Tag: truth

Jan 16 Are you a wrestler?

wrestlersDear Father, it seems I am a wrestler.

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

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

My wrestling is not so productive as Jacob’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis 32:22-30

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Jan 2 Keep me from “Serpent speak”

O Father, Proverbs tells me “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Lord, I do not wish to be a fool.  Help me keep my sense of awe and respect for You.  I yearn for Your wisdom and instruction.  Keep me teachable and open to hear Your voice and see Your wonders.

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I completely acknowledge You as Creator of the Universe and all that is in it. You alone possess the Sovereignty and Authority and Power to rule over and be Lord over all.

What an infinite imagination to think up all the combinations of flowers, birds, animals and insects!  And not just how they look, but how they sound, and smell!  I am amazed by You!

Surely, Eve must have been amazed by You too; walking in the Garden of Eden that You created!  Yet she gave in to temptation.   She listened to the serpent speak and was deceived. (And I’m still blown away that she didn’t seem surprised at all that a serpent was speaking!)

When the serpent misquoted You, she did not check it out.  And when he told a half-truth, that she would “be like” You, she believed it.  She trusted what she understood with her own eyes and logic instead of coming to You.

Father, do not let me make this mistake.

When I hear a voice tempting me with something You have already spoken about, help me remember what You’ve said.  If I do not, remind me to come to You for direction.  Keep me from rushing to accept what is said without checking it out.  Let me be wise to the tactic of using just enough truth to sound right as a scheme to derail me.

Lord, do not let me be misled by falsehoods or half-truths.

It is not just the voice of the evil one, but also this world and my own flesh that lead me down a wrong path, away from You.  Many temptations lure me to be more or have more than I am, playing into greed or pride, a sense of self-importance, inflated ego, fame or fortune.  But as seen here, this temptation was only half true, and had a huge price.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”  This sounds like she was being perfectly logical, if it weren’t for the fact that You had already told her it was wrong!

Sometimes I can logically think my way into a wrong answer too.  Remind me, Father, to come to You, to seek Your perspective above all others.  Whether considering an opportunity, or dealing with a hardship: if there seems to be wisdom the world offers, or a logic to my mind, or a sense in my flesh, let me submit them all to You.

And thank You Father, that even when I make mistakes and sin; as with Adam and Eve, You have shed Your blood and covered me.  You have made a way for me to be back in fellowship with You, forever.  You are amazing!  Amen

Genesis 3:1-24; Proverbs 1:7-9

Jan 1 Blessing for the year

Father, in these words of Psalm 1 You tell me how to be blessed.  Help me, my husband, sons, and loved ones obey these words to receive Your blessing.

Oh Lord God, do not let us heed or walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But let us recognize evil for what it is. Give us a hunger and thirst for Your counsel, Your way, Your truth and Your wisdom so we will be seated with those who know and follow You.

Let our delight be in Your law, Oh Lord. Let us read it, memorize it, recall it and meditate on it, thinking about how to apply it to our own lives and circumstances. Let Your perfect law color my thoughts and attitudes.

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Make us like trees planted by streams of water, which yield fruit in season. Show us Your perfect will for our lives and Your timing so we will produce fruit that will honor and glorify You and Your name. Do not let us wither, but keep us strong and hearty. Let all we do prosper and bring You honor.

Allow us to see that the wicked cannot stand, but are blown away like chaff before the wind. And that the works of the evil ones will not prosper or enjoy Your gift of Salvation.

Lord, please watch over me and my loved ones – keep us on the path You have set before each one of us.

I totally trust in Your perfect will for all our lives. May we come to trust You and Your guiding hand.  May we feel You watching over us.

And may that sense of Your presence be a powerful deterrent and an awesome reassurance. Amen.

Psalm 1:1-6

 

Dec 24 Search my heart

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Father, it is the condition of my heart that You are concerned with.  Through Zechariah, You told the people of Bethel that it was not simply the observance of anniversaries, holy festivals, feasts and fasting, which pleased You.

While it is true that those things can be done as acts of worship to honor You, the Lord Almighty, they can also be done for the sake of the activity.  You alone know the hearts of the people involved; whether they participate to please themselves or to honor You.

Father, today help me examine myself.  Search my heart, look at my motives.  Do not let me simply “go through the motions.”  Fill my spirit!

When I praise You, I will do it with a full and sincere heart.

When I give money or time or energy, I will do it gladly as an act of worship.

When I read Your Word, I will do it with an open mind and spirit to hear and receive what You have to say to me.

When I feast or fast, I will do it not for the recognition of others, but for an audience of One – You.  And whether I am celebrating Christmas or Passover I will do it with sensitivity to the spiritual meaning, not just what history or the world has made it to be.

Father, I acknowledge and thank You for Your deeds.  I celebrate and trust the way You do things.  I don’t always understand, because Your ways are not my ways – but I trust them.  And I cannot wait until every knee bows to You, and every tongue confesses that You, indeed, are Lord!  Amen!

Zechariah 7:1-14

Dec 17 Two things I ask

number-two-1439808“Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die:

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; 

give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?  Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Father, I see much wisdom in these words.  I also ask for these two things.

First, do not let me entangle myself in telling lies.  Let me be true to You, speaking the truth in love.  And not just by the words I say, but in the way I allow others to perceive me.  Do not let me put on airs or mislead anyone into thinking I am something I am not.

And the reverse: do not let me be misled by the lies and falsehoods of others.  Help me see truth.  Let me understand by Your light shining, dispelling the darkness of lies and deception.

Second, let me live with what I need.  Not in poverty and not in riches.  Each of these might cause me to overlook You and focus on my circumstances.  For in both directions, I have seen people take their eyes off You.

If the need is so great, it can be a temptation to sin by stealing and cursing You.  And if the excess is too great, it can lead to pride, greed, and a self-sufficiency that disregards the need for You.

These are wise words Father, and they are my prayer.  Amen

Proverbs 30:7-9

 

Dec 6 Rebellion to Repentance

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“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

 

 

Dec 4 God is love – He loves me!

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Father, You have given me the confidence to live my life encouraged.  Through John, You have shown me how to discern truth from falsehood and how important love is.  Holding on to those things will help me live a godly life.

 

There are so many influences in the world today it can be hard to know which are truly good and which are truly evil.  Evil masquerades as good.  It can appear justified, acceptable, even beneficial.

Evil influence can even come from well-intentioned people.   And You assure me that when I come up against evil, worldly influences, “greater is He that is in me, than he who is in the world.”

Since You ARE love, every one who belongs to You will have that love in them.  Your love is total, complete, sacrificial, perfect, and saves me.

This is not “I love ice cream” kind of love, or brotherly love, or even romantic love.   It is the Greek word agape– a total, selfless, unconditional love that overcomes sin.  You loved each one of us before we loved You or even knew of You..  It is a perfect love that has no fear, but drives out fear.

It is Your love, Father, that I seek in my life every day!  I need it to drive out the fear that gains a foothold in me through circumstances I don’t understand, through stressful things happening to my loved ones, through the evil I see prospering in the world.

