Wednesday 7/18 ~ Does God really answer prayers?

The scripture for today, July 18 (7/18), is Acts 7:18 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

Inside-COVER-lg thumbnail“Then another king, who knew nothing about Joseph, became ruler of Egypt.”

Does God really answer prayers? When the Jews first arrived in Egypt, they received “royal treatment” because they were relatives of “Prime Minister” Joseph. Then he died, but his Jewish relatives stayed. Eventually, they were resented, then feared, then made slaves of the Egyptians.

For the following 400 years, the Jews prayed for God to release them from their slavery. Generation after generation died believing that God does not answer prayers.

But God saw the big picture. He saw that the 70 relatives of Joseph who originally went to Egypt would become more than three million over the next four centuries. Then and only then would they be large enough to begin a new nation ~ the Jewish nation. In Egypt during those centuries, they were in a form of “protective custody”.

Are you frustrated and confused because God is seemingly not answering some very important prayers? Perhaps you are part of a bigger picture that only God knows about. Perhaps your job is to stay where you are and just keep hanging on. Are you up to the task God has assigned to you?

 

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Tuesday 7/17 ~ What is God’s assignment for you?

The scripture for today, July 17 (7/17), is 1st Corinthians 7:17 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-LUKE-KINDLE Cover-Thumbnail“Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.”

In some situations in life, this scripture is hard to accept. Sometimes life gets very, very hard. Sometimes it is difficult to keep smiling, even to keep breathing. When will it end? Will it ever end?

But can it be that this is where God wants you? Can it be that the difficulties in your life right now are your assignments from God? God fights Evil from heaven and it is our place to fight Evil from earth. It is an ongoing battle. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

For some reason that cannot be understood right now, you are where God wants you to be. This is your assignment from God. Remember, we are “ambassadors for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20). We must show the world that “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord” (Romans 8:28).

As a soldier for Christ, be brave. Think with a clear head. Stand firm of faith, strong in spirit, pure of heart.

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Friday 7/13 ~ Believe it or not, some day you will smile again

The scripture for July 13 is in Job 7:13ff in the Old Testament of the Bible:

07-Jairus' Daughter-ThumbnailCover“When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning.”

Job was extremely depressed. It happens to everyone sometimes. His depression was certainly valid ~ he had lost all his income and all his children in a recent storm. Now he had what the Bible translated as “boils” but the symptoms indicate he had a form of leprosy. This particular form leads to nightmares in addition to the physical problems. Job had every right to be depressed. So depressed was he, that he no longer wanted to live, for his life no longer had meaning.

But, as miserable as Job was, he hung on. Patiently he hung on during the bad times. Sometimes during our bad times, the greatest thing we can do is “hang on” ~ be patient.

Romans 8:28 says all things work together for good to those who love the Lord. Job loved the Lord. Even in his misery and desire to die,  he continued to love God and trust Him.

And although at such times you may believe your misery will never end, you may believe you will never even smile again, it will happen. The misery comes to an end. It did for Job. He got his health and wealth back and more children to comfort him. God will see you through too.

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Thursday 7/5 ~ Oh, how we need eachother

The scripture for today, July 5 (7/5) is 2nd Corinthians 7:5ff as found in the New Testament of the Bible.

00-Cover-KINDLE-Thumbnail-New“For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn ~ conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me so that my joy was greater than ever.”

Oh how much we need each other.

Sometimes in life, we go into our own Macedonia where we have no rest and are full of fear. Our Macedonia may be religious or political or medical; or it may be at work, out on the street, or at home.

At such times we need a Titus to help us, to encourage us. Our Titus may be a relative, a neighbor, a friend, or even a stranger.

Have you been a Titus to anyone lately? Look around. Be a Titus to someone today. You are so very needed.

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Wednesday 6/6 ~ My boss is unfair, but I need the job

The scripture for today, June 7, is Ephesians 6:7 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

03-Naaman'sMaid-ThumbnailCover“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.”

