Tag: perspective

Jul 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 magnificent, or expensive, or what the world would judge as spectacular.   But it is the desire of my heart to be part of something special: a legacy 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

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May 15 Faith like David

picture by Malcolm Gladwell

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Father, let my faith be like that of David.

As a child I learned of the battle of David and Goliath.  I have seen it reenacted in pictures, on felt boards with paper figures, in Claymation, live with children or adults in costume, and in movies about the Bible.  I think most people know of it as it has been referenced in many tv shows, movies, and news stories to describe any underdog fighting an overwhelmingly huge giant, whether in sports or business, countries or individuals.

In three main ways, I ask that You would grow my faith to be like David’s.

1 – He was able to look beyond himself.  He did not just take Goliath as a personal threat the way the soldiers did, but recognized someone in defiance of You.

Like most people, I interpret things in light of how they affect me, or my family.  That limits the scope of the solutions I can perceive.  It puts the focus on me to find a solution that I can perform.

David saw an affront to You, making it Your battle.  “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

2 – He trusted that You had already prepared him for the battle.  “When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and killed it.”

And because of that, was able to turn from pressure to do what others suggested – the armor, helmet and sword.

I trust that You have already brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to deal with things.  And that this has prepared me for what is to come.  You have already intentionally, purposefully, given me spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences to make me who I am.

Help me use those things instead of feeling like I have to conform to what others expect of me.  Give me confidence in Your preparation for whatever battle I face.

3 – He voiced confidence in You and gave You the glory for the victory even before it happened!  “…but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.   This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”

My confidence is not always so certain.  Sometimes I even try and do things with as little notice as possible, so if I fail, it won’t reflect badly on You.   This is another way I focus on myself, and what I can do.

Help me see that the battle is Yours.  And You can conquer all Your enemies!  You will attain the victory!

Father, let my fear shrink and my faith grow!  Let me look beyond myself to all You can do in and through me.  I trust in Your purposefulness and Your preparation.  Help me exemplify all this in the challenges I meet.  Amen

I Samuel 17:1-58

May 10 The Best Father

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O Father, how many times have I behaved like the Israelites here, and asked for something so I could be like everyone else?  Instead of trusting Your will and the plan You had for me, I settled for what You allowed because I asked for it.

So many times the wisdom of the world seems right.

It makes sense to the mind.  It pleases the eye.  It pacifies the emotions.  But one can follow logic and still be dead wrong.   A person can feel like things are going well, when they are not.  Things can look good, but be rotten to the core.  This is proven each time someone is tricked or duped; because we trust our eyes and our logic.

But You, Father, can see the end from the beginning.  You have a perspective that I do not.

I protect my child when I prevent them from a danger I can see that they cannot.  To them, it may feel like I am restricting them, not protecting them.   Hopefully as they grow, they trust my judgment until they can see the dangers for themselves.

And sometimes, I need to let them make their own choices, even if they are unwise, in order to learn for themselves.  For instance, when you eat a tube of raw cookie dough, there are unpleasant consequences, even though it tastes really good during the eating part.

Though I like to think of myself as independent and smart enough to make wise decisions, I have learned that simply lining up pros and cons and judging by worldly standards is not the only or the best method.

I have access to the God who created the universe!  You have wisdom I could never in a million years attain.   And praises to You, You are willing to share it with me!

Father, when I want something, let me examine my motive. Help me discern what is best from Your perspective.  Give me godly understanding that surpasses the world’s view.  And help me accept that wisdom if it turns out that what I think I want is not the right thing.  Help me wait for the best thing.  Teach me to be wise.  Amen

I Samuel 8:1-22

Mar 25 Help me see

eyeglasses-2003188_640Lord thank You for these pictures in scripture about the ability to see truth for what it is and to understand the meaning behind being a follower of Christ.

Your first picture reminds me that although a blind person who cannot see can help another blind person, there are blocks they will both stumble over due to their lack of vision.

Yet, how many times have I relied on the advice and guidance of another person, who is “in the dark” as much as I am when it comes to seeing things from Your perspective?  Rather than coming to You, I seek help from another “blind” person who is in no better spiritual position than I am.

Interesting that Your next illustration has to do with vision too.  Contrasting when I go to another for help, this next one shows that when I try and “help” someone else by fixing a problem I see in their life.

