Tag: praise

Nov 13 I am in Awe of You

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Father, the city and leaders and people of Tyre had every possible advantage to bring them a reputation in material and worldly success.  Yet, they fell.

They took pride in their commerce and accomplishments and that pride kept them from worshipping You.  They saw themselves as gods.  And Your judgment fell on them.

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

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

I love seeing pictures of majestic waterfalls, lush green jungles with brightly colored birds, schools of shiny fish swimming in the sea, brilliant flowers, water-colored sunsets.  All this is just a part of what You do.

Besides creating and sustaining all this, You have created the intricacies of each human body: from the tiniest of cells to the immense diversity of faces and fingerprints!

And not just bodies, but You know the mind and spirit of each individual on the planet.   You’re indescribable – uncontainable – unfathomable!  You blow my mind!

And a wondrous part of who You are is that You do not just set all this in motion and then sit back to see where it goes. You involve Yourself in the life of each of Your precious creations.   You speak, protect, provide, lead, feed, forgive, save.  And all that You do is just and right.

You have provided these later generations with Your written Word.   It teaches Your truth and Your character so all can know You, and Your faithfulness, Your uprightness and Your salvation.

You say “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”   The Hebrew word “yare” translated as “fear” here, is used in this sentence referring to a person in an exalted position: You.  Thus, the meaning includes a reverence, a standing in awe, whereby the individual recognizes the power and position, and renders the proper respect.

Father, I acknowledge Your power, Your sovereignty; and give You all honor and praise!  Let me continue to grow in wisdom.

How great and awesome You are!  “To You belongs eternal praise.”  Amen

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

Oct 29 In Pain, Praise, and Prophecy Fulfilled

Father, as the first two chapters of Lamentations are acrostic poems, each new verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alephbet.   What an interesting and challenging way for Jeremiah to organize his thoughts!

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I believe Your Word, Father.  I believe there will be a time of reckoning.  And then, there will be enough of Your justice to fill volumes of alphabetical lamentations; when people realize the righteousness of Your judgment.

Maranatha!  Translation: Come Lord Jesus!  Amen

Lamentations 1:1-2:22

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

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

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.

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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 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

Sept 29 Remember and Praise!

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Father, You looked down on the people You created, and what a disappointment! You saw them in their “sinful greed” and “willful ways.”

Even when they sought You with fasting, it was not in earnest.  And was not acceptable to You.  You told them how to behave to be blessed.  Yet they still did not respond as You had instructed.

Their sin separated them from You.  And so You achieved salvation for them by Yourself.   “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says The Lord.  My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips…from this time on and forever, says The Lord.”

Father, I wonder how I disappoint You when You look at me.  I so often think of my own needs and wants before others, and I want things my own way.  That sounds a lot like “sinful greed” and “willful ways.”  But because I am Yours, I have Your Spirit in me, and I have Your Word.  The Scriptures tell me how to live, and the Spirit prompts me in the right direction, even when I stray.  I am thankful that You do not give up on me.

You have been with me since my youth, giving me hope and confidence; helping me when I needed help, rescuing me when I needed saving.  Now, “deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.”

As I face things that seek to pull me away from the path of righteousness, my emotions are strained, my good intentions eroded, and my character taxed.   But I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

It is You, Father, Your power that will work in me and through me to enable me to achieve all You have purposed for me.  So rather than focus on my troubles, I chose to focus on You!  I believe Your Word and I trust Your Spirit.

Father, even now, help me remember Your faithfulness to me.  Help me recall the times when You interceded to protect me, when You made a way of escape for me, when You stayed with me in the hard times and got me through them with a vision or a song or an answer to prayer.

As I remember them one by one, I will sing and give You praise!  I will recall and tell others of Your greatness, and Your goodness to me.

Thank You that You are “my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.”   Thank You that “You are my strong refuge.”

Thank You for these Words You sent me through David.  I can almost use them word for word to praise You.  They so elegantly voice the praise and thanks I want to express.  Thank You that You are my God.  Amen

Isaiah 57:15-59:21; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 71: 1-24

 

Sept 24 Strengthen me

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

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So Father, would You strengthen me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 3:16-21

Sept 13 Even in trials

quote-2093509_640Father, whenever I experience trouble let me be like David is here.  He is being hunted for his life, yet his words vacillate between his trouble, his faith in You, and praise for You.  He has not forgotten the trial, but his focus is more on You than it.

Lord, there are times when I too cry out for Your mercy and “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.”  There, I know I am safe from any and every trouble that befalls me.  You cover me from any danger with Your wings that offer complete and absolute protection.  I know I can trust in Your limitless strength and care.

Father, You already know the difficulties I face right now.  You see everything.  No one is out to kill me as was David’s case.  But I face problems just living with people because we are all so imperfect and hard to get along with.  I face trials that come with change.  Even when it is a good thing, it can be difficult to cope with change.

I have internal struggles: feelings that war within me against what I know is right and just.  And I deal with unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes.  Some struggles are more upsetting because they are far beyond my ability to affect, like what’s happening in my nation or the world.

But all these things are in Your hands.  None of them are beyond your help and influence.  No matter the enemy, no matter the plot they have set against me, ”my heart is steadfast” in You.  So like David, I can pray.  “I will sing and make music” and praise You.

I praise You that there is no other power above You.  I praise You for being Sovereign in all things.  I praise You that nothing can thwart the plans You have made for me or anyone else.

Father, You are the Lord Most High.  There is nothing that can outdo, out power or outlast You.  There is no one as faithful as You.  So I choose to put my focus on You.  I praise and thank You with every breath I take.

I choose to breathe in Your peace, Your comfort, Your wisdom, Your love.  And I breathe out praises and thanks to the One: Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Glory, Highly Exalted, my God and my King.  Amen

Psalm 57:1-11

Aug 26 God of all comfort

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

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

Sometimes it happens immediately.  Sometimes, it may be years before I come across someone who is hurting over something I’ve experienced myself.  You remind me of how You helped me through it, and I can help them.  Or vice versa.

Our past hurts help us reach out and genuinely connect with other people.  It’s hard to imagine, but sometimes those places of pain provide a more significant connection than any other experience we have in common.

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 1:1-11

Aug 21 Blessed be Your Name

wooden-2562242_640Father, I have often wondered why You singled out Job and allowed so much suffering to come into one life.  How tragic, and yet how strong was his faith in You.  It stood up to all satan threw at him.  He did not curse You, but responded with those famous words: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; may the name of the lord be praised.”

What a testimony that he could still praise You in the face of all the tragedy and suffering!   I would not want Job’s misfortunes.  When much less has happened to me, I have heard my own thoughts turn to thinking it would have been better had I never been born.

It makes me wonder, have I made comfort and ease idols?

Father, my life is so blessed.  With so much.  And I take so much of it for granted.  Help me be more thankful to You for all You have given me.  Help me have an “attitude of gratitude” in my daily life.

Remind me to express my thanks to others, and my praise to You.  Gratitude and thankfulness are signs of my faith.  In this I do want to be more like Job.

There is a praise song by Matt Redman that expresses just this thought:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

And blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Father, let that describe me.  Amen

Job 1:1-2:13

Aug 6 I sing – for thanks, hope and help

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Father, “To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me.  For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”    They have no hope.  And see no chance for rescue.

Lord, my life seems easy enough.  I have what I need to get from day to day. I have food to eat and clothes to wear.  I have more freedoms than most people in the world.  And a safe place to live with family and friends who care about me.

But when I think about some of the people I love, there is pain.  There are those I don’t believe know You, and it grieves my heart.

So here is where “I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place.  Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help.”  Father when I think of mistakes I’ve made with people who I love, I am filled with remorse.  I cannot go back and “undo” what I have done.  And I wonder and worry if anything I did or said, set them on a path away from You.

O Father, forgive me.  If there is a way I can make it right, show me.  Take away this guilt I live with, and replace it with something from You that will heal and help them.  Show me how to say, what to say, when to say; or what to do to unravel any knots I may have been part of in their lives.

Soften their hearts to Your truth, and to Yourself, and to the call of the Holy Spirit.   Turn them away from the darkness they live in, some without even realizing it.  Bring them into the light of Your love.

Father, this is the deepest desire of my heart: that those who You have entrusted to me as family and friends, will all know You as Savior, and be together in heaven with You and with me.

It is something only You can do.  Only You call.  And only You save.

And I will sing: “Praise to the Lord!  For He has heard my cry for mercy!  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks in song”.   Amen

Psalm 28:1-9

Jul 2 Teach me to number my days aright

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Father, You sent word through Isaiah that Hezekiah would die.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 4 My All

Father, I am not free of sin like David in this song.  I have not been obedient to all Your laws or kept all Your ways.  And yet, I have Your righteousness.  You cover me with the blood You shed at Calvary, giving me the status of being righteous in Your sight.

cross-1177327_640With this status, You are my lamp, turning the darkness around me into light so I can see and not be afraid.

You help me fight against the enemy and allow me to scale walls.

You become my shield and my refuge.

You arm me with strength, enable me and train me for the conflicts that come so I can stand firm.

I can say with David, “You give me Your shield of victory, You stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn.”  You provide all this care I do not deserve.

So I will lift up Your name.  I will give You the praise of my lips and the worship of my voice.  You are my Savior, my Deliverer, my Redeemer.  You are the Rock upon which my faith is built.  I trust in You.  Thank You.   Amen

2 Samuel 22:21-51

May 17 How do I praise?

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Psalm 113 uses the word “praise” five times in three verses.  It must be important.  And yet not one I use much in everyday conversation.

 

Yet PRAISE is one very significant way I demonstrate that You are a part of my life.  I give honor, worship, adoration to You, God in recognition of who You are, and in gratitude and thanks for what You have done.

I like to use acrostics to help me remember things.  To help me make PRAISE an intentional, doable action  – I see PRAISE as

Putting

Real

Adoration

Into

Situations

Every day

To me that means:

Putting:  I intentionally and on purpose – do something

The groceries and the dishes don’t get put away unless someone does it.  It’s the same with Praise –it doesn’t just happen, someone has to do it.

Real:  in a genuine and sincere way, honest – not forced, not hurried

I take time to literally communicate to You.  Sometimes it’s by words, a statement or a prayer, sometimes I write it down in a letter or journal, or I might write a poem, or song – I might sing it!  Or just take a walk, taking a moment to speak to You in my heart.

Adoration:  my appreciation, thanks, gratitude, even simple acknowledgment of who You are and what You’re doing, and have the power to do.

I hardly ever take a drive, that I don’t notice the mountains, or the sky or sunset.  But I don’t say “Wow, Mother nature is something!”  No, I thank You as the Creator of it all for giving me such a beautiful world to live in and look at!

Into Situations:  into the middle of whatever circumstances come my way: good or bad, deserved or unfair, difficult and trying or pleasant and joyful.

So if I see my child being awesome, I thank You for making me a mother!  Or I pass a car accident, and ask You to help the people involved and strengthen the ones giving assistance, and then I thank You for protecting me from dangers, and all the accidents You have kept me from that never happened.

Every day:  on a daily basis.  I don’t wait for a holiday or Sunday to come around, but praise You spontaneously!

As things happen, thanks and appreciation is voiced.  It may sound silly or awkward at first, but the more I do it, it just becomes a way of life.

So P-R-A-I-S-E, Putting Real Adoration Into Situations Every day means:

Intentionally, genuinely and sincerely, take time to communicate to You, my appreciation, thanks and gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way on a daily basis.

Father, help me remember to fill my life with praise for You!  Amen

Psalm 113:1-3

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

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Father, I pray the words of this Psalm for myself, and my loved ones.

I give You praise!

Blessed am I because I fear You – have an earnest respect for You – and delight in knowing and obeying Your commands.  May my children be mighty in the futures You have promised them.  May they live uprightly so their generation will be blessed.

