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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3740 - 10/27/18 at 06:13:54
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Ephesians 2:10 (KJV)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


Unexpected Kindness

My friend was waiting to pay for her groceries when the man in front of her turned around and handed her a voucher for £10 ($14) off her bill. Short on sleep, she burst into tears because of his kind act; then she started laughing at herself for crying. This unexpected kindness touched her heart and gave her hope during a period of exhaustion. She gave thanks to the Lord for His goodness extended to her through another person.

The theme of giving was one the apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to gentile Christians in Ephesus. He called them to leave their old lives behind and embrace the new, saying that they were saved by grace. Out of this saving grace, he explained, flows our desire to “do good works,” for we have been created in God’s image and are His “handiwork” (2:10). We, like the man at the supermarket, can spread God’s love through our everyday actions.

Of course, we don’t have to give material things to share God’s grace; we can show His love through many other actions. We can take the time to listen to someone when they speak to us. We can ask someone who is serving us how they are. We can stop to help someone in need. As we give to others, we’ll receive joy in return (Acts 20:35).

Dear Father, You created us in Your image, and we rejoice that we can share Your love and life. Help us to see the opportunities to give to others today.

We’ve been created to share God’s love through giving His gifts.


INSIGHT
For believers, the foundation for loving others is because we’ve been loved by God. But loving others like Christ loved us doesn’t come naturally to many of us. In fact, aren’t we sometimes much harder on others than we are on ourselves? Knowing all of us share a common fallen human nature, however, can help us be more patient.

On our own, we’d all naturally live out the empty “ways of this world”—the kind of selfish, ugly lives that deserve God’s condemnation (Ephesians 2:2–3). This means none of us can take credit for any good in our lives (vv. 8–9). And it means that whomever we encounter, we can offer not only God’s truth but His love and grace.
  

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 #3741 - 10/28/18 at 07:51:18
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Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.


Your Way, Not Mine

Kamil and Joelle were devastated when their eight-year-old daughter Rima was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. The disease led to meningitis and a stroke, and Rima lapsed into a coma. The hospital medical team counseled her parents to make arrangements for Rima’s funeral, giving her less than a one percent chance of survival.

Kamil and Joelle fasted and prayed for a miracle. “As we pray,” Kamil said, “we need to trust God no matter what. And pray like Jesus—not my way, Father, but Yours.” “But I want so much for God to heal her!” Joelle answered honestly. “Yes! And we should ask!” Kamil responded. “But it honors God when we give ourselves to Him even when it’s hard, because that’s what Jesus did.”

Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). By praying “take this cup,” Jesus asked not to go to the cross; but He submitted to the Father out of love.

Surrendering our desires to God isn’t easy, and His wisdom can be difficult to understand in challenging moments. Kamil and Joelle’s prayers were answered in a remarkable way—Rima is a healthy fifteen year old today. 

Jesus understands every struggle. Even when, for our sake, His request was not answered, He showed us how to trust our God in every need.

I want to be “all in” for You, Father. I trust in Your unfailing love and give myself to You as Your servant today.

God always deserves our commitment and praise.


INSIGHT
Today’s reading shows us the dramatic scene of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, facing the horrors of the cross. Not only was it one of the most painful and excruciating means of execution invented by the Romans, but for our Lord it would mean taking the sins of the world upon Himself. Just prior to His crucifixion, we witness the Son’s mysterious request of His Father. Christ asked if the cup of crucifixion could be taken from Him. Yet our Lord yielded His will to the Father knowing that it was His mission on Earth to redeem all who would believe in His sacrificial death. The lesson for us is significant. Even when we face terrible suffering, we know God can deliver us; however, we must also trust Him if He chooses not to. Only by holding our Father’s hand in the valley can we endure to see the light of the mountaintop ahead.

What troubling circumstance are you facing today, and how can you depend on God no matter what His will brings?
  

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 #3742 - 10/29/18 at 05:37:59
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Numbers 11:22 (KJV)
Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?


Getting a Grip on Gratitude

The years of weariness caused by chronic pain and frustrations with my limited mobility had finally caught up with me. In my discontent, I became demanding and ungrateful. I began complaining about my husband’s caregiving skills. I griped about the way he cleaned the house. Even though he’s the best cook I know, I fussed about the lack of variety in our meals. When he finally shared that my grumbling hurt his feelings, I was resentful. He had no idea what I was going through. Eventually, God helped me see my wrongs, and I asked my husband and the Lord for forgiveness.