There’s a good chance I have bigger problems in my own life that should be a priority for my attention.  Only after my own bigger problems are dealt with can I see well enough to be of help to anyone else, should they ask.

In both these examples, my own lack of vision blinds me to the truth.  I need to remember to look to You for guidance, answers and perspective on issues in my life.  And before I look too closely at a friend’s life and shortcomings, I need to examine myself.  And then, again, seek Your help in correcting the issues I find there.

Another example You give has to do with how I act on what You tell me when I turn to You for the “vision” I lack.  It’s not enough to simply call on You for guidance.  It’s also imperative that I listen for Your response and do what You say!

Otherwise, all I do is based on my own, unreliable, limited understanding and will fold in on me like a house built with no foundation.

Father, I desire to obey You so my efforts won’t be wasted; so what I do has a firm foundation, and will stand solid against any difficulty or challenge that comes.   And the challenges will come.  You are the solid foundation I can put my trust in and gain confidence from.

Open my eyes of understanding.  Do not let me turn to other blind people, but to the One who made my eyes and gives me sight.

And I will be glad and rejoice with You; happy and joyful!  Amen

Luke 6:39-49

Mar 12 God is with us

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you”

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How many times, O Lord, have I seen You sustain me during times of stress and trouble?  You have proven Yourself reliable over and over again.

Sometimes when I cast my cares on You, You actually change my circumstances, so the cause of my worry disappears.  That is always appreciated, and often the solution I am seeking.   But there are many other ways You ”sustain” me!

At times You don’t change the circumstances, but You change my perspective.  You allow me to see things from a different view.  It’s like when a toddler runs to their mother and is picked up and held in her arms.  The child can see from a higher, safer perspective than from the height of a child.   Looking down from that height, the bad things don’t look so big and overwhelming.

Another way You sustain me is by simply being with me.  Maybe the circumstances don’t change, and my perspective is the same; but the fact that You are near me, encouraging me, comforting me, reminding me that You are in control and that I can trust You, is what gets me through the hard time.

Sometimes You distract me with a blessing in one part of my life that so outweighs the rest, the worry fades in significance.

Sometimes You teach me to choose my battles, and show me that in relation to the bigger picture, I can let go of this worry.

At other times You impress upon me the lessons I’m learning in dealing with the hardship actually outweigh the difficulty in getting through it.

And still other times You create a surprise ending through the struggle that works out even better than I could have ever imagined!

It is still not easy when challenges and troubles come.  Truth be told, I’d prefer to avoid them altogether.  But You have shown me that You can work good out of anything when I trust You.  I know that no matter what, You will sustain me.

YOU – the all-mighty, all-knowing Creator God, who has the power and resources of the universe at His disposal, will sustain me.

You WILL – a certainty because of Your faithfulness to Your promises and Your unchangeable character and Your unfailing love for me, sustain me.

You will SUSTAIN – keep, preserve, defend, support and encourage, zealously guard and treasure, me

You will sustain ME – Your child, Your servant, one who loves and worships and believes in and trusts in You.

YOU WILL SUSTAIN ME!  And I will praise You!  Thank You.  Amen

Psalm 55:22

Feb 4 Eternal Priorities

 

Three words I never want to hear: “Woe to you.”

With these words You gave warning to the Pharisees and called them into account for their actions and deeds.  Even now, it’s so easy to say “I would never be like them!”  I do not want to follow in their footsteps, like judging others while projecting seeming innocence.  So correct me if You see in me what You saw in them.

They had their priorities backwards, saying the gold was more valuable than the temple it was in, and the sacrifice more valuable than the altar it was offered on.

Help me make and keep my priorities straight.  Help me understand the true value of things as they are in Your economy so I do not elevate the profane and dishonor the holy.

Many of the things the world places value on are not truly valuable.  The world sees from a limited, short-term perspective and often places more significance on the created thing, than the Creator Himself.

Help me see things for their eternal value.

I love Your humor when You say they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!”  Teach me to see the bigger picture and focus on the important things and not be legalistic over the smaller insignificant ones.

I can get so carried away with the urgent that sometimes I don’t make time for the important things.   Show me how to spend my energy and time on what is significant.