God had just previously said that we were to obey our earthly masters (bosses). But, as hard as you try, sometimes what you may be told to do is very hard to do, especially if your boss is rude, or someone was promoted ahead of you, or you feel like s/he is being a “slave driver.”

At times like those, do what is asked of you anyway, knowing that you are really doing it for God. The next verse says, “because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.”

What you do as an employee in a difficult situation does not go unnoticed. God sees and God will reward you.

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Tuesday 6/5 ~ I don’t like anyone telling me what to do

The scripture for today, June 5, is Deuteronomy 6:5 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

02-Noah-KindleThumbnail“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Jesus said this is the greatest of all the commandments (Mark 12:29). He didn’t say that any of the Ten Commandments were. He chose one of the over 600 Commandments God gave to Moses in the Old Testament. It might have been lost in the crowd, but Jesus called it out and gave it special attention.

Although we no longer keep the Old Testament Law of Moses, we do have the New Testament Law of Jesus. There aren’t as many commandments, but there are some. Sometimes Jesus’ law repeats something in the Old Law such as the one above. But it was his choice what to carry over, not ours.

Some people don’t even know they’re obeying any of the Laws of Moses. Well, then, all we have to do is read that Law and see if we recognize anything we’re doing. Some people have ritualized themselves “to death”. 

On the other hand, do we love the Lord our God enough to keep all of the commandments of Jesus or do we say the church is too modern now to keep certain ones and, besides, we don’t believe in any commands at all?  We do not tell our parents, “I love you, but you have no right to command me to do anything.” We do not tell our government, “I’m going to drive on any side of the road I want because I’m not going to obey any of your commands”.

Let us not be like the clay telling the potter what to do (Isaiah 64:8). Let us love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul and strength. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15).   Commands does not mean someone is trying to hold you down; commands means, “I love you and want you to be safe.” Give it a try. Life just might get a little better.

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Friday 6/1 ~ How to make an argument stick

The scripture for today, June 1 (6/1), is Psalm 6:1 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

04-Isaac&Jacob-KindleThumbnail.jpg“O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.”

This is not only a good request to God, but it is a good request to each other ~ family and friends alike. When you disagree with someone, do you “back it up” with loud yelling or throwing or hitting things? Do you believe that your point cannot be understood and will not be accepted without a “tantrum”?

This scripture indicates that it is indeed possible to rebuke someone without the tantrum. In fact, it is more effective. When you calmly tell someone you disagree with them, it does not raise their blood pressure and put them on the defensive. With tantrums, they may react like you want on the outside, but you drive them farther from you on the inside.

Calm rebuke does not mean you don’t mean it; it means you are convinced enough, your point of view does not need reinforcement. In that case, the other person is likely to be convinced too.

Today, practice saying calmly what you normally back up with a tantrum. Practice in front of the mirror.  Practice when driving. Practice when cooking or mowing the lawn or combing your hair.  Then, next time you disagree with someone close to you, you will be ready ~ ready to not rebuke in your anger.

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Wednesday 5/23 ~ Is it a good idea to be mad at God?

The scripture for today, May 23(5/23, is Exodus 5:23 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Bk3-HeartsAfire-COVER-Kindle.thumbnail-new“Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your [God’s] name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

This is Moses talking to God, and Moses is very angry. Is it a good idea to be mad at God? Deuteronomy 34:10 says there was never a prophet like Moses “whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Getting angry [not violent, that’s different] sometimes is part of a healthy relationship, as long as we are willing to stick around long enough to understand the other person’s point of view. Moses did not desert God. He spoke his mind, then waited to see how God would reply.

It wasn’t that God didn’t want to rescue his people from slavery in Egypt. God was not quite ready yet. And he probably did not rescue his people in the manner Moses had in mind. But eventually ~ after a little patience on Moses’ part ~ it happened: God rescued his people.

Are you angry at God over something? Tell him so. Then stick around and wait for him to express his point of view. It will happen someday. Maybe it won’t be your point of view. Probably it will be better.