Father, there are days I feel so overwhelmed and unlovable that I deny Your love because I don’t “feel” it.  Forgive me when I doubt Your amazing, perfect love.

Do not let me be led by my feelings – they have nothing to do with the truth of and the absolute certainty of Your love.

Help me sense Your love, and be lifted up by it, so I can share it with my brothers and sisters.

Let me walk in Your love till the end of days, or the end of my days, whichever comes first.  Thank You for Your amazing love.  Amen

I John 4:1-21

Dec 3 Pray for peace

Father, my trips to the Holy Land were so wonderful!  They were spiritually uplifting, eye-opening and life-changing.  Our four weeks in Jordan, Israel and Egypt left me with the ability to visualize places now when I read Your Word, that make it come more alive!

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The eight days in Jerusalem amazed me as I saw people from all over the world visiting there.  It truly is the crossroads of three continents, with trade and cultural influences from Europe, Asia and Africa.

It is also a crossroad in a spiritual sense.

Muslims trace their roots back to Abraham, and worship there, holding Jerusalem as a holy place.  It is the place of David, Solomon and Jesus, peace be upon them, who were great prophets in Islam.  Besides Dome of the Rock being there, Jerusalem was the first city Muslims turned to pray towards, many years before it was changed to Mecca.

Jews also worship in Jerusalem as the seed of Abraham their patriarch, and believe it was given to them by You in Your promise to Abraham.  David brought the Arc of the Covenant there, and Solomon built a Temple where You placed Your Name and Your Presence was seen, making it a holy place.

And Christians hold Jerusalem in reverence because of the great history of our roots, but mostly because You walked, were crucified and rose from the dead there.

The prophets say You will come again to Jerusalem.  You are the Prince of Peace and You will bring peace.  David tells me in Psalm 122 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

So, Heavenly Father, I ask for Your peace in Jerusalem now.  Would You place in the hearts of each individual there, whether young or old, man or woman, Arab or Israeli, politician or shopkeeper, a sense of unity and a desire for Your peace to invade the Middle East.

Father, for the Christians there empower those believers with courage to live out their faith in unity as Your body.  Let there be unity in their churches, so the people who are seeing them are not put off of believing in You because of Your followers. Give these believers an extra dose of Your protection so they can live out Your love in front of an unbelieving world.

Lord, protect them as they witness to their unbelieving friends and neighbors.  Protect their lives, families, businesses, and possessions as they spread Your love and Your Word through their spoken and unspoken testimony.  Cause a revival in their lives, so they are filled to overflowing with Your love and Your blessing and want to share it with others.

Prepare the hearts and spirits of unbelievers to hear Your Word and believers’ testimonies.  Cause them to question whatever it is they are believing in now: another religion, a government power, a cultural system of beliefs.  Open their eyes and ears to see and hear what is happening around them.  And open their spirits to understand and discern spiritual truth.

Speak to unbelievers as only You can.  Give them dreams and visions that lead them to the truth of who You are.  Let them hear Your Word in their own language.  Let them see examples of godly lives lived out.

Tear the veil away from their minds that keeps Your truth in darkness.  Reveal Yourself to them in ways that will lead them to accept You as their own personal Savior.  And let that have an impact on them individually, and then on their families, their neighbors, their community, their culture and their nations.

Let Your message of truth and peace spread from one to another in a way that no government or oppressive organization can stop!

Father, because this is a world-wide issue, send and empower godly leaders and counselors to countries around the world who recognize and acknowledge You as Supreme and Sovereign God.

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I pray for Your Word to invade the earth.  And for Your Will to be done in all the earth.  If this will only happen when You return, then I pray for Your quick return.  For You are the Prince of Peace.  You wept over Jerusalem.  And You can bring peace back to her.   Father, bring Your peace.  Amen

Psalm 122:1-9

Nov 25 Live in the light like Daniel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel 1:1-2:23

Nov 22 Teach me “application”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 119:17-32

Nov 8 May the Truth set us free

usa-1491734_640Father, as I read this section of Psalm 106, I fear that I personally, and my country, have together made the same mistakes Your people made in the desert.  They were not satisfied with the life You gave them; even the miracles You performed to deliver them from the hand of the enemy who had relegated them to slavery for generations, and then was set on destroying them.

In the wilderness at Meribah where You brought water from a rock for them to drink, they rebelled against Moses and Your provision.  They forgot that You had done something so mighty as parting the Red Sea for them, and delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh and his army.

Instead, they focused on their fleshly desires, doubting You could quench their thirst.  I too, sometimes focus on my own desires rather than the great blessings You have already worked in my life.  And I too respond with whining instead of faith.

When they came into the Promised Land, they “mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.”  I fear I have done the same by participating in the social customs of my times.   I and my country, have mingled godly beliefs with the socially acceptable values of the times.

What You call sin is no longer looked upon as sin.  People today seem to have no concept of what is right and wrong, and so no self-governing set of morals that direct or protect them.

Many things in my culture take the place of passion for You.  Sports teams, fame, money, power, shopping, alcohol and drugs, status, cars, beauty, youth: so many things have become idols in the lives of so many, even believers.

“They sacrificed their sons and daughters to false gods.  They shed innocent blood…” Father, I grieve over the number of babies who have been sacrificed on the altar of “choice” and “convenience.”  This land is desecrated by their blood.   And it defiles the people involved because of the act of taking a life.

But it also exacts a price they often pay in long-term emotional and psychological damage, not to mention the spiritual battle that they have lost in giving over ground to the enemy.

Yet, You “took note of their distress when You heard their cry…and out of Your great love You relented.”

Father, I am in distress and I cry out to You: for my personal sin and for the sin of my country.  Forgive, Lord.

I acknowledge and agree with You that I and my country have acted in rebellion in going our own way without following the path You set before us. And that my country and I have participated in social customs and values that have become a snare to us, even to the point of idolatry.

Lord I turn away from anything that seeks to take Your place in my life.  Forgive us for focusing on the flesh over the spiritual.

“Save us Lord our God…that we may give thanks to Your Holy name and glory in Your praise.  Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Let all the people say, Amen!”

Psalm 106:32-48

Oct 14 Grow Your truth in me

Father, Jeremiah was Your man on the ground, Your man on the scene.  He was the one of the few who spoke Your truth, yet no one listened to him or believed him or turned back to You because of it.

Paul spoke Your truth and taught it to the Thessalonians, and it took root.  Yet they were persecuted, endured hardship, and were deceived and confused by false teachers and liars.

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It’s as if Your truth is seed that was scattered, but the ground Jeremiah sowed it on was too hard to accept it.  It fell where it could not take root, and just blew away.

The Thessalonians were better ground and accepted the seed, but it’s as if thorns grew up to choke out what sprouted, or birds tried to take it away.  Paul’s second letter was a good reminder for them to pull the thorns out and shoo the birds away in order to hold on to the truth that had grown in them.

You have given me the ability to discern Your truth by giving me Your written Word and Your Holy Spirit residing within me, who speaks truth to me.   I feel as if I have the benefit of being given the most fertile soil of all.

And it is up to me to protect Your truth growing in me.  I need to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings passed on to [me].”

