Tag: life

May 20 Wisdom, prophecy, life, death

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

David 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

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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 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.”

breathofGodOne 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.

Adam 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.

person-864804_640Thank 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 2 All His benefits…

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“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”

O Lord, if I took a whole day, I could never list all the benefits You lavish on me.  I take so many things for granted.  Often I don’t even think about how every breath that I take is from You!  And I should be thankful.

Beginning when I wake up in the morning, I am thankful that I do wake up!  And that I can breathe clean air in a warm bed, in a secure house, with a family I love, with food to eat and clean water to drink and bathe in.  I have more clothes in my closet than some people on this planet ever own in a lifetime!  And many pairs of shoes.

It’s a choice for me to eat breakfast or not.  And if I choose to eat, I have several options of clean, untainted food in a kitchen with running water and convenient appliances to make food preparation almost effortless.  My fridge keeps my food cold to preserve its freshness until I want it.  Then, at the turn of a switch or the push of a button, I can cook it.  Another button and my dishes are washed.

Just this part of my day is blessed far more than most of the people on this earth.

I live in freedom to be what I want to be, go where I want to go, with whom I want to be with.  I can choose my career, my husband, my entertainment.  I can worship You in the open however I want, read scripture without fear of arrest or imprisonment.  I can attend public church services without being detained and beaten, or having my property seized, or my life forfeited.

When I step outside my house, I see a beautiful sky, majestic mountains, flowering trees, gorgeous flowers.  We have warm, rainy, windy Springs, temperate Summers, gorgeously colored, cool Falls, and crisp, snow covered Winters – all four seasons in a beautiful and varied environment rich with birds of many kinds, singing their Spring songs and migrating south in the Fall.

On top of all this, You preserve my life, forgive my sins, deliver me from the oppression and deceit of satan.  You show me love I did not earn, and pour out mercy and compassion on me I do not deserve.

You satisfy my desires with good things, or remove those wrongful desires from me.  You answer my prayers, guide me with Your wisdom, encourage me with Your Word, and have promised to take me into paradise with You for all eternity.

Father, help me remember every day to thank You for something.  Open my eyes to things I take for granted, and accept my praise for Your goodness.  Remind me at the beginning of every month, to come back and read Psalm 103 and spend time “forgetting not, all of Your benefits”.  Amen

Psalm 103

Apr 30 The Power of words

Jephthah is the very definition of a rash vow, a careless oath, a promise made without thinking.   At least he lived by his word and upheld his vow, but it cost his daughter her life!

board-1106649_640Lord God, how often do I speak without thinking?  Have I made promises I either had no way to meet or no intention of keeping?

Help me be more aware of how I speak.    Do not let me take my words lightly.   Let my yes be yes and my no mean no.

In Your Word, You teach me not to lie or give false testimony.  As You became flesh and dwelt among us, You were a living example of speaking truth.  So, I am to speak the truth in love and use words that are edifying to the other person.

I desire to use my voice to bless others, to offer godly wisdom, to sing of Your love and justice, to praise You.   Lord, set a watch over my mouth to make me aware of all I say.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord.  Amen

Judges 11:29-40; Psalm 19:14

Apr 21 Obey Your Word, walk in Your presence

In today’s scripture, You give two passages that tell me how to be blessed.  I acknowledge and desire to follow those instructions.

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Lord, help me “be very strong; to be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.  I will not associate with those who do not follow You by invoking the names of their gods or swear by them.  I will not serve them or bow down to them.  I will hold fast to You.” 

Lord, I can only be careful to obey Your Word if I know Your Word.  So I will read it and study to understand it.  I will pray and ask for understanding when I am confused or in doubt.

I will not ever call upon the names of other gods, because there is no other God but You.  There is none like You.  There is no other name under heaven by which I am saved.

Your power alone created the universe.  I will worship You alone, and seek Your direction and wisdom for my life.

The next passage tells me “blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence.”  Father, I give glory to Your name only, because of who You are and what You have done.  You are Most Holy God.  You are all-powerful and all-knowing.  You created the heavens and the earth.

You created man and set him in this place to have fellowship with You.  When he broke that fellowship by sinning, You made a way of reconciling man to You: through Your blood on the cross.  And because I accept that gift I can walk in the light of Your presence once again.

The light of Your presence is where truth is revealed, nothing is hidden, nothing is feared.  Your presence dispels darkness.  To be present with You is to talk with You and listen to You – Your responses in prayer, in Your Word and through the Holy Spirit.  It is to rest in You, fearing nothing.

So I rejoice in Your name.  I trust in Your righteousness.  You are my protection, my King, the Holy One.   And I am blessed.  Amen

Joshua 23:6-11; Psalm 89:14-18

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

directory-466935_640Heavenly Father, thank You for those times I literally cried out to You for You to hear me and come quickly, and You did.

There have been nights like the Psalmist experienced, when in distress over circumstances, I sought You.  I could not see a way out of or through my problems.