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Wednesday 5/16 ~ Smile. The world will wonder why

The scripture for today, May 16 (5/16), is 1st Thessalonians 5:16 (KJV) as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“Rejoice evermore.”

But how can we rejoice when something terrible has happened?

The Apostle Paul who wrote this knew that the Thessalonians were being terribly persecuted (2nd Thessalonians 1:4), but he still said, “Rejoice evermore.” How could he say such a calloused thing amidst their suffering?  Had he no feeling, no empathy?

Sometimes we have to suffer so the true nature of bad people pretending to be good can be revealed to the world. Sometimes we have to suffer so we can build our spiritual muscles.  Sometimes we have to suffer so we can understand others going through the same thing.

Just remember that, just as God was grieved when his Son suffered on the cross, he is grieved when you suffer. And just as God was able to bring something wonderful out of his Son’s suffering, he can bring something wonderful out of yours too.

In the meantime, chin up, shoulders back, stand straight, be brave, and smile. The world will wonder why.

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Saturday 5/12 ~ Can I ever become wise?

The scripture for today, May 12 (5/12), is 1st Kings 5:12 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

 

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“The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him.”

 

God makes a promise of wisdom to Christians today. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Amazing! God doesn’t sit around and tell certain people, “You really messed up. Your life is full of turmoil. Now you come to me expecting me to fix it for you.” No, God does not throw your faults in your face. It’s no use dwelling in the past; that is history.

He is ready and willing to provide guidance for the present and future, the now and later. How can you know God’s wisdom? He certainly does not make you guess.

He put everything he wants you to know in his Word, the Bible ~ examples of people who did and did not mess up their lives and words of advice. All you have to do is open it, and ask God to help you understand it and apply it with wisdom.

God promised. And he keeps his promises.

Tuesday 5/8 ~ Deadends blocking heaven

The scripture for today, May 8 (5/8), is Psalm 5:8 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Titus-Cover-Lg Thumb“Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness, because of my enemies ~ make straight your way before me.”

An enemy would like nothing more than to get into a good fight with someone. Do not let that happen. You have better things to do than argue with people.

Set your eyes, not on your enemy, but on the Lord. The path of enemies will take you on all sorts of side trips that lead to dead ends. The path of God rises up before you ~ straight and direct. Never let your attention stray from that path.
Keep on walking on the path of God.

And keep on walking,

and keep walking,

and walking, and walking….

….Until at last, you walk right through the gates of heaven.

Monday 5/7 ~ Lord, why don’t you stop all this suffering?

The scripture for today, May 7 (5/7), is  1st Peter 5:7 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

00-Stephen-Cover-Kindle-Thumbnail“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Oh, how hard life can be sometimes. We wonder why God doesn’t stop all the bad things. But, if there were no evil and bad things happening, we would have heaven on earth. Satan is the Prince of this world. 

How many times in a week are you anxious about something? Your job, your home, your children, your neighbors, your government, your health? How many times in a day? Are they heavy? Sometimes almost too heavy to bear?

Name them to God. Tell him all about them. Go into as much detail as you like. Then put them all on his shoulders. That’s what he wants you to do. He will carry those burdens for you.

Yes, this is not heaven on earth. But Jesus provides a way for us to escape to the other world in heaven.  We don’t have to escape; he doesn’t force us. In the meantime, he calls out, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  Why? He cares for you.

 

Saturday 5/5 ~ Seek peace. Deep peace.

The scripture for today, May 5 (5/5), is Micah 5:5a as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

000-COVER-KINDLE-Thumbnail“And he will be their peace.”

The little book of Micah was written during a time when his country was full of prosperity. But it was also full of abused power. The lower on the social scale, the more the people suffered at the hands of the powerful few.

In the midst of warning the social elite, Micah offers comfort to their victims. You may be going through economic distress such as losing your job or losing your home. You may be going through social distress such as being passed up for a promotion or losing friends because of your moral code.

Seek peace. Deep peace.

