, two fish and five barley rolls, and fed five thousand with it, with much left over to spare; it reminds me that whatever gifts I bring to You, You can bless and multiply and use for purposes to glorify Your name. On those days when I feel like I have little to offer, I will remember that when I give it to You, the result is not dependent on the size of the gift. Whatever I bring, You can do and accomplish much more that I can even imagine.

Thank You for these reminders today, Lord. I will think back to remember times and events where You impacted my life in significant ways. And I will make my own ‘Ebenezers’ to be reminders for me and to be markers to others. And I will learn what my gifts are, and give them over to You to multiply and use to bless others. Thank You for knowing I need help remembering. Thank You for telling me over and over again about the things that are important, and of Your love for me. Amen

I Samuel 7:1-17; John 6:1-13

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

May 5 To save You reach around the world

hands-600497_640Lord God, You amaze me at how You use simple, ordinary people, men and women, to accomplish Your purpose. You sent believers all the way to Moab, at least sixty miles across the desert during a famine to reach Your faithful servant Ruth.

She made the famous statement, “Where you go I will go, where you stay I will stay, your people will be my people and your God my God” to her mother-in-law Naomi. Her faith and trust in You led her to be part of Your amazing plan of salvation, as she was in the lineage You were born into.

Here in the flesh You stopped in a Samaritan town and spoke to an immoral woman, something a respectable Jew would not have done. And in doing so, brought her the message of Your salvation. Through her, You saved many Samaritans that day.

You chose for me to be born into a believing family. Wherever I was, You were there with me, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, France, Arkansas, Arizona, Kansas, Virginia, Colorado. All through those formative years, You made Your presence known to me. Even though everything else about my life changed: house, school, church, community, friends; You were always there.

There are so many who still do not believe You are who You are – Creator, Savior, King of Kings, Master, Wonderful Counselor, the One True God. But I know that You will move heaven and earth to reach them. You can use natural and divine events, travel across continents, reach into unrespectable communities, to make Yourself known.

You can speak through a hurricane or a whisper, reveal Yourself in a majestic mountain or a delicate flower.   I trust You can bring my loved ones who I pray for to a saving knowledge of You.

Help me do my part. I can pray for them. I will let them see me praise You in good times and in bad. I will love them, and do my best to give them godly assistance and direction.   Show me when to speak and when to hold my tongue. Show me how to behave in a way that will draw them to You. Help me remove any stumbling block that would keep them from coming to You.

Lord I thank You and praise You in advance for the celebration in heaven when they come to know You as Savior and live to glorify Your Name! Amen

Ruth 1:1-22; John 4:4-42

May 3 Breath of Life

What an interesting picture You painted for the man I call ‘Nic at night’: the Pharisee who came to You at night to ask questions. When he asked about being part of the Kingdom of God, You said to enter the Kingdom of God, one “must be born of water and the Spirit.”

One birth is from a watery darkness, the other a spiritual darkness. Our physical birth is from a dark, water-filled womb into the light of the sun here on earth. Our spiritual birth is from the dark realm of the evil one into the Light of the Son and into the kingdom of God.

breathofGodAdam and Eve are the only humans born only of the Spirit. You created their bodies and breathed Your breath into them, giving them physical AND spiritual life. The Hebrew word ‘ruach’ is translated as breath and spirit. They were spiritually alive and were able to walk and talk and have relationship with You. When they sinned, the punishment was physical and spiritual death. Physically, their bodies would die. And spiritually, they were separated from You and no longer had the same intimate fellowship with You.

Every human being since them was born by water, but is not spiritually alive until Your ‘ruach’, Your breath or spirit enters them. This happens at their spiritual birth.

Probably the most well known scripture is in today’s reading. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” This is Your provision for that spiritual birth. When a person believes the truth of Your sacrifice and accepts that offer of Your sacrifice paying for their sin, Your ‘ruach’, Your Holy Spirit enters into them.

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Thank You Father for Your great love. Thank You for having a plan of spiritual birth giving me eternal life even after sin had entered the world and affected every human being. Thank You for being willing to make the tremendous sacrifice for me to be able to join the Kingdom of God. Amen

John 3:1-21

May 1 I believe

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“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In today’s scripture You come onto the scene and are recognized as Messiah, the Lamb of God, the One who saves! You came in the flesh, to my physical world to sacrifice Yourself to make a way for me to be reconciled to You. You are the Only Way. Yet there are still people who do not recognize You for who You are.

 

John recognized You because he was spiritually aware. You revealed to him that the one on whom he saw the Spirit of a dove come down and rest, was the Son of God. He saw that Spirit rest on You and could then know for certain, proclaim and testify that You are the Son of God.

Two of John’s disciples first followed You because they had studied with John. They knew the scriptures, the prophecies and trusted John’s testimony, so they believed. Nathanael believed because You knew things about him You could not have naturally known.

Lord God, You call and You save. But it is my personal decision whether to respond to or ignore Your call. It is my choice to accept Your salvation or reject it. I hear Your call and follow You. I accept Your free gift of eternal salvation. But, there are so many who do not. Lord God, Your Word says it is Your will that every single human being would be saved from the penalty of their sin. That penalty is death, eternal separation from You. You desire that they would answer Your call and accept Your payment for that sin and be reconciled to You.

Some will come to You because they are aware of spiritual truth, like John. Some will come because they study out the scriptures for themselves, or because someone they trust will share with them, like John’s disciples. Some will come because they see You doing things, miracles, that are not naturally possible. Father open the ears of those who do not yet know You, so they can hear Your call to them. Sensitize their minds, hearts, and spirits so they are ready to accept Your salvation. And show me how I can speak or act in a way that will draw people to You. Use me to point them to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.

A time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I can’t wait! Amen

John 1:29-51

Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 24:13-53

Apr 27 Your attention, Your abundance

golgotha-1863767_640O Jesus. How hard it is to read of the awful beatings, the unfair treatment and the terrible crucifixion You endured. I cannot even imagine the pain You suffered and the overwhelming agony. So many around You were unsympathetic and called for Your death. Yet even in the midst of all this, You were concerned with others.

When they crucified You, You called out for their forgiveness. And even as You were dying, You were not too busy to listen to the petition of one of Your hurting children, the man on the cross next to You. He asked only that You remember him, and You gave him paradise.

Father, You are like that with me. You hold the whole world together by Your power: the earth, the stars, the solar system. The motion of the seas is in Your hand, every storm, every person on the earth, not even a sparrow falls without Your awareness. Yet You are never too busy to hear my cry, my prayer, my thanks. Thank You, that I can come to You at any time and have Your attention.

And You always give more than You are asked. The thief asked for remembrance, You gave him paradise. Your mercy and grace overflows. Your lavish abundance is so great. Many times I ask for something and You blow me away with Your generosity and graciousness. And even when the answer is no, or wait, I can trust that You have my best in mind. Thank You for knowing even better than I, what I need. And for providing it.

The thief said “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” It is the same with me. My deeds deserve death.   Only Your blood pays the penalty for my sin, and awards me life, not death.