And though I had gone to bed, sleep was far from me.  My thoughts would not be still.  With each issue, another failure or complication seemed to pile on until I felt so overwhelmed I did not even know where to start to pray.

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

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

That actually sounded like it would be the answer to all my troubles.  And while I believe You have shown me I have much to do before I die, there was a sense of relief in that thought.

That’s when it hit me – this thought was NOT from You.

It was from the evil one who would like nothing better than to sideline me – take me out of the game altogether!  If satan can get anyone to believe the lie that there is no hope, it immobilizes and freezes them.  Can even paralyze a Christian’s faith.

So I decided I to begin praying – not about the circumstances that were overwhelming me, but any scripture I could remember:

The Lord’s prayer.  

The 23rd Psalm. 

“I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.” 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” 

“The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory!” 

“Jesus wept.” 

The more I quoted Your Word in prayer, the calmer I felt.  And soon fell asleep.

Thank You Lord, for sending Your calm, Your peace.  Thank You for sending sleep.

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

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

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

Mar 30 Real Faith

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

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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 26 Help me hear

girl-headphones-41553“We will listen and obey.”  This was the Israelites response to all You said on the mountain when they heard Your voice telling them how they should live.

Many things in the world keep me from hearing You.  The world is a loud, noisy place, with so many voices that distract or actively deceive.  Those voices suggest what I need and how I should live to be “accepted” and “successful” by the world’s standards. They tempt me into materialism, humanism, and all kinds of ungodly ideologies.

But to listen and obey, I must listen specifically and intentionally.  I need to walk a path, live a lifestyle that purposely shows others what I believe.

Please remind me when I speak or act or make a decision, that everything I do will either draw me closer to You, or move me away from You and Your will.  Help me examine my thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes, to ensure that they are honorable and do not cause distance or separation from You.

You also tell me I am responsible to teach others about You and Your truth.  So I need to live what I believe – talk about my faith and who You are to me and how You impact my life.  Help me do that when I have others in my home.  And when I travel.  From the time I get up until the time I go to bed.

When I am not speaking of You, my faith should still be obvious to others by my dress, my countenance, my attitudes, how I treat others.  When people come to my home, they should see more than just the symbols of the world’s values.  They should sense Your peace.  I

n my emails, tweets, facebook posts and any other presentation to the world, I must be mindful that I represent You.  As I am a Christ-follower, my presence in others’ lives shows whether I truly listen and obey, or whether I am a Christian in name only.

I will listen.  And I will obey.  And I will “proclaim the power of God!”  Amen

Deuteronomy 5:1-6:9; Psalm 68:34

Mar 23 A blessed life

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

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He has brought me into life in a time and place of His choosing; to a family of His providence.  He has watched over me and protected me from serious illness and injury, trouble and violence, time and again.

There were times when I cried out to Him for deliverance from circumstances, and He delivered me, or gave me what I needed to endure.  There were times when He rescued me from things that I was not even aware I needed rescuing from.

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

He has tested me and refined me like silver.

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

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

He has given me the hope of an eternal existence with Him in the future, with promises that He will never, ever, no, not ever, leave me.

He has forgiven my sin.

He has promised that nothing will overtake me, but that He will always make a way for me to bear up under whatever He allows into my life.

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

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

Psalm 66:1-20

 

 

 

Mar 18 Heaven or earth?

O Lord, what a wonderful and confusing prayer here from David.

heaven or earthI’m not exactly sure of his meaning; but like many prayers, it shows the divided interests and longings of many believers.

On one hand, I have been through a lot.  Life has been challenging, and sometimes I want to just give up: “my heart grows faint.”  I feel anxious to be done with this earthly life and all its problems.  “I long to dwell in Your tent forever.”

Thinking about that, all pain and suffering would be over in heaven.  No more battles to fight.  I would be in the presence of my Lord and Savior.  What could possibly be better!

On the other hand, You have given me blessings here, Lord.  I desire to fulfill all You have planned for me, and bring glory and honor to Your name here on earth.  And hopefully bring many to a saving knowledge of You while doing it.

So I echo “increase the days of my life, my years for many generations.”  How awesome would it be to see my children grown and serving the Lord, and grandchildren, and great grand children!

Bottom line, I trust You with all my days.  Whether here on earth or with You in heaven, I rely on You and Your perfect will to know the length of my days, and prepare me for them.

I thank You that You knew all my days before even one of them came to be.  And that no power can take away even one hour You have promised me.  I trust in, and rest in, Your power and Your wisdom, Your mercy, and Your plan.  Amen

Psalm 61:1-8

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 and 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!  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 desert when Korah sinned against You and rebelled, You swallowed him up in the earth with his followers.  Yet sin continued. As did sacrifices as a way to enter Your presence, first in the Tabernacle, then the Temple.

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.