Longing for different circumstances can lead to complaining, and even a form of relationship damaging self-centeredness. The Israelites were familiar with this dilemma. It seems they were never satisfied and always griping about God’s provision (Exodus 17:1–3). Even though the Lord cared for His people in the wilderness by sending them “bread from heaven” (16:4), they began craving other food (Numbers 11:4). Instead of rejoicing over the daily miracles of God’s faithful and loving care, the Israelites wanted something more, something better, something different, or even something they used to have (vv. 4–6). They took out their frustrations on Moses (vv. 10–14).

Trusting God’s goodness and faithfulness can help us get a good grip on gratitude. Today we can thank Him for the countless ways He cares for us.

Grateful praise satisfies us and pleases God.


INSIGHT
When we read about the anger of the Lord (Numbers 11:1, 10), it’s important to remember that His anger is not like our own. We’re inclined to lash out in fear, irritability, or a desire to get even. God’s anger is a consuming fire of love that burns in the conscience and results in consequences for those who turn their back on Him. What could give us more reason for gratitude than to know that “the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love”? (Psalm 145:8).
  

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 #3743 - 10/30/18 at 05:40:45
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Romans 14:19 (KJV)
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.


Agreeing to Disagree

I remember hearing my dad talk about how difficult it was to walk away from unending arguments over differing interpretations of the Bible. By contrast he recalled how good it was when both sides agreed to disagree.

But is it really possible to set aside irreconcilable differences when so much seems to be at stake? That’s one of the questions the apostle Paul answers in his New Testament letter to the Romans. Writing to readers caught in social, political, and religious conflict, he suggests ways of finding common ground even under the most polarized conditions (14:5–6).

According to Paul, the way to agree to disagree is to recall that each of us will answer to the Lord not only for our opinions but also for how we treat one another in our differences (v. 10).

Conditions of conflict can actually become occasions to remember that there are some things more important than our own ideas—even more than our interpretations of the Bible. All of us will answer for whether we have loved one another, and even our enemies, as Christ loved us.

Now that I think of it, I remember that my dad used to talk about how good it is not just to agree to disagree but to do so with mutual love and respect.

Father, please enable us to be patient and kind with those who don’t agree with us about anything or everything.

We can agree to disagree—in 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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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3744 - 10/31/18 at 05:34:40
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Jeremiah 31:25 (KJV)
For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.


Hope in the Darkness

According to legend, Qu Yuan was a wise and patriotic Chinese government official who lived during the time known as the Warring States period (475–246 bc). It has been said that he tried repeatedly to warn his king about an impending threat that would destroy the country, but the king rejected his advice. Eventually, Qu Yuan was exiled. When he learned about the fall of his beloved country to the foe he had warned about, he ended his life.

Qu Yuan’s life resembles some aspects of the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He too served kings who scorned his warnings, and his country was ravaged. However, while Qu Yuan gave in to his despair, Jeremiah found genuine hope. Why the difference?

Jeremiah knew the Lord who offers the only true hope. “There is hope for your descendants,” God had assured His prophet. “Your children will return to their own land” (Jeremiah 31:17). Although Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 bc, it was later rebuilt (see Nehemiah 6:15).

At some point, we all find ourselves in situations that can cause us to despair. It could be a bad medical report, a sudden job loss, a shattered family. But when life knocks us down, we can still look up—for God is on the throne! He holds our days in His hands, and He holds us close to His heart.

Lord, fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that things will turn out right in Your way, in Your time.

The world hopes for the best, but the Lord offers the best hope. John Wesley


INSIGHT
God tells Jeremiah to “restrain your voice from weeping” (31:16). Hope shines through. Ephraim [Israel] and Judah will repent and be restored. In a rare respite from his grief, Jeremiah can say, “My sleep had been pleasant to me” (v. 26).

What causes your tears? Know that God sees and understands 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 #3745 - 11/01/18 at 06:40:27
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Matthew 9:36 (KJV)
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.


Compassion Fatigue

Anne Frank is well known for her diary describing her family’s years of hiding during World War II. When she was later imprisoned in a Nazi death camp, those with her said “her tears [for them] never ran dry,” making her “a blessed presence for all who knew her.” Because of this, scholar Kenneth Bailey concluded that Anne never displayed “compassion fatigue.”

