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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3580 - 05/19/18 at 06:19:17
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Daniel 3:17-18 (KJV)
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.


Even If

Sometimes life deals us a tremendous blow. Other times the miraculous happens.

Three young men, captives in Babylon, stood in front of the fearsome king of that land and boldly proclaimed that under no circumstances would they worship the giant image of gold towering above them. Together they declared: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know . . . we will not . . . worship the image” (Daniel 3:17–18).

These three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were hurled into the fiery furnace; and God miraculously delivered them so that not a hair of their head was singed and their clothing was smoke-free (vv. 19–27). They had been prepared to die but their trust in God was unwavering—“even if” He had not saved them.

God desires that we cling to Him—even if our loved one isn’t healed, even if we lose our job, even if we are persecuted. Sometimes God rescues us from danger in this life, and sometimes He doesn’t. But the truth we can hold firmly is this: “The God we serve is able,” loves us, and is with us in every fiery trial, every even if.

Dear Lord, we love You! Please give us unwavering faith—and strength and hope for each day—no matter the circumstance.

God is able.
  

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 #3581 - 05/20/18 at 06:42:51
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Acts 2:44 (KJV)
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;


A New Community

My friend Carrie’s five-year-old daughter, Maija, has an interesting approach to playtime. She loves mixing together dolls from different playsets to come up with a new community. In the world of her imagination, everything belongs together. These are her people. She believes they are happiest when they’re together, despite being different sizes and shapes.

Her creativity reminds me of God’s purpose for the church. On the day of Pentecost, Luke tells us, “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). Though these people were from different cultures and spoke different languages, the Holy Spirit’s arrival made them a new community: the church. From then on, they would be considered one body, unified by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The leaders of this new body were a group of men Jesus brought together during His time on earth—His disciples. If Jesus hadn’t united them, more than likely they would never have come together. And now more people—“about three thousand” (2:41)—had become Christ-followers. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, this once divided group “had everything in common” (v. 44). They were willing to share what they had with each other.

The Holy Spirit continues to bridge the gaps between people groups. We might not always get along, nor readily understand one another. But as believers in Christ, we belong together.

Jesus, thank You for dying for us and uniting us as one people in the church.

The Holy Spirit turns “us” and “them” into “we.”

INSIGHT
The brand-new church God established in Acts 2 demonstrated a sense of unprecedented community across ethnic and national lines (vv. 5–11). This life included teaching by the apostles, fellowship with each other, sharing meals, and praying together (v. 42).

How do we live out the community life God calls us to?
  

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 #3582 - 05/21/18 at 13:51:28
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Luke 6:27-28 (KJV)
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.


A Prayer of Forgiveness

In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the American South. Every day for months, federal marshals escorted Ruby past a mob of angry parents shouting curses, threats, and insults at her. Safely inside, she sat in a classroom alone with Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to instruct her while parents kept their children from attending school with Ruby.

Noted child psychologist Robert Coles met with Ruby for several months to help her cope with the fear and stress she experienced. He was amazed by the prayer Ruby said every day as she walked to school and back home. “Please, God, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (see Luke 23:34).

The words of Jesus spoken from the cross were stronger than the hatred and insults hurled at Him. In the most agonizing hours of His life, our Lord demonstrated the radical response He taught His followers: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you . . . . Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:27–28, 36).

This remarkable approach is possible only as we consider the powerful love Jesus has given us—love stronger than even the deepest hatred.

Ruby Bridges helped show us the way.

Father, You have so graciously forgiven us. Help us today to forgive others who have wronged us.

Bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.


INSIGHT
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive [someone] who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). In that day, if you forgave a person three times, you were considered magnanimous. So Peter must have thought he was a super saint to forgive an offender seven times. Jesus corrected him, “Not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (v. 22). Jesus is saying that when it comes to forgiving another, you can’t keep score. We never reach a limit when we can say we have forgiven enough. Although forgiveness doesn’t excuse an offense, we can choose to “be kind and compassionate to one another, [forgive] each other, just as in Christ God forgave [us]” (Ephesians 4:32).

Is there someone who needs your forgiveness today, yet again?
  

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 #3583 - 05/22/18 at 05:44:58
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Jonah 2:2 (KJV)
And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.


