Tag: scripture

May 1 I believe

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” 

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In today’s scripture You come onto the scene and are recognized as Messiah, the Lamb of God, the One who saves!

You came in the flesh, to my physical world to sacrifice Yourself to make a way for me to be reconciled to You.  You are the Only Way.  Yet there are still people who do not recognize You for who You are.

John recognized You because he was spiritually aware.  You revealed to him that the one on whom he saw the Spirit of a dove come down and rest, was the Son of God.  He saw the Spirit rest on You so he could know for certain, proclaim and testify that You are the Son of God.

Two of John’s disciples first followed You because they had studied with John.  They knew the scriptures, the prophecies and trusted John’s testimony, so they believed.  Nathanael believed because You knew things about him You could not have naturally known.

Lord God, You call and You save.  But it is my personal decision whether to respond to or ignore Your call.

I accept Your free gift of eternal salvation, but there are so many who do not.

Lord God, Your Word says it is Your will that every single human being would be saved from the penalty of their sin.  That penalty is death, eternal separation from You.  You desire that they would answer Your call and accept Your payment for that sin and be reconciled to You.

Some will come to You because they are aware of spiritual truth, like John.

Some will come because they study out the scriptures for themselves, or because someone they trust will share with them, like John’s disciples.

Some will come because they see You doing things, miracles, that are not naturally possible.

Father open the ears of those who do not yet know You, so they can hear Your call to them.  Sensitize their minds, hearts, and spirits so they are ready to accept Your salvation.  And show me how I can speak or act in a way that will draw people to You.  Use me to point them to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

A time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  I can’t wait!  Amen

John 1:29-51

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Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” 

“Everything must be fulfilled about Me that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.  Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

child-945422_1920Father, explain to me and open my mind so I can understand the Scriptures!

The Scriptures You referred to here are the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi.  I was brought up referring to them as the Old Testament.  Jews refer to these same books as The Tanakh.  Made up of three parts: The Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim, the Torah is the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.   The Neviim are the Prophets, so the twelve books of the minor prophets and nine written by major Prophets.  The Ketuvim are the books of wisdom, scrolls and history.

You explained to the disciples that You are the Messiah promised in these Scriptures.  You are the God in both Testaments!  You are God of the whole Bible!

So I need to be familiar with all parts to understand You fully.    Lord teach me from both, and help me see the blessing in the connections.

So much of the meaning in the Old Testament is lost to me unless I learn about the Hebrew customs and language.   When I see what You said and did in the New Testament, I miss the depth of meaning without the context of what came before.

You are part of the Trinity in Genesis 1.  When You said “Let Us make man in our image…” it was plural; in Hebrew “Elohim.”

When the prophet Isaiah spoke it was You he saw who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace!  He described You in his words when he said “a man of sorrows, familiar with pain, despised and rejected.”

Zechariah saw that You would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, that You would die a violent death for all mankind.

There are 351 prophecies in this Scripture that You fulfill.   And more yet to be fulfilled!  How much more marvelous to know You as the Promise Keeper, the Prophecy Fulfiller!  You are the One who speaks of the future, and has the power to bring it to pass!

The more I understand of who You are and all that You have done, the better I can know You.  The more I know You, the more fully I can love You.   And the more I understand about prophecies yet to be fulfilled, the better prepared I can be to face the future, trusting in You as my Savior.

Thank You for being true to Your Word.  Thank You that as I read and study, You reveal more and more of Yourself to me: my God in whom I trust!  Amen

Luke 24:13-53

Apr 26 Hearing God’s Voice

Father, thank You for the example of Gideon.  What a great illustration to show me it’s ok to ask You for confirmation that I am indeed hearing from You.  It’s important to be sure before taking action.

There are times when I am sure I hear You and understand what I am to do.

But other times when, probably due to fear or reluctance on my part, I second guess myself and come up with lots of reasons why I might have misunderstood You.   I need to be reassured.  So I am glad to know it is all right to ask for that reassurance.

I desire to follow in Gideon’s footsteps, Lord. First, it’s important for me to know who I am hearing from.  He asked for confirmation and received absolute proof he was hearing from You.  Upon realizing it was truly You, he built an altar that acknowledged You as The One True God.

Then, he was obedient in Your instructions to remove the worship of other gods, tearing down the false altar and Asherah pole.  And even though he did this fearfully, You protected and blessed him.

As he followed through with Your plan, he asked for clear validation.  Gideon used a good example of something that would be unlikely if not impossible to have happened naturally.   So I too, need to be sure I’m not asking for a sign that will simply support my own desire; like, “Lord, if the sun comes up tomorrow I will know You mean…”

How do I verify I am hearing from You?  Asking You to combust food like Gideon did, is probably not the best route to go these days, although not beyond Your ability.  And You have left Your written Word as a guide for me.  So I have learned to ask three questions:

1 – Does what I hear agree with Scripture?  The answer must be “yes.”  I believe You will never tell me anything that contradicts what You have already told me in Your Word. So I must be familiar with Your Word.

2 – What will the result, or the fruit of the act be?  It should lead to and produce the fruit of the Spirit; which is peace, patience, love, joy, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control.   The acts of the flesh are immorality, idolatry, impurity, debauchery, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, and the like.  So I can look at the expected result and see where I am headed.

3 – Will it benefit my relationship with You, Lord?  Everything I do will either draw me closer to You or pull me farther away in our relationship.

So I can ask the three questions.  But if confusion still exists, it is good to know that I can come to You with whatever concern I have.  And know that You will answer me so I can be sure of Your direction.

Thank You that You let me hear Your voice.  And help me confirm it.  Amen

Judges 6:11-40; Galatians 5:17-23

Apr 14 Your Word over deception and lies

“O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.  See how Your enemies are astir, how Your foes rear their heads.”

enemy-God-greatI live at a time in the history of earth, when You have permitted satan to have limited power here.  With lies and deception, vain philosophies and worldly desires he confuses people and leads them astray.

