Tag: strength

June 14 Obedience is better than sacrifice

letter to GodFather, here are three examples of people You told specifically what to do.  The ones who disobeyed You, paid a terrible price

1  Rehoboam, Solomon’s son who inherited the kingdom, was given a word by You through Shemaiah.  Although it was Rehoboam’s plan to rally the forces and attack Israel, he stopped that plan, obeying Your instruction.  All his army went home, safe.

2  Jeroboam had been told at his anointing, that he would be king over ten tribes of Israel, and have a dynasty as enduring as David’s.  Jeroboam would rule over all his heart desired IF he would obey Your commands and walk in Your ways, and do what is right in Your eyes.   But he did not.  He made golden idols and led the people to worship them instead of You.  This led to his downfall and destruction.

3  A man You sent to prophesy against the altar Jeroboam set up, did as You said at first.  His prophecies came true.  But he was tricked, deceived into stopping to eat and drink where You had told him not to.  He paid with his life that day.

Father, help me take seriously what You instruct me to do. 

Strengthen me to be obedient – to change my plans if need be – in order to obey.  Even if what You tell me goes against what seems to be logical human thought – let me clearly understand what I am to do, and recognize if I am straying from it. 

Protect me from those who would deceive or trick me into being led away from Your command. 

Help me, through obedience, to stay in Your blessing and in Your will.  Amen

I Kings 11:29-39; 12:20-13:34

June 10 I seek Your blessing

child-praying-hands-1510773_640 (1)O Lord, I desire to be blessed by You.  I fear You with respect to the acknowledgement of who You are: Creator, Savior, Deliverer, the One True God.

My attitude towards You is one of reverence and honor.  You are so high above me, yet You invite me to come to You, to approach You, and to be in Your presence.

That in itself is a blessing.  Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond what I can think or even imagine.

Father, help me know Your ways and walk in them as I live day to day.  Show me how to honor You by living according to Your commands.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to know what is right and honoring to You.

And give me the strength of character to choose the right and turn away from the wrong.  Being obedient to Your ways keeps me under the umbrella of Your protection and blessing.

I ask for Your blessing all the days of my life.  For protection, prosperity, purposeful living in joy, health, wholeness, security – summed up in the word “shalom”- peace.

Thank You for Your shalom, for Your “peace.”   Amen

Psalm 128:1-6

June 7 Wisdom and Integrity

wisdom integrity pathDavid spoke a wonderful charge to his son, Solomon. It is also my prayer:

Father, help my children and loved ones, and myself be strong.  Not simply in physical strength.  But help us be of strong character, so we can stand and not fall in the face of temptation.

Help us be tough and resilient in the face of hard timesAnd just as gracious and generous in the good times.  Let us be known as men and women who are obedient to You, following You in the kind of life You teach us to live.

Help us walk in Your ways in the everyday decisions of our lives, and choose what is right and just.  Help us conduct our business and relationships openly and honestly, speaking the truth in love.

Teach us to hold to Your moral standards in our conduct and attitudesGive us understanding and discernment when we are unsure.   Remind us to study and know Your Word so it can guide and enlighten us.

Help us live out our lives in faith before You, Lord.  Not half-heartedly, but with all our heart and soul; seeking Your wisdom, and applying it correctly to our circumstances.  Let this yield prosperity in all we do wherever we go .

Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Let me, my family and loved ones know Your way.  Let us live our lives according to it and find eternal life with You.  Amen

1 Kings 2:1-4; Proverbs 16:25

June 4 My All

cross-1177327_640Father, I am not free of sin like David in this song.  I cannot say I have been obedient to all Your laws or kept all Your ways.  And yet, You grant me righteousness.  You cover me with the blood You shed at Calvary, giving me the status of being righteous in Your sight.

It is only with this status that I can see and not be afraid.  You are my lamp, turning the darkness around me into light.

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

You become my shield and my refuge.

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

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

So Father, as You did for David: avenge those who have been persecuted or killed.  Rescue us from violent men and women.  Pursue these enemies and crush them.

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

2 Samuel 22:21-51

June 3 Jehovah-Jirah My Provider

office-594132_640Lord, thank You for this reminder to commemorate Your works in my life by writing about it. 

Whether in a song like David, or poem, or letter form in a journal, it is important that I not only give You recognition, credit, and thanks, but that I leave a record for others to see and know of Your involvement in my life.  I want others to know how You love, rescue and deliver those who belong to You

I may not fight battles with six-fingered giants, but there are forces acting against me today.  In this fight, You are also my rock which I can rely on as immovable; to stand on or hide behind.  You are my fortress where I can find protection within. 

You are the One whose power delivers me from the enemy.  You are my shield that deflects the arrows and blows aimed at me.  You are the source of my strength, and the place I can pull back to, to find rest and refuge.  Your power and strength save me.

Thank You that I can call on You when I need help and have become exhausted.  Thank You that You are faithful and trustworthy and come to my aid.  As the Psalmist says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.”  I can look to the beautiful, often snow-capped mountains where I live.  Their beauty and stability speak to me of Your strength and faithfulness. 

But the Psalmist wrote this to be a song all the Israelites would sing either as they made their way up to Jerusalem from their hometowns; or as they ascended the steps on the south wall of the Temple mount.  This was Mount Moriah, where You blessed Abraham and provided the ram to sacrifice in place of his son

As the Israelites looked up to the hills of Jerusalem, towards the Temple, they would be thinking of You, the offerings they brought, and the forgiveness, celebration and protection they would experience there.

Father, some do not feel safe todayEvil is still thriving – in violence, in disease, in injustice.  As the Psalm says, “You will not let our foot slip…will not slumber or sleep.”  You tell us You are our shade and protector.  And that You will watch over us and keep us from harm. Lord let these people feel Your hand of protection.  Give them Your comfort.  Be their fortress.

And we will gratefully give You the glory!  And our thanks and praises.  Amen 

2 Samuel 21:15-22:20; Psalm 121:1-8

Apr 10 Make me like Moses, Joshua, and Rahab

charactertraitsO Lord, You encourage me with people like Moses and Joshua and Rahab.  You took these three ordinary and flawed people and used them mightily for Your glory, to bring about Your plan.

It gives me hope that You can use me too.

You brought Moses, born of slaves, cursed by Pharaoh to be killed in the Nile, out of the deadly waters and empowered him to be Your instrument in freeing Your people from slavery and leading them to the Promised Land.

Father, help me be obedient to all You say to me, as Moses was.  Use me in Your plan.  Let it be said of me as it was of Moses: when she was old “[her] eyes were not weak nor [her] strength gone.”

Joshua was willing to voice his faith and trust in You when the prevailing views were opposed.  You made him strong and very courageous.  Help me “obey Your law” and “not turn to the right or to the left from it” so I may be successful wherever I go.

Let me not be tempted off Your path by the world or its values, but cling to what I know is right in Your eyes.  Let me not ignore what Your Word, the Bible tells me is true.  Remind me to read it so I know what is in it.  How else will I know what is right?  I know, like Joshua did, that You are “with me wherever I go” so I will not be terrified or discouraged.

And even when all around me are situations and powers that represent and support the lure of the world and the lust of the flesh, let me be like Rahab, listening to and trusting in the Holy Spirit.  By doing so she saved her family.  Strengthen me to be willing to take risks for you.

All these remind me of a song from my childhood: “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.   I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.”

Father, help me be brave enough to stand alone if need be, on Your Word.   Let me be so sure of how You are leading me that there is no fear in standing up for You.

Speak to me and give me understandingShow me how to apply that understanding to my life in ways that bring honor to You.  Thank You.  Amen

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24

Apr 7 Your Strength, Your Courage

“Be 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.

Father, how do I appropriate Your strength and Your courage for myself?

wordsarmsoutstretchedskyThese are some things that have helped me:

1 – Read Your Word

Even sitting at my computer, I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards, each with an encouraging scripture.  And I carry one in my bag wherever I go.  It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally or just have one open for me to see.  I have typed in my name so they’re like personal messages from You to me.

“Do not fear Laura, 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

2 – Be obedient to Your Word

For instance – Today’s Proverb says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.”  So I need to speak honestly and tell the truth.  To be obedient to Your commands.

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

3 – Remembering Your faithfulness in the past

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.

4 – Watch for courage in others

You have put people in my life who are living examples of how to get through difficulties.

I can watch and learn what encourages and strengthens them.  Some are in the midst of troubles right now.  Some have already come through a hard time.

5 – Trust that You are WITH me!

You promise Your presence: The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So when I am feeling weak I will remember that You are with me, and all the times You protected me and brought me through hardship in the past.  I will look to Your Word and do what it says, and to the people around me who are examples of courage and strength.

Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision!  I will draw on that.  Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Proverbs 12:22

Apr 1 I still belong to You

DSCN0079

Father, thank You for this scripture that reminds me that even in the midst of any challenge or crisis You are the strength of my heart.

You created me.  And called me to believe in You and I trust You with my life.

Because I call You Savior and Lord, I belong to You.  You have promised guide me with Your counsel.

So whatever is happening in the world I can trust that You will take my hand and be with me.  I can lean on You for support when I am feeling weak or overwhelmed.  Your counsel will give me the perspective I need to cope and prevail under any circumstances. In the heart of turmoil, You give me peace.

You rejoice with me in the victories.  You fight with me and for me in the battles.  And lead me to a glorious destiny, eventually to spend eternity with You.

Regardless of the condition of the world or the circumstances of my life, I have put my faith in You.  You are the strength that keeps me going.

Psalm 73: 23-26

Mar 5 All I am, All the time

Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That is a mouthful!

The Greek words from this scripture quoting the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today.  But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord.  There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking.  I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.

When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

“I am a child of God” John 1:12
“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12
“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul.  That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word.  So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seekgodly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  The wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind, and the weight of pros and cons are only understood by a limited human viewpoint.

Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions.  As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination.  Help me realize when my strength isn’t enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?!  It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own.  I will never be able to love You this perfectly.

Fortunately, with God, all things are possible!”  So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory.  This is how I desire to be obedient.  Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Mar 4 Worship! And Stand!

choir-309051_640

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

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

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

Your creation of the earth and choosing a people for Yourself has been a best seller ever since there has been a printing press!  As of September 2020 some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,415 languages!

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

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

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

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

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

pexels-photoYou have chosen to bless us as a nation.  And show Your love to us in our freedoms and prosperity.  But I believe a storm has come to this country in my time.  When the storm is over, and has swept by; O Lord, may I still be standing firm.  Amen

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

Mar 1 By Your hand

surreal-1447617_1920Lord God, I acknowledge that all power and all authority rests with YouYou are Sovereign over all the earth, the heavens and all that is in them.

You made them and by Your hand, all things are sustained and kept in motion.  When Jesus says “all things are possible with God.”  I have no trouble believing it!

There is no power that can stand against You.

So when I’m feeling lost, or overwhelmed, or helpless, or even hopeless, I will remember that my God can do anything!  You can provide a way of escape.  Or move mountains.  Or work blessings out of tragedy.

You know of solutions I cannot even imagine.  You can make a way, where there is no way.

You can give me strength when I am weak.  Lift my spirit when I am down.  You know how to encourage me when I think I cannot go another step.

You inspire me to begin a journey.  And empower me to keep going.   You reveal wonders to me that are beyond my understanding.   And were I to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life, I would not begin to see all the things that are possible with You!

You amaze me!  I am so humbled and blessed, knowing that You are My God.  And I worship You.  Amen

Mark 10:27

Feb 5 Immeasurable Power – Infinite Gentleness

michelangelo-71282_1280“The voice of the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.  The voice of the Lord is powerful. 

The voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks into pieces the cedars of Lebanon.  

The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.  The voice of the Lord shakes the desert. 

The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.”

Your voice, O Lord, is so mighty that it has the explosive power to burst open massive trees with a Word.

As deafening as standing by rapid waters that rush by, Your voice can be heard over that torrential noise.  As shocking and ear-splitting as a bolt of lightning, Your words flash with even more intense exclamation.

The vibrations that it would take to cause the sand, rocks and mountains of the desert to tremble are set off by Your utterances.  And the power of the hurricane wind that would twist trees and uproot them or tear away their bark, is found in Your mere whispers.

How is it then, that I can withstand this greatness
and dare to ask to hear from You?

It is only because of Your infinite self-control that when You lean down to speak to me, You do not destroy me.  It is because You desire for me to know You and have relationship with You that I am able to hear and understand Your voice.

You have all this amazing power at Your disposal and could utterly destroy me with a breath; yet You seek me out, as You do each one of Your creations, to have fellowship with me and to reveal Yourself to me and to show Your boundless abundant love to even me.