Father, help me be faithful to make time each day to read Your precious Word.  And to come to You in prayer, and listen to You.  Enlighten me with understanding Your Word and what You say to me in prayer.  And strengthen me to be faithful and obedient to all I understand.

Remind me to guard Your truth in my heart and mind, and bring every other thought and teaching, philosophy and prophecy, to be measured against the plumb line of Your truth.

Your Word has taken firm root in my life.  Help me protect it and nurture it.  Let it leaf and flower and produce good fruit all my days.  I know that when Your timing is right, I will be with You for eternity.  Amen

Jeremiah 25:1-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Oct 10 Send an encourager

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Father, in Jeremiah’s time, even the priests and prophets were lying to their leaders and the people.

They reported only what the people wanted to hear: that they would be safe; that there would be peace, and that these words came from “the Lord.”

Father, would You send a true prophet, like Jeremiah, to the nations’ leaders of the world, and open their ears to Your truth.  Jeremiah was not popular because he told it like it was.  He relayed Your truth, not pacifying lies.  I fear many of our nations’ counselors are not being “Jeremiahs.”

The media has become a “prophet” of the day.  Their reports are very skewed so that the people are controlled by political and social interests and schemes.  And yet the people are not completely innocent either.  For they have chosen one by one how to live their lives and who or what they will worship.

You gave Jeremiah a very difficult task in a very difficult time, but You promised to rescue and save him.  You said, “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose”.   Father, show me Your good purpose.  Help me be strong in my faith like Jeremiah was.

Lord, You sent Paul to be an encouragement to the Thessalonians.  Please send someone into my life, and into the lives of my loved ones, to be a mentor like Paul.

Each one of us needs to be encouraged in our walk with You.  Each one of us faces specific challenges and difficulties.   We may not be able to find direction, understanding and encouragement on our own.

Friend Buddies Pals Best Friends FriendshipBut You, Father, know each of us so intimately, You would know the exact person to send, who can relate to us and speak words of encouragement and comfort and instruction into our individual lives.

You know how each of us needs to be “urged to live lives worthy of You”.

Not just anyone qualifies to speak into our lives.  Father, would You “clear the way” for Your specific mentor to come to each of us and speak Your truth.   And like Paul’s prayer, would You “make our love increase and overflow for each other…and strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless and holy in Your presence…”

Father, I need You and Your truth in my personal life and in my country.  I need Your encouragement to stay on the right path.  Send Jeremiahs and Pauls.  Send Your truth.  Amen

Jeremiah 14:11-16; I Thessalonians 2:9-3:13

Oct 6 Your Word is my path

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“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.”

There 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 me.  Let me truly live my life for an Audience of One.  You.  Amen

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

 

Sept 15 Blessings Old and New

Father, I thank You that You sent evangelists out both to the Jews and to the Gentiles of the time. Although the backgrounds of the two were different, and still are today, You offer salvation to both. One is not better than the other, as all Believers are equal in Christ Jesus.

Father, would You help present day Jews to see the truth of the salvation You offer, apart from their culture. Help them come to a saving knowledge of who You are, and bring them into a personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ.

And would You also show non-Jewish Believers the value and blessing to be had in the Tanakh: our Old Testament. For although the Law You gave Moses is not the basis of salvation; that comes by grace through faith in You, there is blessing for everyone in that Law.  For instance we are blessed in observing the Sabbath, and honoring our parents.

The Ten Commandments together with other Jewish writings that contain things spoken by You, are known as “Divine empowerments.”  These work to release me from bondage to sin and bring me blessing.

But too often the groups look at each other with misunderstanding and throw out even the good that would bless them. Father, teach me to embrace Your whole truth, and live according to it.

You are my God – who delivers me, who protects me, who rises up to help me against whatever enemies come against me. In this personal fight against cancer, “You are my Strength… my fortress, my loving God.”

Old Testament and New are filled with pictures of You, of Your strength, Your character. Let me revel in the whole entirety of the revelation of my Savior. I sing Your praises! Amen

Galatians 2:1-16Psalm 59:1-17

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.

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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

 

Sept 10 Give me understanding

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Father, what a vision You gave Isaiah! It’s as if he were privileged to peek into the actual Throne Room in Heaven itself! His eyes were opened and he saw and described amazing things that are like nothing ever seen on earth.

And once again, when confronted with glimpses of Your glory, the human response is the recognition of our unworthiness. In the presence of such greatness and holiness, human frailty pales in comparison.

You gave Isaiah a message for Your people. You directed him to say to King Ahaz in the face of military invasion: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”. It was true then, and it is true today. A paraphrase I heard growing up was “If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.”

Because I believe You are God, Creator of the universe and the only Savior for all who You created, I can stand. My faith is the firm base I need to plant my feet on. You are a firm and solid rock.

Sometimes it helps to have scripture verses that remind me of these truths. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1

Sometimes, it helps to remember statements of truth that are based on scripture. “God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do.”

Or to proclaim in song, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” These are some ways I find reassurance when I feel afraid or doubtful.

Father, I do not want to be “ever hearing but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving”, with my “heart calloused”, my “ears dull”, and my “eyes closed.” I want to “see with my eyes, hear with my ears and understand with my heart…and be healed.”

When You open my eyes and ears, I have understanding. And I can stand. Father, help me stand even in the face of the invasion of the enemy

Help me remember Your truths. Help me recall Your faithfulness to me in the past. These things build my faith even stronger. And give me a firm place to stand. Amen

Isaiah 6:1-10

 

Sept 9 Recognize Truth

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O Father. I pray that I will not be “deceived by the serpent’s cunning as Eve was”, and that my “mind would not be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ.”

The serpent used deception to lure Eve into sin. He approached her boldly; the better to distract her. He called into question what You had really said; the better to confuse her. He cunningly suggested that what You wanted for her was not enough, was even bad for her; the better to entrap her.

Father, help me avoid falling into whatever traps the evil one sets for me. Let me see through them; beyond the lure of the sound of his words, to the hook buried beneath. The answer to this “serpent speak” is “God speak.”

I need to be listening, really paying attention to all that You are saying to me. In Hebrew, the word is sh’ma. It means to listen so closely, so deeply, so diligently, that the words change the listener from the inside out.

The meaning also incorporates a response to those words as being similar to that of a mother who recognizes her baby’s cry and drops everything to respond immediately. Father, let me sh’ma You, listen deeply and respond to You.

For my mind to be guarded enough so that I am “not led away”, I need to take some action myself. You give me and every believer armor: protection against the enemy.

One item is the Helmet of Salvation. I believe that this helmet bears Your insignia so that all who see it will know I fight on Your side. And it protects not only my head, but my mind inside: my thoughts. In doing so, many lies the evil one would have me believe simply bounce off and never even enter my mind.

However, some lies are disguised, or they have a little bit of truth in them, and I listen to them.   But it is a twisted bit of truth, or a half truth. So before I accept it, I need to “take every thought captive to God”.

This means I need to examine it and hold it up to Your truth. When I don’t, problems begin. Even the little things I accept that are not true can pull me away from a “pure and sincere devotion to Christ”. And I may not even realize it until I have strayed significantly off course.

