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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3160 - 03/29/17 at 05:40:43
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James 1:12 (KJV)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.


Trial by Fire

Last winter while visiting a natural history museum in Colorado, I learned some remarkable facts about the aspen tree. An entire grove of slender, white-trunked aspens can grow from a single seed and share the same root system. These root systems can exist for thousands of years whether or not they produce trees. They sleep underground, waiting for fire, flood, or avalanche to clear a space for them in the shady forest. After a natural disaster has cleared the land, aspen roots can sense the sun at last. The roots send up saplings, which become trees.

For aspens, new growth is made possible by the devastation of a natural disaster. James writes that our growth in faith is also made possible by difficulties. “Consider it pure joy,” he writes, “whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2–4).

Trials and tests can draw us closer to Christ.

It’s difficult to be joyful during trials, but we can take hope from the fact that God will use difficult circumstances to help us reach maturity. Like aspen trees, faith can grow in times of trial when difficulty clears space in our hearts for the light of God to touch us.

Thank You, God, for being with us in our trials, and for helping us to grow through difficult circumstances.

Trials and tests can draw us closer to Christ.

INSIGHT:
James says trials will reveal whether our faith is genuine (James 1:3), and will strengthen and mature us (v. 4). The apostle Paul also believed that suffering is beneficial. He said, “we can rejoice . . . when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (Rom. 5:3–5 nlt). Read James 1:12 and consider what’s in store for those who endure testing through faith in Jesus.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3161 - 03/30/17 at 05:53:16
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Genesis 50:24 (KJV)
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.


Life and Death

I will never forget sitting at the bedside of my friend’s brother when he died; the scene was one of the ordinary visited by the extraordinary. Three of us were talking quietly when we realized that Richard’s breathing was becoming more labored. We gathered around him, watching, waiting, and praying. When he took his last breath, it felt like a holy moment; the presence of God enveloped us in the midst of our tears over a wonderful man dying in his forties.

Many of the heroes of our faith experienced God’s faithfulness when they died. For instance, Jacob announced he would soon be “gathered to [his] people” (Gen. 49:29–33). Jacob’s son Joseph also announced his impending death: “I am about to die,” he said to his brothers while instructing them how to hold firm in their faith. He seems to be at peace, yet eager that his brothers trust the Lord (50:24).

We can believe the promise that Jesus will prepare a place for us in His Father’s house.

None of us knows when or how we will breathe our last breath, but we can ask God to help us trust that He will be with us. We can believe the promise that Jesus will prepare a place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:2–3).

Lord God, Your dwelling place will be with Your people, and You will be our God, wiping away our tears and banishing death. May it be so!

The Lord will never abandon us, especially at the time of our death.

INSIGHT:
Genesis, the book of beginnings, concludes with important endings. At the beginning of chapter 50, we find one of the Old Testament’s greatest examples, Joseph, weeping over the death of his father, Jacob. The chapter ends with Joseph’s death and burial. In between, three key events take place. First, Joseph takes his father’s remains back to Canaan to their familial home. This marks Joseph’s first return to the land since the dark days of Genesis 37, when his brothers sold him into slavery. Second, Joseph reassures them of his love and forgiveness by affirming God’s purposes and his own desire to care for his brothers and their families (50:19–21). Third, Joseph, anticipating death, again reminds the Israelites of their proper home in Canaan by asking that they take his bones to be buried in the land of promise. These ideas prepare the way for the exodus—God’s eventual rescue of Israel from bondage in Egypt more than 400 years later.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3162 - 03/31/17 at 05:52:56
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Isaiah 55:1 (KJV)
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.


The Greatest Invitation

During a recent week, I received several invitations in the mail. Those inviting me to attend “free” seminars on retirement, real estate, and life insurance were immediately thrown away. But the invitation to a gathering honoring a longtime friend caused me to reply immediately, “Yes! I accept.” Invitation + Desire = Acceptance.

Isaiah 55:1 is one of the great invitations in the Bible. The Lord said to His people who were in difficult circumstances, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” This is God’s remarkable offer of inner nourishment, deep spiritual satisfaction, and everlasting life (vv. 2–3).

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise of mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life.

Jesus’s invitation is repeated in the last chapter of the Bible: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).