One day Your world will be free of sin again, as You judge all the living and the dead, even the angels, and create 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

Numbers 16:1-40; Mark 15:1-47; Psalm 54:7

Mar 7 Follow the leader

Lord, I love how You are always available to me.  I can come to You any time to ask for wisdom and direction. There is no question too big or too small for You to answer.   And You never make me feel bad for asking.

cloud-pillar_imgarcade.comThe Israelites came and inquired of You through Moses about a problem for some wanting to celebrate the Lord’s Passover.  In response, You told them exactly what to do.  Not only did You answer their question, but Your presence was visible in the camp as a cloud over the Tabernacle.  When You remained, the people remained where You were.  When Your presence moved, they moved.

How I would love to have my own pillar of cloud appear before me and stay with me to direct my path!

Then I would know precisely if I were in Your perfect will or if I were ever in danger of straying from it.  I would know when to move on and when to stay put.  There would be no question of misinterpreting what You were telling me.

And what an accountability factor!  If I were not near the pillar, everyone would know it was me who had moved away – who chose not follow.

In Jerusalem, when Your disciples asked about their future, You revealed events that would help them prepare for the dangers and challenges to come.  You also reminded them to watch for signs and pay attention to the things around them that would help them discern what was coming.  And warned them about false prophets.

As Your Word warns, help me also keep watch and be prepared.

In Psalm 50:15 You tell me to call on You in the day of trouble and You will deliver.  Again showing Your availability and desire to respond when I ask.  I can trust that You, the mighty Creator of the universe, are available to help me, whenever, wherever, however a need arises.

“The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous.” And You have shown me that way.  You came and lived on earth to be my example by showing how to treat people and live a moral and godly life.

Also, through Your sacrifice, death and resurrection, You showed me the way to have eternal life.  And gave me the gift of Your Word so I would have it written down, to read and study and memorize and hide in my heart.

You are my refuge.  Thank You for being my sheltered, protected place of sanctuary.   Thank You for being ready with whatever I need.  And for knowing what I need even when I do not.

I am so grateful to have a God who hears, who is able, who is available, and who is willing.  Amen.

Numbers 9:1-23; Mark 13:14-37; Psalm 50:15; Proverbs 10:29

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 family, my children and grandchildren.  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

Jan 31 Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

pzvi92s-zms-lifelike-creationsTwo blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard Jesus was passing by they called out. When You stopped, You asked what they wanted You to do for them. They asked for their sight. You had compassion on them and healed them. What a miracle!

I depend on Your mercy as well. And Your mercies are new every day. But if You were to ask what I want of You, I am already so blessed, it would be hard to answer.

You have already given me eternal life in Your presence for all time. You have forgiven my sin. You have allowed me to be born in a time when most disease is treatable, water and air are safe to drink and breathe, and injuries do not usually become life threatening.

I have no fear of wild animals attacking as I live in a safe place. You have placed me in a country where I have freedoms that most in the world do not. I can worship You freely, I can travel where I want, can vote for my form of government and live my life in peace within its protected borders, without persecution.

You have allowed me to be born into a loving, supportive, Christian family who raised me to love You. And who gave me not only adequate food, shelter, and an education, but loved me and encouraged me.

You have protected me and saved me from more tragedy and trauma than I know about. And have blessed me with a husband and children, and friends. I live in a beautiful place where every day I can look to the mountains and be reminded of Your strength and majesty.

I enjoy four seasons with all the consistent changes that come with them; weather, wildlife, life cycles of plants, flowers, trees. I have full use of all my senses that can take in the beauty around me and see your infinite diversity at work in birdsongs, floral aromas, the lushness of grass, the chill of fresh snow, the painted sky at sunrise and sunset.

As I think of all these things, my heart overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Forgive me for not voicing it every day. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You!

For as many days as I have left on this earth, there will always be something to thank You for. And when I pass into that next part of our eternal relationship, “I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving in my heart, and enter Your courts with praise!”

Matthew 20:29-34, Psalm 100:4

Jan 30 Salvation Lamb – Passover

What a beautiful depiction of Your amazing Salvation plan!

stained-glass-1626287_1280You 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 22 Death to life!

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Holy Father, I cannot even imagine the depth of joy Israel must have felt at the realization that the son he thought he had lost forever, was alive!

I cannot imagine grieving for a son for so long, dealing with a sense of loss so great that it makes you physically ill and emotionally destitute; then to discover that the object or your intense love and devotion has been resurrected and returned to you!

But You are a God of resurrection miracles! You are the One with the power of restoration! And there will be another great reunion as we see all our loved ones who love You, again, when we spend eternity together in Your presence.

It must have seemed like a miracle to Israel: Your bringing the son that was dead to him, back into fellowship and life. How awesome is Your power!

You are not limited by what we have come to understand are the limits and laws of our physical world. You walked on water! You healed the sick and dying with a touch! You multiplied five pieces of bread and two fish to feed literally thousands of hungry people. And that was only during the first twenty-four hours after hearing of Your own personal loss: the death of Your cousin, John the Baptist!

Twice during that time, you withdrew to be alone to pray. How hard it must have been to remain in this physical world with all its pain and grief, suffering, sickness and evil, knowing Your true home was in heaven. You could have left it all behind in an instant.

