Tag: judgment

Jul 4 We depend on You

cross-1314136_640O Father, Your people didn’t think that judgment would come. But You sent Pharaoh Neco from Egypt in the west to take Judah’s king in chains and tax and oppress the people. Then Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon in the east came twice to burn Jerusalem and strip the land of the last of its treasures and people.

Your people went into exile, taken from their land, to be prisoners in a foreign place. It was just as You had promised. Your people ignored Your covenant and the prophets You sent and followed their leaders into disobedience and idolatry. And paid the price for their choices.

Father, You give me a choice today. You show me how to live by Your Word. You teach me right from wrong. Your values and morality are clear. But my society lives by a different standard. And most of the people believe You will not judge.

Although You have the greatest love, You also hate sin. And You have said there will come a time for judgment.

I believe that time is nearing. Father, help my nation hear Your warnings and turn back to You. Help me in my own life, make choices that are according to Your Word. Help me not simply make the easiest choices, or the most popular ones; but give me understanding to know how to make the right choices.

Let me live my life for an audience of One: You.

Help me recognize my own sin and turn from it. Strengthen me to do what is right even when it is hard. Let others see that I love You. And that I live my life accordingly.

“Let the kings be wise; and the rulers of the earth be warned. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. And all who take refuge in the Lord will be blessed.” Amen

2 Kings 23:31-25:22; Psalm 2:1-12

 

 

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Apr 8 No Rock like our God

american-flag-1272115_640Lord, do not let ours be a nation without sense, with no discernment, like Israel was.

When You gave them an inheritance and set up boundaries for Your people according to the number of their sons, You shielded and carried them.  You protected them and guarded them as an eagle cares for and trains its young.

You nourished them with the best, and yet, when they became fat and sleek, satisfied, they turned from You.  They abandoned the God who gave them all they had, and sought other “gods.”   They became perverse and unfaithful, not caring that it would call down Your curses and judgment on them and their children.

Father, give me discernment so I can know when I am being tempted away from You with the values and philosophies of this world.  Help me be wise and understand that there are consequences to my decisions and actions.

Give me the ability to be able to think ahead and see where things will lead so I can choose what will lead me to a closer relationship with You.

Father, give the leaders of my country sense to see where they are taking our people with their choices as well.  Give them discernment and wisdom to know that Your judgment is real and You will not be mocked.  Our Constitution was written to govern a moral people, and when morality fails, we have little hope of living in safety or security.

I can already see signs that we have gone too far.   We, as a people – even Believers, have put You to the test and rebelled against You, the Lord Most High.  We have not kept Your statutes.  We have become disloyal and faithless.

Do not reject us O God.  Do not abandon us.  But show us the error of our ways; teach us to walk rightly again and make wise decisions that honor You.

Help me give You the place in my life that You deserve.

Remind me to read Your Word so it can guide and encourage me.  Recall to my mind, Your faithfulness to me in the past: all the ways You have protected and delivered me.

Speak to me when I pray to You, giving me direction.  Let me feel Your presence near me, assuring me of your love, healing my wounds, and giving me Your peace.

Thank You that You are the One True God, the Most High, who will never leave me or forsake me.  Thank You that Your faithfulness endures forever.  I praise You for Your unending love.  You are my God.  Amen

Deuteronomy 32:28-43; Psalm 78:56-64

Dec 29 All Creation praises You!

man-look-over-natureFather, how does the earth praise You?

When I hear recorded sounds of whales in the deep oceans sing, are they praising You?  When I hear the melodic song of the birds, are they singing of Your greatness?

When the winds howl and the lightening cracks across the sky are they declaring Your majesty?

Do the trees affirm You with their upturned branches, their leaves, blossoms, fruit, and their gorgeous colors?  Do flowers bless You as their blooming faces turn to You?  When the wind stirs the golden Aspen leaves, is their shimmering applause for Your being?

A line in a poem, Trees by Joyce Kilmer touched me at a young age.  It read:  “A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray.”

Since then I have wondered exactly how Your creation acknowledges and exalts You.  And what I can learn from Your creation about how to honor You.  Here are some thoughts stirred by Psalm 148:

I will join with the earth in rejoicing in my LORD and recognizing my Savior

As the rocks and stones cry out, I will add my voice:

 

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

in sickness and in health I will give the LORD His due

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

 

But it is the response of my recognition of who God is

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

“The Lord will be king over the whole earth.  On that day there will be one Lord, and His Name, the Only Name.” 

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it…the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…were judged…anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Father, there was a day when You created the heavens and the earth, the moon and stars, the birds and beasts, and man; when all acknowledged You as Creator and worshipped You and had fellowship with You.

One day, it will be that way again.  All that You create will know You, will worship You, will give You praise.  Again, I can’t wait!  Amen

Zechariah 14:1-9; Revelation 20:11-15; Psalm 148:1-14

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 12 a famine of the Word

Famine hunger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dec 8 May America blossom

easter-1270523_1920O Father, I pray that America will return to You.  “[Our] sins have been [our] downfall!  Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” 

It is not just a return to simpler times that I seek.  I do not wish to go back to covered wagons or shorter life expectancies because of disease and wars.  But I long for my country to worship You; to acknowledge all we have been so generously given is from You.

Lord, other powers, philosophies or ideologies cannot save us.  We need to return to You and receive Your healing.

Father, as in Jude’s time, many men have “slipped in among us” to lead us away from You.  In Jude’s words, “godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny You” as Sovereign and Lord.

Show me how to see these people, these philosophies for what they really are, and not be misled by them.   Jude’s warning is just as important today as it was then.

Proverbs says: “When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall.”  Father, the wicked seem to be truly thriving today.   And sin has increased.  How long can it go on before You bring their downfall?

Your discipline will bring peace; Your correction will bring wisdom.  When America returns to You, the people will be blessed again as You “heal [our] waywardness and love [us] freely…Your anger turned away.”

America and its people will “blossom like a lily” and “like a cedar of Lebanon will send down roots…young shoots will grow”.

All this, I pray for my country, my family, myself.  Help us return to You so we will acknowledge and praise You!  Reveal the wickedness and godlessness that has led us astray.  Let us accept Your correction and discipline and grow wise in our faith.  Let us send down roots into Your rich, spiritual soil and blossom.

