Tag: rejoice

Dec 25 God in flesh

Father, John tells of a day when Your wrath will be poured out upon the earth.  After the seven seals are broken with their judgments, and the seven trumpets sound with their disasters, then the seven bowls of Your wrath will be given to angels to pour out upon the earth.  And then,  “out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” 

Your ultimate judgment will be carried out.  “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, You who are and who were…true and just are Your judgments.”

I do not know when that day will come.  But I trust in Your righteousness.  And I trust in Your timing.  And if I am alive then, I will rejoice in that day.

20161223_231820Today, however, is a day of a different kind of rejoicing.  Although it is not historically accurate, it is the day chosen and set aside to remember and celebrate when You came to earth to bring salvation!

It is the day believers all over the world celebrate the day You clothed Yourself in the flesh of a tiny babe.  You gave up all the glory and splendor of heaven to be with people here on earth.  You submitted Yourself to the frailties of flesh to be an example to everyone, of how to live, and how to love.

You brought Your love to earth in a way people could see and follow.

Today: a remembrance and celebration of the love You poured out on earth.

One day in the future: of Your judgment poured out on earth.

I am truly blessed to be alive between the two.  I can experience the salvation You brought.  I can live in the love You showed, and be inspired to live my life as a reflection of that love.

Father, help me follow Your example.

As You poured out Your love and sacrifice, bringing salvation to earth, let me show a bit of that unconditional love to those around me.  Let me be show kindness, patience, support, being generous with all You have given to me.

One day You will “Part Your heavens, Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke.   Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.”  For now, “You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge”.

And I am blessed.  Thank You.  Amen

Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-8

 

Advertisements

Dec 19 Rejoice…and sing!

clef-593912_1920

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 18 Rejoice…always

rejoice-1-1148146

Father, Habakkuk sees the injustice of the wicked prospering and succeeding in their treachery.  He prays: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord.  Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”

I echo his words, Father.  How I long for You to make such a display of Your power that none can deny You.  That everyone in the world would see what I see in You!  Then all would worship You as You deserve.

The prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Job in the final assessment of his condition.  Job said “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.”  Amazing! 

Habakkuk was just as steadfast in his statement of faith.  He painted a dire picture of possible conditions, then restated that he would still “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk proposed “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.”  This would have been a dire circumstance in deed. 

As I learned before, a fig tree takes longer to mature and produce fruit than most fruit trees.  So no buds means no figs!  This would mean that years of effort and care had come to nothing.

Also, as they are the last fruit to appear, at the end of the summer, they would have been the last hope of food to get them through winter.  Figs can be eaten fresh, or dried and pressed into cakes to store for later use.  No figs would mean no food stores to last till the next year’s crops came in.

With no grapes on the vine, there would be no wine!  Wine and bread were the staples of the diet.  And wine was also instrumental in celebrations.  So no celebrations!  Drying the grapes produced raisins that, again, could be eaten or pressed into cakes and stored.

Olives were a crop that had many uses.  Besides eating olives, the oil was pressed and used in soaps, cosmetics, cooking and medicines.  It was also used for fuel in their lamps.  So no olives meant literally, dark times indeed.

In Habakkuk’s time people depended on the crops they planted to provide food for their tables.  Without these crops, there would be none.  The only meat in their diet was from the sheep and cattle in the stalls.  Without them, famine and starvation were in their future.

This picture Habakkuk paints is one of complete failure of his basic needs for life.  Yet he is willing to accept it all and still rejoice in You!

Father, give me a steadfastness of faith like Habakkuk had.  Help me in all circumstances to “rejoice in the Lord”! 

Help me, when there seems no hope by earthly standards, to “be joyful in God my Savior.”  I praise You Father, and I stand in awe!  Amen

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Oct 26 You control

Father, 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:

personwaterarmsup

”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.”  It reminds 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

 

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

Oct 12 Rejoice and Pray

sunset-1012477_640

Father, two of today’s verses have saved me when I needed to recite Bible verses as a child.  As far as I know, they are two of only three verses that contain only two words.  I Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always” and 5:17 “Pray continually”.  Because they contain only two words, making them easy to memorize and remember, and are so straightforward and to the point; I’ve always considered them important.

I loved English in school, and learned that when no subject is present, like these verses, the subject “you” is understood.  So whomever the speaker is speaking to is commanded to do the verb that follows.

A command is stronger than a simple statement.  When given by someone with authority it means to obey immediately, without further thought or discussion.  In these cases, I am to “rejoice” and “pray”.

Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight.  It is the opposite of showing sadness.   It is not whining or complaining.  It is not arguing or showing anger.  It doesn’t mean I can never have a negative emotion or express my feelings. But I should be watching for things to be joyful about, and then let others see why I am joyful.

people-850097_640Pray, very simply, means to talk to You.

The adverbs that follow each verb tell me how to do the action the verb specifies.  So when it comes to “rejoice”, the word is “always”.  In other words, or in the same words, in “all ways”, in all things, in all circumstances, look for the joy.

And the adverb for “pray” is “continually”, meaning “all the time, repeated frequently, constantly, without interruption.”

So, at all times, in all situations, in all things, I should strive to show my joy and be in communication with You.  Along with “give thanks in all circumstances”, “this is God’s will for you”, these directives tell me it is Your desire to hear from me.  And to hear my gratefulness.

Paul said these words to believers who were enduring hardship and persecution.  How much more should I be able to find things in my easy, twenty-first century life of freedom to be thankful and joyful about?

These are convicting Words, Father.  Words of instruction and encouragement!  Thank You for making them so easy to remember!  Amen

I Thessalonians 5:16-17 

May 7 It’s all about You

Father, let me be like Hannah.

Hannah words

Let me be earnest and persistent in prayer as Hannah was, pouring out my feelings and heartaches to You. When I make a promise to You, help me be true to my word as Hannah was, no matter how hard it is. Hannah gave back to You the very thing she prayed for: a precious son. Help me hold Your blessings loosely enough that I do not love them more than I love You.

I will rejoice as Hannah did over all You do for me. Help me acknowledge that all my blessings come from You. It is You who give life and take it away, You who send poverty and wealth. It is not by strength that I or anyone else prevails, but You who guard my feet and give me strength and victory over my enemies.

I delight in Your deliverance and in Your justice. You are the Lord God Almighty who knows and weighs all deeds. You laid the foundations of the world and set it in place. There is no one holy like You.   Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

I Samuel 1:1-2:21

 

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 19 Rejoice…and sing!

clef-593912_1920

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 18 Rejoice…always

rejoice-1-1148146Father, Habakkuk sees the injustice of the wicked prospering and succeeding in their treachery. He prays: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”. I would echo his words, Father. How I long for You to make such a display of Your power that none can deny You. That everyone in the world would see what I see in You! Then all would worship You as You deserve.

This prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Job in the final assessment of his condition. Job said “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him”. Amazing! Habakkuk was just as steadfast in his statement of faith. He painted a dire picture of possible conditions, then restated that he would still “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God my Savior”.

Looking at his picture of possibility, he included “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.” This would have been a dire circumstance in deed. 

As I learned before, a fig tree takes longer to mature and produce fruit than most fruit trees. So no buds means no figs! This would mean that years of effort and care had come to nothing. Also, as they are the last fruit to appear, at the end of the summer, they would have been the last hope of food to get them through winter. Figs can be eaten fresh, or dried and pressed into cakes to store for later use. No figs would mean no food stores to last till the next year’s crops came in.

With no grapes on the vine, there would be no wine! Wine and bread were the staples of the diet. And wine was also instrumental in celebrations. So no celebrations! Drying the grapes produced raisins that, again, could be eaten or pressed into cakes and stored.

Olives were a crop that had many uses. Besides eating olives, the oil was pressed and used in soaps, cosmetics, cooking and medicines. It was also used for fuel in their lamps. So no olives meant literally, dark times indeed.

In Habakkuk’s time people depended on the crops they planted to provide food for their tables. Without these crops, there would simply be no food. The only meat in their diet was from the sheep and cattle in the stalls. Without them, famine and starvation were in their future.

This picture Habakkuk paints is one of complete failure of his basic needs for life. Yet he is willing to accept it all and still rejoice in You! It would be as I see some families in the news today who lose everything to a flood or storm.   Father, give me a steadfastness of faith like Habakkuk had. Help me in all circumstances to “rejoice in the Lord”! Help me, when there seems no hope by earthly standards, to “be joyful in God my Savior”. I praise You Father, and I stand in awe! Amen

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Nov 11 Forewarned and defended by You

“So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.” Father, these two ‘women’ represented Your people. So when You say “all women may take warning and not imitate you” you mean all countries and all peoples can learn not to make the same mistake the Israelites made with idolatry. I pray that my country will learn from Your example here and not imitate the idolatry of Samaria and Jerusalem.

grateful-2006926_640Father, do not let this lesson go unnoticed. You are a just God and You judge rightly.   Those people only rejected the law of Moses and were judged. How much more will those be judged who live now and know of Your sacrifice on the cross?