You paint a striking picture when You describe a cup: clean on the outside but dirty on the inside; or a whitewashed tomb, clean on the outside but full of death on the inside.  You see not only the outward appearance, but see into man’s heart to know him.

Let me be as concerned with being pure and clean on the inside as I am with being presentable on the outside.   Help me be authentic and transparent; so my walk agrees with my talk.  Let me put as much time into developing my character as my wardrobe.

I desire to be all You have created me to be.  But it is so easy to follow the way of the world and look for the easy way – to make a big deal over what the world says is a big deal.  I know that most of the world does not seek You to worship You or follow You.

Broad is the path that leads to destruction.  Help me find that narrow way, and stay on that path: the one that brings joy and not woe.  Amen

Matthew 23:13-39; Matthew 7:13

Jan 21 It’s all perspective

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

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

In our human understanding of fairness that seems so wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

And can I trust Your answer? Without a doubt!

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

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

Matthew 14:1-12; Psalm 18:30

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

wrestlersDear Father, it seems I am a wrestler.

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

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

My wrestling is not so productive as Jacob’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis 32:22-30

Jan 6 Choices

Father, thank You for showing real life examples that teach me how to make choices.

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Lot looked with his physical eyes and made his choice to move to the well watered land to the east. It did not work out well for him. Keep me from rushing headlong into decisions based only on what I think I see with my physical eyes. Or on what my flesh leads me to from misguided appetites.

Instead, teach me to see with Your eyes, from Your perspective; looking beyond the immediate appearance of reward. Help me think through and pray through decisions.  Especially when they also involve others and affect my relationships, and how I live.

Help me weigh the consequences and ask, “Will this draw me closer to God or take me further away?”

And as I move forward, let me be mindful of Your voice, trusting that You will guide and protect me.

If my choices go wrong, help me recognize the sinfulness around me, and separate myself from it.  Don’t let me tolerate evil or go along with it. Precept Bible Study taught me “sin will: take me farther than I ever meant to stray, keep me longer than I ever meant to stay, and cost me more that I ever meant to pay. “

Thank You for Abram’s example. He heard Your voice and obeyed, moving even before he had the whole picture and started off for the land You would show him. Let me also be obedient without insisting on having it all laid out before me.

Help me act in faith when You call. Help me believe and trust in Your promises. Even when You do not act according to my expected or desired time table.

Even when it seems like things are not going the way I have prayed they would.

Even when it seems worse than at the beginning.

Even when I cannot see You at work.

I know that Your thoughts are not my thoughts.  Your ways are not my ways. You have the advantage of infinite wisdom over infinite time and infinite sovereignty with infinite power.

Thank You for teaching me through example after example in the Bible that I can trust that You always keep Your promises. You are Almighty God. And I worship You alone. Amen

Genesis 13:5-15:6; Isaiah 55:8

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s perspective

Father, help me “consider it pure joy whenever [I] face trials of many kinds.”

road-sign-940630_640 (1)Even though I know You tell me that these trials produce good things in my life: “perseverance”, making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything”; I do not always rejoice when difficulties come my way.  And I don’t feel like I am being made “complete.”  I often feel just the opposite, as if I am being broken down.

Father, give me Your perspective on these events and circumstances when they happen.   Let my first thoughts be to come to You to ask for what I need.  Often what I need is wisdom.  So remind me to “ask You, who gives generously to all without finding fault.”   Help me recognize Your wisdom when I hear it.  And then be bold enough to act on what You tell me.

Lord, I want to persevere under trials because You say I will receive a blessing when I endure.  Part of that blessing comes simply from my turning to You.   By being in relationship with You, hearing from You, and seeing Your deliverance, whatever that looks like.

Thank You for the times You have been there for me in the past.  It builds my faith in Your ability and in Your desire to help me in the future.

I can identify with the Psalmist, who says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.”  Like the Psalmist, I have felt “overcome by trouble and sorrow.”

There have been times when I did not see a way that anything good could come from my situation.  But You, who are “gracious and righteous…and full of compassion” saved me, delivered me, showed me a way to redeem the situation.  And it was usually in the most unique way, that no one else I had gone to had thought of.

How can I thank You?  “How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?”  I cannot ever repay the debt I owe You, Father.  But I can sing my praises to You.  I can tell others of Your great goodness.  I can tell others of Your faithfulness to me.  I can live joyfully in Your deliverance, and live faithfully as Your servant.