He holds up the pride of accomplishment and the lusts of the eyes and of the flesh as the pinnacle of human achievement.  He elevates satisfaction and pleasure with material gain no matter the cost in human suffering.

And he stalks those who would seek to lead a godly life and bring You glory; hoping to derail their efforts and sideline them completely.

When I was born, I was automatically on satan’s team because of my sin nature.  Because Adam sinned, all sinned.  There is only one way to be reconciled to You and be on Your team:  accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus’ blood paid the price, the penalty for my sin.   Once on Your team, satan can never have me on his team again.  And because that makes him mad, he tries to ruin my team efforts or keep me off the field entirely.

I admit sometimes I am still misled by satan’s lies.  He deceives me to believe that I am not worthy, or good enough to be on Your team.  If he gets me discouraged enough, depressed, despairing, or distracted, I may just sit myself on the sideline.  He is cunning in his ways to deceive.  And he plots against Your players on all fronts: personally, professionally, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

But Lord, Your armor is the best.  Your protection: absolute.

Thank You that I can protect my mind, my thoughts, from the evil one and use my faith as a shield.

Thank You that I have a weapon: Your Word, to use against his lies and deceiving ways.

And thank You for fighting with me, to give me victory!

Father, make Your enemies like refuse on the ground; “like tumbleweeds that blow along, like chaff before the wind” that is blown and dissipates till it is no more. Consume Your enemies “like a fire consumes the forest or sets a mountain ablaze” as You “pursue and terrify them with Your hurricane power.”

“They will perish in disgrace, O Lord.  And know that You alone, are the Most High, over all the earth.”  Amen

Psalm 83:1-18

Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

Several times today the words “Be strong and courageous” appear.  O Lord, make me strong and courageous!  Lend me Your strength when I am weak.  Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You direct me to do.

How do I appropriate Your strength?

wordsarmsoutstretchedskyReading Your Word is a good start.  It is encouraging just to read Your words that sit by my computer today – “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards with encouraging scriptures.  It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally, or just having them sit out, open to a verse.   They are like personal messages from You to me.

It also helps to know I am being obedient to what Your Word says to do.

There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Even if You are calling me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.

Father, so many times You have protected me and helped me through hardships.  Recalling those times from the past helps me trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble.  I only journal sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points.

With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down.  They confirm Your faithfulness to me.

And You have put people in my life who I can observe being courageous with their own challenges.  Some are in the midst of them right now.  Some have already come through a hard time.  I can watch and learn what encourages them.

They are living examples of how to get through difficulties.  Some have even leaned on me.  And when I need to, I can lean on them.

So You give me Your Word.  You protect me wherever You call me to be.  You Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past.  You put helping relationships in my life.

And most importantly, You promise Your presence:  “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision.  Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

 

 

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

directory-466935_640Heavenly Father, thank You for those times I literally cried out to You for You to hear me and come quickly, and You did.

There have been nights like the Psalmist experienced, when in distress over circumstances, I sought You.  I could not see a way out of or through my problems.

And though I had gone to bed, sleep was far from me.  My thoughts would not be still.  With each issue, another failure or complication seemed to pile on until I felt so overwhelmed I did not even know where to start to pray.

It was then that I remembered when in the past, You spoke to me, encouraged me, lifted my emotional distress.   There were literally times when You gave me songs to sing, new melodies and words, to let me know You were with me and things would be alright.

But this time, I did not feel that.  I felt far from You.  And wondered if this could be the end? Had I finally reached a point where You would not come and rescue me, but simply take me home to be with You in heaven?

That actually sounded like it would be the answer to all my troubles.  And while I believe You have shown me I have much to do before I die, there was a sense of relief in that thought.

That’s when it hit me – this thought was NOT from You.

It was from the evil one who would like nothing better than to sideline me – take me out of the game altogether!  If satan can get anyone to believe the lie that there is no hope, it immobilizes and freezes them.  Can even paralyze a Christian’s faith.

So I decided I to begin praying – not about the circumstances that were overwhelming me, but any scripture I could remember:

The Lord’s prayer.  

The 23rd Psalm. 

“I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.” 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” 

“The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory!” 

“Jesus wept.” 

The more I quoted Your Word in prayer, the calmer I felt.  And soon fell asleep.

Thank You Lord, for sending Your calm, Your peace.  Thank You for sending sleep.

Thank You that in the morning, things didn’t look as bad as they had the night before!  Thank You that I could see resources and solutions I could not the night before.  In taking those steps back towards You, I felt Your presence once again.  It was not You who had moved.  But in believing a lie, I had.

“Your ways, O God, are holy.  What god is so great as our God?  You are the God who performs miracles; You display your power among the peoples.  With Your mighty arm, You redeemed me!”  Amen

Psalm 77:1-15; Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 10:27; John 3:16; John 11:35; Deuteronomy 20:4

Mar 25 Help me see

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 6:39-49

Feb 8 Praying Your words

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Your Words are holy.  Sometimes I simply pray Your very own words back to You!  It’s as if You already know what I need and have prepared the prayer for me.

“I trust in You.  My times are in Your hands;” They always have been whether I acknowledged it or not – my comings and goings, my living and dying, and all the moments in between, were already determined before even one of them came to be.

“Deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.”  Whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual adversaries – You are Sovereign over them all and can defeat them all.

“Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love.”  May I feel the impact of Your illuminating presence on my body, mind and spirit and be saved from harm not because of anything I have done or earned, but because of Your benevolent generosity and grace.

“Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to You; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.” Let me see victory in the utter defeat of our enemies and the fulfillment of Your justice. Strengthen me to walk in Your way.  Amen

Psalm 31: 14-17

Nov 27 You light my path

detective-flashlight-260x300

Father, recently I found myself walking with a group in the dark.