Thank You that I possess wealth and riches.  Perhaps not as the world recognizes wealth and riches, but as You count them.   And thank You that Your righteousness remains with me forever.

Even in the dark times, let me live in Your light as You give me grace and compassion to deal with whatever comes.  Let goodness pour into my life.  And let me generously pass that goodness on to others.  I will seek Your justice in conducting my affairs and act in accordance.

As I have planted my faith in You, I will never be shaken.  The world will not make me fall apart.  Keep my heart strong even in the face of bad news, so I will not fear.  And draw me ever closer to You, who I trust completely.

Because I know that You win in the end, my heart and mind are secure.  I know that at the end of the age, when You return, all Your foes will be vanquished, and I will look triumphantly on those enemies.

I will send my service and prayers and financial support to the poor, here and around the world.  Let Your righteousness done through me be remembered forever.  And my family be remembered honorably.  Amen

Psalm 112:1-9

Apr 24 God’s Protection

“Simon, Simon, satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail.”

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Father, this reminds me that although satan seems to have power on this earth, his power is temporary and limited.

He must ask permission to have access to even one of Your children.

So I can know, if there is oppression in my life from the evil one, (which I have not invited) that it is limited, and that it has first been filtered through Your fingers of love.  And that You, Jesus, are interceding, praying for my faith to be strong and sufficient, so I will not fail.

To do my part, I will praise Your name and Your character.  I will sing and make music, proclaiming Your love and faithfulness.  Your godly ability to be with me wherever I go and at all times has been a comfort so often.  Knowing that You will never leave me and that Your love is everlasting has brought me through difficult times.

I will remember Your deeds in my life and the lives of others.  The peace You have given me in times of stress and hardship have defied understanding.  You have calmed me down when circumstances were not calm.   You have shown me wisdom when I could not think of a solution.   You have encouraged me with visions that brought understanding and reassurance when I was afraid.

You have the power to create a universe and destroy it.  The beauty of Your imagination is seen in every sunrise and sunset.   The deafening crash of the waves is like a whisper of Your voice.

You are exalted, lifted up forever.  And yet, You bend down to me.

Even in Your unlimited power, You are gentle with me.   You nourish me to become like a strong palm or a tall cedar.

O Lord, let me flourish in Your court.  Let me still bear fruit in my old age; maintaining my knowledge and memory of You so that I may always proclaim that You are My Rock.  My Fortress,  My Deliverer.  My Salvation.  My God.  Amen

Luke 22:31-32; Psalm 92:1-93:5

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

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“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life.  Father, I devote that life to You.  You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

Lord, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now.  Things that I cannot see, and have no evidence will ever happen.  I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar.

First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him and persisted asking for Your help.

So when I have a need, let me come straight to You; confident that You have the desire and the power to help.  And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked what he wanted, he knew exactly.  Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, as You answered the beggar’s, let other people see it and praise You!

Lord, as I bring my requests to You, I come praising You with all my heart.  I praise You that when I am under attack I can ask for Your strength.  I appreciate that sense of Your presence when I feel discouraged.

I exalt You for teaching me truth from Your Word and showing me how to apply it to my life; thus increasing my faith.  I glorify Your name as You guide me in Your wisdom, and give me discernment.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble.  I know You will answer me.  For all this and more, I thank You Lord.  Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

Apr 15 Let me be the one

Only one in ten came back to thank You, Jesus, for a healing that was a complete miracle.

colorful-1191076_640These men had become outcasts in their society.  They stood at a distance and shouted “unclean” because that’s what they were required to do by law.  A person with leprosy was called ”untouchable” and could not approach another person; but had to keep their distance from uninfected people

Leprosy was a disease that progressed once you were infected, so there was really no hope of ever being “cured” or being able to participate in society again.  Family, loved ones, friends, all were relinquished, as these lepers were put out into communities of their own.

They would never again be able to hold their child, kiss their beloved, shake hands with a friend, or give a warm embrace to a family member.   This disease brought a new, cruel way of living to those cursed by it.

So for this disease process to be cured, reversed, was an absolute miracle!

For those ten men to once again enter society and be able to touch and be touched, changed every aspect of their lives completely.

I wonder then, why did only one turn and express his thanks?

Were the other nine being obedient – going first to show the priest as You told them?    Did they intend to come back later?  Were they unsure the healing was real?  Were they so filled with joy at the prospect of all it meant to be healed, that they forgot You, their Healer?

You point out that the one who returned was a foreigner.  Perhaps that one did not feel worthy of a Jewish healing from a Jewish Master?  Perhaps the others felt deserving of what they received?

I don’t know.  But it does speak to my heart of how often I too, forget to thank You.

I take for granted so many things until I am reminded like this.  Or until I see someone who is worse off than me, or has bigger problems.  Or until I lose something, and realize I wasn’t really grateful while I had it.

Father, help me begin every day with thanks and praise to You – for life, for breath, for energy to rise, for clothes to wear, food to eat, clear thinking to reason with, a home, transportation, loved ones, hope, faith, love in my life.  Help me express my gratitude and thank You in word, in song, in praise, in the way I treat others, for the trials and the blessings in my life!

Let me always be like the one.  Amen

Luke 17:11-19

Apr 13 God’s plan – not mine

keep-calm-and-stick-to-the-plan-2Lord God, once again You show that You have a plan and are willing to include man in it.  You gave specific details of what Joshua was to do in order to gain Your victory.

First, though, the Israelites had to purge the sin from within their midst.  It is the same for me.  I cannot ask You for victory when I am harboring sin.

Then You told them “do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  It would have been easy to dwell on their last failure and be fainthearted in the presence of the same enemy who had routed them before.

When I have tried to do something in my own strength, and failed, it is hard to get up and try again without fearing the same disastrous result.

Next they had to follow Your plan exactly, to Your specifications and in Your timing.  That can be hard as well.

So often I second-guess You by trying to come up with my own plan.  There are ways that seem to make sense to man, but do not often yield the desired result.  So I must be willing to give up the direction my own thoughts lead me and be obedient to what You tell me.

Last, they enjoy the victory, giving thanks and credit to You.  They collected the spoil but went right to building an altar for offering sacrifices, acknowledging that You are the One who gave the victory.  Every person involved was present and attentive to Your words, being reminded of the blessings and the curses You promised.

When things go well, it’s easy to sit back and take the credit, not including You until I need You again.

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But it is vital I recognize that the victories in my life come from You.  I am learning how to give credit to You without sounding false or insincere.  And it strengthens me to know You are involved in my life.

What was the result of this successfully executed plan?  Even more kings came together to make war against them!

Sometimes the battles we face, challenging as they may be, are simply preparation for bigger battles to follow!   But we can know that having done well will lay the groundwork for the next success.

Victory is ours when the battle is the Lord’s!  Amen.

Joshua 7:16-9:2

Apr 1 Envy to Praise!

car-160343_640Sometimes it is hard to be in this world, Lord.

There are times I look around and it sure seems like the evil, immoral, prideful, arrogant people are prospering.  They seem to have lives of ease and problems that are fixed by money and power.  It is hard not to be envious when I see their beautiful bodies, homes and cars and it seems every need they have is met.

You are so good to me!  In 1990 You gave me a song to sing when I feel this way.  It always lifts my spirit.  And reminds me that You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!

Has a Reggae – Calypso kind of 4/4 feel…

Some times I look at my life, I don’t like what I see:

I’m not rich, I’m not famous – my glass is lookin’ half empty!

I don’t live in a mansion, I don’t drive a brand new car

Sometimes I look at the rich and want to be where they are!

 

Then I look at my Savior, and what He’s given to me:

Gave me love, gave me salvation, He gave me life eter-nally

He has to-tally cleansed me and washed me white as snow

And He taught me a very good lesson “Man does not – live by bread alone”

 

Chorus:

Je-sus  Je-e-sus  You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

 

Some people think that their life is just for collecting toys

They stockpile cars, boats and money and hope it will bring them joy but

That’s not the reason for livin’  No that’s not why He came

Jesus died, is now glorified and we can call on His name

 

Chorus

 

Now I look at my life – I’m happy with what I see

I’ve got peace, I’ve got contentment – My Lord Jehovah cares for me

I got a mansion in Heaven I know one day I’ll see

And I know my cup overflows with blessing poured out on me – from

fernando-brasil-103271Je-sus  Je-e-sus  You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

Amen

Psalm 73:1-28

Mar 27 Not by bread alone…

Lord, today’s scripture passages are so rich, it is hard to chose one area of prayer focus.  In these verses You are instructive, encouraging, and even give warnings.  All are important.  But the ones that speak to me the most, remind me of how You care for me and how I should behave in response to that care and commitment.

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I am holy to You, Lord.  That doesn’t mean I am perfect, but that I am set apart for You. And for Your purposes.

Like the Israelites, I have value because of who I am in Your eyes.  You did not set Your affection on me because I am the biggest, or best.  There is nothing I could have done to make You love me.  But You chose me.

You delivered the Israelites from slavery.  Because You love me, You promise to deliver me with a mighty hand from this world and its distressing values.  

You have provided for me in the past when I needed help, encouragement, and provision.  Although You provided physical sustenance for me, You have also taught me that there is more.

So I do not live on “bread” alone.  But my relationship with You and Your Word gives me peace and wholeness.  So I will spend time reading and studying Your Word, and listening for Your voice.

Often, especially in times of need – like the Israelites –  I am drawn to You.  And I need to be sure I give You the credit when You answer and provide. I express my thanks and gratitude in praise, in song, in telling others how You bring me through troubles and trials.

Every good thing I have has come from You.  It is You who make it possible for me to have the life I enjoy, to work and volunteer and help others.

I will pour out myself to honor You.  You have saved me!  From trouble, from trauma, from myself, from circumstances I have gotten myself into, and from eternal death.

You have answered my prayers, come to my rescue, given me hope, forgiven my sin.  I thank You and I praise You!  And I cannot wait to see what’s coming next!  Amen

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

Mar 20 Trust even in the desert

“God, You are my God!  Earnestly I seek You.  [My soul] thirsts for You and my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

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Father, on this earth, in this life, it does so often feel like trudging through a desert with no water in sight.

I have lived in New Mexico on the edge of the desert.  When we drove anywhere, we never left without five gallons of water and provisions to spend the night in case we broke down or had a flat.   Some of the places were so remote we could not count on help coming quickly.   After hearing stories of people perishing, we learned to adapt to the environment and its challenges.

It’s beginning to feel like our country has become a spiritual desert.  Oases of living water, wells of wisdom, pools of purity, have been blown over and filled in with the sands of sin and the dust of depravity.

Truly, even those who call themselves Christians have been seared by the heat of materialism and humanism and tolerance, to the point that they are almost unrecognizable as followers of Christ.  A desert indeed.

But I have seen You at work – in my life – the lives of loved ones.  I have seen You answer prayer.  I have beheld Your power and glory!  And because of this, I will sing praise to You as long as I live.  I will lift up my hands to honor You.  Trying to fall asleep, I will count my blessings.

You satisfy my soul as my stomach is satisfied with the richest of flavors.  The deepest of chocolates!

You have been my help during times of stress, sorrow, helplessness, fear, anger, doubt, and frustration.  And also You have rejoiced with me in times of incomparable joy, happiness, thankfulness, relief, delight, and quiet contentment.

You are like a mother hen that spreads her wings of protection over her chicks.  Like Your child, I run under Your wings and cling to You.

Thank You!  That when I seek You, I find You.  That when I hunger and thirst for You, Your Word fills me up.  That when I cling to You, I am safe and protected.  I give You praise!  Amen

Psalm 63:1-11

Mar 4 Worship! And Stand!

