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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #4120 - 11/03/19 at 07:27:12
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Acts 2:6 (KJV)
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.


New Humanity

While I was visiting London’s Tate Modern gallery, one piece of art caught my attention. Created by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles, it was a giant tower made of hundreds of old radios. Each radio was turned on and tuned to a different station, creating a cacophony of confusing, indecipherable speech. Meireles called the sculpture Babel.

The title is appropriate. At the original tower of Babel, God thwarted humanity’s attempt to seize heaven by confusing mankind’s languages (Genesis 11:1–9). No longer able to communicate with one another, humanity fractured into tribes of various dialects (vv. 10–26). Divided by language, we’ve struggled to understand each other ever since.

There’s a second part to the story. When the Holy Spirit came upon the first Christians at Pentecost, He enabled them to praise God in the various languages of those visiting Jerusalem that day (Acts 2:1–12). Through this miracle, everyone heard the same message, no matter their nationality or language. The confusion of Babel was reversed.

In a world of ethnic and cultural division, this is good news. Through Jesus, God is forming a new humanity from every nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 7:9). As I stood at Tate Modern, I imagined all those radios suddenly tuning to a new signal and playing the same song to all in the room: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.”


Reflect & Pray
How does your shared faith with believers of other nationalities bring you together despite your differences? How can you help create harmony?

God is breaking down barriers to form a new humanity.


Insight
The celebration of Pentecost on the Christian calendar occurs seven weeks (or fifty days) after Easter. This special recognition commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit (as promised by Jesus—Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5, 8), the subsequent birth of the church, and the ingathering of the first members of the family in Christ. But before Pentecost had significance for believers in Jesus, it was observed by God’s people in the Old Testament. The feast took place seven weeks after the Passover on the fiftieth day (see Leviticus 23:15–22). The event is also known as the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest. This great harvest festival was so special that work stopped and adult men traveled to the place of worship where loaves of bread baked from the new grain were offered to God (vv. 17–22). Following Christ’s death and resurrection, it was on this significant day that God sent the Holy 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 #4121 - 11/04/19 at 07:07:04
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Zephaniah 3:13 (KJV)
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.


No Longer Afraid

When the Ethiopian police found her a week after her abduction, three black-maned lions surrounded her, guarding her as though she were their own. Seven men had kidnapped the twelve-year-old girl, carried her into the woods and beaten her. Miraculously, however, a small pride of lions heard the girl’s cries, came running and chased off the attackers. “[The lions] stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” police Sergeant Wondimu told one reporter.

There are days when violence and evil, like that inflicted on this young girl, overpower us, leaving us without hope and terrified. In ancient times, the people of Judah experienced this. They were overrun by ferocious armies and unable to imagine any possibility of escape. Fear consumed them. However, God always renewed His unrelenting presence with His people: “The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm” (Zephaniah 3:15). Even when our catastrophes result from our own rebellion, God still comes to our rescue. “The Lord your God is with you,” we hear, “the Mighty Warrior who saves” (v. 17).

Whatever troubles overtake us, whatever evils, Jesus—the Lion of Judah—is with us (Revelation 5:5). No matter how alone we feel, our strong Savior is with us. No matter what fears ravage us, our God assures us that He is by our side.


Reflect & Pray
What is your greatest fear right now? How does God’s promise to be with you encourage you?

Mighty Warrior God, I need You. I need a Mighty Warrior to stand with me and overwhelm my fears. I’m choosing to trust You.


Insight
Zephaniah wrote during the time of the reforms initiated by Josiah (Zephaniah 1:1), the last good king of Judah (2 Kings 22:1–23:25). Josiah had rediscovered the “Book of the Law” (22:8) and had it read aloud to the people of Judah. Perhaps this is why Zephaniah directly echoes many of the themes of Deuteronomy. Zephaniah prophesies that God will initiate the judgments Deuteronomy warned of. But He will also initiate their repentance: “Then I will purify the lips of the peoples” (Zephaniah 3:9); “I will remove from you your arrogant boasters” (v. 11). God’s judgment purifies His people.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #4122 - 11/05/19 at 04:46:34
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John 14:15 (KJV)
If ye love me, keep my commandments.


