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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3510 - 03/09/18 at 05:13:55
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1 Kings 13:17 (KJV)
For it was said to me by the word of the Lord, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest.


Direct Instructions

My second child was eager to sleep in a “big-girl bed” in her sister’s room. Each night I tucked Britta under the covers, issuing strict instructions to stay in bed, warning her I’d return her to the crib if she didn’t. Night after night, I found her in the hallway and had to escort my discouraged darling back to her crib. Years later I learned her customarily-sweet older sister wasn’t excited about having a roommate and repeatedly told Britta that she’d heard me calling for her. Britta heeded her sister’s words, went to look for me, and thus landed herself back in the crib.

Listening to the wrong voice can have consequences for us all. When God sent a man to Bethel to speak on His behalf, He gave explicit instructions for him to not eat or drink while there, nor return home by the same route (1 Kings 13:9). When King Jeroboam invited him to share a meal, the prophet declined, following God’s command. When an older prophet extended an invitation to dine, the man initially declined, but relented and ate when his elder deceived him, saying an angel told him it was okay. Just as I wanted Britta to enjoy her “big-girl bed,” I imagine God was saddened the man didn’t heed His instructions.

God's words are the ones that matter most.

We can trust God completely. His words are our path to life; we are wise to listen and obey.

Thank You, Lord, for speaking to me through Your Word. Help me to tune my ears to Your voice and obey.

God’s words are the ones that matter most.
  

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 #3511 - 03/10/18 at 05:57:36
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Psalm 61:2 (KJV)
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.


Lead Me to the Rock

While shopping for a humidifier, I noticed an older woman walking back and forth down the aisle. Wondering if she was shopping for humidifiers also, I moved aside to allow her to draw near. Soon we chatted about a flu virus in our area, one that left her with a lingering cough and headache.

A few minutes later, she launched into a bitter tirade, expressing her theory about the origin of the virus. I listened, unsure what to do. She soon left the store, still angry and frustrated. Though she had expressed her frustration, I couldn’t do anything to take away that pain.

While God may not take away all our pain, we can rest in the peace He provides.

David, Israel’s second king, wrote psalms to express his anger and frustration to God. But David knew that God not only listened, He could also do something about his pain. In Psalm 61, he writes, “I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (v. 2). God was his “refuge” (v. 3)—the “rock” to which David ran.

When we’re in pain, or come in contact with someone in pain, David’s example is a good one to follow. We can head to “the rock that is higher” or lead someone there. I wish I had mentioned God to the woman at the store. While God may not take away all our pain, we can rest in the peace He provides and the assurance that He hears our cry.

Father God, make me mindful of those in need of a listening ear and the hope of Your presence.

Rest on the Rock.

INSIGHT
God’s care for His children is a constant theme throughout the Scriptures. Even though David felt abandoned by people at times, he repeatedly thanked God for His care for him (see Psalm 142). When we feel alone and abandoned, we too can have confidence in God and cast our anxiety on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Prayer is important, for it is in prayer that we pour out our concerns to Him, confident that in His time and wisdom He will respond. This confidence is at the heart of Paul’s challenge to the church at Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). The resulting peace (v. 7) is His gift to us, carrying us through as we await His answers to our needs.

Are you facing a situation for which you need God’s help? Go to the Rock in prayer and rest in His peace.
  

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 #3512 - 03/11/18 at 07:54:56
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Psalm 34:3 (KJV)
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.


Unashamed Loyalty

Sports fans love to sing their teams’ praises. By wearing logos, posting notes on Facebook about their beloved teams, or talking about them with friends, fans leave no doubt where their loyalty stands. My own Detroit Tigers caps, shirts, and conversations indicate that I am right there with those who do this.

Our sports loyalties can remind us that our truest and greatest loyalty must be to our Lord. I think of such unashamed loyalty when I read Psalm 34, where David draws our attention to Someone vastly more vital than anything else on earth.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3

David says, “I will extol the Lord at all times” (v. 1), and we are left to wonder about the gaps in our lives when we live as if God is not our source of truth, light, and salvation. He says, “His praise will always be on my lips” (v. 1), and we think about how many times we praise things of this world more than we praise Him. David says, “My soul shall make its boast in the Lord” (v. 2 nkjv), and we realize that we boast about our own small successes more than what Jesus has done for us.

It’s not wrong to enjoy our teams, our interests, and our accomplishments. But our highest praise goes to our Lord. “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (v. 3).

