Tag: Paul

Oct 14 Grow Your Truth in me

Father, Jeremiah was Your man on the ground, Your man on the scene.  He was the one of the few who spoke Your truth, yet no one listened to him or believed him and turned back to You because of it.

Paul spoke Your truth and taught it to the Thessalonians, and it took root.  Yet they were persecuted, endured hardship, and were deceived and confused by false teachers and liars.

Gospel_of_Mark_Chapter_4-1_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)It’s as if Your truth is seed that was scattered, but the ground Jeremiah sowed it on was too hard to accept it.  It fell where it could not take root, and just blew away.

The Thessalonians were better ground and accepted the seed, but it’s as if thorns grew up to choke out what sprouted, or birds tried to take it away.  Paul’s second letter was a good reminder for them to pull the thorns out and shoo the birds away in order to hold on to the truth that had grown in them.

You have given me the ability to discern Your truth by giving me Your written Word, and Your Holy Spirit residing within me, who speaks truth to me.   I feel as if I have the benefit of being given the most fertile soil of all.  And it is up to me to protect Your truth growing in me.  I need to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings passed on to [me].”

Father, help me be faithful to make time each day to read Your precious Word.  And to come to You in prayer, and listen to You.  Enlighten me with understanding Your Word and what You say to me in prayer.  And strengthen me to be faithful and obedient to all I understand.

Remind me to guard Your truth in my heart and mind, and bring every other thought and teaching, philosophy and prophecy, to be measured against the plumb line of Your truth.

Your Word has taken firm root in my life.  Help me protect it and nurture it.  Let it leaf and flower and produce good fruit all my days.  I know that when Your timing is right, I will be with You for eternity. Amen

Jeremiah 24:1-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17;

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Oct 10 Send an encourager

Friend Buddies Pals Best Friends Friendship

Father, each one of us needs to be encouraged in our walk with You.  Each one of us faces specific challenges and difficulties.   We may not be able to find direction, understanding and encouragement on our own.

You sent Paul to be an encouragement to the Thessalonians.  Please send someone into my life, and into the lives of my loved ones, to be a mentor like Paul.

Father, You know each of us so intimately, You would know the exact person to send, who can relate to us and speak words of encouragement and comfort and instruction into our individual lives.  You know how each of us needs to be “urged to live lives worthy of You.”

Not just anyone qualifies to speak into our lives.  Father, would You “clear the way” for Your specific mentor to come to each of us and speak Your truth.   And like Paul’s prayer, would You “make our love increase and overflow for each other…and strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless and holy in Your presence…”

I need You and Your truth in my personal life, my loved ones’ lives, and in my country.  I need Your encouragement to stay on the right path.  Send Pauls and Timothys, Paulas and Tabithas.  Men and women who will help us live for You.  Send Your truth.  Amen

I Thessalonians 2:9-3:13

 

Oct 8 Worship the Creator not the created

idol-1067151_640Jeremiah points out the worthlessness of the idols that the people made for themselves.  They were made of wood or stone.  They had to be carried from place to place.  They had no awareness and no power.  Yet the people superstitiously bowed down to them.

What a stark contrast to You!  There is “No one like You, Lord.”

You made, literally created, the earth!  You imagined it, and then spoke it into being.  When You speak, it trembles.  When You thunder, the waters storm with hurricane force.  “You are the Creator of everything that exists.”

If I were to worship anything else, I would be as Jeremiah described his people, and the whole human race: “stupid and foolish…without knowledge.”

Jeremiah also encourages me not to fear the predictions of those who look elsewhere for their wisdom.  So I need not be afraid of false prophets, horoscopes or those who seek to divine the future from the stars.  You made the stars.  So I worship the Maker, not what was made.

Paul was in chains for speaking out about who You are.  That is not a current threat where I live.  Help me “be wise in the way I act towards outsiders, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let my conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone.”

Show me when to speak, and what to say.  And when to hold my tongue.   So many people are put off of Christianity because of the actions and attitudes of Christians.  Let me be a beacon of light to others as I walk the walk, and talk the talk in grace and love.

Show me what it means to “Devote myself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  I strive to express my thanks in prayer and allow time for You to speak to me, not just deliver a list of requests.