Sometimes, it is only possible to reveal powerful abusers by revealing their victims to the world. Sometimes our job is to just survive so that a future generation can find justice and acceptance. Or sometimes we must lose everything so that we can quit worrying about this world and look forward to the next.

Seek peace. Deep peace.

So when you feel left behind with nothing, look up! God is still on his throne. God still holds out his arms. God still wipes away tears. Possibly it is at such times that you can feel God’s love most warmly and God’s peace most deeply.

Thursday 5/3 ~ Soon will come your morning

The scripture for today, May 3 (5/3), is Psalm 5:3 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

05-Joseph-KindleThumbnail“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

Morning. The time of new beginnings. Birth is a morning. Graduating from a school is a morning. Marriage, a new job, birth of a child ~ these are obvious mornings.

You can create your own morning of life in a spiritual way too. You can stop depending on yourself and begin following and depending on God. You cannot fix all your problems. Sometimes you get yourself into your own problems and don’t know how to get yourself out. But God knows.

Lay your requests before God. Then wait. The waiting can create frustration. But wait in peace. God does things in his own timing.

He loves you as his child and knows when the moment is right. Sometimes when you look back, you are most grateful he did not answer a prayer for you; he had something better in mind. And then, it was morning.

God loves to answer prayer. Therefore, wait. Wait in peaceful expectation.  Soon will come your morning.

 

Saturday 4/14 ~ Shhh. Listen. Don’t you hear them?

The scripture for today, April 14 (4/14), is Esther 4:14b as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

000-COVER-KINDLE-Thumbnail“And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Today’s scripture is about a reluctant young lady who won a beauty contest and was chosen to be the queen of Persia. Time has passed, and now a command has just gone out to kill all Jews. Queen Esther was a Jewess but had not told anyone at the royal court. She could continue to hide her nationality and let all her people die, or she could intervene with the king. She was the only Jew the king would have listened to. So she took the chance that she, too, would be killed, and spoke on behalf of her people. They were saved.

There are always situations in life in which you are the only one who can accomplish something very needed. Perhaps you are the only adult standing near a strange child who is about to run out into a busy road. Perhaps you are tall and a short person needs to reach something at the store. Perhaps you know a particular language and others around you need you to explain something to them. Perhaps someone called a wrong number on the telephone and reached you instead.

As we go through life, there are situations in which you are the only one who can handle them. Do you? Do you watch for those situations, or do you walk around in your own little world?

Listen! It’s the silent cries of people only you can help. Do you hear them?

 

Friday 4/13 ~ Amidst your weeping when you fall, God will…

The scripture for today, April 13 (4/13), is Philippians 4:13 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

0-Titus-Cover-Lg Thumb“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Life is not easy. Plans are scattered, dreams are shattered, and even predictable every-day things sometimes give way to the unknown and unforeseeable. Maybe you have made bad decisions, or you weren’t prepared for emergencies, or you are an innocent victim of someone else’s problems.

There is Someone who knows everything that is happening to you and who will walk beside you down whatever path you find yourself. And, as amazing as it sounds, even if you lose faith in Him, He will not lose faith in you.

When you don’t feel like it, reach out to God. Pray, even if all you can think of talking about is how terrible things are right now. At least you’re talking. And read the Bible, for that is God talking to you. Keep the two-way communication going. Amidst your weeping when you fall, God will give you strength and someday once again lift you up.

Wednesday 4/4 ~ You’ve gotta be kidding! That’s impossible!

The scripture for today, April 4 (4/4), is Psalm 4:4 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-HS-592 VersesExamined-COVER-Thumbnail“In your anger do not sin.”

You’ve gotta be kidding!  That’s impossible! When people get angry, don’t we lash out at other people? And yell and call them names? And show our temper? Maybe even throw a few things? After all, that’s the only way to get across to the other person that we are really angry.

Hold on. If, for instance, you told your child not to do something for their own safety but your child did it anyway, of course you would become angry. Why? Your child put himself in danger because of his action.