No matter what happens, I will rest in You.  I will rejoice in You.  I will live my life to bring glory to Your name.  Amen

James 1:1-8; Psalm 116:1-19

 

 

Oct 5 I look to You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are Lord and I am blessed.   Amen

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

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

May 29 You Word is Light!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 119:105,108

May 15 Faith like David

painting-david-and-goliath(picture by Malcolm Gladwell)

Father, let my faith be like that of David.

As a child I learned of the battle of David and Goliath.

I have seen it reenacted in pictures, on felt boards with paper figures, in Claymation, live with children or adults in costume, and in movies about the Bible.

I think most people know of it as it has been referenced in many tv shows, movies, and news stories to describe any underdog fighting an overwhelmingly huge giant, whether in sports or business, countries or individuals.

In three main ways, I ask that You would grow my faith to be like David’s.

1 – He was able to look beyond himself . He did not just take Goliath as a personal threat the way the soldiers did, but recognized someone in defiance of You. Like most people, I interpret things in light of how they affect me, or my family. That limits the scope of the solutions I can perceive. It puts the focus on me to find a solution that I can perform. David saw an affront to You, making it Your battle.

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

2 – He trusted that You had already prepared him for the battle. “When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and killed it.”

And because of that, was able to turn from pressure to do what others suggested – the armor, helmet and sword.   I trust that You have already brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to deal with things. And that this has prepared me for what is to come. You have already intentionally, purposefully, given me spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences to make me who I am. Help me use those things instead of feeling like I have to conform to what others expect of me. Give me confidence in Your preparation for whatever battle I face.

3 – He voiced confidence in You and gave You the glory for the victory even before it happened!

“…but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.   This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”   My confidence is not always so certain. Sometimes I even try and do things with as little notice as possible, so if I fail, it won’t reflect badly on You.  This is another way I focus on myself, and what I can do. Help me see that the battle is Yours. And You can conquer all Your enemies! You will attain the victory!

Father, let my fear shrink and my faith grow! Let me look beyond myself to all You can do in and through me. I trust in Your purposefulness and Your preparation. Help me exemplify all this in the next challenge I meet. Amen

I Samuel 17:1-58

May 10 The best Father

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O Father, how many times have I behaved like the Israelites here, and asked for something so I could be like everyone else? Instead of trusting Your will and the plan You had for me, I settled for what You allowed because I asked for it.

So many times the wisdom of the world seems right. It makes sense to the mind. It pleases the eye. It pacifies the emotions. But one can follow logic and still be dead wrong.   A person can feel like things are going well, when they are not. Things can look good, but be rotten to the core. This is proven each time someone is tricked or duped; because we trust our eyes and our logic.

But You, Father, can see the end from the beginning. You have a perspective that I do not.

I protect my child when I prevent them from a danger I can see that they cannot. To them, it may feel like I am restricting them, not protecting them.   Hopefully as they grow, they trust my judgment until they can see the dangers for themselves.

And sometimes, I need to let them make their own choices, even if they are unwise, in order to learn for themselves. For instance, when you eat a tube of raw cookie dough, there are unpleasant consequences, even though it tastes really good during the eating part.

Though I like to think of myself as independent and smart enough to make wise decisions, I have learned that simply lining up pros and cons and judging by worldly standards is not the only or the best method. I have access to the God who created the universe! You have wisdom I could never in a million years attain.   And praises to You, You are willing to share it with me!

Father, when I want something, let me examine my motive. Help me discern what is best from Your perspective. Give me godly understanding that surpasses the world’s view. And help me accept that wisdom if it turns out that what I think I want is not the right thing. Help me wait for the best thing. Teach me to be wise. Amen

I Samuel 8:1-22

Mar 25 Help me see

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Lord thank You for these pictures in scripture about the ability to see truth for what it is and to understand the meaning behind being a follower of Christ.

 

Your first picture reminds me that although a blind person who cannot see can help another blind person, there are blocks they will both stumble over due to their lack of vision. Yet, how many times have I relied on the advice and guidance of another person, who is ‘in the dark’ as much as I am when it comes to seeing things from Your perspective? Rather than coming to You, I seek help from another ‘blind’ person who is in no better spiritual position than I am.