“To You, who is able to keep [me] from falling…be glory, majesty, power and authority…before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen”

Hosea 14:1-9; Jude 1:1-10, 24-25Proverbs 29:16

 

Dec 2 Your Word is still our prayer

Father, these words of Daniel, oddly enough, seem to apply to my country and me in these times.   America has enjoyed Your blessing and protection, but her people have turned away from You and Your values.  Judgment and punishment are at our doorstep, and our only hope is to return to You.  If we do not, I fear a great judgment is coming our way.  So using the very words of Daniel, “I pray to You, the Lord my God and confess:


foundingfatherspray

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps Your covenant of love with those who love You and keep Your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong.  We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws.   We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our [government officials], our [spiritual leaders] and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Lord, You are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people [Your believers] and the inhabitants of [our cities] and all [America], both near and far…because of our unfaithfulness to you.   We and our [government officials], our [spiritual leaders] and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against You.   

You, the Lord our God are merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against You; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws You gave us through Your servants the prophets.   All [America] has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, [we are in danger of them being] poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.   You [will fulfill] the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster.  Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem.  [And we are in danger of the same fate.] 

Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster [will] come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to Your truth.  You [will] not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for You, the Lord our God are righteous in everything You do; yet we have not obeyed You.

“Now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for Yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.   Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from [America]. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made [America] and Your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of Your servants.  For Your sake, Lord, look with favor on [America].   Give ear, our God, and hear; open Your eyes and see the desolation of the [country] that [has borne] Your Name. 

We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.   Lord, listen!  Lord, forgive!  Lord, hear and act!  For Your sake, my God, do not delay, because [America] and your people bear your Name.”  Amen

Daniel 9:1-17

Nov 29 Let me be like Daniel

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

Daniel lion den

O Father, do for me what You did for Daniel!  When forces come against me with contrived plans for my demise, save me from their evil strategies!  Deliver me from whatever punishment they seek to be my end.  Put people in my life who will come to my defense like King Darius, and will pay back my enemies.

Let me be like Daniel.   Make me steadfast in my faith, recognizing You are worthy to be worshipped no matter the social or political climate.  Help me be faithful to pray, trusting in You no matter what.

An interesting point is that Daniel was in his eighties when he was thrown into the lion’s den.  This means that since he was taken captive as a boy in his teens, he never lost faith in You!

He continued his prayer life and godly lifestyle all throughout his years.  He remained a man of integrity and faith.  Even those jealous of his position found him to be “trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent”.  Let this be true of me also.

A time is coming when lawless, ungodly men will be judged.  As the flood destroyed the earth once, You will destroy it again by fire.  But I will see a new heaven and a new earth created by Your hand.

As I await this day I want to live, like Daniel, a holy and godly life.

In the Words of the Psalmist: “Direct my footsteps according to Your Word; let no sin rule over me…Make Your face shine upon Your servant and teach me Your decrees.” 

Father, this is how I can live the life I desire.  With Your help, I can grow in Your grace and knowledge.  Amen

Daniel 6:1-28; II Peter 3:1-18; Psalm 119:133-135

Nov 28 Santa or Sovereign

christmas-1808549_640

Father, so much of the world looks for a god who is like Santa Clause.

They want someone who is happy, always smiling, and will give them whatever they ask for.  They like to speak of love for everyone and unending tolerance.  But You are a Holy God.  And because of that You will have justice for all or there would be love for none.

King Belshazzar was judged by You, and You removed him from his position of power and took his life.  You judged Your angels, and threw them into hell to await final judgment.  You judged Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed the cities and the evil people who lived there.  And You judged the ancient world when You sent the great flood, saving only eight people to continue mankind.

The Psalmist thought it was time for You to act against the evil people of his day.  They are described as evil-minded, wicked, arrogant, ones who have divided loyalties and violated Your instructions.

And in the hundreds of years since then, there has been so much injustice and evil done in the world, it is hard to believe You will hold off judgment much longer.

But Father, You know how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.”  “You are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of hope.”  You will “sustain me”, “rescue”, “deal with me with unfailing love”, and “give me discernment.”   

As is the psalmist, I am instructed and strengthened by You, I will “obey the commands of My God”, “meditate continually on Your decrees”, and “understand Your laws.”  For truly “I am Your servant…I tremble in fear of You; I stand in awe of Your regulations.”

I believe Your teachings that there will come a day when You will reign over all the earth; and a final judgment will be handed down by Your righteous hand.

Father, until that day, keep me safe within Your Word.  And keep me faithful to You, like Daniel.  Amen

Daniel 5:1-31; II Peter 2:1-10; Psalm 119:113-128

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.” 

grateful-2006926_640

 

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.

Father, 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 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 10:18-25; Psalm 109: 1-31

Nov 10 Let Your light shine through us and overcome the darkness

candles-1645551_640

Father, I wonder if You see in my country what You saw in the rebellion and idolatry of Israel and Judah.

The list You make certainly seems familiar.  Of Israel You said she treated parents with contempt, oppressed and mistreated the defenseless, despised what is holy and desecrated the Sabbath, were liars, murderers, idolaters, lewd, lustful, immoral, killed for bribes, extorted unjust gain, committed robbery; all while forgetting You.  This list looks like the television line up for today’s entertainment!

Your judgment will be just on my country too.

But one thing was missing from Israel.  “You looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before You in the gap on behalf of the land so You would not have to destroy it, but You found no one.”

Father, I believe many today hear the call to build up the wall around our country.  It has been torn down by our sin and our turning from You.  But many are praying for the revival and healing of our country.  We cry out, distressed over the idolatry, over the evil that has taken root here.

We see that what is evil has been called good, and that our leaders and role models have fallen and led us away from You.  Father, I am grieved that my generation has exalted self over You.  And that we have allowed our freedoms to warp our sense of right and wrong.

Father, I pray for Your mercy and for Your healing.  Let Your light overcome the darkness that is covering this land.

I stand in the gap of the broken wall as a guard, sounding the alarm; that the time is late.  And the people need to awaken to the truth.  Your Truth.  And turn away from the evil that entices us.