I had a small flashlight which came in handy as the sidewalk was broken and uneven.  At first, I thought it would be best to shine the light way ahead of us so we could see where the path curved or stopped at a curb or was cut off by bushes.

But it became clear that we could walk with the most certainty and speed when the light shone brightly on the very next step we were to take.  Looking ahead is good to get a sense of direction, but we needed the close, step by step guidance to be sure our ankles did not turn or slip off the narrow path.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Your Word, the Scriptures, are that light for me.  When I am not sure which option is best, Your Word tells me “Trust in the Lord with all Your heart and lean not on Your own understanding.”

When I feel frustrated with some results, You tell me “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time [you] will reap a harvest…”

Or when I feel discouraged, alone and depressed, You tell me “I have carried you since your birth…I will continue to be with you and sustain you, even when you have gray hairs.  I will always carry you; I will always sustain you; I will always rescue you.” [paraphrased to personalize]

Your Word helps me see that next step and take it.  Thank You Father, that You care so much for me that even in the darkness of this world and its “wisdom” You have made a way for me to stay on Your path and keep moving ahead safely.  Amen

Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5; Galatians 6:9; Isaiah 46:3-4

 

 

 

 

Nov 22 Teach me “application”

hand on BibleWhat an amazing Psalm is the 119th Psalm!  It is the longest Psalm.  It has more verses than 14 Old Testament books and 17 New Testament books.

Within it is found the verse that lies in the very center of Scripture – halfway between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21.

This Psalm was constructed with twenty-two stanzas, each beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew Alephbet.  And within each stanza, each of the eight verses begin with the letter of the stanza.

In almost every verse, there is a word that describes Your teaching: Word, law, commands, statues, decrees, precepts.  And almost each one teaches how to handle Your Word or be led and taught by it.

It is said that King David used this Psalm to teach his young son, Solomon the Alephbet.  It represented all the letters, but also illustrated spiritual truth of how to live a godly life.  So as I read it, Father, I also pray these verses as a guide for living according to Your Word.

“I will obey Your Word.  Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law…do not hide Your commands from me.”  Help me see beyond the Words to the meaning You have for these Words in my life.  Show me marvelous things that deepen my devotion to You

 “…Teach me Your decrees.  Let me understand the teaching of Your precepts; then I will meditate on Your wonders…strengthen me according to Your Word.” 

Father, beyond word studies and context references, reveal deeper meanings to me through Your Holy Spirit.   Show me how to be sensitive to the timing and teaching You use to increase my awareness and discernment.

Understanding Your Word brings me strength!  What an awesome gift!

Father, I choose Your truth and obedience to Your laws.  “I set my heart on Your laws.  I hold fast to Your statutes.“  “Be gracious to me… and do not let me be put to shame.”

I would rather You take my life than allow me to dishonor You.  I am Your servant.  You are my Master.   It is only by Your mercy and Your Word that I have life.  Amen

Psalm 119:17-32

Oct 31 Don’t drift away

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Father, Paul reminds the Hebrews of something I need to remember too:  “We must pay more attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

  “What we have heard” is the message spoken by You through Your prophets and Your Word.

If I do not pay attention, I may misunderstand or misinterpret what You are saying to me.   If I do not study to understand the context of Your Word, I may miss the true meaning.

I have heard verses of scripture taken completely out of context to make a point.  But when placed back with the other verses around them, and looking at what the author was saying and to whom he was speaking, it can make an entirely different point!   So I must pay careful attention to understand Your Word correctly.

Besides merely understanding what is said, which is a big thing in itself, I must be sure I am not drifting away from what it means in my own life.

How many times have I read a scripture and missed seeing a personal application?

jetty-1245749_640To make sure I “do not drift away”, I need to ask questions as I read Your Word; such as:

Is this giving me an example of what to do?  Of what not to do?

Is it a warning to heed?

Is it teaching me something about You I need to know?  About myself?

About my motives, attitudes, or relationships that need changing?

Here’s one way to picture it:

rope-1305658_640Your Word is a dock, and I am in a small boat.

If I tie my rope to the dock, I will not drift, or be carried away by currents or by storms.

But first I need to recognize where I can tie up, and then I must actually tie up there.  So I need to understand, and act on Your Word.

Lord, help me pay better attention to Your Word.

Show me how to apply it to my life.

Teach me how to follow through on what You tell me. Amen

Hebrews 2:1-4

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 19 God Speaks

person-woman-smartphone-calling

Father, You invite me to “Call to You and You will tell me great and unsearchable things I do not know.”  Lord, I do call on You.  For there is so much I do not know!

Father, help me understand more of Your Word.  I have studied long and hard to answer the questions:  What does scripture say?  What does it mean?  What does it mean to me?  These are the three main questions scholars study to understand what is also called Observation, Interpretation, and Application.

I have looked up definitions of words used in the original Hebrew and Greek languages.  And made lists of key words, comparisons and contrasts, people, places, events to make things clear in my mind.  I have examined cross-references to see where words, phrases and concepts are used elsewhere in scripture to understand better.

I have read about cultural, political, geographical, and literary contexts to get a better sense of background for scriptures.  And read the same passage in different translations to shed more light on meaning.  And looked for and assessed where symbolism is used in addition to the literal meaning.

These studies have brought me much understanding and clarity.  It has changed the way I look at and value and am amazed by Your precious Word.

Other times I have simply read Your Word, and feel as if You are speaking just to me, so clearly, and so intimately.  Father, keep speaking!  Use it all to make clear Your love for me, Your purpose for me, Your plan for my life.  Let me see where You are working, and how I can join in with You.

I feel close to You when I get in touch with Your creation.  When I see the colors of the leaves change, I marvel at the beauty, and how You make seasons for me that each have an attraction that I love.  When I see the mountains I envision Your grandeur and strength.