Interesting that Your next ‘illustration’ has to do with vision too. Contrasting when I go to another for help, this next one shows that when I try and ‘help’ someone else by fixing a problem I see in their life. There’s a good chance I have bigger problems in my own life that should be a priority for my attention. Only after my own bigger problems are dealt with can I see well enough to be of help to anyone else, should they ask.

In both these examples, my own lack of vision blinds me to the truth. I need to remember to look to You for guidance, answers and perspective on issues in my life. And before I look too closely at a friend’s life and shortcomings, I need to examine myself. And then, again, seek Your help in correcting the issues I find there.

Another example You give has to do with how I act on what You tell me when I turn to You for the ‘vision’ I lack. It is not enough to simply call on You for guidance. It is also imperative that I listen for Your response and do what You say! Otherwise, all I do is based on my own, unreliable, limited understanding and will fold in on me like a house built with no foundation.

Father, I desire to obey You so my efforts won’t be wasted; so what I do has a firm foundation, and will stand solid against any difficulty or challenge that comes. And the challenges will come. You are the solid foundation I can put my trust in and gain confidence from. Open my eyes of understanding. Do not let me turn to other blind people, but to the One who made my eyes and gives me sight.

And I will be glad and rejoice with You; happy and joyful! Amen

Luke 6:39-49

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 12 God is with us

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“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you”

How many times, O Lord, have I seen You sustain me during times of stress and trouble? You have proven Yourself reliable over and over again.

Sometimes when I cast my cares on You, You actually change my circumstances, so the cause of my worry disappears. That is always appreciated, and often the solution I am seeking. But there are many other ways You ‘sustain’ me!

At times You don’t change the circumstances, but You change my perspective. You allow me to see things from a different view. It’s like when a toddler runs to their mother and is picked up and held in her arms. The child can see from a higher, safer perspective than from the height of a child.   Looking down from that height, the bad things don’t look so big and overwhelming.

Another way You sustain me is by simply being with me. Maybe the circumstances don’t change, and my perspective is the same; but the fact that You are near me, encouraging me, comforting me, reminding me that You are in control and that I can trust You, is what gets me through the hard time.

Sometimes You distract me with a blessing in one part of my life that so outweighs the rest, the worry fades in significance. Sometimes You teach me to choose my battles, and show me that in relation to the bigger picture, I can let go of this worry.

At other times You impress upon me the lessons I’m learning in dealing with the hardship actually outweigh the difficulty in getting through it. And still other times You create a surprise ending through the struggle that works out even better than I could have ever imagined!

It is still not easy when challenges and troubles come. Truth be told, I’d prefer to avoid them altogether. But You have shown me that You can work good out of anything when I trust You. I know that no matter what, You will sustain me.

YOU – the all-mighty, all-knowing Creator God, who has the power and resources of the universe at His disposal, will sustain me.

You WILL – a certainty because of Your faithfulness to Your promises and Your unchangeable character and Your unfailing love for me, sustain me.

You will SUSTAIN – keep, preserve, defend, support and encourage, zealously guard and treasure, me

You will sustain ME – Your child, Your servant, one who loves and worships and believes in and trusts in You.

YOU WILL SUSTAIN ME! And I will praise You! Thank You. Amen

Psalm 55:22

Feb 4 Eternal Priorities

Three words I never want to hear: “Woe to you”. With these words You gave warning to the Pharisees and called them into account for their actions and deeds. Even now, it’s so easy to say “I would never be like them!” I do not want to follow in their footsteps, like judging others while projecting seeming innocence. So correct me if You see in me what You saw in them.

They had their priorities backwards, saying the gold was more valuable than the temple it was in, and the sacrifice more valuable than the altar it was offered on. Help me make and keep my priorities straight. Help me understand the true value of things as they are in Your economy so I do not elevate the profane and dishonor the holy.   Many of the things the world places value on are not truly valuable. The world sees from a limited , short-term perspective and often places more significance on the created thing, than the Creator Himself.   Help me see things for their eternal value.

I love Your humor when You say they “strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” Teach me to see the bigger picture and focus on the important things and not be legalistic over the smaller insignificant ones. I can get so carried away with the urgent that sometimes I don’t make time for the important things.   Show me how to spend my energy and time on what is significant.