Up a Tree

My mother discovered my kitten Velvet atop the kitchen counter, devouring homemade bread. With a huff of frustration, she scooted her out the door. Hours later, we searched our yard for the missing cat without success. A faint meow whistled on the wind, and I looked up to the peak of a poplar tree where a black smudge tilted a branch.

In her haste to flee my mother’s frustration over her behavior, Velvet chose a more precarious predicament. Is it possible that we sometimes do something similar—running from our errors and putting ourselves in danger? And even then God comes to our rescue.

The prophet Jonah fled in disobedience from God’s call to preach to Nineveh, and was swallowed up by a great fish. “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me’ ” (Jonah 2:1–2). God heard Jonah’s plea and, “commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (v. 10). Then God gave Jonah another chance (3:1).

After exhausting our efforts to woo Velvet down, we summoned the local fire department. With the longest ladder fully extended, a kind man climbed high, plucked my kitten from her perch, and returned to place her safely in my arms.

Oh the heights—and the depths—God goes to in rescuing us from our disobedience with His redeeming love!

Dear God, how we need Your rescue today!

Jesus’s death on the cross rescued us from our sins.

INSIGHT
The story of Jonah is a story of the unexpected. The only character in the story who doesn’t obey God is the one the reader would expect to be obedient, the one who told the sailors, “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jonah 1:9). In contrast to the fugitive prophet, the pagan sailors turn to God (v. 16); the fish did as the Lord commanded (2:10); the Ninevites (a blood-thirsty and pagan people) repented (3:5–10). But the unexpected doesn’t stop there. God goes to great lengths to teach Jonah who He is. Rather than punish the disobedient prophet who is angry at God’s mercy, God invites Jonah (and us) to contemplate the depths of His love and mercy.

When have you experienced the love and mercy 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 #3584 - 05/23/18 at 05:38:43
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Acts 2:36 (KJV)
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.


The Babushka Lady

The “Babushka Lady” is one of the mysteries surrounding the 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. Captured on film recording the events with a movie camera, she has proven to be elusive. This mystery woman, wearing an overcoat and scarf (resembling a Russian babushka), has never been identified and her film has never been seen. For decades, historians and scholars have speculated that fear has prevented the “Babushka Lady” from telling her story of that dark November day. 

No speculation is needed to understand why Jesus’s disciples hid. They cowered in fear because of the authorities who had killed their Master (John 20:19)—reluctant to come forward and declare their experience. But then Jesus rose from the grave. The Holy Spirit soon arrived and you couldn’t keep those once-timid followers of Christ quiet! On the day of Pentecost, a Spirit-empowered Simon Peter declared, “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36).

The opportunity to boldly speak in Jesus’s name is not limited to those with daring personalities or career ministry training. It is the indwelling Spirit who enables us to tell the good news of Jesus. By His strength, we can experience the courage to share our Savior with others.

Lord, please give me the strength and boldness to talk to others about You.

Speak of the matchless love of Christ to those who need to hear.
  

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 #3585 - 05/24/18 at 05:23:38
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Psalm 4:8 (KJV)

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.


Tossing and Turning

What keeps you awake at night? Lately I’ve been losing sleep, tossing and turning on my bed, trying to work out a solution to an issue. Eventually I begin fretting about not getting enough rest to handle the challenges of the next day!

Sound familiar? Troubled relationships, an uncertain future, whatever it is—we all give in to worry at one point or another.

We can entrust our cares to a wholly trustworthy God.

King David was clearly in distress when he penned Psalm 4. People were ruining his reputation with groundless accusations (v. 2). And some were questioning his competency to rule (v. 6). David probably felt angry for being treated so unfairly. Surely he could have spent nights stewing about it. Yet we read these remarkable words: “In peace I will lie down and sleep” (v. 8).

Charles Spurgeon explains verse 8 beautifully: “In thus lying down, . . . [David] resigned himself into the hands of another; he did so completely, for in the absence of all care, he slept; there was here a perfect trust.” What inspired this trust? From the start, David was confident that God would answer his prayers (v. 3). And he was sure that since God had chosen to love him, He would lovingly meet his needs.

May God help us to rest in His power and presence when worries threaten. In His sovereign and loving arms, we can “lie down and sleep.”

Dear Father, thank You for hearing me when I call. I surrender my worries to You and rest in Your power and presence.

We can entrust our cares to a wholly trustworthy God.