We often think of eternal life as beginning when we die. In reality, it begins when we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

God’s invitation to find eternal life in Him is the greatest invitation of all! Invitation + Desire = Acceptance.

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise of mercy, pardon, and eternal life. I acknowledge my failures and receive Jesus as my Savior today.

When we accept Jesus’s invitation to follow Him, our whole life changes direction.

INSIGHT:
In Isaiah 55, the prophet draws on the imagery of a royal banquet to give discouraged Judeans hope that, despite their suffering, God’s promises to them remained trustworthy. In the background of Isaiah 55 is God’s promise of an eternal covenant with the line of David (Ps. 89:28–29). Isaiah’s report broadens God’s promise to the line of David even further, depicting a royal feast where all Judeans share the kingly role of representing Yahweh to the nations (55:3–5). When Jesus came, He said He was the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise (John 7:37) and invited everyone, especially the forgotten and marginalized, to His feast (Matt. 22:1–14). Through His Spirit, Jesus’s followers can enjoy Christ’s abundant life and, as His representatives, invite all the world to the banquet. Who might you invite to the feast?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3163 - 04/01/17 at 07:09:25
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Psalm 120:1 (KJV)
In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.


When Yes Means No

I thanked God for the privilege of serving as my mom’s live-in caregiver during her battle against leukemia. When medicines began to hurt more than help, she decided to stop treatment. “I don’t want to suffer anymore,” she said. “I want to enjoy my last days with family. God knows I’m ready to go home.”

I pleaded with our loving heavenly Father—the Great Physician—confident He could work miracles. But to say yes to my mom’s prayers, He would have to say no to mine. Sobbing, I surrendered, “Your will be done, Lord.”

We can trust Him to answer every prayer according to His will.

Soon after, Jesus welcomed my mama into a pain-free eternity.

In this fallen world, we’ll experience suffering until Jesus returns (Rom. 8:22–25). Our sinful nature, limited vision, and fear of pain can distort our ability to pray. Thankfully, “the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (v. 27). He reminds us that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (v. 28), even when His yes to someone else means a heartbreaking no for us.

When we accept our small part in His greater purpose, we can echo my mom’s watchword: “God is good, and that’s all there is to it. Whatever He decides, I’m at peace.” With confidence in the Lord’s goodness, we can trust Him to answer every prayer according to His will and for His glory.

God’s answers are wiser than our prayers.

INSIGHT:
The theme of Romans 8 seems to be the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul encourages us to set our minds on the Spirit (vv. 5–6), to see Him as vital to our spiritual identity (v. 9), to embrace His indwelling (v. 11), to follow His leading (v. 14), to see Him as assurance of our security in Christ (v. 16), and to rest in Him with our prayers (vv. 26–27). This theme is important to the life of God’s child because, as John wrote, “This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit” (1 John 4:13). The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is God’s promise of the future (Eph. 1:13) and His enabling for the present (Gal. 5:16). May we trust the Spirit to continue His wonderful work in us, making us more like the Jesus He came to honor (John 15:26).
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3164 - 04/02/17 at 07:46:38
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Daniel 10:12 (KJV)
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.


Behind the Scenes

My daughter sent a text message to a friend, in hopes of having a question answered quickly. Her phone’s messaging service showed that the recipient had read the message, so she waited anxiously for a reply. Mere moments passed, yet she grew frustrated, groaning her annoyance at the delay. Irritation eroded into worry; she wondered whether the lack of response meant there was a problem between them. Eventually a reply came and my daughter was relieved to see their relationship was fine. Her friend had simply been sorting out the details needed to answer the question.

The Old Testament prophet Daniel also anxiously awaited a reply. After receiving a frightening vision of great war, Daniel fasted and sought God through humble prayer (10:3, 12). For three weeks, he received no reply (vv. 2, 13). Finally, an angel arrived and assured Daniel his prayers had been heard “since the first day.” In the meantime, the angel had been battling on behalf of those prayers. Though Daniel didn’t know it at first, God was at work during each of the twenty-one days that elapsed between his first prayer and the angel’s coming.

God is always at work on behalf of His people.