“You give strength to Your people; and You bless me with peace.” Give me strength, Father. Bless me.  And give me Your peace.  Amen

Psalm 29:3-11

Jan 15 His eye is on the sparrow

sparrowOh 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, to 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

Jan 11 Make me like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_well1995 painting of Rebeca by Michael Deas

Father, may we be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord,” how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her.

When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately.

She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her.

Give me Rebekah’s courage.

Let me be willing to go when You say “Go.” Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.”

I ask for that blessing for myself as well.

Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands.

And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she went to inquire of the Lord. You gave her an answer and a revelation.

May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation.

Let me not lean on my own understanding, but give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level.

In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23

Dec 23 My wise carpenter

David says, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way.” I echo those words Lord.  I know that You can see me and can tell how I am dealing with all I am going through.

I know this, because in the past, You have been there with a word of encouragement, a call from a friend, a letter from someone, a song, a verse – exactly what I have needed, exactly when I have needed it.

You know me so well.  You created meYou knew beforehand the purpose of my life, the places I would go, the perils I would face.

boat carpenterLike a carpenter chooses the type of wood to match the force of the stresses that will be brought against the boat he is making, You, my good and wise Carpenter, lovingly chose how I would be made. 

You carefully and masterfully fashioned me to create exactly what You envisioned I would need to meet the storms You knew I would have to face in my life.

I don’t know my own strength, but You do.  You built strength into me that will only be demonstrated by the storms I weather. 

So, with confidence and faith, I will enter the darkness, the high winds, the deep swells, the powerful surges, the rain, thunder and lightening.  I will let them crash around me, and wash over me, and I will see my deliverance on the other side.  Where the waters are calm.   And the winds are favorable.   And the sky is blue.

And my Carpenter, who is my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, stands smiling.  Amen

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec Though I sit in darkness…

“Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”  Micah 6:8

adult-1869001_1920Father, I have so often been encouraged by this verse, this affirmation of Micah’s.  He was speaking on behalf of his country, Israel.   He was assuring his enemies that although they seemed to enjoy victory over Israel at this time, You were completely in control of what was happening.

Micah understood that Israel must bear the consequences of their sin, but that ultimately, You would “plead [their] case and uphold [their] cause.  You will bring [them] out into the light;” and Your righteousness would be seen by the enemy who would be “covered with shame” and “trampled underfoot.”

Father I have called on this verse for strength when facing all kinds of enemies.  You know how many things, forces, circumstances have gotten the better of me, and I felt alone in the ”darkness” in one way or another.

There have been times when physical illness or injuries have made me feel helpless, in the dark.  No matter, for You can bring healing into any illness or injury You choose.  And if not the healing I would hope for, You bring light to help me understand and deal with it.

At times, circumstances have left me in the dark for want of a good solution.  When I cannot perceive a way out, it feels like the darkness immobilizes me.  I can go through the process of making logical choices and weighing options, but none seem right.  When I call out to You, so often You bring light to the subject in a way that shows me a solution I had never thought of!

Other times, my emotions have weighed heavily on me in a negative way.  Discouragement, anxiousness, depression, and hopelessness lead to a very dark place indeed.

In this darkness, I cannot see to help myself, and often cannot even see to reach out to a friend.  The darkness almost seems to press in on me and pull me down, keeping me isolated and out of reach from everyone else.

But You can always reach me, with Your love, with encouragement, with hope.  You remind me that even in the dark, You placed the stars to be light in the sky.   And although they are there in the daytime too, it is only at night, in the dark, that they are visible.  For me to see those stars, it must be dark…

And there have been times of spiritual darkness, when I felt under attack by forces I could not see, but could sense were there.  Then, I am somewhat fighting an enemy “in the dark.”  But You are light.  You walk in the light.  And when I walk with You, I can see by Your light!

Thank You for Your light that lets me see in the darkness!  I praise You that there is no darkness which You cannot dispel! 

Your power overcomes any darkness of any kind.

Your light brings healing and hope and life!

I praise Your Name!  Hallelu Yah!

Micah 7:8-13

Nov 26 Teach me

Father, thank You for Peter’s reminder that as the end approaches, believers must be earnest in prayer, share Your deep love with others, and use our Spiritual gifts.

Some of these sound so easy.  None of them are.  I can’t do any of them without Your help.

What I can do is come to You in prayerYou help me in so many ways.  I love my conversations with You!

aec-1782427_640Sometimes I feel closer to You when I walk around the lake, or through the trees, or can see the mountains.  When I am surrounded by Your amazing creation, You often give me a word of instruction or encouragement.

You have taught me things by watching geese flying above, or ducks feeding in the pond, or sunlight shining through dark clouds.  You have shown me how to be humble through the faces of blossoms that track the sunlight across the sky, or sunflowers that have heads so heavy with seed that they bend low.

It is so easy to praise You in the presence of the beauty of Your creation, and when things are going well.  But rejoicing in suffering is harder to do.  Sometimes, my side of the conversation is sobbing and tears.  It is anxious pleading with pain.

You reach out to me then too.  There is nothing You cannot handle.  There is nothing too big or too small to bring to You.  Thank You for this life-saving and life-giving privilege of prayer.

Father, teach me how to show Your great love to others.  It‘s usually easy to do with strangers.  Kindness to a stranger is short-lived.  Help me also 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 4:7-11; 5:5-8

Nov 25 Live in the Light, like Daniel

joshua-earle-252222Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are Yours.  You change times and seasons;  You depose kings and raise up others.  You give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.  You reveal deep and hidden things; You know what lies in darkness,  and light dwells with You.  I thank and praise You…” 

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

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

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

Father, Daniel held tightly to his beliefs about You and his convictions about how to live a godly life.  And he did so in the midst of being kidnapped and taken a thousand miles away from home and family.

As a young man it would have been so easy for him to simply go along with whatever his captors pushed on him.  But even far away from family and the worship he knew, he knew that You were with him.

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel 1:1-21; 2:19-23

Nov 21 Your Word is Treasure

Father thank You for warning me not to trust in earthly riches.  Wealth, possessions, gold and silver are not the treasure I seek.  They can lead to greed and the sins that greed temps a person to commit.

cross-2598300_640Rather, I treasure Your Word.  It gives me a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about how to receive Your blessing: something of far greater value.

You Word says I will be blessed when I walk according to the law of the Lordkeep Your statutes and seek You with all [my] heart.”  I can keep my way pure “by living according to Your Word.”   So Father, “I seek You with all my heart: do not let me stray from Your commands.”  I desire to be blessed; show me how to walk in Your path.

Lord, I will “hide Your Word in my heart.”  I will read it, honor it, study to understand it, memorize it, and do what it says.  When I do not understand it, I will pray for clarity of meaning and how to apply it to my life. 

When people around me say one thing and Your Word says another, give me the conviction to be obedient to Your truth.  Help me see through the misleading lies and the deceiving values of society and not be tripped up by them.  Give me the strength I need to be true to You.

Because You tell me how powerful prayer is, I will pray

prayer conversations candlefor the wisdom to stay on Your path

giving thanks when I am happy

for healing when I am sick

for help when I am in trouble

for forgiveness when I have sinned.

Father, help my prayers be powerful and effective.

Besides me, so many people need Your help in so many ways. I believe praying for them is one way I can help; even the best way I can help them.

So, like Elijah, I pray earnestly and in faith, knowing that You are the One who can answer.  You have the power, Lord.  And You have the desire to answer.

We are all Your creations, Lord.  Thank You that You love and care for us.  Amen

James 5:1-6; 13-20; Psalm 119:1-16

Nov 9 The Shepherd’s Rod

CindySheep

Father, I see a pattern as You show Your people how You want them to live.  You reveal Yourself and call them to purify themselves and turn from idols.

As they rebelled and worshipped first the idols of Egypt, then a golden calf and later the idols of wood and stone from other nations, You repeatedly preserved them as a people “for the sake of Your Name.”  But there was judgment and a purging of those who would not follow You.

Ezekiel speaks Your words saying, “I will judge you…I will take note of you as you pass under My rod…”

shepherd rodThis is the same rod of which the Psalmist wrote “Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”

A shepherd uses his rod for many things.  One is to have the sheep pass under it as a way of counting to be sure every sheep is where it should be and accounted for.

It is also a way of inspecting them.  As each sheep passes, the shepherd looks to see that each is well fed, rested, and not ill.   As the rod parts their hair, inspection is made of the skin for wounds, parasites, anything that would indicate a need for further care.

Father, I am a sheep of Your pasture.  I want to “pass under Your rod” for Your inspection and loving care.   Count me to be sure that I am where I am supposed to be.  Inspect me.  Look for any sign of weakness or disease in me.  When so, heal me and I will be healed.

I come now, to seek You, to inquire of You.  There are so many things in my life that I need Your wisdom about, Your guidance, Your direction.  I need Your strength to bear up under the challenges of the world today.  And Your peace to sustain me through them.

I need Your patience where I need to wait, and Your boldness where I need to act.  I want to see where You would have me join You in Your work so I don’t spend my energy on fruitless endeavors.

My part in this is to be sure my life is rid of idols.  I will examine my actions, my attitudes, my relationships, to be sure nothing and no one is stealing my passion to live for You.   Strengthen me with Your Word and with Your presence.

I am called by Your Name.  I desire to live in obedience so that Your Name will be preserved and honored.  Father, let my life glorify Your name.  Amen

Ezekiel 20:1-38

Nov 2 Don’t miss it!

miss busDon’t let us miss the message today like the people in Ezekiel’s time did – 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!

He obeyed You so he would 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, 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.”  Its truth 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 in Your humanness, 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.”  Your amazing grace provides me with forgiveness and eternal salvation.

Father, help me hear Your truth when You speak it to me.

Thank You that You know what I need even before I do!  And for providing all that I need in my times of need.  Amen

Ezekiel 4:1-5:4; Hebrews 4:1-16

Oct 6 Your Word is my path

wisdom integrity path“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 Father, destruction was coming and You instructed Your people with this verse.

Yet they did not obey or follow You.  Do not let me reject Your wisdom.  Today I stand seeking.  I look to You to guide and direct my thoughts.  Show me the way to go. Help me be steadfast to walk in Your way.

I trust Your leading.  Even if it is not the “popular” path.  Or the one that seems “logical” at the time.  Or the “easiest” one that seems to be clear of obstacles.  Give me strength to be obedient to what I hear You saying.

Paul said it this way:  “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Colossians openThere are many followings today, many belief systems that are portrayed in the media as right and credible.  Do not let me be misled by these false, socially acceptable representations.  You have taught me the truth.  And I have aligned myself with You by faith, by public profession, by baptism and by the way I choose to live.

Just as false religions lead me away from You, so do the attitudes that would bind me to legalistic practices that come from man.  Such rules and regulations that many keep, and look down on those who do not, are just as damaging.  Their obedience is based on human commands and teachings of men’s interpretation.

Believers are Your Body.  And when the members of Your Body obey only each other, they have lost connection with You, their Head.

Bottom line Lord: let me hear Your voice, and obey what You tell meLet me truly live my life for an Audience of One.  You.  Amen

Jeremiah 6:16-21; Colossians 2:8-23

Oct 5 I look to You

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

anthony-tori-120173Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see,  who have ears but do not hear…Should you not fear me, declares the Lord?  Should you not tremble in my presence? ”

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

“Admonish and teach me with all wisdom.”  Caution me when I am in danger of going the wrong way, or have taken a wrong turn.  Show me from Your perspective, how to make decisions that will lead me in the way that will honor You.  Don’t let any experience be wasted, but help me learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others.

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

My roots are in You; let them go down deep and drink in Your strength and wisdom. Let my faith stand strong, unwavering as I live a disciplined life in You.

I offer You all thanks and praise, Lord.  You saw the earth when it was formless and void, and in Your mighty power created all I see.

You made light with Your Word, made the mountains and the seas.  You fashioned every bird and fish and animal.  All creation is under Your authority.  You set the limits of the waters of the earth.

Nothing can prevail against You and Your will. 

Thank You that You care for me.  That You teach me and love me as Your beloved child.  That You strengthen and uphold meYou are Lord and I am blessed.   Amen

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

Oct 4 Fill me!

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

 through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him 

in every way:  

overcoming-1697546_640bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,
being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might
so that you may have great endurance and patience,
and
giving joyful thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.
 

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives:

not the wisdom of the world,
or the logic of the mind,
or the sense of the flesh.

For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:9-14

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return!

your-righteousness-is-perfect_blogYou bring reward to Your people.  You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.  Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

Father, help me keep my eyes on that future.  And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth.

Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track.  I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences.

They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my nation and its values.  And I wonder: Do You see?  Do You see what is happening in Your world?  The one You created so carefully?  So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

So I will remember Your promisesI trust Your plan.  And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.    

Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.”

Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You!  Thank You!  Amen

Isaiah 62:8-12; 65:8-25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 30 Time to Arise!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”

blue-2571965_640Father, what a glorious picture You paint of a time when You come to the earth. I have no idea when it will be, whether I will be alive and able to see it first hand, or whether many more generations will pass before it happens. But I believe all will be as You describe.

You give me a picture of what it will be like to give me hope for the future, and to spur me on to live as I should right now. It is hard to see injustice and people being treated badly. But what a promise that one day there will be justice and vindication for all! Father, help me hold on to that hope as I pray for that day to come soon.

In knowing how to live during this time, help me “stand firm in one Spirit, striving together [with other believers] as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way…” In these times there will be troubles, but I have “encouragement from being united with You.”

So when I face a challenge, don’t let me run away from my faith in order to meet my needs. Don’t let me compromise my beliefs in order to “fit in” with the prevailing social attitudes. Show me how to draw strength and support from other believers; and how to strengthen and support them.

Father, help me follow Your example, being humble and obedient, thinking of others before myself. Let my motivation be to be more like You, not seeking selfish ambition or vain conceit.

Father, I pray for Your swift return, when “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Amen

Isaiah 60: 1-2; Philippians 1:27-2:11

Sept 24 Strengthen me

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

So Father, would You strengthen me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 3:16-21

 

Sept 22 Hope in the darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 40:28-31; 41:9-10; Ephesians 1:15-23

Sept 19 “This is the way…”

 

Father, You have described those who do not follow You and those who do. Unfortunately, I sometimes display the characteristics of both. 

You say “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  And yet there are times when I do not remain quiet and trusting.  “Yet,” You tell me “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.” 

What an amazing God You are!  Even when I am not faithful, You are patient and merciful to me!

Father, You have promised, “As soon as You hear, You will answer me.”  And have said that “my ears will hear a voice behind me saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”  I could ask for nothing more.   

Even now, as I call out to You, I know that You can hear my voice and will answer me.  Father, there are circumstances in my life that present options and opportunities, choices.  And I must decide. 

Fear would freeze me where I stand, preventing me from moving ahead in any direction.  But I believe that You have wisdom in all these areas.   I believe You have the ability to see into the future to know which is the right way for me to go. 

You also know my past, and the way that You created me, with strengths, gifts, and talents, as well as weaknesses.  So You know what You have already prepared me for, and what is best for me.

Father, I have access to the wisdom of the world.  I have friends who would probably tell me what they think I want to hear.  But I desire to live my life by Your wisdom. 

Be the voice that I hear behind me, in my ear, telling me which is the way to walk.  Show me which path to take.  Show me when to wait and when to go forward.  Open my ears and my Spirit so I can hear and understand what You tell me. 

And give me the boldness to be obedient to what that is.

“And I will sing…my heart will rejoice.”  I will rest in my salvation.  And will remain in quietness and trust.  These will be my strength.  Amen

Isaiah 30:15-21

Sept 12 A Tool for God’s Purpose

Father, when You sent Your judgment against Israel, You used the political and military and powers of the day.  Not knowing You, they believed it was by their own strength and power that they conquered.  But it is clear that they were merely a tool in Your hand.  The power is not in the tool, but in the one who wields it.

wood-working-2385634_640

Father, I pray that I would be a tool in Your hand for godly purposes.  Use me to accomplish Your will.  You are truly the potter and I am the clay.  Send me where Your would, as Your handiwork, to achieve Your plan.  And never let me forget that Yours is the strength and the wisdom by which anything is accomplished.

I know You have a wonderful plan and purpose for their lives too.  So until you call me away to somewhere else, help me realize the potential here, and be willing to be a tool in Your hands in the lives of those people You have brought closest to me.   Help me live every day showing Your grace and mercy and compassion to them.  When asked, help me give wise and godly advice, not just my own preferences.  Let my words be instructive and gentle, and line up with Your truth, spoken in love for the benefit of the hearer.

Father, some are called to far away places to be tools for You in spreading Your Word and Your love.  And surely there are obstacles for them to overcome and challenges to conquer.  But sometimes I feel the hardest place to be Your representative is here at home, with the people I love.

Help me hold my tongue when I need to, when the words would not be godly wisdom, but come from some other motivation.  Help me spread peace in their lives when it would be so much easier to spread my own brand of how things should be.  Help me let go of my own expectations of them, freeing them up to know the fulfillment of Your plans and purposes.

Help me be patient with Your timeline for their development and maturity.  And help me be consistent to pray for them to be empowered and guided by the influence of Your Word in their lives, and what You speak to them and through the godly mentors and circumstances You allow into their lives.

Let me draw strength from You.  Let me be guided by You.  And let me rest in Your strong and skillful hands.  Amen

Isaiah 10:1-19

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

This gladiola made its way through a hole in the brick to get to sunlight so it could grow, bloom and display its God-given beauty.

DSCF0028Father, Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  And it seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

Just because my life belongs to You doesn’t mean it will be all sunshine and lollipops.

Because I live in a fallen world, and because there is an evil one, and even because I am flesh, there are opportunities for and occurrences of hardship.  Some caused by my own mistakes and sin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 22 Help me stand strong

valley-2575839_640

O Lord, I have never experienced the misery and suffering of Job, but his pain and the depth of his despair are clear to me.   So it seems to me that what his friend is saying is terribly insensitive.  It sounds as if he is trying to encourage Job to trust in his own righteousness.

The belief then was that trouble came from sin, so presumably Job brought this upon himself.  And if he confessed his sin to You that would be an easy fix.  But that is not the truth.

What I do like about what this friend says is that they all have faith in You, Lord and in Your power.   And that Job should “appeal to You and lay his cause before You.”  For no matter what the problem, You are the solution.  You always have the power and authority to act.

The friend spells out Your power in a way that encourages me.  “You perform wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

 I get to see some of those wonders and miracles every day when I see the strength of majestic mountains or the wide open sky, or the beauty of a sunset, the flight of birds, the colors of a rainbow, the faces of my loved ones.  Or when I see and feel and smell the deep velvety red richness of my roses.  Or when I feel the coolness of the air and smell the freshness after a rain.  Or when I play or hear music that reaches a place in my spirit that fills me with elation.

 I too, believe in and trust in Your power, Your ability to do wonders and perform miracles.

 One thing Job asks: “I would not deny the words of the Holy One.”  Job says that even in unrelenting pain, he would have joy if he could still stand strong in his faith and not deny You.

I echo that prayer Father.  I ask that whatever comes into my life, You would take me before I shame or dishonor You.

Strengthen me to endure whatever You allow.  You know me best.  And if something comes that You know is stronger than I have it in me to bear, just take me to be with You.

Thank You Father.  Amen

Job 4:1-7:21

Aug 19 Like Esther

such a time as this

Father, here is one of the great faith statements.  Mordecai has no doubt that You will save him and his people.  He sends this message to Esther “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your family will perish.”

His faith is strong.  He is sure that You will save Your people.  The only question is how.

Father, strengthen my faith, so that even in the darkest time, there is no doubt in my mind or heart that You will deliver me.  The problems I deal with seem so small compared to the circumstances here.  No one has ever marked me and my family or church for death.  But I know that the difficulties I face in my life are a concern of Yours as well.

Thank You that there is no problem too big for You to handle.  And thank You that there is also no problem too small for You to help me with.  Thank You that like Mordecai’s and Esther’s, You answer my prayers as well.

Here is also one of the great challenges in scripture. Mordecai includes in his message: “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”   It is so evident that He believes You orchestrated the events in this time and of Esther becoming queen.

The question is, will she rise to be the instrument of deliverance You placed her there to be?

She did.  But Lord, will I?

Is there something You have orchestrated in my life that I need to respond to, because You have placed me where I am “for such a time as this”?

Father, open my eyes to see if there is something You are preparing me for, calling me to.  And give me the courage to act.  It may not be as big or as risky as Esther’s call.  It may only be something small: inviting someone to church, praying with a friend or stranger, reaching out to someone who has no one.

Help me see Lord, where You could use me, how You can use me.  Don’t let me do it in my own strength, but like Esther, let me go forward in prayer and in Your power.

Because “Your love reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies, Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, Your justice like the great deep, and Your unfailing love is priceless,” let me and my loved ones “take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

Protect us from whatever comes against us, attacking us in any area of our lives: financial, physical, emotional, psychological, relational, spiritual.  I give our finances to You, and place them in the shadow of Your wings.  I offer You our relationships, our emotions, our thoughts, our attitudes.  Father, keep our spirits safe and turned to You alone.

Let me and my loved ones “feast on the abundance of Your house”, let us “drink from Your river of delights.  You are the fountain of life”.  Let us live in this abundant blessing.   Amen

Esther 4:1- 7:10; Psalm 36:5-9

Aug 14 Do not grieve

person-joyjumpPsalm 33 tells me, “Blessed [joyful, happy] is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people He chose for His inheritance.”

In happy times it is easy for me to say this.  When things are going well, I can be joyful.  I feel strong.  Any who believe in You as Savior are also Your people.  Believers have an inheritance with You.  And we are blessed as a nation when we call You our Lord.

When Ezra read Your Word to the Israelites assembled, they knew that You were their God and they were Your people.  But they mourned and wept as they heard Your Word because it convicted them of their sin.

They were grieving, ashamed, and broken by their sin.  Yet this is when they are told “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

As a believer, I too mourn and weep when I read Your Word, because of my own sin and the sin of my nation.  It is when I have no strength of my own because I am broken, or sad, discouraged, overwhelmed, or depressed – that I look to You and receive Your strength.

I can know that whatever is going on in my life, there is joy when I remember that You are my God, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Friend.  Your presence gives me joy and strength.  Even in the face of trials, I can look to You.

Your Psalm reminds me I will not be saved by the size of an army, or personal physical strength, or even by a mighty horse.  But my hope is in You, my help and my shield. “In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name.”

Remind me Father, the next time I am downcast, that my joy and my strength are not based on my circumstances.  But are found, sure and steadfast, in You.  Amen

Nehemiah 8:1-12; Psalm 33:12-22

Aug 2 You encourage me

photo by Joshua Earle

joshua-earleGreater is He

Father, thank You for the words of encouragement Hezekiah gave his men.  The same words are encouraging to me today, because I know that no matter what hardship or battle or enemy I face, You are greater than any of them.  And You are with me!

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged because of” (fill in the bank with my hardship) “and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him!  With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

The world will yell back at me exactly what Sennacherib said:

“On what are you basing your confidence?…Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the people of other lands?  Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand?…How then can your god deliver you from my hand?  Do not believe it…”

The world and the flesh and the devil echo these words to try and make me doubt.

My flesh will say that I am weak.  That I am unworthy of Your help.  The world will show me how many others have fallen before me – those stronger than me to begin with.  The devil will try and get me to focus on my circumstances and question Your love for me.

But Your Word builds me up.  It reminds me that I am Yours and You have promised never to leave me.

You have given me armor, both offensive and defensive, to help me.  The Helmet of Salvation bears Your insignia, in whose army I fight.  And it protects my thoughts.  So many battles are won and lost in the mind before even one arrow flies.  It reminds me to take every thought captive so I can hold it up to truth.

The truth is, I am weak, but “Your strength is made perfect in my weakness.”  I am unworthy of Your help.  I can never earn it.  But Your help comes because of Your unchanging character, flowing from Your grace and mercy!   It was never dependent on anything I could ever do.

Others may have fallen who were stronger than me, but I will be victorious because of Your strength, not my own!

And despite the devil, I will not judge Your love by my circumstance, but by Your Word.  It says Your love never changes, it is everlasting, enduring forever.  And I will choose to look at You, not focus only on my circumstances.

This is how I will triumph over challenges.  Even in the conditions of today’s Psalm: “I am lonely and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart have multiplied…my enemies have increased and hate me fiercely…”  I will put my eyes on You and not my circumstances.

I will answer the lies I hear from the other voices, with Your voice of truth; as You voiced it through Hezekiah: I will be strong and courageous.  I will not be afraid or discouraged.

I will remember that You are a greater power.  And that You are with me!  Praise be to You!  Amen

2 Chronicles 32:1-23; Psalm 25:16-22; 2 Corinthians 12:9

July 12 Give me Victory!

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.

war-2362300_640My 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

June 14 Obedience is better than sacrifice

letter to GodFather, here are three examples of people You told specifically what to do.  The ones who disobeyed You, paid a terrible price.

1  Rehoboam, Solomon’s son who inherited the kingdom, was given a word by You through Shemaiah.  Although it was Rehoboam’s plan to rally the forces and attack Israel, he stopped that plan, obeying Your instruction.  All his army went home, safe.