So Father, help me remember to examine any thoughts and compare them to what You have told me. I will use Your Word as a plumb line.   That string with a metal weight at the end is pulled by gravity so that the resulting line is absolutely straight. Anything can be measured against this line to determine if it is “true”, or not.

Your Word is truth. Thank You for Your Word.   Thank You for the Helmet of Salvation. Thank You that when I sh’ma You, I will not be deceived by the serpent or led astray, away from You. Amen

II Corinthians 11:1-4

Aug 29 The veil is torn

06_GNPI_098_Jesus_Dies_1024“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”!   What joyful words! Father, there was a curtain, a veil in front of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and in the Temple. It separated the people from Your personal presence.   Only the High Priest went inside the veil, and only once a year, to make atonement for all Your people.

But when You died on the cross in Jerusalem, the actual veil in the Temple there was literally torn. It was ripped in half from top to bottom, forever giving access, through the cross, to the Holy of Holies. To Your presence.

Where You are “there is freedom”.   But the world and the evil one seek to take that freedom away. The philosophies of man say there is no absolute truth, and that morality is relative to the times and accepted behaviors of whatever society I live in.

The world would have me walk around veiled by falsehoods that deny Your existence, Your power and Your authority on this earth. They deny You are the Creator, and encourage me to worship false idols, or even myself as “god.”

Father, help me see clearly, and not “drink the kool-aid” of these false beliefs. Do not let me be veiled by anything that would keep me from You. But let me “with unveiled face, reflect the Lord’s glory, being transformed into His likeness …”. So that others around me also see You through me.

Rid me of those things that are not of You: selfishness, greed, pride. Let me produce the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, faithfulness…

“Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain. To the place where You dwell.” Father, let me know Your truth, from Your Word, so well, that I recognize any falsehood. That way I will not be led astray by anything counterfeit. Keep me securely established and living in Your presence. For there is “my joy and my delight”. And I will praise You. Amen

II Corinthians 3:11-18; Psalm 43:3-4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 28:1-9

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”.

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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 19 Walk Your path of Righteousness

adventure-1846095_640Father, David proclaimed “Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things”. He was amazed and pleased at the abundance of gifts the people poured out for the building of Your Temple. And he acknowledged “Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.” I completely agree.

Like the Israelites, teach me to be generous with all You have given me: money, energy, time, words, music, talents, spiritual gifts. Help me spend myself on You and Your purposes and Your people. David prayed for the people, and I echo “keep this desire in my heart forever, and keep my heart loyal to You…give me wholehearted devotion to keep Your commands.”

Since I have Your righteousness, Lord, help me behave that way. Remind me to speak the truth from my heart. If I open my mouth to speak a lie or to deceive, shut it. Show me how to speak the truth in love, and not be hurtful to people in the name of ‘honesty’.

Help me treat my neighbor with decency and fairness, not cheating or taking advantage.   Keep me away from malicious gossip. Give me the fortitude to turn away from those who are evil and untrustworthy, even if society embraces them or it seems it would benefit me. Let me truly love and support those who honor and respect You and Your values.

Help me be true to my word, even when it costs me. Teach me to be smart with my finances, to be generous, and not extort interest from the needy. Strengthen me so I am not tempted by bribes.

Psalm 15 promises that those “who do these things will never be shaken”. Father, You give me solid ground to stand on. Help me be unwavering and not overwhelmed by forces that seek to undo me.   With Your help I can stand strong, and not be moved. Thank You. Amen

I Chronicles 29:1-30; Psalm 15:1-5

July 17 Your truth delivers me

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

Helmet of Salvation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 13:1-6

July 15 Lessons from David

board-LessonsDavid, who was known as a ‘man after God’s own heart’ ordered that a census be taken of the Israelites. The implication here is that he wanted to know how many fighting men he had available. It seems like a reasonable thing to do to the logical mind. But what the scripture says is that “satan incited David to take a census of Israel”.

So the question becomes: how or why did this happen? One observation is that “In the Spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem.” So it’s possible that if he had been present with the troops, where he should have been, he would have seen first-hand how many men he had. Or it could be that his faith in Your ability to continue to give him military victories was waning and he wanted to bolster his confidence by seeing the numbers?

What he should have done when this idea came to him, was hold it up to what he knew of You. And seek Your counsel on whether or not to go ahead with it. Even his commander Joab knew this was a bad thing.   His response to David was “Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”

So Father, help me to learn from this mistake David made. First, if there is a place I am supposed to be, do not let me make excuses to avoid being there. Help me take my responsibilities seriously and not be swayed by fear, or laziness, or arguments to the contrary. If I am in the center of Your will, I am less vulnerable to the suggestions and oppression of satan.

Next, bolster my faith so it doesn’t fail me. When I hear the whisperings of satan telling me to question myself or Your love and faithfulness to me, let me come against those lies with the truth of scripture. If satan tells me ‘What do you think you’re doing? You can’t do that?’. Let me respond with “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13.

If he taunts me with ‘You’re not good enough/smart enough’ let me respond with Your truth that I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the work which He has prepared in advance for me.” Ephesians 2:10. If I hear a voice saying ‘You’ve made so many mistakes, you’re worthless’, I can boldly respond with “I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.” Colossians 3:12.

If You place people in my life to speak the truth to me, like Joab did for David, do not allow me to be too stubborn or bull-headed to listen to them.

Mostly, Father, let me be consistent to always lay my plans before you, asking if it is Your will. Then listen to and be obedient to Your response to me. Regardless of how illogical it may seem, or how much sense it may make to others, I desire to follow Your voice: the voice of my Shepherd.

David and his people paid a terrible price for his disobedience. Let me learn from his mistake, and be led by You. Amen

 Chronicles 21:1-30; 1 Chronicles 20:1

July 13 Creation Speaks

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Father, I have heard many stories of how missionaries would go into a place no ‘civilized’ man had been before, and the native people already knew of You. They had a name for You. They knew Your character. And that You are the One True God who created and rules the universe.

Even if they had never seen a Bible, a preacher, or watched the “Jesus” film, they already knew of Your love and Your sacrifice for them and their sin. They understood their need of a Savior to be in restored relationship with You.

When I read Romans, it becomes clear that this is part of Your plan. You are not dependent on modern methods to spread Your Gospel, the Good News.

When I first saw “Jesus Christ Superstar”, I resonated with the line in the song “if You’d come today You could have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4BC had no mass communication”.   Meaning that if You had waited, You could have had world wide coverage of the event. Practically everyone in the world could have watched Your birth, life, death and resurrection on CNN or a televised reality show. But that wasn’t Your plan.

Paul writes such long and wordy sentences that it’s sometimes hard to follow. But I’m understanding from him that it is not in Your character to judge someone who is unaware of who You are. So to be just, You have given everyone the knowledge of truth. Paul is saying that You are judging people who know You but intentionally suppress the truth of who You are.

They know this, because You have made it plainly clear to them. Ever since You created the world, You used that creation to display and clearly reveal Your eternal power and Divine Nature. That means man is without excuse! There is no reason, when seeing this world and all that’s in it, anyone could deny Your existence, Your character, or Your power.