Thank You Father, that You, the matchless King of the Universe, hear my prayers.   And thank You that You answer them.  Help me to be watchful for Your answers.  And wait on Your timing.  I trust in the Creator of all things.  Amen

Jeremiah 10:1-16; Colossians 4:2-6

Oct 2 Direct me

Father, Paul had much to be proud of: his lineage, his heritage, his education, his religiousness.  But he considered it all worthless compared to knowing You.  Lord, I agree.

There is nothing I have become or attained that can compare to my relationship with You and the salvation and blessings You have given me.  So I desire to live the life You died to give me.

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All that is behind me, all that has come before, Father, I let go of, so that I may fully embrace whatever it is You have for me now.

Paul put it this way: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I too, move my focus from earthly things, to heavenly priorities, where my real home is.  I believe You can give me the wisdom to make decisions with an understanding of Your purpose for my life.  I believe You will fill me with the courage I need to act.  And I believe it is by Your power that all You purpose for me will be accomplished.

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Open my eyes to all I must let go of.  Show me where attitudes and priorities must change.  Help me see the direction I should go.  I will remember Your faithfulness to me.  I will recall Your power.  And I will trust in Your purpose and Your love for me.  Amen

Philippians 3:4-14

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 10 Reconciliation

heartcloudFather, thank You that You are a God of second chances.  And third and fourth and even more.

When the Israelite men had sinned and taken foreign, pagan wives, there was an acceptable resolution.  There were consequences yes, but they were able to take an oath to renew their covenant with You.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he lists many types of wickedness, then says “And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 

In both of these cases, reconciliation was made possible because You chose to accept repentance.  You cleansed them, You set them apart.  You returned them to right standing with You.

And the same is true for me.  When I have sinned, and I come to You in the realization of what I have done, agree with You that it is sin, and am remorseful, repentant; You forgive that sin.  You wash me and set me apart, and again I am in right standing with You.

But, as with the Israelites, there are consequences.   Sometimes the consequences are life changing, and can cause ongoing problems.  They had to put aside their foreign wives.  Sometimes I have to put aside a relationship or something I think I really want that is not good for me.

Paul says, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial.”   Lord, there is such freedom in You.  Help me be wise in that freedom.  Produce in me the Fruit of the Spirit so I can be good and kind, patient and faithful, gentle and self-controlled.  Show me when I am being selfish or unwise.  Remind me to think and pray before I act.

Father, I offer You the relationships in my life.  Please deepen the ones that are godly, and distance me from any that are not.

I give You my time and ask that You show me where I waste it.  Give me the strength to cut out activities that eat away time I could spend better.

I give You my priorities and ask You to help me reorder them where they are not in line with Your purposes.

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

Father, help me recognize what is right and just, and help me do it.   When what is right and just is at odds with my selfish or prideful or greedy nature, help me overcome that nature and be led by You.

Thank You for Your help in all this, and for the hope You give me.  Amen

Ezra 10:1-17; I Corinthians 6:10-12; Proverbs 21:3

Jul 7 Hear my morning prayer

Father, like You acted in Paul’s life, would You orchestrate my circumstances to allow for opportunities to bring You glory, and would You fill my mouth with the words to say as I give testimony to Your greatness.

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Although Paul’s situation of being in prison did not change, You allowed a greater and greater audience for Your truth to be spoken.   There are situations in my life that I would prefer be changed so I don’t have to deal with the hardships they bring and the worry they cause.  But I am willing to accept whatever conditions You allow, knowing that You are with me, and will defend me, and will use them to Your glory.

Thank You Lord, that this “morning You heard my voice.  As I laid my requests before You,” I know You were listening and are able to act in even the most complicated of circumstances.  I was able to get up and go on with my day, knowing and trusting that You are in control as I “wait in expectation.”

“Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness…make straight my way before me.  I take refuge in You, so let me be glad; let me ever sing for joy.  Spread Your protection over me, and all who who love Your name and rejoice in You…Surround me with Your favor as with a shield.”

If my husband or sons or I have offended each another, let us be soft-hearted towards one another.  Rather than being like fortified cities, where entry is barred, let them open their gates to each other and welcome each other in brotherly love.  Bless them Lord, and surround them also, with Your favor.  Amen

Acts 25:1-27; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 18:19

Jul 5 Thou O Lord art a shield about me

roman shield

How amazing You are, Father.  You knew what Paul was headed for and You told him to “Take courage” just when he needed it.