You paint a striking picture when You describe a cup: clean on the outside but dirty on the inside; or a whitewashed tomb, clean on the outside but full of death on the inside. You see not only the outward appearance, but see into man’s heart to know him. Let me be as concerned with being pure and clean on the inside as I am with being presentable on the outside.  Help me be authentic and transparent; so my walk agrees with my talk. Let me put as much time into developing my character as my wardrobe.

I desire to be all You have created me to be. But it is so easy to follow the way of the world and look for the easy way – to make a big deal over what the world says is a big deal. I know that most of the world does not seek You to worship You or follow You. Broad is the path that leads to destruction. Help me find that narrow way, and stay on that path: the one that brings joy and not woe. Amen

Matthew 23:13-39; Matthew 7:13

Jan 21 It’s all perspective

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

Your servant John the Baptist lived as a righteous man. He was a believer and taught of Your kingdom. He even baptized Jesus! He was a great part of Your plan; yet he was beheaded by an unrighteous, evil, manipulative man. In our human understanding of ‘fairness’ that seems so wrong.

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

So can I still pray for things to work here out here on earth, in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones? Yes. And can I ask in faith, believing, and not doubting? Absolutely!

But I must remember that You answer prayer from a greater perspective. My sight and my ability to see “the solution” are very limited. Even in my own life, I have prayed and You have answered in ways far better than anything I had asked for, or could have even imagined.

And can I trust Your answer? Without a doubt!

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

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

Matthew 14:1-12; Psalm 18:30

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

Dear Father, it seems I am a wrestler. Jacob wrestled with You one night. He held on till daybreak, and You blessed him. In Your blessing, he became part of the promise You gave to Abram: to make him father of a great nation, make his name great, and bless all the earth through him. For Jacob (renamed Israel) was Abram’s (renamed Abraham’s) grandson. And down through their lineage, You came as Jesus Christ, Messiah and Savior, blessing all the world.

My wrestling is not so productive as Jacob’s.

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

So Father, help me seek Your godly wisdom in my decisions. Help me bring every choice to You and ask for Your perspective. You tell believers to ask when we need wisdom, and You will give it to us. Show me how to hear Your voice of truth and then have peace about the decision when made, without revisiting it over and over.

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

Most of my life I was the one who literally left, moved to a different place. I never really learned how to move on from being close to someone. How do I say good bye when there is no geographical separation? But hanging on too long isn’t working out either. Move me into and out of the relationships You want me to have, so that I can give and receive the blessings You intended for each of us.

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

Father, as I wrestle with all these things, let me take hold of and cling to only You. Pry my fingers off of the things that are not important. And bless me as I cling forever to You. Amen

Genesis 32:22-30

Jan 6 Choices

Father, thank You for showing real life examples that teach me how to make choices.

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Lot looked with his physical eyes only to make his choice to move to the well watered land to the east. It did not work out well for him. Keep me from rushing headlong into decisions based only on what I think I see with my physical eyes. Or on what my flesh leads me to from misguided appetites.

Instead, teach me to see with Your eyes, from Your perspective; looking beyond the immediate appearance of reward. Help me think through and pray through decisions. Especially when they also involve my family, work, relationships, where and how to live.

Help me weigh the consequences and let me ask, ‘Will this draw me closer to God or take me further away?’. And as I move forward, let me be ever mindful of Your voice, trusting that You will guide and protect me.

If my choices go wrong, help me recognize the sinfulness around me, and separate myself from it. Don’t let me tolerate evil or go along with it. Precept has taught me: “sin will: take me farther than I ever meant to stray, keep me longer than I ever meant to stay, and cost me more that I ever meant to pay. “

Thank You for Abram’s example. He heard Your voice and obeyed, moving even before he had the whole picture and simply started off for the land You would show him. Let me also be obedient without insisting on having it all laid out before me.

Help me act in faith when You call. Help me believe and trust in Your promises. Even when You do not act according to my expected or desired time table. Even when it seems like things are not going the way I have prayed they would. Even when it seems worse than at the beginning. Even when I cannot see You at work.

I know that Your thoughts are not my thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. You have the advantage of infinite wisdom over infinite time and infinite sovereignty with infinite power.

