Sunday, February 28, 2016

Praying Psalm 40

Lord, God,
Help me to wait patiently for your words,
for your moving of the Holy Spirit,
for your prompting and prodding of me toward the work you have for me,
even if that work is corrective. Convicting.
Give me patience and faith not to move forward in my own strength,
not to make an idol of my own wisdom or abilities.
I need you. I know I do. Give me the humility to remember that.
I recount the wonders you have done already--
You have nothing to prove to me.
Your grace is sufficient.
Help me to bask in your presence and your provision.
Here I am.
I have come.
I desire to do your will, regardless of the personal cost.
Do not withhold your mercy from me.
May your love and your truth protect my mind and my heart.
I am yours.

taken from Psalm 40

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Lack of Thanksgiving

"The real problem of life is never a lack of time. The real problem of life--in my life--is lack of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks--take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks--and He miraculously makes it more than enough."--Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 72.

What areas of lack frustrate you?
Could the struggle associated with your area of frustration be a deficiency of thanksgiving, rather than a deficiency in God's provision?
Could prosperity be a decision of the heart rather than a product of the will?

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

David's Prayer of Confession

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
Renew a right spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:1-4, 10-12

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Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise God, all creatures here below,
Praise Him, above all heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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I'm sick and I'd like to get well, ASAP

Dear Lord,
What is your plan here? You want me to learn humility, patience, endurance?
I get it. I do. I just feel lousy.
My head's exploding, my sinuses are swollen, my nose is red and crispy.
I'm a real beauty queen.
I walk around with my mouth hanging open so I can breathe,
and I haven't slept soundly in days (for fear of suffocation).
And--I'm working here. At least I'm trying.
I'm hobnobbing with professional writers, asking for critiques, making contacts, self-advocating,
trying to be the best version of me--either the fun me or the professional me--I'd take either one today.
Instead, I'm allergy me.
Stuffy, aching, swollen, tired, throbbing me.
I'm a Ny-Quil commercial.
And I'm not happy about it.
(After all, isn't my life about me?)
Oh, I get it. No, this is not about me, even though it feels like it should be.
It's about YOU. It's always about You, whether I realize it or not.
You're just reminding me, because I forget so easily.
Let's try this again:
Dear Lord,
Thank You for my health, even when it's not good.
Thank You for Ny-Quil and Mucinex-D and Zyrtec.
I am in awe that You even care about my cold, about my Rudolph nose.
I praise You for your mercy and grace in my life, for the blessing of being here.
You know I'd like to get better . . .
I'll wait for You to work on that.
I love You.
(But You are really lucky not to have sinus problems.)
Love, me

Monday, February 15, 2016

How to pray God's words over your kids

Do you pray Scriptures over your children? Colossians 1:3-14 is one of my favorite passages to pray over my kids. When I speak the words that Paul wrote to his spiritual children in Colossae, I feel the invocation of God's Spirit over them. What could be more powerful than praying words that God inspired himself? Here's how to do pray God's words over your kids:

1. Direct your words towards God. When you read a passage in the Bible that you want to pray to God, say the words to him. For instance, Paul says We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. You can pray this to God by saying, "Lord, you are my gracious father, and you love me as you love Jesus; thank you for giving me my children." Already, you've put yourself in a correct frame of mind to intercede. (God loves you, and He is a good father. He wants to answer your prayers!)
2. Apply the words to your children. If the Bible says something like we have not stopped praying for you, you can re-phrase that into a prayer by praying, "Help me to continually lift up my children to you in prayer, instead of trying to control circumstances myself." Then do it.
3. Intercede for your kids, using God's words. For example, if the Bible says For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness, make intercession by saying: "Rescue them from the darkness and the enslavement of this world and its temptations. Intercept their lives through individuals and through conversations that point them toward You and away from this world."