You have made a new way for people today to approach You.   It is a better way! By Your shed blood, I have the privilege of approaching You boldly, with full assurance and confidence. So I draw near to You with a sincere heart, and ask that You would show me how to live, encouraging other believers, worshipping You, acting in love, doing good deeds, and defeating the enemy.

Father, the enemy uses all manner of evil to try to defeat me.   Help me, Lord; do not be silent. Fight against those who are against You and who attack me and my family. Show them that You are victorious while they are clothed with shame and disgrace.   And I will rejoice in my deliverance, extolling my Father with praise! Amen

Ezekiel 23:1-49; Hebrews 10:18-31; Psalm 109: 1-31

Nov 2 Don’t miss it!

miss bus

Don’t let us miss the message today like the people did in Ezekiel’s time – but give us wisdom and discernment to recognize Your truth, and apply it to our lives…

 

Father, what You had Ezekiel do seems so hard. Surely people must have thought he was crazy! And yet, his strange behavior was an exact representation of all that would happen to Jerusalem! The number of days, the military siege, even his shaved hairs became a picture of what would happen to the people!

He obeyed You to be a warning to the people. But the people did not pay attention or return to You. It makes me wonder about prophetic messages You are sending today, that no one is taking seriously…

Today, there is still time for people to hear Your message and be saved. You say “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” The good news is still being proclaimed! But there are those who hear and it is “of no value to them, because  they do not share the faith…” Father, open their ears!   Soften their hearts!   Do not allow them to be swept away by believing the lies and deception of the evil one!

“Your Word is active and alive.” It is the truth that can set people free from the darkness and deceit of the world and the evil one. It can show them the way to go, and how to turn from evil desires. Father, You can give them the strength to walk away from what they have known, and toward what is right; because you, Yourself, have walked this path of flesh!

Thank You that because You lived a human life here on earth, You empathize with my weaknesses.   And thank You that You have invited me to “approach Your throne of grace with confidence…” in boldness, knowing I will “receive mercy and find grace to help me in my time of need”.

Father, help me hear Your truth however You would speak it to me. Use me in the lives of people whose hearts You are softening. Thank You for providing all that I need in my times of need. Thank You that You know what I need even before I do! Thank You that I can approach You with boldness and confidence, and that Your amazing mercy and grace has provided me with forgiveness and eternal salvation. “I will sing to You, my Lord, all my life. I will sing praise to You, my God, as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to You as I rejoice in You, my Lord.” Amen

Ezekiel 3:16-6:14; Hebrews 4:1-16; Psalm 104:33-34

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

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

h-40pu5qr8a-david-marcu.jpg

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 12 Rejoice and Pray

Father, two of today’s verses have saved me when I needed to recite Bible verses as a child. As far as I know, they are two of only three verses that contain only two words. I Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always” and 5:17 “Pray continually”. Because they contain only two words, (making them easy to memorize and remember) and are so straightforward and to the point, I’ve always considered them important.

I loved English in school, and learned that when no subject is present, like these verses, the subject ‘you’ is understood. So whomever the speaker is speaking to is commanded to do the verb that follows. A command is stronger than a simple statement. When given by someone with authority it means to obey immediately, without further thought or discussion. In these cases, I am to “rejoice” and “pray”.

sunset-1012477_640Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight. It is the opposite of showing sadness.   It is not whining or complaining. It is not arguing or showing anger. I don’t think it means I can never have a negative emotion or express my feelings, but I should be looking to see the good side of what is going on in my life. I should be watching for things to be joyful about, and then let others see why I am joyful.

people-850097_640

Pray, very simply, means to talk to You. The adverbs that follow each verb tell me how to do the action the verb specifies. So when it comes to “rejoice”, the word is “always”. In other words (or in the same words) in ‘all ways’, in all things, in all circumstances, I need to be looking for the joy You bring me.

And the adverb for “pray” is “continually”, meaning ‘all the time, repeated frequently, constantly, without interruption’.

So, at all times, in all situations, in all things, I should strive to show my joy and be in communication with You. Along with “give thanks in all circumstances”, “this is God’s will for you”, these directives tell me it is Your desire to hear from me. And to hear my gratefulness.

Paul said these words to believers who were enduring hardship and persecution. How much more should I be able to find things in my easy, twenty-first century life of freedom to be thankful and joyful about? These are convicting Words, Father. And Words of instruction and encouragement! Thank You for making them so easy to remember! Amen

I Thessalonians 5:16-17

Sept 6 A Day of Rejoicing!

PrayerPraiseMorningO Father, Your Word paints a glorious picture of You returning to judge Your people! I can see it in my mind’s eye as a massive, wall-sized painting with rays of light gleaming from Your figure, and shadows playing in the storm clouds around You with strikes of lightening flashing out. Just like a painting the old masters would have painted – like Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Or maybe as a majestic motion picture, with powerful, turbulent action between the fire and the storm like Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments.