Lord, help me to have Your praise be on my lips and to boast in You. Help me to keep my focus on You.

Loyalty is the test of true love.

INSIGHT
How often do we give God the benefit of the doubt? Maybe we’re a lot like David. In his better moments, he was loyal to his God. At times he was determined to think nothing but the best about the Lord of heaven (Psalm 34:1). But, like us, his thoughts were often mixed with feelings of loss and worry. In verse 4 he alludes to his fears. In verses 17–18 he refers to times of trouble and writes, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

The troubles of David’s personal story, and the raw, ever-changing emotions of his songs, show a person who was far more like us than different. While wanting to never forget the goodness of God, he often found himself overwhelmed with fear and despair. By his honest complaints and times of confusion, he shows us what God can do in response to our cries for help. Like so many other men and women of the Bible, he reminds us that his God, and ours, loves to show mercy, forgiveness, and compassion to people like us.
  

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 #3513 - 03/12/18 at 08:46:51
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Habakkuk 3:18 (KJV)
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.


Three-Lettered Faith

With a tendency toward pessimism, I quickly jump to negative conclusions about how situations in my life will play out. If I’m thwarted in my efforts on a work project, I’m easily convinced none of my other projects will be successful either, and—even though utterly unrelated—I will probably never be able to touch my toes comfortably. And, woe is me, I’m an awful mother who can’t do anything right. Defeat in one area unnecessarily affects my feelings in many.

It’s easy for me to imagine how the prophet Habakkuk might have reacted to what God showed him. He had great cause for despair after having seen the coming troubles for God’s people; long and arduous years lay ahead. Things really did look dismal: no fruit, no meat, and no creature comforts. His words lure me into a pessimistic bed of hopelessness until he jars me awake again with a small three-letter word: yet. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord” (Habakkuk 3:18). Despite all the hardships he anticipated, Habakkuk found cause for rejoicing simply because of who God is.

Lord, You are the reason for all my joy.

While we might be prone to exaggerate our problems, Habakkuk truly faced some extreme hardships. If he could summon praise for God in those moments, perhaps we can too. When we’re bogged down in the depths of despair, we can look to God who lifts us up.

Lord, You are the reason for all my joy. Help me to fix my eyes on You when my circumstances are painful and hard.

God is our cause for joy in the midst of despair.

INSIGHT
We don’t know much about the prophet Habakkuk. Not even his father, tribe, or hometown is provided. Yet he is believed to be a temple musician-prophet because he had his own stringed instruments (see Habakkuk 3:19). He was likely a contemporary of the prophets Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. He prophesied in a period of violence and political chaos that began in the context of Assyria’s upheaval, continued during the Babylonian victory over Jerusalem (597 bc), and ended in Babylon’s fall to the Persians (539 bc).

He would have felt the impact of the death of good King Josiah, who had brought Judah back to God for a short time. Before and after Josiah’s reign, Judah had turned away from God and been characterized by moral and spiritual decay that included the worship of other gods. No wonder Habakkuk was in despair! In his little book he questions (complains to) God out of his burdened heart, and God answers. In the end, the prophet has a deeper understanding of God’s justice.

When has God given you joy in the midst of pain?
  

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 #3514 - 03/14/18 at 06:30:34
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2 Corinthians 1:11 (KJV)
Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.


Giving the Gift of Prayer

“I didn’t realize what a gift prayer was until my brother was sick and you all prayed for him. I cannot tell you what a comfort your prayers were!”

Laura had tears in her eyes as she thanked me for the prayers of the people in our church for her brother, who was facing a cancer diagnosis. She continued, “Your prayers have strengthened him in this difficult time and have been an encouragement to our entire family.”

Your gift can help bring people back to the Lord.

One of the best ways to love others is to pray for them. Jesus is our ultimate example in this. The New Testament tells us about Jesus praying for others on many occasions, and even shows us that He continues to come to the Father on our behalf. Romans 8:34 says that He “is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Even after showing such selfless love at the cross, the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ continues to express His care for us by praying for us at this very moment.

All around us are people who need us to follow Jesus’s example and love them with our prayers, inviting God’s help and intervention in their lives. We can ask God to help us pray for them, and He will! May our loving Lord strengthen us to generously give the gift of our prayers for others today.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for praying for me. Help me to serve You and others through faithfully praying today.

Prayer is a gift to be shared.