Thank You for enduring death on a cross, so that I can walk with You in eternity. Thank You Father, for paradise.   Amen

Luke 23:25-43

 

Apr 18 Learn from a tax collector

Lord, make me like Zacchaeus!

ZacchaeusLet me be willing to do whatever I need to do to see You and hear from You personally! Even if it means doing something that might make me look silly to others; like climbing a tree! (as Zacchaeus did)

Let me be completely changed by Your presence and Your words. Zacchaeus became charitable. And he was willing to recognize his wrongs, and right them! Help me look and see where I need to right any wrongs I’ve done and take on new, positive character traits.

For being a ‘wee little man’ he made a BIG impact on people around him; especially those who saw the change in him. Father, change what needs to be changed in me, and let me make a godly impact on all those around me. Amen

Luke 19:1-10

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

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“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life. Father, I devote that life to You. You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

Father, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now. Things that I cannot see how, and have no evidence will ever happen. I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen. There are so many hopes and dreams I have that may never come true. Yet I completely trust that if they are what is best for me or my family, You will bring them to be.

Because You make Your servant glad, and bring me joy!   And out of that abundance, I will give glory to Your name.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar. First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him. Father, when I have a need, let me come straight to You confident that You have the desire and the power to help. And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked, he knew exactly what he wanted. Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, as You answered the beggars, let other people see it and praise You!

I praise You Lord, with all my heart, as I bring my requests to You. I ask for Your strength when I am under attack. When I am discouraged let me feel Your presence. Increase my faith as I learn truth from Your Word and apply it to my life. Guide me in Your wisdom, and give me discernment.   Let me always honor and revere You.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble. I know You will answer me. For all this and more, I thank You Lord. Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

Apr 15 Let me be the one

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Only one in ten came back to thank You, Jesus, for a healing that was a complete miracle. These men had become outcasts in their society. They stood at a distance and shouted ‘unclean’ because that’s what they were required to do by law. A person with leprosy was called ‘untouchable’, and could not approach another person; but had to keep their distance from uninfected people.

Leprosy was a disease that progressed once you were infected, so there was really no hope of ever being ‘cured’ or being able to participate in society again. Family, loved ones, friends, were all relinquished, as these lepers were put out into communities of their own. They would never again be able to hold their child, kiss their beloved, shake hands with a friend, or give a warm embrace to a family member.   This disease brought a new, cruel way of living to those cursed by it.

So for this disease process to be cured, reversed, was an absolute miracle! For those ten men to once again enter society and be able to touch and be touched, changed every aspect of their lives completely.

I wonder then, why did only one turn and express his thanks? Were the other nine being obedient – going first to show the priest as You told them?   Did they intend to come back later? Were they unsure the healing was real? Were they so filled with joy at the prospect of all it meant to be healed, that they forgot You, their Healer?

You point out that the one who returned was a foreigner. Perhaps that one did not feel worthy of a Jewish healing from a Jewish Master? Perhaps the others felt deserving of what they received?

I don’t know. But it does speak to my heart of how often I too, forget to thank You. I take for granted so many things until I am reminded like this. Or until I see someone who is worse off than me, or has bigger problems. Or until I lose something, and realize I wasn’t really grateful while I had it.

Father, help me begin every day with thanks and praise to You – for life, for breath, for energy to rise, for clothes to wear, food to eat, clear thinking to reason with, a home, transportation, loved ones, hope, faith, love in my life. Help me express my gratitude and thank You in word, in song, in praise, in the way I treat others, for the trials and the blessings in my life!

Let me always be like the one. Amen

Luke 17:11-19

Apr 6 Blessing or Curse?

Blessing Curse

“See I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse“. You present me with two choices. Who in their right mind would choose to be cursed instead of being blessed?? Yet although You spell out very clearly the requirements for each; time and time again people chose to disobey, bringing curses into their lives.

You did not hide who You are or how to please You from these people. You plainly spoke to them through Moses. As Your Word says, You did not place this knowledge beyond their reach. They did not have to mystically ascend to the heavens or even cross a sea to find it. Neither do I. You proclaimed it before them in words they understood. And You share it with me in many translations and versions of the Bible so I can know one from the other. I choose blessing.

Centuries later when You ate with a Pharisee, and the others questioned, You spoke plainly to them about the hypocrisy of their lives. You told them it was more important to live a pure life in terms of character and attitude rather than just ‘look good’ from the outside. They were to give to the poor, not neglect justice, and be instruments of Your love. You challenged them to put down pride and be humble before the people they were supposed to be teaching.

You warned them that they were hindering the people in their understanding of scripture by loading them down with superfluous requirements they themselves didn’t even do. You explained how they hid the key to knowledge so no one could enter in the door the key would have unlocked. You accused them of revering the prophets You had sent, only after they had killed them.

As You spoke to them, they could have responded to all this teaching and rebuking with humility and obedience. But they did not. You speak to hypocrisy in my life too. Father, let me respond with humility and obedience. Again, I choose the blessing.

Your Word teaches me how to live in a way to receive Your blessing. Not only that, but Jesus, You came to show me and teach me by example. One way is life, all others are death. I choose life. Thank You for showing me the way. Amen

Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20; Luke 11:37-54

Mar 31 God makes a little a lot

13_Jesus_5000_1024A crowd came because they were hungry to hear from and be healed by You, Jesus. In staying late, they also grew hungry physically. Your chosen disciples had only five loaves of bread and two fish; not even enough to feed the twelve of them, much less a crowd of five thousand.

But You took what was there, looked up to heaven, gave thanks and broke it. And that meager amount was miraculously multiplied to provide enough for more than five thousand people to eat and be satisfied, with more left over than there was at the start!

Oh Lord, You have placed in me gifts that are to be shared. Like the bread and the fish, it may not look like much to begin with. But You do not make mistakes. Your plan and Your purposes are true. What matters is not what things look like here on earth through man’s eyes. What matters is that the gifts are available to be used by You.

Because of who You are: the One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ, You can do more than I can say or do, more than I can ask or even imagine! Nothing is impossible!

So Father, I offer what I have. I look to You with thanksgiving in my heart, asking that You bless me and break me to spread the gifts You have placed in me to others. Use what You have given me, Lord, to make a blessing for others that will bring honor and glory to Your name. Amen

Luke 9:7-22

 

Mar 30 Real Faith

hem-garment1Dear Father, may I have faith like Jairus and the woman who reached out to touch the hem of Your robe.

Jairus came to You knowing his daughter was sick unto death. Probably the wisdom of doctors and medical science had done all they could; and still he came, believing, expecting that You could be the source of her healing. Even when he received word that his daughter was dead, You told him not to be afraid, and he responded with faith.

So many times I let the circumstances around me determine how much faith I have. If things look good and I am reasonably sure they will work out, I have a greater level of faith that my prayer will be answered favorably. After all, if it’s likely things will work out, I’m not really depending on You for that much.

If things look really bad, I may cry out, but am I really expecting You to act on my behalf? Or do I hedge my bet?

