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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3370 - 10/19/17 at 07:39:56
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Galatians 5:25 (KJV)
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.


We’ve Got the Power!

The loud crackling noise startled me. Recognizing the sound, I raced to the kitchen. I’d accidently tapped the start button on the empty coffee maker. Unplugging the appliance, I grabbed the handle of the carafe. Then I touched the bottom of the container to ensure it wasn’t too hot to place on the tile counter. The smooth surface burned my fingertips, blistering my tender skin.

As my husband nursed my wound, I shook my head. I knew the glass would be hot. “I honestly do not know why I touched it,” I said.

The Holy Spirit transforms us through His love and by His grace.

My response after making such a mistake reminded me of Paul’s reaction to a more serious issue in Scripture—the nature of sin.

The apostle admits to not knowing why he does things he knows he shouldn’t do and doesn’t want to do (Rom. 7:15). Affirming that Scripture determines right and wrong (v. 7), he acknowledges the real, complex war constantly waging between the flesh and the spirit in the struggle against sin (vv. 15–23). Confessing his own weaknesses, he offers hope for victory now and forever (vv. 24–25).

When we surrender our lives to Christ, He gives us His Holy Spirit who empowers us to choose to do right (8:8–10). As He enables us to obey God’s Word, we can avoid the searing sin that separates us from the abundant life God promises those who love Him.

Lord, thanks for breaking the chains that used to bind us to a life controlled by our sinful nature.

The Holy Spirit transforms us through His love and by His grace.

INSIGHT

In Romans 7 the apostle Paul laments that sinful tendencies within us sometimes win out over righteous impulses. In what ways can we yield to the Holy Spirit’s power to experience more righteous living? 

  

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 #3371 - 10/20/17 at 05:18:57
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Psalm 63:3 (KJV)
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.


When Beauty Never Ends

I love looking at the Grand Canyon. Whenever I stand at the canyon rim I see new brushstrokes of God’s handiwork that take my breath away.

Even though it’s just a (very large) “hole” in the ground, the Grand Canyon causes me to reflect on heaven. A very honest twelve-year-old asked me once, “Won’t heaven be boring? Don’t you think we’ll get tired of praising God all the time?” But if a “hole in the ground” can be so overwhelmingly beautiful we can’t stop looking at it, we can only imagine the joy of one day seeing the very Source of beauty—our loving Creator—in all of the pristine wonder of the new creation.

We were created to enjoy God forever.

David expressed this longing when he wrote, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4). There’s nothing more beautiful than the presence of God, which draws near to us on this earth as we seek Him by faith, looking forward to seeing Him face to face.

On that day we’ll never tire of praising our amazing Lord, because we will never come to an end of fresh, new discoveries of His exquisite goodness and the wonders of the works of His hands. Every moment in His presence will bring a breathtaking revelation of His beauty and His love.

Beautiful Savior, please help me to seek You every day and to live even now in Your presence and Your love.

We were created to enjoy God forever.

INSIGHT

God is worthy of our faith, hope, and confidence; His power and presence are the foundation of many of the Old Testament stories. But sometimes life makes us question what we know. It's hard to see these truths about God when life is hard. That's when we need to view our experience through the lens of Scripture.

David does just that in Psalm 27. Despite having been anointed king by Samuel, he is living as a vagrant and fugitive. Even though he is on the run and enemy armies are pursuing him (vv. 2–3), he is confident in the Lord (v. 3). It is just then—when David’s immediate experience suggests hopelessness—that he rests in the power and protection of the Lord. Turning his eyes away from his circumstances and toward the Lord bolstered David’s confidence. His one desire was not to be vindicated in front of his enemies, but to be in the presence of the Lord (v. 4). Turning to the Lord is what gave him confidence in the day of trouble (v. 5).

Where does your experience need to be understood through the lens of Scripture? What truth about God do you need to be reminded of today?
  

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 #3372 - 10/21/17 at 05:46:42
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Proverbs 18:10 (KJV)
The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.


Your Safe Place

My daughter and I were arranging to attend an extended family gathering. Because she was nervous about the trip, I offered to drive. “Okay. But I feel safer in my car. Can you drive it?” she asked. I assumed she preferred her more spacious vehicle to my compact one so I responded, “Is my car too cramped?” “No, it’s just that my car is my safe place. Somehow I feel protected there.”

Her comment challenged me to consider my own personal “safe place.” Immediately I thought of Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” In Old Testament times, the walls and watchtower of a city provided warning of danger from without and shielding for its citizens within. The writer’s point is that God’s name, which stands for His character, person, and everything that He is, provides true protection for His people.