Thank You for reaching every person with an understanding of who You are. Thank You for showing me so much of Your amazing creation.

I have seen Your majesty in the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, vast oceans, wooded valleys, mighty rushing rivers, wide meadows, sand filled deserts. I have seen Your imaginative beauty in dazzlingly colorful sunrises and sunsets, fields of vibrantly colored flowers, and in the eyes and smiles of people of all colors.

I have watched Your mighty power in thunderheads building, lightening storms flashing, tornadoes whirling, waves crashing. Your spectacular creativity is displayed in the vivid and delicate colors of nature – especially in birds and bugs. Your dizzying workings are seen in the intricacies of tree roots and human nervous and circulatory systems.

Thank You that You have made Yourself evident. And for the unimaginably beautiful and amazing way You have done it. Amen

Romans 1:18-20

July 11 Make Mighty Men

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Father, I pray that my sons would be Mighty Men. Like those men You brought to surround and support David, let my sons be able and capable. Let them know what is right and not be afraid to stand up and fight for it.

I don’t mean I want them to be killers of men as David’s Mighty Men had to be, but to be of strong character. All the verses in today’s scriptures contain wisdom for those who would be open to learn. Father, let my sons have open eyes, ears and hearts to learn from You and Your Word. Show them truth in their lives, and do not let them be swayed or misled by the lies and deceit of the world or the evil one.

Like David’s Mighty Men, let them see Your hand at work in the world, and join You in it. Let them have the skills they need to be victorious in today’s battles. Today’s battles are not against the Philistines, but against greed, lust, envy, entitlement, spiritual strongholds, social pressures, political agendas and those who would derail them from Your purpose for their lives. Father, let them know the truth that will combat these lies and set them free.

Paul quoted the prophet Isaiah about the condition of the Israelites. Lord, let my sons be the opposite. So when they hear Your Word, let them understand it, as they see You at work, let them perceive how to work with You. Do not let their hearts become calloused, their ears deaf, or their eyes blind. But let them be open to You and understand with their hearts, and turn to You for healing.

Along with the psalmist, let them “praise You, O Lord, with all their hearts. Let them tell of Your wonders and be glad to rejoice in You. Let them sing praise to Your name. Turn their enemies back and cause them to stumble and perish.”  Uphold my sons, Lord. Teach them that You judge righteously.

As the Proverbs teach, Lord, “let their walk be blameless. Do not let them become fools with perverse lips. Do not let them be hasty and miss the way, or have zeal without knowledge. Do not let them rage against You. Help them learn from mistakes, so they will not ruin their lives with folly.” All these things will make them mighty men of the Lord. They will know You and trust in You, for You have never forsaken those who seek You.

I would desire to be all these things as well, Lord; to have these character traits, and be mighty in my faith. Let me be a good role model to my children and all those around me. Thank You, for doing more than I can even ask or imagine. Amen

I Chronicles 11:10-12:18; Acts 28: 25-27; Psalm 9:1-3; Proverbs 19:1-3

July 8 You are our Hope

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Be merciful to me, Lord…O Lord, heal me.” Father, there have been times when not only my body, but my soul have been sick with grief, with fear, with frustration. There are times when I do not understand why such bad things happen to good, seemingly innocent people and children.

Or why tragedies come: floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires. Such devastation is hard to watch as the suffering and loss is personalized by the news reporting teams. And that doesn’t even include man’s inhumanity to man as I hear about shootings and bombings and the violent plans of bloodthirsty men.

As hard as all this is to take in, there are the invisible tragedies as well. These are the spiritual disasters that occur when people are deceived and led away from You into lives of confusion and sin. As I see hate and mistrust grow in my family, community and nation I wonder where it will end. How bad can it get O Lord, before You come and deliver?

I see children rebelling, pulling away from the godly way their parents have raised them. When will they come to their senses Lord?

I see young people swayed into immoral lifestyles by the social tolerances of the day. What one generation has allowed in moderation, the next has taken to excess.

Greed runs rampant. Self is exalted. Consequences are non-existent. But the spiritual cost is beyond measure. While it all looks fun on the outside, many of these people are tortured in their personal life. They are trapped in a web of self-doubt and pain, discontented with life. The more they seek to satisfy ‘self’ the more dissatisfied and confused they are. The further away they get from Your truth, the more lost they are, and unable to even recognize truth.

“How long, O Lord, how long? Turn and deliver; save because of Your unfailing love.”

Your love and deliverance are the only hope.   For my family, my community, my nation. Father, turn the hearts of sons back to fathers. “Open the eyes “ of those who have been drawn away from You, “and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to You, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in You.”

“Father, hear my cry for mercy. Accept my prayer.” I long for and wait for the time when all Your enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; and will turn back in sudden disgrace.” And You will be remembered and worshipped as the One True God. In my family. In my nation. In the world. I need, we need Your mercy Father. And Your healing. Thank You that You hear my cry, and answer. Amen

Acts 26:18; Psalm 6:1-10

June 5 All I have is from You

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

May 1 I believe

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

John 1:29-51

Apr 30 The power of words

Jephthah is the very definition of a rash vow, a careless oath, a promise made without thinking.   At least he lived by his word and upheld his vow, but it cost his daughter her life!

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Lord God, how often do I speak without thinking? Have I made promises I either had no way to meet or no intention of keeping?

Help me be more aware of how I speak.   Do not let me take my words lightly. Let my yes be yes and my no mean no.

In Your Word, You teach me not to lie or give false testimony. As You became flesh and dwelt among us, You were a living example of speaking truth. So, I am to speak the truth in love and use words that are edifying to the other person.

I desire to use my voice to bless others, to sing of Your love and justice, to praise You.   Lord, set a watch over my mouth to make me aware of all I say. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen

Judges 11:29-40; Psalm 19:14

Mar 25 Help me see

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 6:39-49

Jan 2 Keep me from Serpent Speak

snake-1322240_1920O Father, Proverbs tells me “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Lord, I do not wish to be a fool. Help me keep my sense of awe and respect for You. I yearn for Your wisdom and instruction. Keep me teachable and open to hear Your voice and see Your wonders.

I completely acknowledge You as Creator of the Universe and all that is in it. You alone possess the Sovereignty and Authority and Power to rule over and be Lord over all. What an infinite imagination to think up all the combinations of flowers, birds, animals and insects! And not just how they look, but how they sound, and smell! I am amazed by You!

Surely, Eve must have been amazed by You too; walking in the Garden of Eden that You created! Yet she gave in to temptation.   She listened to the serpent and was deceived. (And I’m still blown away that she didn’t seem surprised at all that a serpent was speaking!) When the serpent misquoted You, she did not check it out. And when he told a half-truth, that she would “be like” You, she believed it. She trusted what she understood with her own eyes and logic instead of coming to You.

Father, do not let me make these mistakes. When I hear a voice tempting me with something You have already spoken about, help me remember what You’ve said. If I do not, remind me to come to You for direction. Keep me from rushing to accept what is said without checking it out. Let me be wise to the tactic of using just enough truth to sound right as a scheme to derail me.