Do the Next Thing

When was the last time you felt compelled to help someone, only to let the moment pass without a response? In The 10-Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests that daily impressions can be one of the ways God calls us to a deeper spiritual walk, a life of obedience prompted by love for Him. The 10-Second Rule encourages you to simply “do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do,” and to do it right away “before you change your mind.”

Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We might think, I do love Him, but how can I be certain of His will and follow it? In His wisdom, Jesus has provided what we need to better understand and follow the wisdom found in the Bible. He once said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and will be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (vv. 16–17). It’s by the work of the Spirit, who is with us and in us, that we can learn to obey Jesus and “keep [His] commands” (v. 15)—responding to the promptings experienced throughout our day (v. 17).

In the big and little things, the Spirit motivates us to confidently do by faith what will honor God and reveal our love for Him and others (v. 21).


Reflect & Pray
Why is it important for you to follow through on promptings that line up with Scripture? How can you seek to live a more obedient life by the power of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit provides what we need to follow Jesus in obedience.


Insight
Today’s text comes from Christ’s Upper Room Discourse—His teaching time with the disciples (John 14–16)—just hours before His sufferings would begin at Gethsemane. Because He announces that He’s going away from them (14:1–4), one of the main topics of this discourse involved the coming of the Holy Spirit and His work in the lives of believers in Jesus. Words used to describe the Spirit are advocate and helper (v. 16), truth (v. 17), teacher (v. 26), witness (15:26–27), agent of conviction (16:7–8), and guide (v. 13). These roles, however, are more than just functional reasons for the Spirit’s coming. They come in the shadow of Christ’s declared departure. Each element was intended to bring God’s comfort and presence to believers in Jesus when He was no longer with them physically. The ministry of the Spirit was to make up for the fear, confusion, and loss those men experienced by Christ’s leaving.
  

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 #4123 - 11/06/19 at 06:54:29
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Luke 8:48 (KJV)
And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.


Never Give Up Hope

When my friend received a diagnosis of cancer, the doctor advised her to get her affairs in order. She called me, sobbing, worried about her husband and young children. I shared her urgent prayer request with our mutual friends. We rejoiced when a second doctor encouraged her to never give up hope and confirmed his team would do all they could to help. Though some days were harder than others, she focused on God instead of the odds stacked against her. She never gave up.

My friend’s persevering faith reminds me of the desperate woman in Luke 8. Weary from twelve years of ongoing suffering, disappointment, and isolation, she approached Jesus from behind and stretched her hand toward the hem of His robe. Her immediate healing followed her act of faith: persistently hoping . . . believing Jesus was able to do what others couldn’t . . . no matter how impossible her situation seemed (vv. 43–44).

We may experience pain that feels endless, situations that appear hopeless, or waiting that seems unbearable. We may endure moments when the odds against us are stacked high and wide. We may not experience the healing we long for as we continue trusting Christ. But even then, Jesus invites us to keep reaching for Him, to trust Him and never give up hope, and to believe He is always able, always trustworthy, and always within reach.


Reflect & Pray
How have you recently needed to trust in Jesus despite the challenges you faced? What hope have you found in Him?

Jesus, thank You for reminding us that we’re never out of Your reach or without hope. You’re able to do what no one else can do.


Insight
Luke gives us the most complete description of the women who traveled with and financially supported Jesus and His twelve apostles (8:1–3). He also describes the healing of a woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years (vv. 43–48) and the resurrection of a twelve-year-old girl (vv. 40–56). In the middle of the action he recalls a surprising comment Jesus made about His mother, Mary (vv. 19–21).

