Tag: love

Nov 16 Helpful Last Words

AdvicefromPaulFather, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers…

Remember those in prison…

Marriage should be honored by all…

Keep your lives free from the love of money

and be content with what you have…” 

I do the same thing when my kids are leaving after a visit.  Those parting words are the last chance to say important things, but often end up being a jumble of so many different things that none are particularly memorable.

Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life.”  In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray.  They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep.

Today we also have spiritual leaders whose lives do not honor You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment so I will not ”be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bringing inner peace, to fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on bald heads!

There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You.  Very famous and powerful people buy into these ”religions.”

Father, do not let me be enthralled by the sensationalism of any of them.  Do not let me be intrigued by the power they profess to tap into, or the secrets they propose to know.   But keep me on the path that leads me ever closer to You.

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews.  I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones.  It is what I seek with all my heart

“May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.”

Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me.  May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times.  Provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me.  Lead me to what will please You.  And may the success bring You glory!  For ever and ever.  Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-10; Hebrews 13:1-24

 

Nov 6 The One True God

What a reminder Lord, that You are in control.

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You cause and relieve famines.  The lives of every person in the world are in Your hands.  You control the beasts, whether they are calm and docile, or whether they attack and kill.   You control armies, the leaders who deploy them, and the outcome of the battles – who lives, and who dies.  And You control disease, outbreaks, plagues; and who lives or dies by them.

All these are things You used against the Israelites.  And it is the same today.  All these things are still in Your hands 

“Who can proclaim the mighty acts of The Lord or fully declare his praise?”  There is no one.  The full extent and measure of Your power is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I have seen great storms of such powerful strength that houses and trees are uprooted.  You are more powerful.

I have watched rushing waters tear up highways and destroy homes and shopping centers.  Your strength is greater.

I have seen the limits people will go to, to forgive a wrong that has harmed them greatly.  Yet Your forgiveness goes farther.

I have seen the deep love of a mother for her new child, willing to sacrifice all for that child.  Yet Your love is deeper and greater in every way.

I cannot measure the breadth of Your mercy.  And I cannot fathom the depths of Your wrath. This is both reassuring and terrifying.  I am reassured that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is beyond Your control.  Which means I have nothing to fear.

I am blessed by Your love, Your mercy, Your forgiveness, Your provision.  Even when I mess up, You have provided that, I can be reconciled to You.   And my salvation is assured.

But the depths of Your wrath will be released one day.  Because You are just, You must judge.  And the very security I have, that all things are in Your control, will be the terror of those who have rejected You.

I “give thanks to you, Lord, for You are good; Your love endures forever”.  Amen

Ezekiel 14:12-23; Psalm 106:1-12

Oct 22 Power, Love, Sound Mind

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Father, thank You that You are alive in me through the Holy Spirit .  And thank You that the Holy Spirit fills me with “power and love and a sound mind.”  Father, help me live this Spirit-filled life.  Show me how to use these gifts the way You intended. 

The Amplified Version of this scripture, tells me this power will keep me from being fearful, from cringing and behaving cowardly.  It tells me I will have boldness, courage, and authority that comes from You.

I will have access to Your love to treat people with compassion and care.   And I will have a well-balanced mind with discipline and self-control.

Father, remind me in times of decision making and stress, that You have given me a sound mind for figuring things out.  And that I can trust those thought processes when I ask for Your, the Holy Spirit’s help.

Psalm 91 gives me a picture of complete protection.  It includes the physical, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual; every way I need to be shielded.  I am protected from entrapment and disease.  In daylight and in darkness I am covered.   Weapons, epidemics and mass death will not touch me.  I will not be overcome by disaster or harm.

But I will see the wicked punished.  I will receive help from Your angels.  You promise to protect me, rescue me, answer my call, and always be with me.

I have received Your salvation.  I could not ask for more.  Thank You.  Amen

2 Timothy 1:7; Psalm 91:1-16

 

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.

hug-2709635_640What 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

Oct 5 I look to You

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Father, my country is 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?  

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 

“Admonish and teach me with all wisdom.”  Caution me when I am in danger of going the wrong way, or have taken a wrong turn.  Show me from Your perspective, how to make decisions that will lead me in the way that will honor You.  Don’t let any experience be wasted, but help me learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.

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.

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 25 Unity and Maturity

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Father, the words Paul writes to the Ephesians become my prayer today:

Help me “live a life worthy of the calling I have received.”  Help me understand the life You have called me to.

In dealing with others, help me be less self-centered and more God-centered in the way I treat people, make decisions, and respond to circumstances.

Every day, let me ask: “Am I living the life You died to give me?”

Toward that end, help me be “humble and gentle.”  Show me how to walk away from pride, arrogance, conceitedness, and that attitude of superiority that so easily entangles me.

Teach me to “be patient” and treat people with love.  When I am frustrated, let me bring that to You so You can disarm it before it becomes anger and resentment.

Father, with so many people who call themselves by Your Name, there will be differences.  Help me see past the differences that don’t matter in order to support the unifying beliefs that do make a difference.

Help me use the gifts You have given me, spiritual and otherwise, to build up Your body of believers, so that we all become a mature, complete body with You as the head.

Then I will no longer be “tossed back and forth by the waves, blown here and there by … the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”  Help me become so familiar with Your Word that I recognize the crafty, deceitful teachings of the world.

Bless me as I make time to read and study Your Word, Your love letter to me.  Reveal its meaning and show me how to apply Your wisdom to my life.

Thank You Father, that Your Word is true.  That it teaches. That it encourages.  And guides.  And comforts.  And helps me grow more and more in step with You.  Amen

Ephesians 4:1-16

Sept 24 Strengthen me

“O Lord, out of Your glorious riches, would You strengthen me with the power through Your Spirit in my inner being.”  Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and everything in it is Yours.  And not just Your right of Sovereignty over all things, but the richness of Your character allows You to pour over me all that I might ever need.

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So Father, would You strengthen me:

physically  – give me Your healing in all the areas of my body where there is illness or weakness.   Increase my strength and stamina to be able to do the work You set before me.

mentally – when I need to focus, or clear my mind of distracting thoughts.  Give me the ability and the diligence to take every thought captive to You, and to be alert to dangers around me.  Do not let my thinking become muddled by the vain philosophies of man or the half-truths and lies of the evil one.

emotionally – give me relief from discouragement, sadness, fear, anger, guilt, anxiousness.  Help me deal with my circumstances according to Your wisdom and not be led by my emotions.

spiritually –bolster my faith with the remembrance that no matter what – You are in control – that even if the fig tree does not blossom, no grapes appear on the vine, the olive crop fails and the fields produce no crops – I can still rejoice in You!  And spiritual strength to recognize and combat the enemy, dressed in my spiritual armor.

Father, would You do all this so that “You will dwell in my heart through faith.”  Help me “be rooted and established in love.”