Father, You have made a way for each person to be reconciled to You.  Sacrifices do not need to be made daily in a temple any longer.  You made the perfect sacrifice, once, for all.

Father, let those of us who pray for our country be enough.  See us, and do not destroy.  Let our fate be different from that of Israel.  Let there be spiritual revival in my country and in its people!  Amen

Ezekiel 22:1-31; Hebrews 10:1-17

Nov 3 Nourish me, Use me

Father, I am at a point where I “grieve and lament over the detestable things that are done” in my country.  Part of the problem is that people have been led astray by those who know better, and who should be teaching others what is right.

headinthesand

 

Part of the problem is that those who know, stick their heads in the sand in denial or so they will not be uncomfortable.

And part of the problem is that those who don’t know are not even searching for the truth.

I believe there will come a time when You will respond as You did in Ezekiel’s vision: with judgment.

You had all the people marked who grieved and lamented over the ungodly and detestable things done.  And then You sent “a man clothed in linen” through the city, killing anyone without the mark.

Father, take my head out of the sand!  Show me what I need to know and how to fight against things that are detestable to You.  Don’t let me live just for the sake of being “comfortable.”

If I am being led astray in any area of my life, get my attention and show me how to get back on the path You want me on.  Keep me on a diet of solid spiritual food, so I can be nourished by Your Word daily.

Grow me to maturity in You.   If I am to teach, show me who and how.  Do not let me call evil good; or good, evil.  But strengthen me to speak up for right.  Even in a society that has its values upside down.

Father, You also say to “make known among the nations what You have done.”  So help me know how to speak to unbelievers in a way that reaches them with Your truth.

Lord, I glory in Your Name.  I look to You.  I seek Your face, Your strength, Your blessing, always.  Amen

Ezekiel 9:1-11; Hebrews 5:11-14; Psalm 105:1-6

Oct 29 in Pain, in Praise, in Prophecy fulfilled

Father, as the first two chapters of Lamentations are acrostic poems, each new verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alephbet.

Hebrew_alphabetWhat an interesting and challenging way for Jeremiah to organize his thoughts!

As I read the English translation, part of the beauty of this exercise is lost on me.  Yet I wonder if I could write twenty-six thoughts aligned with the English alphabet.

I have made alphabetical lists of Your characteristics, Your names, and of things I am thankful for.  That in itself is a challenge, especially when it comes to j, q and x.  And yet Jeremiah has so much pain and sorrow, that he was able to pour it out through the alephbet twice!

Besides the organization of thoughts that I am drawn to, one part of one verse stands out to me: ”…pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.”

There have been times when I too am filled with concern and overwhelmed by life.  And my words to You, my pleas to You, spill out of me without any effort at all – kind of the opposite of thoughtfully putting together an acrostic of prayer.  And yet, I sense that you honor each way of connecting with You.

Before I speak, before a word is on my lips, You already know it.  Thank You that You listen, and answer.  Thank You that You have the power and the love to answer, not like some piece of wood or stone which cannot.   And yet it was to these pieces of wood and stone the Israelites turned to for worship!  They did not believe You would truly make good on Your Word to punish according to the covenant You had made with them.

Not surprising.  There are many today who do not believe there will be a time of judgment.  They do not believe the prophecies of Daniel, and Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John.  And certainly do not believe a god known for His love, would ever be party to judgment.

But I believe Your Word, Father.  I believe there will be a time of reckoning.  And then, there will be enough of Your justice to fill volumes of alphabetical lamentations; when people realize the righteousness of Your judgment.  Maranatha!  Translation: Come Lord Jesus!  Amen

Lamentations 1:1-2:22

Oct 26 You control

Father, at the time Babylon captured Your people Judah, she was just a tool in Your hand.  Not the end-all power she believed she was.  And she will be judged and punished, even as she was used as the tool to punish Israel.  All the kingdoms You sent prophecies about fell as You said they would.

You sent Jeremiah carefully chosen words to describe the coming destruction of other kingdoms, and they all came true:

personwaterarmsup

”Concerning Damascus…troubled like the restless sea.” 

“Concerning Kedar and Hazor…scatter to the winds.” 

“I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four corners of heaven.”  

“Concerning Babylon…I will kindle a fire…that will consume all…a drought on her waters.”  It reminds me that You are in total control of Your creation!

You control the winds, fire, drought and seas. They responded at Creation when You made them and set their limits over the earth.  When You walked the earth, You stood in a boat and spoke to a storm, commanding the winds and rain: “Peace, be still.”   And today’s Psalms speak of the earth being glad and rejoicing.

What a picture! “Clouds and thick darkness surround You…fire goes before You…Your lightening lights up the world.”  All at Your command.

You are still in control, holding authority over all the earth.  The earth responds to You:  “the earth sees and trembles…mountains melt like wax…heavens proclaim Your righteousness…seas resound…rivers clap their hands, mountains sing together for joy.”

If this is the response of the earth, how can I do less?

Father, I shout for joy!  I burst into jubilant song.  I make music with whatever instrument I can – all to glorify my God.  You are the only god who is the real God.  I exalt You over all things, all people, all powers.

I rejoice because You are a righteous and just God.  Because You carry out Your judgments in righteousness.  Because You are loving and faithful.  Because You have saved me.  You are the One True Almighty God, and there is no other!  Amen

Jeremiah 49:23-50:46; Psalm 97:1-98:9

 

Oct 5 I look to You

Father, my country is so like Your people of old.  Your Name is not honored.  You are ignored, or worse.  You poured out Your judgment on them.  Will You also pour out Your judgment on my nation?

anthony-tori-120173

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see,   who have ears but do not hear…Should you not fear me, declares the Lord?  Should you not tremble in my presence? ”

Father, draw us back to You – my nation, my family, myself. I proclaim You as my Lord and Savior.  And I see Your warnings in this evil world.

Let “no one deceive me with fine-sounding arguments”.  Do not let me be persuaded to go against what You stand for by some reason of relative morality.  Do not let my values be swayed by society’s sense of right and wrong when they do not agree with Yours.

My roots are in You, let them go down deep and drink in Your strength and wisdom. Let my faith stand strong, unwavering as I live a disciplined life in You. Show me from Your perspective, how to make decisions that will lead me in the way that will honor You.