Lord, do not let me be misled by falsehoods or half-truths. It is not just the voice of the evil one, but this world and my own flesh that lead me down a wrong path, away from You. Many temptations would lure me to be more or have more than I am, playing into greed or pride, a sense of self-importance, inflated ego, fame or fortune. But as seen here, this temptation was only half true, and had a huge price.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” This sounds like she was being perfectly logical, if it weren’t for the fact that You had already told her it was wrong! Sometimes I can logically think my way into a wrong answer too. Remind me, Father, to come to You, to seek Your perspective above all others. Whether considering an opportunity, or dealing with a hardship: if there seems to be wisdom the world offers, or a logic to my mind, or a sense in my flesh, let me submit them all to You.

And thank You Father, that even when I make mistakes, and sin; as with Adam and Eve, You have shed Your blood and covered me. You have made a way for me to be back in fellowship with You, forever. You are amazing! Amen

Genesis 3:1-24; Proverbs 1:7-9

Dec 21 Shield my head

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec 4 God is love – He loves me!

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Father, You have given me the confidence to live my life encouraged. Through John, You have shown me how to discern truth from falsehood and how important love is. Holding on to those things will help me live a godly life.

There are so many influences in the world today it can be hard to know which are truly good and which are truly evil. Evil masquerades as good. It can appear justified, acceptable, even beneficial. Evil influence can even come from well-intentioned people.  You assure me that when I come up against evil, worldly influences, “greater is He that is in me, than he who is in the world”.

Since You ARE love, every one who belongs to You will have that love in them. Your love is total, complete, sacrificial, perfect, and saves me. This is not ‘I love ice cream’ kind of love, or brotherly love, or even romantic love.   It is the Greek word ‘agape’ love – a total, selfless, unconditional love that overcomes sin. You loved each one of us before we loved You or even knew of You.. It is a perfect love that has no fear, but drives out fear.

It is Your love, Father, that I seek in my life every day! I need it to drive out the fear that gains a foothold in me through circumstances I don’t understand, through stressful things happening to my loved ones, through the evil I see prospering in the world.

Father, there are days I feel so overwhelmed and unlovable that I deny Your love because I don’t ‘feel’ it. Forgive me when I doubt Your amazing, perfect love. Do not let me be led by my feelings – they have nothing to do with the truth of and the absolute certainty of Your love.

Help me sense Your love, and be lifted up by it, so I can share it with my brothers and sisters. Let me walk in Your love till the end of days, or the end of my days, whichever comes first. Thank You for Your amazing love. Amen

I John 4:1-21

Dec 3 Prayer for peace

Father, my trips to the Holy Land were so wonderful! They were spiritually uplifting, eye-opening and life-changing. Our four weeks in Jordan, Israel and Egypt left me with the ability to visualize places now when I read Your Word, that make it come more alive!

dscn0137The eight days in Jerusalem amazed me as I saw people from all over the world visiting there. It truly is the crossroads of three continents, with trade and cultural influences from Europe, Asia and Africa.   It is also a crossroad in a spiritual sense. Muslims trace their roots back to Abraham, and worship there, holding Jerusalem as a holy place. It is the place of David, Solomon and Jesus, peace be upon them, who were great prophets in Islam. Besides Dome of the Rock being there, Jerusalem was the first city Muslims turned to pray towards, many years before it was changed to Mecca.

Jews also worship in Jerusalem as the seed of Abraham their patriarch, and believe it was given to them by You in Your promise to Abraham. David brought the Arc of the Covenant there, and Solomon built a Temple where You placed Your Name and Your Presence was seen, making it a holy place. And Christians hold Jerusalem in reverence because of the great history of our roots, but mostly because You walked, were crucified and rose from the dead there.

The prophets say You will come again to Jerusalem. You are the Prince of Peace and You will bring peace. David tells me in Psalm 122 to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem”.

So, Heavenly Father, I ask for Your peace in Jerusalem now. Would You place in the hearts of each individual there, whether young or old, man or woman, Arab or Israeli, politician or shopkeeper, a sense of unity and a desire for Your peace to invade the Middle East.

Father, for the Christians there empower those believers with courage to live out their faith in unity as Your body. Let there be unity in their churches, so the people who are seeing them are not put off of believing in You because of Your followers. Give these believers an extra dose of Your protection so they can live out Your love in front of an unbelieving world.

Lord, protect them as they witness to their unbelieving friends and neighbors. Protect their lives, families, businesses, and possessions as they spread Your love and Your Word through their spoken and unspoken testimony. Cause a revival in their lives, so they are filled to overflowing with Your love and Your blessing and want to share it with others.

Prepare the hearts and spirits of unbelievers to hear Your Word and believers’ testimonies. Cause them to question whatever it is they are believing in now: another religion, a government power, a cultural system of beliefs. Open their eyes and ears to see and hear what is happening around them. And open their spirits to understand and discern spiritual.

Speak to unbelievers as only You can. Give them dreams and visions that lead them to the truth of who You are. Let them hear Your Word in their own language. Let them see examples of godly lives lived out.   Tear the veil away from their minds that keeps Your truth in darkness. Reveal Yourself to them in ways that will lead them to accept You as their own personal Savior. And let that have an impact on them individually, and then on their families, their neighbors, their community, their culture and their nations. Let Your message of truth and peace spread from one to another in a way that no government or oppressive organization can stop!

Father, because this is a world-wide issue, send and empower godly leaders and counselors to countries around the world who recognize and acknowledge You as Supreme and Sovereign God.   I pray for You Word to invade the earth. And for Your Will to be done in all the earth. If this will only happen when You return, then I pray for Your quick return. For You are the Prince of Peace. You wept over Jerusalem. And You can bring peace back to her.   Father, bring Your peace. Amen

Psalm 122:1-9

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Nov 16 Helpful last words

postit-1975188_640Father, the book of Hebrews is winding to an end, and it seems the author has thrown in as much good advice as he can before his good-bye. “Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers…Remember those in prison…Marriage should be honored by all…Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have…”.

I do the same thing when my kids are leaving after a visit. Those parting words are the last chance to say important things, but often end up being a jumble of so many different things that none are particularly memorable.   Help me remember to do these things the writer of Hebrews has listed here.

I am told to “imitate the faith” of spiritual leaders and “consider the outcome of their way of life”. In Ezekiel’s time, it was the spiritual leaders who neglected to teach the people what they should know, and led them astray. They were the “shepherds of Israel” and they took advantage of the sheep. Like then, the outcomes of many spiritual leaders’ lives of today have not been holy or honoring to You.

So I ask for Your wisdom and discernment, and Your help so I will not ”not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching”.   There are so many philosophies and teachings in the world today that make claims to do everything from bring the individual inner peace, to bring them fantastic wealth and fame, to grow hair on their bald heads! There are so many counterfeit faith systems that are designed to make me feel good, while pulling the wool over my eyes, and leading me away from You. Very famous and powerful people buy into these ‘religions’.

Father, do not let me be enthralled by the sensationalism of any of them. Do not let me be intrigued by the power they profess to tap into, or the secrets they propose to know.   But keep me on the path that leads me ever closer to You.