Compassion fatigue can be one of the results of living in a badly broken world. The sheer volume of human suffering can numb even the best intentioned among us. Compassion fatigue, however, was not in Jesus’s makeup. Matthew 9:35–36 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Our world suffers not only from physical needs but also from spiritual brokenness. Jesus came to meet that need and challenged His followers to join Him in this work (vv. 37–38). He prayed that the Father would raise up workers to respond to the needs all around us—people who struggle with loneliness, sin, and illness. May the Father give us a heart for others that mirrors His heart. In the strength of His Spirit, we can express His compassionate concern to those who are suffering.

In a world filled with heartache, we can model the compassion of Jesus.


INSIGHT
While contemplating the crowd in Matthew 9, Jesus did three specific things. First, He “saw” the crowds (v. 36) and recognized they were “harassed and helpless.” Second, He felt compassion toward them (v. 36). Finally, our Lord acted by challenging His disciples to pray that the Father would raise up workers to serve in the harvest (v. 38).

We find the same pattern in Acts 17 when Paul entered the city of Athens. He saw (v. 16) that the city was filled with idols, which stirred strong feelings within him (“he was greatly distressed”)—perhaps because of the self-destructive nature of idol worship. Then Paul acted by engaging people with the message of Jesus and His resurrection (vv. 17–18).

This pattern practiced by both Jesus and Paul established a model we can embrace 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 #3746 - 11/02/18 at 07:34:46
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Song of Solomon 2:15 (KJV)
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.


Catching Foxes

While talking on the phone with a friend who lives by the seaside, I expressed delight at hearing seagulls squawking. “Vile creatures,” she responded, for to her they’re a daily menace. As a Londoner, I feel the same way about foxes. I find them not cute animals but roaming creatures that leave smelly messes in their wake.

Foxes appear in the love poetry of the Song of Solomon, an Old Testament book that reveals the love between a husband and wife and, some commentators believe, between God and His people. The bride warns about little foxes, asking her bridegroom to catch them (2:15). For foxes, hungry for the vineyard’s grapes, could tear the tender plants apart. As the bride looks forward to their married life together, she doesn’t want vermin disturbing their covenant of love.

How can “foxes” disturb our relationship with God? For me, when I say “yes” to too many requests, I can become overwhelmed and unpleasant. Or when I witness relational conflict, I can be tempted to despair or anger. As I ask the Lord to limit the effect of these “foxes”—those I’ve let in through an open gate or those that have snuck in—I gain in trust of and love for God as I sense His loving presence and direction.

How about you? How can you seek God’s help from anything keeping you from Him?

Lord God, You are powerful and You are good. Please protect my relationship with You, keeping out anything that would take my eyes off You.

God can guard our relationship with Him.


INSIGHT
Although the author is not specifically named, Song of Songs is traditionally attributed to Solomon, who is mentioned in 1:1, 5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12 and who is referred to as “King Solomon” in 3:9–11. Therefore, this book is also called “The Song of Solomon.” Solomon composed 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), but this song is deemed to be “the best”—hence the appropriate title “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (1:1). It is one of two biblical books (the other is Esther) where God isn’t mentioned explicitly. Some interpret Song of Songs as an allegory of Christ’s love for the church; others consider it to be a poem describing the romance and relationship of two passionate lovers. Rich in nature metaphors—“Your eyes are doves” (1:15); “My beloved is like a gazelle” (2:9); “The little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (v. 15)—the song celebrates sexual love and physical intimacy within the bonds of marriage (4:8–5:1). Together husband and wife wield out “the foxes” (2:15), removing anything that threatens their loving union or hurts the exclusivity of their marriage.
  

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 #3747 - 11/03/18 at 06:46:53
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Genesis 12:3 (KJV)
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.


See Your City

“See our city the way we do.” A Detroit, Michigan, urban development group used that slogan to launch its vision for the city’s future. But the project came to a sudden stop when members of the community noticed something missing in the campaign. African Americans make up a large majority of the city’s population and workforce. Yet people of color were absent from the crowd of white faces that showed up on signs, banners, and billboards urging all to see the city as they did.

The countrymen of Jesus also had a blind spot in their vision for the future. As children of Abraham, they were primarily concerned about the future of Jewish people. They couldn’t understand Jesus’s concern for Samaritans, Roman soldiers, or anyone else who didn’t share their family roots, rabbis, or temple worship.

I relate to the blind spots of Detroit and Jerusalem. I too tend to see only people whose life experience I understand. Yet God has a way of bringing about His unity amid our diversity. We’re more alike than we realize.