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Clap your hands!  Raise your voice!  Sing hymns and worship songs at the top of your lungs!

Put on a worship music tape and crank up the volume!  Don’t be bashful – show your joy!  God is the One and Only True God who has more power than any person, any force, any thing on this earth!

You, Lord are more powerful than Mother Nature!  You rose from the dead while other proclaimed ”deities” are in their graves!

Your creation of the earth and choosing a people for Yourself has been a best seller ever since there has been a printing press!  It has been translated into 3,223 languages!

I do not live in subject to a king, but Jesus Christ is my King – the King of Kings!  I owe You my praise and will sing out to You.   I will hum quietly, sway and clap, sing in the shower, and with others at gatherings.  I will play any instrument I can, write new songs, sing along with youtube videos that make me cry, and continue to sing through tears!

You reign and rule, but not from an earthly throne in a temple or synagogue or sanctuary.  And not on a mountaintop or in a river or floating on a cloud.

There is a reality that cannot be seen by the human eye and cannot be described completely by human words.  And in that place, is a great throne room, where You are seated on Your Holy throne.

Because I cannot see it, You draw me pictures with parables: a vineyard owner who went on a journey renting out the land.  This is something I can visualize and understand.  Though the owner is not present, he exists, and is still the owner, and is due the income from the land and the respect of the people.

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It is the same with You.  Just because I cannot see You, I should not doubt You are real.  Or think that You will not come for what is Yours.

When the storm comes, and I believe it is coming to this country in my time, and has swept by; O Lord, may I still be standing firm.  Amen

Mark 12:1-12; Psalm 47:1-9; Proverbs 10:25

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You

worship-435108_640

So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord.

In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe.

These were not easy promises to fulfill.  They were quite costly.  Jesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way.  And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.

So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit.  But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition.  You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons as well as Your faithfulness, Your trustworthiness to Your promises, Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, “I will extol You!”

According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You.  I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips.  My soul will boast in You!“

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen.

I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations.  I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain.

I will let them know that You are in the business of revealing wisdom when I ask for help making decisions and don’t know the way to go.  When I have felt trapped, You made a way out of the situation I had never thought of or considered.

I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help.

I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good.

Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You.  And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need.  Amen

Matthew 27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Feb 2 I choose praise!

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Heavenly Father, You have shown me two different responses the Israelites made in the presence of Your blessing.

The first is one of dancing and singing praises to You.  When You delivered them from Pharaoh by having them cross through the waters of the sea on dry ground, Miriam took a tambourine and led Moses and the Israelites in singing of Your miraculous deliverance.

But another time, when these people grumbled for food in the wilderness, You promised and delivered a blessing of meat in the evening and bread in the morning.   That night You brought them quail to eat and in the morning You created and gave them manna: something so marvelous and unknown they didn’t know what to call it.  They even called it “manna” which means “what is it?”

There is no mention of rejoicing, or an outpouring of gratitude or thanks – even though there was no other place for them to get food in the desert.  What they did was respond with disobedience.  They did not gather according to Your instructions.

And although You continued this particular blessing six days a week (with extra gathered the 6th day for the Sabbath) for forty years, (that’s 12,480 times !!) it wasn’t long before they were grumbling again unappreciatively.

I pray Father, that I will respond to Your hand of blessing in my life like the first example.  Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, highly exalted – You are my God and my King!

I will write songs and sing of Your wonders!  I will tell others of Your greatness and Your blessing in my life.  I will write and send emails to communicate them!

But even if I stand in a room alone with my hands and voice raised to You, even if I sing off key, even if no one else knows, do not let me miss an opportunity to acknowledge Your power and involvement in my life with gratitude.

Open my eyes Lord, so I will see and understand all of Your blessings.

Prompt me when I forget to acknowledge Your gifts.

Do not let me take Your blessings for granted; or respond with disobedience. I desire to make a “sacrifice to You of shouts of joy!  I will sing and make music to the Lord!”

Exodus 15:19-17:7; Psalm 27:6

Jan 8 Creation – infinite universe!

night-skyI love Psalm 8! It makes me wonder how many times David must have gazed up at the stars in the heavens and contemplated You, the Creator of it all. As a shepherd, he would have spent many, many nights outside with the sheep; resting, guarding the flock, alone with his thoughts.

The skies where I live are never really dark. We have the light from a major city and suburbs all around. The stars are visible, but not nearly as impressive as when I saw them from the middle of the Sinai Peninsula. We stepped out of a bus on a lonely road in a part of the world where light pollution is not even a remote issue, and were completely amazed at the number and brilliance of stars visible to our naked eye.

It was one of those “awe” moments. You just stand, mouth agape, drinking in the magnitude of the millions of stars. It makes you oddly aware of how huge the universe is, stretching out before your eyes; and how small and minuscule a single person is, standing on one spot of one planet in one solar system of one galaxy in that universe.

Today, the skies above the hills around Jerusalem are also filled with light. But how dark it must have been back then. How truly bright and brilliant the night sky must have been when one lonely shepherd looked up and pondered the universe and its Maker.

God, You truly have set Your glory in the heavens.  And “when I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have made and set in place” – I also marvel that “You are mindful of man.”

Who am I that You concern Yourself with what concerns me?

How is it that You can know the number of hairs on my head: a number that changes every day?

And You don’t just know me by what You see on the outside, You know my innermost thoughts, my motivations, my words before I speak them.

Thank You for taking such care creating this amazing place You made for us to live. Its beauty, its vastness, and its infinite diversity blow my mind! Its magnitude is incomprehensible.

As much as I can know about this world in my lifetime, I can never begin to understand all the things You hold in balance so this planet stays together and is capable of supporting the lives You’ve placed on it.

But I can give You the credit due.

You alone are the Author, the Creator, the imagination and the power behind its creation. I can acknowledge that it is You who keeps it all together and in motion. And honor You as Almighty God.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” Amen

Psalm 8:1-9

Dec 30 Eternity

heavenO Father, I can only think this Revelation of John’s is where many ideas of heaven are found: streets of gold, pearls for gates, “You will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

This is how the New Jerusalem is described, after all mankind and angels have been judged, and the earth and heavens as we know them have been swept away.

It is certainly a place I would want to spend eternity.  You, Yourself, will always be present.  Your presence provides all the light that is needed.

And there is a promise, a security, in nothing “impure…shameful or deceitful” ever being there.   Only Your people, Your children, will inherit all this.

The Psalmist says “Sing to the Lord a new song, [sing] His praise in the assembly of His faithful people.”  That will truly be able to happen in this Holy City.

Thank You for Your promises of help while here on earth.  And thank You for the promise of my eternal future with You.  Your praise is ever on my lips!  Amen

Revelation 21:1-27; Psalm 149:1-5

Dec 29 All Creation praises You!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

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

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

 

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

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 26 in God I trust

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Father, people look to many things to protect them, to save them, from hardship and the trouble of this world.  Zechariah prophesied Your judgment on people here who had put their faith in and were trusting many things other than You.

These people were skillful.  It is easy to trust in yourself when you have skills.  You know what you are doing and you know that you do it well.  It offers you a sufficient level of confidence and security to be able to handle what you need to make a living and build a stronghold for protection.

People today trust in their abilities too.  They believe they can trade their skills for whatever else they need: food, clothing, shelter.  Beyond that, they may also derive their sense of self-worth from their abilities.

They had many possessions.  So much so, that they are described as having “heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets.”  When you have possessions, it is easy to feel insulated from need.  You can literally see your wealth around you.  If you have a need, you can always sell something to buy what you need.

Again, people in my day often trust in their possessions.  And they may also get their sense of personal value from what they own.

They had power.  When you have power, you can take what you want.  Your security comes from your strength.  As long as you maintain that strength, you have no need to fear anyone, or trust anything besides yourself.

People today trust in power.  They put their faith in their own personal power and their ability to control.  Or the power of their business, or their country, or their military.  They get their view of their worth from the power they can use to overcome others.

All these things are faulty reliances.

Zechariah tells me You will “take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea and she will be consumed by fire.”  “Her” and “She” refer to the cities and the people who oppress Your people.  But none of these things they trust in will save them.

It is the same today.  None of these things: abilities and skills, possessions and money, power and might, can save anyone.  No one and nothing can stand against You, Father.

So I agree with David.  No one is so great as You, or more worthy of praise.  Your glorious splendor and Your wonderful works have been passed down for generations.  Your character is unmatched.

To a greater extent than is humanly possible, You are good, gracious, compassionate, trustworthy, faithful, and righteous.  You are mighty and powerful above all things, but are just in all Your ways.

And I am blessed, supremely fortunate, that You are my God, my King.  You hold me up when I fall.  You satisfy me with good things.  You are always near to me and answer my call.  You watch over me although I have done nothing to deserve all this lavish care.

So I give You all my praise!  I worship You alone.  I look to You and trust in You, no matter what befalls me.  I know that Your faithfulness to me deserves my complete and absolute trust.

 “My mouth will speak in praise of You.”  I will join with every other creature Your hand has made, and praise Your Holy Name.  Amen

Zechariah 9:1-8; Psalm 145:1-21

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

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In the midst of Zephaniah’s vision of absolute devastation, You speak of a remnant: “the meek and humble.”  They will “trust in the name of the Lord.”   And You will gather them, honor them, restore their fortunes, take great delight in them and rejoice over them with singing.

You sing!!

Father, thank You for inventing music!

Thank You for melodies I have learned, and words that give voice to my praise!  So when David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart… I will sing Your praise”, I can join with him and praise You!

I know songs that praise Your name, Your power, Your attributes.  I sing to You at the top of my lungs, with my hands help up, facing the sun, or the mountains, or looking up to the sky.

I drive around with praise music playing loudly and sing along. I can sit at the piano and sing with my eyes closed, to the music so many have written to help me glorify You.

Or I can quietly bow my head or fall to the floor and sing, barely audibly – but knowing You can hear me.

Your love and Your faithfulness are praiseworthy.  Your faithfulness to me alone gives me reason to sing and praise You.  And when there is no song that expresses my thanks, I just listen, and You teach me a new one!

As great and exalted as You are, You are still willing to come to the aid of Your people.  When I call, You have answered.  Many times You have come to rescue me.  You see me wherever I am, and are right there beside me.

You have defeated my foes, encouraged me and made me bold enough to act when I was too fearful.  I love David’s words: “though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life.”

I have faith, and I trust, that Your plan is the absolute best for my life.  And that You can make that happen.  I know that You will never, ever leave me.  I praise You for Your steadfastness, Your faithfulness to who You are, and Your faithfulness to me and my loved ones!   Many thanks.  Amen

Zephaniah 3:9-20; Psalm 138:1-8

Dec 8 May America blossom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Nov 25 Live in the light like Daniel

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“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are Yours.  You change times and seasons;  You depose kings and raise up others.  You give wisdom to the wise   and knowledge to the discerning.  You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness,  and light dwells with You.  I thank and praise You…”  

Father, these words of Daniel’s are just as true today.  We still praise You!

After all these years of season after season, You are still the One who keeps the world in order.  And after generations of kings, You are still the One who holds their hearts and all power in Your hand.

All wisdom and knowledge are Yours.  Hundreds of years of human advancements and scientific discovery and technology, haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding this amazing universe You created!

Father, Daniel held tightly to his beliefs about You and his convictions about how to live a godly life.  And he did so in the midst of being kidnapped and taken a thousand miles away from home and family.  As a young man it would have been so easy for him to simply go along with whatever his captors pushed on him.  But even far away from family and the worship he knew, he knew that You were with him.

At that time, people worshipped pagan gods who they believed had power and influence over a specific thing like rainfall, crops, fertility or a particular place.   But Daniel knew You were the One True God over all these things.  And that no matter where he was, You were there.

“Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.”

And You were faithful to Daniel.   You allowed him to be faithful to the ways he had been taught and gave him success.  In addition to this, You gave Daniel and his four friends wisdom and understanding far beyond that of all others.

Father, help me be like Daniel.  Strengthen me to live the way You have taught me, and not give in to the pressures of whatever society offers.  Let me stand out so others will see that I live differently from the pagan ways of my culture.

Let the light that dwells in You, shine through me.  Amen

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Oct 29 in Pain, in Praise, in Prophecy fulfilled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lamentations 1:1-2:22

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

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“Shout for joy…

Worship with gladness…

Come before Him with joyful songs…

Enter …with thanksgiving”

 

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 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 25 Worship

Father, I can come to You alone and pour out my heart.  I can see beautiful pieces of Your amazing creation, and be filled with awe and wonder at Your power and creativity, and imagination.   I can read Your Word and know I am in touch with You as You open my eyes and mind to understanding something new I haven’t seen before.

choir-306900_640And although all of these are ways I connect with You, I feel a more complete sense of worship and abandonment when I raise my voice and sing to You.

Even better if I am playing the guitar or piano too, because it involves more of my body participating in the rejoicing.

Or if I use my hands and arms to do sign language as I sing, the motions make me feel as if my whole body is involved in worship.

And when I can do this with other believers, the harmony and volume become a majestic symphony of adoration, filling my senses and pouring them back out to You.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord…Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…Sing to the Lord a new song…sing to the Lord; praise His Name…” 

When You fill my heart, whether with joy, or thanksgiving, or pain, I write down what I hear You singing to me, and sing it back to You.  It opens a door between us.  Here’s one song You gave me that expresses just that:

When I sing to You I can feel Your Holiness

When I sing to You I can feel Your love

When I sing to You I can feel Your power in my life

God I know You hear me

I can feel You near me

When I sing to You

 

Amen

Psalm 95:1-7; 96:1-6

Sept 29 Remember and Praise!

note-152133_640Father, You looked down on the people You created, and what a disappointment! You saw them in their “sinful greed” and “willful ways.”  Even when they sought You with fasting, it was not in earnest.  And was not acceptable to You.  You told them how to behave to be blessed.  Yet they still did not respond as You had instructed.

Their sin separated them from You.  And so You achieved salvation for them by Yourself.   “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says The Lord.  My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips…from this time on and forever, says The Lord.”

Father, I wonder how I disappoint You when You look at me.  I so often think of my own needs and wants before others, and I want things my own way.  That sounds a lot like “sinful greed” and “willful ways.”  But because I am Yours, I have Your Spirit in me, and I have Your Word.  The Scriptures tell me how to live, and the Spirit prompts me in the right direction, even when I stray.  I am thankful that You do not give up on me.

You have been with me since my youth, giving me hope and confidence; helping me when I needed help, rescuing me when I needed saving.  Now, “deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.”

As I face things that seek to pull me away from the path of righteousness, my emotions are strained, my good intentions eroded, and my character taxed.   But I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

It is You, Father, Your power that will work in me and through me to enable me to achieve all You have purposed for me.  So rather than focus on my troubles, I chose to focus on You!  I believe Your Word and I trust Your Spirit.

Father, even now, help me remember Your faithfulness to me.  Help me recall the times when You interceded to protect me, when You made a way of escape for me, when You stayed with me in the hard times and got me through them with a vision or a song or an answer to prayer.

As I remember them one by one, I will sing and give You praise!  I will recall and tell others of Your greatness, and Your goodness to me.

Thank You that You are “my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.”   Thank You that “You are my strong refuge.”

Thank You for these Words You sent me through David.  I can almost use them word for word to praise You.  They so elegantly voice the praise and thanks I want to express.  Thank You that You are my God.  Amen

Isaiah 57:15-59:21; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 71: 1-24

 

Sept 13 Even in trials

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Father, whenever I experience trouble let me be like David is here.

He is being hunted for his life, yet his words vacillate between his trouble, his faith in You, and praise for You.

He has not forgotten the trial, but his focus is more on You than it.

Lord, there are times when I too cry out for Your mercy and “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed.”

There, I know I am safe from any and every trouble that befalls me. You cover me from any danger with Your wings that offer complete and absolute protection. I know I can trust in Your limitless strength and care.

Father, You already know the difficulties I face right now. You see everything. No one is out to kill me as was David’s case. But I face problems just living with people because we are all so imperfect and hard to get along with. I face trials that come with change. Even when it is a good thing, it can be difficult to cope with change.

I have internal struggles: feelings that war within me against what I know is right and just. And I deal with unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes. Some struggles are more upsetting because they are far beyond my ability to affect, like my cancer, and what’s happening in my nation or the world.

But all these things are in Your hands. None of them are beyond your help and influence. No matter the enemy, no matter the plot they have set against me, ”my heart is steadfast” in You.

So like David, I can pray. “I will sing and make music” and praise You. I praise You that there is no other power above You. I praise You for being Sovereign in all things. I praise You that nothing can thwart the plans You have made for me or anyone else.

Father, You are the Lord Most High. There is nothing that can outdo, out power, or outlast You. There is no one as faithful as You. So I choose to put my focus on You.

I praise and thank You with every breath I take. I choose to breathe in Your peace, Your comfort, Your wisdom, Your love. And I breathe out praises and thanks to the One: Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Glory, Highly Exalted, my God and my King. And I sing it!  Especially in trials. Amen

Psalm 57:1-11

Aug 26 God of all comfort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 1:1-11

Aug 13 Plans

puzzle-394144_640Father, You gave Nehemiah the plan to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. And met his needs as he accomplished it. You brought the people needed to do the work. And You provided abundantly for them all to eat. You brought all the pieces together for Your plan to be accomplished.

Show me where You are working. Let me see how I can be a part of Your plan to accomplish something You bring into my life. Bring all the pieces together so I can be part of Your work.

You also provided for Nehemiah and the Israelite’s safety. Some might guess he was lucky, or say that he had a sixth sense about the plots against him. But he was a praying man who looked to You for guidance and protection. He fasted and prayed to accomplish the work You gave him to do. With five attempts to lure Nehemiah away from his work to harm him, he stood his ground and did not go. When one of his own plotted to discredit him, he refused to be party to the sin.

Father, protect me as well. Direct me away from harm. Stop me from sinning against You, even if it would seem to safeguard me. Sharpen my spiritual discernment so I can see through any plots to harm, or intimidate, or discredit me. Strengthen my faith so I count on You and trust only in You for my deliverance.

You created all the heavens and the earth. By Your very word, Lord, You spoke the world into existence. You planned and created all that is seen, and all that is yet to be discovered in the universe. As far as can be reached with eyes and technology, all this is within Your hand’s grasp.

Your purposes and Your plans Lord, stand firm. And will be carried out throughout eternity, by generation after generation.

“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere Him.” Help me set aside time to praise You. Not just at a formal church service, but often; worshipping from my heart.

I acknowledge and honor Your Lordship. Thank You for Your faithfulness, Your righteousness, Your justice, and Your unfailing love.   Without it, I would not be here. You are my Lord. And my hope is in You! Amen

Nehemiah 5:14-6:19; Psalm 33:6-11

Aug 6 I sing! for thanks, for hope, for help

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Father, “To You I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if You remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.”   They have no hope. And see no chance for rescue.

Lord, my life seems easy enough. I have what I need to get from day to day. I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I have more freedoms than most people in the world. And a safe place to live with family and friends who care about me. But when I think about some of the people I love, there is pain. There are those I don’t believe know You, and it grieves my heart.

So here is where “I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help.” Father when I think of mistakes I’ve made with people who I love, I am filled with remorse. I cannot go back and “undo” what I have done. And I wonder and worry if anything I did or said, set them on a path away from You.

O Father, forgive me. If there is a way I can make it right, show me. Take away this guilt I live with, and replace it with something from You that will heal and help them. Show me how to say, what to say, when to say; or what to do to unravel any knots I may have been part of in their lives.

Soften their hearts to Your truth, and to Yourself and to the call of the Holy Spirit.   Turn them away from the darkness they live in, some, without even realizing it. Bring them into the light of Your love. Father, this is the deepest desire of my heart: that those who You have entrusted to me as family and friends, will all know You as Savior, and be together in heaven with You and with me.

It is something only You can do. Only You call. And only You save. And I will sing: “Praise to the Lord! For He has heard my cry for mercy! The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks in song”. Amen

Psalm 28:1-9

July 27 Jehoshaphat’s prayer & deliverance

sword-41036_640O Lord, may my victories be like those of Jehoshaphat’s! When I am confronted with a difficulty, let me learn from Jehoshaphat. His first response upon hearing of the dilemma? “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast…” Then, when the people came together, he prayed!

This is what I should do! Rather than respond with anxiousness, confusion, anger, frustration, or discouragement.

His words began with a statement of who You are and what You can do. How encouraging, to be reminded that You, my God, are the most powerful force in all creation!

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You. We stand in Your presence… and cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us… For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You!” 

What a claim! I acknowledge my insufficiency, but affirm my faith in trusting You. If I look at You instead of whatever problem, my focus stays positive. It confirms that You are bigger than the problem. 

“This is what the Lord says to you: Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow, march down against them…you will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

Then they “bowed with their face to the ground and fell down in worship before the Lord. Some stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

 Father, You answered them with a challenge to be courageous, and a promise to fight their battle.   I definitely feel more courageous when I am singing praise music, or praying out loud. When I connect with You in prayer, I am re-energized and empowered to go on. From my journals, it is also reassuring to read about the times You have delivered me in the past. Recalling Your faithfulness always has an inspiring and calming effect.

And the result? Jehoshaphat and his men didn’t have to fight. As they sang and praised You, You fought the battle! Then they spent three days carrying off the plunder from the victory You gave them!

They returned to Jerusalem rejoicing and praising You in the Temple.

O Father, I forget when my problems seem so big, that I have a Father who is bigger. Who can give me a victory. Who can provide me with abundant rewards. Remind me to come to You first. To seek You, to fast, to pray, and to trust. Thank You. Amen

2 Chronicles 20:1-30

 

July 9 You are my Refuge

“Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.”

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Father, I don’t use the word ‘refuge’ too often. But from the time I was young, I remember hearing about ‘refugees’ escaping other countries because the circumstances they lived in were so bad they had to flee to even survive. Some came on boats with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They had no food, no other clothing, no source of help. But they believed if they could only reach America, there would be hope and the possibility of a new, safe, good life.

So a ‘refuge’ is the place they go. It is the place where there is safety, protection, relief, shelter, help, provision.   It allows security from the pursuit of danger or trouble. So as these people fled the threats of their government and political and physical danger to find refuge in America, so I can come to You to find relief from the onslaught of attacks against me.

The flesh, the world and the evil one are all influences that war against Your wisdom, Your plan and Your purpose for my life. So I ask You to come to my aid. Defend me against all that seeks to destroy me, my godly relationships, my adoration and worship of You, my ministry in Your name, and my freedom to read and study Your Word.

The evil one seeks to keep me fearful, discouraged, frustrated, and make my faith in You waver because of difficult circumstances. He desires my financial ruin, the destruction of my marriage, the smearing of my reputation, and personal moral failure. The enemy is always crouching at my door, waiting to devour me.

So I ask, “Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies… O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure. My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart…You will not back down from the fight, but will sharpen Your sword; and will bend and string Your bow. You have prepared deadly weapons; and have made ready Your flaming arrows.”

And “I will give thanks to You because of Your righteousness and will sing praise to Your name: The Lord Most High.” Thank You for being my refuge; for delivering me from the hand of the evil one who comes to harm, kill, and destroy.