Caution me when I am in danger of going the wrong way, or have taken a wrong turn.  Don’t let any experience be wasted, but help me learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.

I offer You all thanks and praise, Lord.  You saw the earth when it was formless and void, and in Your mighty power created all I see.  You made light with Your Word, made the mountains and the seas.  You fashioned every bird and fish and animal.

All creation is under Your authority.  You set the limits of the waters of the earth.  Nothing can prevail against You and Your will.  Thank You that You care for me.  That You teach me and love me as Your beloved child.  That You strengthen and uphold me.

You are Lord and I am blessed.   Amen

Jeremiah 5:19-31; Colossians 1:28-2:7

Sept 22 Hope in the darkness

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

These words are spoken by Your prophet Isaiah who is telling how it will be when the judgment of Israel is over

“You are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth!  You will not grow tired or weary…You give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak…those who hope in You will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

What hope that gave me Father – because I was weary and weak.  But because I know You as my Savior, I believed that these verses were true of me.  It’s like You were speaking right into my heart then, and often since.

You were promising to give me Your strength and power.  You promised to renew my strength.  When I felt like I could not take one more step, You empowered me to “walk and not grow faint”.

You told me “Do not fear for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my Righteous Right Hand.”

And even more than that, You sang it to me.  I could hear a melody in Your words.  It became a theme that I could sing to myself over and over – Your words of encouragement and empowerment.  I still sing them today.

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

And these words of Paul – I love them and have prayed them over and over again for myself, my family, and my loved ones.  I pray them now, again Father, for everyone reading this prayer:

“I give thanks for each reader, remembering you in my prayers, asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know [1] the hope to which He has called you, [2] the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people [that’s us], and [3] His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

Father, let these words of comfort and empowerment breathe life and hope to all who need to hear them.

When the evil one whispers “you’ve failed again, there’s no hope”, Let them know what it means to “not fear” and “not be dismayed.”   Give us victory!  Amen

Isaiah 40:28-31; 41:9-16; Ephesians 1:15-23

Sept 14 All will know You

Father, You are right in Your assessments and just in Your judgments. You gave Isaiah a judgment that would fall upon the people of Moab and Damascus. It’s a horrible picture of death and devastation. Moab was spoken of with “her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence…” And Damascus had “forgotten God your Savior, you have not remembered the Rock your fortress.” Both were lands of great idolatry.

Lord, do not let me be prideful or conceited. Do not let me think more of myself than I ought to, or forget that all I have comes from You.

Father, I am humbled again, at Your righteousness. You always punish the wicked.  And yet You leave a remnant who turn back to You. “In that day [of judgment] men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands…” Although they had lived their lives worshipping other gods, when judgment came, they knew exactly who the real God was.

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I fear I live in a country of people who also deny You and worships other gods. Perhaps not in a religious way, but who live their lives by seeking fame and fortune, doing only what feels good or gains them the most material possessions.

However, I believe that when judgment falls, they will remember that they knew all along, who You really are. Father, bring revival before it is too late. Amen

Isaiah 15:1—18:7

Sept 11 Seek God’s Wisdom and Blessing

O Father, help me. Strengthen me in my spirit so I will not make the same mistakes Your people in Israel made so long ago.

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First they “rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah.”  These were the softly running streams of Northern Israel that brought water to provide abundant harvests of grain, and represented the provision You afforded them as a blessing.

Yet the people were not satisfied with what You supplied. They sought other gods. So You brought against them “mighty floodwaters of the River – the king of Assyria with all his pomp…to overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep onto Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.”

Father, help me be satisfied with what You have given me, what You have blessed me with. Do not let me look to others, or compare myself to them, desiring what they have. But let me rest in Your abundant provision, content in Your care, trusting that You know, and will provide, whatever is best for me.

Next, Your people ignored the signs and prophecies You gave them, and instead, sought the wisdom and guidance of mediums and spiritualists.

In my world, there are so many places people can go to discern a direction for their lives. Palm readers, mediums, and spiritualists still exist. Tarot cards and daily horoscopes have become a guide for actions people take in their relationships, their finances, their business and social lives. “…Should not a people inquire of their God?”

Lord, I will seek wisdom from You, in Your Word and in prayer, Father, speak to me, direct me. Show me the way to go when I have decisions to make. Do not let me be drawn to the darkness of the occult.

Lastly, when judgment began to fall on the people, their response was not humility and repentance. Instead, “they say with pride and arrogance of heart, the bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” 

In their arrogance, they missed the message to come back to worship You. They responded seeing only a construction problem; saying they would rebuild with stronger, more resilient materials.

God help us – these are the very same words spoken by American government officials after the destruction of 9-11, September 11th. Rather than heed the warning to return to You, the spiritual problem in this country was seen as a construction issue. Our response: to rebuild with stronger materials.

Father, if and when You send me a message like this, tenderize my heart to see to the real problem. Do not let me ignore the spiritual issues in my life. Prompt me to respond with humility and repentance.

It is not by might I will endure, but by Your grace, Your mercy, Your love, compassion and provision. And it is the same for my country. Tenderize our leaders’ hearts to see the real problem, to seek You, worship You, and turn to You for guidance.

Thank You for these lessons. Help me remember them. Amen

Isaiah 8:1-9:21

Sept 8 Consequences

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What a loving Father You are. You instruct gently, and spell out exactly, what the truth is. You teach Your children how to do what will bring them the greatest reward. You remind them: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.”

You spell out the rewards and the consequences over and over again. When they become disobedient, You send others, prophets, to remind them and warn them off the destructive path and back onto the path of blessing.

Even when they are immersed in their sin and being obstinate, You offer them forgiveness and a way back into Your grace and favor.   “Come, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Scarlet and crimson are bright and deep shades of red. Trying to get a red wine stain or a bloodstain out of something is difficult. And my sin stains me like that. But You tell me You can cleanse me as white as snow: sparkling, pure, glistening, frosty snow. You can remove my sin and its stain to make me as white as the softest, purest lamb’s wool!

“But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” That is the consequence of disobedience. Who would choose that? Who would give up the blessing of Your provision and favor, in order to be devoured by death?