The woman with an issue of blood believed she wouldn’t even have to ask; that if she merely touched You – wait, not even You, but only the hem of Your robe that she would be healed.   And she was!  What amazing faith!

They received these amazing, miraculous blessings, Lord, because their faith was in the One who is worthy. My faith is also in the One who is worthy. I am blessed, because the outcome is not dependent on me, but on You. The outcome is not dependent on how the circumstances look. All the faith in the world does no good if it is misplaced. Thank You for being the Author and Perfecter of my faith. Amen

Luke 8:40-56

Mar 29 What would Jesus do?

Dear Lord, when I read this report of You being asleep in the boat when the squall came up, it seemed so amazing. Instead of relaxing, people usually get more and more anxious when things intensify and we begin to feel out of control. That may be the key – You knew that nothing could happen that was out of Your control!

But why didn’t the disciples know that?? They had witnessed You performing many, many miracles. Not only healing the sick and lame and blind, but raising people from the dead! So if they had listened to Your words and trusted them, it seems they would have had more confidence in the outcome, squall or no.  Your words said, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake”.

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Lord, I want to be so confident with You that when You tell me, “Let’s do something” I will trust You so completely that there is no question of whether it will be accomplished or not.

I want to do what I see You doing.   If You are resting, that’s my cue that I can rest too. Because if it doesn’t bother You, and I am with You, then it shouldn’t bother me.

So, even in the hard part, the storm, if they had asked back then WWJD?   What would Jesus do? The answer was right in front of them: sleep! So when the hardest part comes, yes, I want to be sure I’m doing my part. But rather than quake with fear, or anxiously try and control the outcome, let me do what I see You doing, and be so confident in my trusting, that I become calm, and at rest.

Bottom line: if I am with You, it will all work out. Either I will reach the destination with You, or I will perish: in which case I will also be with You. It’s a win-win! Amen

Luke 8:22-26

Mar 19 God’s Plan

feastsoverviewThese amazing assemblies that You had the Israelites learn and observe Lord, are more than just feasts and festivals for celebration’ sake. They are the blueprint of Your plan for salvation and will play out to the end of the age, the end of the earth.   They have meaning in themselves, but are also prophetic of what is to come.

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you that You reveal Your plan to man. Thank You that Your plan is good and true; and that I can trust You to have the sovereignty and power to make it so.  Help me be mindful of the fullness of my history as a believer, both in the Old and New Testaments. And prepare me for all that is to come. Reveal Your plan to me for my life, and lend me Your strength to be obedient to it. Amen

Numbers 28:16-29:40

Mar 17 Growth

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Dear Lord, we know very little about Jesus’ childhood. But we do know that He was remarkable.

From His eighth day, we know that “He grew and became strong, was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.”

And when twelve years old, He ”sat among the teachers in the temple courts, amazing people at His understanding and answers.”

We then learn He was obedient to His earthly parents and “He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

Father that is my desire as well, to grow “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man”.

I pray that You would help me grow in being able to understand, remember, and apply learning and knowledge to my life; which we call wisdom. But not just from a worldly viewpoint. I would desire to have godly wisdom, from the Holy Spirit, to teach me of You, to know You better, to see things from Your perspective.

Lord, help me grow in stature, which means maturity. That may require reexamining and putting away some childish thoughts and behaviors. It means not being led only by ego, or emotions or selfishness. Instead, lead me to develop a responsible sense of accountability when it comes to my relationship with You and with others.

Lord, I mostly desire to grow in favor with You. Show me where I am missing that mark, and turn my path back to You. Before I act, let me ask, ‘Will this draw me closer to the Lord, or farther away?’

Sometimes I feel close to You when I am strong, because I know that my strength comes from You. Other times I feel closer to You when I am weak and in dire need of Your help, encouragement, and guidance. I believe my trust in and dependence on You also honors You, as Your strength is shown through my weakness.

Father, let my favor with man be such that I can be a witness to man, rather than being taken in by the traditions and values of man. As You give me favor, keep me mindful that my home is in heaven – this is just a temporary stopover.

How wonderful it would be to be like Jesus in this. Thank You for Your help. Amen

Luke 2:36-52

Mar 11 From beginning to end

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

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

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

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

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

But when You return victoriously with a trumpet sound and a shout, You will judge the living and the dead and Your world will be free of sin again. I n creating a new heaven and a new earth You will have delivered Your people from all trouble, and will look triumphantly upon all Your foes. They will be brought down to eternal death, separated from You for all eternity. And Your people will live with You forever. I am eternally blessed to be Your child. Thank You. Amen

Mark 15:1-47; Psalm 54:7

Mar 3 Hosanna!

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Oh Lord, How wonderful it would have been to be one of the people who shouted to You “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And to lay down palm branches and watch You ride onto Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. What a prophetic time to live in.

I can just imagine the excitement of the moment, and the expectation of the people as they wondered if You really could be the Messiah. Hosanna! Waving my arms in the air, swaying with the crowd; having heard the stories of Your miracles and healing. Water into wine! Walking on water! Healing with a touch, a word! Raising the dead! These must be signs of a long-awaited deliverance for our people!

But were these the same people who only a few days later called “Crucify Him!” and watched as You were led away?

How is it Jesus, that so near the end of Your time here, You are still to be found teaching. Whole crowds were amazed at Your words when You threw out the money changers, enraging the chief priests and teachers of the law.   Thank You for teaching me one more time about prayer. Your words remind me that I need to ask in faith, believing. And that I need to ask according to Your will. And that I need to be forgiving so I can be forgiven.

“You are my refuge! And my strength! My ever-present help in times of trouble. Therefore, I will not fear.”  Amen

Mark 11:1-24; Psalm 46:1-2

Mar 2 Selfless Savior

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Lord Jesus, You amaze me! Walking, on Your way to Jerusalem, You have just told the disciples that You are going to be personally betrayed. Following that, You will be condemned to death, mocked and spit on, flogged and finally killed.   Your disciples respond by asking You to do them a favor – and a selfish one at that!

 

Then, as You come to the city of Jericho, You take time to heal a blind man calling out by the side of the road. Amazing! I would think that foremost in Your mind, would be the terrible death You are about to face. I would think You would want some understanding, sympathy, comfort from those around You. Yet I find You seeing to the needs of others, teaching them about servanthood, and healing a stranger.

Even in a time of personal need, You give more than anyone else possibly could. You take Your eyes off Yourself and put them on others. You use Your power to teach and to heal for the benefit of others. Again, You amaze me!

I wonder, did the disciples hear what You were saying, but think to themselves, ‘Yeah, but it will probably work out differently when we get there – this can’t be right’?   What else would explain their insensitivity?

Father, let this be a lesson to me to be present with people around me who are hurting. When they tell me of their hardship, let me be comforting and encouraging. Remind me to lift them up in prayer. For although I probably won’t be able to solve their concerns, You most certainly can.

And even when I am hurting, don’t let me ignore others around me who are also hurting, like the blind man You healed. Again, I cannot heal, but I can direct them to You – the One who always has the patience, the desire and the ability to help.