You are more powerful than anything he can bring against me. You are more powerful than all the world can throw at me, or even that my flesh can tempt me with. I trust in You. You are my refuge. Amen

Psalm 7:1-17

 

June 28 In God I trust

coins-1277095_640O Father, how easy it is to follow someone when they bring good into my life.

When the Israelites escaped the power of Aram (the opposing, oppressive king) it was easy to look at Jehoahaz, their own king, and follow him. But the deliverance came from You, not Jehoahaz, and the people continued to follow him in evil idolatry. Jeroboam, grandson of Jehoahaz recovered the lost territories and restored the boundaries to Israel, but also led the people into sin, doing evil in Your eyes.

Still today, military victories draw people to follow the man who brings them. People of my times follow, even worship, those with money, fame, political power. They are awed and swept away to place their trust in those who mislead and later, disappoint them. They support these ‘champions’ by touting their philosophies, defending their causes, sending them money. This is a form of worship.

Even good men, who desire to lead godly lives, pastors and evangelists, fail morally. And those who put their faith in them, lose that faith. I have looked up to such men: pastors, athletes, politicians, and been pained to watch them fall.

You tell me “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.”   My faith has always been based on You, and Your truth. It is You, who made the earth and the heavens, the sea and everything in it. You who works through men to accomplish Your will. And it is You, alone, who save;

You, the Lord Jesus Christ, defend, uphold, feed, free, heal, encourage, love, care for, and sustain me. You frustrate the way of the wicked in my defense. You are the only One who has the power to reign and rule in my heart. You are the Author of my faith. Your plan will never fail. It will never end, because You do not end.

Father show me if I begin to follow another person other than You.   I desire to stay on Your path. Do not let my foot slip. Do not let me stray one step away from You. I praise You, O Lord. You reign forever! Amen

2 Kings 13:1-14:29; Psalm 146:1-10

June 26 You are my God

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“Praise be to You Lord! You are my Rock. You train my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” And I am in a battle Lord. A battle between good and evil rages in my country, my society, and even in myself. Help me stand firm for godly values amidst the onslaught of evil influences that elevate greed, selfishness, lust, envy, pride, laziness, murder, and all sorts of immorality.

“You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer. My shield, in whom I take refuge…Part the heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightening and scatter the enemies; shoot Your arrows and rout them. Reach down Your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”  

Father, You never promised I would not have to face difficulties, but You have promised to always be with me. You have said “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you…”. Help me take hold of Your hand and stand strong against the rushing waters the enemy sends to sweep me off my feet. Let me see through the veil of lies and deceit the enemy would use against me.

Make my sons “like well-nurtured plants”.   As plants need water, light and soil, let them grow strong and walk in the light of the “Son”.   Let them be watered by the Holy Spirit to revive and refresh them with Living Water. Give them a rich faith to nourish and feed them so they will produce fruit in season as a fruitful vine in Your care. Father, prune them to increase their fruitfulness so their lives bring honor and glory to You.   Make “my daughters like pillars”: strong and straight, beautiful to adorn a palace, of resilient character to stand for and display godly values.

Father, in rescuing me, You have “filled my barns with every kind of provision.” You know what I need to meet the coming challenges You allow into my life. Meet those needs in a way that I know without a doubt that You have done it.

Prepare me to face challenges in faith and strength of character so I will be a strong witness for You. Meet my physical and economic needs. Bless my household out of Your abundant provision.   Show me how to share with others from the bounty You provide for me.

You have my thanks and my praise. “I will sing a new song to You.” You are my God. And I am blessed. Amen

Psalm 144:1-15; Isaiah 43:1-13

June 4 My All

Father, I am not free of sin like David in this psalm. I have not been obedient to all Your laws or kept all Your ways. And yet, I have Your righteousness. You cover me with the blood You shed at Calvary, giving me the status of being righteous in Your sight.

cross-1177327_640With this status, You are my lamp, turning the darkness around me into light so I can see and not be afraid.

You help me fight against the enemy and allow me to scale walls.

You become my shield and my refuge.

You arm me with strength, enable me and train me for the conflicts that come so I can stand firm.

I can say with David, “You give me Your shield of victory, You stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn.” You provide all this care I do not deserve.

So I will lift up Your name. I will give You the praise of my lips and the worship of my voice. You are my Savior, my Deliverer, my Redeemer. You are the Rock upon which I base my faith. I can trust in You. Thank You.  Amen

2 Samuel 22:21-51

May 17 How do I praise?

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Psalm 113 uses the word “praise” five times in three verses. That must mean it’s an important word. And yet not one I use much in everyday conversation.

Yet PRAISE is one very significant way I demonstrate that You are a part of my life. I give honor, worship, adoration to You, God in recognition of who You are, and in gratitude and thanks for what You have done.

I like to use acrostics to help me remember things.  To help me make PRAISE an intentional, doable action  – I see PRAISE as

Putting

Real

Adoration

Into

Situations

Every day

To me that means:

Putting:  I intentionally and on purpose – do something

The groceries and the dishes don’t get put away unless someone does it. It’s the same with Praise –it doesn’t just happen, someone has to do it.

Real:  in a genuine and sincere way, honest – not forced, not hurried

I take time to literally communicate to You.  Sometimes it’s by words, a statement or a prayer, sometimes I write it down in a letter or journal, or I might write a poem, or song – I might sing it! Or just take a walk, taking a moment to speak to You in my heart.

Adoration: my appreciation, thanks, gratitude, even simple acknowledgment of who You are and what You’re doing, and have the power to do.

I hardly ever take a drive, that I don’t notice the mountains, or the sky or sunset. Do I say ‘wow, Mother nature is something!’ No, I thank You as the Creator of it all for giving me such a beautiful world to live in and look at!

Into Situations: into the middle of whatever circumstances come my way: good or bad, deserved or unfair, difficult and trying or pleasant and joyful.

So if I see my child being awesome, I thank You for making me a mother! Or I pass a car accident, and ask You to help the people involved and strengthen the ones giving assistance, and then I thank You for protecting me from dangers, and all the accidents You kept me from that never happened.

Every day: on a daily basis. I don’t wait for a holiday or Sunday to come around, but praise You spontaneously!

As things happen, thanks and appreciation is voiced. It may sound silly or awkward at first, but the more I do it, it just becomes a way of life.

So P-R-A-I-S-E, Putting Real Adoration Into Situations Every day means:

Intentionally, genuinely and sincerely, take time to communicate to You, my appreciation, thanks and gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way on a daily basis.

Father, help me remember to fill my life with praise for You! Amen

Psalm 113:1-3

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

Father, I pray the words of this Psalm for myself, and my loved ones.

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I give You praise!

Blessed am I because I fear You – have an earnest respect for You – and delight in knowing and obeying Your commands. May my children be mighty in the futures You have promised them. May they live uprightly so their generation will be blessed.

Thank You that I possess wealth and riches. Perhaps not as the world recognizes wealth and riches, but as You count them.   And thank You that Your righteousness remains with me forever.

Even in the dark times, let me live in Your light as You give me grace and compassion to deal with whatever comes. Let goodness pour into my life. And let me generously pass that goodness on to others. I will seek Your justice in conducting my affairs and act in accordance.

As I have planted my faith in You, I will never be shaken. The world will not make me fall apart. Keep my heart strong even in the face of bad news, so I will not fear. But draw me ever closer to You, who I trust completely.

Because I know that You win in the end, my heart and mind are secure. I know that at the end of the age, when You return, all Your foes will be vanquished, and I will look triumphantly on those foes.

I will send my service and prayers and financial support to the poor, here and around the world. Let Your righteousness done through me, be remembered forever. And my family be remembered honorably. Amen

Psalm 112:1-9

May 12 There is none like You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 108:1-13

May 2 All His benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 103

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

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“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life. Father, I devote that life to You. You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

Father, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now. Things that I cannot see how, and have no evidence will ever happen. I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen. There are so many hopes and dreams I have that may never come true. Yet I completely trust that if they are what is best for me or my family, You will bring them to be.

Because You make Your servant glad, and bring me joy!   And out of that abundance, I will give glory to Your name.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar. First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him. Father, when I have a need, let me come straight to You confident that You have the desire and the power to help. And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked, he knew exactly what he wanted. Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, as You answered the beggars, let other people see it and praise You!

I praise You Lord, with all my heart, as I bring my requests to You. I ask for Your strength when I am under attack. When I am discouraged let me feel Your presence. Increase my faith as I learn truth from Your Word and apply it to my life. Guide me in Your wisdom, and give me discernment.   Let me always honor and revere You.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble. I know You will answer me. For all this and more, I thank You Lord. Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

Mar 27 Not by bread alone

notbybreadalonemimeLord, today’s scripture passages are so rich, it is hard to chose one area of prayer focus. In these verses You are instructive, encouraging, illustrative, and give warnings. All are important. But the ones that speak to me the most, remind me of how You care for me and how I should behave in response to that care and commitment.

I am holy to You, Lord. That doesn’t mean I am perfect, but that I am set apart for You. I have value because of who I am in Your eyes; and You have a purpose for me. You did not set Your affection on me because I was the biggest, or best, for I was the least. There is nothing I could have done to make You love me. But because You love me, You promise to bring me out with a mighty hand and redeem me from the land of slavery and its power: this world and its distressing values. “The Lord my God IS God! You are the faithful God, keeping Your covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love You and keep Your commands!”

“But those who hate You, You will repay to their face by destruction.” Therefore I need to pay attention to what You say and how You direct me, so that I can live victoriously and be strong in the place You are bringing me. You always keep Your promises to me. You love and bless me.

You have provided for me in the past. Although You provided physical sustenance for me, You also taught me that there is more. I do not live on ‘bread’ alone, but my soul longs for a peace and wholeness that comes from my relationship with You and Your Word. So I will spend time reading and studying Your Word, and listening for Your voice in my life.

In times of need I am drawn to You for help, encouragement, and provision. But when enjoying that provision, I must be sure not to become proud or arrogant. I will express my thanks and gratitude in praise, in song, in telling others how You bring me through troubles and trials. It is You who make it possible for me to work and volunteer and help others. My gifts and talents come from You. And I thank You.

I will never serve another god. I see others chase after fame or money or power. They make their possessions or position their god. I will pour out myself to honor You. You have saved me! From trouble, from trauma, from myself, from circumstances I have gotten myself into, and from eternal death. You have answered my prayers, come to my rescue, given me hope, forgiven my sin. I thank You and I praise You! And I cannot wait to see what’s coming next! Amen

Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

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 20 Trust even in the desert

desert-984125_640“God, You are my God! Earnestly I seek You. [My soul] thirsts for You and my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Father, on this earth, in this life, it does so often feel like trudging through a desert with no water in sight. I have lived in New Mexico on the edge of the desert. When we drove anywhere, we never left without five gallons of water and provisions to spend the night in case we broke down or had a flat.   Some of the places were so remote we could not count on help coming quickly.   After hearing stories of people perishing, we learned to adapt to the environment and its challenges.

It’s beginning to feel like our country has become a spiritual desert. Oases of living water, wells of wisdom, pools of purity, have been blown over and filled in with the sands of sin and the dust of depravity. Truly, even those who call themselves Christians have been seared by the heat of materialism and humanism and tolerance, to the point that they are almost unrecognizable as followers of Christ. A desert indeed.

But I have seen You at work – in my life – the lives of loved ones! I have seen You answer prayer! I have beheld Your power and glory! And because of this, I will sing praise to You as long as I live! I will lift up my hands to honor You! Trying to fall asleep, I will count my blessings.

You satisfy my soul as my stomach is satisfied with the richest of flavors! The deepest of chocolates!

You have been my help during times of stress, sorrow, helplessness, fear, anger, doubt, and frustration. And also You have rejoiced with me in times of incomparable joy, happiness, thankfulness, relief, delight, and quiet contentment.