INSIGHT
David’s confident assurance of God’s care was the source of his ability to rest, and this theme of rest winds its way throughout the psalms. In Psalm 46:10 the psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The phrase be still can be translated “relax.” It’s as if God is counseling the psalmist, “I’ve got this. Take it easy.” In the shepherd’s psalm, David reminds us, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2). What a wonderful picture of rest—and the source of that rest is the God in whom we confidently trust. This enabled one psalmist to share: “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you” (Psalm 116:7). Our ability to rest is directly related to our confidence in the Father’s love, care, and concern for us. So in times of anxiety and stress the child of God can look to the Father and know He’s got this. We can be at rest!

What can you entrust to God’s care?

  

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 #3586 - 05/25/18 at 05:16:34
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Philippians 4:8 (KJV)
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


Accidental Wisdom

A few years ago, a woman shared with me a story about finding her preteen son watching news coverage of a violent event. Instinctively, she reached for the remote and changed the channel. “You don’t need to be watching that stuff,” she told him rather abruptly. An argument followed, and eventually she shared that he needed to fill his mind with “whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely . . .” (Philippians 4:8). After dinner, she and her husband were watching the news when suddenly their five-year-old daughter burst in and turned off the television. “You don’t need to be watching that stuff,” she declared in her best “mom” voice. “Now, think about those Bible things!”

As adults, we can better absorb and process the news than our children. Still, the couple’s daughter was both amusing and wise when she echoed her mother’s earlier instructions. Even well-adjusted adults can be affected by a steady diet of the darker side of life. Meditating on the kind of things Paul lists in Philippians 4:8 is a powerful antidote to the gloom that sometimes settles on us as we see the condition of our world.

What we let into our minds shapes the state of our souls.

Making careful decisions about what fills our minds is an excellent way to honor God and guard our hearts as well.

Father, open our eyes today to what’s beautiful. Teach us to meditate on You.

What we let into our minds shapes the state of our souls.

INSIGHT
The virtuous life described in Philippians 4:8 is to be the believer’s focus. What is “true” refers to basing one’s life on reality according to God’s Word. “Noble” means honest or worthy of respect. “Right” corresponds to a moral sense of what is fair. “Pure” indicates a character that is not polluted by sin. “Lovely” means expressing love toward others in relationships. Finally, “admirable” carries with it the idea of a positive reputation and reliable Christian character.

What are some specific ways you can display these virtues this week?

  

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 #3587 - 05/26/18 at 05:45:33
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Psalm 142:4 (KJV)
I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.


Nobody Likes Me

As a child, when I felt lonely, rejected, or sorry for myself, my mother would sometimes attempt to cheer me up by singing a popular ditty: “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. I think I’ll go eat worms.” After a smile came from my downcast face, she’d help me see the many special relationships and reasons for gratitude I truly did have.

When I read that David felt no one cared for him, that ditty rings in my ears. Yet David’s pain wasn’t at all exaggerated. Where I had feelings of loneliness typical for my age, David actually had good reason to feel abandoned. He wrote these words in the dark depths of a cave where he hid from Saul, who pursued him with murderous plans (1 Samuel 22:1; 24:3–10). David had been anointed as Israel’s future king (16:13), had spent years in Saul’s service, but now he lived “on the move,” always fearing for his life. In the midst of the loneliness David felt, he cried out to God as his “refuge” and “portion in the land of the living” (Psalm 142:5).

God is our friend in seasons of loneliness.

Like David, we can cry out to God when we feel alone, giving voice to our feelings in the safety of His love. God never minimizes our loneliness. He wants to be our companion in the dark caves of our lives. Even when we think no one cares for our life, God cares!

Lord, You are my friend when I feel alone. Thank You for being with me in the dark caves of life.

God is our friend in seasons of loneliness.

INSIGHT
The heading to Psalm 142 says, “A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.” But we might also call this song “David’s cry.” The poetic imagery woven into the lyric rings with authenticity because it flows out of David’s actual experiences. Twice he fled to a cave in fear for his life. Few of us can identify with that situation literally, but nearly all of us can relate to David’s metaphorical cave of loneliness and despair. When he uses words like “cry” (v. 1) and “complaint” (v. 2), we know how he feels. His “spirit grows faint” (v. 3), a “snare” has been set for him (v. 3), and “no one is concerned” (v. 4). David even sees his dilemma as “my prison” (v. 7). Yet he knows the trustworthiness of the One he cries out to, and he anticipates a day when “the righteous will gather about [him]” (v. 7). He will not always be desperately lonely.