Lord, like a tree planted by the water, let my spiritual roots go down deep into the soil so I can draw deeply of Your love.  Since You are love, You are the source of true love that can strengthen and fill me.

Father, help me understand Your love: “how wide and long and high and deep” it is.  I ”understand” Your love in that I read about it.  But Father, help me really know it, in my heart and in my spirit; not just in my head.

When I can fathom Your love, I will have wisdom that surpasses knowledge.  And I will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of You.”

Thank You that “You are able to do immeasurably more that I can ask or even imagine, according to Your power that is at work in me.”  I give You all the glory and praise, for ever and ever.  Amen

Ephesians 3:16-21

Sept 3 What matters most?

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Father, what great knowledge Solomon amassed!

It seems he did it all, and lived to write it all down for me to know how to best spend my time.  Certainly he saw many things and did many things he categorized as “meaningless.”

He built grand structures, planted extensive gardens.  He wrote many ”nature guides” cataloging and describing plants and animals.   He enjoyed all that money could buy, withholding no pleasure from himself.  But found these things “meaningless.”

He did recognize some things as having value.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”  And “two will keep warm…and defend themselves.”

So Father, will You always send another to be with me.  And let me be there for someone else.  Let there always be someone in my life to help me up when I fall.  To help me keep warm, and defend myself.  It may be a friend or family member, or even a stranger You send at the right time.

“It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.  Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.”   So Father, help me let my yes be yes and my no mean no, and not make promises I cannot or will not keep.

Do not let me be “quick with my mouth or hasty with my heart,” but consider my thoughts, feelings, words and commitments carefully.

When I think about Solomon I wonder, did he ever hold his newborn and marvel at the miracle of life?  Did he watch and help that child grow and learn?  Did he pass on his knowledge and love of You to that child and see him come to love and worship You too?  Did he promise his life to one person and live faithfully in that covenant; having their support and love for a lifetime?

Did he examine each animal and plant, but forget to marvel at the diversity and imagination and power of You, the Creator?  Did he share his life with a friend who stuck with him through thick and thin, good and bad?  And console that friend and receive comfort from them?

Did he hold the hand of a dying loved one and tell them they are loved, all is forgiven, and “I will see you in heaven?”

To me, these are the things that are most meaning-FULL.  The relationships, the connections with people that You allow into my life – that’s where the meaning lies.

I agree that amassing wealth, building buildings and writing volumes of knowledge will all pass away.  But loving You and sharing Your love with others – these things are eternal.

Father, help me remember not to chase after the wind, but to chase only after You.  Amen.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12

Aug 25 Last words

scroll-310783_640O Father, how I agree with the words of Job!  “I know that my Redeemer lives!  And that in the end He will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me.”

Father, I know, without a doubt, that You exist.  That You are alive.  That You are in control.  And that one day all this earth will pass away, but You will still be.  And because I am Yours, I will see You!  And in so many ways, I truly yearn for that day.

But You bring my mind back to the present.  And how I must live my days out on earth.  Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Corinthians.  And much like me saying good-bye to my children, and trying to get every last thought of instruction and encouragement in, he includes a short paragraph that sums up his reminders for faithful living.

“Be on your guard.”  Father, help me see everything I need to be aware of.  Help me discern Your true wisdom, and reject the wisdom of the world and of the evil one.  Open my eyes and my spirit to temptations that would lead me into sin.  Do not let me be swept up into or be part of causing division in my church.

“Stand firm in the faith.”  Lord, help me read and study Your Word so I understand what my faith is based on.  Show me how to apply Your Word to my life today, and do not let me stray from it.  Instead, help me live out what I believe.  My actions, my attitudes, my words, all need to be in agreement because they show outwardly what I really believe inwardly.  Help me enjoy the freedoms of my faith but also be aware and careful not to be a stumbling block to others.

“Be men of courage; be strong.”  Father, strengthen me against the laxity of society.   Embolden me to use the spiritual gifts You have placed in me.   Help me encourage others.  When I need to speak out, open my mouth and fill it.  When I need to act be my strength.

“Do everything in love.”  Finally, help me to be more loving.  In all I do, show me what You would do, how You would do it.  Before I speak, let me ask myself if I am speaking in love.  Before I act, remind me to ask myself if I am acting in love.   So many emotions and motivations influence and drive me, Lord.   Help me seek love as my primary motivating factor.

Help me live out my days in ways that honor You.  And when You take me home, I will rejoice!  Amen

Job 19:25-27; I Corinthians 16:13-14

Aug 20 Love

love-699480_640Father, help me be more loving.  I am so convicted today of falling short in this area.

Help me love my family the way You would love them.  It seems they are the people I count on most for support, yet they are the ones that test me the most and I often end up acting the least loving towards.

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

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

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

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

Lord, what I can see now is that envy, impatience, boasting, all the things that love is not, are childish.  Help me “put childish ways behind me.”

I have grown up physically and mentally.  Help me to grow up spiritually.  Help me treat the people You place in my life, first and foremost, with love.   Amen

I Corinthians 13:1-13

Jul 24 4 Gifts: Prayer, Plans, Presence, Power

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Father, there are so many comforts in this passage of Romans today.  You are gracious to me in so many wonderful ways.

What a gift prayer is!

What an immeasurably awesome gift to be able to speak to and hear from the Creator of the Universe!  Sometimes I am so filled with joy and thanks and praise, I hardly know how to express the overflow of my heart.   But Your Holy Spirit communicates for me what I do not know how to say.

Other times I am so filled with grief and sorrow I cannot even mouth the words for my crying and tears.  And again, Your Holy Spirit knows my heart and conveys my requests for help to You.   Thank You for knowing me so well and providing for this meaningful non-verbal interaction.

Your plan for me.

Beyond prayer and communicating with You, I can know without a doubt, that You have my very best interest in mind and in Your plans for me.  Because I love You and am Yours, I seek to know and do what You have purposed for my life.  When I am in Your will, regardless of how things look to me from my limited perspective, I can trust that You have the power and the ability and the desire to work all things together for my good.

Father, help me know Your will so I can remain in it.  Being obedient is how I can show I love You.  There is nothing too difficult for You.  And nothing limits You.

Your presence is a gift.

You have told me that nothing can separate me from Your love.  No person, no trouble, no hardship, no persecution, no danger or sword, no famine or nakedness.  “In all these things, I am more than a conqueror through You!”  For “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from Your love!” 

With all the experiences and emotions that I have, how comforting to know that there is no power above or below or anywhere, that will keep You away from me.

Your power is ultimate!

You can span any distance, overcome any obstacle, move any object, overpower any influence.

Your love is not dependent on me or on anything I do.  I cannot mess up so badly that it would keep You away.  You will always love me.  It is Your character and Your promise.

Thank You for these words of comfort, for these promises I can count on.  Thank You for being You.  Amen

Romans 8:26-39

Jul 23 Help me parent

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “Your way is perfect.  Your Word is flawless.”   Let my life illustrate that.  Amen

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

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

May 18 The Good Shepherd

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Sheep??  Father here you refer to believers as sheep again.   Those dumb, smelly animals that seem to have no sense at all!