Luke lets us decide for ourselves whether the repetition of the number twelve in Christ’s relation to these women is just coincidence or a quiet whisper of divine significance (vv. 42–43). Looking back, however, twelve tribes and twelve apostles were chosen to give witness to a son of hope promised to Eve (Genesis 3:15). Looking forward, Revelation sees in the story of the Lamb a twelvefold witness to the complete healing of the world (22:1–2).
  

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 #4124 - 11/07/19 at 05:10:08
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1 John 4:16 (KJV)
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.


“Love You—Whole World”

My three-year old niece, Jenna, has an expression that never fails to melt my heart. When she loves something (really loves it), be it banana cream pie, jumping on the trampoline, or playing Frisbee, she’ll proclaim, “I love it—whole world!” (“whole world” accompanied with a dramatic sweep of her arms).

Sometimes I wonder, When’s the last time I’ve dared to love like that? With nothing held back, completely unafraid?

“God is love,” John wrote repeatedly (1 John 4:8, 16), perhaps because the truth that God’s love—not our anger, fear, or shame—is the deepest foundation of reality, is hard for us grown-ups to “get.” The world divides us into camps based on what we’re most afraid of—and all too often we join in, ignoring or villainizing the voices that challenge our preferred vision of reality.

Yet amid the deception and power struggles (vv. 5–6), the truth of God’s love remains, a light that shines in the darkness, inviting us to learn the path of humility, trust, and love (1:7–9; 3:18). For no matter what painful truths the light uncovers, we can know that we’ll still be loved (4:10, 18; Romans 8:1).

When Jenna leans over and whispers to me, “I love you—whole world!” I whisper back, “I love you whole world!” And I’m grateful for a gentle reminder that every moment I’m held in limitless love and grace.


Reflect & Pray
When do you find yourself feeling pressured to believe fear is greater than love? How might your relationships with others change if you believed you don’t need to be afraid?

Loving God, thank You for Your love. Help us to trust in and follow Your light and love even when the way gets dark.


Insight
The word love is used twenty-two times in various forms in 1 John 4:7–19. The repetition tells us it’s important. It’s used ten times as a verb, agapao (vv. 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 19), and twelve times as a noun, agape (vv. 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, 18). Agape is used throughout Scripture to describe love between believers in Jesus as well as the love of God for us and the love of the Father for Christ.
  

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 #4125 - 11/08/19 at 04:49:55
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Proverbs 12:24 (KJV)
The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.


That Was Awesome!

It was the seventh-grader’s first cross-country meet, but she didn’t want to run. Although she’d been preparing for the event, she was afraid of doing poorly. Still, she started the race with everyone else. Later, one by one the other runners finished the two-mile course and crossed the finish line—everyone except the reluctant runner. Finally, her mom, who was watching for her daughter to finish, saw a lone figure in the distance. The mother went to the finish line, preparing to comfort a distraught competitor. Instead, when the young runner saw her mom, she exclaimed, “That was awesome!”

What can be awesome about finishing last? Finishing!

The girl had tried something difficult and had accomplished it! Scripture honors hard work and diligence, a concept often learned through sports or music or other things that require perseverance and effort.

Proverbs 12:24 says, “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor.” And later we read, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (14:23). These wise principles—not promises—can help us serve God well.

God’s plan for us always included work. Even before the fall, Adam was to “work [the Garden] and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). And any effort we make should be done “with all [our] heart” (Colossians 3:23). Let’s work in the strength He gives us—and leave the results to Him.


Reflect & Pray
What are some areas where I can learn from this teenager to be diligent and persevere? How does doing my best and working hard honor God?

Heavenly Father, whatever it is You have asked me to do today—big or small—help me to do it.


Insight
Proverbs is one of the Old Testament books of Wisdom Literature, along with Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. One characteristic of these works is their large use of poetry. And, as the name of this genre implies, their main focus is on attaining wisdom. In Proverbs, the authors (mainly Solomon and others) primarily use pithy sayings to instruct God’s people in applying wisdom to daily life. As one commentary explains, wisdom here denotes “skill in the art of godly living.” Among the main themes of Proverbs are friendship, speech, marriage, child-rearing, work, and diligence and laziness. We see the contrasting theme of laziness and diligence in today’s passage, particularly in 12:24, 27, and throughout Proverbs (6:6–10; 10:4; 20:13; 24:30–34).
  