INSIGHT
Both the Spirit and the Son are interceding (praying) for us. The Spirit helps us when we don’t know how to pray, praying for us according to the will of God (Romans 8:26–27). Likewise the Son is interceding for us from “the right hand of God” (v. 34). How wonderful to know that two of the three members of the Trinity are praying for us!

But what about the Father? It is the Father who calls us to be part of His family (vv. 29–30). It is out of His love for us that He sent His Son to die for our sins and then raised Him to life so that we would one day be glorified and given all things (vv. 32–33). It is in the love of God that the Spirit and the Son pray for us.

Since God’s love motivates prayers on our behalf, to whom can you show love by praying for them?
  

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 #3515 - 03/15/18 at 05:34:43
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Psalm 25:4 (KJV)
Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.


Revealed to Be Healed

As a boy, I watched my father plow fields that had never been cultivated. On the first pass the plowshare would turn up large rocks that he hauled away. Then, he would plow the field again, and then again, to further break up the soil. With each pass the plow turned up other, smaller rocks that he cast aside. The process continued, requiring many passes through the field.

Growth in grace can look like a similar process. When we first become believers, some “big” sins may be exposed. We confess them to God and accept His forgiveness. But as the years pass by, and as God’s Word passes through us and sinks into our innermost being, the Holy Spirit brings other sins to the surface. Sins of the spirit once thought to be mere peccadilloes—small, seemingly unimportant offenses—are revealed as ugly, ruinous attitudes and actions. Sins like pride, self-pity, complaining, pettiness, prejudice, spite, self-serving indulgence.

Your gift can help bring people back to the Lord.

God reveals each sin so He can cast it aside. He reveals to heal. When harmful hidden attitudes come to the surface, we can pray as the psalmist David did, “For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great” (Psalm 25:11).

Humbling exposure, though painful, is good for the soul. It’s one of the ways in which He “instructs sinners in his ways.” He “guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way” (vv. 8–9).

Thank You, Lord, that You remember us according to Your love. Instruct us and guide us. Teach us to live as those who have been forgiven much.

Jesus takes us as we are and makes us what we should be.

INSIGHT
God’s desire to cleanse us of our sins should be matched by our desire for that cleansing. In Psalm 139 David reflects, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (vv. 23–24). His prayer expresses a longing for the cleansing and restoration that can only come from God. John echoes that invitation in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And Jesus Himself stands ready to help. John wrote, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). What a great promise!

Is unconfessed sin hindering your relationship with the Father? He stands ready to forgive!
  

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 #3516 - 03/16/18 at 05:45:24
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Romans 11:36 (KJV)
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.


Wonders in Focus

Some of us are inclined to look at the world and see only what’s wrong. DeWitt Jones is a National Geographic photographer who has used his profession to celebrate what’s right about the world. He waits and watches until a shaft of light or turn of perspective suddenly reveals a wonder that had been there all along. He uses his camera to find beauty in the most common faces of people and nature.

If anyone had reason to focus on the wrongs of the world, Job did. After losing all that had given him joy, even his friends became his accusers. Together their voices taunted him for not admitting that he was suffering for sins he was hiding. When Job cried out to the heavens for help, God remained silent.

Finally, from within the chaos of a whirlwind and the darkness of a storm, God asked Job to consider wonders of nature that reflect a wisdom and power far beyond our own (Job 38:2–4).

Would He now ask us? What about something as natural as the ways of a dog, cat, fluttering leaf, or blade of grass? Could a shaft of light, or a turn of perspective, reveal—even in our pain—the mind and heart of a Creator who has been with us and for us all along?

Father in heaven, we’ve spent too much time thinking only about what is wrong and broken with our world. Please help us to see evidence of Your presence in the wonder of what only You could have done.

In the faces of nature there are wonders that never cease.

INSIGHT
Job had heard many “answers” to the problem of his pain, but he wanted to hear from the Lord. When he did, God asked Job a series of questions that revealed His infinite superiority. And His questions pointed to the wonders of creation.

All creation points to God. A key way He speaks to us is through that creation. How refreshing to commune with our Lord as we enjoy His handiwork!
  

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 #3517 - 03/17/18 at 09:14:49
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Ephesians 4:29 (KJV)
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.