And yet, the Israelites did just that, continuing in idolatry. They turned away from You. In pursuit of other gods, they continued to make meaningless offerings to You as one of the many “little g” gods they worshipped. Meaningless because their hearts did not belong to You any longer.

And You brought judgment. Because of Your righteous character, You had to uphold justice and be true to Your Word.   They did not understand until it was too late.

Father, I believe my country has been blessed and protected by You because we trusted in You. But now, we have turned away as a nation, “resisting and rebelling.“ We no longer honor or even acknowledge You.

You have sent a warning. You have sent people who have tried to call America back. But we have not returned. We have chosen the path away from You. And You will bring judgment.

Before it is too late, Father, I pray my nation will turn to You. Bring us leaders with godly values. Open our eyes to our sin and give us repentant hearts. “Come, [America], let us walk in the light of the Lord.” Amen

Isaiah 1:1-31

Sept 6 A Day of rejoicing

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O Father, Your Word paints a glorious picture of You returning to judge Your people!

I can see it in my mind’s eye as a massive, wall-sized painting with rays of light gleaming from Your figure, and shadows playing in the storm clouds around You with strikes of lightening flashing out. Just like one of the old masters’ paintings – like Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Or maybe as a majestic motion picture, with powerful, turbulent action between the fire and the storm like Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments.

When I speak Your Words, the action begins in my mind’s eye as You appear in slow motion: “The Mighty One… God… The Lord… You speak and summon the earth…You are perfect in beauty, You shine forth…A fire devours before You and around You a tempest rages…the heavens proclaim Your Righteousness.” The most beautiful, powerful being imaginable appears in the sky, advancing slowly.

Flames precede You, lashing out with almost blinding light and incredible heat. And around You, clouds, dark and terrible, build; billowing and blowing, roiling up and out, far and wide, with flashes of lightening streaking across the sky.

From the darkness of the storm, rays of light shine forth out of Your very being. Your voice thunders through the heavens and rumbles down to the earth causing the rocks and ground to tremble.   And in the background, the booming voices of ten thousand angels singing out, glorifying You!

“The heavens proclaim His righteousness” and I fall on my knees in reverence to join in the praise to honor You. What a day of rejoicing that will be! To be in Your presence. To see You in Your glory. What a powerful vision! To You, I offer all my praise. Amen

Psalm 50:1-7

July 4 We depend on You

cross-1314136_640O Father, Your people didn’t think that judgment would come. But You sent Pharaoh Necho from Egypt in the west to take Judah’s king in chains and tax and oppress the people. Then Nebuchadnezzar from Babylon in the east came twice to burn Jerusalem and strip the land of the last of its treasures and people.

Your people went into exile, taken from their land, to be prisoners in a foreign place. It was just as You had promised. Your people ignored Your covenant and the prophets You sent and followed their leaders into disobedience and idolatry. And paid the price for their choices.

Father, You give me a choice today. You show me how to live by Your Word. You teach me right from wrong. Your values and morality are clear. But my society lives by a different standard. And most of the people believe You will not judge. Although You have the greatest love, You also hate sin. And You have said there will come a time for judgment.

I believe that time is nearing. Father, help my nation hear Your warnings and turn back to You. Help me in my own life, make choices that are according to Your Word. Help me not simply make the easiest choices, or the most popular ones; but give me understanding to know how to make the right choices. Let me live my life for an audience of One: You.

Help me recognize my own sin and turn from it. Strengthen me to do what is right even when it is hard. Let others see that I love You. And that I live my life accordingly.

“Let the kings be wise; and the rulers of the earth be warned. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. And all who take refuge in the Lord will be blessed.” Amen

2 Kings 23:31-25:30; Psalm 2:1-12

 

Apr 7 No Rock like our God

american-flag-1272115_640Lord, do not let me be a nation without sense, with no discernment, like Israel was. When You gave them an inheritance and set up boundaries for Your people according to the number of their sons, You shielded and carried them. You protected them and guarded them as an eagle cares for and trains its young.

You nourished them with the best, and yet, when they became fat and sleek, satisfied, they turned from You. They abandoned the God who gave them all they had, and sought other ‘gods’.   They became perverse and unfaithful, not caring that it would call down Your curses and judgment on them and their children.

Father, give me discernment so I can know when I am being tempted away from You with the values and philosophies of this world. Help me be wise and understand that there are consequences to my decisions and actions. Give me the ability to be able to think ahead and see where things will lead so I can choose what will lead me to a closer relationship with You.

Father, give the leaders of my country sense to see where they are taking our people with their choices as well. Give them discernment and wisdom to know that Your judgment is real and You will not be mocked. Our Constitution was written to govern a moral people, and when morality fails, we have little hope of living in safety or security.

I can already see signs that we have gone too far.   We, as a people – even Believers, have put You to the test and rebelled against You, the Lord Most High. We have not kept Your statutes. We have become disloyal and faithless.

Do not reject us O God. Do not abandon us. But show us the error of our ways; teach us to walk rightly again and make wise decisions that honor You. Help me give You the place in my life that You deserve.

Remind me to read Your Word so it can guide and encourage me. Recall to my mind, Your faithfulness to me in the past: all the ways You have protected and delivered me. Speak to me when I pray to You, giving me direction. Let me feel Your presence near me, assuring me of your love, healing my wounds, and giving me Your peace.

Thank You that You are the One True God, the Most High, who will never leave me or forsake me. Thank You that Your faithfulness endures forever. I praise You for Your unending love. You are my God. Amen

Deuteronomy 32:28-43; Psalm 78:56-64

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

Dec 29 All Creation Praises You!

man-look-over-natureFather, how does the earth praise You? When I hear recorded sounds of whales in the deep oceans sing, are they praising You? When I hear the melodic song of the birds, are they singing of Your greatness? When the winds howl and the lightening cracks across the sky are they declaring Your majesty?

Do the trees affirm You with their upturned branches, their leaves, blossoms, fruit, and their gorgeous colors? Do flowers bless You as their blooming faces turn to You? When the wind stirs the golden Aspen leaves, is their shimmering applause for Your being?