Thank You for teaching me through example after example, that I can trust that You always keep Your promises. You are Almighty God. And I worship You alone. Amen

Genesis 13:5-15:6; Isaiah 55:8

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s perspective

road-sign-940630_640 (1)Father, help me “consider it pure joy whenever [I] face trials of many kinds”.   Even though I know You tell me that these trials produce good things in my life: “perseverance”, making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything”; I do not always rejoice when difficulties come my way. And I don’t feel like I am being made “complete”. I often feel just the opposite, as if I am being broken down.

Father, give me Your perspective on these events and circumstances when they happen.   Let my first thoughts be to come to You to ask for what I need. Often what I need is wisdom. So remind me to “ask You, who gives generously to all without finding fault”.   Help me recognize Your wisdom when I hear it. And then be bold enough to act on what You tell me.

Lord, I want to persevere under trials because You say I will receive a blessing when I endure. Part of that blessing comes simply from my turning to You.   By being in relationship with You, hearing from You, and seeing Your deliverance, whatever that looks like. Thank You Father, for the times You have been there for me in the past. It builds my faith in Your ability and in Your desire to help me in the future.

I can identify with the Psalmist, who says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” Like the Psalmist, I have felt “overcome by trouble and sorrow”. There have been times when I did not see a way that anything good could come from my situation. But You, who are “gracious and righteous…and full of compassion” saved me, delivered me, showed me a way to redeem the situation. And usually it was in the most unique way, that no one else I had gone to had thought of.

How can I thank You? “How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?” I cannot ever repay the debt I owe You, Father. But I can sing my praises to You. I can tell others of Your great goodness. I can tell others of Your faithfulness to me. I can live joyfully in Your deliverance, and live faithfully as Your servant.

No matter what happens, I will rest in You. I will rejoice in You. I will live my life to bring glory to Your name. Amen

James 1:1-8; Psalm 116:1-19

Nov 7 New Covenant for Eternity

dawn eternityFather, even with the detestable ways Your people sinned; so much so that You compared them to an adulterous, unfaithful wife; You promised them restoration. You made a way of atonement for them. Not as we might see the restoration of an individual from one day to the next, but as a people, Your people. You are so much more long-sighted than we humans are. We can barely see to the next day, but You look throughout eternity and see things from a different perspective.

Paul saw this new covenant. What You gave Your people in the wilderness was a shadow of what was to come. You showed them how to approach You in the Tabernacle – only through the earthly High Priest who was born into the line of Aaron, and who offered blood sacrifices. What Paul saw, and what I have as a believer, is a new High Priest! You!

With a shadow, something real has to cast that shadow. The reality of what made the shadow of the old covenant, is when You, Yourself became my High Priest when You walked the earth as the Lord Jesus Christ, and made atonement for my sin with Your perfect blood sacrifice!

Paul quotes Jeremiah, saying “The days are coming…when I will make a new covenant…I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people”. It hasn’t happened for all of Israel yet, but it has happened for me! I have You in me, as the Holy Spirit.

Thank You Father, that I am in You, and that I have You in me! Thank You for putting Your law in my mind – for bringing Your Word to me – for placing me in a country and at a time when I can read and study Your Word freely and openly. Thank You that I was born to parents who worshipped You and gave me that example of worshipping and serving You.

Thank You Father, that You are in heaven now, on Your throne – in the true Tabernacle. I long for the day when I will see You in all Your glory. When every knee will bow and all will know that You are Lord. And I will praise You forever! Amen

Ezekiel 16:42-63; Hebrews 8:1-13

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

“Shout for joy…Worship with gladness…Come before Him with joyful songs…Enter …with thanksgiving.”

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Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father. And some days it is easy. When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings. But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship. It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for. And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things. When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness. When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help. When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work. Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that. I rejoice that You are my God! That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in! I thank You that You have given me friends. And that I can pray with them and for them. I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by. Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it. Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home. Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I thank You and praise You that You have made me a “sheep of Your pasture”. As Your sheep, I can ask for my Shepherd’s help for my home issues, for my family, for my friends, and for any in need due to natural disasters or violence. I praise You that Your power supersedes any other. And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You. I can still worship with gladness and have joy! Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 5 I look to You

anthony-tori-120173.jpgFather, how like Your people of old, is my country now. 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 do 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

May 15 Faith like David

painting-david-and-goliath(picture by Malcolm Gladwell)

Father, let my faith be like that of David.