I am so glad You are my Savior, my Healer, my Father, my Friend. Amen

Mark 10:32-52

Feb 27 Can…and WILL

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Lord, I can so identify with the father who asked You to deliver his son from the evil spirit. His words were, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!”

 

As I read through Your Word and see the miracles You have done, the healings, the deliverances of people groups and individuals, the amazing ways You impacted a person’s life and used them mightily, I marvel, and believe. When people tell me all You have done in their lives, how You have worked things out that should never have happened, and saved them from something in the nick of time, I believe that.

But when it comes to my own life, while I totally believe You CAN do anything; I often fall short in believing that You WILL.  Where it’s easy for me to see You acting in others’ lives, I feel so undeserving of Your attention.

But I continue to call out to You for my sons.  I believe that Your purpose is not to harm them, but to give them a hope and a future.  I claim that promise, and await the deliverance.  I call forth things that be not, as though they were, and will be.  And I look forward to the day when they will once again worship You in spirit and in truth being guided by Your Word.

I totally believe You can accomplish this. Your power is so great that nothing can stand against You. Help me, Lord, overcome any doubt that remains in me. I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Amen

Mark 9: 14-29; Romans 4:17

Feb 24 Danger Zone

safety-44434_640Lord, for many chapters in Leviticus now You have shown me what is ‘unclean’ – the Hebrew word tamei (taw-may). It means more than what I think of as dirty or not clean. It also carries personal, psychological and spiritual elements.

Tamei is a state of fragmentation, of not being whole, of incompleteness, defilement, or inability to reach full potential.

Contact with things can make me tamei; but so can negative emotions and desires that arise from within me. Under these circumstances, I am put into a state of heightened spiritual alertness for a time; like a danger zone of vulnerability where I need to be vigilant over my thoughts and words and actions.   It’s a time or portal of potential risk of drifting away from holiness. Holiness is wholeness, unity, integration, represented by the Hebrew word t’hor (tu-hoar) and is the opposite of unclean.

Jesus recognized the Pharisees had become overzealous when it came to being ‘clean’ only on the outside of their bodies, neglecting the spiritual aspects of tamei. They missed the point that what makes man fragmented or shattered, is what comes from the heart – the jealousy, arrogance, selfishness, lustfulness and evil thoughts. These are what put man into a state of danger where they can fall into sin.

Father, raise my awareness of these times when I need to be on high alert. Keep me vigilant over my thoughts and actions so I don’t drift away from You. I desire to honor You with my lips and my heart. Teach me to let go of legalism that has become the tradition of man; so that I can be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading in my life. May Your love and Your truth always protect me. Amen

Leviticus 15:1-16:28; Mark 7:1-23; Psalm 40:11

Feb 22 Who is Jesus to you?

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Heavenly Father, it amazes me that even in Your presence here on earth, with all the wisdom You shared in Your teachings, all the authority You spoke with, all the healings and miracles You performed, people didn’t recognize and acknowledge who You were.

Those in Your hometown wondered, amazed by You, but had no faith in someone they believed they already knew. Others thought You were a prophet, or the reincarnated spirit of a prophet. To some You were their healer, a miracle worker who raised loved ones from the dead. To some, a blasphemer claiming divinity. To others a confusing juxtaposition of holy teacher and friend of sinners. To a very few, the Messiah.

I wonder, who I would have thought You were, had I been alive and in the region at that time?

You said and did things that were against conventional teachings. Yet all You did, You did in love. You spoke to hundreds, thousands at a time, yet met each individual where they were.  You spoke in puzzling parables, yet to those who were called, they made perfect sense.  You fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, yet people who knew the prophecies, didn’t recognize what was happening.

It must have been a confusing time. Yet thanks to You, I can know and be sure of my salvation because You have told me: “You chose me before the foundation of the world”.   So, no matter when I was born, or where; to me You are Jeshua Meshiac, Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Son of God, my Savior, my God, my King. Amen

Mark 6:1-6; Ephesians 1:4

Feb 20 In the Storms

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Father, so many times I act just like the disciples in the boat during the storm. I choose to focus on the storm around me. In the face of the strong winds, the high waves, the tossing of the boat, I look at the opposition, the circumstances that block my way, and the hopelessness of things turning out right. All the time forgetting Your promises of protection. Even though I know You are there with me, I do not see how You are at work in the situation, and I cry out to stir You to my cause.   “Lord, don’t You care…?”

Many times, I can almost hear You say the same words to me that You spoke then; “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Sometimes You do calm the wind and still the waves. Other times You simply hold me in Your arms while the waves buffet me. Sometimes You inspire me and increase my faith with a vision of future calm waters and blue skies, reassuring me that it will be all right.

Thank You for being with me in the storms. Thank You for speaking to me in songs, scriptures, promises, and visions. Thank You for the truths You give me in Psalm 37: “My salvation comes from the Lord; You are my stronghold in time of trouble. You help me and deliver me; and save me. Because I take refuge in You.” Amen

Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 37:39-40

Feb 17 Sacrifice for all

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Lord God, it strikes me as I read this passage in Leviticus, that all these offerings are for unintentional sin. This is a sin that the person is unaware of when they do it. Then, when they are made aware of their sin, they are to bring the appropriate animal, lay their hand on it as it is sacrificed as a way of transferring the sin to the animal who pays the price for the sin: death. These are ways to restore relationship with You when there is no intent in the sin.

When the sin is deliberate, intentional, there is often no sacrifice, no substitute to bear the penalty. Death is the penalty. The person who sins is accountable for that debt.

But praise to You, Lord! You have made another way for sinners to be restored into right relationship with You.

When Jesus came, He ate with and spent time with “sinners” to show them the good news! There was now going to be a sacrifice that would pay the penalty for their sin. The blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Your blood, would take away the sin of the world. All the sin.

Because “Your love, Oh Lord, reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness stretches to the skies; because Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice like the great deep”, You have preserved man, and provided him with salvation!

Both high and low among men and women and children can come to You and find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. For within You is the fountain of life! And when I have You, I have life! Amen

Leviticus 4:1-5:19; Mark 2:13-17; Psalm 36:5-9

Feb 15 Me? A Disciple?

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Holy Father, may I be like those You called to follow You as disciples. May I be willing to leave my family, my occupation to go with You wherever You lead me, leaving behind the security I would lean on in place of You.

Although I was not present in Capernaum where You began teaching with such authority, let me learn from the amazing lessons in Your Word. You have given me the Holy Spirit to teach me, correct me, guide me. Make me sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit in my life. Help me listen to godly wisdom when it comes to opportunities and circumstances; not just take the easy way, or the way that seems logical. I will call on You, and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Though I may not have seen You perform miracles in Galilee, You have answered prayers and done miraculous things in my life and others I know. Let me be bold about sharing those experiences, and so spread the word as Your disciples did.