Thank You for continuing to walk the path that would lead to Your sacrifice and the saving of mankind; rejoining us to Yourself, our heavenly Father, bridging the chasm between our sinfulness and Your holiness.

Holy, Holy, Holy are You, Lord God Almighty!

Genesis 44:18-45:28; Matthew 14:13-36

Jan 21 It’s all perspective

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Holy Father, Your will often puzzles me. I cannot see from Your perspective or understand the effects of actions looking forward into the future.

Your servant John the Baptist lived as a righteous man. He was a believer and taught of Your kingdom. He even baptized Jesus! He was a great part of Your plan; yet he was beheaded by an unrighteous, evil, manipulative man.

In our human understanding of fairness that seems so wrong.

Yet, again, our perspective is not Yours. And our life here on earth is not the end of it all. There is also what comes after: where and how we spend eternity.

So can I still pray for things to work here out here on earth, in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones? Yes.

And can I ask in faith, believing, and not doubting? Absolutely!

But I must remember that You answer prayer from a greater perspective.

My sight and my ability to see “the solution” are very limited. Even in my own life, I have prayed and You have answered in ways far better than anything I had asked for, or could have even imagined.

And can I trust Your answer? Without a doubt!

Even if I can’t understand the “why” of it at the time, I know that Your love for me is great. And You are trustworthy. And Your sense of mercy and justice are right.

So no matter how things look from my perspective, I will proclaim boldly with the Psalmist, “As for God, His way is perfect!”

Matthew 14:1-12; Psalm 18:30

Jan 18 every high and every low

Heavenly Father, thank You that I can trust You through the ups and downs, the highs and lows of my life.

There are times when things are going so well I feel on top of the world. And there are other times when it seems as if nothing is going right, and never will.

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It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything because everything seems to work out wrong and there is no sign that things will change for the better.

Israel’s son Joseph must have thought that when he was first thrown into a well by his jealous and conniving brothers, then sold to slave traders and carried off to Egypt far away from home. He was completely out of control of his own future at that point. But You were in control. And You had a master plan.

i know from scripture how Joseph’s life turned out: all for the good, and for the saving of his family. But I cannot see into the future to know the twists and turns my own life will take, or how it will turn out. And that is the challenge of life here on earth.

There are so many things I cannot control. They become a source of anxiousness, worry, and wringing my hands.

Other things, I try to control, but they slip through my fingers like water or sand. They are the source of making plans, and back up plans, contingencies and manipulation; again, stressful.

And there are the things that I seem to control and am pleased with, but am misled, because in truth, I am not in control at all. I only think I am.

I could continue to live this misguided life of false security, manipulation and anxiety. But I choose to lay it all down.  I choose the peace of giving it all to You. This is where trust comes in. I choose to believe Your Word: that You have a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future, to never leave me or forsake me.

You have proven Yourself steadfast and trustworthy throughout the ages. You created the heavens and the earth and everything in them and have sustained them.

You have kept Your covenants and Your promises to men; every one. You have given revelation and prophecy that so far, has all come true. By Your power, the earth turns and the sun rises every morning.

Just like in Joseph’s life, I trust that You will position me where I need to be, when I need to be there. I trust You to prepare me for what comes next. And to guide me through it by being with me.

I trust You will keep me safe. In You I take refuge. You are my Lord. Apart from You I have no good thing. In You I trust. Amen

Genesis 37:1-36; Psalm 16:1-2; Jeremiah 29:11

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

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

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

You know me so well.  You created me.  You knew beforehand the purpose of my life, the places I would go, the perils I would face.

Like a carpenter chooses the type of wood to match the force of the stresses that will be brought against the boat he is making, You, my good and wise Carpenter, lovingly chose how I would be made.

You carefully and masterfully fashioned me to create exactly what You envisioned I would need to meet the storms You knew I would have to face in my life.

I don’t know my own strength, but You do.  You built strength into me that will only be demonstrated by the storms I weather.

So, with confidence and faith, I will enter the darkness, the high winds, the deep swells, the powerful surges, the rain, thunder and lightening.  I will let them crash around me, and wash over me, and I will see my deliverance on the other side.  Where the waters are calm.   And the winds are favorable.   And the sky is blue.

And my Carpenter, who is my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, stands smiling.  Amen

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

purple-grapes-vineyard-napa-valley-napa-vineyard-45209Father, what a picture of joy and hope when You say “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert.”  Because in the desert, very little grows.  The lack of water and the intense heat plus sandy soil produce low, scrawny plant life.  But to find grapes: something juicy and good that can nourish, is a wonderful and valuable find!

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

fig-tree-1658686_960_720A similar picture is seen in the next part of the verse: “when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.”  For a fig tree is different from most other fruit trees.  It will take four to five years, and sometimes six or seven years for a fig tree to produce it’s first crop of figs.

So all those years, care must be taken to keep it watered and fertilized and protected from the weather and winds, parasites and disease so it will be healthy enough to produce.  Then, when seeing the early fruit, you know it has all been worth it!  There is success!  And hope of many more harvests to come.

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

But then all was taken away: “…they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved.”