A line in a poem, Trees by Joyce Kilmer touched me at a young age. It read: ‘A tree that looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray’.   Since then I have wondered exactly how Your creation acknowledges and exalts You. And what I can learn from Your creation about how to laud You. Here are some thoughts stirred by Psalm 148:

I will join with the earth in rejoicing in my LORD and recognizing my Savior

As the rocks and stones cry out, I will add my voice:

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

in sickness and in health I will give the LORD His due

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

But it is the response of my recognition of who God is

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and His Name, the Only Name.”

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it…the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…were judged…anyone whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Father, there was a day when You created the heavens and the earth, the moon and stars, the birds and beasts, and man; when all acknowledged You as Creator and worshipped You and had fellowship with You. One day, it will be that way again. All that You create will know You, will worship You, will give You praise. Again, I can’t wait! Amen

Zechariah 14:1-9; Revelation 20:11-15; Psalm 148:1-14

Dec 25 God in flesh

20161223_231820 (1)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.

Today, 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 12 A Famine of the Word

Father, You showed Amos two punishments, judgments for Israel and then said “This will not happen”. You relented, yielded, turned away from those judgments in favor of another. What a heart You have for Your people that You withheld the punishment they deserved out of Your love. You knew they would not be able to bear up under it or survive. How often have You spared me from the punishment my words and actions, my sins deserve? No doubt, daily. Were You not my Sovereign Lord, I would not survive. Thank You for Your mercy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amos 7:1-8:14; Psalm 131

Dec 2 Your Word is still our prayer

foundingfatherspray Father, these words of Daniel, oddly enough, seem to apply to my country and me in these times. America has enjoyed Your blessing and protection, but her people have turned away from You and Your values. Judgment and punishment are at our doorstep, and our only hope is to return to You. If we do not, I fear a great judgment is coming our way. So in the words of Daniel, “I pray to You, the Lord my God and confess:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps Your covenant of love with those who love You and keep Your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from Your commands and laws.  We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our [government officials], our [spiritual leaders] and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

“Lord, You are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people [Your believers] and the inhabitants of [our cities] and all [America], both near and far…because of our unfaithfulness to you.  We and our [government officials], our [spiritual leaders] and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against You.   You, the Lord our God are merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against You; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws You gave us through Your servants the prophets.  All [America] has transgressed Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, [we are in danger of them being] poured out on us, because we have sinned against you.   You [will fulfill] the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster.  Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. [And we are in danger of the same fate.] Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster [will] come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to Your truth.  You [will] not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for You, the Lord our God are righteous in everything You do; yet we have not obeyed You.

“Now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for Yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong.  Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, turn away Your anger and Your wrath from [America]. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made [America] and Your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of Your servants. For Your sake, Lord, look with favor on [America].  Give ear, our God, and hear; open Your eyes and see the desolation of the [country] that [has borne] Your Name.  We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy.  Lord, listen! Lord, forgive!  Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, my God, do not delay, because [America] and your people bear your Name.” Amen

Daniel 9:1-17

Nov 29 Let me be like Daniel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 28 Santa or Sovereign

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Father, so much of the world looks for a god who is like Santa Clause.

They want someone who is happy, always smiling, and will give them whatever they ask for. They like to speak of love for everyone and unending tolerance. But You are a Holy God. And because of that You will have justice for all or there would be love for none.

King Belshazzar was judged by You, and You removed him from his position of power and took his life. You judged Your angels, and threw them into hell to await final judgment. You judged Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed the cities and the evil people who lived there. And You judged the ancient world when You sent the great flood, saving only eight people to continue mankind.

The Psalmist thought it was time for You to act against the evil people of his day. They are described as evil-minded, wicked, arrogant, ones who have divided loyalties and violated Your instructions. And in the hundreds of years since then, there has been so much injustice and evil done in the world, it is hard to believe You will hold off judgment much longer.

But Father, You know how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment”. “You are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of hope.” You will “sustain me”, “rescue”, “deal with me with unfailing love”, and “give me discernment”.  

As is the psalmist, I am instructed and strengthened by You, I will “obey the commands of My God”, “meditate continually on Your decrees”, and “understand Your laws”. For truly “I am Your servant…I tremble in fear of You; I stand in awe of Your regulations.” I believe Your teachings that there will come a day when You will reign over all the earth; and a final judgment will be handed down by Your righteous hand.

Father, until that day, keep me safe within Your Word. And keep me faithful to You, like Daniel. Amen

Daniel 5:1-31; II Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128

Nov 13 I am in Awe

Father, the city and leaders and people of Tyre had everything worldly possible to bring them success in material possessions and reputation. Yet, they fell. They took pride in their commerce and accomplishments and that pride kept them from worshipping You. They saw themselves as gods. And Your judgment fell on them.

Lord, do not let me think more highly of myself than I ought.   Thank You for Your example of being a humble servant.   As I try to follow Your example, if I ever think too much of myself, refocus me on Your greatness.

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Psalm 111 reminds me that ”Great are the works of the Lord…glorious and majestic are His deeds”. When I ponder all of creation, I am amazed by Your imagination! I am captivated by the diversity in size and color and design! I am overwhelmed by the power of Your mountains and seas and winds.

I love seeing pictures of majestic waterfalls, lush green jungles with brightly colored birds, schools of shiny fish swimming in the sea, brilliant flowers, water-colored sunsets. All this is just a part of what You do. Besides creating and sustaining all this, You have created the intricacies of each human body: from the tiniest of cells to the diversity of faces and fingerprints! And not just bodies, but You know the mind and spirit of each individual on the planet!   You’re indescribable – uncontainable – unfathomable! You blow my mind!

And a wondrous part of who You are is that You do not just set all this in motion and then sit back to see where it goes. You involve Yourself in the life of each of Your precious creations.   You speak, protect, provide, lead, feed, forgive, save. And all that You do is just and right. You have provided these later generations with Your written Word.   It teaches Your truth and Your character so all can know You, and Your faithfulness, Your uprightness and Your salvation.