Thank You for the blessing at the end of Hebrews. I pray these words for myself and for my loved ones. It is what I seek with all my heart. “May You, the God of Peace…equip [me] with everything good for doing Your will, and may You work in [me] what is pleasing to You.” Father, may I have Your peace in whatever circumstances the world or the evil one throw at me. May I know and feel Your peace even in the challenges and the hard times. Will You provide whatever I need to accomplish whatever You have for me. Lead me to what will please You. And may the success bring You glory! For ever and ever. Amen

Ezekiel 34:1-31; Hebrews 13:1-24

Nov 10 Let Your Light shine through us and overcome the darkness

Father, I wonder if You see in my country what You saw in the rebellion and idolatry of Israel and Judah. The list You make certainly seems familiar. Of Israel You said she treated parents with contempt, oppressed and mistreated the defenseless, despised what is holy and desecrated the Sabbath, liars, murderers, idolaters, lewd, lustful, immoral, kill for bribes, extort unjust gain, commit robbery; all while forgetting You. This list looks like the television line up for today’s entertainment!

So Your judgment will be just on my country too.

candles-1645551_640But one thing was missing from Israel. “You looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before You in the gap on behalf of the land so You would not have to destroy it, but You found no one.” Father, I believe many today hear the call to build up the wall around our country. It has been torn down by our sin and our turning from You. But many are praying for the revival and healing of our country. We cry out, distressed over the idolatry, over the evil that has taken root here.

We see that what is evil has been called good, and that our leaders and role models have fallen and led us away from You. Father, I am grieved that my generation has exalted self over You. And that we have allowed our freedoms to warp our sense of right and wrong. Father, I pray for Your mercy and for Your healing. Let Your light overcome the darkness that is covering this land.

I stand in the gap of the broken wall as a guard, sounding the alarm; that the time is late. And the people need to awaken to the truth. Your Truth. And turn away from the evil that entices us. Father, You have made a way for each person to be reconciled to You. Sacrifices do not need to be made in a temple, daily, any longer. You made the perfect sacrifice, once, for all. Let there be spiritual revival in my country and in its people!

Father, let those of us who pray for our country be enough. See us, and do not destroy. Let our fate be different from that of Israel. Amen

Ezekiel 22:1-31; Hebrews 10:1-17

 

Nov 8 May the Truth set us free

usa-1491734_640Father, as I read this section of Psalm 106, I fear that I personally, and my country, have together made the same mistakes Your people made in the desert. They were not satisfied with the life You gave them; even the miracles You performed to deliver them from the hand of the enemy who had relegated them to slavery for generations, and then was set on destroying them.

In the wilderness at Meribah where You brought water from a rock for them to drink, they rebelled against Moses and Your provision. They forgot that You had done something so mighty as parting the Red Sea for them, and delivering them from the hand of Pharaoh and his army. Instead, they focused on their fleshly desires, doubting You could quench their thirst. I too, sometimes focus on my own desires rather than the great blessings You have already worked in my life. And I too respond with whining instead of faith.

When they came into the Promised Land, they “mingled with the nations and adopted their customs”. I fear I have done the same by participating in the social customs of my times.   I and my country, have mingled godly beliefs with the socially acceptable values of the times. What You call sin is no longer looked upon as sin. People today seem to have no concept of what is right and wrong, and so no self-governing set of morals that direct or protect them.

Many things in my culture take the place of passion for You. Sports teams, fame, money, power, shopping, alcohol and drugs, status, cars, beauty, youth: so many things have become idols in the lives of so many, even believers.

“They sacrificed their sons and daughters to false gods. They shed innocent blood…” Father, I grieve over the number of babies who have been sacrificed on the altar of ‘choice’ and ‘convenience’. This land is desecrated by their blood.   And it defiles the people involved because of the act of taking a life. But it also exacts a price they often pay in long-term emotional and psychological damage, not to mention the spiritual battle that they have lost in giving over ground to the enemy.

Yet, You “took note of their distress when You heard their cry…and out of Your great love You relented”. Father, I am in distress and I cry out to You: for my personal sin and for the sin of my country. Forgive, Lord. I acknowledge and agree with You that I and my country have acted in rebellion in going our own way without following the path You set before us. And that my country and I have participated in social customs and values that have become a snare to us, even to the point of idolatry. Lord I turn away from anything that seeks to take Your place in my life. Forgive us for focusing on the flesh over the spiritual.

“Save us Lord our God…that we may give thanks to Your Holy name and glory in Your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, Amen!”

Psalm 106:32-48

Oct 14 Grow Your Truth in me

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 10 Send an Encourager

truth-2069846_640Father, in Jeremiah’s time, even the priests and prophets were lying to their leaders and the people. They reported only what the people wanted to hear: that they would be safe; that there would be peace, and that these words came from ‘the Lord’. Father, would You send a true prophet, like Jeremiah, to the nations’ leaders of the world, and open their ears to Your truth. Jeremiah was not popular because he told it like it was. He relayed Your truth, not pacifying lies. I fear many of our nations’ counselors are not being ‘Jeremiahs’.

The media has become a ‘prophet’ of the day. And their reports are very skewed, so that the people are controlled by political and social interests and schemes. And yet the people are not completely innocent either. For they have chosen one by one how to live their lives and who or what they will worship.

You gave Jeremiah a very difficult task in a very difficult time, but You promised to rescue and save him. You said, “Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose”.   Father, show me Your good purpose. Help me be strong in my faith like Jeremiah was.

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Lord, You sent Paul to be an encouragement to the Thessalonians. Would You also send someone into my life, and into the lives of my loved ones, to be a mentor like Paul was.

Each one of us needs to be encouraged in our walk with You. Each one of us faces specific challenges and difficulties.   We may not be able to find direction, understanding and encouragement on our own. But You, Father, know each of us so intimately, You would know the exact person to send, who can relate to us and speak words of encouragement and comfort and instruction into our individual lives. You know how each of us needs to be “urged to live lives worthy of You”.

Not just anyone qualifies to speak into our lives. Father, would You “clear the way” for Your specific mentor to come to each of us and speak Your truth.   And like Paul’s prayer, would You “make our love increase and overflow for each other…and strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless and holy in Your presence…”. Father, I need You and Your truth in my personal life and in my country. And Your encouragement to stay on the right path. Send Jeremiahs and Pauls. Send Your truth. Amen

Jeremiah 14:11-16; I Thessalonians 2:9-3:13

Oct 6 Your Word is my 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.

Colossians open.jpegPaul 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.”

There 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 me. Let me truly live my life for an Audience of One. You. Amen

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

Sept 10 Give me understanding

Father, what a vision You gave Isaiah! It is as if he were privileged to peek into the actual Throne Room in Heaven itself! His eyes were opened and he saw and described amazing things that are like nothing ever seen on earth. And once again, when confronted with glimpses of Your glory, the human response is the recognition of our unworthiness. In the presence of such greatness and holiness, human frailty pales in comparison.

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You gave Isaiah a message for Your people. You directed him to say to King Ahaz in the face of military invasion: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”. It was true then, and it is true today.