2  Jeroboam had been told at his anointing, that he would be king over ten tribes of Israel, and have a dynasty as enduring as David’s.  Jeroboam would rule over all his heart desired IF he would obey Your commands and walk in Your ways, and do what is right in Your eyes.   But he did not.  He made golden idols and led the people to worship them instead of You.  This led to his downfall and destruction.

3  A man You sent to prophesy against the altar Jeroboam set up, did as You said at first.  His prophecies came true.  But he was tricked, deceived into stopping to eat and drink where You had told him not to.  He paid with his life that day.

Father, help me take seriously what You instruct me to do.

Strengthen me to be obedient – to change my plans if need be – in order to obey.  Even if what You tell me goes against what seems to be logical human thought – let me clearly understand what I am to do, and recognize if I am straying from it.

Protect me from those who would deceive or trick me into being led away from Your command.

Help me, through obedience, to stay in Your blessing and in Your will.  Amen

I Kings 11:29-39; 12:20-13:34

June 10 I seek Your Blessing

child-praying-hands-1510773_640 (1)O Lord, I desire to be blessed by You.  I fear You with respect to the acknowledgement of who You are: Creator, Savior, Deliverer, the One True God.

My attitude towards You is one of reverence and honor.  You are so high above me, yet You invite me to come to You, to approach You, and to be in Your presence.

That in itself is a blessing.  Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond what I can think or even imagine.

Father, help me know Your ways and walk in them as I live day to day.  Show me how to honor You by living according to Your commands.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to know what is right and honoring to You.

And give me the strength of character to choose the right and turn away from the wrong.  Being obedient to Your ways keeps me under the umbrella of Your protection and blessing.

I ask for Your blessing all the days of my life.  For protection, prosperity, purposeful living in joy, health, wholeness, security – summed up in the word “shalom”- peace.  Thank You for Your shalom, for Your “peace.”   Amen

Psalm 128:1-6

June 7 Wisdom and Integrity

wisdom integrity pathDavid spoke a wonderful charge to his son, Solomon. It is also my prayer.

Father, help my children and loved ones, and myself be strong.  Not simply in physical strength.  But help us be of strong character, so we can stand and not fall in the face of temptation.

Help us be tough and resilient in the face of hard times.  And just as gracious and generous in the good times.  Let us be known as men and women who are obedient to You, following You in the kind of life You teach us to live.

Help us walk in Your ways in the everyday decisions of our lives, and choose what is right and just.  Help us conduct our business and relationships openly and honestly, speaking the truth in love.

Teach us to hold to Your moral standards in our conduct and attitudes.  Give us understanding and discernment when we are unsure.   Remind us to study and know Your Word so it can guide and enlighten us.

Help us live out our lives in faith before You, Lord.  Not half-heartedly, but with all our heart and soul; seeking Your wisdom, and applying it correctly to our circumstances.  Let this yield prosperity in all we do wherever we go .

Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”  Let me, my family and loved ones know Your way.  Let us live our lives according to it and find eternal life with You.  Amen

1 Kings 2:1-4; Proverbs 16:25

April 7 Your strength, Your courage

“Be strong and courageous.”  Father, how do I appropriate Your strength for myself?

The days are full of stress and fear; and I feel weak and overwhelmed.

wordsarmsoutstretchedskyI want to draw on Your power and help others find their strength in You also.

These are some things that have helped me:

1 – Read Your Word

Even sitting at my computer, I have made a little flip book of 4×6 cards, each with an encouraging scripture.  And I carry one in my bag wherever I go.  It lightens my load to flip through them occasionally or just have one open for me to see.  I have typed in my name so they’re like personal messages from You to me.

“Do not fear Laura, 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

2 – Be obedient to Your Word

Today’s Proverb says, “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in those who tell the truth.”  So I need to speak honestly and tell the truth.  To be obedient to Your commands.

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

3 – Remembering Your faithfulness in the past

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.

4 – Watch for courage in others

You have put people in my life who are living examples of how to get through difficulties.

I can watch and learn what encourages and strengthens them.  Some are in the midst of troubles right now.  Some have already come through a hard time.

 5 – Trust that You are WITH me!

You promise Your presence: “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

So when I am feeling weak I will remember that You are with me, and all the times You protected me and brought me through hardship in the past.  I will look to Your Word, and to the people around me who are examples of courage and strength.

Thank You for Your abundant and everlasting provision!  I will draw on that.  Amen

Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Proverbs 12:22

April 1 I still belong to You

DSCN0079Father, thank You for this scripture that reminds me that even in the midst of this pandemic crisis You are the strength of my heart.

You created me.  And called me to believe in You and trust You with my life.

Because I call You Savior and Lord, I belong to You.  You have promised to guide me with Your counsel.

So whatever is happening in the world I can trust that You will take my hand and be with me.  I can lean on You for support when I am feeling weak or overwhelmed.  Your counsel will give me the perspective I need to cope and prevail under any circumstances. In the heart of turmoil, You give me peace.

You rejoice with me in the victories.  You fight with me and for me in the battles.  And lead me to a glorious destiny, eventually to spend eternity with You.

Regardless of the condition of the world or the circumstances of my life, I have put my faith in You.  You are the strength that keeps me going.

Psalm 73: 23-26

Mar 5 All I am All the time

hsmsweb

Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That is a mouthful!

The Greek words from this scripture quoting the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today.  But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord.  There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking.  I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.

When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

  “I am a child of God” John 1:12

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.”  Colossians 3:12

“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul.  That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word.  So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seek “godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  The wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind, and the weight of pros and cons are only understood by a limited human viewpoint.

Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions.  As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination.  Help me realize when my strength isn’t enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?!  It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own.  I will never be able to love You this perfectly.

Fortunately, “with God, all things are possible!”  So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory.  This is how I desire to be obedient.  Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Mar 4 Worship! and Stand!

choir-309051_640

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

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

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

Your creation of the earth and choosing a people for Yourself has been a best seller ever since there has been a printing press!  As of 2019 some portions of the Bible have been translated into 3,385 languages!

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

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

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

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

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

pexels-photo

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

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

Mar 1 Your hand

surreal-1447617_1920Lord God, I acknowledge that all power and all authority rests with You.  You are Sovereign over all the earth, the heavens and all that is in them.

You made them and by Your hand, all things are sustained and kept in motion.  When Jesus says “all things are possible with God.”  I have no trouble believing it!

There is no power that can stand against You.

So when I’m feeling lost, or overwhelmed, or helpless, or even hopeless, I will remember that my God can do anything!  You can provide a way of escape.  Or move mountains.  Or work blessings out of tragedy.

You know of solutions I cannot even imagine.  You can make a way, where there is no way.

You can give me strength when I am weak.  Lift my spirits when I am down.  You know how to encourage me when I think I cannot go another step.

You inspire me to begin a journey.  And empower me to keep going.   You reveal wonders to me that are beyond my understanding.   And were I to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life, I would not begin to see all the things that are possible with You!

You amaze me!  I am so humbled and blessed, knowing that You are My God.  And I worship You.  Amen

Mark 10:27

Jan 23 What a ride! Here I am

fun-937105_640

O Lord, I think of all You allowed Jacob (renamed Israel) to go through, and I wonder how difficult his life must have been. He was a twin, compared from birth to a brother who was very different from him.

His father chose a favorite son, not him. His mother schemed for him to receive his father’s blessing, resulting in his exile from home to a place far away.

He worked happily for seven years to earn a bride, but was deceived on his wedding night with a different woman. He worked another seven years and still had nothing to call his own.

Then, things started coming together. He gains large flocks, gets away from his manipulative father-in-law, reconciles with his brother, returns to his father, has many children, including two sons by his beloved wife Rachel. But then she dies in childbirth. And later, her older son is taken from him, presumed dead. His life falls apart again. Talk about ups and downs!

My life has had its ups and downs. There have been times of delirious joy as well as disappointment and sorrow. I feel sometimes as if I am barely able to get up for a new day. And I have Your Holy Spirit in me from whom I can draw strength! I have scriptures I can read to be encouraged. I have praise music I can play or sit at the piano and sing.

How did Jacob do it? How did Israel get through one more day of grieving his beloved wife Rachel, missing his son Joseph; managing his large family with misbehaving sons Simeon, Reuben, Judah and Levi; all in a day and time of famine, with hunger and need all around him?

Yet when You called him in a time of famine, to relocate to a foreign land, he still didn’t give up. Whatever You had in store for him, he simply answered “Here I am.”

In Hebrew, Here I am is “Hineni.”   Very different from a simple “I’m here,” it carries the meaning of “I hear your call, understand what you are asking, and am ready to do it.”

O God, help me be that resilient.

Help me get through dark times and be ready to say “Hineni” when You call. Help me hear Your voice above whatever else is going on in my life. Tune my ears to Your call.

Lord, let me hear clearly, and be obedient to all You reveal to me. Open my ears to the message of Your words that bring personal meaning and conviction to my life.

Prune away any misunderstanding I have been living by. Cut away the dead and unproductive parts. Revive me and make me fruitful again. I long to honor and glorify You.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  

How can I do any less?

Genesis 46:2 (and Jacob’s life); Psalm 19:1

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, to 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

Jan 11 Be like Rebekah

rebekah_at_the_well1995 painting of Rebeca by Michael Deas

O Father, may we be like Rebekah. For when she heard all that was “from the Lord,” how You had worked to prepare a way for her, she did not delay; but went quickly in obedience, anticipating all You would bring her.

When given a choice to go or to stay and wait, she chose to go immediately.

She gave up all she knew: the familiarity of family, of people, of a place and a style of living. She set out with a stranger, whom You had blessed and led to her.

Give me Rebekah’s courage.

Let me be willing to go when You say ‘Go.’ Let my faith and trust in You be so strong, it overpowers all other concerns, worries, or obstacles in my path.

Rebekah received a blessing before she left: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies.

I ask for that blessing for myself as well.

Let the words You have given me, the spiritual light and life You have placed in me go out from me and be multiplied. Let it birth a spiritual blessing to thousands upon thousands.

And let these who are spiritual offspring be empowered to be victorious against their enemies, by controlling the enemy’s impact on their lives, and possessing their gates; locking the enemy behind them.

Later, when Rebekah was confused by what was happening to her in pregnancy, she “went to inquire of the Lord.” You gave her an answer and a revelation.

May I be like Rebekah in this as well. When I am confused, let me draw close to You and seek Your perspective and explanation.

Let me not lean on my own understanding, but give me a fresh understanding of my difficulties and a revelation that directs my path and encourages me in the way I should go.

Like Rebekah, help me place all my sense of security in You. Even when there is no evidence that would give me security by the world’s standards. Even when circumstances seem radically out of control and way beyond my comfort level.

In every relationship, every decision, every circumstance, let me turn to You; because You are able and willing, and deserving of my trust. You have promised never to leave me; never to forsake me. You can handle whatever comes. I choose to trust You. Thank You. Amen

Genesis 24:52-61; 25:21-23

Dec 23 My Wise Carpenter

David says, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way.” I echo those words Lord. I know that You can see me and can tell how I am dealing with all I am going through.

I know this, because in the past, You have been there with a word of encouragement, a call from a friend, a letter from someone, a song, a verse – exactly what I have needed, exactly when I have needed it.

boat carpenterYou know me so well. You created me. You knew beforehand the purpose of my life, the places I would go, the perils I would face.

Like a carpenter chooses the type of wood to match the force of the stresses that will be brought against the boat he is making, You, my good and wise Carpenter, lovingly chose how I would be made.

You carefully and masterfully fashioned me to create exactly what You envisioned I would need to meet the storms You knew I would have to face in my life.

I don’t know my own strength, but You do. You built strength into me that will only be demonstrated by the storms I weather.

So, with confidence and faith, I will enter the darkness, the high winds, the deep swells, the powerful surges, the rain, thunder and lightening. I will let them crash around me, and wash over me, and I will see my deliverance on the other side. Where the waters are calm. And the winds are favorable. And the sky is blue.

And my Carpenter, who is my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, stands smiling. Amen

Psalm 142:1-7

Nov 21 Your Word is treasure

Father thank You for warning me not to trust in earthly riches. Wealth, possessions, gold and silver are not the treasure I seek. They can lead to greed and the sins that greed temps a person to commit.

cross-2598300_640

Rather, I treasure Your Word. It gives me a wealth of knowledge and wisdom about how to receive Your blessing: something of far greater value.

You Word says I will be blessed when I “walk according to the law of the Lord…keep Your statutes and seek You with all [my] heart.” I can keep my way pure “by living according to Your Word.” So Father, “I seek You with all my heart: do not let me stray from Your commands.” I desire to be blessed; show me how to walk in Your path.

Lord, I will “hide Your Word in my heart.” I will read it, honor it, study to understand it, memorize it, and do what it says. When I do not understand it, I will pray for clarity of meaning and how to apply it to my life.