“I have the assurance that You will contend with those who contend with me and will fight against those who fight against me. You will take up shield and buckler, arise and come to my aid. You will brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. You will disgrace and put to shame those who seek to ruin my life; and turn back in dismay those who plot my ruin.“

As David wrote these words about the men who were literally seeking his life, I seek Your deliverance from the oppression of the powers of this present darkness at work in the world today; from the spiritual forces at work against You, and so also against me as I live in Your light.

“My soul rejoices in You. I delight in Your salvation.” I place my complete trust in You, for there is none like You. I know that “Your wisdom will reward me.” Thank You for being my Savior. Amen

Mark 1:16-28; Psalm 35:1-4,9; Proverbs 9:11

Jan 30 Salvation Lamb – Passover

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What a beautiful depiction of Your amazing Salvation plan! You delivered the Hebrews physically from the Pharaoh by the same way You deliver me into eternal life: by the blood of the lamb!

The last plague to fall on Pharaoh and Egypt was the death of their firstborn. And the Hebrew people were told to take a lamb from their flock, a male without defect, sacrifice it at a certain hour, and smear the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe of their house. When the Angel of death saw the blood, he would pass over those people within and they would be saved from physical death that night.

It was an exact representation of what would happen centuries later when Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life. He was the spotless lamb, killed at that same hour, on that same day of the year that Hebrews celebrated down through generations: Passover. The blood He shed paid the price for our sin so we can be justified or reunited to You, a holy God. When we appropriate that blood (or accept it as the free gift to pay the penalty for our sin), eternal death will pass over us, and we will remain to live with You forever!

Until that time of judgment when eternal life and eternal death are meted out, I echo David’s words to proclaim my trust in You. I acknowledge that You are “good and upright”, that “Your ways are loving and faithful”. And I ask that You would “deliver me from my enemies” and “keep me from shame”. Show me more about You and the depth of Your love every day, and “teach me to walk in Your paths” – wherever You would lead me – without stumbling or turning away to the left or the right. Let me learn how Your truth should determine my actions, my words and my attitudes. Help me love my brother and my neighbor as myself.

I thank You for forgiving my sin as I continue to confess it before You: my disobedience, unjust actions, shortcomings and wrong attitudes. Instruct me and guide me every day, giving me strength to hold my tongue when I should, and courage to speak when I should.

I believe You have given me specific gifts and talents; help me use those to glorify You and to bless others. Bring people and resources to me that will empower and support these gifts. Help me be a guiding light for those who see me live my life, pointing them to You.

“My eyes are ever on You”, my Lamb, my Savior, my Lord. Amen

Exodus 11:1-12:13Psalm 25:1-15

Jan 26 Do I get a map?

rfid0_7kep4-natalie-foxLord God, You are so wise. How often do I want to see Your plan for my life all laid out for me– at least the next chapter?

You gave Moses a look at all that was coming next. You shared Your plan to deliver the Hebrew people, saying “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… I am sending you to Pharaoh…” And Moses starts back-peddling! You answered all his questions and revealed the plan, promising deliverance and riches to the people. You told Moses what to say, and how Your mighty hand would compel Pharaoh and perform wonders. Yet still Moses balked.

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

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

When I used to ride horses, I never told the horse in advance where we would be riding that day. I never brought a map to show him where our trail would take us. I’m pretty sure he knew he would end up back at the stable, his home. But I would guide him along as we went. Sometimes we would stop and rest for a bit. We would go fast or slow, left to the stream, or right to the hilltops, according to my leading, my plan.

Because a horse could not read or understand a map, I never showed him one. I daresay I would not understand Your plan if You showed it to me either. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so Your ways are higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts.” And I’m okay with that. Because I trust Your thoughts, and Your ways, and Your plans; even if I can’t see or don’t understand them. And I know where I will end up: in my true home, spending eternity with You.

I agree with David who wrote, ”In You our fathers put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them. They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.” I put my trust in You. You have already delivered me from the evil one by dying on the cross in my place. You have saved me from that eternal death into eternal life. And I know that at the end of my ride, I will not be disappointed. Amen

Exodus 3:1-22; Matthew 17:10-27; Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 22:4-5

Jan 25 I trust Your perfect plan

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Oh God I praise You that nothing can thwart Your plans!

Although evil is in this world, and is in positions of power and authority, it is nothing compared to You and Your ability to preserve Your will!

I ask for Your will to be done in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. Do not let any powers or influences get in the way of effecting Your will in our lives

Whether in slavery or in prison, Your purpose was fulfilled in Joseph’s life. And in spite of the selfishness and greed of Joseph’s brothers, it played right into Your plan to save Israel’s descendants. Then hundreds of years later, when the new Pharaoh tried to kill the male Hebrew babies, You again had a plan for those children and the peoples’ deliverance. By human reckoning it took a miracle – because a baby in a basket floating in crocodile infested waters would have no chance of surviving. But You provided for this Hebrew baby to be raised in the palace as Pharaoh’s own grandson!

Even when Jesus tried to explain Your majestic plan for the salvation of all people -His disciples didn’t understand it. Peter said to Jesus “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” And Jesus had to rebuke him.

Even after Peter saw Jesus transfigured and walking with Moses and Elijah, and heard Your own voice saying “This is My Son…Listen to Him.” Peter tried to interfere as Jesus was taken into custody in the Garden of Gethsemane. If he had understood the whole plan, would he have done that?

I often cannot make sense of the twists and turns my life takes. There are times I don’t know whether to stay or go, to act or wait. I cannot see how things will play out but I make a plan. Even when I think I can, it doesn’t always turn out the way I expect. How many times do we switch to Plan B, or Plan C, or D,E,F…

How then do I make decisions? Move forward? Live my life?

I echo the words of King David: “For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.” I too trust in You, the Lord, the Most High. I ask You, Lord God to show me enough light for the next step I am to take. Help me listen for Your response and obey what I hear. And trust that even if it doesn’t make sense to me, it will turn out according to Your plan. I trust that Your plan is the best one for me – a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, a plan to give me a hope and a future.

I trust You. My security is in You – even when nothing I can see supports my feeling safe. Because of Your unfailing love for me, I can remain at PEACE. Meaning I can: Possess Equilibrium Amid Chaotic Events. You have the power, You have the ability and expertise, You have the sovereignty and the willingness to bring Your plans to fruition. So let it be done. On this earth. In this country. In my life.  Amen

Exodus 1:1-2:10; Matthew 16:21-17:9; Psalm 21:7; Jeremiah 29:11

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

Jan 4 Promise of the Rainbow

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Father, I have seen rainbows in the sky all my life. They are such a beautiful, delicate things. But more than that, they are a reminder of Your promise to never again destroy the earth by water because of man’s inhumanity to man.

From our side it brings us a sense of wonder and security. From Yours it is a sign of restraint. It is a promise that even in Your great power, You will never again destroy all You have created by water. Your love for us is great and Your faithfulness is even greater!

You have sent Your Son, Jesus, to walk the earth without sin to be an example for us and a Savior for all mankind. Thank You for His teachings found in scripture, and for His healings and miracles. As He healed and gave mercy and relief from distress to the people around Him, You also answer my similar prayers. I so need your mercy and relief from distress. When I am overwhelmed, You bring me peace. When I am set upon by evil, You give me deliverance and relief.