A paraphrase I heard growing up was ‘If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything.’

Because I believe You are God, Creator of the universe and the only Savior for all who You created, I can stand. My faith is the firm base I need to plant my feet on. You are a firm and solid rock.

Sometimes it helps to have scripture verses that remind me of these truths. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 Sometimes, it helps to remember statements of truth that are based on scripture. ‘God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do.’ Or to proclaim in song, ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” These are some ways I find reassurance when I feel afraid or doubtful.

Father, I do not want to be “ever hearing but never understanding; ever seeing but never perceiving”, with my “heart calloused”, my “ears dull”, and my “eyes closed”. I want to “see with my eyes, hear with my ears and understand with my heart…and be healed”.

When You open my eyes and ears, I have understanding. And I can stand. Father, help me stand even in the face of the invasion of the enemy. Help me remember Your truths. Help me recall Your faithfulness to me in the past. These things build my faith even stronger. And give me a firm place to stand. Amen

Isaiah 6:1-10

Sept 9 Recognize Truth

O Father. I pray that I will not be “deceived by the serpent’s cunning as Eve was”, and that my “mind would not be led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ.”

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The serpent used deception to lure Eve into sin. He approached her boldly, the better to distract her. He called into question what You had really said, the better to confuse her. He cunningly suggested that what You wanted for her was not enough; was even bad for her, the better to entrap her.

Father, help me avoid falling into whatever traps the evil one sets for me. Let me see through them; beyond the lure of the sound of his words, to the hook buried beneath. The answer to this ‘serpent speak’ is ‘God speak’. I need to be listening, really paying attention to all that You are saying to me. In Hebrew, the word is sh’ma. It means to listen so closely, so deeply, so diligently, that the words change the listener from the inside out. The meaning also incorporates a response to those words as being similar to that of a mother who recognizes her baby’s cry and drops everything to respond immediately to it. Father, let me sh’ma You, listen deeply and respond to You.

For my mind to be guarded enough so that I am “not led away”, I need to take some action myself. You give me, and every believer, armor: protection against the enemy. One item is the Helmet of Salvation. I believe that this helmet bears Your insignia so that all who see it will know I fight on Your side. And it protects not only my head, but my mind inside: my thoughts. In doing so, many lies the evil one would have me believe simply bounce off and never even enter my mind.

However, some lies are disguised, or they have a little bit of truth in them, and I listen to them.   But it is a twisted bit of truth, or a half truth. So before I accept it, I need to “take every thought captive to God”. This means I need to examine it and hold it up to Your truth. When I don’t, problems begin. Even the little things I accept that are not true can pull me away from a “pure and sincere devotion to Christ”. And I may not even realize it until I have strayed significantly off course.

So Father, help me remember to examine any thoughts and compare them to what You have told me. I will use Your Word as a plumb line.   That string with a metal weight at the end is pulled by gravity so that the resulting line is absolutely straight. Anything can be measured against this line to determine if it is ‘true’, or not.

Your Word is truth. Your Word is the absolute. Thank You for Your Word.   Thank You for the Helmet of Salvation. Thank You that when I sh’ma You, I will not be deceived by the serpent or led astray, away from You. Amen

II Corinthians 11:1-4

Apr 30 The power of words

Jephthah is the very definition of a rash vow, a careless oath, a promise made without thinking.   At least he lived by his word and upheld his vow, but it cost his daughter her life!

Lord God, how often do I speak without thinking? Have I made promises I either had no way to meet or no intention of keeping?

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Help me be more aware of how I speak.   Do not let me take my words lightly. Let my yes be yes and my no mean no.

In Your Word, You teach me not to lie or give false testimony. As You became flesh and dwelt among us, You were a living example of speaking truth. So, I am to speak the truth in love and use words that are edifying to the other person.

I desire to use my voice to bless others, to sing of Your love and justice, to praise You.   Lord, set a watch over my mouth to make me aware of all I say. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen

Judges 11:29-40; Psalm 19:14

Apr 21 Obey Your Word, Walk in Your Presence

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In today’s scripture, You give two passages that tell me how to be blessed. I acknowledge and desire to follow those instructions.

Lord, help me “be very strong; to be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. I will not associate with those who do not follow You by invoking the names of their gods or swear by them. I will not serve them or bow down to them. I will hold fast to You.”

Lord, I can only be careful to obey Your Word if I know Your Word. So I will read it and study to understand it. I will pray and ask for understanding when I am confused or in doubt. I will not ever call upon the names of other gods, because there is no other God but You. There is none like You. There is no other name under heaven by which I am saved. Your power alone created the universe. I will worship You alone, and seek Your direction and wisdom for my life.

The next passage tells me “blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the light of Your presence”.   Father, I give glory to Your name only, because of who You are and what You have done. You are Most Holy God. You are all-powerful and all-knowing. You created the heavens and the earth. You created man and set him in this place to have fellowship with You. When he broke that fellowship by sinning, You made a way of reconciling man to You: through Your blood on the cross. And because I accept that gift I can walk in the light of Your presence once again.

The light of Your presence is where truth is revealed, nothing is hidden, nothing is feared. Your presence dispels darkness. To be present with You is to talk with You and listen to You – Your responses in prayer, in Your Word and through the Holy Spirit. It is to rest in You, fearing nothing.

So I rejoice in Your name. I trust in Your righteousness. You are my protection, my King, the Holy One. And I am blessed. Amen

Joshua 22:21-23:8; Psalm 89:14-18

 

Jan 14 Wisdom over Deception

deceive-1299043_1280“Help Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, ‘We will triumph with our tongues;’.” Arise Lord and protect me from those who malign me and take unfair advantage. Protect me from the deceit of the world, the flesh, and the evil one. “O Lord, You keep us safe and protect us from such people forever.”

You watched over and provided for Jacob when his father-in-law Laban cheated him and changed the terms of his wages ten times. You spoke and told him what to do and protected he and his family. Father, protect me as well, when others seek to deceive and swindle and mislead me. I turn to You for godly wisdom. Let me listen for Your voice, and understand what You say, trusting Your wisdom over what may seem right by earthly intellect.

You sent Your disciples out “as sheep among the wolves”. We, Your children, are often referred to as sheep. Thank You for being our shepherd; for watching over us, for driving away predators, for leading us to green pastures and still waters. Thank You for calming us the way a shepherd does his sheep so we can rest. There are many ‘wolves’ who would seek our destruction, to get us away from the protection of our Shepherd knowing that’s when we are vulnerable.

Proverbs tells us we are blessed when we find wisdom – that it is more profitable than silver or gold and more precious than rubies. Help me discern godly wisdom; not just the logic of the mind or the reasoning of man. Lead me to seek “the wisdom that comes from heaven: pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” This is the wisdom that leads to righteousness. Open my eyes to the lies and deceit of men. Let me see Your wisdom in the circumstances of my life. Keep my lips from speaking lies. Help me live honorably as one of Your sheep. Amen

Genesis 31:1-13; Matthew 10:16; Psalm 12:1-8; Proverbs 3:13-15; James 3:17