As I watch the ocean, I am awed by You immenseness.  And by the absolute endless nature of one wave after another.  It is mesmerizing, comforting.  Floating on the waves, I feel the surge and power of the water, and the unseen forces that pull me out to sea.

Your power is often unseen, but strong and mighty.  All I experience, seen and unseen teaches me more about You.  Continue to speak to me through Your marvelous creation.

Colors, sounds, wind, smells – all these things and more draw me to You and Your creative character.  It all makes me wonder: what would this awesome, amazing, majestic God, want with me?

Father, show me how to use the gifts and talents and traits You have placed in me to glorify You.  Show me how to overcome the obstacles of my flesh and the world and the evil one to honor You.

Teach me to not let my temper and irritability get the better of me.  Show me how to be loving and compassionate when annoyed and frustrated.  These are some of the things that I do not know that hamper my everyday living to honor You.

I call to You.  As You answer me, reveal more great and unsearchable things to me.  Amen

Jeremiah 33:3

Oct 12 Rejoice and Pray

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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 

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

 

Aug 12 Working together

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Father, what a lesson from Nehemiah!

Two things stand out for me that apply to Your people today.

One: that sometimes there is opposition when we are doing Your work, such that we must work with one hand on the task and one hand on the sword.

And two: that we must not take advantage of or hinder our own people.

Father, whatever task, circumstance or relationship I’m involved with, help me see spiritual opposition. It may appear as overt resistance or an obstruction to what I’m trying to do. Or be an invisible undertone of grumbling, complaining, discouragement or division. Whatever the case, remind me that Your Word is my Sword – my weapon.

Your Word has power. It can overcome discouragement and repair disunity.   It can change my focus, reveal truth and tear down the lies of the opposition; even change the hearts of those against me. Ready my mind, Lord, to prepare me to fight the battle however it presents itself.

As the Jews were hindering their brothers, I see that sometimes I work against myself and may not realize that what I am doing is preventing someone else from doing their job. Show me from Your perspective if I am in any way, hindering a brother or sister. Show me how to encourage them and free them up to do what You have called them to do. As we work alongside each other for Your purpose, free us all to do our best.

I trust that You have prepared me for whatever comes against me, and for whatever task You have purposed for me to do.   Open my eyes to see it all clearly. Strengthen my arm to do the work. Sharpen my mind to know Your Word.   Embolden my Spirit to go forward. “Instruct me and teach me in the way I should go; counsel me and watch over me.” And “I will rejoice in You and be glad. And “Shout for joy!” Amen

Nehemiah 3:15 – 5:13; Psalm 32:8, 11

Aug 9 Your Word lights my way

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Father, thank You for Your Word that guides me every day in my prayers and in the choices I make in life. In today’s scriptures there are many reminders of things that deserve my attention.

First, like Ezra, I need to remember that my actions speak louder than my words, and my actions reveal what I believe about You.   Ezra didn’t ask for a military escort because it would look as if he didn’t trust in Your protection.

What do my actions say to others around me about my faith in You? When I seem afraid and worried over circumstances, does that show others I don’t really trust Your protection and provision? Father help me show my faith in You in my responses to difficulties.

When things don’t go my way, remind me that You are in control, and that You have my back!

There is absolutely nothing that can happen to me that You are unaware of. And I believe that You filter everything that comes to me, through Your fingers of love. Even in the bad times, You have prepared me, and You are with me. Thank You that You never, ever leave me.

Ezra fasted. I believe this is something that You honor. And it is good for me to relinquish something in order to spend time in prayer and humble myself before You. Sometimes it’s food. Sometimes it’s an activity, like the internet, or tv, or addicting games.

Whatever it is, I believe it is the act of focusing my attention and energy on hearing from and submitting to You.   Father, I express my desire for You to “clear my plate” of anything that is not of You.  Help me see my attitudes and actions from Your perspective, and tap into Your power for course correcting changes.

Ezra felt personally the burden of the sin of his people and interceded for them. I also have a burden for the “corporate” sin of my nation. I think of how far my country has come away from Your precepts, from Your commands, and I weep. I cry out with Ezra, “O my God, I am too ashamed to lift up my face to You, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached the heavens…we have disregarded the commands You gave…”

But Father, I have faith that You are still in control. That You have the power to move in the hearts of men and women, young and old, and call us back to You. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.”

Your work is not done and You are not finished with my country yet. Or my family. Or me.

Thank You Father for the hope You give me. You are my “rock of refuge, a strong fortress”. And I trust in You.  Amen

Ezra 8:21-9:15; Psalm 31:1-8; Proverbs 21:1

 

July 17 Your truth delivers me

Dear Father, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” It seems some days are harder than others. If even one negative thought comes into my head, it can bring me down. I glumly mull it over and the thought generates an emotional response. Very easily other negative thoughts join in and pile up on each other till I am feeling discouraged.

Helmet of Salvation

Quickly enough, discouragement heaps on even more ‘should have, would have, could haves’ until I am feeling out of control, overwhelmed and depressed and join with the psalmist in saying “Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death”. In my own words, ‘Help me or I’ll just die.

It is surprising how quickly simple thoughts can lead to anger, fear, frustration, until I am not only emotionally upset, but also experience a physical response which can leave me with a headache or feeling sick to my stomach. It impairs my judgment and my ability to function efficiently, whether at work or at home. I can’t even relate to people normally in my agitated condition.

“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”   You have already given me a wonderful solution to this problem. If only I would remember to use it!

The battle begins in my mind. And You have given me a piece of armor to protect my mind – the Helmet of Salvation.   It guards my thoughts and gives me the ability to take them captive and hold them up to Your truth. It also gives me the ability to understand and memorize Your truth so I have it at the ready when I need it.

Your truth can help me stop the flow of wrong and negative thoughts. The evil one uses these, preferring that I remain sidelined in discouragement and depression, unable to defend myself. He will use these kinds of half-truths and deceiving lies to mislead and condemn me. But when held up to the truth, they are shattered and scattered.