Help me live by Your example. Do not let me shame You with my words, actions or attitudes. Teach me to live by the words You have written. Show me how to guard my thoughts and my tongue, how to treat others, and be humble. Do not let me be deceived or misled by the evil one, but open my eyes to those lies.

Father, I believe You have set me apart for Yourself. I trust completely that what You have planned for me is the best. Let Your face smile on me.   Fill my heart with joy. Give me peaceful sleep. Keep me safe. I trust in You. Amen

Genesis 8:18-9:17; Matthew 4:23-25; Psalm 4:1-8

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

May 3 Breath of Life

What an interesting picture You painted for the man I call ‘Nic at night’: the Pharisee who came to You at night to ask questions. When he asked about being part of the Kingdom of God, You said to enter the Kingdom of God, one “must be born of water and the Spirit.”

One birth is from a watery darkness, the other a spiritual darkness. Our physical birth is from a dark, water-filled womb into the light of the sun here on earth. Our spiritual birth is from the dark realm of the evil one into the Light of the Son and into the kingdom of God.

breathofGodAdam and Eve are the only humans born only of the Spirit. You created their bodies and breathed Your breath into them, giving them physical AND spiritual life. The Hebrew word ‘ruach’ is translated as breath and spirit. They were spiritually alive and were able to walk and talk and have relationship with You. When they sinned, the punishment was physical and spiritual death. Physically, their bodies would die. And spiritually, they were separated from You and no longer had the same intimate fellowship with You.

Every human being since them was born by water, but is not spiritually alive until Your ‘ruach’, Your breath or spirit enters them. This happens at their spiritual birth.

Probably the most well known scripture is in today’s reading. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” This is Your provision for that spiritual birth. When a person believes the truth of Your sacrifice and accepts that offer of Your sacrifice paying for their sin, Your ‘ruach’, Your Holy Spirit enters into them.

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Thank You Father for Your great love. Thank You for having a plan of spiritual birth giving me eternal life even after sin had entered the world and affected every human being. Thank You for being willing to make the tremendous sacrifice for me to be able to join the Kingdom of God. Amen

John 3:1-21

May 1 I believe

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“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In today’s scripture You come onto the scene and are recognized as Messiah, the Lamb of God, the One who saves! You came in the flesh, to my physical world to sacrifice Yourself to make a way for me to be reconciled to You. You are the Only Way. Yet there are still people who do not recognize You for who You are.

John recognized You because he was spiritually aware. You revealed to him that the one on whom he saw the Spirit of a dove come down and rest, was the Son of God. He saw that Spirit rest on You and could then know for certain, proclaim and testify that You are the Son of God.

Two of John’s disciples first followed You because they had studied with John. They knew the scriptures, the prophecies and trusted John’s testimony, so they believed. Nathanael believed because You knew things about him You could not have naturally known.

Lord God, You call and You save. But it is my personal decision whether to respond to or ignore Your call. It is my choice to accept Your salvation or reject it. I hear Your call and follow You. I accept Your free gift of eternal salvation. But, there are so many who do not. Lord God, Your Word says it is Your will that every single human being would be saved from the penalty of their sin. That penalty is death, eternal separation from You. You desire that they would answer Your call and accept Your payment for that sin and be reconciled to You.

Some will come to You because they are aware of spiritual truth, like John. Some will come because they study out the scriptures for themselves, or because someone they trust will share with them, like John’s disciples. Some will come because they see You doing things, miracles, that are not naturally possible. Father open the ears of those who do not yet know You, so they can hear Your call to them. Sensitize their minds, hearts, and spirits so they are ready to accept Your salvation. And show me how I can speak or act in a way that will draw people to You. Use me to point them to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.

A time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I can’t wait! Amen

John 1:29-51

Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 24:13-53

Apr 27 Your attention, Your abundance

O Jesus. How hard it is to read of the awful beatings, the unfair treatment and the terrible crucifixion You endured. I cannot even imagine the pain You suffered and the overwhelming agony. So many around You were unsympathetic and called for Your death. Yet even in the midst of all this, You were concerned with others.

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When they crucified You, You called out for their forgiveness. And even as You were dying, You were not too busy to listen to the petition of one of Your hurting children.   The man on the cross next to You asked that You remember him, and You gave him paradise.

Father, You are like that with me. You hold the whole world together by Your power: the earth, the stars, the solar system. The motion of the seas is in Your hand, every storm, every person on the earth, not even a sparrow falls without Your awareness. Yet You are never too busy to hear my cry, my prayer, my thanks. Thank You, that I can come to You at any time and have Your attention.

And You always give more than You are asked. The thief asked for remembrance, You gave him paradise. Your mercy and grace overflows. Your lavish abundance is so great. Many times I ask for something and You blow me away with Your generosity and graciousness. And even when the answer is no, or wait, I can trust that You have my best in mind. Thank You for knowing even better than I, what I need. And for providing it.

The thief said “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” It is the same with me. My deeds deserve death.   Only Your blood pays the penalty for my sin, and awards me life, not death.

Thank You for enduring death on a cross, so that I can walk with You in eternity. Thank You Father, for paradise.   Amen

Luke 23:13-43

Apr 18 Learn from a tax collector

Lord, make me like Zacchaeus!

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Let me be willing to do whatever I need to do to see You and hear from You personally! Even if it means doing something that might make me look silly to others; like climbing a tree! (as Zacchaeus did)

Let me be completely changed by Your presence and Your words. Zacchaeus became charitable. And he was willing to recognize his wrongs, and right them! Help me look and see where I need to right any wrongs I’ve done and take on new, positive character traits.

For being a ‘wee little man’ he made a BIG impact on people around him; especially those who saw the change in him. Father, change what needs to be changed in me, and let me make a godly impact on all those around me. Amen

Luke 19:1-10

Apr 15 Let me be the one

colorful-1191076_640Only one in ten came back to thank You, Jesus, for a healing that was a complete miracle. These men had become outcasts in their society. They stood at a distance and shouted ‘unclean’ because that’s what they were required to do by law. A person with leprosy was called ‘untouchable’, and could not approach another person; but was made to keep their distance from uninfected people.

Leprosy was a disease that progressed once you were infected, so there was really no hope of ever being ‘cured’ or being able to participate in society again. Family, loved ones, friends, all were relinquished, as these lepers were put out into communities of their own. They would never again be able to hold their child, shake hands or give a warm embrace to a family member, kiss their beloved.   This disease brought a new, cruel way of living to those cursed by it.

So for this disease process to be cured, reversed, was an absolute miracle! For those ten men to once again enter society and be able to touch and be touched, changed every aspect of their lives completely.

I wonder then, why did only one turn and express his thanks? Were the other nine being obedient – going first to show the priest as You told them?   Did they intend to come back later? Were they unsure the healing was real? Were they so filled with joy at the prospect of all it meant to be healed, that they forgot You, their Healer?