Here's an example of how I pray this passage in Colossians:

Dear Lord,
I thank you for the blessing of my children! I ask in Jesus' name for you to guide me as I point them toward you and your will. I ask that you would help them live a life worthy of you, to please you in every way, to bear spiritual fruit, and to grow in the knowledge of God. Strengthen them with all power and give them endurance, patience, joy, and thankfulness. Lead them in a lifestyle that qualifies them to share in your inheritance in glory. Guide them into kingdom-thinking, to love only things with eternal value! Thank you for forgiving their sins, inspiring them to change, and calling them to participate in your mission. Convict, encourage and strengthen them, and give them discernment and wisdom over all things--what they see, what they hear, what they do, what they believe. Speak to them and through them, with the power of the Holy Spirit. I praise you and thank you for what you're going to do in their lives and in my life, as their mother, because I've been privileged to know them and love them. I ask all these things--believing that you will accomplish and exceed my wildest dreams--in the powerful name of Jesus,

first image courtesy of Portrait Innovations

Friday, February 12, 2016

How to pray for God's will

"Dear God, if it's Your will, please . . ."

That's the spiritual way to pray, right? For God's will. And then we proceed to tell Him what His will should be. We'd like a clear-cut path toward a desirable destination. And a nice view along the way.

In Hebrews 11, you can read about a whole list of people who spoke with God and heard His response. They heard God's will, about moving to a new land, shaking off slavery, conquering kingdoms, enduring persecution. They prayed for God's will (a plan), they submitted to God's will (their obedience), and then God led them in His will (their destiny). God's will can mean all 3 things. So what and how should we pray for God's will?

Accept an unknown outcome 
Here are two curious aspects of God's will--He often doesn't tell us the details first, and He doesn't even promise we'll know why something happened. He just expects blind obedience to His written Word. Heb. 11:39 says, "These were all commended of their faith yet none of them received what had been promised." None of them received what was promised! The faith walk is not about understanding what God is doing--it's about joining what He is doing. You may see the fruit of your obedience, but you may not. The outcome shouldn't matter.

Expect hardship in doing God's will
Since following God's will is an act of faith, it makes sense that part of the faith-building exercise is to follow God without knowing exactly where He's leading or what following Him will entail. He has already given us some clues about this in Scripture:
  • Jn. 16:33--"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
  • Mtt. 5:10--"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of their righteousness, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven."
  • 1 Thes. 5:18--"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Why are we surprised when following God is hard? He told us it would be hard. It's the enduring of hardship that points people to Christ. Jesus is the answer for all of life's difficulties.

Embrace suffering for doing God's will
It is God's will for you to experience suffering. In Phil. 1:29, Paul says "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also suffer for him." In Greek, the word grant carries the concept of giving a gift or a privilege. God gives us suffering because He knows it will improve our character and our relationship with Him! Although it may seem like an oxymoron, we should embrace suffering, knowing that God is perfecting us and making us more like Jesus.

Be faithful in following God's will
So let's not pray for God's will to remove something difficult from our lives. Let's pray for strength and courage to be faithful to our calling. Maybe we should pray through suffering more than we pray against suffering. Gal. 6:9 reminds us, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Lord, not my will, but Yours be done!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Gift of Suffering?

Phil. 1:29 "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him."

Nothing is as isolating as true misery. It's why we must look up instead of in, why we must cry out instead of cry, why we must endure suffering instead of resist it. Paul explains in Phil. 1:29, that God grants us suffering. The word grant is charizomai in Greek, meaning "to give freely, to forgive, to do something pleasant or agreeable." Giving us the opportunity to suffer for Christ is a GIFT.

Wow! That seems like a real oxymoron, doesn't it? In the same way that good parents give their children chores and responsibilities to mold and strengthen their character, God gives us trials to mold and strengthen our character. We can choose to respond like immature, selfish children--complain, resist, or rebel--or we can respond like "little Christs" (i.e. Christians)--believe, hope, and endure, knowing that God is working something bigger in us and around us.

Don't isolate. Draw close to God. Share with the body of Christ. Believe, hope, endure. God is overcoming evil, not causing it. Follow Him, and you will overcome evil, also.

Jn. 16:33  "In this life you will have trouble. But the heart! I have overcome the world."

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