When people around me say one thing and Your Word says another, give me the conviction to be obedient to Your truth. Help me see through the misleading lies and the deceiving values of society and not be tripped up by them. Give me the strength I need to be true to You.

Because You tell me how powerful prayer is, I will pray

prayer conversations candlefor the wisdom to stay on Your path

giving thanks when I am happy

for healing when I am sick

for help when I am in trouble

for forgiveness when I have sinned.

Father, help my prayers be powerful and effective.

Besides me, so many people need Your help in so many ways. I believe praying for them is one way I can help; even the best way I can help them.

So, like Elijah, I pray earnestly and in faith, knowing that You are the One who can answer. You have the power, Lord. And You have the will.

We are all Your creations, Lord. Thank You that You love and care for us. Amen

James 5:1-6; 13-20; Psalm 119:1-16

Nov 2 Don t miss it!

miss bus

Don’t let us miss the message today like the people in Ezekiel’s time did – 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!

He obeyed You so he would 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, 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.”  Its truth 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 in Your humanness, 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.”  Your amazing grace provides me with forgiveness and eternal salvation.

Father, help me hear Your truth when You speak it to me.

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!  Amen

Ezekiel 4:1-5:4; Hebrews 4:1-16

Oct 4 Fill me!

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way:

 

overcoming-1697546_640

bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.  

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives: not the wisdom of the world, or the logic of the mind, or the sense of the flesh.  For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:1-17

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return!

You bring reward to Your people.  You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.  Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

your-righteousness-is-perfect_blog

Father, help me keep my eyes on that future.  And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth.

 

Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track.  I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences.

They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my society and its values.  And I wonder: Do You see?  Do You see what is happening in Your world?  The one You created so carefully?  So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

But I will remember Your promises.  I trust Your plan.  And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.   

Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.”

Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You!  Thank You!  Amen

Isaiah 62:8-12; 65:8-25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 24 Strengthen me

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

man-2037255_640

So Father, would You strengthen me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 3:16-21

Sept 22 Hope in the darkness

book-1936547_640O Father, these are some of the verses that have come to me in the darkest times.  Times when I truly thought there was no hope.  Times when I was at the end of all I could think to do to save myself from what appeared to be dire and dark circumstances that I believed held no happy ending.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept 19 This is the way

road-sign-64059_1280Father, You have described those who do not follow You and those who do. Unfortunately, I sometimes display the characteristics of both.

You say “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  And yet there are times when I do not remain quiet and trusting.  “Yet,” You tell me “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.”

What an amazing God You are!  Even when I am not faithful, You are patient and merciful to me!

Father, You have promised, “As soon as You hear, You will answer me.”  And have said that “my ears will hear a voice behind me saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”  I could ask for nothing more.

Even now, as I call out to You, I know that You can hear my voice and will answer me.  Father, there are circumstances in my life that present options and opportunities, choices.  And I must decide.

Fear would freeze me where I stand, preventing me from moving ahead in any direction.  But I believe that You have wisdom in all these areas.   I believe You have the ability to see into the future to know which is the right way for me to go.

You also know my past, and the way that You created me, with strengths, gifts, and talents, as well as weaknesses.  So You know what You have already prepared me for, and what is best for me.

Father, I have access to the wisdom of the world.  I have friends who would probably tell me what they think I want to hear.  But I desire to live my life by Your wisdom.

Be the voice that I hear behind me, in my ear, telling me which is the way to walk.  Show me which path to take.  Show me when to wait and when to go forward.  Open my ears and my Spirit so I can hear and understand what You tell me.

And give me the boldness to be obedient to what that is.

“And I will sing…my heart will rejoice.”  I will rest in my salvation.  And will remain in quietness and trust.  These will be my strength.  Amen

Isaiah 30:15-21

Sept 12 A tool for God’s purpose

Father, when You sent Your judgment against Israel, You used the political and military and powers of the day.  Not knowing You, they believed it was by their own strength and power that they conquered.  But it is clear that they were merely a tool in Your hand.  The power is not in the tool, but in the one who wields it.

wood-working-2385634_640Father, I pray that I would be a tool in Your hand for godly purposes.  Use me to accomplish Your will.  You are truly the potter and I am the clay.  Send me where Your would, as Your handiwork, to achieve Your plan.  And never let me forget that Yours is the strength and the wisdom by which anything is accomplished.

Father, some are called to far away places to be tools for You in spreading Your Word and Your love.  And surely there are obstacles for them to overcome and challenges to conquer.  But sometimes I feel the hardest place to be Your representative is here at home, with the people I love.

I know You have a wonderful plan and purpose for their lives too.  So until you call me away to somewhere else, help me realize the potential here, and be willing to be a tool in Your hands in the lives of those people You have brought closest to me.   Help me live every day showing Your grace and mercy and compassion to them.  When asked, help me give wise and godly advice, not just my own preferences.  Let my words be instructive and gentle, and line up with Your truth, spoken in love for the benefit of the hearer.

Help me hold my tongue when I need to, when the words would not be godly wisdom, but come from some other motivation.  Help me spread peace in their lives when it would be so much easier to spread my own brand of how things should be.  Help me let go of my own expectations of them, freeing them up to know the fulfillment of Your plans and purposes.

Help me be patient with Your timeline for their development and maturity.  And help me be consistent to pray for them to be empowered and guided by the influence of Your Word in their lives, and what You speak to them and through the godly mentors and circumstances You allow into their lives.

Let me draw strength from You.  Let me be guided by You.  And let me rest in Your strong and skillful hands.  Amen

Isaiah 10:1-19

Aug 30 hard-pressed, but not…

DSCF0028

This gladiola made its way through a hole in the brick to get to sunlight so it could grow, bloom and display its God-given beauty.

Father, Paul made this statement about his circumstances and the difficulties he had been through:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  And it seems this is true for me and most other believers as well.

Just because my life belongs to You doesn’t mean it will be all sunshine and lollipops.

Because I live in a fallen world, and because there is an evil one, and even because I am flesh, there are opportunities for and occurrences of hardship.  Some caused by my own mistakes and sin.

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 22 Help me stand strong

valley-2575839_640

O Lord, I have never experienced the misery and suffering of Job, but his pain and the depth of his despair are clear to me.   So it seems to me that what his friend is saying is terribly insensitive.  It sounds as if he is trying to encourage Job to trust in his own righteousness.

The belief then was that trouble came from sin, so Job should confess his sin to You.  The presumption is that Job brought this upon himself, and there is an easy fix.  But that is not the truth.

What I do like about what this friend is saying is that they all have faith in You, Lord and in Your power.   And that Job should “appeal to You and lay his cause before You.”  For no matter what the problem, You are the solution.  You always have the power and authority to act.

The friend spells out Your power in a way that encourages me.  “You perform wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

I get to see some of those wonders and miracles every day when I see the strength of majestic mountains or the wide open sky, or the beauty of a sunset, the flight of birds, the colors of a rainbow, the faces of my loved ones.  Or when I see and feel and smell the deep velvety red richness of my roses.  Or when I feel the coolness of the air and smell the freshness after a rain.  Or when I play or hear music that reaches a place in my spirit that fills me with elation.

I too, believe in and trust in Your power, Your ability to do wonders and perform miracles.

One thing Job asks: “I would not deny the words of the Holy One.”  Job says that even in unrelenting pain, he would have joy if he could still stand strong in his faith and not deny You.

I echo that prayer Father.  I ask that whatever comes into my life, You would take me before I shame or dishonor You.

Strengthen me to endure whatever You allow.  You know me best.  And if something comes that You know is stronger than I have it in me to bear, just take me to be with You.

Thank You Father.  Amen

Job 4:1-7:21

Aug 14 Do not grieve

person-joyjump

Psalm 33 tells me, “Blessed [joyful, happy] is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people He chose for His inheritance.”

In happy times it is easy for me to say this.  When things are going well, I can be joyful.  I feel strong.  Any who believe in You as Savior are also Your people.  Believers have an inheritance with You.  And we are blessed as a nation when we call You our Lord.

When Ezra read Your Word to the Israelites assembled, they knew that You were their God and they were Your people.  But they mourned and wept as they heard Your Word because it convicted them of their sin.

They were grieving, ashamed, and broken by their sin.  Yet this is when they are told “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

As a believer, I too mourn and weep when I read Your Word, because of my own sin and the sin of my nation.  It is when I have no strength of my own because I am broken, or sad, discouraged, overwhelmed, or depressed – that I look to You and receive Your strength.

I can know that whatever is going on in my life, there is joy when I remember that You are my God, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Friend.  Your presence gives me joy and strength.  Even in the face of trials, I can look to You.

Your Psalm reminds me I will not be saved by the size of an army, or personal physical strength, or even by a mighty horse.  But my hope is in You, my help and my shield. “In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name.”

Remind me Father, the next time I am downcast, that my joy and my strength are not based on my circumstances.  But are found, sure and steadfast, in You.  Amen

Nehemiah 8:1-12; Psalm 33:12-22

Aug 2 You encourage me

joshua-earleGreater is He

photo by Joshua Earle

Father, thank You for the words of encouragement Hezekiah gave his men.  The same words are encouraging to me today, because I know that no matter what hardship or battle or enemy I face, You are greater than any of them.  And You are with me!

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged because of” (fill in the bank with my hardship) “and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him!  With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

The world will yell back at me exactly what Sennacherib said:

“On what are you basing your confidence?…Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the people of other lands?  Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand?…How then can your god deliver you from my hand?  Do not believe it…”

The world and the flesh and the devil echo these words to try and make me doubt.

My flesh will say that I am weak.  That I am unworthy of Your help.  The world will show me how many others have fallen before me – those stronger than me to begin with.  The devil will try and get me to focus on my circumstances and question Your love for me.

But Your Word builds me up.  It reminds me that I am Yours and You have promised never to leave me.

You have given me armor, both offensive and defensive, to help me.  The Helmet of Salvation bears Your insignia, in whose army I fight.  And it protects my thoughts.  So many battles are won and lost in the mind before even one arrow flies.  It reminds me to take every thought captive so I can hold it up to truth.

The truth is, I am weak, but “Your strength is made perfect in my weakness.”  I am unworthy of Your help.  I can never earn it.  But Your help comes because of Your unchanging character, flowing from Your grace and mercy!   It was never dependent on anything I could ever do.

Others may have fallen who were stronger than me, but I will be victorious because of Your strength, not my own!

And despite the devil, I will not judge Your love by my circumstance, but by Your Word.  It says Your love never changes, it is everlasting, enduring forever.  And I will choose to look at You, not focus only on my circumstances.

This is how I will triumph over challenges.  Even in the conditions of today’s Psalm: “I am lonely and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart have multiplied…my enemies have increased and hate me fiercely…”  I will put my eyes on You and not my circumstances.

I will answer the lies I hear from the other voices, with Your voice of truth; as You voiced it through Hezekiah: I will be strong and courageous.  I will not be afraid or discouraged.

I will remember that You are a greater power.  And that You are with me!  Praise be to You!  Amen

2 Chronicles 32:1-23; Psalm 25:16-22; 2 Corinthians 12:9

Jun 23 Strengthen me

thoughts words deeds cross

“Lord, I call to You; come quickly to me.  Hear my voice when I call to You.”

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” 

My mouth so often gets me into trouble.  I speak before I think.  Sometimes I hurt the ones I love.  Sometimes my mouth leads me into gossip, or even lies to make myself look better in the eyes of others.  Sometimes I reveal too much to people who don’t understand or appreciate it, like casting “pearls before swine”.

Instead, I would prefer to use my words to bless, encourage, teach, and show I care.  Help me measure out my words like precious commodities.  Teach me to take time to think before I rush into spilling out whatever is on my mind.

Especially when I am upset, Lord, it is hard keep my mouth shut, instead of sharing my pain, frustration, or anger.  Remind me I can come to You with anything and everything.   You are the One who can offer healing, encouragement, and restoration better than anyone else.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.  Keep me from the snares they have laid before me, from the traps set by evildoers.  Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”

Father, if something is luring me away from You, remove the worm and reveal the hook so I will not be caught and reeled in like a fish caught on a line.  If there are hidden nets or snares, show me the truth behind the lies and deceit that would coax me into the trap.

I know there are times when the evil one is out to derail me.  But there are also times when my own flesh and the world’s desires tempt me into things I should not be involved with.  Father, keep me from those things too.   Don’t let me even toy with the thought of wanting them, or thinking I deserve them, or that I can get away with having them.  I have heard that voice in my head tempting me, trying to justify behavior I know is wrong.