Delight is erased.  Hopes are dashed.  Joy is replaced with sadness, grief and anguish over the loss of those involved and the prospect of the joyous future that had been envisioned.

Father, do You delight in each one of us, and then anguish when we fall away from You?

I am Your child.  Keep me from turning away from You.  Show me clearly where and when there are idols I have been drawn to: pride, possessions, money, fame, popularity, whatever.

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

Hosea 9:10; Psalm 126:1-3

Nov 4 Trust the plan

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Father, You had a plan when You punished Israel and sent them into exile.  And when You brought judgment on the remnant.

You had a plan for bringing Your people back to the land and giving them a new heart, a new spirit and a better salvation.

I believe You have a plan for me and my life as well.

Like Your people before me, it may not be what I expect.  But I completely trust You.

You may not give me visions like Ezekiel.  You may not exile me from my home.  You may not use another nation to exact my liberation.  But I know that whatever Your plan – it is one that will be new and unique, designed perfectly for the gifts and talents You’ve placed in me.

Father, I trust that You will show me what I need to know, exactly when I need to know it.  Open my eyes and ears so I do not miss anything You have for me.

Lord, my own personality sometimes leads me in a direction that may or may not be Yours.  Help me let go of what I think I should be doing for You.

Make me bold enough to act on what You lead me to.  Give me courage to persevere in the way You are showing me.

Help me be satisfied with Your plan for me.   And seek only You.  Amen

Ezekiel 11:14-21

Oct 17 Pray for others

Father, as I worship You, and speak to You in prayer, it is most often to give thanks with praise and to intercede for myself and those close to me.

But today in scripture, You urge me to pray, intercede and give thanks for all people.

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What a huge task!  It broadens my focus and gives me a small sense of Your job: to care for and love every single person on the planet!  For they are each Your creation, and dear to Your heart.

As I begin, it helps me to think of categories of people.  So I pray first for all children.  Would You provide for their needs: physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Some are very well off, born to parents who love and value them and have the means to care for them.  Do not let them be misled to think they have all they need, when what they need most is You.

Other children are born into poverty, neglect, even abuse.  Father, protect them and let them feel especially close to You.  Reveal Yourself to them to encourage, empower and save them.   Teach them all to hear and understand Your voice and obey it, whatever their circumstances.   Bring a godly advocate into their lives who will stand up and speak for these without a voice.

Father, give every mother a heart for her child.  Guide them to love and care for their children; to protect them and pray for them; and teach them about You.  Give them the courage to correct them in love.

Lord, I lift up every man who is a father.  Help them to see the position of accountability they are in in regards to their family.  Show them how to provide for and love their children with a father’s love.  Do not let them harm or exasperate their children.  Impress upon them to set a godly example.

For men and women everywhere, whether married or single, Lord, bring them to a saving knowledge of who You are.  Cause them to hunger and thirst for the truth, whatever their current state or religion.  Place godly counselors and mentors in each life, who can lead them to You and encourage them in becoming believers.

Help them stand strong in the face of temptation, fear and doubt; recognizing the lies and deceit of the evil one, and turning from it.  Give them discernment and guidance for decisions they face.

Father, protect married couples in the face of the temptations of infidelity and other things that would seek to separate them: money problems, anger, greed, selfishness, violence.

Forces in this world seek to destroy marriage and undermine the system of family that You set up.   Father, overturn those forces.  Likewise, protect singles from the temptations of lust, loneliness, and the desires that would turn them to idolatry.  Show them how to live with godly values.

Father, for those leaders of anything, and people in positions of authority over families, communities, churches, businesses, nations; bring them to a saving knowledge of You.  Give them clarity in hearing Your voice in their personal and professional lives.  Give them the courage to follow wherever You would lead them.

Show them that with their position of authority comes responsibility and accountability.  If they are persecuting believers, stop them.  Open their eyes and change their hearts to know and follow You.  Place godly role models, mentors, counselors and accountability figures in their lives.  Give them godly wisdom to overcome obstacles, difficulties and problems to bring unity and peace to their respective arenas of authority.

Lord, as I pray, I picture elected Washington officials, African children, Muslim women.  All need Your touch on their lives.  Every one is someone special to You.  Every one is someone You died to save.

Let each one of them know how very much You love them.  And that You have a good plan and purpose for their lives.  Amen

I Timothy 2:1-6

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 28 As the deer…

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O Father, I would never desire the suffering of Job. But how You blessed him!

Job recalls what his life was like before the troubles came. Like Job, I too often feel “Your lamp shining on my head”; giving me the light I need to see. You allow me to “walk through the darkness” by Your light. Many times, in dire circumstances, Yours was the only light I had.  And it helped me find my way.

And like Job, I feel “Your intimate friendship blessing my house”. When You are with me, my path is blessed and You provide for all my needs. My children are around me and Your security and peace are here. I know there are calamities You have saved me from, because I see them in people’s lives everywhere. Thank You.

Father, I desire that like Job, when people hear of me, “they would speak well of me and commend me”. Job thought that this light and peace and favor would last throughout his life. But that is not guaranteed.