The confidence that God hears our prayers can cause us to become anxious when His reply doesn’t come when we want it to. We are prone to wonder whether He cares. Yet Daniel’s experience reminds us that God is at work on behalf of those He loves even when it isn’t obvious to us.

Lord, help me to trust Your care for me even when I can’t see it.

God is always at work on behalf of His people.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3165 - 04/03/17 at 05:41:39
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Colossians 3:12 (KJV)
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;


A Heart of Compassion

Seven of us were attending a musical production at a crowded amusement park. Wanting to sit together, we tried to squeeze into one row. But as we did, a woman rushed between us. My wife mentioned to her that we wanted to stay together, but the woman quickly said, “Too bad,” as she and her two companions pushed on into the row.

As three of us sat one row behind the other four, my wife, Sue, noticed that the woman had an adult with her who appeared to have special needs. She had been trying to keep her little group together so she could take care of her friend. Suddenly, our irritation faded. Sue said, “Imagine how tough things are for her in a crowded place like this.” Yes, perhaps the woman did respond rudely. But we could respond with compassion rather than anger.

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others.

Wherever we go, we will encounter people who need compassion. Perhaps these words from the apostle Paul can help us view everyone around us in a different light—as people who need the gentle touch of grace. “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12). He also suggests that we “bear with each other and forgive one another” (v. 13).

As we show compassion, we will be pointing others to the One who poured out His heart of grace and compassion on us.

Your compassions never fail, Father. May we mirror Your heart by showing compassion to others.

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others.

INSIGHT:
Compassion is not just feeling pity for a needy person; our emotions must move us to relieve the misery of that person. The apostle Paul calls us to “be kind and compassionate to one another” (Eph. 4:32) and “to follow God’s example” (5:1). Jesus commands us to be “compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36 nlt). In one of the greatest self-revelations in the Bible, God described Himself as “the compassionate and gracious God” (Ex. 34:6). We echo with the apostle James, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).

Imagine a world without compassion. What would it be like? How is showing compassion essential for God’s children?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3166 - 04/04/17 at 05:49:25
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Psalm 63:6-7 (KJV)
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.


His Word the Last Word

Dawson Trotman, a dynamic Christian leader of the mid-twentieth century and founder of The Navigators, emphasized the importance of the Bible in the life of every Christian. Trotman ended each day with a practice he called “His Word the last word.” Before going to sleep he meditated on a memorized Bible verse or passage, then prayed about its place and influence in his life. He wanted the last words he thought about each day to be God’s words.

The psalmist David wrote, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings”  (Ps. 63:6–7). Whether we are in great difficulty or enjoying a time of peace, our last thought at night can ease our minds with the rest and comfort God gives. It may also set the tone for our first thought the next morning.

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:7

A friend and his wife conclude each day by reading aloud a Bible passage and daily devotional with their four children. They welcome questions and thoughts from each child and talk about what it means to follow Jesus at home and school. They call it their version of “His Word the last word” for each day.

What better way to end our day!

Thank You Father, for Your Word in our hearts and our minds—our last thought at night as we rest securely in You.

The Spirit of God renews our minds when we meditate on the Word of God.

INSIGHT:
Psalm 63 can encourage us as we reflect on how the psalmist David brought his struggles to God. First, he expressed his thirst for the living God as being like a thirsty man yearning for life-giving water (vv. 1–2). Second, he observed God’s glory in the sanctuary and compared it to eating and being satisfied by delicious and nourishing food (vv. 3–5). Third, even when he was on his bed at night, he meditated on his Creator and Savior and felt the closeness of God’s love (vv. 6–8). Fourth, he trusted God for protection when he encountered real-life enemies (vv. 9–10). Finally, the psalmist admitted that his power didn’t come from his regal position. Instead, it was rooted in the living God who brings joy to the heart and glory to His name (v. 11).

What can we learn from David’s example? Why not spend some time today reflecting on the character of God.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3167 - 04/05/17 at 10:43:38
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Exodus 20:3 (KJV)
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.


Kossi’s Courage

As he awaited his baptism in Togo’s Mono River, Kossi stooped to pick up a worn wooden carving. His family had worshiped the object for generations. Now they watched as he tossed the grotesque figure into a fire prepared for the occasion. No longer would their choicest chickens be sacrificed to this god.