You are like a mother hen that spreads her wings of protection over her chicks. Like Your child, I run under Your wings and cling to You!

Thank You! That when I seek You, I find You. That when I hunger and thirst for You, Your Word fills me up. That when I cling to You, I am safe and protected. I give You praise! Amen

Psalm 63:1-11

Mar 8 Only You

dvxgnwnywem-giulia-bertelliThank You for having mercy on me O Lord. Thank You for withholding from me the penalty that my sins deserve. I praise You that Your mercies are new every morning; that You are not like a human, who would reach a limit of forgiveness or loving kindness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 51:1-19; Revelation 7:12

Mar 4 Worship! And Stand!

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Clap your hands! Raise your voice! Sing hymns and worship songs at the top of your lungs! Put on a worship music tape and crank up the volume! Don’t be bashful – show your joy! Your God is the One and Only True God who has more power than any person, any force, anything on this earth!

 

He is more powerful than Mother Nature! He rose from the dead while other proclaimed ‘deities’ are in their graves! The story of His creating the earth and choosing a people for Himself has been a best seller ever since there has been a printing press! It has been translated into 3,223 languages!

I live in a country that is not subject to a king, but Jesus Christ is my King – the King of Kings! I owe Him my praise and will sing out to Him.   I will hum quietly, sway and clap, sing in the shower, and with others at gatherings. I will play any instrument I can, write new songs, sing along with youtube videos that make me cry, and continue to sing through tears!

God reigns and rules, but not from an earthly throne in a temple or synagogue or sanctuary. And not on a mountaintop or in a river or floating on a cloud. There is a reality that cannot be seen by the human eye and cannot be described completely by human words. And in that place, is a great throne room, with Him seated on His Holy throne.

Because I cannot see it, Jesus draws me pictures with parables: a vineyard owner who went on a journey renting out the land. This is something I can visualize and understand. Though the owner is not present, he exists, and is still the owner, and is due the income from the land and the respect of the people.   It is the same with God. Just because I cannot see Him, I should not doubt He is real. Or think that He will not come for what is His.

pexels-photoWhen the storm comes, and I believe it is coming to our country in my time, and has swept by; O Lord, may I still be standing firm. Amen

Mark 12:1-12; Psalm 47:1-9; Proverbs 10:25

Feb 13 I will testify and praise You!

worship-435108_640So many prophecies fulfilled just in today’s verses from Matthew, Lord. In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe.

These were not easy promises to fulfill. They were quite costly. Jesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way. And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.   So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit. But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition. You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons as well as Your faithfulness, Your trustworthiness to Your promises, Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, “I will extol You”! According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You. I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in You! “

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen! I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations. I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain.

I will let them know that You are in the business of revealing wisdom to me when I ask about making decisions, about how when I didn’t know the way to go and felt trapped, You made a way out of the situation I had never thought of or considered.

I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help me. I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good. Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You. And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need. Amen

Matthew27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Feb 2 I choose praise!

sing-a-new-song-2-1428461-639x582Heavenly Father, You have shown me two different responses the Israelites made in the presence of Your blessing.

The first is one of dancing and singing praises to You. When You delivered them from Pharaoh by having them cross through the waters of the sea on dry ground, Miriam took a tambourine and led Moses and the Israelites in singing of Your miraculous deliverance.

But another time, when these people grumbled for food in the wilderness, You promised and delivered a blessing of meat in the evening and bread in the morning.   That night You brought them quail to eat and in the morning You created and gave them manna: something so marvelous and unknown they didn’t know what to call it. They even called it ‘manna’, which means ‘what is it?’ There is no mention of rejoicing, or an outpouring of gratitude or thanks – even though there was no other place for them to get food in the desert. What they did was respond with disobedience. They did not gather according to Your instructions.

And although You continued this particular blessing six days a week (with extra gathered the 6th day for the Sabbath) for forty years, (that’s 12,480 times !!) it wasn’t long before they were grumbling again unappreciatively.

I pray Father, that I will respond to Your hand of blessing in my life like the first example. Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, highly exalted – You are my God and my King!! I will write songs and sing of Your wonders! I will tell others of Your greatness and Your blessing in my life. I will write and send emails to communicate them! But even if I stand in a room alone with my hands and voice raised to You, even if I sing off key, even if no one else knows, do not let me miss an opportunity to acknowledge Your power and involvement in my life with gratitude.

Open my eyes Lord, so I will see and understand all of Your blessings. Prompt me when I forget to acknowledge Your gifts. Do not let me take Your blessings for granted; or respond with disobedience. I desire to make a “sacrifice to You of shouts of joy!! I will sing and make music to the Lord!”

Exodus 15:19-17:7; Psalm 27:6

Dec 31 Alpha and Omega

O Father, You are “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”. You are faithful to Yourself, by Your Word and by Your actions. You are faithful to Your creation and to me. You existed at the beginning of all things, and You will be there at the end of all things as I know them.

You will create a new heaven and a new earth. Malachi talks about that day when the righteous will be healed and the evil, set on fire. John, the same: the righteous will live with You, seeing Your face, and the evil are thrown into the lake of fire.

Father, You have been faithful to me each and every day this year. Each day, You have shown me in Your Word how to pray: from the first day of the year to the last, from the beginning of Your Word, to the end. Thank You!

I am both amazed at Your faithfulness to me, and at the same time, not surprised by it. Of course I know and believe in Your faithfulness. But now, I have felt the blessing of it personally. Thank You Father, for walking through each day of this year with me. Thank You for leading me through Your Word in such a meaningful way.

And now Father, like the Proverbs 31 woman,“clothe [me] with strength and dignity; let [me] laugh at the days to come”. [Help me] speak with wisdom, and put faithful instruction on [my] tongue. [Help me to] watch over the affairs of my household and not eat the bread of idleness. [Let my] children arise and call me blessed; [my] husband also, and praise [me].   [I am] a woman who fears You!”

“I praise You Father in Your sanctuary” – under the sky You created, in the forest and in the open, I kneel before Your great presence and acknowledge Your authority. I lift my voice to give glory to You. With every person I see Your creativity and diversity. With every bird and flower and creature, I observe Your infinite imagination. With the cycle of seasons, I marvel at Your ingenuity.

I cannot wait to see You face to face and live with You throughout eternity. I believe “You are coming soon. Come! Come Lord Jesus!” Amen

Malachi 4:1-6; Revelation 20:11-15; 22:12-21; Psalm 150:1-6; Proverbs 31:25-31

Dec 29 All Creation Praises You!

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

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

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

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

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

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

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

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

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

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

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

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

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

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

Dec 21 Shield my head

red-dragon-revelation

Father, what an incredible vision You gave John! As he describes the scene and the action, it sounds like a great cosmic video game! But this one does not play out over and over with a ‘reset’ button when the player fails at the quest.

 

The revelation John sees here: “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” and “an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads”. These are not anime characters, but are signs that represent actual happenings. The woman represents Israel, and the red dragon, satan. Satan was hurled down to earth and roams here now, to “lead the whole world astray”.

The bad news: “woe to the earth and sea because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury…”.   The good news: “his time is short”.

Because satan roams the earth in his furious state, and has duped people into following him, I need You, Father, to “keep me safe from the hands of the wicked”. It is not only the evil one, but also those under his authority who do his biding that I have seen at work.

I know that sometimes, I don’t make wise choices, and must bear the consequences. In those times Father, I ask for Your forgiveness and Your wisdom to learn from my mistakes. But at other times, I feel attacked, caught by surprise in situations and circumstances I did not anticipate. I feel entrapped, tripped up, led into places, relationships, emotional states, and difficulties that feel like an oppressive force is orchestrating it all.

When I begin to feel discouraged and hopeless, when I find myself doubting Your goodness and Your love, I know there is some element of evil at work. Thank You that You have promised to “shield my head in the day of battle”.   Your helmet of salvation protects my thoughts and reminds me of Your truth. It helps me hold what I am feeling up against the truth of Your Word.

Thank You that I can be sure of Your love for me. Thank You that I can know without a doubt, that Your purpose and plan for me are good. Thank You that I know You will never, ever, leave me or forsake me. And thank You that the devil’s time here on earth is short. And a time will come when You will triumph over all!

In the meantime, I “will praise Your name”! And “live [my life] in Your presence”, in safety, with You as “my strong deliverer”. Awaiting Your ‘end game’. Amen

Revelation 12:1-17; Psalm 140:1-13

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

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In the midst of Zephaniah’s vision of absolute devastation, You speak of a remnant: “the meek and humble”. They will “trust in the name of the Lord”.   And You will gather them, honor them, restore their fortunes, take great delight in them and rejoice over them with singing. You sing!!

Father, thank You for inventing music! Thank You for melodies I have learned, and words that give voice to my praise! So when David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart… I will sing Your praise”, I can join with him and praise You!

I know songs that praise Your name, Your power, Your attributes. I sing to You at the top of my lungs, with my hands help up, facing the sun, or the mountains, or looking up to the sky. I drive around with praise music playing loudly and sing along. I can sit at the piano and sing with my eyes closed, to the music so many have written to help me glorify You. Or I can quietly bow my head or fall to the floor and sing, barely audibly – but knowing You can hear me.

Your love and Your faithfulness are praiseworthy. Your faithfulness to me alone gives me reason to sing and praise You. And when there is no song that expresses my thanks, I just listen, and You teach me a new one!

As great and exalted as You are, You are still willing to come to the aid of Your people. When I call, You have answered. Many times You have come to rescue me. You see me wherever I am, and are right there beside me. You have defeated my foes, encouraged me and made me bold enough to act when I was too fearful. I love David’s words: “though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life”.

I have faith, and I trust, that Your plan is the absolute best for my life. And that You can make that happen. I know that You will never, ever leave me. I praise You for Your steadfastness, Your faithfulness to who You are, and Your faithfulness to me and my loved ones!   Many thanks. Amen

Zephaniah 3:9-20; Psalm 138:1-8

Nov 30 Lead me in the Light

light-on-manFather, thank You that You are light. You are The Light! I desire to walk in Your light. I understand that there is nothing that You do not already know, nothing is hidden from You. Even if I were to walk in the darkness, You would still see everything.  When there is sin in my life, sin is darkness. And because I do not want to be in the dark, I will confess my sin before You.

I am like a sheep that strays from the safety of its shepherd. You are my Shepherd. Father, seek me when I get lost. Return me to Your presence.

When I agree with You about what is sin in my life, and turn from it, You are faithful to forgive that sin and restore my fellowship with You. Again, thank You.

Like the Psalmist, I pray “May my cry come before You” so You will “give me understanding according to Your Word”.   When I cannot see what direction to go, Father, shine Your light on the path I should take. Help me recognize the difference between light and darkness so I can avoid the darkness.

Father, “may my lips overflow with praise” and “my tongue sing of Your Word”. Do not let me forget to be thankful, acknowledging when You rescue me, when You reveal truth to me, when You encourage me. Remind me to not only ‘stop and smell the roses’ but to express my gratitude to the Creator for the roses and for a nose.

“Let me live that I may praise You”! My Creator. My Encourager. My Teacher. My Rescuer. My Restorer. My Shepherd. My Light! Amen

I John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:169-176

Nov 26 Teach me

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Father, thank You for Peter’s reminder that as the end approaches, believers must be earnest in prayer, share Your deep love with others, and use our Spiritual gifts. Some of these sound so easy. None of them are. I can’t do any of them without Your help.

What I can do is come to You in prayer. You help me in so many ways. I love my conversations with You! Sometimes I feel closer to You when I walk around the lake, or through the trees, or can see the mountains. When I am surrounded by Your amazing creation, You often give me a word of instruction or encouragement. You have taught me things by watching geese flying above, or ducks feeding in the pond, or sunlight shining through dark clouds. You have shown me how to be humble through the faces of blossoms that track the sunlight across the sky, or sunflowers that have heads so heavy with seed that they bend low.