Without a shepherd looking out for them and rescuing them, they will perish.  They walk into running water, and due of the weight of their wet hair can be pulled under and drown.

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

But in the same way, they are perfect to describe me.

I can go after something I think I want, taking risks till I am in a place where I am lost, and no longer safe.  I can find myself entangled in circumstances and relationships feeling like there’s no way out.

I have found myself in over my head with things moving so fast around me I become unbalanced and in danger of being swept away.  I too need a shepherd.

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

You speak to me in Your Word of Your unconditional, sacrificial love for me.  You encourage me with scriptures that offer inspiration and strength.  You offer me direction with an inaudible voice in my heart.

You protect me when the wolf comes to attack and defend me from every enemy.  You amaze and bless me with the beauty and diversity of Your Creation: flowers, sunsets, vistas of mountains and beaches, a child’s face, a friend’s smile.

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

John 10:1-21

May 12 There is none like You

Because You can be trusted, O Lord, my heart is strong and steady.  I am secure in my faith.  I will stand steadfast and give You the praise You deserve!

I will shout and sing!  I will make music that honors You with all that is in me!  I will sing along with praise music.  Add my voice to those of others in praise and worship.  And will compose new songs that tell of Your faithfulness to me!

guitarplayI will stay up late to praise You Father!  I will even get up early when the sun is coming up to honor You!  Break out the guitars, pianos, cymbals, harps, harmonicas, drums, whatever instruments can make music that acknowledges Your love and faithfulness!

Your love is boundless!  As high as I can see with my eyes or even perceive with satellites to the farthest reaches of our galaxy – Your love goes farther still!  Beyond what is calculable or even imaginable!

I stretch out my arms to encompass all I can measure from end to end till it wraps around the earth and begins again – that’s the way Your unending faithfulness is.  You are over and above and beyond all that I can see or comprehend!  I place Your name above all others.  Your glory is limitless!

With just the power and strength in Your right arm, You can save me from any foe, rescue me from any enemy, deliver me from any calamity.  Deliver me Lord, from the lies and deceit of the evil one.  Do not let me be pulled into false philosophies, lying schemes, or political intrigues only to see the truth when it is too late and I have been corrupted.

I am Yours, Lord.  Defend me and bring me to Your fortified place.  Free me from the weaknesses of my flesh: selfishness, laziness, lust, jealousy, pride, arrogance, and greed.  Help me against all these enemies.  No one can help me like You.  There is none like You!

With You, I am victorious!  With You, nothing is impossible!  Thank You for coming to my aid.  Thank You for loving me faithfully.  And for being lovingly faithful.  Amen

Psalm 108:1-13

 

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

Apr 20 Love and faithfulness

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever” 

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So many songs have been written about Your love:

“Jesus Loves Me” comes to mind.  Others are “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane…”  “Your love never fails.”  So many I could sing for a long time about Your love without even repeating or making up my own.

My own songs would reflect how You loved me before I was even born.  You loved me growing up, before I even knew You.

Your love protected me and brought me to a place where I understood who You are and what You did for me because of Your love.  You love me when I am unlovely, when I behave badly, when I am cross, tired, frustrated, selfish, prideful, totally undeserving of anyone’s love.

“with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.”

There are probably just as many songs about Your faithfulness: “Great is Thy Faithfulness”  “Amazing Grace.”  But beyond singing about Your faithfulness to every promise You’ve made in Your Word, to Your chosen people, to the prophecies in the Bible; I can tell of Your faithfulness to my nation, my family, to me.

You have been faithful when I have not.  You have carried and protected my family from tragedy and trouble time and again.

Every single day, I can tell one person an example of Your faithfulness in my life.   I can write these things down, so others can read them when I am gone.  I can post them on social media.  I can be sure younger people are aware that You love them, and that You will keep Your promises to them too.

Another song says: “There is none like You.  I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You.”  Not in heaven.  Not on earth.  Not under the earth.

No other has Your Sovereignty, Your Power, Your Authority, Your Compassion, Your Creativity, Your Wisdom, Your Faithfulness, Your Love.  None.

And I will proclaim it!  Amen

Psalm 89:1-13

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 14 Love and Faithfulness

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“Great is Your love, higher than the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

 

 

O Lord, Your love and Your faithfulness are hallmarks of Your character.  Your love is not just friendship, or fondness as we use the word.  It is even more than tenderness or a fleeting feeling of overwhelming affection.

It is a boundless, limitless, overabundant, unconditional choice to create, nurture, protect, cherish, treasure, care for, invest in and sacrifice for Your creations.

It is not due to the object of this love.  The object (us) is often actually unlovely, unkind, rebellious, demanding, selfish, and undeserving of this kind of love.  It is only made possible because of Your Divine nature, the One doing the loving.

I am loved not because I have earned love or because my personality or appearance draw it out, but only because Your very nature pours forth love and lavishes it on me.

When I say “higher than the heavens” it’s a word picture that compares the quality and quantity of your love to something that for me is immeasurable.  The attributes of Your love and the amount You have to give are infinitely higher above the farthest reach I can even imagine.

Faithfulness used to be a highly valued trait.  Husbands and wives partnered for life.  Companies desired long-term employees and provided benefits to keep employees happy.   People formed lifelong friendships.  These days it seems to be a fair-weather and fleeting measure of comparative loyalty until something better comes along.

Your faithfulness is another character quality that depends on who You are.  You are unswerving in Your loyalty, unshakable in Your dedication, immovable in Your devotion.  You are faithful to Your character – Your attributes are true one hundred percent of the time; faithful to Your promises and covenants; faithful to Your children.

As far as I can stretch my arms apart, or see from one horizon to the other, and beyond the heights of the sky, I cannot contain Your faithfulness.  You are worthy of every ounce of trust and allegiance I am capable of.

You are God Most High.  Be exalted!  Let Your glory fill the earth!  I will praise You and sing of You!  My faithful and loving God!  Amen

Psalm 57:9-11

Mar 8 Only You

Thank You for having mercy on me O Lord.  Thank You for withholding from me the penalty that my sins deserve.

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I praise You that Your mercies are new every morning; that You are not like a human, who would reach a limit of forgiveness or loving kindness.

I am so fortunate that I am not dependent on my own goodness or ability to “earn” any kind of favor from You, but that I am at the mercy of Your great, unfailing love and boundless compassion.

Because of this, Lord, You blot out my transgressions, wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from all my sin.  And because Your love for me is so great, You only show me what I can bear at any given time.  Your Holy Spirit convicts my heart, but does not condemn me.

I will be cleansed only when You cleanse me.  Only You have this power.   You can wash me whiter than the pure, sparkling snow.

You do not desire legalism or jumping through hoops to earn forgiveness; but desire my own recognition of my sin, and my true repentance.