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

Certain physical places promise longed-for safety in moments that seem dangerous. A sturdy roof overhead in the midst of a storm. A hospital offering medical care. The embrace of a loved one.

What is your “safe place”? Wherever we seek safety, it is God’s presence with us in that place that provides the strength and protection we really need.

Dear God, thank You that no matter what worries and concerns we have today, when we think about You, we find safety in Your presence.


God is a safe place in life’s storms.

INSIGHT

One of the greatest biblical descriptions of a truly “safe place” is found in the familiar words of Psalm 23. Some scholars envision David writing this Shepherd-psalm while still a young boy, perhaps lying under a star-filled night sky. Others see so much maturity and wisdom in the song that they imagine Psalm 23 as the reflections of an elderly person who has lived long and learned much. Either way, the song clearly describes David’s “safe place.” It was a place of provision (v. 1); a place of green pastures and quiet, relaxing waters (v. 2); and a place for spiritual restoration and spiritual guidance (v. 3). But, most of all, it was a place where David experienced the presence of God, who removed all his fear and provided deep comfort (v. 4).
  

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 #3373 - 10/22/17 at 06:44:22
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John 15:12 (KJV)
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.


Love of Another Kind

One of my favorite churches started several years ago as a ministry to ex-prisoners who were transitioning back into society. Now the church flourishes with people from all walks of life. I love that church because it reminds me of what I picture heaven will be like—filled with different kinds of people, all redeemed sinners, all bound together by the love of Jesus.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if church seems more like an exclusive club than a safe haven for forgiven sinners. As people naturally gravitate into groups of “a certain kind” and cluster around those they feel comfortable with, it leaves others feeling marginalized. But that’s not what Jesus had in mind when He told His disciples to “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). His church was to be an extension of His love mutually shared with all.

Share Christ’s love with another.

If hurting, rejected people can find loving refuge, comfort, and forgiveness in Jesus, they should expect no less from the church. So let’s exhibit the love of Jesus to everyone we encounter—especially those who are not like us. All around us are people Jesus wants to love through us. What a joy it is when people unite to worship together in love—a slice of heaven we can enjoy here on earth!

Lord, remind me today that while I was a sinner You embraced me with Your deep and unconditional love and brought me into the fellowship of Your grace. Lead me to someone I can love as You loved me.

Share Christ’s love with another.

INSIGHT

Have you ever wondered how Jesus could command His disciples to love anyone? How can you force people of varying backgrounds and interests to care for one another?

Such instruction probably won’t make sense until we understand what kind of a king Jesus was—and what kind of relationship He had with His Father. He wasn’t saying, “I’ll love you if you love me.” That’s not the way His relationship with His Father worked. He knew His Father loved Him. When He loved and obeyed His Father’s commands, it was because Jesus knew and listened to His Father’s heart. In the Spirit of our God, we love our King—and one another—because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
  

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 #3374 - 10/23/17 at 05:40:32
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John 13:34 (KJV)
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.


Brother to Brother

My brother and I, less than a year apart in age, were quite “competitive” growing up (translation: we fought!). Dad understood. He had brothers. Mom? Not so much.

Our story could have fit in the book of Genesis, which might well be subtitled A Brief History of Sibling Rivalry. Cain and Abel (Gen. 4); Isaac and Ishmael (21:8–10); Joseph and everyone not named Benjamin (ch. 37). But for brother-to-brother animosity, it’s hard to beat Jacob and Esau.

A new command I give you: Love one another. John 13:34

Esau’s twin brother had cheated him twice, so he wanted to kill Jacob (27:41). Decades later Jacob and Esau would reconcile (ch. 33). But the rivalry continued on in their descendants, who became the nations of Edom and Israel. When the people of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, Edom met them with threats and an army (Num. 20:14–21). Much later, as Jerusalem’s citizens fled invading forces, Edom slaughtered the refugees (Obad. 1:10–14).

Happily for us, the Bible contains not just the sad account of our brokenness but the story of God’s redemption as well. Jesus changed everything, telling His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another” (John 13:34). Then He showed us what that means by dying for us.

As my brother and I got older, we became close. That’s the thing with God. When we respond to the forgiveness He offers, His grace can transform our sibling rivalries into brotherly love.

Lord, we invite You to transform our relationships with Your healing love.

Sibling rivalry is natural. God’s love is supernatural.

INSIGHT

Over twenty “one another” statements in the New Testament call us to focus on the needs of others. We are challenged to love, pray for, serve, comfort, and forgive one another.