Strengthen me with Your power: in my thoughts, my words and my actions.  In You, I take refuge.  You are my Sovereign Lord, and my eyes are fixed on You!  Amen

Psalm 141:1-10

June 10 I seek Your blessing

child-praying-hands-1510773_640 (1)O Lord, I desire to be blessed by You.  I fear You with respect to the acknowledgement of who You are: Creator, Savior, Deliverer, the one True God.

My attitude towards You is one of reverence and honor.  You are so high above me, yet You invite me to come to You, to approach You, and to be in Your presence.

That in itself is a blessing.  Your thoughts and Your ways are far beyond what I can think or even imagine.

Father, help me know Your ways and walk in them as I live day to day.  Show me how to honor You by living according to Your commands.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to know what is right and honoring to You.

And give me the strength of character to choose the right and turn away from the wrong.  Being obedient to Your ways keeps me under the umbrella of Your protection and blessing.

I ask for Your blessing all the days of my life.  For protection, prosperity, purposeful living in joy, health, wholeness, security – summed up in the word “shalom”: peace.  Thank You for Your shalom, for Your “peace.”   Amen

Psalm 128:1-6

June 4 My All

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

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

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

You become my shield and my refuge.

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

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

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

2 Samuel 22:21-51

May 16 Praying Psalm 112

praying-hands-on-bible

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

I give You praise!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 112:1-9

May 14 Help me choose obedience

photo by Good Hand Security products

obedience-to-god-3-638

 

Father, let me learn the lesson of Saul from this passage of scripture.  Let me remember that to obey is better than sacrifice.

Father, what You want is obedience: meaning I put what You tell me above all else.  I hold true to Your Word no matter what other people think or say.  I do not bow to peer pressure.  I do not change what You have sent me to do because I am afraid.

Saul weakened in the face of the opinion and pressure of the people, and did not obey completely.  He even reasoned a way to convince himself he had indeed obeyed.  But the prophet Samuel saw the truth of it and confronted him.  Saul’s disobedience cost him the leadership of Israel.  He would soon be replaced as king.

I need to remember that it is not how often I pray, or whether I make monetary donations to ministries, or give my time in mission work.  The question is whether I have done what You have told me.

Help me hear You clearly, Lord.  And empower me to be strong enough to follow through completely.  Give me whatever I need, so I can stand in the end, and say I was truly obedient.  Amen

I Samuel 15:1-35 

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

 

 

Mar 17 Growth

sapling-154734_640

Dear Lord, we know very little about Jesus’ childhood.  But we do know that He was remarkable.  From His eighth day, we know that “He grew and became strong, was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.” 

And when twelve years old, He ”sat among the teachers in the temple courts, amazing people at His understanding and answers.”

We then learn He was obedient to His earthly parents and “He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

Father that is my desire as well, to grow “in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

I pray that You would help me grow in being able to understand, remember, and apply learning and knowledge to my life; which we call wisdom.  But not just from a worldly viewpoint.  I would desire to have godly wisdom, from the Holy Spirit, to teach me of You, to know You better, to see things from Your perspective.

Lord, help me grow in stature, which means maturity.  That may require reexamining and putting away some childish thoughts and behaviors.  It means not being led only by ego, or emotions or selfishness.  Instead, lead me to develop a responsible sense of accountability when it comes to my relationship with You and with others.

Lord, I mostly desire to grow in favor with You.  Show me where I am missing that mark, and turn my path back to You.  Before I act, let me ask, “Will this draw me closer to the Lord, or farther away?”

Sometimes I feel close to You when I am strong, because I know that my strength comes from You.  Other times I feel closer to You when I am weak and in dire need of Your help, encouragement, and guidance.  I believe my trust in and dependence on You also honors You, as Your strength is shown through my weakness.

Father, let my favor with man be such that I can be a witness to man, rather than being taken in by the traditions and values of man.  As You give me favor, keep me mindful that my home is in heaven – this is just a temporary stopover.

How wonderful it would be to be like Jesus in this.  Thank You for Your help.  Amen

Luke 2:36-52

Mar 9 The Olive Tree

olive and me

O Father, thank You for teaching me about the significance of an olive tree.  As I studied in the Garden of Gethsemane, I learned of the value of all that the olive tree stands for and produces.

 

So I pray the verses with new understanding:  “As for me, I am like an olive tree flourishing in the House of God”

As for me, Lord, may I be like a green olive tree flourishing in Your House:

May I be alive, vibrant, and growing

May I produce abundant fruit in season,

May I have long thick roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil.

May I grow protected from harm and harshness because I abide in Your House O Lord.  Thank You that as my gardener, You tend to me personally to be sure I have everything I need to grow healthy and strong.

May I grow in community, surrounded by others, our roots and trunks intertwining like olive trees grow, without comparing myself to them, but shading them, and drawing needed shade from them.

May I draw on the strength of being in community with those You have placed around me so I can persevere and remain strong even when the winds come, leaning on others and providing stability for them in return.

May I stand in the midst of others for years and years and years to come, like the two 2400 year old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  They stood by You as  You knelt on that fateful night and prayed before Your arrest and Crucifixion.

Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful to look at and amazing in purpose. May others see me and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me.

As the olive tree produces food to eat, and oil for lamps, soaps for cleansing, and ointments for anointing and healing; let me be nourishment and light and cleansing and blessing and healing to those around me.

I will trust in Your loving-kindness and unfailing love for ever and ever –

Even when I am confused

Even when I can’t see Your will at work

Even when I don’t feel Your presence

Even when the world denies it

Even through tears and pain and sorrow

I will thank You for all You have done

I will hope in Your Name, for it is good

I will praise You – forever.  Amen

 

Psalm 52:8-9

Mar 5 All I am, All the time

hsmsweb

 

Your greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That is a mouthful!

 

The Greek words from this scripture where You quote the Hebrew words don’t have the exact meanings of the English translated words that are used today.  But the idea is that I need to use all that I have to adore, worship, spend time with and follow You, my Lord.  There is no element of my life that is to be without Your influence.

For my heart, I think my emotions need to be measured by You, so I don’t get overly carried away or swept up into something without thinking.  I need to be aware of where my passions are leading me and find a place of balance.

When discouraged or depressed, I need to fight back against that inner voice berating me with negativity, by speaking Your truth in scriptures about my identity in You:

  “I am a child of God” John 1:12

“I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.”  Colossians 3:12

“I am forever free from condemnation” Romans 8:1

I heard once that people spend the first half of their lives trying to satisfy body and mind and the second half trying to satisfy their soul.  That inner part of me that seeks peace and wholeness gains it by recognizing the truth of Your Word.  So I will learn the real peace and wholeness that comes from You, not the world’s counterfeit found in popular philosophies.

My mind needs to seek “godly wisdom, which is pure, peaceable, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”  The wisdom of the world is based on the logic of the mind, and the weight of pros and cons are only understood by a limited human viewpoint.

Godly wisdom is what must guide my choices and decisions.  As I seek this wisdom, protect my mind from thoughts that do not come from You.

I dedicate my strength to Your purposes: the strength of my body, of my will, my self-determination.  Help me realize when my strength is enough, and rely on Your strength to work through my weakness.

And I need to do this all the time?!  It is obvious that I can never achieve this on my own.  I will never be able to love You this perfectly.

Fortunately, “with God, all things are possible!”  So I rely on You, Lord, to guard and guide my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength; and to use them for Your glory.  This is how I desire to be obedient.  Amen

Mark 12:29-30; James 3:17; Mark 10:27

Mar 1 Your hand

surreal-1447617_1920Lord God, I acknowledge that all power and all authority rests with You.  You are Sovereign over all the earth, the heavens and all that is in them.

You made them and by Your hand, all things are sustained and kept in motion.  When Jesus says “all things are possible with God.”  I have no trouble believing it!

There is no power that can stand against You.

So when I’m feeling lost, or overwhelmed, or helpless, or even hopeless, I will remember that my God can do anything!  You can provide a way of escape.  Or move mountains.  Or work blessings out of tragedy.

You know of solutions I cannot even imagine.  You can make a way, where there is no way.

You can give me strength when I am weak.  Lift my spirits when I am down.  You know how to encourage me when I think I cannot go another step.

You inspire me to begin a journey.  And empower me to keep going.   You reveal wonders to me that are beyond my understanding.   And were I to spend every moment of every day for the rest of my life, I would not begin to see all the things that are possible with You!

You amaze me!  I am so humbled and blessed, knowing that You are My God.  And I worship You.  Amen

Mark 10:27

 

Feb 16 A Good Friend

Lord Jesus, when I read about the paralytic man who had four friends who brought him to You, I marvel at his good fortune.

04_lumo_jesus_paralysedman_1024

How blessed he was to have four such close and loyal friends who would not give up in bringing him to You for healing.  They not only carried him from wherever they came from but were so determined in their efforts that they climbed up onto the roof and dug a hole in it.  Then, carefully, they lowered their friend down into Your presence with ropes.

It makes me wonder what kind of man he must have been to have earned such loyalty and devotion.  We don’t know how long he had been paralyzed, but he obviously needed help with a great many things and relied on others’ assistance and generosity, perhaps even pity.

I have been around people who were in need like this who were not pleasant.  Their own frustration with their limitations resulted in much anger and bitterness that spilled over into their attitude and treatment of others.

Oh Lord, when I am in situations where I am dependent on others to do for me, please let me remember this man.  Let me be patient and kind to those who help me.  Remind me to be thankful and grateful for their support and continued friendship.

Let my circumstances bring out kindness and appreciation rather than bitterness.

If I live long enough, it is likely these times will come.  As our bodies age, there is often weakness and infirmity.  Be my strength, and let Your strength shine through my weakness.

Let me be a blessing to those around me.  And may “my tongue speak of Your righteousness and of Your praises all day long.”  Amen

Mark 2:1-12; Psalm 35:28

Feb 8 Praying Your words

Bibleprayerhands

 

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

Jan 23 What a ride! Here I am

fun-937105_640

O Lord, I think of all You allowed Jacob (renamed Israel) to go through, and I wonder how difficult his life must have been. He was a twin, compared from birth to a brother who was very different from him.

His father chose a favorite son, not him. His mother schemed for him to receive his father’s blessing, resulting in his exile from home to a place far away.

He worked happily for seven years to earn a bride, but was deceived on his wedding night with a different woman. He worked another seven years and still had nothing to call his own.

Then, things started coming together. He gains large flocks, gets away from his manipulative father-in-law, reconciles with his brother, returns to his father, has many children, including two sons by his beloved wife Rachel. But then she dies in childbirth. And later, her older son is taken from him, presumed dead. His life falls apart again. Talk about ups and downs!

My life has had its ups and downs. There have been times of delirious joy as well as disappointment and sorrow. I feel sometimes as if I am barely able to get up for a new day. And I have Your Holy Spirit in me from whom I can draw strength! I have scriptures I can read to be encouraged. I have praise music I can play or sit at the piano and sing.

How did Jacob do it? How did Israel get through one more day of grieving his beloved wife Rachel, missing his son Joseph; managing his large family with misbehaving sons Simeon, Reuben, Judah and Levi; all in a day and time of famine, with hunger and need all around him?

Yet when You called him in a time of famine, to relocate to a foreign land, he still didn’t give up. Whatever You had in store for him, he simply answered “Here I am”.

O God, help me be that resilient.

Help me get through dark times and be ready to say “Here I am” when You call. Help me hear Your voice above whatever else is going on in my life. Tune my ears so I will hear You and recognize Your call.

Lord, let me hear clearly, and be obedient to all You reveal to me. Open my ears to the message of Your words that bring personal meaning and conviction to my life.

Prune away any misunderstanding I have been living by. Cut away the dead and unproductive parts. Revive me and make me fruitful again. I long to honor and glorify You.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

How can I do any less?

Genesis 46:2 (and Jacob’s life); Psalm 19:1

Jan 20 Indescribable Uncontainable

jesus-and-world

I continue to be amazed, Lord God, at the magnitude of the height of Your glory. You made the sun and stars, everything in the heavens.

As humans, we are just beginning to understand the depth of the workings of the cosmos.

All we know about our universe could fit on the head of a pin compared to what You were able to imagine and bring into being.

Even beyond our meager understanding, You had the ability, the power to create what You imagined. And by Your hand it is all kept in balance and in motion.

Yet, with the incredible greatness and the boundless vastness of Your power and sovereignty, You still know each one of us, each of Your creations, by name. I marvel at the love You have for us, and the care You take with us.

You can see the past and the future. You are outside of time. You knew when a famine was coming in Egypt, and cared to let them know in advance. You spoke revelation through dreams and gave the interpretation to Joseph. And because of that, people were saved from the famine, and Your promise was preserved; Your covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was upheld.