You also worked out that a relative learned about the plot against Paul’s life.  And predisposed the Commander of the barracks to be willing to listen to a boy.  Because he took the boy’s story seriously, it preserved Paul’s life and gave him the opportunity for a greater testimony.

There is no doubt that You involve Yourself with life circumstances here on earth.  And intercede to bring about Your purposes.  Thank You that I am assured that You not only know what will come next in my life, but will prepare me for it, encourage me through it, and cause things to work together for me.  I can trust this to happen, because I can trust You.

“O Lord, no matter how many are against me, You are a shield around me.”  You protect me from their attack.  You repel the arrows fired at me.  You stop the fiery darts flung at me.  You deflect the blows directed at me.  I can stand behind You, as I would stand behind a battle shield and be safe.

Not a flimsy garbage can lid, but a battle shield: reaching from my head to my feet.   And wide enough to cover me so that when I stand next to another, our shields meet and form a wall.  This shield is thick enough and covered with materials that will prevent penetration by darts or arrows.  And it is shiny to reflect the sun and blind the enemy so I am a hard target to find.

“When I cry out to You, You answer me!”  You speak to me through Your Word and in prayer.  You have ways to reach me I haven’t even imagined.  “And when I lie down, and sleep, I wake again because You watch over me.  You sustain me.”  When I cannot defend myself, You are there, protecting me.

So “I will not fear – even when I see my enemy drawn up against me…You will arise!  You will deliver me!”  Thank You Father for Your immeasurable love for me, for Your unfathomable power which You use to strike down my enemies.   All praise to You!  Amen

Acts 23:11-35; Psalm 3:1-8

Jun 30 Faithful Living

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

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

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

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

Acts 20:17-38

Jun 25 Miracle Worker!

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Lord God, You never cease to amaze me!  You are involved so intimately in the lives of Your people.  You genuinely care for them.

It gives me such hope!

You warned the man and woman who made a room for Elisha to leave the country to spare them from a seven-year famine.  And when they returned to beg for their house and land, You orchestrated that the king who could grant their plea, had just then heard about the miracle of Elisha raising their son from the dead!  The timing couldn’t have been better!  They received back what they had given up to obey You, and more!

When the ruler-ship had gotten so bad; leading Your people into idolatry and doing only evil in Your eyes, You took action.  You had a just and godly ruler anointed over Israel.  Under Jehu, the line of Ahab was removed.  The people were able to return to worshiping You.

When Your servants Paul and Silas were imprisoned, beaten, and put under special guard, You orchestrated an earthquake to free them!  Even more, You allowed them to work in the lives of their enemy, sharing the Gospel with their jailer, and bringing salvation to him and his family!

How can I doubt that You, who have done all this on behalf of Your people, will do the same for me?  How can I think that my problems are beyond Your help?  You, who control earthquakes and famines, kings and jailers!

I am Your servant, Lord.  So I cry to You for mercy.  I rely on Your character of faithfulness and righteousness to defeat the enemy that pursues me and crushes me to the ground.

Even when circumstances discourage me, and cause my spirit to grow faint and my heart to be dismayed, I remember these and other works of deliverance.  I meditate on all You have done and consider the power in Your hands.

And I know, without a doubt, that You will preserve me in Your righteousness.  And that I am Yours forever.  Amen

2 Kings 8:1-6; 9:1-13; Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 143:1-12

Nov 15 Help me live in peace

“…live at peace with all men and be holy…”.  Allow “no bitter root to grow up.”  Make moral decisions now because the consequences may be too much to bear.

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Because of my human nature, these are sometimes very difficult things to do.  Give me Your peace so I can reflect peace to those around me.  Help me see what is important and what is not so I will not be part of foolish arguments, but will be able to live at peace with men, and women too.

When I feel wronged, or hurt, angry, disappointed or jealous; help me see from Your perspective so the root of bitterness doesn’t poison my relationships.  When circumstances seem unjust or aren’t going my way, diffuse my anger before it ”causes trouble and defiles many.”

Let me consider what You would have me do in response to any circumstance, rather than just react from an emotional place. Help me live my life with the understanding that I am Your creation, here for You purposes.  Give me guidance and wisdom to be the best wife, mother, daughter, friend, neighbor I can be.