Father, I ask You to do a work in me and purify my heart.  Renew a spirit in me that will not give way to these sins again.   That way, when I do sin, it will break my heart and make me aware immediately, so I can turn from it and return to You.

Return the joy of Your salvation to me Lord, and all that it means.

I am ever grateful for Your forgiveness, for Your cleansing, so I can again be in Your presence.  I open my mouth and declare that all blessing and honor are due You.  To You I give all glory, all praise, all thanks.  Yours is the power and strength forever. Amen

Psalm 51:1-19; Revelation 7:12

 

Mar 5 All I am, All the time

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Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That is a mouthful!

 

The Greek words from this scripture where You quote the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today.  But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord.  There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking.  I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.

When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

  “I am a child of God” John 1:12

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.”  Colossians 3:12

“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul.  That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word.  So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seek “godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  The wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind, and the weight of pros and cons are only understood by a limited human viewpoint.

Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions.  As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination.  Help me realize when my strength is enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?!  It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own.  I will never be able to love You this perfectly.

Fortunately, “with God, all things are possible!”  So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory.  This is how I desire to be obedient.  Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Jan 13 I am Your child

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Lord God, thank You that You are my heavenly Father.

Thank You that You love me as Your child. And thank You it is with love that You make godly correction to my path when I stray from You.

I have such a negative impression of discipline because it has come to be identified with punishment or abuse of power. On earth this is often true.

But when You, my heavenly Father discipline me, it is to lift me up to correct, teach, encourage me to be on the path of becoming more like You – Your “disciple.”

It doesn’t mean the lessons are easy to learn, or that I enjoy them, or even that I catch on right away. Often a child doesn’t understand a parent insisting on behavior that provides for safety, like running out into the street.  So I may not see the benefit of Your instruction right away.

Sometimes Your discipline feels like a step backward, or a delay in what I perceive to be the right way. Help me stop and ask for Your perspective when I don’t understand something. Help me see from Your viewpoint, what is happening, and how I should respond.

I do desire to be seen as a disciple of Almighty God, Jesus Christ, the Holy One. And I’m the first to admit that my life does not look like that now. So I welcome Your instruction, Your course corrections, Your rebuke, and Your discipline.

Help me learn quickly when You have something to tell me or teach me. Help me be willing to change direction when I am going the wrong way.

I know that You delight in me and love me. And that You discipline those You love. Help me embrace that love. Amen

Proverbs 3:11-12

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 4 God is love – He loves me!

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

 

There are so many influences in the world today it can be hard to know which are truly good and which are truly evil.  Evil masquerades as good.  It can appear justified, acceptable, even beneficial.

Evil influence can even come from well-intentioned people.   And You assure me that when I come up against evil, worldly influences, “greater is He that is in me, than he who is in the world.”

Since You ARE love, every one who belongs to You will have that love in them.  Your love is total, complete, sacrificial, perfect, and saves me.

This is not “I love ice cream” kind of love, or brotherly love, or even romantic love.   It is the Greek word agape– a total, selfless, unconditional love that overcomes sin.  You loved each one of us before we loved You or even knew of You..  It is a perfect love that has no fear, but drives out fear.

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

Father, there are days I feel so overwhelmed and unlovable that I deny Your love because I don’t “feel” it.  Forgive me when I doubt Your amazing, perfect love.

Do not let me be led by my feelings – they have nothing to do with the truth of and the absolute certainty of Your love.

Help me sense Your love, and be lifted up by it, so I can share it with my brothers and sisters.

Let me walk in Your love till the end of days, or the end of my days, whichever comes first.  Thank You for Your amazing love.  Amen

I John 4:1-21

Dec 1 Love what’s eternal

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

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

sandpapercrossedHelp me love my brother and sister: other believers who You have put in my life.

Some of them are so loving to me that it is easy to love them back.   They have been like “iron sharpening iron.”  We hone one another to be better and “sharper. “

But some are like sandpaper to me.  We do not get along, and although they may “sand off’” some of my rough spots, mostly they are just an irritant and cause sore, raw spots that hurt.  These people are harder to love.  They are the ones I need Your help with.

Remind me that each one of them is one of Your amazing creations who You love greatly.  I know that You love them; show me how to do the same.

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

The first two are the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes.”  The word lust here is a “strong desire of any kind, good or bad, but evil if not submitted to the will of God. “

So whether it is for intimacy, or pleasure, or just comfort, I would usually rather feel comfort than pain, a full stomach than hunger, warm and safe than cold and fearful.  It can be hard to turn away from things that offer me a sense of satisfaction in food, comfort or safety.   But I need to be sure my flesh and my eyes are not pulling me to just go my own way and satisfy worldly appetites.

Father, show me how to maintain proper limits and boundaries.

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

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

I John 2:1-17

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 2:1-10; Psalm 119:113-128

Nov 16 Helpful Last Words

postit-1975188_640Father, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers. 

Do not forget to entertain strangers…

Remember those in prison…

Marriage should be honored by all…

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”          

I do the same thing when my kids are leaving after a visit.  Those parting words are the last chance to say important things, but often end up being a jumble of so many different things that none are particularly memorable.

Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life.”  In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray.  They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep.

Today we also have spiritual leaders whose lives do not honor You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment so I will not ”be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.”   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bringing inner peace, to fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on bald heads!

There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You.  Very famous and powerful people buy into these ”religions.”

Father, do not let me be enthralled by the sensationalism of any of them.  Do not let me be intrigued by the power they profess to tap into, or the secrets they propose to know.   But keep me on the path that leads me ever closer to You.

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews.  I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones.  It is what I seek with all my heart

“May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.”

Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me.  May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times.  Provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me.  Lead me to what will please You.  And may the success bring You glory!  For ever and ever.  Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-10; Hebrews 13:1-24

 

Nov 6 The One True God

What a reminder Lord, that You are in control.

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You cause and relieve famines.  The lives of every person in the world, and every animal, are in Your hands.  You also control the beasts, whether they are calm and docile, or whether they attack and kill.   You control armies, the leaders who deploy them, and the outcome of the battles – who lives, and who dies.  And You control disease, outbreaks, plagues; and who lives or dies by them.

All these things You used against the Israelites.  And it is the same today.  All these things are still in Your hands

 “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of The Lord or fully declare his praise?”  There is no one.  The full extent and measure of Your power is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I have seen great storms of such powerful strength that houses and trees are uprooted.  You are more powerful.

I have watched rushing waters tear up highways and destroy homes and shopping centers.  Your strength is greater.

I have seen the limits people will go to, to forgive a wrong that has harmed them greatly.  Yet Your forgiveness goes farther.

I have seen the deep love of a mother for her new child, willing to sacrifice all for that child.  Yet Your love is deeper and greater in every way.

I cannot measure the breadth of Your mercy.  And I cannot fathom the depths of Your wrath.    This is both reassuring and terrifying.  I am reassured that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is beyond Your control.  That means I have nothing to fear.