One way I can know if a thought comes from You, is that You convict whereas satan condemns. He would make me feel like a hopeless, dirty, rotten, sinner. You may correct me, but Your words lift me up, motivate and empower me to make the needed corrections. Your words generate hopefulness. His produce hopelessness.

Lord, remind me, to use this amazing gift! When a negative thought comes, prompt me to hold it up to Your truth immediately. Help me build into my memory an arsenal of truth from Your scriptures. When I memorize scripture I can use it to combat the lies seeking to discourage me and control my thinking. Then I can confidently deal with whatever truth You show me. “I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me!” Amen

Psalm 13:1-6

July 12 Give me victory

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Father, I want to be like the men You sent to be with David to make up his great army. These were men described as “armed for battle…ready for battle…brave…experienced…of undivided loyalty…armed with every type of weapon.”   I want to be ready for the battles I face.

My flesh wars with me, tempting me into sin. The world around me seeks to draw me into its ungodly values. The evil one desires my destruction. Give me the discernment to know right from wrong in these confusing times and the courage to be loyal to You. Help me be prepared to stand up for what is right.

You have given me weapons: Your Word, prayer, Your promise of wisdom when I ask for it, other believers around me for support. I know the power there is real. I have seen it over and over again. I have experienced Your blessings and amazing responses to prayer time and time again.

I also desire to be like the “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” Give me insight into the political and national issues and wisdom to understand the agendas behind the movements going on in my world today. Help me see the truth of things. Teach me to understand how to follow You and show me how to respond rightly.

Do not let me stand alone, Lord. You sent Paul “so that he might impart to you [other believers] some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”   In a similar way Lord, let me encourage and strengthen other believers around me, and let them encourage my faith.

Father, thank You for the friends and all those You have sent to walk beside me. Thank You for those who have prayed for me and for the prayers I make for them.

Your armor is the best. Your plan is sure. And I have read the end of the Book – You win!! I am so glad to be on Your team! Thank You for choosing me. Amen

I Chronicles 12:19-40; Romans 1:11-12

July 3 Your Word nourishes me

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Father, at age twenty-four, King Josiah read Your Words for the first time. They affected him so profoundly that he wept and tore his robes. He gave orders to the priests and others to bring the country’s worship practices in line with what You commanded. He rid the nation of all other idolatry and led his people in worshiping the One True God.

O Lord, I pray that Your Word would still have that effect on people. Let it be true in my life, that when I read Your Word, it’s meaning is clear to me, and I immediately obey what it says. If I misunderstand, let me hear Your voice correcting me. If I forget to obey, remind me.   And if I don’t want to obey, change my attitude.

As in the Psalm, make me like a tree planted by streams of water. This is a tree that will always have the moisture it needs for its roots to go down deep into the soil and feed from the rich nutrients in the earth to make it strong. Such a tree will not wither or loose its leaves, but will remain healthy and strong the whole year.

Let me grow in this manner so my faith will yield abundant and good fruit when the time is right: fruit that will glorify and bring honor to You. Make me strong in my faith, able to withstand the heat, the cold, the wind and storms. Bless my actions and my service to You with abundance.

Father, let me know Your Word so intimately  it becomes my strength and my guide. Let me speak boldly of my relationship with You to encourage others. And let these things make  me fruitful, like the tree, that brings about a bountiful harvest to honor You and nourish others. Amen

2 Kings 22:3-23:30; Psalm 1:1-3

June 5 All I have is from You

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Dear Lord, I see myself all over today’s scriptures. Like David taking a census of Israel, I sometimes do things that are not right for my family or me. I persist in the activity or behavior by some sense or motivation that I become adamant about.   Father, open my ears to the wise counsel You send into my life. Let me be dissuaded from pursuing ungodly ends.

Lord, I identify with the man at the gate, crippled from birth. Surely I was also unable to walk in Your light until I came to know You. All I could do was rely on others to carry me, and beg from those who knew You for bits of life giving faith. But Peter said “Look at us!” And when the man gave them his attention, he received. It wasn’t until I gave You my full attention, read Your Word, really listened to the lessons others taught me from Your Word, that I received the ability to walk in Your truth, Your light. Thank You for sending each one of these helpers into my life. Thank You for directing my understanding, and opening my eyes to Your truth.

Peter also said “And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made …” And I too am an heir of all that You revealed through the prophets – because I live in a time when I can see that they have been fulfilled in You! In Your death on the cross. In Your resurrection from the dead. In Your outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Thank You for the inheritance I have in You.

Like the psalmist, so I also “lift up my eyes to You”. I live only because of Your mercy. Although I am not familiar with being a slave, I can understand that a slave receives only what is provided by the master. I also realize that all I have comes from You: the goodness and blessing I do not deserve, the loving family and friends, the freedoms I enjoy in this country, the medical and technological advances I benefit from. Thank You for choosing this time and place for me to be born. All I have is from You, and I am richly, richly blessed.

Lead me in the way that will direct my words, my actions, my attitudes to honor You and bring glory to Your name. Amen

2 Samuel 24:1-25; Acts 3:1-26; Psalm 123:1-2

 

May 29 You Word is Light!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 119:105,108

Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”

“Everything must be fulfilled about Me that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

child-945422_1920Father, explain to me and open my mind so I can understand the Scriptures! The Scriptures You referred to here are the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. I was brought up referring to them as the Old Testament. Jews refer to these same books as The Tanakh. Made up of three parts: The Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim, the Torah is the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.   The Neviim are the Prophets, so the twelve books of the minor prophets and nine written by major Prophets. The Ketuvim are the books of wisdom, scrolls and history.

You explained to the disciples that You are the Messiah promised in these Scriptures. You are the God in both Testaments! You are God of the whole Bible!