You point out that the one who returned was a foreigner. Perhaps that one did not feel worthy of a Jewish healing from a Jewish Master? Perhaps the others felt deserving of what they received?

I do not know. But it does speak to my heart of how often I too, forget to thank You. I take for granted so many things until I am reminded like this. Or until I see someone who is worse off than me, or has bigger problems. Or until I lose something, and realize I wasn’t really grateful while I had it.

Father, help me begin every day with thanks and praise to You – for life, for breath, for energy to rise, for clothes to wear, food to eat, clear thinking to reason with, a home, transportation, loved ones, hope, faith, love in my life. Help me express my gratitude and thank You in word, in song, in praise, in the way I treat others, for the trials and the blessings in my life!

Let me always be like the one. Amen

Luke 17:11-19

Mar 17 Growth

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Dear Lord, we know very little about Jesus’ childhood. But we do know that He was remarkable. From His eighth day, we know that “He grew and became strong, was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.”

And when twelve years old, He ”sat among the teachers in the temple courts, amazing people at His understanding and answers.”

We then learn He was obedient to His earthly parents and “He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

Father that is my desire as well, to grow “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man”.

I pray that You would help me grow in being able to understand, remember, and apply learning and knowledge to my life; which we call wisdom. But not just from a worldly viewpoint. I would desire to have godly wisdom, from the Holy Spirit, to teach me of You, to know You better, to see things from Your perspective.

Lord, help me grow in stature, which means maturity. That may require reexamining and putting away some childish thoughts and behaviors. It means not being led only by ego, or emotions or selfishness. Instead, lead me to develop a responsible sense of accountability when it comes to my relationship with You and with others.

Lord, I mostly desire to grow in favor with You. Show me where I am missing that mark, and turn my path back to You. Before I act, let me ask, ‘Will this draw me closer to the Lord, or farther away?’ Sometimes I feel close to You when I am strong, because I know that my strength comes from You. Other times I feel closer to You when I am weak and in dire need of Your help, encouragement, and guidance. I believe my trust in and dependence on You also honors You, as Your strength is shown through my weakness.

Father, let my favor with man be such that I can be a witness to man, rather than being taken in by the wisdom and values of man. As You give me favor, keep me mindful that my home is in heaven – this is just a temporary stopover.

How wonderful it would be to be like Jesus in this. Thank You for Your help. Amen

Luke 2:36-52

Mar 2 Selfless Savior

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Lord Jesus, You amaze me!

Walking, on Your way to Jerusalem, You have just told the disciples that You are going to be personally betrayed. Following that, You will be condemned to death, mocked and spit on, flogged and finally killed.   Your disciples respond by asking You to do them a favor – and a selfish one at that!

Then, as You come to the city of Jericho, You take time to heal a blind man calling out by the side of the road. Amazing! I would think that foremost in Your mind, would be the terrible death You are about to face. I would think You would want some understanding, sympathy, comfort from those around You. Yet I find You seeing to the needs of others, teaching them about servanthood, and healing a stranger.

Even in a time of personal need, You give more than anyone else possibly could. You take Your eyes off Yourself and put them on others. You use Your power to teach and to heal for the benefit of others. Again, You amaze me!

I wonder, did the disciples hear what You were saying, but think to themselves, ‘Yeah, but it will probably work out differently when we get there – this can’t be right’?   What else would explain their insensitivity?

Father, let this be a lesson to me to be present with people around me who are hurting. When they tell me of their hardship, let me be comforting and encouraging. Remind me to lift them up in prayer. For although I probably won’t be able to solve their concerns, You most certainly can.

And even when I am hurting, don’t let me ignore others around me who are also hurting, like the blind man You healed. Again, I cannot heal, but I can direct them to You – the One who always has the patience, the desire and the ability to help.

I am so glad You are my Savior, my Healer, my Father, my Friend. Amen

Mark 10:32-52

Feb 17 Sacrifice for all

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Lord God, it strikes me as I read this passage in Leviticus, that all these offerings are for unintentional sin. This is a sin that the person is unaware of when they do it. Then, when they are made aware of their sin, they are to bring the appropriate animal, lay their hand on it as it is sacrificed as a way of transferring the sin to the animal who pays the price for the sin: death. These are ways to restore relationship with You when there is no intent in the sin.

When the sin is deliberate, intentional, there is often no sacrifice, no substitute to bear the penalty. Death is the penalty. The person who sins is accountable for that debt.

But praise to You, Lord! You have made another way for sinners to be restored into right relationship with You.

When Jesus came, He ate with and spent time with ‘sinners’ to show them the good news! There was now going to be a sacrifice that would pay the penalty for their sin. The blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Your blood, would take away the sin of the world. All the sin.

Because “Your love, Oh Lord, reaches to the heavens, and Your faithfulness stretches to the skies; because Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, and Your justice like the great deep”, You have preserved man, and provided him with salvation! Both high and low among men and women and children can come to You and “find refuge in the shadow of Your wings”. For “within You is the fountain of life”! And when I have You, I have life! Amen

Leviticus 4:1-5:19; Mark 2:13-17; Psalm 36:5-9

Feb 15 Me, a disciple?

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Holy Father, may I be like those You called to follow You as disciples. May I be willing to leave my family, my occupation to go with You wherever You would lead, leaving behind whatever security I would lean on in place of You.

Being in Capernaum and Galilee made scripture so real. Walking these paths where you had been brought scripture to life. Reading Your words while standing in these places made me wonder if I would have had the courage to stand up and follow You.

May I learn from Your amazing teachings. Although I was not present in Capernaum where You began teaching with such authority, I can study Your Word and learn from it now. You have given me the Holy Spirit to teach me, correct me, guide me. Help me be sensitive to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Help me listen to godly wisdom when it comes to opportunities and circumstances in my life; and not just take the easy way, or the way that seems logical according to the minds of man. I will call upon You, and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Though I may not have seen You perform miracles in Galilee, You have answered prayers and done miraculous things in my life and others I know. Let me be bold about sharing these experiences, and so spread the word as Your disciples did.

“My soul rejoices in You. I delight in Your salvation.” I place my complete trust in You, for there is none like You. I know that “Your wisdom will reward me.” Thank You for being my Teacher, my Guide, my Savior. Amen

Mark 1:16-28; Psalm 35:9; Proverbs 9:12

 

 

Feb 9 not my will…

Lord God, what a blessing You gave me to be able to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk into the Garden of Gethsemane! I am forever changed by that gift. It was amazing! On one hand, as a tourist, it seemed historically and intellectually reasonable to be seeing structures and walls that stood in Jesus’ time. olivetree1But as I sat, looking at two of the very olive trees that were present in the garden when Jesus was there, I marveled. Utterly amazing! To see something that was alive, living then, and still alive and living now was incredible. I was in the presence of something that had been alive in Your presence here on earth…

In the quiet, my thoughts were drawn back to the night Jesus came to pray His “not my will but Thine” prayer. I reread that passage in Matthew that described that sorrowful and troubled plea.