This week, will you watch for ways to extend love and grace to others through His Spirit?
  

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 #3375 - 10/24/17 at 07:12:45
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Matthew 25:40 (KJV)
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.


Jesus in Disguise

When a friend cared for her housebound mother-in-law, she asked her what she longed for the most. Her mother-in-law said, “For my feet to be washed.” My friend admitted, “How I hated that job! Each time she asked me to do it I was resentful, and would ask God to hide my feelings from her.”

But one day her grumbling attitude changed in a flash. As she got out the bowl and towel and knelt at her mother-in-law’s feet, she said, “I looked up, and for a moment I felt like I was washing the feet of Jesus Himself. She was Jesus in disguise!” After that, she felt honored to wash her mother-in-law’s feet.

Jesus, help me to love others in Your name.

When I heard this moving account, I thought of Jesus’s story about the end of time that He taught on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. The King welcomes into His kingdom His sons and daughters, saying that when they visited the sick or fed the hungry, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40). We too serve Jesus Himself when we visit those in prison or give clothes to the needy.

Today, might you echo my friend, who now wonders when she meets someone new, “Are you Jesus in disguise?”

Lord Jesus Christ, You can transform the most mundane of tasks. Help me to love others in Your name.

When we serve others, we serve Jesus.

INSIGHT

Matthew 25:31–40 is a powerful reminder of Jesus’s care for those who are hurting. In fact, since the “least of these” (v. 40) in Matthew consistently refers to followers of Jesus (see 10:42; 18:6), the passage implies we are likely to find true believers in Jesus in circumstances of great suffering. Those who are not in such suffering are judged on their willingness to serve and join with those who are. When they do, they encounter Jesus Himself (v. 40).

When have you most strongly experienced the presence of Jesus through being with someone who was suffering?
  

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 #3376 - 10/25/17 at 05:36:06
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Hebrews 4:2 (KJV)
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.


Surviving the Wilderness

In the 1960s, the Kingston Trio released a song called “Desert Pete.” The ballad tells of a thirsty cowboy who is crossing the desert and finds a hand pump. Next to it, Desert Pete has left a note urging the reader not to drink the water in the jar left there but to use its contents to prime the pump.

The cowboy resists the temptation to drink and uses the water as the note instructs. In reward for his obedience, he receives an abundance of cold, satisfying water. Had he not acted in faith, he would have had only a jar of unsatisfying, warm water to drink.

Help us to place our trust in You, Lord. You are what our heart thirsts after.

This reminds me of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. When their thirst became overwhelming (Ex. 17:1–7), Moses sought the Lord. He was told to strike the rock of Horeb with his staff. Moses believed and obeyed, and water gushed from the stone.

Sadly, Israel would not consistently follow Moses’s example of faith. Ultimately, “the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed” (Heb. 4:2).

Sometimes life can seem like an arid desert. But God can quench our spiritual thirst in the most unlikely circumstances. When by faith we believe the promises of God’s Word, we can experience rivers of living water and grace for our daily needs.

Help us to place our trust in You, Lord. You are what our heart thirsts after.

Only Jesus, the Living Water, can satisfy our thirst for God.

INSIGHT

Three days after the Israelites left Egypt, the water they brought along was depleted. Finding no drinkable water in the Desert of Shur, they grumbled against Moses, and God miraculously made bitter water into good water (Ex. 15:22–25). Soon their food supplies ran out, and they complained again. God miraculously fed them with manna and quail (16:1–36). As they approached Sinai, they complained yet again of no water (17:1–2). God had already shown them He could provide the water and food they needed. All they had to do was to trust Him! (Deut. 8:2; Ps. 81:7–8).

Consider how God has been faithful to provide for your physical needs. How has He satisfied your spiritual thirst?
  

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 #3377 - 10/26/17 at 05:47:08
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1 Chronicles 17:12 (KJV)
He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.


Exceedingly Better

My birthday is the day after my mother’s. As an adolescent, I would scramble to think of a gift that delighted my mom yet fit in my budget. She always received my purchases with appreciation, and on the following day, my birthday, she would present her gift to me. Without fail, her gift vastly outshone mine. Her intention wasn’t to diminish what I’d given her; she simply gave generously from her resources, which far exceeded my own.