I am blessed by Your love, Your mercy, Your forgiveness, Your provision.  Even when I mess up, You have provided for that, and I can be reconciled to You.   And I am assured of my salvation.

But the depths of Your wrath will be released one day.  Because You are just, You must judge.  And the very security I have, that all things are in Your control, will be the terror of those who have rejected You.

I “give thanks to you, Lord, for You are good; Your love endures forever”.  Amen

Ezekiel 14:12-23; Psalm 106:1-12

 

Oct 22 Holy Spirit fills with power and love and a sound mind

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Father, thank You that You, as the Holy Spirit are alive in me.  And thank You that the Holy Spirit fills me with “power and love and a sound mind.”  Father, help me live this Spirit-filled life.  Show me how to use these gifts the way You intended.

The Amplified Version of this scripture, tells me this power will keep me from being fearful, from cringing and behaving cowardly.  It tells me I will have boldness, courage, and authority that comes from You.   I will have access to Your love to treat people compassionately and caringly.   And I will have a well-balanced mind with discipline and self-control.

Father, remind me in times of decision making and stress, that You have given me a sound mind for figuring things out.  And that I can trust those thought processes when I ask for Your, the Holy Spirit’s help.

Father, I claim “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  You are the Most High and the Almighty God, and You allow me to dwell in Your shelter and rest in Your shadow.   The picture here is one of complete protection.  Refuges and fortresses are defensible places where one can be safe; safe from the elements, and safe from enemies.

It is not just a place I run to in times of trouble, but because You are my God, I can live there all the time.  I have a place of safety and security to operate out of, always.  There I can live, and there I can find rest.  Your rest includes elements of:  R- relaxation  E- enjoyment   S- security  and T- triumph.

Psalm 91 pictures this place as a mother hen protects her young chicks by sheltering them literally under her feathered wings.   And Your refuge protects me in every way possible.

Your protection includes the physical, emotional, mental, financial, spiritual; every way I need to be shielded.  I am protected from entrapment and disease.  In daylight and in darkness, I am covered.   Weapons, epidemics and mass death will not touch me.  I will not be overcome by disaster or harm.

But I will see the wicked punished.  I will receive help from Your angels.  You promise to protect me, rescue me, answer my call, and always be with me.

I have received Your salvation.  I could not ask for more.  Thank You.  Amen

2 Timothy 1:7; Psalm 91:1-16

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

Sept 27 The Price of Salvation

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

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

You took up our pain and bore our suffering…

were pierced for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 53:3-12

Sept 3 What matters most?

wind-rose-1209398_640Father, what great knowledge Solomon amassed!

It seems he did it all, and lived to write it all down for me to know how to best spend my time. Certainly he saw many things and did many things he categorized as “meaningless”.

He built grand structures, planted extensive gardens. He wrote many ”nature guides” cataloging and describing plants and animals.   He enjoyed all that money could buy, withholding no pleasure from himself. But found these things “meaningless”.

He did recognize some things as having value.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” And “two will keep warm…and defend themselves.” So Father, will You always send another to be with me.

Let there always be someone in my life to help me up when I fall. And help me keep warm, and defend myself. It may be a friend or family member, or even a stranger You send at the right time. And let me be there for someone else.

“It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin.”   So Father, help me let my ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ mean ‘no’, and not make promises I cannot or will not keep.

Help me not be “quick with my mouth or hasty with my heart”, but consider my thoughts, feelings, words and commitments carefully.

When I think about Solomon , I wonder, did he ever hold his newborn and marvel at the miracle of life? Did he watch and help that child grow and learn? Did he pass on his knowledge and love of You to that child and see him come to love and worship You too? Did he promise his life to one person and live faithfully in that covenant; having their support and love for a lifetime?

Did he examine each animal and plant, but forget to marvel at the diversity and imagination and power of You, the Creator? Did he share his life with a friend who stuck with him through thick and thin, good and bad? And console that friend and receive comfort from them?

Did he hold the hand of a dying loved one and tell them they are loved, all is forgiven, and “I will see you in heaven?”

To me, these are the things that are most meaning-FULL. The relationships, the connections with people that You allow into my life – that’s where the meaning lies.

I agree that amassing wealth, building buildings and writing volumes of knowledge will all pass away. But loving You and sharing Your love with others – these things are eternal.

Father, help me remember, remind me, not to chase after the wind, but to chase only after You. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12

Sept 1 Unworthy but loved and blessed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job 40:1-42:17

Aug 25 Last words

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O Father, how I agree with the words of Job! “I know that my Redeemer lives! And that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me.”

Father, I know, without a doubt, that You exist. That You are alive. That You are in control. And that one day all this earth will pass away, but You will still be. And because I am Yours, I will see You! And in so many ways, I truly yearn for that day.

But You bring my mind back to the present. And how I must live my days out on earth. Paul is wrapping up his first letter to the Corinthians. And much like me saying good-bye to my children, and trying to get every last thought of instruction and encouragement in, he includes a short paragraph that sums up his reminders for faithful living.

“Be on your guard”. Father, help me see everything I need to be aware of. Help me discern Your true wisdom, and reject the wisdom of the world and of the evil one. Open my eyes and my spirit to temptations that would lead me into sin. Do not let me be swept up into or be part of causing division in my church.

“Stand firm in the faith”. Lord, help me read and study Your Word so I understand what my faith is based on. Show me how to apply Your Word to my life today. And do not let me stray from it. Instead, help me live out what I believe. My actions, my attitudes, my words, all need to be in agreement because they show outwardly what I really believe inwardly. Help me enjoy the freedoms of my faith but also be aware and careful not to be a stumbling block to others.

“Be men of courage; be strong”. Father, strengthen me against the laxity of society.   Embolden me to use the spiritual gifts You have placed in me.   Help me to encourage others. When I need to speak out, fill my mouth as I open it. When I need to act, I will draw my strength from You.

“Do everything in love.” Finally, help me to be more loving. In all I do, show me what You would do, how You would do it. Before I speak, let me ask myself if I am speaking in love. Before I act, remind me to ask myself if I am acting in love.   So many emotions and motivations influence and drive me, Father.   Help me seek love as my primary motivating factor.

Help me live out my days in a way that honors You. And when You take me home, I will rejoice! Amen

Job 19:25-27; I Corinthians 16:13-14

Aug 20 Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Corinthians 13:1-13

July 28 Family and Spiritual heritage

photographs-1209751_640O Father, when I think of how fortunate I am, and all the blessings You have given me, it takes my breath away, and I am humbled to tears. Even before I was born, You determined when I would be born, and where, and to whom. There were generations that came before me who knew You and worshipped You. That is a godly heritage I must not take for granted.

David was a man after Your own heart. And yet his lineage is full of men who were idolatrous, murderous, and evil. Jehoshaphat followed You and taught others to worship You, yet his own firstborn, Jehoram, when given the rule, murdered all his brothers to secure his reign. He married a daughter of Jezebel, a manipulative and evil woman. After Jehoram’s gruesome death, his youngest son, Ahaziah took over and was encouraged into more evil by his mother. Later, this evil mother, upon learning of her own son’s death, murdered all the siblings and offspring so she could reign in her son’s place!