Father, thank You that I can approach You every time I need support in any of these areas.  Not like in Moses’ time where anyone who touched even the mountain where You were had to be killed. You have done with Your precious blood what the blood of goats and lambs could not.  I can now come to You directly, and hear Your voice without perishing.

I want to live in peace as Paul suggests.  You are my help.  And there is none like You: The Prince of Peace.  Amen

Hebrews 12:14-49

 

Oct 14 Grow Your truth in me

Father, Jeremiah was Your man on the ground, Your man on the scene.  He was the one of the few who spoke Your truth, yet no one listened to him or believed him or turned back to You because of it.

Paul spoke Your truth and taught it to the Thessalonians, and it took root.  Yet they were persecuted, endured hardship, and were deceived and confused by false teachers and liars.

Gospel_of_Mark_Chapter_4-1_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

It’s as if Your truth is seed that was scattered, but the ground Jeremiah sowed it on was too hard to accept it.  It fell where it could not take root, and just blew away.

The Thessalonians were better ground and accepted the seed, but it’s as if thorns grew up to choke out what sprouted, or birds tried to take it away.  Paul’s second letter was a good reminder for them to pull the thorns out and shoo the birds away in order to hold on to the truth that had grown in them.

You have given me the ability to discern Your truth by giving me Your written Word and Your Holy Spirit residing within me, who speaks truth to me.   I feel as if I have the benefit of being given the most fertile soil of all.

And it is up to me to protect Your truth growing in me.  I need to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings passed on to [me].”

Father, help me be faithful to make time each day to read Your precious Word.  And to come to You in prayer, and listen to You.  Enlighten me with understanding Your Word and what You say to me in prayer.  And strengthen me to be faithful and obedient to all I understand.

Remind me to guard Your truth in my heart and mind, and bring every other thought and teaching, philosophy and prophecy, to be measured against the plumb line of Your truth.

Your Word has taken firm root in my life.  Help me protect it and nurture it.  Let it leaf and flower and produce good fruit all my days.  I know that when Your timing is right, I will be with You for eternity.  Amen

Jeremiah 25:1-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Oct 13 I need Your help

help-2478193_640Father, I echo the words in Paul’s prayer here for the Thessalonians.

And I ask that You would “make [me] worthy of Your calling”.

Lord, there are times I do not display the characteristics and attitudes of a faithful and humble follower of You, the Creator and Lord of the Universe.

I know that You have saved me.  You have given me eternal life and paid the penalty for my sin with Your blood.  And You have sent Your Holy Spirit to reside in me.   And yet still, I struggle with unforgiveness, selfishness, greed, anger, resentment, jealousy, lust – those flesh-driven temptations that I need to put to death in myself in order to live a life worthy of You.

In truth, I cannot do it without Your help.

Father, I ask You to use Your power to “bring to fruition [my] every desire for goodness and [my] every deed prompted by faith…so that Your Name may be glorified in [me].

Often, I desire to do good but things get in the way.  It may be circumstances, busyness, other people, or the timing doesn’t work out.  Or it may be my own emotions and frustrations that hinder and sabotage my efforts.

Same thing happens with ideas that are born of my faith in You.  I have the desire but not the know-how.

But You can show me how to avoid these pitfalls.  You can help me conquer my flesh, my emotions, other people, and problems that arise and can show me the way to go.

I know in the end, You will be victorious.  You will return to the earth in triumphant splendor and with righteous judgment.  In the meantime, help me accomplish those good and faithful things that will bring You the recognition and glory You deserve.  Amen

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Oct 10 Send an encourager

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Father, in Jeremiah’s time, even the priests and prophets were lying to their leaders and the people.

They reported only what the people wanted to hear: that they would be safe; that there would be peace, and that these words came from “the Lord.”

Father, would You send a true prophet, like Jeremiah, to the nations’ leaders of the world, and open their ears to Your truth.  Jeremiah was not popular because he told it like it was.  He relayed Your truth, not pacifying lies.  I fear many of our nations’ counselors are not being “Jeremiahs.”

The media has become a “prophet” of the day.  Their reports are very skewed so that the people are controlled by political and social interests and schemes.  And yet the people are not completely innocent either.  For they have chosen one by one how to live their lives and who or what they will worship.