When I speak Your Words, the action begins as You appear in slow motion: “The Mighty One… God… The Lord… You speak and summon the earth…You are perfect in beauty, You shine forth…A fire devours before You and around You a tempest rages…the heavens proclaim Your Righteousness.” The most beautiful, powerful being imaginable appears in the sky, advancing slowly. Flames precede You, lashing out with almost blinding light and incredible heat. And around You, clouds, dark and terrible, build; billowing and blowing, roiling up and out, far and wide, with flashes of lightening shocking the sky. And from the darkness of the storm, rays of light shine forth out of Your very being. Your voice thunders through the heavens and rumbles down to the earth causing trembling in the rocks and ground.   And in the background, the booming voices of ten thousand angels sing out, glorifying You!

“The heavens proclaim His righteousness” and I fall on my knees in reverence of You to join in the praise to honor You. What a day of rejoicing that will be! To be in Your presence. To see You in Your glory. What a powerful vision! To You, I offer all praise, all honor, all thanks. Amen

Psalm 50:1-7

May 7 It’s all about You

Father, let me be like Hannah.

Hannah words

Let me be earnest and persistent in prayer as Hannah was, pouring out my feelings and heartaches to You. When I make a promise to You, help me to be true to my word as Hannah was, no matter how hard it is. Hannah gave back to You the very thing she prayed for: a precious son. Help me hold Your blessings loosely enough that I do not love them more than I love You.

I will rejoice as Hannah did over all You do for me. Help me acknowledge that all my blessings come from You. It is You who give life and take it away, You who send poverty and wealth. It is not by strength that I or anyone else prevails, but You who guard my feet and give me strength and victory over my enemies.

I delight in Your deliverance and in Your justice. You are the Lord God Almighty who knows and weighs all deeds. You laid the foundations of the world and set it in place. There is no one holy like You.   Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

I Samuel 1:1-2:21

Feb 2 I choose praise!

sing-a-new-song-2-1428461-639x582

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

Jan 15 His eye is on the sparrow

sparrow

Oh God my Father, I too, sometimes have days where I feel like the Psalmist David who writes this prayer for help in trouble. He sings his troubles to You O Lord, as he writes this to his chief musician.

Like David, I also pour out my heart to You, Oh God. There are circumstances in my life where I feel You have turned away from me, hidden Your face from me. I cannot see You, or feel Your presence and do not know when You will act. I pray and call out for You to make it right: for healing, for restoration, for vindication, for strength, for wisdom, for justice. I can think of challenges, troubles, where I need each of these; and You know them too, because You know all things.

There are places in my life of such hurt and frustration. They cause sorrow to fill my heart. I feel as if I have fought a battle and my enemies have defeated me. My strength is gone. I cry out for You to hear me, come to me, and lift me up. Almighty God, do not let my enemies have the victory. Do not let them say they have vanquished me with rejoicing in their camp.

Even facing all this, I trust wholeheartedly in Your mercy. I know that my salvation is sure. All else pales in the light of Your love and care for me. Whatever happens to me here on earth, I know my future in eternity is secure in You.

So I will sing to You. I will lift up Your Holy Name. I will rejoice abundantly because of what You have done for me. You know the number of hairs on my head, and that is a number that changes daily! Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from Your will. I trust in Your will completely. I trust the plans that You have for me, to prosper me and not to harm me; plans to give me a hope and a future. So in You will I rest. Amen

Psalm 13: 1-6; Jeremiah 29:11

Dec 28 Wedding Feast of the Lamb!

 

 

wedding-365943_1920

banquet-453799_1920

Father, how it seems as if Zechariah and John are talking about the same thing!  The end times! “On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against [Jerusalem]…”  Could that be the battle of Har Meggido [Armageddon]?  In John’s description: “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and all their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.”  And the result of each: “On that day I will strike every horse with panic and every rider with madness” from Zechariah, and from John “The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

Father, in that day there will be such an amazing celebration for You in the heavens!  And with the believers both in heaven and on the earth.  For the day of the wedding supper will have come!  It will be the culmination of the Divine Romance!  According to Jewish customs, the Father of the Groom chooses the Bride.  You chose each and every believer!  Also, the Bridegroom traveled from his home to the Bride’s.  You left the majesty of heaven as Jesus and came to earth.  And the Bridegroom paid the price for the Bride – in this case, it was Your very life!  You shed Your precious blood to pay the price for me!  The Bridegroom makes the offer, but the Bride can accept or reject.  You invited me into relationship with You, as You invite each one here on earth.  I accepted the offer to become Your Bride.