Our God chose a desert nomad by the name of Abram to bring blessing to all the people of the world (Genesis 12:1–3). Jesus knows and loves everyone we don’t yet know or love. Together we live by the grace and mercy of One who can help us see one another, our cities, and His kingdom—as He does.

Father in heaven, please open our eyes to people and hearts who are more like us than we are inclined to believe. Help us see our own need of You.

Everyone everywhere is more like us than less like us.


INSIGHT
Abram, Nahor, and Haran (the father of Lot) were the sons of Terah. The brothers grew up in Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:27–28), which archaeologists have revealed to be a flourishing city in its day. Haran died, and sometime later Abram married Sarai. Then Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot left Ur bound for Canaan. On the way, the group settled in Harran where Terah later died (vv. 31–32). Although God's call to Abram to "go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you" isn't recorded until Genesis 12:1, Abram received this call earlier while still in Ur (see Acts 7:2–4). That's why the family initially starts out for Canaan (Genesis 11:31). It's believed the group stalled in Harran because Terah, who was named after the moon deity worshiped in Ur, may have had trouble leaving behind his idolatrous past (see Joshua 24:2). What's most important is that Abram heard God's call, left the familiar behind, and obeyed. “Abram went” (Genesis 12:4), and through him “all peoples on earth [would] be blessed” (v. 3).
  

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 #3748 - 11/04/18 at 06:56:48
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Psalm 74:22 (KJV)
Arise, O God, plead thine own cause: remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily.


Still the King

One news report called it “the single deadliest day for Christians in decades.” The pair of attacks on Sunday worshipers in April 2017 defies our understanding. We simply don’t have a category to describe bloodshed in a house of worship. But we can find some help from others who know this kind of pain well.

Most of the people of Jerusalem were in exile or had been slain when Asaph wrote Psalm 74. Pouring out his heart’s anguish, he described the destruction of the temple at the hands of ruthless invaders. “Your foes roared in the place where you met with us,” Asaph said (v. 4). “They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name” (v. 7).

Yet the psalmist found a place to stand despite the awful reality—providing encouragement that we can do so too. “But God is my King from long ago,” Asaph resolved. “He brings salvation on the earth” (v. 12). This truth enabled Asaph to praise God’s mighty power even though His salvation seemed absent in the moment. “Have regard for your covenant,” Asaph prayed. “Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name” (vv. 20–21).

When justice and mercy seem absent, God’s love and power are in no way diminished. With Asaph, we can confidently say, “But God is my King.”

Lord, with the psalmist we pray for the honor of Your Name. Show Yourself strong and compassionate. Rise up and defend Your cause.

God will defend His Name.


INSIGHT
As the author of Psalm 74, Asaph helped Israel mourn the destruction of their temple by the Babylonians in 586 bc. Little did he know that someday his song would find an echo in an even more confusing loss. According to the New Testament, a greater temple of God (John 2:20–21) was nailed to a tree. This time, God Himself bore the loss. Where are we in the story?
  

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 #3749 - 11/05/18 at 05:28:06
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1 Kings 3:9 (KJV)
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?


Wisdom’s Source

A man filed a lawsuit against a woman, claiming she had his dog. In court, the woman said her dog couldn’t be his and told the judge where she had purchased it. The real owner’s identity was revealed when the judge released the animal in the courtroom. Tail wagging, it immediately ran to the man!

Solomon, a judge in ancient Israel needed to settle a somewhat similar issue. Two women each claimed to be the mother of the same baby boy. After considering both arguments, he requested a sword to divide the infant in half. The real mother begged Solomon to give the baby to the other woman, choosing to save her son’s life even if she could not have him (1 Kings 3:26). Solomon gave the baby to her.

Wisdom is necessary as we decide what’s fair and moral, right and wrong. If we truly value wisdom, we can ask God for a discerning heart, like Solomon did (v. 9). God may answer our request by helping us balance our needs and desires with the interests of others. He may also help us weigh short-term benefits against long-term (sometimes eternal) gains so we can honor Him in how we live.

Our God is not only a perfectly wise judge, but He is also a personal counselor who is willing to give us godly wisdom in great amounts (James 1:5).

I worship You, God, as the true source of wisdom. Please show me how to make choices that bring honor to Your name.

Need wisdom? Seek it from the Source who alone can provide it—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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