As great as You are, You still communicate with us in ways we can understand; as an example: parables. We can understand a crop with weeds sewn into it, and how harvest time works. We can see when a tiny seed grows into a large tree, or the action of yeast causing bread dough to rise. We know the draw and value of treasure and pearls.

Thank You for caring to communicate with us; to show us the way to have relationship with You: the Almighty God of the Universe.

And as we can only voice our faith and trust in You through the words we understand, we join with the Psalmist David in saying; “You are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. You are my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to You, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” 

“I love You, O Lord, my strength.” Amen

Genesis 41:17-42:17; Matthew 13:24-46; Psalm 18:1-3

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, to 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 26 in God I trust

dollar-463380_1920

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All these things are faulty reliances.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 23 You are my Carpenter

David says, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way.” I echo those words Lord.  I know that You can see me and can tell how I am dealing with all I am going through.

boat carpenter

I know this, because in the past, You have been there with a word of encouragement, a call from a friend, a letter from someone, a song, a verse – exactly what I have needed, exactly when I have needed it.

You know me so well.  You created me.  You knew beforehand the purpose of my life, the places I would go, the perils I would face.

Like a carpenter chooses the type of wood to match the force of the stresses that will be brought against the boat he is making, You, my good and wise Carpenter, lovingly chose how I would be made.

You carefully and masterfully fashioned me to create exactly what You envisioned I would need to meet the storms You knew I would have to face in my life.

I don’t know my own strength, but You do.  You built strength into me that will only be demonstrated by the storms I weather.

So, with confidence and faith, I will enter the darkness, the high winds, the deep swells, the powerful surges, the rain, thunder and lightening.  I will let them crash around me, and wash over me, and I will see my deliverance on the other side.  Where the waters are calm.   And the winds are favorable.   And the sky is blue.

And my Carpenter, who is my Creator, my Heavenly Father, my Savior, my Lord, stands smiling.  Amen

Psalm 142:1-7

Dec 6 Rebellion to Repentance

american-flag-1020853_640

“Hear the word of the Lord, you [Americans], because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.   There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.  Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away;’”

 

Father, as Israel was in its idolatry and rebellion, so is America today.  My heart grieves for the way my country and its people have fallen so far away from the godly, moral values America was founded on.

When I was growing up, I heard older people saying that what one generation tolerates, the next takes to excess.

At the time I was proud to be in a generation who was finding “freedom” in establishing new social norms that were allowing equality between races and genders and socio-economic groups.  But what I have seen is that many of those freedoms were taken advantage of, and prostituted for monetary gain, selfishness, power and corruption.

I see that in my country, there is no faithfulness to You.

Even my freedom to express my spiritual viewpoint is being stifled when it is not ”politically correct.”

The list You gave Hosea of  “cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery” sounds like the description of most of what Americans call entertainment.   Forgive our sin Father, turn the hearts of the American people back to You and bring healing to our land.

You tell me “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken and endures forever.”  Father, I know I will endure forever as I have eternal life with You.  Help me now, in this life, not to be shaken from Your truth and what I know to be right.  Give me strength of faith and of character to walk in obedience to You, not in the way of the world.  Let me be faithful and acknowledge You in my land.

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so You surround Your people both now and forevermore.”

Let me feel You surrounding me, encompassing me Lord: shielding and protecting me, lifting me up.  Thank You that You are faithful to all Your promises.  Amen

Hosea 4:1-3; Psalm 125:1-2

 

 

Nov 26 Teach me

Father, thank You for Peter’s reminder that as the end approaches, believers must be earnest in prayer, share Your deep love with others, and use our Spiritual gifts.

Some of these sound so easy.  None of them are.  I can’t do any of them without Your help.  What I can do is come to You in prayer.  You help me in so many ways.  I love my conversations with You!

aec-1782427_640Sometimes I feel closer to You when I walk around the lake, or through the trees, or can see the mountains.  When I am surrounded by Your amazing creation, You often give me a word of instruction or encouragement.

You have taught me things by watching geese flying above, or ducks feeding in the pond, or sunlight shining through dark clouds.  You have shown me how to be humble through the faces of blossoms that track the sunlight across the sky, or sunflowers that have heads so heavy with seed that they bend low.

It is so easy to praise You in the presence of the beauty of Your creation, and when things are going well.  But rejoicing in suffering is harder to do.  Sometimes, my side of the conversation is sobbing and tears.  It is anxious pleading with pain.

You reach out to me then too.  There is nothing You cannot handle.  There is nothing too big or too small to bring to You.  Thank You for this life-saving and life-giving privilege of prayer.

Father, teach me how to show Your great love to others.  It feels easy to do with strangers.  Kindness to a stranger is short-lived.  Help me to be loving and forgiving and hospitable to those I know.

Show me how to be humble, and not grumble.   And especially to those I know well, give me perseverance to act and speak in love for the long haul.

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

In all these things, let me also be aware of “[my] enemy the devil” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  Help me see through his lies and deceptions.  Help me avoid his traps and temptations.   Strengthen me to resist him in all his cunning ways.   Make me strong, firm and steadfast.

Yours is the power forever.  I know You will never fail me.  Thank You.  Amen

I Peter 4:7-5:14

Nov 24 Help me walk in the light

Word lamp unto my feet

“Dear friends, I urge you…to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.”

Father, help me live this kind of life.  I am bombarded every day by media who through advertising and entertainment would have me believe that worldly values and immorality are the only way to be happy.  Many of these skewed values presented would lead me into sin.

Father, if I have embraced these desires, take them away from me.  Let me be so busy enjoying doing good and pleasing You, that I do not even think about, or have time to be involved in ungodly activities.  Bring opportunities to me that will use my gifts and bless others so You will get the credit.  Help me make choices that will honor You.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority…”  I do not wish to be a doormat for others.  I believe by “submission” You mean power or strength under control.  While in the flesh, Jesus, You had all the power in the world, but it was still “submitted to” or “under the control of” God the Father’s will.

Let me learn humility and submission by Your example.  Give me Your strength, and help me submit it to Your will.

Help me live in submission to the authorities You place in my life.  This would be legal and government officials, those in positions of authority as I work and minister, and those You place in my personal life.

Peter says “you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Ultimately, I am a sheep, Your sheep.  Father, let me flourish in Your flock, and always be near to and obedient to You, my Shepherd.  Amen

I Peter 2:11-3:7

Oct 5 I look to You

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

anthony-tori-120173

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are Lord and I am blessed.   Amen

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

Oct 4 Fill me!

overcoming-1697546_640“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will 

through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives

so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way:

bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.   

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Father, I continually ask You to fill me with the knowledge of Your will: not my own or anyone else’s.  Do not let me be distracted by the glitter of what the world would show me I could do or have.  Or be swayed by trying to please others to earn their approval.

Do not let me be led astray by my own sense of pride or selfishness.  But give me a true understanding of how You have created me, with specific gifts, talents, personality and temperament, and how You would use those to accomplish Your will through my life.

Lord, would You do this through all the wisdom and understanding the Spirit gives: not the wisdom of the world, or the logic of the mind, or the sense of the flesh.  For these are the influences that so often affect my mind and decisions.

I seek the wisdom that Your Spirit gives through Your Word in scripture, and in prayer and meditation as I open my ears and heart and spirit to You alone.  Close my ears to all other sources that would seek to lead me away from You and Your purposes.

Father, give me Your strength, that comes from Your power.   Strengthen me physically when I need it.  I do not desire to do great physical feats, but Father, sometimes my energy wanes long before the end of the day or the task.  And as I age, I can feel weakness creeping into my body.  Fortify my organs and my immune system to function according to how You created them to function.

Lord, I also need Your support mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Empower me in all these areas with Your strength working in and through me.

Father, I ask for these gifts so that I may live the life You died to give me; pleasing You, doing good works that will bring glory to Your name.  And that I would accomplish these in Your power and in Your timing.  This will help me know You better and deepen our relationship.

I offer up sincere thanks and praises with total joy, as a beloved and blessed child of Yours.  Amen

Colossians 1:1-17

 

 

Oct 1 You are the strength of my heart

your-righteousness-is-perfect_blog

Father, Isaiah is filled with the vision of Your triumphant return!

You bring reward to Your people.  You come avenging Your people, righting wrongs done centuries ago and ever since.

Even Your people do not deserve Your great salvation, but You will bless the remnant You have chosen and those who call on Your name.

Father, help me keep my eyes on that future.  And my focus on You and Your promises, not on what is happening here on earth.

Here on earth the wicked seem to be the prosperous. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills.”

When I listen to the voice of modern society and how far it has pulled away from You and Your standards, it is easy to wonder if I am still on the right track.  I see people who do not worship You who prosper so greatly, with seemingly no consequences.

They amass influence and power and become the people who drive my society and its values.  And I wonder: Do You see?  Do You see what is happening in Your world?  The one You created so carefully?  So lovingly?

I seek to live according to Your principles, and it brings challenges and trials.

But I will remember Your promises.  I trust Your plan.  And these Words of Yours strengthen me: “I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.   

Whom have I in heaven but You?    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.   My flesh and my heart may fail,  but You are the strength of my heart  and my portion forever.”

Whatever the earth can offer is nothing compared to all You have already given me, and have promised me will be my future with You!  Thank You!  Amen

Isaiah 62:8-12; 65:8-25; Psalm 73:1-28

Sept 28 Victory in Jesus!

Father, I desire to “be strong in You and in Your mighty power.”   And to “take my stand against the devil’s schemes.”

I realize that my battle is not with the people around me, or my circumstances, although I sometimes feel at war with these.  My struggle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  And the armor You have given me is perfectly suited to what I need.

roman shieldI wear the “Helmet of Salvation” – which bears Your insignia, letting all know in whose army I fight.  It guards my head, but also my thoughts.  It reminds me to take every thought captive and compare it to Your truth.

You have given me a “Belt of Truth” with which I can recognize the lies of the enemy.  Help me not be mesmerized by what I think I want to hear, so that I do not look deeply enough to recognize a lie when I hear it.

You have given me a “Breastplate of Righteousness” so that stabs and attacks glance off without doing harm.  With deeper protection, it is like the forerunner to the bulletproof vest which stops and arrests projectiles before they can hurt me.

You “fit my feet with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of Peace”.   People may remove their shoes when entering a home or as a sign of relaxing.  But when shoes are put on, it signifies a readiness for action.

As a believer, my action should be directed toward sharing the “Good News” or the “Gospel” with others.   My faith in the Good News of my salvation gives me traction to be able to “stand firm.”  “So that when the day of evil comes, I will be able to stand my ground.”

“In addition to all this, take up the Shield of Faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  This is not some little garbage can lid with a handle!  The shields Paul was seeing were those of the Roman guard.

They covered the soldier’s body and were wide enough so when they stood together it made a formidable wall.  And thick enough to block and stop sword, spear, arrow and javelin.

Father, every time You do what You say, keep Your promise, deliver me from some trouble, or stand with me in some hardship, it builds my faith.  It strengthens my Shield!  And when I stand beside other believers in their faith, I am protected even more!

And I take up the “Sword of the Spirit” – Your Holy Word.  There is such power in Your Word!  Evil trembles and turns back at the mention of Your name.  Praying Your Words back to You by using scripture empowers my prayers.

When I am dressed in Your armor, and wielding Your weapons, I am a mighty force!

Your armor is the best.  With it I can stand firm.  I can stand against the schemes of the evil one.

When You fight with me and for me, it is You who give me the victory!  And I receive the blessing.  Thank You!  Amen

Ephesians 6:10-17

Sept 24 Strengthen Me

man-2037255_640“O Lord, out of Your glorious riches,

would You strengthen me

with the power through Your Spirit in my inner being.”

Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth and everything in it is Yours.  And not just Your right of Sovereignty over all things, but the richness of Your character allows You to pour over me all that I might ever need.

Father, would You strengthen me:

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

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

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

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

Father, would You do this so that “You will dwell in my heart through faith”.  Help me to “be rooted and established in love”.  Lord, like a tree planted by the water, let my spiritual roots go down deep into the soil so I can draw deeply of Your love.  You are love, so You are the true source of love that can strengthen and fill me.

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

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

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

Ephesians 3:16-21

 

Sept 22 Hope in the darkness

book-1936547_640

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sept 19 “This is the way…”

road-sign-64059_1280Father, You have described those who do not follow You and those who do.  And unfortunately, I sometimes display the characteristics of both.

You say “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”  And yet there are times when I do not remain quiet and trusting.  “Yet”, You tell me “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion.”

What an amazing God You are!  Even when I am not faithful, You are patient and merciful to me!

Father, You have promised, “As soon as You hear, You will answer me.”  And have said that “my ears will hear a voice behind me saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”  I could ask for nothing more.

Even now, as I call out to You, I know that You can hear my voice and will answer me.  Father, there are circumstances in my life that present options and opportunities, choices.  And I must decide.