Does an emotional cave imprison you today? Consider writing out your thoughts in raw honesty and giving them to God. How might that kind of honesty change your prayers?
  

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 #3588 - 05/27/18 at 06:08:28
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Romans 12:13 (KJV)
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.


God with Skin On

My husband left for a month-long trip, and almost immediately I was overwhelmed by the needs of my job, our house, and our children. A writing deadline loomed. The lawn mower broke. My children were on school break and bored. How would I take care of all of these things on my own?

I soon realized I wasn’t on my own. Friends from church showed up to help. Josh came over to fix my lawn mower. John brought me lunch. Cassidy helped with the laundry. Abi invited my kids over to play with hers so I could get my work done. God worked through each of these friends to provide for me. They were a living picture of the kind of community Paul describes in Romans 12. They loved sincerely (v. 9), considered the needs of others rather than just their own (v. 10), shared with me when I was in need, and showed hospitality (v. 13).

God, thank You for placing us in communities. Help me to look out for others' needs and to show hospitality.

Because of the love my friends showed to me, I remained “joyful in hope” and “patient in affliction” (v. 12), even the mild affliction of solo parenting for a month. My brothers and sisters in Christ became what one friend calls “God with skin on” for me. They showed me the kind of sincere love we ought to show to everyone, especially those in our community of faith (Galatians 6:10). I hope to be more like them.

God, thank You for placing us in communities. Help me to look out for others’ needs and to show hospitality.


To whom do I need to be “God with skin on” today?

INSIGHT
The practice of hospitality is a key teaching in the New Testament. Jesus told His disciples to depend on the hospitality of those they ministered to (Matthew 10:11; Luke 10:7–8). Jesus also received hospitality from others (Mark 2:15; 14:3; Luke 7:36). Mary and Martha opened their home to Jesus (Luke 10:38), and this is probably where He stayed each time He came to Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:17). Luke mentioned a group of women who “were helping to support [Jesus and the twelve disciples] out of their own means” (Luke 8:3). The apostle John commended Gaius for his cheerful generosity and loving hospitality because he provided itinerant Bible teachers a place to stay (3 John 1:5–8).

When we lovingly support ministry workers in practical ways, we are their partners in ministry (v. 8). Therefore, Paul urges us, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13 nlt). Peter echoed the same sentiment: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other . . . . Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay” (1 Peter 4:8–9
  

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 #3589 - 05/28/18 at 10:27:50
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2 Samuel 1:27 (KJV)
How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!


The Last Call

After serving his country for two decades as a helicopter pilot, James returned home to serve his community as a teacher. But he missed helicopters, so he took a job flying medical evacuations for a local hospital. He flew until late in his life.

Now it was time to say goodbye to him. As friends, family, and uniformed co-workers stood vigil at the cemetery, a colleague called in one last mission over the radio. Soon the distinctive sound of rotors beating the air could be heard. A helicopter circled over the memorial garden, hovered briefly to pay its respects, then headed back to the hospital. Not even the military personnel who were present could hold back the tears.

We honor the Creator when we honor the memory of His servants.

When King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed in battle, David wrote an elegy for the ages called “the lament of the bow” (2 Samuel 1:18). “A gazelle lies slain on your heights,” he sang. “How the mighty have fallen!” (v. 19). Jonathan was David’s closest friend and brother-in-arms. And although David and Saul had been enemies, David honored them both. “Weep for Saul,” he wrote. “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother” (vv. 24, 26).

Even the best goodbyes are oh-so-difficult. But for those who trust in the Lord, the memory is much more sweet than bitter, for it is never forever. How good it is when we can honor those who have served others!

Lord, we thank You for those who serve their communities as First Responders. We humbly ask You for their safety.

We honor the Creator when we honor the memory of those who honored Him.

INSIGHT
Second Samuel 1:19–27 combines personal and communal grief. Jonathan’s death was not just a loss for David personally, but along with Jonathan’s father, King Saul, a loss to the entire nation (vv. 19, 17). Although Saul had tried to kill David, David invited the nation to grieve the loss of their king (v. 24).

How can mourning with a community, instead of alone, bring greater healing during grief?
  

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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