You say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. The Hebrew word ‘yare’ translated as ‘fear’ here, is used in this sentence referring to a person in an exalted position: You. Thus, the meaning includes a reverence, a standing in awe, whereby the individual recognizes the power and position, and renders the proper respect. Father, I acknowledge Your power, Your sovereignty; and give You all honor and praise! Let me continue to grow in wisdom. How great and awesome You are! “To You belongs eternal praise”! Amen

Ezekiel 27:1-28:19; Psalm 111:1-10

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

Nov 10 Let Your Light shine through us and overcome the darkness

Father, I wonder if You see in my country what You saw in the rebellion and idolatry of Israel and Judah. The list You make certainly seems familiar. Of Israel You said she treated parents with contempt, oppressed and mistreated the defenseless, despised what is holy and desecrated the Sabbath, liars, murderers, idolaters, lewd, lustful, immoral, kill for bribes, extort unjust gain, commit robbery; all while forgetting You. This list looks like the television line up for today’s entertainment!

So Your judgment will be just on my country too.

candles-1645551_640But one thing was missing from Israel. “You looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before You in the gap on behalf of the land so You would not have to destroy it, but You found no one.” Father, I believe many today hear the call to build up the wall around our country. It has been torn down by our sin and our turning from You. But many are praying for the revival and healing of our country. We cry out, distressed over the idolatry, over the evil that has taken root here.

We see that what is evil has been called good, and that our leaders and role models have fallen and led us away from You. Father, I am grieved that my generation has exalted self over You. And that we have allowed our freedoms to warp our sense of right and wrong. Father, I pray for Your mercy and for Your healing. Let Your light overcome the darkness that is covering this land.

I stand in the gap of the broken wall as a guard, sounding the alarm; that the time is late. And the people need to awaken to the truth. Your Truth. And turn away from the evil that entices us. Father, You have made a way for each person to be reconciled to You. Sacrifices do not need to be made in a temple, daily, any longer. You made the perfect sacrifice, once, for all. Let there be spiritual revival in my country and in its people!

Father, let those of us who pray for our country be enough. See us, and do not destroy. Let our fate be different from that of Israel. Amen

Ezekiel 22:1-31; Hebrews 10:1-17

 

Sept 14 All will know You!

Father, You are right in Your assessments and just in Your judgments. You gave Isaiah a judgment that would fall upon the people of Moab and Damascus. It’s a horrible picture of death and devastation. Moab was spoken of with “her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and her insolence…” And Damascus had “forgotten God your Savior, you have not remembered the Rock your fortress.” Both were lands of great idolatry.

Lord, do not let me be prideful or conceited. Do not let me think more of myself than I ought to, or forget that all I have comes from You. Father, I am humbled again, at Your righteousness. You always punish the wicked.  And yet You leave a remnant who turn back to You. “In that day [of judgment] men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands…” Although they had lived their lives worshipping other gods, when judgment came, they knew exactly who the real God was.

frame-1482474_640I fear I live in a country of people who also deny You and worships other gods. Perhaps not in a religious way, but who live their lives by seeking fame and fortune, doing only what feels good or gains them the most material possessions. However, I believe that when judgment falls, they will remember that they knew all along, who You really are. Father, bring revival before it is too late. Amen

Isaiah 15:1—18:7

Sept 11 Seek God’s wisdom and blessing

O Father, help me. Strengthen me in my spirit so I will not make the same mistakes Your people in Israel made so long ago.

First they “rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah”. These were the softly running streams of Northern Israel that brought water to provide abundant harvests of grain, but represented the provision You afforded them as a blessing.   Yet the people were not satisfied with what You supplied. They sought other gods. So You brought against them “mighty floodwaters of the River – the king of Assyria with all his pomp…to overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep onto Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.”

flood-664712_640The Assyrian Empire was centered on the Tigris and Euphrates, two of the largest and mightiest rivers. The Assyrians would spill over into Israel and flood up to their necks. Not the kind of water that was useful for life, but a devastating, destructive flood.

Father, help me to be satisfied with what You have given me, what You have blessed me with. Do not let me look to others, or compare myself to them, desiring what they have. But let me rest in Your abundant provision, content in Your care, trusting that You know, and will provide, whatever is best for me.

Next, Your people ignored the signs and prophecies You gave them, and instead, sought the wisdom and guidance of mediums and spiritualists.   In my world, there are so many places people can go to discern a direction for their lives. Palm readers, mediums, and spiritualists still exist. Tarot cards and daily horoscopes have become a guide for actions people take in their relationships, their finances, their business and social lives. “…Should not a people inquire of their God?” Lord, I will seek wisdom from You. In Your Word and in prayer, Father, speak to me, direct me. Show me the way to go when I have decisions to make. Do not let me be drawn to the darkness of the occult.

Also, when judgment began to fall on the people, their response was not humility and repentance. Instead, “they say with pride and arrogance of heart, the bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” In their arrogance, they missed the message You had for them to come back to You, to worship You. Instead they responded only to the destruction, seeing it only as a construction problem; saying they would rebuild with stronger, more resilient materials.

God help us – these are the very same words spoken by American government officials after the destruction of 9-11, September 11th. Rather than heed the warning to return to You, the spiritual problem in this country was seen as a construction issue. With a response to “rebuild” with stronger materials.

Father, if and when You send me a message like this, tenderize my heart to see to the real problem. Do not let me ignore the spiritual issues in my life. Prompt me to respond to those with humility and repentance. If all is right between us, the rest will take care of itself. It is not by might I will endure, but by Your grace, Your mercy, Your love, compassion and provision. And it is the same for my country. Tenderize our leaders’ hearts to see the real problem, to seek You, worship You, and turn to You for guidance. Thank You for these lessons. Help me remember them. Amen

Isaiah 8:1-9:21

Apr 8 No Rock like our God

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Lord, do not let me be a nation without sense, with no discernment, like Israel was. When You gave them an inheritance and set up boundaries for Your people according to the number of their sons, You shielded and carried them. You protected them and guarded them as an eagle cares for and trains its young. You nourished them with the best, and yet, when they became fat and sleek, satisfied, they turned from You. They abandoned the God who gave them all they had, and sought other ‘gods’.   They became perverse and unfaithful, not caring that it would call down Your curses and judgment on them and their children.