But she missed baby Joash. Joash was hidden and raised by godly people. When he came to reign at the age of seven, he ruled rightly in Your eyes.

I know, Father, that You call each of us. Some come from broken homes and dark, painful backgrounds. But we each owe You a debt of gratitude for every divine influence and godly person You put in our path. I can think of relatives, Sunday School teachers, preachers who taught me to love You and seek to know You. But I also remember neighbors, friends, even strangers, who taught me godly lessons – some without even knowing it. I am grateful, and thank You for each one of these.

As I look back over my life, I can see that I would not have all I have now, be all I am now, or love You the way I do, without Your intervention and Your loving care. There is no doubt in my mind – You were involved in a personal relationship with me before I even knew You.   Thank You for all You have done.

Father, it also challenges me to be that divine influence in the lives of others You bring across my path. Help me see opportunities to point others to You. Open my eyes to recognize when I can say something, do something, be something that will benefit the faith of others. Use me Lord, to pass on the blessing. Amen

2 Chronicles 21:1-23:21

July 24: 4 Gifts: Prayer, Plans, Presence, Power

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Father, there are so many comforts in this passage of Romans today. You are gracious to me in so many wonderful ways.

What a gift prayer is!

 

What an immeasurably awesome gift to be able to speak to and hear from the Creator of the Universe! Sometimes I am so filled with joy and thanks and praise, I hardly know how to express the overflow of my heart.   But Your Holy Spirit communicates for me what I do not know how to say.

Other times I am so filled with grief and sorrow I cannot even mouth the words for my crying and tears. And again, Your Holy Spirit knows my heart and conveys my requests for help to You.   Thank You for knowing me so well and providing for this meaningful non-verbal interaction.

Beyond prayer and communicating with You, I can know without a doubt, that You have my very best interest in mind and in Your plans for me. Because I love You and am Yours, I seek to know and do what You have purposed for my life. When I am in Your will, regardless of how things look to me from my limited perspective, I can trust that You have the power and the ability and the desire to work all things together for my good.

Father, help me know Your will so I can remain in it. Being obedient is how I can show I love You. There is nothing too difficult for You. And nothing limits You.

You have told me that nothing can separate me from Your love. No person, no trouble, no hardship, no persecution, no danger or sword, no famine or nakedness. “In all these things, I am more than a conqueror through You!” For “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from Your love!”

With all the experiences and emotions that I have, how comforting to know that there is no power above or below, anywhere that will keep You away from me. You can span any distance, overcome any obstacle, move any object, overpower any influence. Your love is not dependent on me or on anything I do. I cannot mess up so badly that it would keep You away. You will always love me. It is Your character and Your promise.

Thank You for these words of comfort, for these promises I can count on. Thank You for being You. Amen

Romans 8:26-39

July 23 Help me parent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 21 Family Victory

Father in heaven, as You did for David, would You do for me and my family? Would You “protect us and hand over to us the forces that come against us”.

bhwhat-makes-a-family-holy-David was fighting a real physical enemy. Life and death were in the balance. They were in hand-to-hand combat to regain what had been taken from them: their families and possessions. David “inquired of the Lord” to seek Your will before he acted, and You promised him victory.

Father, I come before You today to seek Your will for my family; to ask if You will give us victory over the forces that are at work in the world today that pull us apart and away from You.

We do not fight hand to hand with a physical enemy. But we live in a culture where family values are going by the wayside and Biblical values are not honored. Parental authority is being eroded, parents are disrespected, children are rebellious and often rude. We fight against selfishness, greed, hate, violence, immorality, materialism, the occult, witchcraft, and all the schemes of satan.

Father, especially in my family, would You give me wisdom as a parent to know when to speak and when to keep quiet, so I can offer wise counsel and not destructive comments. Set a guard over my mouth to use words that are instructive, edifying and building up according to the needs of the one I seek to help. Show me how to pray for Your perfect will in my children’s’ lives, not simply what I think will benefit them. Keep me from comparing them to other friend’s children, or even each other.

Lord, keep the lines of communication open so conversations between us will be effective and filled with love and respect. Give my children discernment so they are not swept away by the vain philosophies of men and the political schemes that do not support Biblical values. Help them recognize and turn away from temptation when it would lead to greed, immorality, the occult or anything satan would use to draw them away from You. Block their way when others entice them into ungodly activities.

Let them seek to bless with their words, and not curse. Draw them to Yourself and instruct them in the way they should go to be in the middle of Your will and Your blessing. Remind them of their need for a Savior, and the joy of having a close relationship with You.

And I will give thanks to You. You are with me and You are my Helper. Because of that, I will look triumphantly upon these foes. I take refuge in You, Lord. You are my strength and my Victory! Amen

I Samuel 30:1-25; Psalm 118:7, 14

May 20 Wisdom, prophecy, life, death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

May 18 My Good Shepherd

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 10:1-21

May 12 There is none like You

Because You can be trusted, O Lord, my heart is strong and steady. I am secure in my faith. I will stand steadfast and give You the praise You deserve!

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I will shout and sing! I will make music that honors You with all that is in me! I will sing along with praise music. Add my voice to those of others in praise and worship. And will compose new songs that tell of Your faithfulness to me!

I will stay up late to praise You Father! I will even get up early when the sun is coming up to honor You! Break out the guitars, pianos, cymbals, harps, harmonicas, drums, whatever instruments can make music that acknowledges Your love and faithfulness!

Your love is boundless! As high as I can see with my eyes or even perceive with satellites to the farthest reaches of our galaxy – Your love goes farther still! Beyond what is calculable or even imaginable! I stretch out my arms to encompass all I can measure from end to end till it wraps around the earth and begins again – that’s the way Your unending faithfulness is. You are over and above and beyond all that I can see or comprehend! I place Your name above all others. Your glory is limitless!

With just the power and strength in Your right arm, You can save me from any foe, rescue me from any enemy, deliver me from any calamity. Deliver me Lord, from the lies and deceit of the evil one. Do not let me be pulled into false philosophies, lying schemes, or political intrigues only to see the truth when it is too late and I have been corrupted.

I am Yours, Lord. Defend me and bring me to Your fortified place. Free me from the weaknesses of my flesh: selfishness, laziness, lust, jealousy, pride, arrogance, and greed. Help me against all these enemies. No one can help me like You. There is none like You!

With You, I am victorious! With You, nothing is impossible! Thank You for coming to my aid. Thank You for loving me faithfully. And for being lovingly faithful. Amen

Psalm 108:1-13

May 3 Breath of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 3:1-21

Apr 20 God’s Love and Faithfulness

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever” 

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So many songs have been written about Your love: “Jesus Loves Me” comes to mind.Others are “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane…” “Your love never fails”. So many I could sing for a long time about Your love without even repeating or making up my own. My own songs would reflect how You loved me before I was even born. You loved me growing up, before I even knew You.