You gave Jeremiah a very difficult task in a very difficult time, but You promised to rescue and save him.  You said, “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose”.   Father, show me Your good purpose.  Help me be strong in my faith like Jeremiah was.

Lord, You sent Paul to be an encouragement to the Thessalonians.  Please send someone into my life, and into the lives of my loved ones, to be a mentor like Paul.

Each one of us needs to be encouraged in our walk with You.  Each one of us faces specific challenges and difficulties.   We may not be able to find direction, understanding and encouragement on our own.

Friend Buddies Pals Best Friends FriendshipBut You, Father, know each of us so intimately, You would know the exact person to send, who can relate to us and speak words of encouragement and comfort and instruction into our individual lives.

You know how each of us needs to be “urged to live lives worthy of You”.

Not just anyone qualifies to speak into our lives.  Father, would You “clear the way” for Your specific mentor to come to each of us and speak Your truth.   And like Paul’s prayer, would You “make our love increase and overflow for each other…and strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless and holy in Your presence…”

Father, I need You and Your truth in my personal life and in my country.  I need Your encouragement to stay on the right path.  Send Jeremiahs and Pauls.  Send Your truth.  Amen

Jeremiah 14:11-16; I Thessalonians 2:9-3:13

Oct 8 Worship the Creator not the created

idol-1067151_640Jeremiah points out the worthlessness of the idols that the people made for themselves.  They were made of wood or stone.  They had to be carried from place to place.  They had no awareness and no power.  Yet the people superstitiously bowed down to them.

What a stark contrast to You!  There is “No one like You, Lord”.

You made, literally created, the earth!  You imagined it, and then spoke it into being.  When You speak, it trembles.  When You thunder, the waters storm with hurricane force.  “You are the Creator of everything that exists.”

If I were to worship anything else, I would be as Jeremiah described his people, and the whole human race: “stupid and foolish…without knowledge”.

Jeremiah also encourages me not to fear the predictions of those who look elsewhere for their wisdom.  So I need not be afraid of false prophets, horoscopes or those who seek to divine the future from the stars.  You made the stars.  So I worship the Maker, not what was made.

Paul was in chains for speaking out about who You are.  That is not a current threat where I live.  Help me “be wise in the way I act towards outsiders, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let my conversation be full of grace and seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone.”

Show me when to speak, and what to say.  And when to hold my tongue.   So many people are put off of Christianity because of the actions and attitudes of Christians.  Let me be a beacon of light to others as I walk the walk, and talk the talk in grace and love.

Show me what it means to “Devote myself to prayer, being watchful and thankful”.  I strive to express my thanks in prayer and allow time for You to speak to me, not just deliver a list of requests.

Thank You Father, that You, the matchless King of the Universe, hear my prayers.   And thank You that You answer them.  Help me to be watchful for Your answers.  And wait on Your timing.  I trust in the Creator of all things.  Amen

Jeremiah 10:1-16; Colossians 4:2-6

Oct 2 Direct me

Father, Paul had much to be proud of: his lineage, his heritage, his education, his religiousness.  But he considered it all worthless compared to knowing You.  Lord, I agree.  There is nothing I have become or attained that can compare to my relationship with You and the salvation and blessings You have given me.  So I desire to live the life You died to give me.

jogging-2343558_640All that is behind me, all that has come before, Father, I let go of, so that I may fully embrace whatever it is You have for me now.

Paul put it this way: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

I too, move my focus from earthly things, to heavenly priorities, where my real home is.  I believe You can give me the wisdom to make decisions with an understanding of Your purpose for my life.  I believe You will fill me with the courage I need to act.  And I believe it is by Your power that all You purpose for me will be accomplished.

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Open my eyes to all I must let go of.  Show me where attitudes and priorities must change.  Help me see the direction I should go.  I will remember Your faithfulness to me.  I will recall Your power.  And I will trust in Your purpose and Your love for me.  Amen

Philippians 3:4-14

Sept 25 Unity and Maturity

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.

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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, 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 22 Hope in the darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 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 10 Reconcilliation

heartcloudFather, thank You that You are a God of second chances. And third and fourth and even more. When the Israelite men had sinned and taken foreign, pagan wives, there was an acceptable resolution. There were consequences yes, but they were able to take an oath to renew their covenant with You.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he lists many types of wickedness, then says “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

In both of these cases, reconciliation was made possible because You chose to accept repentance. You cleansed them, You set them apart. You returned them to right standing with You.