Father, in my life, remind me to show You my appreciation of all You have done for me. It is only by Your grace and mercy I have been blessed like this. And I pray I would always live in Your presence and enjoy Your blessing.

The Psalmist put it so picturesquely, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God.” Without the replenishing energy of water, a body will dehydrate due to physical activity, even just breathing. And just as the body needs water, and cannot go for long without it, my spirit needs You.

Like the deer, I thirst for Your presence, Your friendship, Your blessing.   You are the resource I need, that brings life. Not just occasionally, but repeatedly, and often.

The deer pants for “streams of water”. Not stagnant pools, or brackish puddles; but fresh, flowing, living water. Father, You are Living Water. Help my spirit drink deeply of Your Word, Your Truth, Your Wisdom.

Do not let me go to other sources that will not refresh, that will not bring life as You do. Drinking from those polluted sources will only make me sick, dull my spirit, and lead me to crave the things of the world and the flesh and the evil one.

Thank You for the refreshing, physically and spiritually life-giving water that You give. I will seek it out, and be refreshed. Amen

Job 29:1-25; Psalm 42:1

Aug 26 God of all comfort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 1:1-11

Aug 24 Raised Indestructible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 2 Teach me to number my days aright

hourglass-1623517_640Father, You sent word through Isaiah that Hezekiah would die.

I have often wondered: if I could know when I will die, would I want to? It’s an interesting question.

This kind of curiosity started in the Garden of Eden. When the serpent held out the possibility of being ‘like God’, having Your knowledge and wisdom, Eve bit!  But beyond the simple curiosity factor, how would I react if I knew when the end would come?

Even though I know intellectually, that everyone dies, including me, it’s not something I think about from day to day.   I tend to put it out of my mind and live as if I have years or even decades ahead of me. But, if, for instance, I received information that I have a medical condition that comes with an expiration date, it would be a sobering realization.

If I were given such information, would I set about reworking my priorities?   Would I ‘put my house in order’ as Hezekiah was told to do? Would I cry out to You for more time? It would definitely disrupt my thinking, my activities, my attitudes, and the way I relate to people. I would be more motivated to orchestrate my remaining days…

Father, help me live my life now, as if every day were a precious gift from You, not to be wasted or squandered. Show me how to arrange my priorities, recognizing what is really important. Do not let me waste time in foolish pursuits or on meaningless tasks. Show me the godly relationships You want me to cultivate, and how to let go of and separate myself from the ungodly ones.

I want to be thankful for every single day You give me. So I will praise You every day, Father. I worship You for who You are, for Your character that never changes: Your faithfulness, Your gentleness, Your love towards me, Your righteousness and Your omnipotence.

I thank You for all You have done: created this amazing universe, established a way of salvation, given me Your Word for instruction and encouragement.   I appreciate Your hand of protection and provision in my life, as I have food, shelter, clothing, family, friends, and freedom.

And when I think about the end of my time here on earth, I have no fear of what comes after. Because I know You, I am not anxious about my future. I know I will spend eternity with You, and I can’t wait! Amen

2 Kings 20:1; Psalm 150:1-6; Psalm 90:12

 

June 30 Faithful Living

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Paul’s last words to the leaders of the church at Ephesus set quite an example for believers to follow. I also pray that I will be able to say to my friends: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came to you… I served the Lord with great humility and with tears…I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you…to turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jes

 

Lord, help me to be consistent in my actions and live out my service to You in a way that will show my friends what I believe and what I stand for. Help me be humble in my manner, not seeking personal recognition or displaying a prideful attitude. Let me use my words and my behavior to teach others how to love You and serve You.   Help me be an encouragement to their faith.

At the end of my life I want to be able to say, that I have “finished the race and completed the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”

So Father show me what is next. Show me how to join You in Your work in a way that will deepen our relationship, and bring You glory.  Open my eyes and ears and heart to You so I don’t miss out! Amen

Acts 20:17-38

 

 

June 8 Thank You for the people in my life

Father, help me be more like Solomon. When You told him “Ask for whatever you want Me to give you.” He was not quick with a Christmas list of desired material possessions. Even before You granted him wisdom beyond all human possibility, he answered wisely.

He began by acknowledging Your kindness and faithfulness to his father David. He focused on You, and what You had already done in his life. Then he presented himself humbly – as an individual and as a ruler. He recognized the enormity of both the blessing and the responsibility You had given him. And in the face of this, he asked for wisdom.

Let this be a pattern for my prayer life as well. Lord, I truly acknowledge Your faithfulness to me. I can’t begin to understand all the pieces that You brought into place for my being here now, as one of Your children.

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How interconnected are the lives of the people You orchestrated to impact my life: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, Sunday school teachers, teachers, coaches, acquaintances, co-workers.

You not only coordinated who they were and how they influenced me, but where they were, as I moved across the country almost every year growing up. That blows my mind!