Your love protected me and brought me to a place where I understood who You are and what You did for me because of Your love. You love me when I am unlovely, when I behave badly, when I am cross, tired, frustrated, selfish, prideful, totally undeserving of anyone’s love.

“with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations” 

There are probably just as many songs about Your faithfulness: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” “Amazing Grace”. But beyond singing about Your faithfulness to every promise You’ve made in Your Word, to Your chosen people, to the prophecies in the Bible; I can tell of Your faithfulness to my nation, my family, to me. You have been faithful when I have not. You have carried and protected my family from tragedy and trouble time and again.

Every single day, I can tell one person an example of Your faithfulness in my life.   I can write these things down, so others can read them when I am gone. I can post them on social media. I can be sure younger people are aware that You love them, and that You will keep Your promises to them too.

Another song says: “There is none like You. I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You.” Not in heaven. Not on earth. Not under the earth. No other has Your Sovereignty, Your Power, Your Authority, Your Compassion, Your Creativity, Your Wisdom, Your Faithfulness, Your Love. None. And I will proclaim it! Amen

Psalm 89:1-13

Mar 23 A blessed life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 66:1-20

Mar 14 Love and Faithfulness

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“Great is Your love, higher than the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

O Lord, Your love and Your faithfulness are hallmarks of Your character. Your love is not just friendship, or fondness as we use the word. It is even more than tenderness or a fleeting feeling of overwhelming affection. It is a boundless, limitless, overabundant, unconditional choice to create, nurture, protect, cherish, treasure, care for, invest in and sacrifice for Your creations.

It is not due to the object of this love. The object (us) is often actually unlovely, unkind, rebellious, demanding, selfish, and undeserving of this kind of love. It is only made possible because of Your Divine nature, the One doing the loving.   I am loved not because I have earned love or because my personality or appearance draw it out, but only because Your very nature pours forth love and lavishes it on me.

When I say “higher than the heavens” it’s a word picture that compares the quality and quantity of your love to something that for me is immeasurable. The attributes of Your love and the amount You have to give are infinitely higher above the farthest reach I can even imagine.

Faithfulness used to be a highly valued trait. Husbands and wives partnered for life. Companies desired long-term employees and provided benefits to keep employees happy.   People formed lifelong friendships. These days it seems to be a fair-weather and fleeting measure of comparative loyalty until something better comes along.

Your faithfulness is another character quality that depends on who You are. You are unswerving in Your loyalty, unshakable in Your dedication, immovable in Your devotion. You are faithful to Your character – Your attributes are true one hundred percent of the time; faithful to Your promises and covenants; faithful to Your children. As far as I can stretch my arms apart, or see from one horizon to the other, and beyond the heights of the sky, I cannot contain Your faithfulness. You are worthy of every ounce of trust and allegiance I am capable of.

You are God Most High. Be exalted! Let Your glory fill the earth! I will praise You and sing of You! My faithful and loving God! Amen

Psalm 57:9-11

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

 

Feb 5 Immeasurable Power, Infinite Gentleness

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“The voice of the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful. The voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks into pieces the cedars of Lebanon.   The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.”

Your voice, O Lord, is so mighty that it has the explosive power to burst open massive trees with a Word. As deafening as standing by rapid waters that rush by, Your voice can be heard over that torrential noise. As shocking and ear-splitting as a bolt of lightning, Your words flash with even more intense exclamation. The vibrations that it would take to cause the sand, rocks and mountains of the desert to tremble are set off by Your utterances. And the power of the hurricane wind that would twist trees and uproot them or tear away their bark, is found in Your mere whispers.

How is it then, that I can withstand this greatness and dare to ask to hear from You?

It is only because of Your infinite self-control that when You lean down to speak to me, You do not destroy me. It is because You desire for me to know You and have relationship with You that I am able to hear and understand Your voice. You have all this amazing power at Your disposal and could utterly destroy me with a breath; yet You seek me out, as You do each one of Your creations, to have fellowship with me and to reveal Yourself to me and to show Your boundless abundant love to even me.

“You give strength to Your people; and You bless me with peace.” Give me strength, Father.  Bless me. And give me Your peace. Amen

Psalm 29:3-11

Jan 31 Thank You thank You thank You

pzvi92s-zms-lifelike-creations“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Two 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 can 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jan 13 I am Your child

religion-1139050_1920Lord God, thank You that You are my heavenly Father.

Thank You that You love me as Your child. And thank You it is with love that You make godly correction to my path when I stray from You.

I have such a negative impression of ‘discipline’ because it has come to be identified with punishment or abuse of power. On earth this is often true. But when You, my heavenly Father discipline me, it is to lift me up to correct, teach, encourage me to be on the path of becoming more like You – a ‘disciple’ of You.

It doesn’t mean the lessons are easy to learn, or that I enjoy them, or even that I catch on right away. Often a child doesn’t understand a parent insisting on behavior that provide for safety, like running out into the street. So I may not see the benefit of Your instruction right away.

Sometimes Your discipline feels like a step backward, or a delay in what I perceive to be the right way. Help me stop and ask for Your perspective when I don’t understand something. Help me see from Your viewpoint, what is happening, and how I should respond.

I do desire to be seen as a disciple of Almighty God, Jesus Christ, the Holy One. And I’m the first to admit that my life does not look like that now. So I welcome Your instruction, Your course corrections, Your rebuke, and Your discipline.

Help me learn quickly when You have something to tell me or teach me. Help me be willing to change direction when I am going the wrong way. I know that You delight in me and love me. And that You discipline those You love. Help me embrace that love. Amen

Proverbs 3:11-12

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 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 4 God is love – He loves me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I John 4:1-21

Dec 1 Help me love what’s eternal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I John 2:1-17

Nov 16 Helpful last words

postit-1975188_640Father, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye. “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers…Remember those in prison…Marriage should be honored by all…Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”.

I do the same thing when my kids are leaving after a visit. Those parting words are the last chance to say important things, but often end up being a jumble of so many different things that none are particularly memorable.   Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life”. In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray. They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep. Like then, the outcomes of many spiritual leaders’ lives of today have not been holy or honoring to You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment, and Your help so I will not ”not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching”.   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bring the individual inner peace, to bring them fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on their bald heads! There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You. Very famous and powerful people buy into these ‘religions’.

Father, do not let me be enthralled by the sensationalism of any of them. Do not let me be intrigued by the power they profess to tap into, or the secrets they propose to know.   But keep me on the path that leads me ever closer to You.