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 #4126 - 11/09/19 at 04:53:14
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Psalm 141:2 (KJV)
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.


Enduring Prayers

“Prayers are deathless.” These are the attention-grabbing words of E. M. Bounds (1835–1913), whose classic writings on prayer have inspired people for generations. His comments about the power and enduring nature of our prayers continue with these words: “The lips that uttered them may be closed to death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; they outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.”

Have you ever wondered if your prayers—particularly those birthed out of difficulty, pain, and suffering—ever make it to God? The insightful words from Bounds remind us of the significance of our prayers and so does Revelation 8:1–5. The setting is heaven (v. 1), the throne room of God and the control center of the universe. Angelic attendants stand in God’s presence (v. 2) and one angel, like the priests of old, offers Him incense along with the prayers of “all God’s people” (v. 3). How eye-opening and encouraging to have this picture of the prayers offered on earth rising to God in heaven (v. 4). When we think that our prayers may have been lost in transit or forgotten, what we see here comforts us and compels us to persist in our praying, for our prayers are precious to God!


Reflect & Pray
When have you questioned whether God really listens to Your prayers? How can passages like Revelation 8:1–5 breathe new life into them?

Father, I thank You that You care more than we sometimes know. Help me to rest in knowing Your eyes are upon the righteous and Your ears are open to our prayers.


Insight
The book of Revelation is one of the most mysterious portions of the Bible. It’s filled with symbolism, metaphors, word pictures, and sweeping action. For centuries, scholars have disagreed about the meanings of these prophetic portraits. Several things are clear, however. First, the book is more about Jesus than about the events described. Revelation begins by calling itself “The revelation from Jesus Christ” (1:1). Revelation means an unveiling, so the book of Revelation is about Jesus unveiling these things. Second, it was written to real churches facing real challenges and was intended to comfort and encourage them in those trials (chs. 2–3). Third, the story of Revelation is about reversing the effects of our first parents’ fall into sin. They were separated from God and His perfect garden and these good things are restored by Christ’s victory (chs. 21–22).
  

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 #4127 - 11/10/19 at 06:08:49
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Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


Lava in Paradise

All is quiet, save for slowly stretching tentacles of hissing lava nipping at the edges of the tropical foliage. Residents stand grim-faced yet amazed. Most days they call this “paradise.” On this day, however, the fiery fissures in Hawaii’s Puna district reminded everyone that God forged these islands via untamable volcanic power.

The ancient Israelites encountered an untamable power too. When King David recaptured the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:1–4), a celebration broke out (v. 5)—until a man died suddenly when he grabbed hold of the ark to steady it (vv. 6–7).

This may tempt us to think of God as being as unpredictable as a volcano, just as likely to create as He is to destroy. However, it helps to remember that God had given Israel specific instructions for how to handle the things set apart for worshiping Him (see Numbers 4). Israel had the privilege of drawing near to God, but His presence was too overwhelming for them to approach Him carelessly.

Hebrews 12 recalls a mountain “burning with fire,” where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. That mountain terrified everyone (vv. 18–21). But the writer contrasts that scene with this: “You have come to . . . Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” (vv. 22–24). Jesus—God’s very Son—made the way for us to draw near to His untamable yet loving Father.


Reflect & Pray
How often am I tempted to think of God’s love without considering His power? Why is His power a crucial aspect of His character?

How great to know that our all-powerful God also loves us with infinite love!


Insight
When Uzzah took hold of the ark to ensure it didn’t fall, the Scriptures say God became angry because of his “irreverent act” (2 Samuel 6:7). This seems harsh because it appears that Uzzah was trying to help. The Hebrew word hassal appears only in this passage and is translated as irreverent act, irreverence, or error. That it’s used only here suggests that what Uzzah did was a one of a kind event and therefore significant. God had given precise instructions regarding the handling of “holy things.” According to Numbers 4:15, “[the Kohathites] must not touch the holy things or they will die.” The holy things of God were to be treated according to His instruction. To do differently—even to “help”—indicated lack of reverence toward His command.
  