Just as in Jewish wedding custom, when I accepted, we became betrothed.  As each believer is now in a state of betrothal, we are set apart , belonging to You, and have the Holy Spirit as a pledge, a seal of the relationship.  The Groom then leaves to prepare a place for them to live.  You left earth, and have gone to prepare a place for me and every believer to join You.  And at the right time, known only by the Father of the Groom, the Groom returns to take the Bride to be together.  The right time, known only to You, the Father, is this day these prophets are speaking about when they say: “The wedding of the Lamb has come”.

And what an entrance You make!  No better scene was ever directed in an epic movie!  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True… His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself.   He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.   Coming out of His mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations…On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written:

King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”

What a glorious day!!  What a day of rejoicing!  I can’t wait!  Amen!

Zechariah 12:1-13:9; Revelation 19:1-21

Dec 25 God in flesh

20161223_231820

Father, John tells of a day when Your wrath will be poured out upon the earth.  After the seven seals are broken with their judgments, and the seven trumpets sound with their disasters, then the seven bowls of Your wrath will be given to angels to pour out upon the earth.  And then,  “out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” 

Your ultimate judgment will be carried out.  “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, You who are and who were…true and just are Your judgments.”

I do not know when that day will come.  But I trust in Your righteousness.  And I trust in Your timing.  And if I am alive then, I will rejoice in that day.

Today, however, is a day of a different kind of rejoicing.  Although it is not historically accurate, it is the day chosen and set aside to remember and celebrate when You came to earth to bring salvation!  It is the day believers all over the world celebrate the day You clothed Yourself in the flesh of a tiny babe.  You gave up all the glory and splendor of heaven to be with people here on earth.  You submitted Yourself to the frailties of flesh to be an example to everyone, of how to live, and how to love.  You brought Your love to earth in a way people could see and follow.

Today: a remembrance and celebration of the love You poured out on earth.  One day in the future: of Your judgment poured out on earth.  I am truly blessed to be alive between the two.  I can experience the salvation You brought.  I can live in the love You showed, and be inspired to live my life as a reflection of that love.

Father, help me follow Your example.  As You poured out Your love and sacrifice, bringing salvation to earth, let me show a bit of that unconditional love to those around me.  Let me be show kindness, patience, support, being generous with all You have given to me.

One day You will “Part Your heavens, Lord, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke.   Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.”  For now, “You are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge”.  And I am blessed.  Thank You.  Amen

Revelation 16:1-21; Psalm 144:1-15

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

Dec 18 Rejoice…always

rejoice-1-1148146
Father, Habakkuk sees the injustice of the wicked prospering and succeeding in their treachery. He prays: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”. I would echo his words, Father. How I long for You to make such a display of Your power that none can deny You. That everyone in the world would see what I see in You! Then all would worship You as You deserve.

This prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Job in the final assessment of his condition. Job said “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him”. Amazing! Habakkuk was just as steadfast in his statement of faith. He painted a dire picture of possible conditions, then restated that he would still “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God my Savior”.

Looking at his picture of possibility, he included “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls” This would have been a dire circumstance in deed.

As I learned before, a fig tree takes longer to mature and produce fruit than most fruit trees. So no buds, no figs! This would mean that all that effort and care had come to nothing. Also, as they are the last fruit to appear, at the end of the summer, they would have been the last hope of food to get them through winter. Figs can be eaten fresh, or dried and pressed into cakes to store for later use. No figs would mean no food stores to last till the next year’s crops came in.

With no grapes on the vine, there would be no wine! Wine and bread were the staples of the diet. And wine was also instrumental in celebrations. So no celebrations! Drying the grapes produced raisins that, again, could be eaten or pressed into cakes and stored.

Olives were a crop that had many uses. Besides eating olives, the oil was pressed and used in soaps, cosmetics, cooking and medicines. It was also used for fuel in their lamps. So no olives meant literally, dark times indeed.

In Habakkuk’s time people depended on the crops they planted to provide food for their tables. Without these crops, there would simply be no food. The only meat in their diet was from the sheep and cattle in the stalls. Without them, famine and starvation were in their future.

This picture Habakkuk paints is one of complete failure of his basic needs for life. Yet he is willing to accept it all and still rejoice in You! It would be as I see some families in the news today who lose everything to a flood or storm. Father, give me a steadfastness of faith like Habakkuk had. Help me in all circumstances to “rejoice in the Lord”! Help me, when there seems no hope by earthly standards, to “be joyful in God my Savior”. I praise You Father, and I stand in awe! Amen

Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

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