So I need to be familiar with all parts to understand You fully.  Lord teach me from both, and help me see the blessing in the connections. So much of the meaning in the Old Testament is lost to me unless I learn about the Hebrew customs and language. When I see what You said and did in the New Testament, I miss the depth of meaning without the context of what came before.

You are part of the Trinity in Genesis 1. When You said “Let Us make man in our image…” it was plural; in Hebrew “Elohim.”   When the prophet Isaiah spoke it was You he saw who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace! He described You in his words when he said “a man of sorrows, familiar with pain, despised and rejected.” Zechariah saw that You would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, that You would die a violent death for all mankind.

There are 351 prophecies in this Scripture that You fulfill.   And more yet to be fulfilled! How much more marvelous to know You as the Promise Keeper, the Prophecy Fulfiller! You are the One who speaks of the future, and has the power to bring it to pass!

The more I understand of who You are and all that You have done, the better I can know You. The more I know You, the more fully I can love You.   And the more I understand about prophecies yet to be fulfilled, the better prepared I can be to face the future, trusting in You as my Savior.

Thank You for being true to Your Word. Thank You that as I read and study, You reveal more and more of Yourself to me: my God in whom I trust! Amen

Luke 24:13-53

Apr 26 Hearing God’s Voice

Father, thank You for the example of Gideon. What a great illustration to show me it’s ok to ask You for confirmation that I am indeed hearing from You. It’s important to be sure before taking action.

There are times when I am sure I hear You and understand what I am to do. But other times when, probably due to fear or reluctance on my part, I second guess myself and come up with lots of reasons why I might have misunderstood You.   I need to be reassured. So I am glad to know it is all right to ask for that reassurance.

I desire to follow in Gideon’s footsteps, Lord. First it’s important for me to know who I am hearing from. He asked for confirmation and received absolute proof he was hearing from You.

Upon realizing it was truly You, he built an altar that acknowledged You as The One True God. Then, he was obedient in Your instructions to remove the worship of other gods, tearing down the false altar and Asherah pole. And even though he did this cautiously, You protected him and blessed him.

As he followed through with Your plan, he asked for clear validation. Gideon used a good example of something that would be unlikely if not impossible to have happened naturally.   So I too, need to be sure I’m not asking for a sign that will simply support my own desire; like, ‘Lord, if the sun comes up tomorrow I will know You mean…’

How do I verify I am hearing from You? Asking You to combust food like Gideon did, is probably not the best route to go these days, although not beyond Your ability. And You have left Your written Word as a guide for me. So I have learned to ask three questions:

1 – Does what I hear agree with Scripture? The answer must be “yes.” I believe You will never tell me anything that contradicts what You have already told me in Your Word. So I must be familiar with Your Word.

2 – What will the result, or the fruit of the act be? It should lead to and produce the fruit of the Spirit; which is peace, patience, love, joy, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control. The acts of the flesh are immorality, idolatry, impurity, debauchery, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, envy, and the like. So I can look at the expected result and see where I am headed.

3 – Will it benefit my relationship with You, Lord? Everything I do will either draw me closer to You or pull me farther away in our relationship.

So I can ask the three questions. But if confusion still exists, it is good to know that I can come to You with whatever concern I have. And that You will answer me so I can be sure of Your direction. Thank You. Amen

Judges 6:11-40; Galatians 5:17-23

Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

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Several times today the words “Be strong and courageous” appear. O Lord, make me strong and courageous! Lend me Your strength when I am weak. Let me draw on Your power to accomplish all that You direct me to do.

How do I appropriate Your strength? Reading Your Word is a good start. It is encouraging just to read Your words that sit by my computer today – “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards with encouraging scriptures. It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally, or just having them sit out, open to a verse.  They are like personal messages from You to me.

It also helps to know I am being obedient to what Your Word says to do. There is protection in simply being where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Even if You are calling me to a place of danger, if I am there by Your invitation, it is the safest place on earth I can be.

Father, so many times You have protected me and helped me through hardships. Recalling those times from the past helps me trust You more now, and be strong in the face of trouble. I only journal sporadically, but once made a time line of how You had impacted my life at crucial points. With my aging memory, it helps to see those times written down. They confirm Your faithfulness to me.

And You have put people in my life who I can observe being courageous with their own challenges. Some are in the midst of them right now. Some have already come through a hard time. I can watch and learn what encourages them. They are living examples of how to get through difficulties. Some have even leaned on me. And when I need to, I can lean on them.

So You give me Your Word. You protect me wherever You call me to be. You Help me remember Your faithfulness in the past. You put helping relationships in my life. And most importantly, You promise Your presence: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision. Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-23

Apr 5 Power in Your Word

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Heavenly Father, thank You for those times I literally cried out to You to hear me and come quickly, and You did.

 

There have been nights like the Psalmist experienced, when in distress over circumstances, I sought You. I could not see a way out of or through my problems. And though I had gone to bed, sleep was far from me. My thoughts would not be still. With each issue, another failure or complication seemed to pile on until I felt so overwhelmed I did not even know where to start to pray.

It was then that I remembered when You spoke to me, encouraged me, lifted my emotional distress.   There were literally times when You gave me songs to sing, new melodies and words, to let me know You were with me and things would be alright.

But this time, I did not feel that. I felt far from You. And wondered if this could be the end? Had I finally reached a point where You would not come and rescue me, but simply take me home to be with You in heaven?

That actually sounded like it would be the answer to all my troubles. And while I believe You have shown me I have much to do before I die, there was a sense of relief in that thought. That’s when it hit me – this thought was NOT from You. It was from the evil one who would like nothing better than to sideline me – take me out of the game altogether! If satan can get anyone to believe the lie that there is no hope, it immobilizes and freezes them. Can even paralyze a Christian’s faith.

So I decided to begin praying – not about the circumstances that were overwhelming me, but any scripture I could remember: The Lord’s prayer. The 23rd Psalm. “I will love the Lord my God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.” “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” “Jesus wept.” “The Lord your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory!”