It is so easy to praise You in the presence of the beauty of Your creation, and when things are going well. But rejoicing in suffering is harder to do. Sometimes, my side of the conversation is sobbing and tears. It is anxious pleading with pain. You reach out to me then too. There is nothing You cannot handle. There is nothing too big or too small to bring to You. Thank You for this life-saving and life-giving privilege of prayer.

Father, teach me how to show Your great love to others. It feels easy to do with strangers. Kindness to a stranger is short-lived. Help me to be loving and forgiving and hospitable to those I know. Show me how to be humble, and not grumble.   And especially to those I know well, give me perseverance to act and speak in love for the long haul.

Lord, lead me in seeking out ways to join You where You are already at work, in ways that will use my Spiritual gifts. Give me the energy and stamina to serve.   Show me how to serve humbly so You get the credit. And let me recognize when to step back so another can use their gifts.

In all these things, let me also be aware of “[my] enemy the devil” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. Help me see through his lies and deceptions. Help me avoid his traps and temptations.  Strengthen me to resist him in all his cunning ways. Make me strong, firm and steadfast. Yours is the power forever. I know You will never fail me. Thank You. Amen

I Peter 4:7-5:14

Nov 25 Live in the Light, like Daniel

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“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;  wisdom and power are Yours. You change times and seasons;  You depose kings and raise up others. You give wisdom to the wise   and knowledge to the discerning. You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness,  and light dwells with You. I thank and praise You…”  

 

 

 

Father, these words of Daniel’s are just as true today. We still praise You! After all these years of season after season, You are still the One who keeps the world in order. And after generations of kings, You are still the One who holds their hearts and all power in Your hand. All wisdom and knowledge are Yours. Hundreds of years of human advancements and scientific discovery and technology, haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to understanding this amazing universe You created!

Father, Daniel held tightly to his beliefs about You and his convictions about how to live a godly life. And he did so in the midst of being kidnapped and taken a thousand miles away from home and family. As a young man it would have been so easy for him to simply go along with whatever his captors pushed on him. But even far away from family and the worship he knew, he knew that You were with him.

At the time, people worshipped pagan gods who they believed had power and influence over a specific thing like rainfall, crops, or fertility or a particular place.   But Daniel knew You were the One True God over all these things. And that no matter where he was, You were there.

“Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel.” And You were faithful to Daniel. You allowed him to be faithful to the ways he had been taught and gave him success. In addition to this, You gave Daniel and his four friends wisdom and understanding far beyond that of all others.

Father, help me be like Daniel. Strengthen me to live the way You have taught me, and not give in to the pressures of whatever society offers. Let me stand out so others will see that I live differently from the pagan ways of my culture. Let the light that dwells in You, shine through me. Amen

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Nov 23 Mold me, make me holy

Father, You gave Ezekiel a recap of the physical sacrifices that were to be offered to You, when and where and how in specific detail. For You are a Holy God and the offerings and sacrifices provided atonement and consecration for Your people then.

free-1785964_640Now comes Peter writing to remind believers that now they “are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices…” The Israelites had to go to a specific place, the Temple, and have their sacrifices presented by priests. But now believers’ bodies are the ‘temple’ and believers, themselves, are the priests. And the sacrifices offered are the spiritual sacrifices of praise, and a contrite heart.

You are Holy because of who You are. But believers are made holy not by the sacrifices of goats and lambs with flour and oil; but “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”. Believers “purify yourselves by obeying the truth…born again…through the living and enduring Word of God”.

Further, Peter tells me to be holy in all I do: to “prepare [my] mind for action; be self-controlled”. And “as an obedient child, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance”. “Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.”

opening clay.jpgHow do I do this?

Psalm 119 answers this, and so it has become my prayer. “Teach me, O Lord, to follow Your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding and I will keep Your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of Your commands; for there I find delight.

Turn my heart toward Your statues and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word.”

Father, let me live and walk and worship according to these Words. Let me be taught by You. Break down whatever habits or tendencies I have that war against Your precepts or keep me from following Your path wholeheartedly. Enrich me through Your unfailing love. I lift my hands to You. Amen

Ezekiel 45:13-46:24; I Peter 1:13-2:10; Psalm 119:33-48

Nov 13 I am in Awe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 29 In Pain, in Praise, in Prophecy fulfilled

Hebrew_alphabetFather, as the first two chapters of Lamentations are acrostic poems, each new verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alephbet.   What an interesting and challenging way for Jeremiah to organize his thoughts! As I read the English translation, part of the beauty of this exercise is lost on me. Yet I wonder if I could write twenty-six thoughts aligned with the English alphabet.

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

Besides the organization of thoughts that I am drawn to, one part of one verse stands out to me: ”…pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.”   There have been times when I too am filled with concern and overwhelmed by life. And my words to You, my pleas to You, spill out of me without any effort at all – kind of the opposite of thoughtfully putting together an acrostic of prayer. And yet, I sense that you honor each way of connecting with You.

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

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

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

Lamentations 1:1-2:22

Oct 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 26 You control…

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

You sent Jeremiah carefully chosen words to describe the coming destruction of other kingdoms, and they all came true: ”Concerning Damascus…troubled like the restless sea”. “Concerning Kedar and Hazor…scatter to the winds”. “I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four corners of heaven”.   “Concerning Babylon…I will kindle a fire…that will consume all…a drought on her waters”. They remind me that You are in total control of Your creation! You control the winds, fire, drought and seas.

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

What a picture! “Clouds and thick darkness surround You…fire goes before You…Your lightening lights up the world.” All at Your command. You are still in control, holding authority over all the earth! The earth responds to You: “the earth sees and trembles…mountains melt like wax…heavens proclaim Your righteousness…seas resound…rivers clap their hands, mountains sing together for joy.”

If this is the response of the earth, how can I do less? Father, I shout for joy! I burst into jubilant song. I make music with whatever instrument I can – all to glorify my God! You are the only god who is the real God! I exalt You over all things, all people, all powers. I rejoice because You are a righteous and just God. Because You carry out Your judgments in righteousness. Because You are loving and faithful. Because You have saved me! You are the One True Almighty God. And there is no other! Amen

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

Sept 29 Remember and Praise!

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Father, You looked down on the people You created, and what a disappointment! You saw them in their “sinful greed” and “willful ways”. Even when they sought You with fasting, it was not in earnest. And was not acceptable to You. You told them how to behave to be blessed. Yet they still did not respond as You had instructed.

Their sin separated them from You. And so You achieved salvation for them by Yourself.   “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says The Lord. My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and My Words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips…from this time on and forever, says The Lord.”

Father, I wonder how I disappoint You when You look at me. I so often think of my own needs and wants before others, and I want things my own way. That sounds a lot like ‘sinful greed’ and ‘willful ways’. But because I am Yours, I have Your Spirit in me, and I have Your Word. The Scriptures tell me how to live, and the Spirit prompts me in the right direction, even when I stray. I am thankful that You do not give up on me.

You have been with me since my youth, giving me hope and confidence; helping me when I needed help, rescuing me when I needed saving. Now, “deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.” As I face things that seek to pull me away from the path of righteousness, my emotions are strained, my good intentions eroded, and my character taxed.   But I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

It is You, Father, Your power that will work in me and through me to enable me to achieve all You have purposed for me. So rather than focus on my troubles, I chose to focus on You! I believe Your Word and I trust Your Spirit. Father, even now, help me remember Your faithfulness to me. Help me recall the times when You interceded to protect me, when You made a way of escape for me, when You stayed with me in the hard times and got me through them with a vision or a song or an answer to prayer.

As I remember them one by one, I will sing and give You praise! I will recall and tell others of Your greatness, and Your goodness to me.

Thank You that You are “my rock of refuge, to which I can always go”.   Thank You that “You are my strong refuge”. Thank You for these Words You sent me through David. I can almost use them word for word to praise You. They so elegantly voice the praise and thanks I want to express. Thank You that You are my God. Amen

Isaiah 57:15-59:21; Philippians 1:6; Psalm 71: 1-24

Sept 13 Even in trials

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Father, whenever I experience trouble let me be like David is here. He is being hunted for his life, yet his words vacillate between his trouble, his faith in You, and praise for You. He has not forgotten the trial, but his focus is more on You than it.

Lord, there are times when I too cry out for Your mercy and “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed”. There, I know I am safe from any and every trouble that befalls me. You cover me from any danger with Your wings that offer complete and absolute protection. I know I can trust in Your limitless strength and care.

Father, You already know the difficulties I face right now. You see everything. No one is out to kill me as was David’s case. But I face problems just living with people because we are all so imperfect and hard to get along with. I face trials that come with change. Even when it is a good thing, it can be difficult to cope with change.

I have internal struggles: feelings that war within me against what I know is right and just. And I deal with unmet expectations and unfulfilled hopes. Some struggles are more upsetting because they are far beyond my ability to affect, like what’s happening in my nation or the world.

But all these things are in Your hands. None of them are beyond your help and influence. No matter the enemy, no matter the plot they have set against me, ”my heart is steadfast” in You. So like David, I can pray. “I will sing and make music” and praise You. I praise You that there is no other power above You. I praise You for being Sovereign in all things. I praise You that nothing can thwart the plans You have made for me or anyone else.

Father, You are the Lord Most High. There is nothing that can outdo, out power or outlast You. There is no one as faithful as You. So I choose to put my focus on You. I praise and thank You with every breath I take. I choose to breathe in Your peace, Your comfort, Your wisdom, Your love. And I breathe out praises and thanks to the One: Majestic in Holiness, Awesome in Glory, Highly Exalted, my God and my King. Amen

Psalm 57:1-11

Sept 1 Unworthy but loved and blessed

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

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It is an emotional response from a man at the end of himself, beholding Your immensity and magnificence. But it is also a statement of fact, that is true for me and every one of Your creations. I am unworthy. Unworthy of Your attention, of Your blessing, of Your love. And yet all that I enjoy in my life and in my relationship with You has nothing to do with my worthiness, or my ability to somehow earn anything from You. I am blessed and loved and cared for, because of who You are. Your love transcends my unworthiness. Your faithfulness trumps my undeserving state.

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

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

Father, I believe that there is nothing in this world, or above it, or below it, that can thwart Your plans. I trust that the plans You have for me and all my family are plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us hope and a future. I know that You are faithful to complete the good work You began in each of us. Even if we have chosen to leave the path You have laid out for each of us, I trust that You will call us back. You know best how to reach each of us. Father, open our ears to hear You, and open our hearts and spirits to desire to obey You.  Strengthen our spirits when our flesh is weak.

I praise You Father, that this power resides in You.   And that in Your love and grace, “You made [Job] prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…You blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.” Thank You for this example of Your goodness and Your blessing.   Thank You for this story of his faithfulness to You. I pray that I too, at the end of my life, no matter what comes, I will be able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord”. Amen

Job 40:1-42:17

May 17 How do I praise?

Psalm 113 uses the word “praise” five times in three verses. That must mean it’s an important word. And yet not one I use much in everyday conversation.

One very significant way, I demonstrate that You are a part of my life Lord, is Praise. I give honor, worship, adoration to You, God in recognition of who You are, and in gratitude and thanks for what You have done.

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I like to use acrostics to help me remember things.  To help me make PRAISE an intentional, doable action  – I see PRAISE as

Putting

Real

Adoration

Into

Situations

Every day

To me that means:

Putting:   intentionally and on purpose, I do something

The groceries and the dishes don’t get put away unless someone does it. It’s the same with Praise –it doesn’t just happen, someone has to do it.