And the same is true for me. When I have sinned, and I come to You in the realization of what I have done, agree with You that it is sin, and am remorseful, repentant, You forgive that sin. You wash me and set me apart, and again I am in right standing with You.

But, as with the Israelites, there are consequences.   Sometimes the consequences are life changing, and can cause ongoing problems. They had to put aside their foreign wives. Sometimes I have to put aside a relationship or something I think I really want that is not good for me.

Paul says, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial”. Lord, there is such freedom in You. Help me be wise in that freedom. Produce in me the Fruit of the Spirit so I can be good and kind, patient and faithful, gentle and self-controlled. Show me when I am being selfish or unwise. Remind me to think and pray before I act.

Father, I offer You the relationships in my life. Please deepen the ones that are godly, and to distance me from any that are not.

I give my time to You and ask that You show me where I waste it. Give me the strength to cut out activities that eat away time I could spend better.

I give You my priorities and ask You to help me reorder them where they are not in line with Your purposes.

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Father, help me recognize what is right and just, and help me do it.   When what is right and just is at odds with my selfish or prideful or greedy nature, help me overcome that nature and be led by You. Thank You for Your help in all this, and for the hope You give me. Amen

Ezra 10:1-17; I Corinthians 6:12; Proverbs 21:3

July 20 Direct my path

shield-490808_640Father, like Solomon who built a Temple to house Your glorious Name, I long to build something of substance with my life that will bring You recognition and glory. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive edifice sparkling with gold and jewels.   But it is the desire of my heart, that when I leave this earth, others who come behind me will see my faithfulness and be pointed to You.

Paul left a different kind of testament to You with the letters he wrote. His explanations, though sometimes long and arduous, explain the basis of much of my faith. He explains that before You came and died on the cross, I was a slave to sin. But because I put my faith in You, and am united with You, crucified on the cross with You; I died to sin. I am no longer its slave, because death frees one from the bondage they lived in.

So I am raised from the dead with You, a free believer – no longer a slave to sin! You set me free with Your death and resurrection! Since my life is with You, and I live it freely; if I sin, it is because I choose to, since I am no longer a slave to it. Lord, help me choose daily, to walk away from sin.

Show me how to walk with You in righteousness; how to live my life as a testimony to You.  Empower me to face the choices I have to make every day. Don’t let me just pick what is the easiest, or safest, or most popular.   Let me look at my options from Your perspective. Let me make decisions based on the long, eternal view, not just for the immediate benefit.

I trust You. “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.”   Amen

2 Chronicles 3:1-17; Romans 6:1-23; Psalm 16:1-11

July 7 Hear my morning prayer

Like You acted in Paul’s life, would You orchestrate my circumstances to allow for opportunities to bring You glory, and would You fill my mouth with the words to say as I give testimony to Your greatness.

Although Paul’s situation of being in prison did not change, You allowed a greater and greater audience for Your truth to be spoken.   There are situations in my life that I would prefer be changed so I don’t have to deal with the hardships they bring and the worry they cause. But I am willing to accept whatever conditions You allow, knowing that You are with me, and will defend me, and will use them to Your glory.

prayer-401401_640Thank You Lord, that this “morning You heard my voice. As I laid my requests before You,” I know You are listening and are able to act in even the most complicated of circumstances. And I am able to get up and go on with my day, knowing and trusting that You are in control as I “wait in expectation”.

I pray Your words back to You: “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness…make straight my way before me. I take refuge in You, so let me be glad; let me ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over me, and all who who love Your name and rejoice in You…Surround me with Your favor as with a shield.”

If my husband or sons or I have offended each another, let us be soft-hearted towards one another. Rather than being like fortified cities, where entry is barred, let them open their gates to each other and welcome each other in brotherly love. Bless them Lord, and surround them also, with Your favor. Amen

Acts 25:1-27; Psalm 5:1-12; Proverbs 18:19

July 5 My Defense

How amazing You are, Father. You knew what Paul was headed for and You told him to “Take courage” just when he needed it. You also worked out that a relative learned about the plot against Paul’s life. And predisposed the Commander of the barracks to be willing to listen to a boy. Because he took the boy’s story seriously, it preserved Paul’s life and gave him the opportunity for a greater testimony.