The more I quoted Your Word in prayer, the more calm I felt. Soon I fell asleep.

Thank You Lord, for sending Your calm, Your peace. Thank You for sending sleep. Thank You that in the morning, things didn’t look as bad as they had the night before! Thank You that I could see resources and solutions I could not the night before. In taking those steps back towards You, I felt Your presence once again. It was not You who had moved. But in believing a lie, I had.

“Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; You display your power among the peoples. With Your mighty arm, You redeemed me!” Amen

Psalm 77:1-15; Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 10:27; John 3:16; John 11:35; Deuteronomy 20:4

Dec 12 A Famine of the Word

Father, You showed Amos two punishments, judgments for Israel and then said “This will not happen”. You relented, yielded, turned away from those judgments in favor of another. What a heart You have for Your people that You withheld the punishment they deserved out of Your love. You knew they would not be able to bear up under it or survive. How often have You spared me from the punishment my words and actions, my sins deserve? No doubt, daily. Were You not my Sovereign Lord, I would not survive. Thank You for Your mercy.

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You told Amos “The days are coming when I will send a famine thorough the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Words of the Lord.”

This was certainly fulfilled in the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments, when no further prophetic word was given. But it can also be true of our world today. Right now, I can enjoy the freedom to worship You, to study Your Word, to attend church. But even now, the reading and public speaking of Your Word is being called ‘Hate Speech’.

Hate Speech is said to offend, threaten, or insult groups based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits. Many universities, for years the havens of “free speech”, have adopted codes prohibiting speech that offends any group based on the traits listed above.

While the intent is good, to protect people groups from racial slurs, intimidation, and threats, it is becoming more popular to also outlaw scripture and categorize it as “hate speech”. Already Christian speakers on radio have been told to watch what they say about topics that are considered politically incorrect, lest they lose their funding and rights to broadcast.

Father, give the leaders of my country godly wisdom to know where to set the limits of public broadcasting, so that people are protected, but religious freedoms are not restricted. Don’t let us throw out the baby with the bath water.

There may come a time in my country, where believers have to go underground, smuggle Your Word, and study it in secret.   Father, help me hide Your Word in my heart so I have a storehouse of scripture for times of famine. Help me share what I know of Your Word with others so they can be fed on Your Word and not hunger or thirst, and turn to other gods. While I can, let me feast on all that You show me in Your Word. Let me never go hungry.

Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the freedom I have to enjoy it and worship You. Thank You that I can trust my future to You. I “put my hope in You both now and forevermore”. Amen

Amos 7:1-8:14; Psalm 131

Nov 27 Your gifts

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Prayer          Bible          Holy Spirit

Eternal Love          Constant Presence

Faithfulness          Forgiveness

Protection          Provision          Salvation

Direction          Fruit of the Spirit

“Your divine power has given [me] everything [I] need for a godly life…” “You have given [me] Your very great and precious promises…”. Thank You Father, that I have all that I need. I have prayer as a way to hear from and talk to You. I have Your Word as a guidebook. In You I have the Holy Spirit who reveals spiritual truth to me. You have promised me Your eternal love, Your constant presence, and Your faithfulness in my protection and provision.  All this because You are my personal Savior.

Since I belong to You, and You have given me all I need; help me to live in, and treat people with the qualities that will lead me to be effective and productive. Peter tells me these qualities are: faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. Some of these are the Fruit of the Spirit and will grow in me as I am obedient to Your Spirit’s leading. Help me embrace opportunities for each of these qualities to grow in my life.

Recently I found myself walking with a group in the dark. I had a small flashlight which came in handy as the sidewalk was a broken and uneven surface. At first, I thought it would be best to shine the light way ahead of us so we could see where the path curved or stopped at a curb or was cut off by bushes. But it became clear that we could walk with the most certainty and speed when the light shone brightly on the very next step we were to take.

Looking ahead is good to get a sense of direction, but we needed the close, step by step guidance to be sure our ankles did not turn or slip off the narrow path.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Your Word, the Scriptures, are that light for me. When I am not sure which option is best, Your Word tells me “Trust in the Lord with all Your heart and lean not on Your own understanding.”

When I feel frustrated with some results, You tell me “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time [you] will reap a harvest…”. Or when I feel discouraged, alone and depressed, You tell me “I have carried you since your birth…I will continue to be with you and sustain you, even when you have gray hairs. I will always carry you; I will always sustain you; I will always rescue you.” [paraphrased to personalize]

Your Word helps me see that next step and take it. Thank You Father, that You care so much for me that even in the darkness of this world and its ‘wisdom’ You have made a way for me to stay on Your path and keep moving ahead safely. Amen

II Peter 1:1-11; Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 3:5; Galatians 6:9; Isaiah 46:3-4

Nov 1 Your Word paints a picture

bible-1089930_640O Father, what an incredible picture You paint! I cannot even imagine seeing what Ezekiel saw! I don’t know if I would fall facedown like Ezekiel, cower in fear or simply stand, transfixed, unable to move by the sight of something so magnificently awesome and frightening!

I can see it in my mind’s eye, but what a powerful movie it would make! Every time I read the description of the four living creatures I find something new, and have tried to draw what You describe to increase my understanding.   When drawing, one has to pay very close attention to get all the details right.

Your Word says Ezekiel was so awed by what he had seen and heard, that he “sat among them [Israelite exiles] for seven days – overwhelmed.”

Thank You that Ezekiel could explain what he saw in terms I can understand. The words “immense fire…flashing lightening…glowing metal…burning coals of fire…appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day” are very descriptive, even though I feel sure that what he saw was beyond anything he had ever seen before.

The author of Psalm 104 also helps me see, visualize You creating the heavens and the earth, with words that paint a picture. I can see You “wrapped…in light as with a garment” as You “set the earth on its foundations” and “cover it with the deep as with a garment”. I can imagine the waters fleeing at Your rebuke, “flowing over the mountains”, going “down into the valleys, to the place You assigned them”.