Real:    in a genuine and sincere way, honest – not forced, not hurried

I take time to literally communicate to You.  Sometimes it’s by words, a statement or a prayer, sometimes I write it down in a letter or journal, or I might write a poem, or song – I might sing it! Or just take a walk or take a moment and speak to You in my heart.

Adoration:   my appreciation, thanks, gratitude, even simple acknowledgment of who You are and what You’re doing, and have the power to do.

I hardly ever take a drive, that I don’t notice the mountains, or the sky or sunset. Do I say ‘wow, Mother nature is something!’ No, I thank You as the Creator of it all for giving me such a beautiful world to live in and look at!

Into Situations:   in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way, good or bad, deserved or unfair, difficult and trying or pleasant and joyful.

So if I see my child being awesome, I thank You for making me a mother! Or I pass a car accident, and ask You to help the people involved and strengthen the ones giving assistance, and then I thank You for protecting me from dangers, all the accidents I never knew about because they didn’t happen.

Every day:   on a daily basis. I don’t wait for a holiday or Sunday to come around! But spontaneously!

As things happen, thanks and appreciation is voiced. It may sound silly or awkward at first, but the more I do it, it just becomes a way of life, life in You.

So P-R-A-I-S-E, Putting Real Adoration Into Situations Every day means:

Intentionally, genuinely and sincerely, take time to communicate to You, my appreciation, thanks and gratitude in the midst of whatever circumstances come my way on a daily basis. Father, help me remember to fill my life with praise for You! Amen

Psalm 113:1-3

 

May 12 There is none like You

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

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I will shout and sing!

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

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

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

With just the power and strength in Your right arm, You can save me from any foe, rescue me from any enemy, deliver me from any calamity. Deliver me Lord, from the lies and deceit of the evil one. Do not let me be pulled into false philosophies, lying schemes, or political intrigues only to see the truth when it is too late and I have been corrupted. I am Yours, Lord. Defend me and bring me to Your fortified place. Free me from the weaknesses of my flesh: selfishness, laziness, lust, jealousy, pride, arrogance, and greed. Help me against all these enemies. No one can help me like You. There is none like You!

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

Psalm 108:1-13

 

 

 

Apr 17 Learn from the blind beggar

“Hear my prayer, O Lord, and answer me.   Thank You for guarding my life. Father, I devote that life to You. You are my God and I am Your servant who trusts You.”

boy-2026186_640Father, there are so many things I am trusting You for right now. Things that I cannot see how, and have no evidence will ever happen. I guess that’s what faith and trust are all about: believing in what is not yet seen. There are so many hopes and dreams I have that may never come true. Yet I completely trust that if they are what is best for me or my family, You will bring them to be. Because You make Your servant glad, and bring me joy!   And out of that abundance, I will give glory to Your name.

Lord let me learn from the blind beggar. First, when he heard You were passing by, he knew You could heal him. Father, when I have a need, let me come straight to You with it confident that You have the desire and the power to help. And remind me to be persistent like he was.

Next, when You asked, he knew exactly what he wanted. Help me see my need for what it is, not hide it or deny it.

And last, when You answer my prayer, my request, let other people see it and praise You!

I praise You Lord, with all my heart, as I bring my requests to You. I ask for Your strength when I am under attack. When I am discouraged let me feel Your presence. Increase my faith as I learn truth from Your Word and apply it to my life. Teach me Your way. Help me walk in Your truth.   Let me always honor and revere You.

Thank You that I can call on You when I am in trouble. I know You will answer me. For all this and more, I thank You Lord. Amen

Psalm 86:1-17; Luke 18:35-42

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_640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He has brought me into life in a time and place of His choosing; to a family of His providence. He has watched over me and protected me from serious illness and injury, trouble and violence, time and again. There were times when I cried out to Him for deliverance from circumstances, and He delivered me, or gave me what I needed to endure. There were times when He rescued me from things that I was not even aware were things 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, 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 8 Only You

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Thank You for having mercy on me O Lord. Thank You for withholding from me the penalty that my sins deserve. I praise You that Your mercies are new every morning; that You are not like a human, who would reach a limit of forgiveness or loving kindness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 51:1-19; Revelation 7:12

Feb 13 I will testify and praise!

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How many prophecies fulfilled just in these verses today from Matthew Lord? In so many ways, You made good on Your Word to send a specific deliverer by a specific pre-ordained way: a Savior who would be the Lamb of God and take away the sin of the world, if we would just accept and believe.

These were not easy promises to fulfill. They were quite costly. Jesus paid the ultimate price with His very life, in a painful and torturous way. And even after His death, more prophecies were satisfied.   So many people, so many years, so many ways the plan could miss the mark, be off the prophecy just a bit. But You brought Your plan down through the ages to fruition. You accomplished the saving of man’s soul and his reconciliation to Yourself.

For these reasons, and for Your faithfulness, for Your trustworthiness to Your promises, for Your Sovereignty and power in accomplishing all You set out to do, “I will extol You”! According to a dictionary, that means I will praise You, exalt You, commend, admire and worship You. I will tell others of You with highest recommendations.   “Your praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in You! “

I will invite others to glorify You and lift up Your name with me in song, in prayer, to other believers and to anyone who will listen! I will tell them how You heard my prayers and saved friends and family from illness and injuries, how You protected them from bad decisions and bad people and bad situations. I will share how friends at death’s door were returned to their loved ones, and how in Your mercy, others were spared from terrible pain.

I will let them know that You are in the business of revealing wisdom to me when I ask about making decisions, about how when I didn’t know the way to go and felt trapped, You made a way out of the situation I had never thought of or considered. I will recall times when I was too afraid of what was about to happen, but You gave me peace and the courage to make it through by giving me songs, or visions, or specific scriptures to help me. I will share how there were times when I thought things were going so wrong, but You worked them out and brought blessings out of them I never thought were possible.

These are the things, the testimonies that I have tasted, and have proven over and over again that You are good. Thank You – for being there for me every time I knew I needed You. And thank You Lord for being there for me when I didn’t even know I was in need. Amen

Matthew27:32-66; Psalm34:1-8

Feb 2 I choose praise!

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Heavenly Father, You have shown me two different responses the Israelites made in the presence of Your blessing.

The first is one of dancing and singing praises to You. When You delivered them from Pharaoh by having them cross through the waters of the sea on dry ground, Miriam took a tambourine and led Moses and the Israelites in singing of Your miraculous deliverance.

But another time, when these people grumbled for food in the wilderness, You promised and delivered to them the blessing of meat in the evening and bread in the morning.   That night You brought them quail to eat and in the morning You created and gave them manna: something so marvelous and unknown they didn’t know what to call it. They even called it ‘manna’, which means ‘what is it?’ There is no mention of rejoicing, or an outpouring of gratitude or thanks – even though there was no other place for them to get food in the desert. What they did was respond with disobedience. They did not gather according to Your instructions.

And although You continued this particular blessing six days a week (with extra gathered the 6th day for the Sabbath) for forty years, (that’s 12,480 times !!) it wasn’t long before they were grumbling again unappreciatively

I pray Father, that I will respond to Your hand of blessing in my life like the first example. Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, highly exalted – You are my God and my King!! I will write songs and sing of Your wonders! I will tell others of Your greatness and Your blessing in my life. I will write and send emails to communicate them! But even if I stand in a room alone with my hands and voice raised to You, even if I sing off key, even if no one else knows, do not let me miss an opportunity to acknowledge Your power and involvement in my life with gratitude.

Open my eyes Lord, so I will see and understand all of Your blessings. Prompt me when I forget to acknowledge Your gifts. Do not let me take Your blessings for granted; or respond with disobedience. I desire to make a “sacrifice to You of shouts of joy!! I will sing and make music to the Lord!”

Exodus 15:19-17:7; Psalm 27:6

Dec 28 All Creation praises You!

 

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

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

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

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

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

in sunshine and in shadow I will praise my LORD

in harvest and in drought I will voice my thanksgiving

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

for my praise depends not on my earthly situation

it depends not on the circumstances of my existence

it depends not on the wealth of my pocket

 

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

I praise You for who You are

Your greatness

Your glory

Your power

Your person

 

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

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

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

Zechariah 14:1-21; Revelation 20:1-15; Psalm 148:1-14

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

clef-593912_1920In the midst of Zephaniah’s vision of absolute devastation, You speak of a remnant: “the meek and humble”.  They will “trust in the name of the Lord”.   And You will gather them, honor them, restore their fortunes, take great delight in them and rejoice over them with singing.   You sing!!

Father, thank You for inventing music!  Thank You for melodies I have learned, and words that give voice to my praise!  So when David says, “I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart… I will sing Your praise”, I can join with him and praise You!  I know songs that praise Your name, Your power, Your attributes.  I sing to You at the top of my lungs, with my hands help up, facing the sun, or the mountains, or looking up to the sky.  I drive around with praise music playing loudly and sing along. I can sit at the piano and sing with my eyes closed, to the music so many have written to help me glorify You.  Or I can quietly bow my head or fall to the floor and sing, barely audibly – but knowing You can hear me.

Your love and Your faithfulness are praiseworthy.  Your faithfulness to me alone gives me reason to sing and praise You.  And when there is no song that expresses my thanks, I just listen, and You teach me a new one!

As great and exalted as You are, You are still willing to come to the aid of Your people.  When I call, You have answered.  Many times You have come to rescue me.  You see me wherever I am, and are right there beside me.  You have defeated my foes, encouraged me and made me bold enough to act when I was too fearful.  I love David’s words: “though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life”.

I have faith, and I trust, that Your plan is the absolute best for my life.  And that You can make that happen.  I know that You will never, ever leave me.  I praise You for Your steadfastness, Your faithfulness to who You are, and Your faithfulness to me and my loved ones!   Many thanks.  Amen

Zephaniah 1:1-3:20; Psalm 138:1-8

Nov 26 Prayer, Praise, Provision

Father, thank You for Peter’s reminder that as the end approaches, believers must be earnest in prayer, share Your deep love with others, and use our Spiritual gifts.  Some of these sound so easy.  None of them are.  I can do none of them without Your help.

Thank You for giving me the ability as a believer to come to You in prayer.  I love my conversations with You!  Sometimes I feel closer to You when I walk around the lake, or through the trees, or can see the mountains.  When I am surrounded by Your amazing creation, You often give me a word of instruction or encouragement.  You have taught me things by watching geese flying above, or ducks feeding in the pond, or sunlight shining through dark clouds.  You have shown me how to be humble through the faces of blossoms that track the sunlight across the sky, or sunflowers that have heads so heavy with seed that they bend low.

It is so easy to praise You in the presence of Your beauty.  But rejoicing in suffering is harder to do.  Sometimes, my side of the conversation is sobbing and tears.  It is anxious pleading with pain.  You reach out to me then too.  There is nothing You cannot handle.  There is nothing too big or too small to bring to You.  Thank You for this life-saving and life-giving privilege of prayer.

Father, teach me how to show Your great love to others.  It feels easy to do with strangers.  Kindness to a stranger is short-lived.  Help me to be loving and forgiving and hospitable to those I know. Show me how to be humble, and not grumble.   And especially to those I know well, give me perseverance to act and speak in love for the long haul.

Lord, lead me in seeking out ways to join You where You are already at work, in ways that will use my Spiritual gifts.  Give me the energy and stamina to serve.   Show me how to serve humbly so You get the credit.  And let me recognize when to step back so another can use their gifts.

In all these things, let me also be aware of “[my] enemy the devil” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.  Help me see through his lies and deceptions.  Help me avoid his traps and temptations.   Strengthen me to resist him in all his cunning ways.   Make me strong, firm and steadfast.  Yours is the power forever.  I know You will never fail me.  Thank You.  Amen

I Peter 4:7-5:14