He laid all His personal potential down. Father, I have hopes and dreams, goals, desires. I
desire to honor You with what I do. I thought of what my biggest possible plan could be, all the potential I have, and how it would bring glory to You, thinking, if You would just make it happen…

And then I realized something: if Jesus, with all the ability and power and potential that He possessed, (and He could have called ten thousand angels and made a spectacle the world had never seen before!) was willing to put it all aside for God the Father’s holy and perfect will for His life; how can I do less? What is there that I could possibly think of to do, that would be better than anything Jesus could have done? And He could have done literally ANYthing! Yet Jesus laid it all down to take up God the Father’s purpose. I must do the same. And so

I echo those words: “not my will, Lord, but Thine.”

Jesus had the unlimited and infinite capability to accomplish whatever He wanted. And He gave it all up to accept Your plan. I have a very limited and puny capability for setting and accomplishing goals. So rather than asking You to bless whatever plan I may be able to think up, I ask that You would show me the plan You have for this portion of my life. And give me the courage and strength required to live it in a way that will bring You glory. Amen.
Matthew26:36-46

 

 

 

Jan 30 Salvation Lamb – Passover

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What a beautiful depiction of Your amazing Salvation plan! You delivered the Hebrews physically from the Pharaoh by the same way You deliver me into eternal life: by the blood of the lamb!

The last plague to fall on Pharaoh and Egypt was the death of their firstborn. And the Hebrew people were told to take a lamb from their flock, a male without defect, sacrifice it at a certain hour, and smear the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe of their house. When the Angel of death saw the blood, he would pass over those people within and they would be saved from physical death that night.

It was an exact representation of what would happen centuries later when Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life. He was the spotless lamb, killed at that same hour, on that same day of the year that Hebrews celebrated down through generations: Passover. The blood He shed paid the price for our sin so we can be justified or reunited to You, a holy God. When we appropriate that blood (or accept it as the free gift to pay the penalty for our sin), eternal death will pass over us, and we will remain to live with You forever!

Until that time of judgment when eternal life and eternal death are meted out, I echo David’s words to proclaim my trust in You. I acknowledge that You are “good and upright”, that “Your ways are loving and faithful”. And I ask that You would “deliver me from my enemies” and “keep me from shame”. Show me more about You and the depth of Your love every day, and “teach me to walk in Your paths” – wherever You would lead me – without stumbling or turning away to the left or the right. Let me learn how Your truth should determine my actions, my words and my attitudes. Help me love my brother and my neighbor as myself.

I thank You for forgiving my sin as I continue to confess it before You: my disobedience, unjust actions, shortcomings and wrong attitudes. Instruct me and guide me every day, giving me strength to hold my tongue when I should, and courage to speak when I should.

I believe You have given me specific gifts and talents; help me use those to glorify You and to bless others. Bring people and resources to me that will empower and support these gifts. Help me be a guiding light for those who see me live my life, pointing them to You.

“My eyes are ever on You”, my Lamb, my Savior, my Lord. Amen

Exodus 11:1-12:13; Psalm 25:1-15

Jan 26 Do I get a map?

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Lord God, You are so wise. How often do I want to see Your plan for my life all laid out for me– at least the next chapter?
You gave Moses a look at all that was coming next. You shared Your plan to deliver the Hebrew people, saying “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… I am sending you to Pharaoh…” And Moses starts back-peddling! You answered all his questions and revealed the plan, promising deliverance and riches to the people. You told Moses what to say, and how Your mighty hand would compel Pharaoh and perform wonders. Yet still Moses balked.

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

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

When I used to ride horses, I never told the horse in advance where we would be riding that day. I never brought a map and showed him where our trail would take us. I’m pretty sure he knew he would end up back at the stable, his home. But I would guide him along as we went. Sometimes we would stop and rest for a bit. We would go fast or slow, left to the stream, or right to the hilltops, according to my leading, my plan.

Because a horse could not read or understand a map, I never showed it one. I daresay I would not understand Your plan if You showed it to me either. “As the heavens are higher
than the earth, so Your ways are higher than my ways, and Your thoughts higher than my thoughts.”
And I’m okay with that. Because I trust Your thoughts, and Your ways, and Your plans; even if I can’t see or don’t understand them. And I know where I will end up: in my true home, spending eternity with You.

I agree with David who wrote, ”In You our fathers put their trust; they trusted and You delivered them. They cried to You and were saved; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.” I put my trust in You. You have already delivered me from the evil one by dying on the cross in my place. You have saved me from that eternal death into eternal life. And I know that at the end of my ride, I will not be disappointed. Amen

Exodus 3:1-22; Matthew 17:10-27; Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 22:4-5

 

Jan 25 I trust Your perfect plan

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Oh God I praise You that nothing can thwart Your plans! Although evil is in this world, and is in positions of power and authority, it is nothing compared to You and Your ability to preserve Your will! I ask for Your will to be done in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. Do not let any powers or influences get in the way of bringing Your will into our lives.

Whether in slavery or in prison, Your purpose was fulfilled in Joseph’s life. And in spite of the selfishness and greed of Joseph’s brothers, it played right into Your plan to save Israel’s descendants. Then hundreds of years later, when the new Pharaoh tried to kill the male Hebrew babies, You, again, had a plan for those children and the peoples’ deliverance. By human reckoning, it took a miracle – because a baby in a basket floating in crocodile infested waters would have no chance of surviving. But You provided for this Hebrew baby to be raised in the palace as Pharaoh’s own grandson!

Even when Jesus tried to explain Your majestic plan for the salvation of all people -His disciples didn’t understand it. Peter said to Jesus “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” And Jesus had to rebuke him.

Even after Peter saw Jesus transfigured and walking with Moses and Elijah, and heard Your own voice saying “This is My Son…Listen to Him.” Peter tried to interfere as Jesus was taken into custody in the Garden of Gethsemane. If he had understood the whole plan, would he have done that?

I often cannot make sense of the twists and turns my life takes. There are times I don’t know whether to stay or go, to act or wait. I cannot see how things will play out but I make a plan. Even when I think I can, it doesn’t always turn out the way I expect. How many times do we switch to Plan B, or Plan C, or D,E,F…

How then do I make decisions? Move forward? Live my life?

I echo the words of King David: “For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.” I too trust in You, the Lord, the Most High. I ask You, Lord God to show me enough light for the next step I am to take. Help me listen for Your response and obey what I hear. And trust that even if it doesn’t make sense to me, it will turn out according to Your plan. I trust that Your plan is the best one for me – a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, a plan to give me a hope and a future.

I trust You. My security is in You – even when nothing I can see supports my feeling safe. Because of Your unfailing love for me, I can remain at PEACE. Meaning I can: Possess Equilibrium Amid Chaotic Events. You have the power, You have the ability and expertise, You have the sovereignty and the willingness to bring Your plans to fruition. So let it be done. On this earth. In this country. In my life. Amen

Exodus 1:1-2:10; Matthew 16:21-17:9; Psalm 21:7; Jeremiah 29:11