Thank You again, for using words I can understand and envision. You, who have the imagination and power to create things I cannot even fathom, have leaned down from Your position of sovereignty on high, taken my face in Your hands, and whispered wonderful Words into my ear to show me Your lavish love and abundant provision for me. And I am forever amazed by You and am eternally in Your debt.   My Father.   My Creator.   My Savior. Amen

Ezekiel 1:1-28; Psalm 104:1-23

Oct 14 Grow Your Truth in me

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 1 I believe

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“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In today’s scripture You come onto the scene and are recognized as Messiah, the Lamb of God, the One who saves! You came in the flesh, to my physical world to sacrifice Yourself to make a way for me to be reconciled to You. You are the Only Way. Yet there are still people who do not recognize You for who You are.

John recognized You because he was spiritually aware. You revealed to him that the one on whom he saw the Spirit of a dove come down and rest, was the Son of God. He saw that Spirit rest on You and could then know for certain, proclaim and testify that You are the Son of God.

Two of John’s disciples first followed You because they had studied with John. They knew the scriptures, the prophecies and trusted John’s testimony, so they believed. Nathanael believed because You knew things about him You could not have naturally known.

Lord God, You call and You save. But it is my personal decision whether to respond to or ignore Your call. It is my choice to accept Your salvation or reject it. I hear Your call and follow You. I accept Your free gift of eternal salvation. But, there are so many who do not. Lord God, Your Word says it is Your will that every single human being would be saved from the penalty of their sin. That penalty is death, eternal separation from You. You desire that they would answer Your call and accept Your payment for that sin and be reconciled to You.

Some will come to You because they are aware of spiritual truth, like John. Some will come because they study out the scriptures for themselves, or because someone they trust will share with them, like John’s disciples. Some will come because they see You doing things, miracles, that are not naturally possible. Father open the ears of those who do not yet know You, so they can hear Your call to them. Sensitize their minds, hearts, and spirits so they are ready to accept Your salvation. And show me how I can speak or act in a way that will draw people to You. Use me to point them to “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.

A time is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I can’t wait! Amen

John 1:29-51

Apr 29 Teach me from all Your Word

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” 

“Everything must be fulfilled about Me that is written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

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Father, explain to me and open my mind so I can understand the Scriptures! The Scriptures You referred to here are the books of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. I was brought up referring to them as the Old Testament. Jews refer to these same books as The Tanakh. Made up of three parts: The Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim, the Torah is the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy.   The Neviim are the Prophets, so the twelve books of the minor prophets and nine written by major Prophets. The Ketuvim are the books of wisdom, scrolls and history.

You explained to the disciples that You are the Messiah promised in these Scriptures. You are the God in both Testaments! You are God of the whole Bible!

So I need to be familiar with all parts to understand You fully.  Lord teach me from both, and help me see the blessing in the connections. So much of the meaning in the Old Testament is lost to me unless I learn about the Hebrew customs and language. When I see what You said and did in the New Testament, I miss the depth of meaning without the context of what came before.

You are part of the Trinity in Genesis 1. When You said “Let Us make man in our image…” it was plural; in Hebrew ‘Elohim’.   When the prophet Isaiah spoke it was You he saw who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace! He described You in his words when he said ‘a man of sorrows, familiar with pain, despised and rejected’. Zechariah saw that You would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, that You would die a violent death for all mankind. There are 351 prophecies in this Scripture that You fulfill.   And more yet to be fulfilled! How much more marvelous to know You as the Promise Keeper, the Prophecy Fulfiller! You are the One who speaks of the future, and has the power to bring it to pass!

The more I understand of who You are and all that You have done, the better I can know You. The more I know You, the more fully I can love You.   And the more I understand about prophecies yet to be fulfilled, the better prepared I can be to face the future, trusting in You as my Savior.

Thank You for being true to Your Word. Thank You that as I read and study, You reveal more and more of Yourself to me: my God in whom I trust! Amen

Luke 24:13-53

Mar 27 Not by bread alone…

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Lord, today’s scripture passages are so rich, it is hard to chose an 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

Feb 8 Praying Your Words

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Holy Father, You care very much that Your people come to You to hear from You and worship You. You gave them the design in very specific instructions for the Tabernacle where You would meet with them, and details of the clothing the priests must wear when they approached You. Ever since man was sent from the Garden of Eden where he walked and talked with You, You have desired a return to fellowship.

I praise You that I can now go into the Holy of Holies where Your name and Your presence are. When Jesus died, the curtain was torn that separated that place from Your people.   I can boldly approach Your throne with my praises and my requests, seeking Your wisdom, Your providential guidance and Your abundant blessing.

But, as You are holy, I am still to be washed clean and robed in righteousness. I become clean by confessing my sin and accepting Your forgiveness. With Jesus as my Savior, when You look at me, You see His righteousness on me.   I too, am ‘Holy to the Lord’ as the priests were. I am set apart as Your child, to worship and serve You and receive Your blessing and Your amazing inheritance.

Your Words are holy. Sometimes I simply pray Your very own words back to You! It’s as if You already know what I need and have prepared the prayer for me.

“I trust in You. My times are in Your hands;” (they always have been whether I acknowledged it or not – my comings and goings, my living and dying, and all the moments in between, were already determined before even one of them came to be)

“Deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.” (whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual adversaries – You are Sovereign over them all and can defeat them all)

“Let Your face shine on Your servant; save me in Your unfailing love.” (may I feel the impact of Your illuminating presence on my body, mind and spirit and be saved from harm not because of anything I have done or earned, but because of Your benevolent generosity and grace)

“Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I have cried out to You; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.” (let me see victory in the utter defeat of our enemies and the fulfillment of Your justice; strengthen me to walk in Your way) Amen

Exodus28: 1-43; Psalm 31: 14-17