Fear would freeze me where I stand, preventing me from moving ahead in any direction.  But I believe that You have wisdom in all these areas.   I believe You have the ability to see into the future, to know which is the right way for me to go.

You also know my past, and the way that You created me, with strengths, gifts, and talents, as well as weaknesses.  So You know what You have already prepared me for, and what is best for me.

Father, I have access to the wisdom of the world.  I have friends who would probably tell me what they think I want to hear.  But I desire to live my life by Your wisdom.

Be the voice that I hear behind me, in my ear, telling me which is the way to walk.  Show me which path to take.  Show me when to wait and when to go forward.  Open my ears and my Spirit so I can hear and understand what You tell me.

And give me the boldness to be obedient to what You tell me.

“And I will sing…my heart will rejoice.”  I will rest in my salvation.  And will remain in quietness and trust.  These will be my strength.  Amen

Isaiah 30:15-21

Sept 12 A Tool for God’s Purpose

Father, when You sent Your judgment against Israel, You used the political and military powers of the day. Not knowing You, they believed it was by their own strength and power that they conquered. But it is clear that they were merely a tool in Your hand.

wood-working-2385634_640

 

The power is not in the tool, but in the one who wields it.

Father, I pray I would be a tool in Your hand for godly purposes. Use me to accomplish Your will.

As Your tool send me where Your would to achieve Your plan. And never let me forget that Yours is the strength and the wisdom by which anything is accomplished.

Father, some are called to far away places to be tools for You in spreading Your Word and Your love. And surely there are obstacles for them to overcome and challenges to conquer. But sometimes I feel the hardest place to be Your representative is here at home, with the people I love.

I know You have a wonderful plan and purpose for their lives too. So until you call me away somewhere else, help me realize the potential here. And be willing to be a tool in Your hands in the lives of those people You have brought closest to me.

Help me live every day showing Your grace and mercy and compassion to them. When asked, help me give wise and godly advice, not just my own preferences. Let my words be instructive and gentle, and line up with Your truth, spoken in love for the benefit of the hearer.

Help me hold my tongue when I need to, when the words would not be godly wisdom, but come from some other motivation. Help me spread peace in their lives when it would be so much easier to spread my own brand of how things should be. Help me let go of my own expectations of them, freeing them up to know the fulfillment of Your plans and purposes.

Help me be patient with Your timeline for my loved ones development and maturity. Let my prayers be consistent for them to be empowered and guided by the influence of Your Word, and what You speak to them through the godly mentors and circumstances You allow into their lives.

Let me draw strength from You. Let me be guided by You. And let me rest in Your strong and skillful hands. Amen

Isaiah 10:1-19

 

Aug 30 hard pressed, but not…

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

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

onestalkgladiola

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

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

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

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

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

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

II Corinthians 4:8-9

Aug 22 Help me stand strong

valley-2575839_640O Lord, I have never experienced the misery and suffering of Job, but his pain and the depth of his despair are clear to me.   So it seems to me that what his friend is saying is terribly insensitive.  It sounds as if he is trying to encourage Job to trust in his own righteousness.

The belief then was that trouble came from sin, so Job should confess his sin to You.  The presumption is that Job brought this upon himself, and there is an easy fix.  But that is not the truth.

What I do like about what this friend is saying is that they all have faith in You, Lord and in Your power.   And that Job should “appeal to You and lay his cause before You.”  For no matter what the problem, You are the solution.  You always have the power and authority to act.

The friend spells out Your power in a way that encourages me.  “You perform wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

I get to see some of those wonders and miracles every day when I see the strength of majestic mountains or the wide open sky, or the beauty of a sunset, the flight of birds, the colors of a rainbow, the faces of my loved ones.  Or when I see and feel and smell the deep velvety red richness of my roses.  Or when I feel the coolness of the air and smell the freshness after a rain.  Or when I play or hear music that reaches a place in my spirit that fills me with elation.

I too, believe in and trust in Your power, Your ability to do wonders and perform miracles.

One thing Job asks: “I would not deny the words of the Holy One”.  Job says that even in unrelenting pain, he would have joy if he could still stand strong in his faith and not deny You.

I echo that prayer Father.  I ask that whatever comes into my life, You would take me before I shame or dishonor You.

Strengthen me to endure whatever You allow.  You know me best.  And if something that You know is stronger than I have it in me to bear, just take me to be with You.

Thank You Father.  Amen

Job 4:1-7:21

 

Aug 14 Do not grieve

person-joyjumpPsalm 33 tells me, “Blessed [joyful, happy] is the nation whose God is the Lord. The people He chose for His inheritance.”

When Ezra read Your Word to the Israelites assembled, they knew that You were their God and they were Your people. And today, any who believe in You as Savior are also Your people. Believers have an inheritance with You. And we are blessed as a nation when we call You our Lord.

The Israelites mourned and wept as they heard Your Word because it convicted them of their sin. As a believer, I also mourn and weep when I read Your Word, because of my own sin and the sin of my nation.

But Nehemiah told them “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

In happy times it is easy for me to say this. When things are going well, I can be joyful. I feel strong. But in this context, the people are not happy. They are grieving, ashamed, broken by their sin. This is when they are told “the joy of the Lord is your strength”.

It is when I have no strength of my own because I am broken, or sad, discouraged, overwhelmed, or depressed – that I look to You and receive Your strength.

I can know that whatever is going on in my life, there is joy when I remember that You are my God, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Comforter, my Friend. Your presence gives me joy and strength. Even in the face of trials, I can look to You.

Your Psalm reminds me I will not be saved by the size of an army, or personal physical strength, or even by a mighty horse. But my hope is in You, my help and my shield. “In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name.”

Remind me Father, the next time I am downcast, that my joy and my strength are not based on my circumstances. But are found, sure and steadfast, in You. Amen

Nehemiah 8:1-12; Psalm 33:12-22

Aug 4 The Faith train

“You are my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”

Yet sometimes I have felt in the dark. I have been afraid of what may happen to me or to my loved ones. Sometimes I feel so ill prepared to handle what comes up that it leaves me feeling overwhelmed – with emotion, with circumstances, with decisions, with worry. I have been anxious over so many things that never happened. And a theme here is that I am relying on “feelings”.

railway-512227_640

 

The truth is that my “faith” is based on “facts”. The “facts” fuel my “faith” which is the engine that drives the train. They pull my “feelings” along behind like a caboose.

The problem is that I sometimes forget and allow myself to be driven by the caboose.

The fact is “in the day of trouble, He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” Father, You have promised to keep me safe. And my faith in You is steadfast. But sometimes when I don’t “feel” You near me, I forget that You are there. The fact is You have promised never to leave me! So just because I cannot feel You, doesn’t mean You are not there. Again, I let myself be driven by my feelings.

When I remember the facts of who You are: Creator God, Yahweh, the Great I Am, Jehovah Jirah – my provider, El Shaddai; I can say in the strength of my faith: “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”

When I state these “facts”, and speak aloud the truth of my faith, my feelings fall into line. And I am strengthened and encouraged. “You are my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? You are the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”  A-MEN !

Psalm 27:1-6

July 3 Your Word nourishes me

tree stream

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 23 Strengthen me

thoughts words deeds cross

“Lord, I call to You; come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to You.”

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

My mouth so often gets me into trouble. I speak before I think. Sometimes I hurt the ones I love. Sometimes my mouth leads me into gossip, or even lies to make myself look better in the eyes of others. Sometimes I reveal too much to people who don’t understand or appreciate it, like casting “pearls before swine”.

Instead, I would prefer to use my words to bless, encourage, teach, and show I care. Help me measure out my words like precious commodities. Teach me to take time to think before I rush into spilling out whatever is on my mind. Especially when I am upset, Lord, it is hard keep my mouth shut, instead of sharing my pain, frustration, or anger. Remind me I can come to You with anything and everything. You are the One who can offer healing, encouragement, and restoration better than anyone else.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. Keep me from the snares they have laid before me, from the traps set by evildoers. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.”

Father, if there is a lure, remove the worm and reveal the hook so I will not be caught and reeled in like a fish caught on a line. If there are hidden nets or snares, show me the truth behind the lies and deceit that would coax me into the trap.

Lord, I know there are times when the evil one is out to derail me. But there are also times when my own flesh and the world’s desires tempt me into things I should not be involved with. Father, keep me from those things too. Do not let me even toy with the thought of wanting them, or thinking I deserve them, or thinking I can get away with having them. I have heard that voice in my head tempting me, trying to justify behavior I know is wrong.

Strengthen me with Your power: in my thoughts, my words and my actions. In You, I take refuge! You are my Sovereign Lord, and my eyes are fixed on You! Amen

Psalm 141:1-10

June 4 My All

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

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

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

You become my shield and my refuge.

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

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

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

2 Samuel 22:21-51

June 3 Jehovah-Jireh = My Provider

office-594132_640Lord, thank You for this reminder to commemorate Your works in my life by writing about it.

Whether in a song like David, or poem, or letter form in a journal, it is important that I not only give You recognition, credit, and thanks, but that I leave a record for others to see and know of Your involvement in my life. So that others know how You love, rescue and deliver those who belong to You.

I may not fight battles with six-fingered giants, but there are forces acting against me today. In this fight, You are also my rock which I can rely on as immovable to stand on or hide behind. You are my fortress where I can find protection within.

You are the One by whose power I am delivered from the enemy. You are my shield that deflects the arrows and blows aimed at me. You are the source of my strength, and the place I can pull back to, to find rest and refuge. Your power and strength save me.

Thank You that I can call on You when I need help and have become exhausted. Thank You that You are faithful and trustworthy and come to my aid. As the Psalmist says, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.” I can look to the beautiful, often snow capped mountains where I live. Their beauty and stability speak to me of Your strength and faithfulness.

But the Psalmist wrote this to be a song all the Israelites would sing either as they made their way up to Jerusalem from their hometowns, lower in elevation; or as they ascended the steps on the south wall of the Temple mount. This was Mount Moriah, where You blessed Abraham and provided the ram to sacrifice in place of his son.

As the Israelites looked up to the hills of Jerusalem, towards the Temple, they would be thinking of You, the offerings they brought, and the forgiveness, celebration and protection they would experience there.

Thank You that I am also reminded You watch over me, that You are my shade and my protector. Thank You that You keep me from harm and watch over my life. I am so grateful. Amen

2 Samuel 21:15-22:20; Psalm 121:1-8

 

May 14 Choose Obedience

photo by Good Hand Security products

obedience-to-god-3-638

 

Dear Father, let me learn the lesson of Saul from this passage of scripture. Let me remember that to obey is better than sacrifice.

Father, what You want is obedience: meaning I put what You tell me above all else.

 

I hold true to Your Word no matter what other people think or say. I do not bow to peer pressure. I do not change what You have sent me to do because I am afraid.

Saul weakened in the face of the opinion and pressure of the people, and did not obey completely. He even reasoned a way to convince himself he had indeed obeyed. But the prophet Samuel saw the truth of it and confronted him. Saul’s disobedience cost him the leadership of Israel. He would soon be replaced as king.

I need to remember that it is not how often I pray, or whether I make monetary donations to ministries, or give my time in mission work. The question is whether I have done what You have told me.

Help me hear You clearly, Lord. And empower me to be strong enough to follow through completely. Give me whatever I need, so I can stand in the end, and say I was truly obedient. Amen

I Samuel 15:1-35

May 12 There is none like You

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

guitarplay

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 108:1-13

Apr 16 Your voice, not the world’s

ToHear God's VoiceLord, let me and my sons be like Caleb and Joshua. They spied out the Promised Land and saw all the goodness there.   They also saw the enemy for who they were, but knew that You would give victory and deliver them according to Your Word. They held to their convictions and lived a long life receiving all You had promised. Even in their old age, they were strong and vigorous because they served You wholeheartedly.

I know that both goodness and enemies lie before me. But I know if I serve You wholeheartedly, I will receive all You promise. Your will, Your plan will not be thwarted. Even in my old age, help me be faithful. I will be blessed and receive an inheritance from You.

Father, let me also be like the widow who made her plea to the judge so persistently that she received the justice she wanted. Let my faith be that I will not give up, but always lift my concerns and needs to You in prayer.   When You return, let me be found faithful, continuing in prayer, not being dissuaded by circumstances or the influences of this world.

Also, Lord, keep me mindful that my only righteousness comes from You, so I will not look down on anyone else, but remain humble. I am ever dependent on You, on Your mercy and on Your grace for my life and all that I have. Thank You for Your faithfulness – to warriors, to widows, to me. Amen

Joshua 14:6-15; Luke 18:1-14

Apr 7 Your strength, Your courage

wordsarmsoutstretchedsky

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