My desire to give to my mother reminds me of David’s wish to build a home for God. Struck by the contrast between his palace and the tent where God revealed Himself, David longed to build God a temple. Instead of granting David’s wish to give, God responded by giving David an exceedingly better gift. God promised that not only would one of David’s children (Solomon) build the temple (1 Chron. 17:11), but that He would build David a house, a dynasty. That promise began with Solomon but found its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus, whose throne was indeed “established forever” (v. 12). David wanted to give from his finite resources, but God promised something infinite.

God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ exceeds all gifts.

Like David, may we always be moved to give to God out of gratitude and love. And may we always see how much more abundantly He has given to us in Jesus.

Father God, I thank You for Your astounding gift to me in Jesus Christ. Your love overwhelms me.

God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ exceeds all gifts.
  

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 #3378 - 10/27/17 at 05:34:53
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Proverbs 12:11 (KJV)
He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding.


God Provides

Outside my office window, the squirrels are in a race against winter to bury their acorns in a safe, accessible place. Their commotion amuses me. An entire herd of deer can go through our back yard and not make a sound, but one squirrel sounds like an invasion.

The two creatures are different in another way as well. Deer do not prepare for winter. When the snow comes they eat whatever they can find along the way (including ornamental shrubs in our yard). But squirrels would starve if they followed that example. They would be unable to find suitable food.

Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.

The deer and the squirrel represent ways that God cares for us. He enables us to work and save for the future, and He meets our need when resources are scarce. As the wisdom literature teaches, God gives us seasons of plenty so that we can prepare for seasons of need (Prov. 12:11). And as Psalm 23 says, the Lord leads us through perilous places to pleasant pastures.

Another way that God provides is by instructing those with plenty to share with those in need (Deut. 24:19). So when it comes to provision, the message of the Bible is this: Work while we can, save what we can, share what we can, and trust God to meet our needs.

Thank You, Lord, for the promise that You will meet our needs. Help us not to fear or doubt. We’re grateful that You’re watching over us and that our cries for help reach Your ear.

Our needs will never exhaust God’s supply.

INSIGHT

How does God provide for us? What if the source of our help comes from someone of another religion or from someone who claims no belief in God? Is their kindness still from God? Think about the children of Israel. Who helped them in their escape from Egypt? Yes, it was God and Moses. But Moses tells us that the Spirit of God prompted the Egyptian neighbors to fill the arms of the Jewish slaves with gold, silver, and clothing for their journey (Ex. 12:35–36).

Looking back on that day of great escape, in Deuteronomy 24 God reminds His people of two things. To help them identify with those in need, He wanted Israel to remember that their ancestors were once impoverished slaves. The second reminder grew out of the first. The Lord reminded His people that just as they had been helped in their escape from bondage, now it was their turn. As God had met their needs through the hands of others, so it was their turn to help others in a way that gives hands and faces to the heart of our provider 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 #3379 - 10/28/17 at 07:21:01
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Jeremiah 17:8
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.


Rooted in God

When friends moved into a new home, they planted wisteria near their fence and looked forward to the lavender blossom that would appear after five years of growth. Over two decades they enjoyed this plant, carefully pruning and tending it. But suddenly the wisteria died, for their neighbors had poured some weed killer by the other side of the fence. The poison seeped into the wisteria’s roots and the tree perished—or so my friends thought. To their surprise, the following year some shoots came through the ground.

We see the image of trees flourishing and perishing when the prophet Jeremiah relates them to God’s people who either trust in the Lord or ignore His ways. Those who follow God will send their roots into soil near water and will bear fruit (Jer. 17:8), but those who follow their own hearts will be like a bush in the desert (vv. 5–6). The prophet yearns that God’s people would rely on the true and living God, that they would be “a tree planted by the water” (v. 8).

Lord, help me turn to You for help and hope.

We know the “Father is the gardener” (John 15:1) and that in Him we can trust and have confidence (Jer. 17:7). May we follow Him with our whole heart as we bear fruit that lasts.

Loving Lord, I want to follow You completely, whether in times of drought or abundance. Help me turn to You for help and hope.

When we follow God, He makes us to flourish.

INSIGHT

The apostle Paul also spoke of the significance of our spiritual roots in Christ. In Colossians 2:6–7 we read, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (nasb). This description forms a fascinating word picture. Being rooted implies stability and an unmovable quality, yet that rootedness actually puts us in a position to walk in Him. These ideas are not contradictory but actually complement each other. In addition to our rootedness we are being built up and established in our faith, and this produces an extraordinary result—gratitude. The deeper our roots go into God, the more we will realize all He has provided for us.

Christ has saved us, established us, strengthened us, and matured us. What better response can there be than to live thankful lives?
  

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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