As a child I learned of the battle of David and Goliath. I have seen it reenacted in pictures, on felt boards with paper figures, in Claymation, live with children or adults in costume, and in movies about the Bible. I think most people know of it as it has been referenced in many tv shows, movies, and news stories to describe any underdog fighting an overwhelmingly huge giant, whether in sports or business, countries or individuals.

In three main ways, I ask that You would grow my faith to be like David’s.

1 – He was able to look beyond himself . He did not just take Goliath as a personal threat the way the soldiers did, but recognized someone in defiance of You. Like most people, I interpret things in light of how they affect me, or my family. That limits the scope of the solutions I can perceive. It puts the focus on me to find a solution that I can perform. David saw an affront to You, making it Your battle. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

2 – He trusted that You had already prepared him for the battle. “When a lion or bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it, and killed it.”

And because of that, was able to turn from pressure to do what others suggested – the armor, helmet and sword.   I trust that You have already brought circumstances into my life to teach me how to deal with things. And that this has prepared me for what is to come. You have already intentionally, purposefully, given me spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences to make me who I am. Help me use those things instead of feeling like I have to conform to what others expect of me. Give me confidence in Your preparation for whatever battle confronts me.

3 – He voiced confidence in You and gave You the glory for the victory even before it happened! “…but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty.   This day the Lord will hand you over to me…and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”   My confidence is not always so certain. Sometimes I even try and do things with as little notice as possible, so if I fail, it won’t reflect badly on You.  This is another way I focus on myself, and what I can do. Help me see that the battle is Yours. And You can conquer all Your enemies! You will attain the victory!

Father, let my fear shrink and my faith grow! Let me look beyond myself to all You can do in and through me. I trust in Your purposefulness and Your preparation. Help me exemplify all this in the next challenge I meet. Amen

I Samuel 17:1-58

Jan 21 It’s all perspective

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Holy Father, Your will often puzzles me. I cannot see from Your perspective or understand the effects of actions looking forward into the future. Your servant John the Baptist lived as a righteous man. He was a believer and taught of Your kingdom. He even baptized Jesus! He was a great part of Your plan; yet he was beheaded by an unrighteous, evil, manipulative man. In our human understanding of ‘fairness’ that seems so wrong.

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

So can I still pray for things to work here out here on earth, in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones? Yes. And can I ask in faith, believing, and not doubting? Absolutely!

But I must remember that You answer prayer from a greater perspective. My sight and my ability to see ‘the solution’ are very limited. Even in my own life, I have prayed and You have answered in ways far better than anything I had asked for, or could have even imagined.

And can I trust Your answer? Without a doubt! Even if I can’t understand the ‘why’ of it at the time. I know that Your love for me is great. And You are trustworthy. And Your sense of mercy and justice are right.

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

Matthew 14:1-12; Psalm 18:30a

Jan 16 Wrestling

wrestlers

Dear Father, I seem to be a wrestler. Jacob wrestled with You one night. He held on till daybreak, and You blessed him. In Your blessing him, he became part of the promise You gave to Abram: to make him father of a great nation, make his name great, and bless all the earth through him. For Jacob (renamed Israel) was Abram’s (renamed Abraham’s) grandson. And down through their lineage, You came as Jesus Christ, Messiah and Savior, blessing all the world.

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

So Father, help me seek Your godly wisdom in my decisions. Help me bring every choice to You and ask for Your perspective. You tell believers to ask when we need wisdom, and You will give it to us. Show me how to hear Your voice of truth and then have peace about the decision when made, without revisiting it over and over.

Rather than continue to wrestle with relationships, Lord, I give them to You. Show me how to spend my time and energy, and who to spend it with. Beginnings and endings are hard for me, and I know sometimes You bring a person into my life for a season. But I struggle when that season is over, to know how to let go. Most of my life I was the one who literally left, moved to a different place. I never really learned how to move on from being close to someone. How do I say good bye when there is no geographical separation? But hanging on too long isn’t working out either. Move me into and out of the relationships You want me to have, so that I can give and receive the blessings You intended for each of us.

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

Father, as I wrestle with all these things, let me take hold of and cling to only You. Pry my fingers off of the things that are not important. And bless me as I cling forever to You. Amen

Genesis 32:22-30