In the West, most Christians think of idols as metaphors for what they put in place of God. In Togo, West Africa, idols represent literal gods that must be appeased with sacrifice. Idol burning and baptism make a courageous statement about a new believer’s allegiance to the one true God.

You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

As an eight-year-old, King Josiah came to power in an idol-worshiping, sex-obsessed culture. His father and grandfather had been two of the worst kings in all of Judah’s sordid history. Then the high priest discovered the book of the law. When the young king heard its words, he took them to heart (2 Kings 22:8–13). Josiah destroyed the pagan altars, burned the vile items dedicated to the goddess Asherah, and stopped the ritual prostitution (ch. 23). In place of these practices, he celebrated the Passover (23:21–23).

Whenever we look for answers apart from God—consciously or subconsciously—we pursue a false god. It would be wise to ask ourselves: What idols, literal or figurative, do we need to throw on the fire?

Lord, forgive us for those things we turn to that show our hearts are not focused on You. Show us what we need to give up, and replace it with the presence of Your Holy Spirit.

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21

INSIGHT:
Ask God to help you see false trusts that are robbing you of the joy of living in the presence and joy of the One whose mercy and love are more real and sure than the air we breathe.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3168 - 04/06/17 at 05:32:51
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Psalm 102:27 (KJV)
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.


What Lasts Forever?

My friend, who had gone through many difficulties recently, wrote, “As I reflect on the past four semesters of student life, so many things have changed . . . . It is scary, really scary. Nothing stays forever.”

Indeed, many things can happen in two years—a career change, newfound friendship, illness, death. Good or bad, a life-altering experience may be lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce! We simply don’t know. What great comfort, then, to know that our loving heavenly Father does not change.

Lord, You are the One who never changes, and You are so good to us.

The psalmist says, “You remain the same, and your years will never end” (Ps. 102:27). The implication of this truth is immense. It means that God is forever loving, just, and wise. As Bible teacher Arthur W. Pink so wonderfully states: “Whatever the attributes of God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely the same now, and will remain so forever.”

In the New Testament, James writes, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). In our changing circumstances, we can be assured that our good God will always be consistent to His character. He is the source of everything good, and everything He does is good.

It may seem that nothing lasts forever, but our God will remain consistently good to those who are His own.

Lord, You are the One who never changes, and You are so good to us. Calm our hearts today with the grace and peace that come only from You.

The One who holds the universe together will not let go of you.

INSIGHT:
Many of the psalms begin with a superscription, a statement preceding the song’s lyrics, that often provides the composer’s name, musical instruction, and/or the events that prompted the psalmist to write. Psalm 102’s superscription reads, “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.” The author is unnamed but described—“the afflicted.” This season of affliction is so intense that the singer cries out to God for relief. As such, Psalm 102 fits into the psalms of lament. In lament songs, psalmists pour out their fears, hurts, and confusion to God, often wondering when He will meet them in their distress. Psalm 102 does that in verse 2, “Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me.” Clearly, the psalmist’s distress is multiplied by waiting for the Lord’s help. Still, the singer has confident hope in God’s response to his pain (vv. 17–21).
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3169 - 04/07/17 at 05:47:53
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1 Samuel 9:6 (KJV)
And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go.


Godliman Street

My wife, Carolyn, and I were walking in London and came across a road named Godliman Street. We were told that a man once lived there whose life was so saintly that his street became known as “that godly man’s street.” This reminded me of an Old Testament story.

Saul’s father sent his son and a servant to look for some donkeys that had wandered away. The young men searched for many days but couldn’t find the animals.

Jesus, I want to be close to You and to be a light in my corner of the world.

Saul was ready to give up and go home, but his servant pointed toward Ramah, the prophet Samuel’s village, and replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take” (1 Sam. 9:6).

Throughout his years and into old age, Samuel had sought friendship and fellowship with God, and his words were weighty with truth. People knew him to be a prophet of the Lord. So Saul and his servant “set out for the town where the man of God was” (v. 10).

Oh, that our lives would so reflect Jesus that we would leave a mark on our neighborhoods, and that the memory of our godliness would linger on!

I'm not sure, Lord, how my neighbors would describe me. But I want to be close to You and to be a light in my corner of the world.

The most powerful testimony is a godly life.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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