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews. I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones. It is what I seek with all my heart. “May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.” Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me. May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times. Will You provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me. Lead me to what will please You. And may the success bring You glory! For ever and ever. Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-31; Hebrews 13:1-24

Nov 6 The One True God

clouds-872143_1920What a reminder Lord, that You are in control of food supplies. You cause and can relieve famines. The lives of every person in the world, and every animal, are in Your hands. You also control the beasts, whether they are calm and docile, or whether they attack and kill.   You control armies, the leaders who deploy them, and the outcome of the battles – who lives, and who dies. And You control disease, outbreaks, plagues; and who lives or dies by them.

All these things You used against the Israelites. And it is the same today. All these things are still in Your hands. “Who can proclaim the mighty acts of The Lord or fully declare his praise?” There is no one. Because no one can fully understand the extent or measure of Your power. It is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I have seen great storms of such powerful strength that houses and trees are uprooted. You are more powerful. I have watched as rushing waters tore up highways and destroyed homes and shopping centers. Your strength is greater. I have seen the limits people will go to, to forgive a wrong that has harmed them greatly. Yet Your forgiveness goes farther. I have seen the deep love of a mother for her new child, willing to sacrifice all for that child. Yet Your love is deeper and greater in every way.

I cannot measure the breadth of Your mercy. And I cannot fathom the depths of Your wrath.   This is both reassuring and terrifying. I am reassured that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is beyond Your control. That means I have nothing to fear. I am blessed by Your love, Your mercy, Your forgiveness, Your provision. Even when I mess up, You have provided for that, and I can be reconciled to You.   And I am assured of my salvation.

But the depths of Your wrath will be released one day. Because You are just, You must judge. And the very security I have, that all things are in Your control, will be the terror of those who have rejected You.

I “give thanks to you, Lord, for You are good; Your love endures forever”.

Thank You that I can count on You. Thank You that the Savior I lean on, is the One and Only True God, who has power over everything. I believe in Your promises. And I sing Your praise. Amen

Ezekiel 14:12-23; Psalm 106:1-12

Sept 24 Strengthen me

“O Lord, out of Your glorious riches, would You strengthen me with the power through Your Spirit in my inner being.” Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and everything in it is Yours. And not just Your right of Sovereignty over all things, but the richness of Your character allows You to pour over me all that I might ever need.

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Father, would You strengthen me:

physically – give me Your healing in all the areas of my body where there is illness or weakness.   Increase my strength and stamina to be able to do the work You set before me;

mentally – when I need to focus, or clear my mind of distracting thoughts. Give me the ability and the diligence to take every thought captive to You, and to be alert to dangers around me. Do not let my thinking become muddled by the vain philosophies of man or the half-truths and lies of the evil one;

emotionally – give me relief from discouragement, sadness, fear, anger, guilt, anxiousness. Help me deal with my circumstances according to Your wisdom and not be led by my emotions;

spiritually –bolster my faith with the remembrance that no matter what – You are in control – that even if the fig tree does not blossom, no grapes appear on the vine, the olive crop fails and the fields produce no crops – I can still rejoice in You! And spiritual strength to recognize and combat the enemy, dressed in my spiritual armor.

Father, would You do this so that “You will dwell in my heart through faith”. Help me to “be rooted and established in love”. Lord, like a tree planted by the water, let my spiritual roots go down deep into the soil so I can draw deeply of Your love. You are love, so You are the true source of love that can strengthen and fill me. Father, help me understand Your love: “how wide and long and high and deep” it is. I ‘understand’ Your love in that I read about it. But Father, help me really know it, in my heart and in my spirit; not just in my head.

When I can fathom Your love, I will have wisdom that surpasses knowledge. And I will be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of You.”

Thank You that “You are able to do immeasurably more that I can ask or even imagine, according to Your power that is at work in me.” I give You all the glory and praise, for ever and ever. Amen

Ephesians 3:16-21

 

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!

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

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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 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 20 Love and Faithfulness

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever”

sing of love faith pianoSo many songs have been written about Your love: ‘Jesus Loves Me’ comes to mind. Others are ‘He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane…’ ‘Your love never fails’. So many I could sing for a long time about Your love without even repeating or making up my own. My own songs would reflect how You loved me before I was even born. You loved me growing up, before I even knew You.   Your love protected me and brought me to a place where I understood who You are and what You did for me because of Your love. You love me when I am unlovely, when I behave badly, when I am cross, tired, frustrated, selfish, prideful, totally undeserving of anyone’s love.

“with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations”

There are probably just as many songs about Your faithfulness: ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ ‘Amazing Grace’. But beyond singing about Your faithfulness to every promise You’ve made in Your Word, to Your chosen people, to the prophecies in the Bible; I can tell of Your faithfulness to my nation, my family, to me. You have been faithful when I have not. You have carried and protected my family from tragedy and trouble time and again.

Every single day, I can tell one person an example of Your faithfulness in my life.   I can write these things down, so others can read them when I am gone. I can post them on social media. I can be sure younger people are aware that You love them, and that You will keep Your promises to them too.

Another song says: ‘There is none like You. I could search for all eternity long and find there is none like You.‘ Not in heaven. Not on earth. Not under the earth. No one with Your Sovereignty, or Your Power, Your Authority or Your Compassion, Your Creativity, Your Wisdom, Your Faithfulness, Your Love. None. And I will proclaim it! Amen

Psalm 89:1-13

Mar 14 Be exalted!

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“Great is Your love, higher than the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.”

O Lord, Your love and Your faithfulness are hallmarks of Your character. Your love is not just friendship, or fondness as we use the word. It is even more than tenderness or a fleeting feeling of overwhelming affection. It is a boundless, limitless, overabundant, unconditional choice to create, nurture, protect, cherish, treasure, care for, invest in and sacrifice for Your creations.

It is not due to the object of this love. The object (us) is often actually unlovely, unkind, rebellious, demanding, selfish, and undeserving of this kind of love. It is only made possible because of Your Divine nature, the One doing the loving.   I am loved not because I have earned love or because my personality or appearance draw it out, but only because Your very nature pours forth love and lavishes it on me.

When I say “higher than the heavens” it’s a word picture that compares the quality and quantity of your love to something that for me is immeasurable. The attributes of Your love and the amount You have to give are infinitely higher above the farthest reach I can even imagine.
Faithfulness used to be a highly valued trait. Husbands and wives partnered for life. Companies desired long-term employees and provided benefits to keep employees happy.   People formed lifelong friendships. These days it seems to be a fair-weather and fleeting measure of comparative loyalty until something better comes along.

Your faithfulness is another character quality that depends on who You are. You are unswerving in Your loyalty, unshakable in Your dedication, immovable in Your devotion. You are faithful to Your character – Your attributes are true one hundred percent of the time; faithful to Your promises and covenants; faithful to Your children. As far as I can stretch my arms apart, or see from one horizon to the other, and beyond the heights of the sky, I cannot contain Your faithfulness. You are worthy of every ounce of trust and allegiance I am capable of.

You are God Most High. Be exalted! Let Your glory fill the earth! I will praise You and sing of You! My faithful and loving God! Amen

Psalm 57:9-11

 

Dec 25 God in flesh

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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 144:1-15