There is no doubt that You involve Yourself with life circumstances here on earth. And intercede to bring about Your purposes. Thank You that I am assured that You not only know what will come next in my life, but will prepare me for it, encourage me through it, and cause things to work together for me. I can trust this to happen, because I can trust You.

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“O Lord, no matter how many are against me, You are a shield around me.” You protect me from their attack. You repel the arrows fired at me. You stop the fiery darts flung at me. You deflect the blows directed at me. I can stand behind You, as I would stand behind a battle shield and be safe.

Not a flimsy garbage can lid, but a battle shield: reaching from my head to my feet. And wide enough to cover me so that when I stand next to another, our shields meet and form a wall. This shield is thick enough and covered with materials that will prevent penetration by darts or arrows. And it is shiny to reflect the sun and blind the enemy so I am a hard target to find.

“When I cry out to You, You answer me!” You speak to me through Your Word and in prayer. You have ways to reach me I haven’t even imagined. “And when I lie down, and sleep, I wake again because You watch over me. You sustain me.” When I cannot defend myself, You are there, protecting me.

So “I will not fear – even when I see my enemy drawn up against me…You will arise! You will deliver me!” Thank You Father for Your immeasurable love for me, for Your unfathomable power which You use to strike down my enemies. All praise to You! Amen

Acts 23:11-35; Psalm 3:1-8

June 30 Faithful Living

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

 

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

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

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

Acts 20:17-38

 

 

June 29 Standing firm

Lincold stand firmO Father, how Your heart must ache when Your people choose to turn away from You!

You have given me all I need for an abundant life, yet the society I live in, and the one the Israelites lived in, pull people away from You to continually seek after other things.

When the kings over Your people were bad, they worshipped idols in the open, even sacrificing living children by fire.   They fought battles according to their own strength, or bought allies with the treasures from Your Temple.

When the kings were not evil, and led the people back to worship You, they still did not remove the high places and Asherah poles, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.

The values and attitudes of their society had become so evil, that this behavior was accepted by even the good kings. But it was not acceptable by You. And eventually You sent armies from the east to conquer and capture Your people, taking them into exile.   This was as You had promised. You outlined their options for blessing and cursing, and they made their choice.

Lord, how often in my life do I allow the ungodly values of my society to sway me, divert me from what You have told me is true? Often what is evil is accepted as good. And even the good leaders abide by it as if it were ok.

Do we think as a society that there will be no accounting? That’s what the Israelites thought. Didn’t work out so well for them. And I fear it won’t work out in my times either.

When Your Word spread in Ephesus, people who practiced sorcery burned their scrolls, and idol worshippers stopped buying the silver idols. As the economic impact increased, so did the opposition!

Society today would also prefer that believers keep their faith to themselves. When it begins to impact political issues or economic factors, there is friction.

Father, as You have called me to live in the world, You have also separated me, set me apart from it. Help me understand how to be ‘in’ the world while being separate from it. Remind me to question values, holding them up against what Your Word says. Only then will I know I am on solid ground.

Show me if there is any value or attitude I need to change to be right with You. And strengthen me to do it, amid, or even against, the pull of society. Amen

2 Kings 15:17-16:20; Acts 19:13-41

June 25 Miracle Worker!

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Lord God, You never cease to amaze me! You are involved so intimately in the lives of Your people. You genuinely care for them. It gives me such hope!

 

You warned the man and woman who made a room for Elisha to leave the country to spare them from a seven-year famine. And when they returned to beg for their house and land, You orchestrated that the king who could grant their plea, had just then heard about the miracle of Elisha raising their son from the dead! The timing couldn’t have been better! They received back what they had given up to obey You, and more!

When the ruler-ship had gotten so bad; leading Your people into idolatry and doing only evil in Your eyes, You took action. You had a just and godly ruler anointed over Israel. Under Jehu, the line of Ahab was removed. The people were able to return to worshiping You.

When Your servants Paul and Silas were imprisoned, beaten, and put under special guard, You orchestrated an earthquake to free them! Even more, You allowed them to work in the lives of their enemy, sharing the Gospel with their jailer, and bringing salvation to him and his family!

How can I doubt that You, who have done all this on behalf of Your people, will do the same for me? How can I think that my problems are beyond Your help? You, who control earthquakes and famines, kings and jailers!