Father, give me discernment so I can know when I am being tempted away from You with the values and philosophies of this world. Help me be wise and understand that there are consequences to my decisions and actions. Give me the ability to be able to think ahead and see where things will lead so I can choose what will lead me to a closer relationship with You.

Father, give the leaders of my country sense to see where they are taking our people with their choices as well. Give them discernment and wisdom to know that Your judgment is real and You will not be mocked. Our Constitution was written to govern a moral people, and when morality fails, we have little hope of living in safety or security.

I can already see signs that we have gone too far.   We, as a people – even Believers, have put You to the test and rebelled against You, the Lord Most High. We have not kept Your statutes. We have become disloyal and faithless.

Do not reject us O God. Do not abandon us. But show us the error of our ways; teach us to walk rightly again and make wise decisions that honor You. Help me give You the place in my life that You deserve. Remind me to read Your Word so it can guide and encourage me. Recall to my mind, Your faithfulness to me in the past: all the ways You have protected and delivered me. Speak to me when I pray to You, giving me direction. Let me feel Your presence near me, assuring me of your love, healing my wounds, and giving me Your peace.

Thank You that You are the One True God, the Most High, who will never leave me or forsake me. Thank You that Your faithfulness endures forever. I praise You for Your unending love. You are my God. Amen

Deuteronomy 32:28-43; Psalm 78:56-64

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

Dec 12 A Famine of the Word

 

Father, You showed Amos two punishments, judgments for Israel.  Then told him “This will not happen”.  You relented, or yielded, turned away from those judgments in favor of another.  What a heart You have for Your people, that You withheld the punishment they deserved, out of Your love.  You knew they would not be able to bear up under it, or survive.  How often have You spared me from the punishment my words and actions, my sins deserve?  No doubt, daily.  Were You not my Sovereign Lord, I would not survive.  Thank You for Your mercy.

famine-hunger

You told Amos “The days are coming when I will send a famine thorough the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Words of the Lord.”  This was certainly fulfilled in the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, when no further prophetic word was given.  But it can also be true of our world today.  Right now, I can enjoy the freedom to worship You, to study Your Word, to attend church.  But even now, the reading and public speaking of Your Word is being called ‘Hate Speech’.

Hate Speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.  Many universities, for years the havens of ‘free speech’ have adopted codes prohibiting speech that offends any group based on the traits listed above.  While the intent is good, to protect people groups from racial slurs, intimidation and threats, it is becoming more popular to also outlaw scripture and categorize it as ‘hate speech’.  Already Christian speakers on radio have been told to watch what they say about topics that are considered politically incorrect, lest they lose their funding and rights to broadcast.

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

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

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

Amos 7:1-9:15; Psalm 131

Dec 10 The lion has roared…

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“Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets.” 

Father, You gave a special message to a shepherd, Amos.  His was not in a priestly or kingly line, yet You gave him an important message for the people.  He was a shepherd of Tekoa, a place about six miles south of Bethlehem, as Bethlehem is about six miles south of Jerusalem.  At the time, the people he spoke to thought they were doing well.  But about thirty years later, the Assyrians took Israel into captivity.  The list of nations he voiced Your displeasure of and coming judgment on were eventually judged.

Father, it seems to me that when You choose to bless a nation, You hold that nation responsible for its national conduct.  Surely each person was not guilty of the offenses listed, but the nations were judged nonetheless.  My country has been blessed.  And I believe You will hold it responsible for its national conduct.  Right now, that is not looking good.  Amos questioned “Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey?”  Then answered: “The lion has roared – who will not fear?”  He was telling people there was a real and present danger.  I believe my country is being warned of a real and present danger if the people do not turn back to You.

You also revealed Your plan to John through Revelation.   He wrote down Your Words to specific churches.  I believe they were real churches at the time, but I also believe the same words are meant for Your church today.

In obedience to these words, would You help me remember that You are my first love; that You come before anything else in my heart.  And let me act accordingly.  Like the church in Ephesus, let me not tolerate wicked people, or listen to false teachers, or follow the Nicolaitan teachings of lustful immorality and lording church positions and power over lay people.  Give me the strength to “persevere…endure hardships for Your name, and not grow weary”.

Like the churches in Smyrna and Pergamum, let me remember my wealth comes from my relationship with You.  Show me where the evil one is influencing me, or my loved ones so we can reject it.  Increase our faith so we have the perseverance to remain true to Your Name.  Do not let us be led away from Your teachings by the temptations of Balaam who tempted the Israelites into immorality and idolatry.

Father, thank You for revealing Your plan to Your servants the prophets.  I have ears.  Let me hear and heed these words that are for my life and my country.  Open my ears and my understanding.  Amen

Amos 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17

Nov 29 Let me be like Daniel

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov 28

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Father, so much of the world looks for a god who is like Santa Clause.  They want someone who is happy, always smiling, and will give them whatever they ask for.  They like to speak of love for everyone and unending tolerance.  But You are a Holy God.  And because of that You will have justice for all or there would be love for none.

King Belshazzar was judged by You, and You removed him from his position of power and took his life.  You judged Your angels, and threw them into hell to await final judgment.  You judged Sodom and Gomorrah and destroyed the cities and the evil people who lived there.  And You judged the ancient world when You sent the great flood, saving only eight people to continue mankind.

The Psalmist thought it was time for You to act against the evil people of his day.  They are described as evil-minded, wicked, arrogant, ones who have divided loyalties and violated Your instructions.  And in the hundreds of years since then, there has been so much injustice and evil done in the world, it is hard to believe You will hold off judgment much longer.

But Father, You know how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment”.  “You are my refuge and my shield; Your Word is my source of hope.”  You will “sustain me”, “rescue”, “deal with me with unfailing love”, and “give me discernment”.   

Instructed and strengthened by You, I will “obey the commands of My God”, “meditate continually on Your decrees”, and “understand Your laws”.  For truly “I am Your servant…I tremble in fear of You; I stand in awe of Your regulations.”  I believe Your teachings that there will come a day when You will reign over all the earth; and a final judgment will be handed down by Your righteous hand.

Father, until that day, keep me safe within Your Word.  And keep me faithful to You, like Daniel.  Amen

Daniel 5:1-31; II Peter 2:1-22; Psalm 119:113-128