Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daily Devotion, May 31, 2011

Luke 11:9-10
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.

Jesus speaks these words to his disciples shortly after they have asked Him to teach them to pray. He gives to them the words that would become known as "The Lord's Prayer", and proceeds to tell them a parable about the perseverance of a friend asking another for loaves of bread in the middle of the night. Despite initial protests about the lateness of the hour, the man, at long last, gives in to his friend's request and the friend's dilemma is resolved.

What, then, does today's scripture say about how God answers us when we go to Him in prayer? For me, it means God is always listening, always available, ever present, when we seek Him. We may ask for what we think we want or need, but the answer we must listen for is what God intends for us. Not doing so is like knocking ceaselessly on a closed door, failing to see that the one next to it is flung open with welcome.

"For the Father above, He is listening with love, and He wants to answer us, so let us pray!" ~ Steven Curtis Chapman

Deuteronomy 8:11-20
James 1:16-27
Luke 11:1-13

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down o
ne's life for one's friends.

Danny and I recently visited Washington, D.C. On this Memorial Day, I t
hought it most appropriate to post these photos I took at the National Mall on a cool, cloudy, rainy day. As you peruse these, take a moment to pray for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Pray, too, for all our brave young men and women in uniform who protect and serve us.

"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that go
vernment of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." ~ Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

The Vietnam War Memorial ~

The Korean War Memorial ~

World War II Memorial ~

The Greatest Generation remembers . . .

May your Memorial Day be safe and blessed!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Daily Devotion, May 29, 2011

Ecclesiasticus 43:28-29 (Apocrypha)
Where can we find the strength to praise him? For he is greater than all his works. Awesome is the Lord and very great, and marvelous in his power.

I am honored and humbled each Sunday to help lead our church's contemporary prayer service with our band, Crossroads. Singing and music have always been integral parts of my life and it gives me great joy to use the talents with which God has blessed me to extol his praises. On those Sunday mornings when I really could have used another cup of coffee, or we are feeling rushed and stressed in setting up our equipment on time, I wonder if I can summon the strength to glorify Him in the way He deserves. Then I remember to go to Him in prayer; it is His strength that always sees me through.

How do you worship our awesome God who is greater than all His works? Is it only on Sunday, or do you take time every day to give Him thanks and praise? May you find in His comfort and power the strength to live each day for His honor and glory!

Ecclesiasticus 43:1-12 and 27-32
1 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Matthew 12:24-34a

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Daily Devotion, May 28, 2011

Luke 9:16-17
And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled.

When I was five-years-old, my grandmother sent me a beautifully illustrated story book about the feeding of the five-thousand. Prominently featured was the little boy of John's gospel who offered his five loaves and two fish to Jesus and the disciples. He gave selflessly, without reservation or thought about how he would fare without his dinner, and, as we know from the scriptures, Jesus enabled his small gift, blessed and broken, to feed to fullness him and thousands more that day.

What is your immediate assumption when you see someone break an item of food in half? Of course, you think, they are going to share with somebody else. At the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) They didn't understand then what Jesus meant: that he would have to be broken on the cross and resurrected before the message of his redeeming love and grace could be shared not just with his earthly friends and followers, but with the entire world for ages to come.

We are a broken people in need of fixing; when we confess this, the good news is Jesus wants to share in our lives, turn us around, lead us along paths of righteousness, and help us to share the gospel with a hurting world. Never imagine that your gifts, whatever they may be, are too small or insignificant to share - a smile, a kind word, a hug, a prayer - all these simple gestures can make a loving difference in the life of another. Believe that when you feed one, you are feeding five-thousand. Miracles do happen!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Daily Devotion, May 27, 2011

Luke 8:49-50
While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader's house to say, "Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer." When Jesus heard this, he replied, "Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved."

We all experience fear in our lives. Some fears are healthy and justified to insure self-preservation, i.e., I fear the damage tornadoes cause, so I am going to take shelter when one is headed my way. Most, however, if we are honest enough to admit it, are irrational and imposed upon us either by ourselves or others - fear of failure, flying, spiders, heights - the list is endless!

In raising Jairus' daughter from death to life, Jesus demonstrates how living in fear is the opposite of living in faith. He tells the crowd to replace their fear with belief in His power to save, a foreshadowing of His own resurrection when death, and the fear it generates, would be forever conquered.

What fears are you harboring today that hinder you from living fully into your walk with the Lord? Can you hear Jesus pleading with you to let them go? Just as Peter succumbed to his fears when the Lord commanded he walk on water, you may suffer temporary setbacks as you pray to be freed of your stumbling blocks. Trust in the One who will be faithful to complete the good work that is you. Believe in Him and you, like Jairus' daughter, will be saved.

Wisdom 16:15-17:1
Romans 14:13-23
Luke 8:40-56

Friday, May 6, 2011

National Day of Prayer - Time for Reflection

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

For those of you who are regular visitors to my blog, it should come as no surprise that I fully support and applaud our country's National Day of Prayer. It is an invitation to persons of all faiths to join together as a people, united in spite of political or economic differences, and acknowledge with humility and thanksgiving our blessings as one nation under God. On this year' s National Day of Prayer, I felt called to reflect upon the how, why, when, where, and what (people and needs) of my daily prayer life. As I share with you where I am on my prayer journey at this time, I hope you will, in turn, share your prayer experiences in the comments' section for others to read and be enlightened on their way.

How: This varies greatly. Sometimes it's as simple as having a conversation with God; other times, I am comforted by the poetic formality of liturgical prayers uttered reverently throughout the generations. I find "arrow prayers", brief words of thankfulness and praise shot straight to God, to be both heartening and reassuring throughout my day because I know He is listening.

Why: He is listening even when I don't hear an answer. He is not, to quote Billy Graham, my "celestial bellhop". My time is in God's hands, and His time is beyond my comprehension. Prayer connects me with eternity as nothing else can. As C. S. Lewis aptly stated, "Prayer doesn't change God, it changes me". My relationship with Him, my spiritual growth, is entirely dependent upon my knocking upon His door with my prayers and petitions, expecting that, even if I discover the door closed, He has an open window in the offing in His time and place.

When: In Thessalonians 5:17, Paul exhorts us to "pray continuously". What? How am I supposed to do that? This was, for a long time, a stumbling in my prayer life until I realized, oh, happy day, that my every breath depends upon God's will for my life and is a quiet, continual assurance of His presence. This knowledge has granted me such peace and has made praying for others a time of celebration.

Where: Everywhere! There is no limit to our time or place for our prayers. We can be at church, driving to work, dusting the furniture, checking our e-mail, hugging a child, comforting a friend, drifting off to sleep; the list goes on and on and I'd love to see what you could add to it! As Steven Curtis Chapman sings, "Everywhere and every way, every moment of the day, it is the right time". There is always a right time and place, never a wrong one. He is waiting to hear our concerns, our thanks, our heartaches, and our praises lifted to Him.

What (people and needs): Are we being generous or selfish when we pray? It is so easy for me to pray for friends and family, but praying for my enemies, that's a whole other story. I know my Lord has commanded this and is aware of my struggle to follow with purity of heart. I need His help to pray for those who are hateful and hurtful, realizing that these are the very people in dire need of His salvation. What are the things you should be praying for, but are not, and the things you shouldn't be praying for, but are?

In the end, I will be anxious for nothing, remembering that I'm standing my tallest when I am on my knees.

Sing a New Song

  Danny and I in his new music studio Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. ~Psalm 96:1 A new song shall I sing unto...