I am Your servant, Lord. So I cry to You for mercy. I rely on Your character of faithfulness and righteousness to defeat the enemy that pursues me and crushes me to the ground.

Even when circumstances discourage me, and cause my spirit to grow faint and my heart to be dismayed, I remember these and other works of deliverance. I meditate on all You have done and consider the power in Your hands.

And I know, without a doubt, that You will preserve me in Your righteousness. And that I am Yours forever. Amen

2 Kings 8:1-6; 9:1-13; Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 143:1-12

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

Oct 14 Grow Your Truth in me

Father, Jeremiah was Your man on the ground, Your man on the scene. He was the one of the few who spoke Your truth, yet no one listened to him or believed him and turned back to You because of it. Paul spoke Your truth and taught it to the Thessalonians, and it took root. Yet they were persecuted, endured hardship, and were deceived and confused by false teachers and liars.

Gospel_of_Mark_Chapter_4-1_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)It’s as if Your truth is seed that was scattered, but the ground Jeremiah sowed it on was too hard to accept it. It fell where it could not take root, and just blew away. The Thessalonians were better ground and accepted the seed, but it’s as if thorns grew up to choke out what sprouted, or birds tried to take it away. Paul’s second letter was a good reminder for them to pull the thorns out and shoo the birds away in order to hold on to the truth that had grown in them.

You have given me the ability to discern Your truth by giving me Your written Word, and Your Holy Spirit residing within me, who speaks truth to me.   I feel as if I have the benefit of being given the most fertile soil of all. And it is up to me to protect Your truth growing in me. I need to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings passed on to [me]”.

Father, help me be faithful to make time each day to read Your precious Word. And to come to You in prayer, and listen to You. Enlighten me with understanding Your Word and what You say to me in prayer. And strengthen me to be faithful and obedient to all I understand. Remind me to guard Your truth in my heart and mind, and bring every other thought and teaching, philosophy and prophecy, to be measured against the plumb line of Your truth.

Your Word has taken firm root in my life. Help me protect it and nurture it. Let it leaf and flower and produce good fruit all my days. I know that when Your timing is right, I will be with You for eternity. I agree with the Sons of Korah who say: “Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” “Blessed is the one who trusts in You.” also rings true. I know I am blessed, because I trust in You. Amen

Jeremiah 23:21-25:38; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17; Psalm 84:10-12

Oct 10 Send an Encourager

truth-2069846_640Father, in Jeremiah’s time, even the priests and prophets were lying to their leaders and the people. They reported only what the people wanted to hear: that they would be safe; that there would be peace, and that these words came from ‘the Lord’. Father, would You send a true prophet, like Jeremiah, to the nations’ leaders of the world, and open their ears to Your truth. Jeremiah was not popular because he told it like it was. He relayed Your truth, not pacifying lies. I fear many of our nations’ counselors are not being ‘Jeremiahs’.

The media has become a ‘prophet’ of the day. And their reports are very skewed, so that the people are controlled by political and social interests and schemes. And yet the people are not completely innocent either. For they have chosen one by one how to live their lives and who or what they will worship.

You gave Jeremiah a very difficult task in a very difficult time, but You promised to rescue and save him. You said, “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose”.   Father, show me Your good purpose. Help me be strong in my faith like Jeremiah was.

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Lord, You sent Paul to be an encouragement to the Thessalonians. Would You also send someone into my life, and into the lives of my loved ones, to be a mentor like Paul was.

Each one of us needs to be encouraged in our walk with You. Each one of us faces specific challenges and difficulties.   We may not be able to find direction, understanding and encouragement on our own. But You, Father, know each of us so intimately, You would know the exact person to send, who can relate to us and speak words of encouragement and comfort and instruction into our individual lives. You know how each of us needs to be “urged to live lives worthy of You”.

Not just anyone qualifies to speak into our lives. Father, would You “clear the way” for Your specific mentor to come to each of us and speak Your truth.   And like Paul’s prayer, would You “make our love increase and overflow for each other…and strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless and holy in Your presence…”. Father, I need You and Your truth in my personal life and in my country. And Your encouragement to stay on the right path. Send Jeremiahs and Pauls. Send Your truth. Amen

Jeremiah 14:11-16; I Thessalonians 2:9-3:13