You have blessed me in the roles I play to others: daughter, granddaughter, sister, cousin, wife, mother, friend, teacher, labor coach, and in the intimate way I have been able to relate to people at significant times in their lives. I feel very inadequate to fill the needs of the people You give me opportunities to minister to. On my own, I cannot do it.

Give me a discerning heart to speak to and relate to those You bring into my life. Help me distinguish between right and wrong and be able to speak the truth in love into their lives as I live my life according to Your guidance.   Show me when to speak and when to keep silent. Show me how to share the understanding You have given me when it comes to teaching and encouraging others.

Father, thank You for the blessing of all those You have brought into my life. Help me care for them in Your love, in Your strength, and in Your name. Amen

I Kings 3:4-9

 

June 7 Wisdom and Integrity

wisdom integrity pathDavid spoke a wonderful charge to his son, Solomon. It is also my prayer.

Father, help my children and loved ones, and myself be strong. Not simply in physical strength. But help us be of strong character, so we can stand and not fall in the face of temptation. Help us be tough and resilient in the face of hard times. And just as gracious and generous in the good times. Let us be known as men and women who are obedient to You, following You in the kind of life You teach us to live.

Help us walk in Your ways in the everyday decisions of our lives, and choose what is right and just. Help us conduct our business and relationships openly and honestly, speaking the truth in love. Teach us to hold to Your moral standards in our conduct and attitudes. Give us understanding and discernment when we are unsure.   Remind us to study and know Your Word so it can guide and enlighten us.

Help us live out our lives in faith before You, Lord. Not half-heartedly, but with all our heart and soul; seeking Your wisdom, and applying it correctly to our circumstances. Let this yield prosperity in all we do wherever we go .

Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Let me, my family and loved ones know Your way. Let us live our lives according to it and find eternal life with You. Amen

1 Kings 2:1-4; Proverbs 16:25

May 26 Help me stay connected

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Father, thank You for making it so easy to understand:

“You are the vine, I am a branch.”

Even I can see how that example plays out. I have seen branches broken off of trees and bushes after a storm, or ones I have cut off to prune or shape a plant. When they have been severed from the plant, they die. They are no longer attached to the system that delivers nutrients from the ground and water, or sunlight that cause growth and sustains life.

So it is with me in my relationship with You. I am a part of You, connected to You. From You, I receive what I need to grow and sustain life.   In You, I can lead a Christian life and bear fruit.   Apart from You, I no longer bear fruit, and will wither.

Impress on me how to stay connected, Lord. Your Word remaining in me is one way. That means I need to be reading it, studying it, even memorizing it to keep it ‘in’ me. Obeying what You tell me, is another way I remain in You. And loving others is another.

Father give me a hunger and thirst for Your Word. Help me set aside time each day, and be excited to spend time hearing from You. Let Your Words rattle around in my mind so that I think about them even after I read them. Increase my understanding when they direct me to do something, or stop doing something. Do not let me be distracted or dissuaded from obeying what You say. And let me show Your love to others in my actions, my words and my attitudes.

Thank You for teaching me how much I need You and depend on You for my very life. Thank You for using examples I can understand and put into practice. Amen

John 15:1-17

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 2 All His benefits

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits…”

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O Lord, if I took a whole day, I could never list all the benefits You lavish on me. I take so many things for granted. Often I don’t even think about how every breath that I take is from You! And I should be thankful.

Beginning when I wake up in the morning, I am thankful that I do wake up! And that I can breathe clean air in a warm bed, in a secure house, with a family I love, with food to eat and clean water to drink and bathe in. I have more clothes in my closet than some people on this planet ever own in a lifetime! I have many pairs of shoes.

It is a choice for me to eat breakfast or not. And if I choose to eat, I have several options of clean, untainted food in a kitchen with running water and convenient appliances to make food preparation almost effortless. My fridge keeps my food cold to preserve its freshness until I want it. Then, at the turn of a switch or the push of a button, I can cook it. Another button and my dishes are washed.

Just this part of my day is blessed far more than most of the people on this earth.

I live in freedom to be what I want to be, go where I want to go, with whom I want to be with. I can choose my career, my husband, my entertainment. I can worship You in the open however I want, read scripture without fear of arrest or imprisonment. I can attend public church services without being detained and beaten, or having my property seized, or my life forfeited.

When I step outside my house, I see a beautiful sky, majestic mountains, flowering trees, gorgeous flowers. We have warm, rainy, windy Springs, temperate Summers, gorgeously colored, cool Falls, and crisp, snow covered Winters – all four seasons in a beautiful and varied environment rich with birds of many kinds, singing their Spring songs and migrating south in the Fall.

On top of all this, You preserve my life, forgive my sins, deliver me from the oppression and deceit of satan. You show me love I did not earn, and pour out mercy and compassion on me I do not deserve. You satisfy my desires with good things, or remove those wrongful desires from me. You answer my prayers, guide me with Your wisdom, encourage me with Your Word, and have promised to take me into paradise with You for all eternity.