You can choose to lash out at your child wildly so that your emotions mask your words. Or you can choose to talk calmly and explain the dangers your child was put in because of that action. Maybe punishment is in order.  You can calmly but firmly tell them what their punishment is. You can calmly punish your child without losing your temper.

It is the same way with adults. If you lose your temper and shoot daggers with your eyes and rant and rave, all your actions distract people from your words. Aren’t your words of explanation more important than the emotionalism and yelling? If you were hurt, just say so. If they hurt themselves, just say so.

While we’re at it, not all words help. Name calling does not help. Name calling is done when you choose not to explain how you feel. Name calling such as, “You’re irresponsible,”  locks the other person in and sets them up for future failures between you and them. Losing your temper during anger gets you off the issue and into sin.

Next time, try to remain calm and then explain the problem in tones that the person who has angered you ~ whether child or adult ~ can truly listen to and learn from. If you have trouble doing this, practice when you’re alone. It will come to you in the right way. It will teach you to remain calm when you’re angry.

Anger is not the same thing as sin. What you do with it can be. Choose a calm anger.  Thereby, you will have a peace that passes understanding.

Friday 3/23 ~ Keep on keeping on. The world notices.

The scripture for today, March 23 (3/23), is Colossians 3:23 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

05-Joseph-KindleThumbnail“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Perhaps you are in a job that is unfair ~ you are given too much work, you are underpaid, you are not given enough work, you are given too much responsibility, you aren’t given any responsibility, you have been passed over for promotion by someone less qualified than you.

Think not that you are working for the person who supervises you. S/he is only human. You are working for God. You are representing God. If you are being treated unfairly and smile anyway, others will wonder why. Keep smiling and keep working. Others will keep noticing.

Eventually, someone will ask you, “How can you keep going?”. Then you can tell them how you have God’s approval, and that makes you feel like number one. Therefore, nothing anyone can say or do to you can ever make you feel otherwise.

So keep on keeping on. The world notices. God too.

 

Thursday 3/22 ~ You can never be consumed

The scripture for today, March 22, is Lamentations 3:22 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

000-COVER-KINDLE-Thumbnail“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.”

Jeremiah had spent years warning people of the coming destruction of their country and beloved Jerusalem due to their selfish sinful life and taking advantage of each other. He endured taunts, reprimands, imprisonments, and threats to his life. Now it has happened. All hope is gone. Nothing left but ashes.

There were innocent people who suffered as a result.  Would they let Satan get his way and destroy their lives, their spirits, their souls too?  It is at this point that lamenting Jeremiah utters bravely amidst his own tears, “We are not consumed.”

Are there things going on your life that seem to be consuming you? Do you feel utterly hopeless?  Do you feel as though life may not be worth living anymore? Look up. God is still there. He still loves you.

When you have the love of God, you have the courage to take the next step and the next and the next. You have the courage to keep walking and walking and to hold your head high. Nothing and nobody can ever take away the love God has for you. With his love, you can never be consumed.

Monday 3/19 ~ Why had I felt so abandoned?

The scripture for today, March 19 (3.19), is Habakkuk 3:19 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

0-Joseph-Cover-Thumbnail”The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

The little book of Habakkuk was written during a period when the leaders were oppressing the desperate poor. Habakkuk complains to God, “Why do you tolerate wrong?”. God answers that he’s getting ready to put an end to it. Not satisfied, Habakkuk asks the same question again.

God’s answer renews Habakkuk’s faith. Perhaps he asked himself, “Why had I worried so much?” “Why had I felt so abandoned?” “Why had I thought God didn’t notice?” “Why had I decided God didn’t really care?”

Everyone grows impatient when leaders are doing wrong. But we must understand that we see just part of the problem and that God is waiting until the right time to put an end to it ~ a time when people are so desperate with helplessness that even unbelievers can’t help but know God intervened.

So when times come in your own life that everything seems to be going wrong, read the little book of Habakkuk and know that God is still in control, he has not forgotten you, and he has special plans for you.