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 #4128 - 11/11/19 at 05:40:07
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Matthew 6:10 (KJV)
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.


It’s Up to God

Nate and Sherilyn enjoyed their stop at an omakase restaurant while visiting New York City. Omakase is a Japanese word that translates, “I will leave it up to you,” which means customers at such restaurants let the chef choose their meal. Even though it was their first time to try this type of cuisine and it sounded risky, they loved the food the chef chose and prepared for them.

That idea could carry over to our attitude toward God with our prayer requests: “I will leave it up to You.” The disciples saw that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places” to pray (Luke 5:16), so they asked Him one day to teach them how to pray. He told them to ask for their daily needs, forgiveness, and the way out of temptation. Part of His response also suggested an attitude of surrender: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

We can pour out our needs to God because He wants to hear what’s on our hearts—and He delights to give. But being human and finite, we don’t always know what’s best, so it only makes sense to ask with a humble spirit, in submission to Him. We can leave the answer to Him, confident that He’s trustworthy and will choose to prepare what’s good for us.


Reflect & Pray
What do you want to share with God right now? What would it look like if you totally surrendered it to Him?

Thank You, God, for carrying me and my needs close to Your heart. I surrender my life and those I love to Your care.


Insight
Why did Jesus begin this section on prayer (Matthew 6:5–15) with a caution? And who were these “hypocrites” He warned against (v. 5)? Mark 12 indicates they were “teachers of the law” who “devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers” (vv. 38–40).

This doesn’t mean that public prayer is wrong, but it comes with a great danger. We might pray to impress those around us rather than pray with humility to the One who sees our hearts and answers our prayers. At the same time, we might wish we could pray like some particularly eloquent person. In either case, it’s vital we remember that God isn’t in anything done for the sake of appearance.
  

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 #4129 - 11/12/19 at 05:14:03
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Psalm 136:16 (KJV)
To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.


Our Blessings, His Love

In 2015, a woman discarded her deceased husband’s computer at a recycling center—a computer that had been made in 1976. But more important than when it had been made was who made it. It was one of 200 computers hand built by Apple founder Steve Jobs, and was worth an estimated quarter of a million dollars! Sometimes knowing the true worth of something means knowing who made it.

Knowing that it’s God who made us shows us how valuable we are to Him (Genesis 1:27). Psalm 136 catalogs key moments of His people—ancient Israel: how they had been freed from captivity in Egypt (vv. 11–12), journeyed through the wilderness (v. 16), and were given a new home in Canaan (vv. 21–22). But each time a moment of Israel’s history is mentioned, it’s paired with this repeated refrain: “His love endures forever.” This refrain reminded the people of Israel that their experiences weren’t random historical events. Each moment had been orchestrated by God and was a reflection of His enduring love for those He’d made.

Far too often, I allow moments that show God at work and His kind ways to simply pass by, failing to recognize that every perfect gift comes from my heavenly Father (James 1:17) who made me and loves me. May you and I learn to connect every blessing in our lives to God’s enduring love for us.


Reflect & Pray
How can we better remember the Source of life’s blessings? What hinders you from doing so?

Heavenly Father, please don’t allow even one blessing that You’ve given pass by without me recognizing that it came from You, and You alone!


Insight
When we read the Psalms, it’s easy to forget they were actually written to be sung, not read. While many were about individual experiences, some were directed to the people of Israel corporately. This was often expressed when the people gathered for worship. Psalm 136 was such a psalm, and some scholars believe it was intended to be sung antiphonally—where one group made a musical declaration and another group responded to that declaration. The priests and Levites (worship leaders) would sing a statement about God (“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,” v. 1) and the assembled congregation would respond, “His love endures forever.”
  

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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