Father, help me remember every day to thank You for something. Open my eyes to things I take for granted, and accept my praise for Your goodness. Remind me at the beginning of every month, to come back and read Psalm 103 and spend time “forgetting not, all of Your benefits”. Amen

Psalm 103

Mar 26 Help me hear

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“We will listen and obey.” This was the Israelites response to all You said on the mountain when they heard Your voice telling them how they should live.

Many things in the world keep me from hearing You. The world is a loud, noisy place, with so many voices that distract or actively deceive. Those voices suggest what I need and how I should live to be ‘accepted’ and ‘successful’ by the world’s standards. They tempt me into materialism, humanism, and all kinds of ungodly ideologies.

But to listen and obey, I must listen specifically and intentionally. I need to walk a path, live a lifestyle that purposely shows others what I believe.

Please remind me when I speak or act or make a decision, that everything I do will either draw me closer to You, or move me away from You and Your will. Help me examine my thoughts, words, actions, and attitudes, to ensure that they are honorable and do not cause distance or separation from You.

To obey these commands I am also responsible to teach others about You and Your truth. So I need to live what I believe – talk about my faith and who You are to me and how You impact my life. Help me do that when I have others in my home. And when I travel. From the time I get up until the time I go to bed.

When I am not speaking of You, my faith should still be obvious to others by my dress, my countenance, my attitudes, how I treat others. When people come to my home, they should see more than just the symbols of the world’s values. They should sense Your peace.

In my emails, social media and any other presentation to the world, I must be mindful that I represent You. As I am a Christ-follower, my presence in others’ lives shows whether I truly listen and obey, or whether I am a Christian in name only.

I will listen. And I will obey. And I will “proclaim the power of God”! Amen

Deuteronomy 5:1-6:9; Psalm 68:34

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 10 Teach me

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Thank You Father, that You have promised to “instruct me and teach me in the way I should go.” Help me be a good student of Your instruction. Give me the ability to hear You above all the other voices: anger, fear, temptation, discouragement, stress.

Strengthen me to pay attention, make note of, and follow Your teachings in my personal life, relationships and in setting priorities.

Thank You for providing me with godly counsel. Of all the voices I hear, I trust Yours as the wisest. The wisdom the world has to offer, although it may seem logical, is not always the best. Thank You that I can know that Your instructions for me will always be in agreement with Your Word. With the Bible as my textbook I can find examples to follow, characters to learn from, and encouragement for my journey.

Thank You for watching over me. Unlike other teachers, You have the ability to be with me at all times, wherever I am. Your Holy Spirit in me coaches me as I go along, so I am never far from Your guidance; if I choose to accept it.

“Do not let me be like a horse or mule which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to You.” But let me respond to the loving leading and gentle touch that keep me on the path of righteousness in my thoughts, my words, my attitudes, my motives and my actions.

Surround me with Your unfailing love, and I will sing to You and rejoice in You, and be glad!

Psalm 32:8-11

 

Jan 18 every high and low

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Heavenly Father, thank You that I can trust You through the ups and downs, the highs and lows of my life.

There are times when things are going so well I feel on top of the world. And there are other times when it seems as if nothing is going right, and never will. It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything because everything seems to work out wrong and there is no sign that things will change for the better.

Israel’s son Joseph must have thought that when he was first thrown into a well by his jealous and conniving brothers, then sold to slave traders and carried off to Egypt far away from home. He was completely out of control of his own future at that point. But You were in control. And You had a master plan.

I know from scripture how Joseph’s life turned out: all for the good, and for the saving of his family. But I cannot see into the future to know the twists and turns my own life will take, or how it will turn out. And that is the challenge of life here on earth.

There are so many things I cannot control. They become a source of anxiousness, worry, and wringing my hands. Other things, I try to control, but they slip through my fingers like water or sand. They are the source of making plans, and back up plans, contingencies and manipulation; again, stressful. And there are the things that I seem to control and am pleased with, but am misled, because in truth, I am not in control at all. I only think I am.

I could continue to live this misguided life of false security, manipulation and anxiety. But I choose to lay it all down. Father, instead, I choose the peace of giving it all to You. This is where trust comes in. I choose to believe Your Word: that You have a plan to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future, to never leave me or forsake me.

You have proven Yourself steadfast and trustworthy throughout the ages. You created the heavens and the earth and everything in them and have sustained them. You have kept Your covenants and Your promises to men; every one. You have given revelation and prophecy that so far, has all come true. By Your power, the earth turns and the sun rises every morning.

Just like in Joseph’s life, I trust that You will position me where I need to be, when I need to be there. I trust You to prepare me for what comes next. And to guide me through it by being with me.

I trust You will keep me safe. In You I take refuge. You are my Lord. Apart from You I have no good thing. In You I trust. Amen

Genesis 37:1-36; Psalm 16:1-2; 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

Dec 16 Though I sit in darkness…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Micah 5:1-7:20

Dec 7 Where there is life, there is hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hosea 9:10; Psalm 126:1-6

May 20 Wisdom, prophecy, life, death. All are in Your hands

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David 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 resurrecting 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 of it 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 26:1-28:25; John 11:1-53

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