Whispering Words

The young man fidgeted as he sat down for his flight. His eyes darted back and forth to the aircraft windows. Then he closed his eyes and breathed deeply, trying to calm himself—but it didn’t work. As the plane took off, he slowly rocked back and forth. An older woman across the aisle from him put her hand on his arm and gently engaged him in conversation to divert his attention from his stress. “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “We’re going to be okay,” and “You’re doing well” were a few things she whispered. She could have been irritated with him or ignored him. But she chose a touch and a few words. Little things. When they landed three hours later, he said, “Thank you so much for helping me.”

Such beautiful pictures of tenderheartedness can be hard to find. Kindness does not come naturally to many of us; our primary concern is often ourselves. But when the apostle Paul urged, “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32), he was not saying it all depends on us. After we’ve been given a new life by our faith in Jesus, the Spirit begins a transformation. Kindness is the ongoing work of the Spirit renewing our thoughts and attitudes (v. 23).

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others and reaching out.

The God of compassion is at work in our hearts, allowing us in turn to touch others’ lives by reaching out and whispering words of encouragement.

Lord, use me today to bring someone hope, a lighter burden, encouragement.

Compassion is understanding the troubles of others and reaching out.

INSIGHT
The power of our words is a theme throughout Scripture. The admonition in Ephesians 4:29 is to build each other up through our speech. The book of Proverbs encourages its readers to get a grip on wisdom, and part of wisdom living is the right use of our words. That’s why many Proverbs speak about “words,” “speech,” the “mouth,” and “lips.” Proverbs 10:11 describes the tremendous power of words to invigorate and enrich others: “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.”

How can you build someone up today with your words?
  

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 #3518 - 03/18/18 at 08:00:03
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Nehemiah 8:8 (KJV)
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.


Letters Home

Far from home and training for World War II, American recruits in basic training turned to humor and correspondence to cope with the challenges they faced. In one letter home a young man described the vaccination process with wonderful exaggeration: “Two medical officers chased us with harpoons. They grabbed us and pinned us to the floor and stuck one in each arm.”

Yet one soldier began to realize that humor could only take him so far. Then he received a Bible. “I enjoy it very much and I read it every night,” he wrote. “I never realized you could learn so much from a Bible.”

The Bible is where we learn about God's character, His forgiveness, and His comfort.

Long ago, the Jewish exiles returned home after years of slavery in Babylon to find their problems came with them. As they struggled to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, they faced opposition from enemies, famine, and their own sin. Amid their trouble, they turned to God’s Word. They were surprised at what they learned. When the priests read from the Book of the Law of God, the people were moved to tears (Nehemiah 8:9). But they also found comfort. Nehemiah the governor told them, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (v. 10).

We don’t need to wait for trouble to hear from God. The Bible is where we learn about His character, His forgiveness, and His comfort. As we read it, we’ll be surprised at what God’s Spirit will show us in its pages.

The Bible helps us see ourselves as we really are, and also helps us see how much God loves us.

INSIGHT
What have you learned about the character of God in the Scriptures?
  

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 #3519 - 03/19/18 at 05:38:50
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Psalm 118:1 (KJV)
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.


The Art of a Grateful Heart

On our wedding day, Martie and I gladly vowed to be faithful “in good times as well as in bad, in sickness as well as in health, for richer or for poorer.” In a way it may seem strange to include vows about the bleak reality of bad times, sickness, and poverty on a cheerful wedding day. But it underscores the fact that life often has “bad” times.

So what are we to do when we face life’s inevitable difficulties? Paul urges us on behalf of Christ to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As difficult as that may sound, there is good reason why God encourages us to embrace a spirit of gratitude. Gratitude is grounded in the truth that our Lord “is good” and “his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). He is present with us and strengthens us in the midst of trouble (Hebrews 13:5–6), and He lovingly uses our trials to grow our character into His likeness (Romans 5:3–4).

God, teach me to have a grateful heart.

When life hits us with hard times, choosing to be grateful focuses our attention on the goodness of God and gives us the strength to make it through our struggles. With the psalmist, we can sing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:29).

Lord, I realize that focusing on my troubles causes me to forget that even in the midst of trials You are good. Teach me the art of a grateful heart.

Thanksgiving is a virtue that grows through practice.

INSIGHT
The writer of Psalm 118 knew about the struggles of living in a fallen world. Even when surrounded by enemies, the psalmist’s confidence in the Lord remained strong (vv. 8–9, 13–14, 28). Note the opening and closing verses. Despite the dangers he faced, the psalmist begins and ends by choosing to praise God: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

Are you in the midst of a trial? Meditate on the Lord’s goodness and His enduring love.
  

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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